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Posts tagged ‘magazines’

Mum’s The Boss talk: How businesses can harness the power of traditional print media

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you can’t have not heard the increasing buzz over businesses building their public profile through engaging their existing customers and potential new ones through social media.

Underneath all this new-fangled noise and bluster though, if you listen very carefully you can still hear a constant older hum and it’s one which often provides the original content these digital channels so sorely need and consumers still rate surprisingly highly in terms of trust.

This older ‘hum’ was the subject of an informal talk – ‘How to harness the power of traditional media’ – I delivered to a 15-strong child-friendly networking group Mum’s The Boss, in Sheffield this Tuesday. As I explained to the group, even though social media is grabbing everyone’s attention, it’s the editorial content of traditional media, like magazines and newspapers, which still tend to set the news agenda and are likely to carry on doing so for some time to come.

I talked everyone through three simple steps towards gaining editorial coverage for their businesses: Step 1: Focus on your target media, Step 2: Uncracking the print media code (what makes titles tick & how consumers regard editorial) and in Step 3 I showed everyone a couple of articles I’d placed as a journalist and asked them to start thinking like editors…

Special mention goes to the ‘honourary’ female at the meeting, Jon Hilton, MD of Pulse Rate Training Ltd – and the first ever male attendee of Mum’s The Boss South Yorkshire!

Here’s 5 more top tips to help businesses create positive headlines:
• Great stories are media gold dust! Brands who understand the power of personal stories have more success connecting with their audience, being remembered and creating brand loyalty.
• If you don’t already know your target media, research it! Buy the title & study it or look at their online offer. If they have website, look on advertisers section as will have details about their audience demographic, official circulation figures and other useful info.
• When you’re ready to approach a title with your story, write a short, well-written and informative press release, include a photo & always email to a named journalist/section editor. Build connections with these journalists – you might not strike lucky at first but learn to understand what they’re looking for as they are the gatekeepers to unlocking great editorial coverage.
• In many national female consumer magazines (and some newspapers or trade titles) if you are talking about your personal story to highlight your business it’s often acceptable for your website details to be featured in the article. Many womens’ magazines also permit copy approval to interviewees (this will mean final version of the article will be read to you over the phone) – if in doubt, ask.
• Once your story is out in local press, be aware there is a good chance it will get picked up by national media – (this is how many national stories are still sourced by journalists).

So don’t believe the hype. Print isn’t dead (not quite yet anyway). And great editorial coverage still has immense value.


It’s real life! Just beware the distorted lens

Enter the warped land of the documentary and you could be forgiven for assuming the topics they often focus their beady little wobbly cams on are like the broadcasting equivalent of your proverbial local bus. Essentially, it only needs one fly-on-the-wall screening of an in-depth analysis of a subject then all of a sudden, another similar broadcasting brand gets to grip with this suddenly ‘hot’ topic.

And so it was last week, when ‘Secrets for Sale’ – a programme following the features team at Real People magazine going about their day-to-day business of creating a weekly real life magazine – was aired on BBC1. Three nights later, C4 screened Cutting Edge’s ‘My Daughter Grew Another Head’ detailing an assortment of journalists, readers and the people who willingly share their stories in this sector of the print media.

As someone who’s spent much of her journalistic career writing almost every type of human interest story you could possibly imagine (believe me, dear reader, the truth is far weirder – and indeed more interesting – than fiction) for these titles and many others like them, on one level I was savouring every second of both these shows. It was a pretty odd sensation to see so many familiar faces and former desks where I’d sat working as a freelancer – yes, right there on my TV screen!

I wasn’t the least bit surprised they focused on the more salacious and seedy side of the women’s real life magazine market – which remains huge, compared to the sales figures of aspirational glossies such as Cosmopolitan. After all, this apparently neutral view of ‘the truth’ behind the ins and outs of this world was being filtered through the decidedly dumb and ultimately thick lens of so-called ‘investigative’ television.

After the final credits had rolled, I still found myself asking one question. Why do the middle classes get so affronted by someone (who’s usually broadly-speaking working class), agreeing to share their personal story in print and receiving a fee from the magazine they appear in, for their time and trouble? For far too long, access to the non-news media was effectively out-of-reach to large swathes of the British public. And then real life magazines came along. You can shout ‘patronising’ and ‘exploitative’ as loud as you like, but why does telling your story to a broadsheet – which will also be printed to the fit the angle they want – without receiving payment give you any high ground? In many cases, freelancers might offer the same story to that’s life! as to The Guardian. It’s the same ‘truth’ but with distinctly different audiences.

Throughout both these shows, I was feverishly tweeting (updating on Twitter, for those who aren’t fluent in social media) with other seemingly Guardian-worshipping viewers. The sheer venom and ignorance in their messages was unnerving and left a distinctly bitter taste in my mouth. Real life magazines may not be the reading matter of choice for one group in society but they have as much right to exist on the newstand as their glossier and perfume-scented cousins.

Now, let me step off my soap box, as I have more news about Sheffield’s bid to become the UK’s first City of Culture 2013.

Last Friday, I caught the Radio 4 show ‘You and Yours’ which profiled my great home city and discussed the possible economic benefits this award would bring to Sheffield. University research, conducted to determine the financial impact for Liverpool after the city had gained its title as European City of Culture, concluded the award had brought 9.7m additional visitors to the area and the overall economic impact totted in at a hefty £753m.

Sheffield City Council have set aside £150,000 to spend on the bidding process and project the economic impact on the city if the bid’s successful could be around £10m.

In these austerity-ridden times, who can deny this prospect sounds especially welcome….whatever your taste in magazines?

Happy reading!

Links: my-daughter-grew-another-head-and-other/4od

Come on, Vogue!

My general opinion about TV isn’t the least bit complimentary. I find most programmes too mind-numbing to watch for more than a few minutes. I’m all for unwinding, but I like to relax without feeling as though my braincells are being terminated in the process.

If I didn’t have a TV I wouldn’t feel starved of culture or entertainment. About ten years ago, the telly I had at the time suddenly died on me and a replacement didn’t materialise until I’d lived through at least 12 months of abstinence (and I hadn’t been exactly itching for a new idiot box even then – my new portable was a leaving present from my colleagues at the magazine I’d been a staff writer at!)

Then, every once and a while, something gets aired which I actually want and plan to watch. This week was one of those rare experiences, when ‘The September Issue’ was screened on Channel 4.

I’d first seen this intelligent documentary, following the ‘ice maiden’ of American magazines, Anna Wintour and her team at US Vogue, craft the biggest ever issue of this fashion bible in their history (September 2007 issue) at Doc/Fest– an internationally-renown festival for those working in the film-making industry, last November.

I appreciated the lightest of touches director R J Cutler made with this entertaining and engaging film. Of course, he’d had have to done something seriously wrong for me not to be interested in the subject. The inner workings of the publishing industry – especially in the case of a magazine brand which holds such vice-like grip over the high fashion industry it reflects – still gets the ink in my pen flowing, even though I’ve worked in this media sector for 13 years.

But, during the director Q&A session, held after the Doc/Fest screening I attended, someone asked Cutler: ‘Did you ever wonder why Anna Wintour agreed to make the film? Was it a way for her to get publicity for Vogue?’ Hearing this, I half laughed, half knashed my teeth.

As if brand Vogue needs publicity! Many would say high fashion needs Vogue, not the other way round. Butler recognised the power of the Vogue brand and intended to peel away part of the enigma of the woman who’s the driving force behind this uber-name.

To this end I think he succeeded – and I was impressed at Wintour’s clever – whether deliberate or not – harnessing of silence. The power of the pause; it’s something I’ve used during interviews with tight-lipped or shy subjects

Sometimes though, it pays to stay silent. Which brings me to an update about the short film I feature in, unveiled this week(and mentioned in my previous post). ‘Heartbeat’ features little dialogue, but has oodles of style.

After all, words are one thing. But sometimes, it’s better to simply put your best foot forward – and strike your best pose.

Check out the film below(I appear in the last two scenes). Happy viewing!

Small ripples are the new(s)-splash

There was a radical shift in the course of the history of the British newspapers last Friday. But when I heard about London’s Evening Standard morphing into a free newspaper, there seemed to be little in the way of big fanfares or ‘where were you when…’ sentimental posturings running through the majority of reports and commentary.

Instead, the tone was practical and forward-thinking. The old tried-and-tested newspaper model, which relied on people buying news in hard copy format, was on its last ink-smudged legs. Your crystal ball is as accurate as mine, but I still believe there will be survivors once this cull has run its course, especially amongst local papers who tap into the essentially-human instinct to feel part of a community.

Despite this possible kiss of life, who wouldn’t argue the death of the printed news has been hastened by a new breed of free commuter-friendly papers? But it’s our ever-increasing love affair with the internet which threatens to consign the once mighty bastions of Fleet Street to history.

It’s a prospect I feel torn over. As a devourer of hard copy national and local broadsheets and tabloids, part of me can’t imagine a world without them. Then again, I have to confess I’m as smitten with clicking and sharing news online, as the rest of the country – make that the world – seem to be. Confession: Where did I first get wind of the Evening Standard story? Via an online news alert message, of course. The news is dead, long live the!

Citizen journalism and the rise of blogging has created a world where everyone’s free to make their individual unique ripples vibrate through the great rising wave of online communication. This print-eroding tide is anything but virtual – it’s become ingrained in the beating hearts and real Wi-Fi habits of the nation.

In this ever-changing multi-media world, a good splash will always be a good splash…even if you can’t read all about it in the bath.

Where does that leave me? Well, I’m swimming with the tide. My own ripples began with the creation of this blog. And now, after cataloging a wide range of articles I’ve written over the last 12 years, for a variety of magazines and newspapers, I’m now focusing on posting them online.

Check out the first examples by clicking on the link Published Work. More to follow in future posts.