Julia Zaetta: A Remarkable Career

Julia Zaetta: A Remarkable Career
SHARE
THIS



On Friday night, Julia Zaetta won a Lifetime Achievement Award at B&T’s Women In Media Awards 2017. Zaetta is editor of Pacific Magazines title Better Homes & Gardens and is believed to be Australia’s longest-serving editor. Magazine Networks sat down with Zaetta to talk about forging a sustainable career in the media business and the tragic demise of the advertising lunch.

Julia Zaetta was born to be the editor of Better Homes & Gardens, even if she did tell a lie or two to get her foot in the door of the magazine business.

At 11 years of age, Zaetta was already a budding stylist staging homewares shoots in her bedroom. “I was making patchwork quilts, stealing stuff from the garden and putting it in pots so that I had indoor plants,” she says.

“I’d photograph it – my father who was a photographer had a Box Brownie camera –and then I’d restyle and shoot it all again.”

But Julia didn’t know this meant she was destined for a career in magazines. “I was told I had to go to uni and do a degree that was going to give me a career. So magazines were never even in the picture,” she says.

Still, she found herself driving around the suburbs in her hometown of Melbourne scoping out houses and gardens while being drawn to furniture and fabric stores. As an avid reader of House and Garden, that passion set the wheels in motion. She couldn’t put the magazine down and her boyfriend at the time encouraged her to apply for a job with the publication.

“And why would they employ me?” she said. “What do I know? And besides, we’re in Melbourne and they’re in Sydney.” He said, ‘Write them a letter. All you’ve got to lose is a stamp if you don’t get the job’.” That sealed the fate of her magazine career.

BNTWIM2017-0252-DSC_5930

Julia Zaetta (left) being honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women in Media Awards 2017 on Friday night in Sydney.

When asked if she could style or write decorating copy, Zaetta stretched the truth. “I said, ‘Absolutely,’ and I didn’t know how to,” she says. But she was prepared to learn quickly. House and Garden wasn’t looking to hire anyone but next door, Australian Home Journal was. Within 15 minutes of talking to the editor, Zaetta was employed. “I thought, ‘Oh, good Lord, I have to move from Melbourne to Sydney. My mother will sob and what am I going to do with my boyfriend?’ I moved up of course and it was the job from heaven,” she says.

For six glorious months, she was paid $147 per week as she cut her teeth in the magazine business. When the publishing company was bought by ACP, Zaetta was retrenched alongside many of her colleagues. Other magazine work followed before she landed at her rightful home, Better Homes and Gardens. Today the title is Australia’s most-read magazine, reaching 2,084,000 Australians a month across print, social and digital. The brand delivers a total footprint of 4.1 million touch points a month and has recently recorded a growth of 21% across its total audience year-on-year according to figures provided by emma and Nielsen.

“I’ve certainly not known much else aside from magazines – a bit of TV, bit of radio. But it’s been a lifelong, fabulous, wonderful, totally enthralling, invigorating career. Stimulating to the end,” she says from her uniquely decorated office in Media City beside Sydney’s Technology Park.

Keeping it fresh

As any journalist or editor will tell you, one of the greatest challenges of an ongoing career within a specific vertical is keeping things fresh. For Zaetta, it helps if you love what you do.

“You have to absolutely relish the content you’re working with and does it get much better than food, gardening, decorating, renovating or craft? No, because that’s what all our lives are made up of – it is what gives us home and family and makes us happy,” she says.

Nearly four decades of home magazines must be the ultimate litmus test for the famous saying, ‘There is nothing new except what has been forgotten’ but that doesn’t deter Zaetta.

“How many kitchens can you do? How many bathrooms? How many stories can you feature on orchids? Millions, because every image has something new in it. It’s like music. Every tune is individual. Another orchid story? Yes, please, because I might learn one small thing that I’ve not learnt before, or finally be inspired and courageous enough to grow them. While the content remains the same, it’s ever-changing,” she says.

Ultimately, the readers and their response, make it all worthwhile. “It’s like an affair between us and our people,” says Zaetta.

A changing business

In her nearly forty years editing magazines, Zaetta has seen waves of change wash over the industry.

She has seen first-hand how the onset of digital has affected the way magazines are produced although she doesn’t see it as a negative – pointing to the success of Better Homes & Gardens e-commerce site BHG Shop as a “wonderful new revenue stream” for the brand.

She laments the reduction of a three-way relationship between the client, the agency and the magazine because she misses the once great advertising lunch. She says: “Clients are so much fun. And they are full of information. Those lunches were fabulous. They started at midday on Tuesday and ended at four o’clock Friday afternoon. They were great.”

In Zaetta’s view, brands and agencies benefit enormously from partnering with editorial teams as it fosters collaboration. “You always learn so much in terms of what the client wants and needs from you and what you can deliver to them. Because we’re all in love with the same person, the customer, and if we can deliver them more customers by virtue of what we do with their product, the customer is happy, the client is happy and so are we: everybody wins and that’s the best feeling of all,” she says.

Careers advice

As Zaetta received a standing ovation at Friday’s B&T Women In Media Awards, she shared a few powerful words of advice that she’s learned along the way in her 40-year career history:

“Firstly, it’s imperative that you love what you do and you love the people you work with. I’ve also learned that you must never, ever give up. You have to fight really hard for what you believe. Don’t be afraid to keep on asking for what you want for your product, your people, and particularly your customers,” she said.

“And lastly, in terms of customers, you have to love your them more than anything else – because if you love them above all, they will love you back and you will always have a business – and a great one at that.”

Please login with linkedin to comment

Advertising Standards Bureau Anniversary Better Homes & Gardens Julia Zaetta Women in Media Awards 2017

Latest News

Monday TV Wrap: MAFS Reunion Finale Dominates The Ratings
  • Media

Monday TV Wrap: MAFS Reunion Finale Dominates The Ratings

Sunday night saw MAFS’ finale episode which netted in an impressive 1,398,000 viewers – an increase of 264,000 from Wednesday night’s episode. The extent of Coco and Cam’s affair was revealed, as was the reveal to everyone that Bryce did in fact buy a gift for his proclaimed not-girlfriend outside of the experiment. Perhaps most […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SBS Retires Iconic ‘The World Game’, ‘Cycling Central’ Brands
  • Media

SBS Retires Iconic ‘The World Game’, ‘Cycling Central’ Brands

SBS will shut down The World Game digital platform, marking an end to the beloved football brand’s legacy that officially began in 2001. The network’s Cycling Central website, which covered the most important news around events on the cycling calendar like the Tour De France, will also come under knife, with both standalone football and […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Sydney Morning Herald Marks 190 Years Of Print
  • Media

The Sydney Morning Herald Marks 190 Years Of Print

New South Wales masthead The Sydney Morning Herald celebrates its 190th anniversary today, as one of the oldest continuously printed metropolitan newspapers in the world. In today’s paper, a souvenir wrap-around will show how The Herald forged trust with generations of Sydneysiders with its quality journalism and unique lens on reporting the life and times […]

New York, New York. - May 27, 2017: Google sign outside the Google office in New York City. It is a multinational technology company specializing in internet services and products.
  • Media

Google Considers An Appeal After Federal Court Rules It Misled Australians

Google has said it is considering an appeal, after the Federal Court ruled the tech giant had misled consumers in regards to how it collected location data from Android devices. The decision comes as a major win for the ACCC, which initiated the court proceedings in October 2019. The competition watchdog argued that Google misled […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Nine Announces Judging Panel For State Of Originality
  • Marketing

Nine Announces Judging Panel For State Of Originality

Nine has named the judging panel for its much-anticipated State of Originality, Australia’s richest advertising award, aimed at making State of Origin the equivalent of Australia’s Super Bowl in advertising terms. Announced at Nine’s Upfront last September, the winning campaign will take home much more than a trophy – there’s $1 million in advertising inventory […]

British Supermarket Begins Court Case Over Copycat Caterpillar Cake
  • Marketing
  • Media

British Supermarket Begins Court Case Over Copycat Caterpillar Cake

British supermarket Marks & Spencer has taken an intellectual property claim against fellow supermarket ALDI over the latter’s Cuthbert The Caterpillar Cake, which they allege is too similar to their own iconic Colin The Caterpillar Cake. Colin the Caterpillar (pictured above) has been a staple of birthday parties across the UK since 1990, when the […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
DDB Sydney Unveils Australian Red Cross’ First Brand Campaign In Almost A Decade
  • Campaigns

DDB Sydney Unveils Australian Red Cross’ First Brand Campaign In Almost A Decade

We all felt helpless in the face of 2020’s constant barrage of disasters and catastrophes. And 2021 hasn’t let up either. Last year, Australian Red Cross experienced its biggest demand since World War II, so it has responded with a new brand campaign bringing attention to this overwhelming feeling and highlighting its 106-year track record […]

“Food Is A Way Of Answering Emotional Questions In Ourselves”: The Masterchef Judges On Season 13
  • Media

“Food Is A Way Of Answering Emotional Questions In Ourselves”: The Masterchef Judges On Season 13

As Master Chef prepares to launch back onto screens on Monday 19th April, B&T had the opportunity to speak to the show’s hosts, food critic Melissa Leong and chefs Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allan, who won the show’s fourth season. The three judges first appeared on last year’s Masterchef: Back To Win, which saw returning contestants […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Which 50? Has The Datafication Of Advertising Finally Killed Off Adland’s Favourite Slogan?
  • Partner Content
  • Technology

Which 50? Has The Datafication Of Advertising Finally Killed Off Adland’s Favourite Slogan?

Undoubtedly one of the most overused slogans in marketing’s and advertising’s history is John Wanamaker’s iconic “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. And it’s a credit to the quip’s longevity that last year the line celebrated a real milestone – its 100th birthday. But […]

Partner Content

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Leadership, Humanity, Technology – The Sweet Spot
  • Media
  • Technology

Leadership, Humanity, Technology – The Sweet Spot

The SingularityU Australia Executive Program will take place this may, celebrating leadership at the intersection of the values of humanity and the value of technology. The Elon Musks, Apples and Xeros of the world are taking risks for humanity and creating new  technologies that streamline and beautify business operations. They simplify life by providing basic […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
OMD Alumnus Launches Specialist Media Agency For The Franchise Sector; TFM Digital
  • Marketing

OMD Alumnus Launches Specialist Media Agency For The Franchise Sector; TFM Digital

Brisbane media professional and former OMD Australia Account Director Taylor Fielding (pictured) has officially launched TFM Digital. TFM Digital is a specialist media agency based in Newstead which primarily provides media buying services, and strategy development, to businesses chiefly, but not exclusively, within the franchise sector. Prior to the launch of TFM Digital, Fielding spent […]

FutureFeed Appoints Five By Five For Global Launch
  • Media

FutureFeed Appoints Five By Five For Global Launch

Launch marketing specialists Five by Five Global have been appointed by FutureFeed to develop their brand, international certification trademark and go to market strategy. The innovative livestock feed ingredient developed by CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australian and James Cook University uses a specific genus of seaweed, Asparagopsis, which significantly reduces methane emissions in ruminant livestock. […]

SKMG’s Andrew Knowles Snares B&T’s 30 Under 30 For PR
  • Marketing

SKMG’s Andrew Knowles Snares B&T’s 30 Under 30 For PR

Andrew Knowles, partner and co-founder of the corporate communications consultancy Shoebridge Knowles Media Group (SKMG), has won the PR category in the 2021 B&T 30 Under 30 Awards. Knowles received the award at a ceremony in Sydney last night, claiming victory in a highly competitive field that included leading executives from some of Australia’s biggest […]