What today’s media can learn from EMAPs launch success

What made EMAP so great at launching magazines? And what can today’s media learn?

 

In the 80s and 90s, EMAP was a force of nature in the magazine world, launching an endless stream of lifestyle, sports and hobby magazines, from Q and Empire to Today’s Golfer, More and heat. One of the architects of this stream of creativity was Dave Hepworth, who was interviewed in a rather dark and stuffy room by Colin Morrison recently in an event organised by The Media Society.

As a former EMAP staffer (16 years all told) I have to declare a slight interest, and bias, but this nostalgia trip did set me thinking about exactly why EMAP was so successful then, what has changed and what lessons if any, are still relevant to media organisations in 2018?

What made EMAP great at magazines?

 

Focus on readers first

David explained he always kept in mind “Tracy from Grantham” the archetypal Just Seventeen reader – and what she might think about the magazine. Hundreds of readers hand wrote and posted letters and competition entries – all were read and digested by the editorial team. The early editions of launches had very few advertisers, so there was total focus on satisfying readers

Backing editorial hunches (with a little extra research)

EMAP felt like an outsider, not part of the London magazine establishment, and was prepared to take risks and try new formats.

Innovative design

Editorial teams obsessed over covers, and design of spreads, endlessly thinking about how to present information visually. EMAP was great at packaging, and bold on cover prices.

Creating a habit

Based on knowledge of the reader, a magazine had to become a necessary weekly or monthly fix of information and entertainment. Building a mystique about the title and its team as the arbiters of what was new and cool enhanced this.

Understanding the newsstand

Back then, in those pre-internet days, browsing at the newsagent was the way to find new products, and EMAP had a deep knowledge of how to capture attention in that environment, with bold covers and gifts.

 

What has changed in the magazine world?

 

The EMAP launch machine ran out of steam in the early years of this century, as the internet started to provide specialist information and entertainment without having to trudge to the local high street. Consumers grew out of the habit of browsing in newsagents, and instead just relied on google and scrolling through Facebook.

Meanwhile magazine publishers became perhaps a little too reliant on advertising, losing their focus on readers, and began to adapt and distort magazine content to meet advertisers target audiences rather than what readers wanted. And as the industry became more conservative and defensive, and I fully include EMAP in this, there was less launch activity, and thus less to draw buyers back to the newsstand.

Thus began the damaging cycle of declining newsstand sales, fewer big launches, less space allocated to magazines at retail, and diminishing footfall.

I think it unlikely now that we could return to the buoyant days of the late 20th century when magazine launches came thick and fast and market shares could shift rapidly.

The newsstand is now built more around a few big retailers and a small group of reliable power brands, and smaller innovative launches are too much of a risk.

 

What can today’s media learn?

 

But what can we take from the experiences of the fast and furious magazine launch culture of the EMAP of the 80s and 90s? I think there are a few principles that might still help media organisations navigate the world of smartphones, fast content, social media and savvy readers:

  1. Readers First – listen to your audience and meet their needs ahead of advertisers
  2. Design to grab attention – be aware of visual storytelling
  3. Create a habit – do something useful or entertaining for your readers every week
  4.  Build mystique – possibly use small live events to establish your brand as the authority
  5. Know your marketplace – today this might be google, Facebook or Instagram rather than WHS, but understanding how people use it to find new stuff is essential

And finally, of course, that core EMAP value, back your creative teams!

If you’re keen to talk more about the launch discipline of EMAP and how it could be applied to your own media business, do get in touch for a chat over the phone or over a coffee.

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About the author:

Carolyn Morgan has over twenty years experience launching, growing, buying and selling specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. Carolyn now advises publishers large and small on their digital strategy and writes and speaks on digital publishing strategy.

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Will publishers still provide value to advertisers in future?

How will publishers provide value to advertisers in future?

As B2B marketing becomes more targeted, and marketers focus on creating their own content and generating and nurturing leads, do they really need traditional media brands? What exactly is the role that a publication plays for marketers and advertisers, whether in print, digital or live formats?

At the Marketing in Maritime conference last month I chaired a panel of established print and start-up digital media owners, plus a major advertiser to explore this issue. The conversation raised some interesting questions for both B2B media owners and B2B marketers about how they can work together which I believe are applicable to all markets. These were the main themes:

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Five future tech trends that media businesses need to watch

Alexa News skills

Technology developments that only recently felt in the realms of science fiction: such as voice and visual search, AI and blockchain are now being explored by innovative digital media businesses.

At the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin in March, some mind blowing concepts were shared, and the audience of publishers realised that they needed to do some more research.

These are five technologies that you need to watch…

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Seven new digital business models for media owners

Future plc revenue sources

Publishers are exploring a range of new business models to reduce their reliance on advertising, grow digital revenues and develop multiple revenue sources. Some are focussing on subscriptions and other premium paid services, others exploring e-commerce and affiliates, or reinventing their approach to advertising.

Below are seven approaches to new digital business models with examples from the speakers at the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin:

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The new digital storytelling rules: how journalism is changing

Atomised content for multiple platforms

Digital storytelling is different to traditional print journalism. As mobile becomes the default device and visuals beat text, journalism is changing. Navigation is based on tap and swipe, video commands attention, graphics and quotes communicate better than copy. Distribution on third party platforms is essential to reach an audience. We are drowning in data on user behaviour, and only just grasping how to understand what it is telling us. Most publishers are aspiring to build paid subscriptions to reduce dependence on advertising revenues.

So how are publishers and journalists adapting their editorial craft for digital media? There were plenty of smart ideas available at the FIPP/VDZ Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin – here’s my top four themes.

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How should publishers engage with social platforms?

Economist on Snapchat

Facebook and their ilk have become an important part of digital content distribution and promotion. But how should publishers navigate the minefield of tech giants and social platforms to reach a global audience without losing direct contact with their readers, or losing control of their data? There was plenty of debate at the FIPP/VDZ Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin about social strategies; in this article I have summarised what seems to be working on both sides of the Atlantic.

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New thinking on Digital Subscriptions: 8 successful strategies

Digital subs mobile options

Digital subscriptions for online content have maybe just reached the tipping point.  Free content, ad-funded business models are struggling, and traditional print publishers are now focussing on building a compelling digital subs proposition.

A growing number of publishers are refocussing their business model towards subscriptions.  The New Yorker now has 65% of its revenues coming from readers, and paid circulation is growing at a rate of 12.3%.  The Economist is now financially sustainable on subscriptions alone. BILD has grown from zero to over 300k digital subs in 8 years.

Digital subscriptions were a hot topic of conversation at the Digital Innovators Summit in Berlin, organised by FIPP and VDZ.  I chaired a panel discussion on reader revenues and there were multiple presentations from European and North American publishers on their subscription strategy.

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How tech will affect your readers and your media business and what you should do

Revenue sources for media businesses RISJ

Digital technology is changing how people want to consume news and content, and how media businesses must evolve. Publishers will need to change how they package and present stories, how they attract attention, and how they generate new revenues.

The RISJ have made a number of predictions of trends for journalism and media, based on their research primarily among news organisations worldwide. You can download the full RISJ report here.

This is my interpretation of how these trends will affect more specialist media businesses and what you might need to do…

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Why B2B media brands need an events strategy

fleet news awards

While digital tech grabs the headlines, what with AI and VR and AR et al, one of the strongest growing revenue sources for media brands is low tech, face to face, in person events.

Over the last year I have had in depth conversations with several B2B leaders convinced that live events are a strategic part of their future, as part of a joint research project with Helen Coetzee of MPG.  This article explores why events work so well and how they can add value to your media business.

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Webinar: 10 Practical Strategies for the Future of B2B Media

 

This is the recording of a webinar I presented on Navigating the Future of B2B Media: 10 Practical Strategies, for InPublishing Magazine on 30 Jan 2018.  I consider the importance of events, data and intelligence products, customer insight, content marketing solutions, marketing automation and the digital talent gap.

Below is a summary of the Q&A session after the webinar, covering topics from paid subscriptions to the future of display advertising, artificial intelligence, social media, the future for print and the potential of virtual reality technologies for publishers.

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Navigating the future of B2B Media: 10 practical strategies

Business to business media is in a state of flux, with subscribers and advertisers’ own businesses changing fast thanks to technology and internationalisation. The organisations formerly known as B2B publishers are having to reinvent themselves as information services, networking facilitators, lead generators and marketing solutions consultants.

Where are the nuggets of future value in this more complex environment for B2B media? How should publishing leaders be evolving their brands?

Over this year I’ve been working with several B2B publishers on aspects of their digital strategy, and also interviewed ten B2B leaders as part of a research project for Merit Group. This article summarises my observations on how to create long term value in B2B media.

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Building communities at B2B events: learning from Web Summit 2017

Events are a growing part of B2B media portfolios, building brands and increasing revenues. A successful event, however, is about more than the speakers, sponsors and content: delegates are keen to use live events to expand their network and make new connections. So building a community in advance of the event is increasingly important. I’ve looked in depth at one event, Web Summit, which has always focussed on networking, and drawn out some ideas which could be applied to other B2B events.

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Ethical issues in tech: what it means for media businesses

artificial intelligence robot sophia

This article on ethical issues in tech is part of a series exploring key tech themes raised at the web summit and how they might affect media brands.  Read about all the themes here.

Technology has been evolving faster than our ability to develop ethical codes and regulation.  Social platforms and algorithms can be gamed for political ends.  Technology will destroy some jobs (including truck drivers and call centre agents) and create new roles, causing social disruption.  Large global tech corporations have enormous power and governments struggle to collect taxes and control monopolistic practices.  And as AI starts to surpass human intelligence, how can we ensure its power is not exercised to the detriment of human values?  But tech can also be used for good, to counter inequality and fight climate change.

So how should media brands react to these ethical issues?

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How digital is changing learning and work

digital changing learning

This article on how digital is changing learning and work is part of a series on major tech trends and the impact on media brands based on ideas from Web Summit.

Read about the other tech themes here.

How is digital changing learning and work? Rapidly changing job roles mean that school and university students must acquire different skills, with some calling for more “code literacy.” Those already working will need to accept the need for lifelong learning, using a mix of online tools and face to face. The proportion of freelance workers will grow, gaining flexibility in hours and location, and providing on-tap expert skills for larger organisations.

So what are the challenges and opportunities for media brands created by this new landscape of work and learning?

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How artificial intelligence could affect media brands

AI landscape

This article on how artificial intelligence could affect media brands is part of a series on key themes in new technology and their likely impact on media brands – from the Web Summit 2017.  Read about the other trends here.

Artificial intelligence was everywhere at Web Summit – from the high profile Chief Humanoid Sophia to the use of chatbots for customer service and machine learning to analyse mountains of data.  AI is also behind the real time natural language processing of Amazon’s Alexa, which could revolutionise how people search for answers to their problems.

So what are the main developments in AI and what are the implications for media brands?

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Building trust in media brands in the age of social and algorithms

Building trust in media brands

This article on building trust in media brands is part of a series exploring the key themes in new technology for media brands from the Web Summit 2017.  Read about all the themes here.

The furore over fake news on social media and its influence on political change has sharpened the focus on which media brands to trust.  Several high profile newspapers have built resources in investigative journalism (but bringing new digital tools to bear) to enhance their reputation for independence and accuracy.  The debate on the value of human curation versus algorithms is still fiercely raging.

So how can news media brands encourage a fickle online audience to trust their reporting?

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Planning for digital content promotion

Blue Planet promo clips

This article on digital content promotion is in a series exploring technology themes from Web Summit that are relevant to media brands.  Read about the other themes here.

Digital content is now increasingly discovered through social platforms and via influencers.  So media owners must work out their tactics for digital content promotion from the very earliest stages of planning new features, and become familiar with analysing data on how previously published content was discovered.   Content creators and media brands have to review their relationship with distribution platforms like Facebook.

So what can media brands learn from programme makers, influencers and digital publishers?

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New digital storytelling: video, VR and AR

This article about new digital storytelling with video, VR and AR is in a series exploring key themes in technology from the Web Summit in Lisbon and how they may impact on media brands. Read about the other themes here.

Video already drives engagement on mobile and social.  So media brands need to adapt to this form of story telling and engaging audiences. But the gaming and entertainment industry, in search of more immersive experiences, are already developing augmented reality (AR), volumetric video and virtual reality (VR). As mobile devices evolve to be capable of handling these forms of content, consumers will become used to these new visual experiences, and media owners will need to develop new ways to present content.

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New frontiers in tech: what media brands can learn from web summit

Web Summit Lisbon 2017

Technology is enhancing and disrupting every sector of business and society, in every part of the world. Like a benign virus, technology can worm its way into any value chain, find efficiencies and share information transparently, automate and simplify processes. Startups are endlessly seeking markets that might pay for new and better services.

Web Summit in Lisbon in November 2017 brought together 60,000 people working in tech businesses, from aspiring startups to large corporations, from marketers to developers, plus investors and policymakers. New products were showcased and ethical problems explored in hundreds of talks and panel sessions. Hundreds of startups hustled for investment and partnerships. The energy, ingenuity and ambition of the movers and shakers in the tech ecosystem was awe-inspiring.

Nobody can ignore the pace of technology change, and what may seem futuristic and far-fetched on stage here will be affecting consumers and businesses in a matter of years, or maybe months.

So what trends should media brands be monitoring? I have summarised six key themes to be aware of:

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10 strategic themes for the future of publishing from FIPP Congress

FIPP World Congress

What is the future of publishing and media brands?  Magazine media businesses from around the world gathered in London for FIPP Congress 9-11 October to share experiences and emerging business models, listen to tech innovations and navigate an increasingly complex world.

These are the top strategic themes I took away from the event.

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