Verena Alena Gioia works at Mondadori Media (Mondadori Group), Italy’s leading magazine and web publisher. At Mondadori Media, Verena is a marketing manager of giallozafferano.it, the most visited website in Italy, providing food-related content, hosting recipes, food tricks, health culinary advice, chefs’ suggestions, and more
Giallo Zafferano, a website with 21,8M Unique Audience (most recent data shown by Audiweb for the month of March 2020) and 11M social followers, has been a great resource for the Italian population during the Covid-19 crisis.
Verena explains the challenges of working remotely in this period, how the crisis generated an increase of their website’s audience, and what she and her team have been creating to keep up with the situation.
How are you, first of all? What’s the situation in Milan like?
Luckily, my team, family and I are all fine. We live in a nice apartment, with lots of light and a terrace, it makes a real difference during these days of isolation. Our baby makes our days a lot happier, so we definitely feel lucky.
The situation in Milan is very difficult though, we live in one of the most hit zones in Italy. At the beginning, stopping our lives seemed impossible. Then, the lockdown came, and people started singing, applauding. Now, it looks like people don’t have that energy anymore.
During the day, we hear the noise of the ambulances, see some stop by our window, doctors coming out like Martians from space… It’s hard to keep the morale up. We all feel the big presence of this invisible evil outside, a monster we cannot see, but it’s there, just like the one under the bed when you were a kid.
You work as a marketing manager for Giallozafferano.it, one of the most visited websites in Italy. How has your daily work routine changed since the outbreak began in Italy?
We are working a lot both for the website and our social media channels. People are cooking way more these days, either because they need to or they find solace in it. Cooking and eating makes people happy.
Since we are a food website, we’re working a lot more than before, 24/7, to satisfy the demand of our growing audience, and I’m really grateful for this. Our routines have obviously changed. We used to film all recipes in the studio, our staff had all the necessary equipment to do that there. Now we can’t do that anymore. We are exploring new ways, thinking creatively to provide content, facing new challenges. We used to produce videos inside a professional kitchen with all the supplies and we cannot do that working from home. We face a lot of technical issues, like slow internet connection, bad light quality in the videos (we can’t control it as we would do in a studio), and delays with the expeditions. It means you have to find ways to solve problems that you never had before. Somehow though, having fewer resources, makes you quicker and motivates you to create more.
The other big change I noticed, is that everyone is faster and more focused on what’s relevant. Mostly, I attribute it to a lack of time. Though we work from home and don’t commute, we actually have less time. We need to clean, prepare food, look after your kids, and that means you have a limited time to work. I think this helps us to be more focused.
I guess it’s the first time you and your teamwork completely remotely. How are you managing the work/life balance?
Since we already work in the digital space, we surely have an advantage, although working 100% from home presents its challenges.
Most of the day is spent with your headphones on, but in the evening you are immediately with your family to whom you can dedicate more time and energy. Borders between work and private life are blurred. While you work, you need to look after your kids, or dedicate several calls to your old parents far away, and, beside that, you need to find the time to do grocery shopping, which here takes at least five hours. We have no free time at all! 🙂
What type of initiatives is your company undertaking in this period?
Our audience is growing, so is the request from our users about recipes. During the quarantine, people have less time to do shopping so they need to cook with what they have, the need for simple recipes is key. We do a lot of Instagram Lives, to entertain our audience and engage with them. We try to give ideas to lift the spirits up.
Do you use some online platforms/softwares to work remotely? If yes, which ones?
We have been using Google Hang Out for a while now, Skype, Google Drive, Streamyard for the live streamings, and Whatsapp too!
We’d like to share some content you created for this period to our audience. Any chance you can share a recipe for Picter’s audience?
I would suggest the recipe for the pizza. It is the most researched these days, we’ll probably become all pizza makers at the end of this period! I would say most Italians miss going together to the pizzerias’ and you would notice that at the supermarket, flour and yeast are always missing. I can guarantee it’s a good recipe as I also used it yesterday for my family!
Do you think your daily work routine might change after the crisis?
It is a recurring question these days. We should look back and value how we adapted to the circumstances and the energies we generated out of this. This situation is making us consider what is essential and what seems superfluous in our life. We should all come out of this with a stronger life-work balance that would be productive for companies and families as well.