Almost exactly one year ago today, Morgan Selzer was appointed CCO at mindfulness platform Headspace. In that time, she has spearheaded content expansion on the platform, which now includes music, guided meditation, sleepcasts and, recently, content focussed exclusively on women’s health. And her efforts have begun achieving widespread recognition, as well, as she was named Podcast Executive of the Year by Adweek last month. Morgan joined the OMR Podcast to discuss the brand partnerships and content strategy she has employed at Headspace, her role in making conversations on mental health less taboo and how her experience at CMT—of all places—helped her learn more about the audience at Headspace.
“Better than doomscrolling on Twitter”
When Headspace CEO Andy Puddicombe appeared at the 2019 OMR Festival in Hamburg, the apps primary function was to provide guided meditation. As Morgan Selzer, CCO at Headspace, told me, that is no longer the only area of focus. “While the ethos of the company is still the same, we have evolved from a product that only offers meditation to more ways in which people can live mindfully.” Those ways are, in fact, a robust collection of content that spans sleepcasts, which Morgan described as adult sleep stories, kids content teaching kids how to, for example, be patient while cookies bake, three different shows on Netflix, an extensive music library, move content for mindful cardio and stretching and a daily video show—”a much better way to wake up than doomscrolling on Twitter,” Morgan says.
And that content is growing.
Radio Headspace, the flagship podcast, generates over 2 million downloads a month and earlier this month, they launched content on the main app focused exclusively on women’s health. Entailing new meditations, mindfulness exercises and videos that address a diverse spate of topics, including sex & relationships, physical wellbeing, community and empowerment, it is available in both the English- and German-language versions of the app. For the latter, they teamed up with local female experts, including two psychologists, a best-selling author, podcaster and personal and spiritual development coach Sara Desai and certified MBSR teacher Usha Swamy.
Partner with the best
It is a continuation of Headspace’s partnership strategy on content. “We have partnered with Erykah Badu and Arcade Fire for music that helps you focus. Two years ago John Legend came on board as our Chief Music Officer to curate our focus music playlist, featuring music that is scientifically proven to help you focus better.” But the partnerships also include brands such as Nike and Star Wars. “We had a wonderful collaboration with Lucas Films, four breathing exercises with Chewbacca, Yoda, BB8 and R2D2, and three sleepcasts that transport listeners to places in Star Wars.”
Creating content that makes a difference and destigmatizing mental health
Before joining Headspace as VP of content in 2019, Morgan was already a content vet, developing content at MTV and CMT (Country Music Television). “My background was in televsion, mostly in the unscripted space. I started at MTV and prior to Headspace I was the SVP at Country Music Television.” On the surface it seems quite the leap going from the world of reality shows to a mental well-being operation, but Morgan said it helped her refine her approach to developing content. “I learned so much about storytelling and how to meet audiences where they are.” When she joined Headspace, she says that she was looking to try something else, to figure out how to take what she learned and create something that could really make a difference.
“The benefits of meditation are wonderful, but we’ve also looked to provide other ways for you to be mindful in your life.” Through the content Headspace has created, Morgan has been at the forefront of empowering others to take control of their mental health and to destigmatize mental health. “We are getting to a place where these conversations are not taboo to talk about and to let them bubble up where they would not have normally happened.”
Check out the full episode of the OMR Podcast International with Headspace CCO Morgan Selzer to hear more on the measures she is overseeing to get mindfulness and mental health into the mainstream, how Headspace hopes to expand further and how it aims to make therapy more accessible to everyone.