Have you heard of Screen Shot Magazine? Well if not, it’s about time that we put them on your radar. Screen Shot is creating a new kind of content. An online and print media company, publishing articles divided into four broad sections: technology, the future, visual cultures and politics. Their events have amassed to over 600 people and their going to experience a serious amount of growth this year. We caught up with co-founder Lauren Robson, who makes up one half of the Screen Shot power team, alongside Shira Jeczmien. Unbelievably, Lauren runs Screen Shot alongside her studies and will inspire anyone who is currently navigating the art of juggling multiple things at once. Read about the challenges of running a digital and print platform, learning from mistakes and the importance of partnerships today with Lauren.
Age at time of interview:
London – always London!
COO – Chief Operating Officer
After university was it a clear cut path as to what you wanted to do?
When you finish university the world is open before you — that’s just about as terrifying as it is exciting. After university I think you have the time to try different things, finding out what you don’t want is just as important as finding out what you do want. Not having a clear cut path is OK.
What is Screen Shot Magazine and when did you launch?
Screen Shot is creating a new kind of content. We are an online and print media company publishing articles divided into four broad sections: technology, the future, visual cultures and politics. Our articles are written by contributing writers, both established and previously unpublished, to ensure that our voice does not become monotonous. Each article is paired with an individual piece of artwork carefully curated by our image editor. We are working to re-engage people in media by giving them easy to digest micro content and weekly opinion pieces enhanced by carefully curated artwork and constantly showing a diverse range of opinions and writers.
Screen Shot was previously a hobby project of my co-founder Shira. Around 4 months ago we went through a re-launch to make the business work.
How did the idea for Screenshot Magazine come about?
Screen Shot was borne out of what Shira saw was a need for the media to become more proactive and less reactive. We write about the future because we want people to be having the conversations and debates surrounding the policy of these technologies before it’s too late to have them. We saw a media landscape that was increasingly slow, dominated by a few large voices and reactive rather than proactive. We saw a need to change those things in order to engage people, specifically younger generations, with the media.
You have an interesting story behind how you became a co-founder. Can you share that with us?
My path to Screen Shot was about as straight as a roundabout. I left London to work in Berlin before I had even finished university. I started working at N26, one of Europe’s largest fintechs, and flying back to London to finish my exams. I didn’t see myself working in fintech but I found N26 and fell in love with it. The product, the team, the environment. I had the most wonderful manager who showed me the ropes and after three months I was managing PR for 14 European countries. A year later I moved back home.
After working in a PR agency, I found myself wanting something different. I decided I needed a reset – I went to university to study politics and got accepted into LSE to do an MSc in Conflict Studies. This was when I was going to get back on the political path. Then came along my co-founder Shira and Screen Shot. I saw a position advertised, looked at Screen Shot and fell in love all over again. I met Shira once and knew that this was for me, the mission of the company, the passion of Shira and the atmosphere surrounding the project – I was hooked. But I didn’t want to do just PR, I wanted to be involved in all aspects of this company – it was a gamble for Shira and for me. She had to trust that I could do my job and I had to trust that she would let me. I started at Screen Shot and LSE a month after first meeting Shira. 4 months later we have doubled in team size, launched a new website and started our brand new monthly event series.
What ground rules had to be laid out, when mapping out the two differing roles between yourself and your co-founder?
I think there was no clear mapping – we divided tasks according to our skill sets and experiences but that took some time and navigation. It was a matter of starting out with our strengths, dividing tasks, maintaining close, open and honest communication and finding what worked.
There is only one ground rule: be honest, always.
How do you juggle running Screen Shot Magazine alongside your studies?
Well firstly, sleep has become nothing but a distant memory! It may sound strange but the working environment has actually helped my focus at university. I know my time is limited so I don’t have it to waste – I work or I study – there is no room for procrastination or laziness. It forces me to push myself everyday and work twice as hard at both.
Thankfully at Screen Shot we have been lucky to make amazing choices in hiring. My team here in the office is in constant contact with me, but through the use of management tools and clear daily morning meetings their tasks are clear and they are able to execute them. Hiring good people is key to this process, Shira and I need to trust that they know what they are doing and that they will come to us if they don’t.
What are the biggest challenges you find in running Screen Shot Magazine?
The biggest challenge in running Screen Shot is the division of my time internally. I like to dedicate a lot of time to the personal development of employees but that needs to be weighed against events management, marketing, PR, social media management and finding new hires! It is often that I leave writing emails until everyone is gone for the day.
What made you decide to do a print magazine and how did you go about doing this?
A print magazine was important to have as a physical touchpoint with our readers and customers. The magazine in print functions as a statement piece. While our events focus on community engagement our print magazine allows our readers to have a lasting piece of Screen Shot and see our development as a company.
We curate our most loved articles from our online platform from the past 6 months and combine them with our artwork and work with our layout designer to create something meaningful.
For those that don’t know, how do you go about distribution?
This changes depending on your size and where and how you want to put your publication out. As we have increased our circulation by almost double we are using a worldwide distributor – which takes a lot of the logistical pressure off of us!
Advertising is important to magazines. What advice would you give someone when approaching advertisers?
I think the best advice is do your research. Approach brands who will fit in with your platform and audience – having a relationship between the visions of the brands is key to a good partnership. Also have a clear idea of your offering before you begin, you need to show your advertisers that you are worth it, so make sure you know who you are before you approach them.
What makes Screen Shot magazine different from the competition out there?
I think the set up of our content, the addition of our images and the fact that we have no in-house writers. Having daily micro-content and weekend opinion pieces ensures our readers get snappy, precise content and on the weekends can take a bit more time – we fit in with their schedule. Our images are thought provoking and curated to instigate conversation, they aren’t chosen at random or just an addition to break up the text – they are a core part of our editorial process. The fact that we have no in-house writers means that our content is always diverse and we showcase a multitude of voices.
Who makes up the immediate Screen Shot team and how do you find the right people?
The immediate Screen Shot team is Shira, co-founder and Editor in Chief, me as COO and co-founder, our New York based U.S. editor Yair Oded, Image Editor and content consultant Sofia Gallarate and our Head of Creative Partnerships Alexander Crickmay.
Before anything there is a strict process of skill evaluation – finding out why Screen Shot, why now and what can you bring not only to this role but to the team dynamics. We don’t ask for cover letters but just one sentence on why a candidate was drawn to Screen Shot. However finding the right people is for me all about the gut feeling. More often than not I will decide for or against a candidate based on when I meet them – how does my gut react. As we are a small team and growing fast being able to trust and have confidence in your employees is key – you have to be able to believe in them and their work as much as they do yours.
What hiccups have you faced along the way through running Screenshot?
In running a business, there are more hiccups than when you are on a night out and everyone has been drinking nothing but pink champagne (for anyone who hasn’t done this – it’s a lot).
I think the largest hiccup we had was allowing ourselves to be backed into a corner by a service provider who overpromised and under delivered. As we had been waiting for the result for so long – and were convinced that it could be delivered to us we waited. It took us far too long to realise it wasn’t going to happen.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to others looking to set up a digital and print magazine?
- Know that you’re tackling a super difficult and rigid industry, often modelled on old-fashioned formats
- Be a creator, not a follower
- Build a community – find your crowd, learn how to talk to them and how to engage with them, make them feel like part of what you are building
You moved into hosting Screenshot events. How important is partnerships when you host events?
Depending on the event partnerships, this can play a very large or very small role. It depends on how involved the partner wants to be! The main partnership is your venue, you are creating an event together – that partnership has to be mutually beneficial and remain so.
How do you ensure you have enough people in attendance?
It depends on the event – we have a very dedicated audience in London, our event last month was oversubscribed and full! Our past launches have had around 600-800 people in attendance so it comes back to engaging your audience and making them a part of your publication.
Have you sought investment and if not do you plan to?
Screen Shot has not sought investment so far – however we are expanding very quickly and going through an investment round is looking more and more attractive as an option to us. So all I can really say is – watch this space!
What’s a typical day for you working Screen Shot Magazine ?
A typical day in Screen Shot starts with me looking at our Trello boards in the office – every morning me and Shira have a sit down to discuss daily traffic and any big news – then we have a 10 minute sit down with the rest of the team to align on priorities for the day and progress from the previous.
Then I sit down with our social media and design team and make sure they are clear on what they need to do and if I am needed. We often in these sessions have a brainstorm of new ideas and concepts that we want to bring in.
The next section of my day revolves around events, making sure our venue partners, panelists and speakers are happy and creating a marketing and social media strategy around the event.
I then go through our marketing campaigns across all our platforms, both offline and online – seeing what works and what doesn’t. As our team is still relatively small and agile we are able to quickly swap tactics, it also allows us to closely follow the publication of articles online.
In the afternoon I have time for out of office meetings, with potential new partners for our event series or marketing – if not i have the time to go through my inbox, which is usually full at this point.
What personality traits you have discovered about yourself along the way?
I think the biggest personality trait that has come forward is that I live for a busy and focused environment. The busier and more hectic things are – the more work I do – the better work I do. I also found, since managing people, that I love seeing them develop. It makes my work count a lot more when I see it affect other people’s personal journeys and really motivates me to do more.
What has been your best moment so far as a result of setting up Screenshot?
By far the best moment for me was after the first event in our monthly series – by this time we had all our new team together and the event went as well as I could have hoped, and to experience that with all of the team and seeing how well we worked together was a very very special moment.
What do you think is next for Screenshot this year?
I think what is next for us is a massive expansion – we will be doing more events, more offline campaigns, partnering with more companies and individuals than ever, bigger stories and a bigger Screen Shot.
What’s the dream?
The dream is to build Screen Shot into an internationally followed media company and thought leader that everyone knows and loves – build a global community around a global brand that tells exciting stories and never ever compromises on its content, offline and online.
Just for fun…
In your twenties the three things I tend to think about are…
My job, my degree and how long I have left to get in the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
3 startups with founders Under 30 I admire are…
Yuja Chang, 27; Watson Yim, 24 – co-founders of Aria – for the mission they set themselves. Liv Little, founder of Gal dem magazine, for her passion, talent and drive, Mo Moubarak from MoBerries for all his amazing work and constant patience in giving me advice!
The Twenty Mile Club is….
A platform to force anyone who thinks that your 20’s can’t be spent creating something that’s your own to think again.
Find Screen Shot’s website here
Head to their Instagram here
Head to their Facebook here
Next Beauty Shot event here