There is a highly relevant saying in the insurance industry – that you should “fail your failures fast”. This applies to the magazine sector in particular. We are all racing through massive waves of change and we need to plan accordingly, says Julia Raphaely.
At Associated Media we have a big appetite for change and innovation. With that have come some slips and trips but we are quick learners and fast adapters. Slowly but surely we have transformed our offering so that all our platforms dovetail and complement each other. Our audiences reward us with loyalty and feedback.
We have managed to forge new relationships and make them last by innovating and captivating – two words that women love most. We love our big brands. We are extremely fortunate to have incredibly strong, well-known and well-loved brands. To work on these brands is a privilege and it is not one that we take lightly.
When we were only magazine publishers, deadlines were the enemy. One of the greatest benefits of migrating our content on to online sites and managing the feedback is that it is so immediate. This has also had a transformative effect on all the content generated by our group. Creativity is stimulated by it. Creators of content have never enjoyed such quick reactions to their work before.
The relationships between consumers of magazine brands and creators of them are also stronger because the consumers feel more involved in the end result. So overall, we are feeling positive benefits from the winds of change in our industry and enjoying them.
On the ground the magazine sector in South Africa is having a rocky ride. Magazine publishers feel the same way about Eskom as they do about the Post Office, totally gatvol. We note that Wag the Dog Publishing have shifted to the hand-delivery model. For us that is only one option. We will have to find others. Digital magazines can only benefit in terms of audience but we have yet to convert advertisers to this medium in large enough numbers.
It is really about relationships between a content provider and its audience. To stimulate the sale of anything, including ideas, you have to seize the attention and hold on to it, transform it into action, bring it back for more. Fail to do this and it will be like your relationship with the Post Office, and Eskom – gone girl.
The magic word in magazine publishing now is measurement. We have better access to our most vital statistics than ever before. This is a wonderful tool which enables us to understand our audiences more effectively and take action more quickly. Our smaller size and more focused approach provides us with the agility to move quickly and make things happen without the impediment of hierarchy and structure.
As a result we have managed to increase our paid for sales on newsstand without using controlled free distribution to bolster our numbers.
Another great change in our lives is live presence in the market place. We created and hosted 51 events in 2014 and have entered into valuable and lasting partnerships on the ground and in the marketplace. We have innovated new benefits for all our partners on all our platforms. As a result we have become the go-to place for ideas and swift stylish execution of them. We always were a creative hub and a hive of energy and innovation. The difference now is our greater reach and diversity of platforms.
Coming to work now is like participating in a three-ring circus in your mind. It has never been harder. But it is also better and more fun.
Julia Raphaely is CEO of Associated Media.
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