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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


Classic Bride clinches win in magazine Dragons’ Den

A wedding magazine aimed at women marrying later in life has taken top honours in this year’s Dragons’ Den contest for magazine journalism postgrads at Nottingham Trent University.Classic Bride

Classic Bride (right), the brainchild of Caitlin Kelly, Vicky Lomax and Chloe McNab, was described as “a gem of an idea” by the judges who said it was “genuinely meeting the needs of the reader” with its ideas for features on celebrity marriages, honeymoon destinations and tackling the etiquette of the wedding invitation.

It would make an excellent quarterly ‘coffee table’ magazine or a supplement to an existing magazine such as Good Housekeeping, said judge Elise Wells, editor of Slimming World.

The other two contenders, Baker to Baker and Young Entrepreneur, also won praise for their imagination and the quality of their ideas.

Baker to Baker (B2B), the magazine for the baking industry devised by George Ellis, Leo Forfar and Stewart Thorpe, had a “zeitgeisty name”, said judge Tim Relf, communities and farmlife editor at Farmers Weekly.

Dragons deliberate: (from left) Sophie Turner, Elise Wells and Tim Relf

Dragons deliberate: (left to right) Sophie Turner, Elise Wells and Tim Relf. Credit: Dan Hodgett

Judge Sophie Turner, one of the team behind last year’s winner, Women’s Tri, and now a digital marketing assistant at Nottingham Trent, said the third title, Young Entrepreneur (formerly Pulse), had clearly identified a target market around the interest in setting up a business among people in their 20s and 30s and the pitch by Jodie Armstrong, Charlotte McIntyre and Emma Turner, had “great authenticity”.

Julie Nightingale, course leader for the MA/PGDip in Magazine Journalism in the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism at NTU, said the competition helped students to grasp the challenges of thinking up a good idea then translating it into a product for a particular readership.

“Dragons’ Den isn’t just a nice exercise. Both the judges on the day and the feedback on our blog, where the pitches are also posted, give students professional, honest critique, just as they would get in industry. That is exactly what we want for them: our students must leave the course understanding the realities of the market they are entering while also being enthused about the possibilities.”

Classic Bride will be worked on by all of the students on the course this month (February) and will be published online in April.

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

Out now! Read Women’s Tri and Core magazines online

Two magazines produced by CBJ’s Magazine Journalism students are available to read now via our new digital platform.

Women’s Tri, winner of this year’s Dragons’ Den contest for the best magazine pitch at CBJ,  combines interviews with top women triathletes with advice on training and which kit to buy, plus novice Alyss Bowen takes on the challenge of cycling, swimming and running with triathletes in Nottingham.

And click here to see Notts County FC nutritionist Matt Lawson share his own top tips for triathletes.

Meanwhile, ahead of the General Election, top broadcaster Kay Burley talks to Core magazine about her career in political journalism. Core also has reviews, features and Mike Pettifer’s column on why he feared the end of the world would scupper his plans to become a train driver.


Magazine Dragons’ Den: Women’s Tri triumphs

Women's TriWomen’s Tri, the magazine aimed at an ‘overlooked’ readership of triathlon fans, has scored its own triumph by winning the CBJ Dragons’ Den competition.

The idea, pitched by MA Magazine Journalism students Alyss Bowen, Sergio Pereira and Sophie Turner, beat off challenges from rival groups to be chosen by the Dragons as the one most likely to succeed in the market. Read More…

Magazine students face their Dragons’ Den

Students on our MA/PGDip Magazine Journalism present their ideas for a new magazine to a Dragons’ Den of industry experts this week, hoping to convince the panel they have dreamed up the Next Big Thing in publishing. Read More…