Magazine students prepare to go head-to-head in Dragons’ Den

It’s back!

The competition to find the best new magazine idea pitched by CBJ magazine journalism students returns this week with three titles vying for the winning spot.

After last year’s triumph by the sport and fitness concept Women’s Tri, 2016’s contenders focus on young entrepreneurs, the baking business and weddings for the mature market.

Pulse cover

Business magazine Pulse targets 20- and 30-year-olds hoping to be the next Michelle Mone or Richard Branson with content all about how to set up and thrive in business. Devised by Jodie Armstrong, Charlotte McIntyre and Emma Turner, its editorial ranges from how to finance your start-up or deal with maternity leave rules to what makes the best entrepreneurs tick and how to dress for a meeting.

George Ellis, Leo Forfar and Stewart Thorpe have gone for a business-to-business (b2b) magazine, aimed at capitalising on the boom in baking sparked by the Great British Bake Off and the interest in niche products, such as gluten-free. Features include the increasing popularity of baking among men and the campaign for real bread.

Classic Bride

Third in the line-up is luxury brand Classic Bride, a wedding magazine designed to appeal to brides over-40 with advice on how to choose a dress, the etiquette of wedding invitations and tying the knot in a foreign location. It’s the brainchild of Caitlin Kelly, Vicky Lomax and Chloe McNab.

On Thursday January 28, the three concepts will be pitched to a panel of media experts, including Elise Wells, editor of Slimming World, one of the top five best-selling magazines in the country, and Tim Relf, who combines his job as community and farm life editor at Farmers Weekly with a parallel career as a novelist.

The winning magazine will be written and produced in spring by all of the students on the MA/PGDip Magazine Journalism course at the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism.

Course leader Julie Nightingale said: “Dragons’ Den is one of the most popular projects we do. The fact that it is judged by real industry people gives it an edge and sets it apart from other assignments.

“Last year produced some phenomenal ideas and the winner, Women’s Tri, was eventually pitched for real to a magazine company. I think this year’s look equally promising but it’s up to the Dragons on the day.”

Which magazine gets your vote? Leave us a comment below

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11 responses to “Magazine students prepare to go head-to-head in Dragons’ Den”

  1. Chris Anderson - MAMJ class of 2014 says :

    For me the GBB-inspired magazine has to be the one to take forward. If there’s one thing we learned it was pick a popular niche and run with it. Given the ridiculous numbers of people happy to sit at home watching cakes rise there has to be scope for using that interest to build a readership. Focusing on expanding markets such as gluten-free products is also a nice touch but I’d aim more on the viewers rather than the businesses behind the scenes.

  2. Claire Douglas -- MAMJ Class of 2011 says :

    Pulse does it for me. Great unique concept. Cover and branding already look completely credible — I’d pick it off the shelf.
    If I were in the den, I’d want to know more about the potential community forums/ blogs/ social media, that could be used to support the publication. Peer networking opportunities will be key for this demographic so being able to offer that could just give you the edge.

  3. nickbannister says :

    Pulse is the one for me – there’s been a massive rise in entrepreneurship in recent years and I think there’s a real appetite for a quality, readable source of support, information and inspiration. I’d want to see a lot of practical advice as well as real life case studies in there and would want to know about the mag’s digital life – eg website, social media, online subscriber content etc

  4. Tom O'Rourke says :

    The baking magazine could be a hit, as the GBB has proved a hit with consumers – not sure of the competition it faces from other magazines? You could also question the longevity it – is it here to stay or just a fad that will have passed in five years’ time?

    Pulse seems a solid idea, but it will depend on the quality of entrepreneurs they can get on the cover for future issues.

    Classic Bride is a nice twist on the wedding magazine, targeting a specific age group. How will it actually differ from magazines aimed at younger brides though, in terms of content and style?

  5. Stephanie Sparrow says :

    As a former “dragon” it is gratifying to see another batch of confident entries.

    I was intrigued by the baking title but confused about its intended audience. The pitch says B2B which implies that it is aimed at independent/craft bakers but it also talks about hobby bakers (which would make it a consumer/leisure title). Perhaps a cover would help with context?

    The other two pitches tackle their subjects with some aplomb, however,is Pulse still a long-standing title delivered to GP’s surgeries?

    All three groups are to be applauded for unearthing niche markets and I’m sure that the judges have a tricky task ahead when deciding on a winner.

  6. andycowles1 says :

    Great to see this project again, interesting work all round.

    The idea of a baking magazine is brilliant; as a nation we’re totally obsessed with GBBO, and cookery content works well in print.

    However, as others have noted, the submission is not clear on the precise B2B audience. Much of what is suggested is great content, but in my view feels much more like a consumer title. The audience description is confusing, they are described as preferring artisanal food and city breaks at the same time to maximise their business profits.

    One of the proposed names is very good, selecting ‘The business of baking’ would make it crystal clear this is a business title. If there were cover lines to back this up other concerns would fall by the wayside.

    But the other names are not so good. ‘Better Baking’ is Ok, but generic and very consumer. ‘Baker 2 baker’ sounds like it all be ugc inside, which is not what’s proposed here.

    Also, there’s no cover. Which makes it hard to truly ‘see’ this idea.

    Pulse have produced a very professional looking cover, so full marks to them. I really like the idea of a business title aimed at women, I can see the interest in that.

    The title however, does not identify the audience or make the benefit of the content clear. The picture is interesting, but the styling makes it look likes its designed to appeal to men.

    The fashion content in the submission is very good. A title and cover pic that backed that up would make for a very interesting proposition.

    Classic Bride however is my favourite of the three. Having worked in the market (You and Your Wedding) I know that the appeal of print wedding titles is enduring. It continues to respond to ever tighter segmentation, and we all know that older readers still consume a ton of print.

    Classic Bride identifies older brides without making them feel old. That’s smart. The logotype is a bit of a cliche, but the overall intention is bang on.

    The great challenge with this proposition is managing the fact that most of the readers will have been married before.

    They will not want to be overtly reminded of this, and may well reject the title if this is waved in their face.

    But if the tone is good, it should be possible to prove that this title will work to their specific needs.

    The coverlines are a bit generic although the ‘suit your figure line’ is good. Something knowing about ‘second time around’ would help the mix. As in, ‘How do I invite my ex husband to my wedding’ etc.

    But the winning card is the cover picture. Nicely styled, feels ‘appropriate’.

  7. Hannah Rought says :

    I don’t understand the b2b aspect of the baking magazine. And if I’m honest if I’m looking for baking recipes and especially niche ones like gluten free etc, I’m going to look on Pinterest or a popular food blogger. There’s a lot of competition out there for this kind of thing.

    I can just imagine the Daily Mail article when Classic Bride launches. And the loose women debate. It will stir a reaction but not a great one I think. Women don’t like to be told they’re old. Especially brides.

    The business magazine is the best one in my opinion. The cover is something I would pick straight up off the newsstand. The content seems great. A good interview might be with a start-up gluten free bakery if the 2 teams want to collaborate down the road.

    Good luck!

  8. Joe, class of 2015 says :

    My hunch is that Pulse has the most potential. There’s always a strong interest in business and enterprise in this country, as shown by popular shows like Apprentice and Dragons Den and the heroic status we bestow on the likes of Richard Branson and James Dyson. The economic environment is quite hospitable to small businesses at the moment (low interest rates, less red tape obstructing start-ups, a greater governmental focus on supporting small-medium sized businesses) so there is a pretty strong market for an aspirational mag targeting young entrepreneurs. I would also add that in general, business writing is (for want of a better word) pretty wanky, so if the group can fill Pulse with crisp, informative copy then they’ll already have an advantage.

    Drawbacks: the cover looks a bit too vogueish to be a business mag, and the title has vaguely technological connotations.

    I don’t think the other two ideas are bad. I can see the sense in trying to capitalise on the rising popularity of baking, but not sure there are enough bespoke baking businesses to warrant the mag being a B2B? Surely Greggs and Birds etc. have the market covered there? I could be wrong.

    As for Classic Bride, I can definitely see where the idea has come from, given that more and more people are getting married later on in life, but I don’t know if an older bride would really want a different wedding experience to a younger one. I used to work in a hotel that hosted 3 weddings a week between June and September and, in my experience, the dress, theme, catering and all the rest of it differed only according to tastes and interests, not age. That said, I am a man and know very little about such things, so I’ll reserve judgement for now.

    Good luck to all the groups!

  9. Amy Williams says :

    I can definitely see a gap in the media market for all three of these fantastic ideas!

    I love the idea of a baking magazine, although like the other comments here I’m not sure a b2b market is the best, most feasible option. I would have been very interested in it as a consumer though! Classic Bride is again a fantastic idea although I know the wedding title market is fairly saturated already, and I’m not sure it would quite get the readership to really stand out and out-sell others – I think ‘older’ brides can find suitable inspiration and features the in most of the current popular titles.

    Pulse edges it for me, a really hot topic and a market I can see growing in the next few years. Lots of scope for content too.

    It will be interesting to see what the dragons think.

    Good luck everyone!

  10. Megan Featherstone says :

    I love this competition and it’s great to see three such different ideas going up against each other (or should I say the ‘Dragons’!) again this year.

    Pulse definitely gets my vote, though. I think the team behind it have cleverly spotted a gap in the market. The growth of the internet and the potential to market/PR your ideas across social media, plus entrepreneurial spirit of course, are enabling more and more younger people to start their own businesses. While many of these new business owners are passionate about what they want to do and extremely driven to succeed, they maybe don’t any or much knowledge or experience of running a business – both of which allow for a wide and varied amount of engaging content within the title. The aspirational nature of the magazine – I’m judging this by the glam cover – could also bring the possibility of advertising from upmarket brands, which never hurts!

    Looking forward to seeing who triumphs this year!

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