PPA Festival: hot topics in magazine media 2016

We were at the PPA Festival, an annual coming together of editors and publishers from all corners of the magazine world in London on Thursday (May 12).

Masses of good advice was shared and there was excellent pull quote material (see below).

There were also some interesting and surprising nuggets about the health of the industry in the UK, including the fact that £1.2bn was spent on magazines last year.

More ominously, there is a ‘ticking timebomb’ in the form of privacy and data protection laws which could shoot a hole in companies’ efforts to exploit in other ways the info they gather about subscribers and other customers.

People love the paper product.
No one collects websites

Elsewhere, one theme that stood out was the resilience of the printed magazine. People love and will continue to love the paper product you hold in your hand; some titles are still so prized that readers hang on to them, sometimes for years or even decades. And no one collects websites, as was pointed out more than once.

But alongside valuing the tactile appeal of magazines, the other message coming through with overwhelming clarity was the role social media is now playing, not just as a promotional or research tool but as a publishing platform, making it a big area for investment.

Steve Hatch, UK managing director of Facebook, told the packed session on social that stories in its Instant Articles format are 20% more likely to be read than others online.

Social scene: Steve Hatch of Facebook talks to a full house at the PPA Festival 2016. Pic: Julie Nightingale

Social scene: Steve Hatch of Facebook talks to a full house at the PPA Festival. Pic: Julie Nightingale

Maggie Hitchins, Shortlist Media’s digital editor-in-chief, said going to where the audience is – whether it’s Instagram, YouTube or otherwise – is key, meaning the website is no longer the first port of call for publishing online.

Meanwhile, aspiring journalists like those on our MA/PGDip Magazine Journalism and BA Journalism courses at NTU would have been heartened to hear that one way to get yourself noticed by a top magazine editor is to produce a brilliant magazine on your course – like @MagazineCBJ’s Classic Bride and Quack! – and take it to the interview.

Here are some more top quotes and insights from the day:

A miscast editor is like a fog over a beautiful view. When they leave, the fog lifts – Nicholas Coleridge, managing director, Condé Nast

A significant number of consumer publishers have no digital offer at all – Jim Bilton, PPA Futures Report

I’m amazed by how adults are affected by what they read about themselves on social media. You don’t have to read the comments! – Alexandra Shulman, editor, Vogue

There’s so much clickbait out there. I don’t care about massive numbers, I want the engagement – Julian Linley, editor-in-chief, Digital Spy

‘Tinder opening lines’ is an example of ‘evergreen’ [non-topical] content that’s much looked for online – Cathy Ma, audience development director, Bauer Media

The under-30s are relaxed about ‘everything being advertising’, partly because they seldom pay for content so they don’t question ‘value’ – David Hepworth, director MixMag Media and magazine titan

People talk about content like it’s a bucket you can fill and empty at will. Our staff are creatives, wordsmiths, artists – Anna Jones, CEO, Hearst

Read more at the PPA Festival storify


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