As part of our southerly excursion to the London Book Fair, last week our MSc Magazine Publishing and a few MSc Publishing students had the privilege of a visit to Dennis Publishing, based in Central London.
As the 6th largest magazine publisher in the UK, Dennis also has offices in Glasgow (home of The Big Issue) and a strong footing in the USA, where they are best known for their current affairs and news magazine, The Week. Throw into the mix their own subscription company and you can imagine how excited we were to be welcomed into their board room, with stunning views over London and a delightful selection of refreshments.
The first part of our morning was dedicated to a matter close to our hearts – how to get past the eagle-eyed recruitment officer and into the world of publishing employment. Leti Taylor supplied us with ample advice, from the structure of our CVs to the best ways to make early contact with the companies you want to work with. The importance of having some kind of online portfolio and social media presence was highlighted (and yes, it’s ok to be occasionally tipsy in those Facebook photos). Even interviews that don’t work out are a positive experience. Remember you’re essentially networking and any feedback you can get from an unsuccessful interview will serve to make the next one more impressive.
Next up in the packed schedule was Tim Danton, Editor in Chief of PC Pro and Editorial Director and Deputy MD of Dennis Technology. Tim talked us through the challenges and pitfalls of starting a new venture, in this case, an online magazine that Dennis will be launching in the near future. We discussed the essential check boxes for pitching a new magazine to the bosses (one of the most important being ‘is it economically viable?’), how digital magazine audiences differ from readers of print magazines and how it’s always good to make a decision “even if it’s wrong”. Ultimately, readerships and maintaining a trusting relationship should be put ahead of all other considerations when running your magazine.
Joel Snape, Acting Editor of Men’s Fitness gave us an intellectual workout as we discussed the challenges of adapting magazines to meet the needs of evolving audiences and compensate for the internet being the font of all knowledge. Introducing readers to new ideas and new products, asking questions that they might not have even considered asking and presenting data in digestible and fun ways were highlights. Picking your battles and not meeting competitors head-on were interesting considerations for the students, as we were encouraged to identify what we do best and do it well, whilst filling niches and keeping in touch with the readership.
Back to digital with Holden Frith, Online Editor of TheWeek.co.uk, as we discussed how editorial, writing styles and the types of news reported differs a great deal between the print and online editions of this popular international magazine. We discussed the loyalty of readers in print and online and how though a readership might be much greater on the internet, it can be more difficult to connect as many of them may be one-time hits.
Finally, brains well-past full, Julian Lloyd-Evans, MD of Advertising, talked us through the importance of creating communities for readerships and advertisers alike. Encouraging us to love media, engage fully with our passions and to have an opinion, it was food for thought when we considered the £6bn spend on UK advertising every year and our £2bn worth of media exports overseas. A short personality test later, we were all keen when we heard about Dennis’ 12 week paid internships.
We’d like to express our thanks to the team at Dennis Publishing for making us so welcome and sharing such valuable insights into the world of publishing.
This was one of many fantastic opportunities provided by the course leaders of the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses at Edinburgh Napier University.