Innovation at PPA Festival

A great line up of speakers captivated audiences at this year’s PPA Festival. Magazine editors past and present, accredited PPA course tutors, plus a few of their students were among those who turned out to hear a wealth of inspirational presentations.

Kate Readeon, editor of Tatler revealed what really happened behind the scenes on that documentary. While Good Housekeeping’s Lindsay Nicholson and Judith Secombe explained how they turned the brand into a revolutionary start-up business.

Lindsay and Judith demonstrated how, despite to slum in sales across the consumer lifestyle sector, innovation can inject new energy into a brand. Good Housekeeping is still a big household favourite with core brand values that are as strong today as they were at the start in 1922.

Meanwhile the Reinventing Your Brand Business session focussed on revenue streams. Panelists  – Claire Irvin, River Publishing, Susie Forbes, Conde Nast College of Fashion & Design, Tom Loxley, Radio Times and Diane Kenwood – revealed how editors are now becoming entrepreneurs as they look for and develop new ways to grow income. Editor of Woman’s Weekly, Diane Kenwood, advised the audience to keep abreast of trends and always look at what’s coming next. “Everything we do,” said Diane, “makes a profit”.

Again such success goes back to that old adage – know your audience. Woman’s Weekly have a core band of loyal readers whom the editorial team know inside out, which is why their business model clearly works.

Events work

Among one of the key themes discussed was setting up reader events. This fast-growing income strategy seems to be proving popular among some editors and publishers, particularly in lifestyle and B2B sector. But why are events so successful with magazine audiences?

The answer is simple. Readers love to feel involved in the magazine.

When working on Writers’ Forum magazine having a presence at key writing events throughout the year was a must. So we used attend most of the major festivals nationwide from Oxford, Cheltenham and Hay to Winchester and the NAWG festival in Durham.

Writers’ Forum had a stand at most of these events so readers could meet the editorial team and receive a free copy of the magazine. Often one of the team would participate in the festival or conference as a guest speaker, this also helped to raise the title’s profile.

It was a strategy that really paid dividends. Many delegates would sign up for subscriptions on the spot. But it was more than that. Often our core readers would come up simply to say ‘hello’ and tell us about their work. Conversations at these events would reveal problems would-be writers were facing, thus providing fresh ideas for content.

It is this type of interaction that keeps a magazine connected to its audience. Through reader engagement comes innovation. A magazine must never stand still, if it does it becomes stagnant. Meeting your audience on a regular basis – through either holding or participating in events – is part of that journey.

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