Australia’s rich and powerful – and often young and beautiful – make compelling reading for national daily the Australian Financial Review. So much so the Nine masthead has expanded its print product into successful podcast series.
Head of audience development Lauren Vadnjal says in an INMA Satisfying Audiences blog that while its origins are in print, the 40-year-old annual Rich List has continued to evolve.
“Along with its under-40 counterpart, the Young Rich List, the list is much anticipated by print and digital readers alike,” she says, “and for good reason: It takes two co-editors, one data analyst, and a team of contributors and production staff months to value and profile each of the 300 wealthy Australians that appear across the two lists, before turning it into a beautiful digital and print product published in a special edition of AFR Magazine.”
That hard work pays off, particularly in the form of audience engagement.
Stories from the Rich List get more than three times the pageviews than the average AFR article. The topic has its own benchmarks in the ‘topic editor’ dashboard, which are among the highest for the masthead.
“And, due to growing readership, these benchmarks have increased by 200 per cent over the past two years,” she says.
Among reasons for this is that the Financial Review has access to Australia’s most powerful and successful people. “Rich List co-editors Julie-Anne Sprague and Michael Bailey have a nose for discovering the country’s most interesting Rich Listers and getting the best stories out of them,” says Vadnjal. “And, as seen in our audience data, readers not only like to know the net wealth of the elite, but also the (sometimes surprising) stories behind how they built it.”
Recognising this, the Rich List team – along with deputy editor (digital) Fiona Buffini, who is also executive producer – decided to extend the Rich List into a new interview podcast and content series, allowing the publication to reach new, younger audiences.
How I Made It: Inside the Rich List launched in October 2021 with Sprague as host and Margaret Gordon as producer. In each episode, Sprague spoke to Australia’s top entrepreneurs about how they built their fortunes and what they learned along the way.
Guests’ industries, backgrounds, genders and ages varied. They ranged from long-term Rich List stalwarts to those on the Young Rich List who have more recently made their wealth in e-commerce or crypto.
Each half-hour episode was accompanied by editorial promoted on AFR’s Web site and distributed in newsletters and across social channels. “We know our readers are hungry for anything that will get them ahead in their careers, and so, from each interview, the digital desk published accompanying stories on guests’ top lessons for life and work,” she says. “These proved hugely successful with subscribers and have ended up being some of the most-read Rich List stories of the year.”
For episode one, Jack Cowin, the 79-year-old fast food billionaire who brought KFC and Hungry Jacks to Australia, shared some of the biggest risks he’s taken and his 13 lessons for life. It remains the most listened-to episode of the series.
Then there’s Tammy Hembrow, a 28-year-old fitness founder and influencer who, at last count, was worth an estimated A$41 million. Her story was one that found a large audience on social media.
Almost 40 per cent of total referrals for the series have come via social media, outsizing the site average and indicating the AFR is also successfully reaching new audiences outside of its core subscribers.
The first eight-part season was well-received by listeners and was the eighth most downloaded business podcast in Australia in November 2021. It also struck a chord with advertisers and has been sponsored since launch, including a second season that followed in 2022 with Lap Phan as producer.
And listeners continue to discover the podcast. “Being evergreen, it enjoys a longer online life than our daily news coverage,” says Vadnjal. “How I Made It will return for season three in 2023.”