It’s tough out there for burgeoning publishing companies with an entrepreneurial spirit. But winning the tender to publish South African Airways’ in-flight magazine for your recently launched contract publishing division certainly provides firm ground from which to grow.
Ndalo Media, Khanyi Dlomo’s company, has done just that. The first issue of Sawubona is now proudly stashed in the pockets behind every seat of the airline’s South African and international flights.
Dlomo, of course, is the brains behind business and lifestyle magazines Destiny and Destiny Man. She’s also the woman who edited TRUELOVE for eight years, and doubled its circulation in that time. Not one to rest on her laurels, Dlomo also headed for Boston to study for an MBA at Harvard before returning home to launch Ndalo Media.
Her contract publishing division already has a few titles on its roster, including Shimmer by Motions, South Africa’s first ethnic hair and beauty magazine produced in partnership with Unilever, and Tshumelo, a business-to-business title for the Gauteng Department of Housing.
“Contract publishing is a significant part of our growth strategy and allows us to add value to the business by making use of the vast experience and successes we achieve with our existing titles,” says Leigh Rein, Ndalo Media’s business development director of Contract Publishing and Events. “As an early adopter in the digital media space, Ndalo Media has innovatively grown its business across print and digital platforms, recognising very early on the need to embrace technology changes and trends, such as social media, and offer these types of platforms as options to clients too,” she says.
How competitive was the pitch to publish Sawubona?
Although we were not aware of whom we were up against, we assumed key players in the industry would be pitching for the business. We understand that it was an incredibly intense and thorough tender process.
What was your strategy?
To leverage the skills we have as a multi-platform publishing company as well as our knowledge of and experience in the publishing industry.
What do you think helped you win the bid?
The fact that we have a BEE1 rating, are actively involved in and passionate about entrepreneurship in this country and that we are able to provide a multi-publishing platform and highly-skilled staff. We also put forward a very strong offering in terms of content and design.
Will this also be a half/half deal with Media24, as with DESTINY?
Ndalo Media is 24,9% owned by Media24 with the remainder of the percentage being owned by Khanyi Dhlomo. Sawubona is published under Ndalo Media’s new but growing Contract Publishing Division.
Will you be taking over existing staff or completely revamping your staff capacity?
We have totally revamped the editorial staff capacity, roping in some key staff members from the existing Ndalo Media team. We will also commission a wide variety of top freelance journalists and photographers to ensure we have the best contributors on board at all times.
Who will edit the magazine?
Ingrid Wood will edit the magazine. Wood has extensive experience within the magazine industry. She is also Ndalo Media’s Editorial Director.
What changes do you have planned?
We have given the magazine a complete makeover. In terms of content, we will focus on the three pillars of travel, business and lifestyle. A strong focus will be on fresh and unique photography that supports and complements the content. We have introduced style pages and upfront news pages and added a touch of glamour to the magazine. We have also made the SAA in-flight information pages more inspiring and interactive. The aim is to make this a magazine that SAA passengers want to take with them when they disembark!
How long does your term of publishing run for?
What is your long-term vision for the magazine?
To make it a leading and award-winning in-flight publication that is respected both locally and globally.
What is the print order? Is this consistent with what was printed by the previous publisher?
It remains at 90 000 – a print order that supports the number of SAA flights and passengers we are catering for.
What is your advertising strategy? Are you positive in these tricky times for advertising?
Fortunately, this is publication that speaks to a domestic, continental and global market, and with a guaranteed circulation of 90 000 and readership of 700 000, it is a very attractive advertising platform. However, we will work hard to grow the revenue using our skilled staff, innovative opportunities and leveraging different platforms.
Do you have plans for the digital side, such as apps etc?
The social media platforms are active and we will use them to engage with the SAA, Sawubona and travel communities on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest`. In the latter half of the year, we will reveal plans for the website overhaul and travel apps. The magazine is available with immediate effect as a free digital download.
Where are your favourite places to travel and why?
Within South Africa, I love the space and beauty of the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, and for wildlife, the Kruger National Park. Across the border, I love Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago. Internationally, a ski trip to Austria or island hopping in Croatia!
How would you describe Sawubona?
Your essential travel companion. Good content, good company and packed with great travel, business and lifestyle tips.
What has been the reaction to your first issue?
It has been incredibly positive. SAA has expressed its satisfaction and we have been inundated by positive feedback from the industry and readers.