Despite a glut of wellness content on the Internet, Michele Promaulayko intends to bring a more authoritative and researched approach to The Well as the company expands into editorial content for the first time.
Promaulayko is joining the year-old health and wellness membership club ($375 a month gets you a monthly meeting with a health coach, unlimited yoga, meditation and movement classes and “access” to health practitioners and personal trainers) as its first editorial director at large. With $14 million from a recent Series A funding round led by New Enterprise Associates, The Well is looking to expand and add editorial to its digital offering. Currently, the company has only one location (in Manhattan,) a newsletter and an Instagram account with more than 15,000 followers. But wellness is an industry estimated to be worth more than $4 trillion and growing, so for a new company like The Well, editorial brings the promise of marketing, product and audience development.
With more than 20 years working mainly in magazine media, most recently as the editor in chief of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan where Jessica Pels has taken over, Promaulayko plans to bring her editorial expertise and knowledge of and connections in the health and wellness field to The Well’s content. Her “at-large” status leaves her able to take on other advisory roles and work on an upcoming book focused on healthy living.
“I’m so grateful for all that I learned about brand-building during [my time in magazines] and for the amazing talent I got to work with, but it’s time to do something different,” Promaulayko said. “At this inflection point in my career, I’m really looking for projects that, without sounding too corny, have the ability and power to positively impact lives and this definitely does.”
“Our goal is to become the gold standard for wellness and working with best-in-class talent is paramount to achieving this,” The Well co-founder Rebecca Parekh wrote in a memo. “Michele’s wealth of experience in the wellness arena as an award-winning print and digital editor is second to none and we are thrilled to have her join the team.”
Although Promaulayko doesn’t yet have any hard-and-fast plans for what the edit strategy will look like in the long term or the short term (her mandate is to figure that out), she does want The Well to focus on digital content that is for the public and based on academic research and topics that The Well’s practitioners are knowledgeable about.
“This is the very early stages of planning this editorial, but we’re not in the position of needing to create click-baity content,” she said. “This is going to be thoughtful, well-researched and expert-vetted content.”
As for whether she’s learned anything from some of the blowback wellness-focused and still-growing Goop has gotten for some of its products and health claims, Promaulayko demurred, noting she “love[s]” the site, has friends that work there and a lot of respect for its founder, Gwyneth Paltrow.
“There will always be haters and there’s always gonna be people who are not into a more alternative or progressive form of wellness,” Promaulayko said. “What’s great about us is we have a built-in medical advisory board. It’s built into what The Well offers and does, so lucky me.”
Something that is not part of any editorial strategizing so far is a magazine, a product that Goop got into with the express purpose of having it appear in spas and wellness centers. Since being out of the magazine industry for going on a year, Promaulayko has noticed how little she gravitates toward the medium now.
“Part of that has to do with you actually, physically see them less. They’re at fewer and fewer places,” Promaulayko said. “Tons of important content can be generated digitally and thoughtfully and we have the luxury right now to roll out this content in the most thoughtful and meaningful way.”
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