As my fellow students gather data and research their dissertations in the final trimester, I find myself looking back to the start of this frantic, informative and fully immersive course. September last year was the beginning of the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses – and not just because it was induction week.
A few days prior was Magfest #03, Innovation – a magazine-centric, one day conference run by PPA Scotland, the membership organisation for magazine publishers. Located at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh, this jam-packed celebration of all-things magazine publishing was the perfect gateway to this fast-paced, ever evolving career path.

On arrival, I was alone, completely new to publishing and not entirely familiar with Edinburgh. Little did I know how much impact the next eight hours would have. Greeted by some of last years’ graduates, I was introduced to some of the strategic partners including representatives from Allander Print, 20/20 Productions and Virgin Atlantic (planes will be surprisingly relevant to your publishing career). Upstairs, some of my future colleagues were finishing off a special networking workshop with Heather Campbell (CommsMasters) and I bumped into the first of many at the Edinburgh Napier stand, laden with copies of 2014’s buzz magazine and iPads featuring Publishers Inc 2014. Then my education began – straight in at the deep end with people and faces I had never heard of, but would swiftly learn their importance in the industry.


Ellis Watson, CEO of DC Thomson
The day centred around several keynote events in the largest hall, with smaller breakout sessions throughout the day, all interspersed with ample refreshments and comfort breaks. Speakers included Ellis Watson (DC Thomson) and Diane Kenwood (Woman’s Weekly), Chris Phin (MacFormat) and excitingly for me, Wyatt Mitchell (The New Yorker). There were panels discussing industry troubleshooting, the definition of magazines and their evolution (James Brown being his own brand of adult entertainment). Suffice it to say the theme of ‘innovation’ was thoroughly explored, and I left with a great feeling of being in the right place at the right time.


Wyatt Mitchell of The New Yorker
 The magazine publishing community is strong and supportive, interested in sharing their ideas and blazing new trails. It was clear that this was a time of opportunity and that Magfest is and will continue to be a hub for many of the best innovators and businesses in magazine publishing. The MSc courses are all about opportunity – and being involved in Magfest is one of them. Volunteers and ideas are always welcomed by Nikki Simpson, who represents PPA Scotland and may often be found behind piles of magazines at Merchiston Campus and presenting guest lectures. 

James Brown expands our vocabulary…
September 18th is Magfest #04 – Create Inspire Evolve. To MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing students old and new, I cannot recommend this event more. Come and meet us (we’re super friendly!) and get your face ‘out there’ early, because the rewards of being proactive from the get-go are immeasurable.
Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland… look out for her at Merchiston Campus!