When PhilSTARLife.com, the digital channel of PhilSTAR Media Group started, we were living in the midst of a lockdown.
It was a time of fear, uncertainty, isolation, curfews, and Zoom meetings. Masking and social distancing became the norm, while businesses, schools, and offices went quiet. The PhilSTAR L!fe media brand was launched in the middle of one of the worst moments in modern history, with people glued to their screens working remotely from home.
When it launched in October 2020, PhilSTAR L!fe aimed to champion individuality, by giving readers options on what to do on weekends, providing guides for self-care, the latest in fashion and pop culture trends, as well as news and current events amid the pandemic.
Rising to the challenge
“It was not an easy time for print, but instead of being discouraged, STAR took it as both a challenge and an opportunity to grow its audience,” PhilSTAR Life publisher Sheila Paras said about the major challenges they faced in the past two years.
This meant less in-person coverage for the media brand and relying on virtual interviews, crowdsourced material, as well as live online events.
However, the brand managed to thrive amid the lockdowns by providing a dynamic platform compared to print media.
“It introduced the PhilSTAR Media Group to a new, younger, more diverse audience, which was a strategic pivot for the STAR brand—a response to the changing environment—and it has proven to be a worthy effort,” said Paras.
Despite being only two years old, PhilSTAR L!fe is now being recognized as a formidable lifestyle and pop culture brand, not just by casual readers or social media users, but also by advertisers and industry leaders.
Fast forward to October 2022. The world has opened up with a vengeance and L!fe as we know it will never be the same.
As the media brand celebrates its second year, L!fe has to evolve with the times, and it is highly unlikely for us to return to the world that was before Covid19.
“PhilSTAR L!fe prides itself as a brand that listens to its audience; hence our tag, ‘everything you love, want and need.’ Everything in digital moves at such a quick pace that a poorly timed piece of content can easily get drowned out,” said Paras.
The brand will continue to explore new techniques and innovate in platforms that are readily available and sustain and increase engagement with tried and tested products like short-form videos, travel and lifestyle features, pop culture pieces, thought-provoking essays and explainers, and celebrity exclusives.
“We only recently started traveling again, going to in-person events, and shooting our subjects, so we look forward to increasing our inventory of digital offerings in the next few months,” shared Paras.
Readers can expect more inspiring travel content, useful guides with #TripTips, features on unique places to stay around the country, and updates on special travel promos and deals.
PhilSTAR L!fe Weekend Editor Brooke Villanueva has also launched several new columns this year, including #UnpopularOpinion, which provides a platform to “bravely touch on topics that matter—from religion, to mental health, to LGBTQ+ issues, and beyond,” and connect to readers even better.
“As the team members voice out their unpopular opinions, it's been amazing to see our readers engage in fun debates on certain topics in the comment section,” she said.
The #AskingForAFriend advice column will also be relaunched soon with a brand new approach.
“Aside from these, we have other things in store for our readers during weekends, such as fun quizzes, life musings, taboo conversations, and feel-good stories, among others. So stay tuned,” said Villanueva.
With more people turning to social media for news and information, expect a refresh of quality content across all social media platforms as well.
“With the variety of content that we have, there’s always something for everyone. We just need to present them in fun, more engaging ways,” said Social Media and Community Editor Myla Torres-Eder.
“Tiktok, Reels, and Shorts are here to stay for a while and we should be able to move seamlessly to where our audience is. Moving forward, we will be focusing more on short-form videos to push our content,” she said.
PhilSTAR L!fe also aims to provide a platform for young and aspiring writers to hone their craft and get essays, travelogues, and short stories published online. The current team of content producers and writers come from the Gen Z crowd, who bring fresh energy and idealism to the job.
Life is unpredictable. So we heed The Maze Runner’s author James Dashner’s words, to “be real, be interesting. Tell a good story.”
That’s what we in L!fe will continue to do.