Learning to Understand the Publishing Industry

So far, MSc Publishing has offered me many opportunities to in and out of class to learn more about how the publishing industry works and how to navigate it. At Magfest, The SYP Conference, and London Book Fair I had the opportunity to hear from many different people sharing their own insights and of the industry and how they work within them. Each speaker was mightily passionate about their work and spoke so energetically about upcoming projects, underscoring the importance of having passion to work successfully within this industry.

Of the many talks I attended at London Book Fair, one which stands out for me was… Continue reading “Learning to Understand the Publishing Industry”

White Light Media Placement

WL-Logo-stacked-COLOURIn April I was fortunate enough to secure a two-week design internship at White Light Media, a content marketing agency based at The Shore in Leith, Edinburgh. I first became aware of White Light Media after reading a copy of Hot Rum Cow, a charismatic drinking magazine that explores the endlessly entertaining world of booze through great storytelling, photography and illustrations. They are also the organisers of World Whisky Day, a day that “invites everyone to try a dram and celebrate the water of life”.

After reading the magazine and researching the company and its projects further, it quickly became my mission to secure an internship there. In late 2016 I applied for the SYP mentor programme, specifically requesting a mentor at or related to WLM. I was very lucky to be paired with Christina McPherson, a Senior Editor at WLM. From career advice to guiding me through the process of creating my own magazine, she is incredibly supportive. Christina was kind enough to put me in touch with Eric Campbell, Managing Director at WLM and the Creative Director of Hot Rum Cow magazine, whom I secured the internship with. Continue reading “White Light Media Placement”

Work experience at White Light Media

White Light Media logo

Since I moved to the UK from France, I have wanted to work on my design skills and my creativity. I started by being Art Directors for both Buzz magazine and my book project, A voyage to Arcturus. These experiences were greatly rewarding, but I wanted to gain more industry specific experience. This is the reason why I reached out to Eric Campbell, Managing Director of White Light Media and Creative Director of the magazine Hot Rum Cow and brilliant designer, whom I heard speak during the SYP Conference, Odyssey 2020, for a meeting, that turned into a 5-day work experience.

White Light Media is a design agency that launched in 2001. They have produced award-winning print and digital products for companies such as Standard Life, Tesco, London Wine Fair and Equiniti. They also launched their own well-written and beautifully designed magazine, Hot Rum Cow in 2012.

It was a bit nerve-wracking to come in into the agency, as this placement was very important to me. But, as I could have expected, the White Light Media team was very welcoming and I was a bit more at ease by the end of the day.

I was given a chance right from the beginning to think about what I wanted to do with my placement and we were able to tick off every task on that list. Interning at White Light Media showed me that design was what I wanted to do and that, with a little more training and experience, I could do it. 

Magazines, Brochures and a drop of Whiskey: My Placement at White Light Media

 

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Throughout my undergraduate degree in graphic design, I never knew exactly which area of graphic design I wanted to focus on. After researching the MSc Magazine Publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University and being awarded an unconditional offer of admission, my ambition in my career as an Art Editor for magazines quickly came to be. Part of the reason I applied for the course, was not only to learn different areas within the magazine industry, but also to gain some experience in the workplace as an Art Editor.

It was after reading a former students blog that inspired me to have White Light Media as my first choice for placement. Like myself her interest in the design side of the business was her main focus in magazines. She stated how she wanted to develop her creativity, and that this led to many tasks, including designing spreads for live projects. This was something I was very keen to learn myself. Her placement also allowed her to work on Hot Rum Cow, the magazine that sparked my initial interest in White Light Media. It was this similarity in developing our skills as a designer that cemented my decision to choose White Light Media as a work placement.

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On the first day I was invited to attend the Monday morning briefing, a weekly occurrence, essential in showing the team what everybody is working on and how far along he or she are. It is also where individuals are assigned new projects. It was decided then that my first task would be to assist in an important project for the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

After the briefing, Managing Director Eric Campbell and I had a meeting where we decided what I wanted to learn from my time with White Light. A week before hand, Eric asked me to bring in a couple of magazines that I liked the design of, and we spent a short period of time going through them and comparing notes. We then went through a list of objectives that I wanted to achieve within my time there. I also made it clear that I wanted to learn as much as possible, and pick up any things that might be useful in my future career.

The first week of working at White Light Media was an amazing experience as I got to work on creative concepts for the brochure alongside the design team and help produce something that I can say I played a part in creating. Throughout this week, the team of designers, were always on hand if I had any questions, they continuously gave advice. The first week of my placement was exciting as on the Saturday it was World Whisky Day, and White Light had organized a whole week of events to celebrate.

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In my list of key objectives I had stated that I was very eager to work on Hot Rum Cow, and the rest of the second week I got to design spreads for a couple of pages. This was a perfect task for myself as I also got to illustrate for the magazine also. Hot Rum Cow also enabled me to work with other members of the team that I hadn’t been given the chance to work with previously. All of the members of staff, which I worked alongside, taught me a variety of new aspects of design, which I can now take with me and use to help develop my career.

White Light Media was a major success as not only did I learn a vast amount of new skills, but I also got the feel of how it is to work for a magazine publisher in an office during regular working hours. The team at White Light was a pleasure to work with and they not only made me fell very welcome, but all took the time to help me grow my talents as a designer.

Magfest 2014

magfest2014As part of the MSc Magazine Publishing and MSc Publishing programme, our students are given the opportunity to help at Magfest, the premier event for anyone interested in the innovative world of magazine publishing.

This year we are proud to be Strategic Partners of Magfest, and here you get a flavour of what a fantastic event it was.

Central to this year’s event was the concept of “innovation” in the magazine industry and how magazine publishers are responding to changing content consumption patterns.

“Innovation is about taking what you’ve got and doing something sexy with it…”

magfest-logohttp://www.ppa.co.uk/about/activities/scotland/news/magfest-2014/

Magfest Issue #03 was a sell-out event with over 200 magazine publishers, designers, writers and advertisers all attending, and we were delighted to have played such a key part in such an important event in the magazine publishing calendar.

PPA_Scotland logo.ashxMagfest is organised by PPA Scotland and the steering group includes Nick Creed, Carnyx Group Ltd and Eric Campbell, MD at White Light Media – both of which companies also offer placements to our students.

Find out more and register for magfest 2015: http://www.magfest.co.uk/magfest_2014/Speakers

 

Placement at White Light Media

Image courtesy of White Light Media

 

If you have any interest in magazines then you have probably seen some of the work that White Light Media have produced. Until beginning my placement here I was unaware of the scale and variation of their projects. Having been shown their inspirational Hot Rum Cow magazine numerous times throughout the course of my degree by various different guest speakers, it is safe to say that I had become somewhat of a fan girl. As you can imagine I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity of a two-week placement at White Light Media and so was suitably nervous on my first day.

Unlike others on my course I was confident that my placement would not revolve around creating databases and photocopying – I had faith that my placement would be more hands on. I was more concerned about my ever-increasing clumsiness and the worry that I might cause some irreparable damage to either their work or the office itself.

I had mentioned previously that I was interested in the design side of the business and I was given plenty of opportunity to develop my creativity. On my first day, I was tasked with redesigning spreads for a new magazine they are producing, and was asked for my interpretation of the brief. … Continue reading “Placement at White Light Media”

PPA Scotland Digital Meeting

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By Annemarie Leipe and Georgia Walters

Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus hosted PPA Scotland’s latest Digital Meeting on 30th January 2014. Students and staff from the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses were joined by a number of industry professionals for three discussions, and the chance to network afterwards. It was a brilliant opportunity to gain an in-depth insight into how different companies within the publishing industry deal with customers’ changing needs, the ongoing technical development and burgeoning social media communities.

Eric Campbell discussing magazine apps and discoverability
Eric Campbell discussing magazine apps and discoverability

Peter Houston, founder of Flipping Pages stated that before the internet, magazine publishers were like ‘big fish in a small pond’. There was a huge demand for their content because nothing or no-one else was able to provide it. Today the challenge for them is ‘trying to get found’. White Light Media’s Creative Director Eric Campbell shared that opinion. ‘Modern magazine publishers are looking for various ways to get their content out to the readers.’ This task is frequently being given the term ‘discoverability’ – something that Digital Book World has recently deemed to be ‘publishing’s next big challenge’.

This challenge is something Kirsten Morrison, Head of Digital at DC Thomson tackles. As 90% of their revenue is still from print content, it is ‘a constant battle of protecting print’ but as this is a declining sector, digital platforms need to be developed. Her strategy is to focus on priority titles to implement digital content as well as clear social media strategies and cross-promotional plans.

The meeting was a great inspiration and encouragement for the MSc students’ projects during the next trimester and we would like to thank Nikki Simpson of PPA Scotland for her introduction, and the speakers, Eric Campbell and Adam Wilson of White Light Media and Hot Rum Cow, Kirsten Morrison and Sam Miller of DC Thomson and Peter Houston of Flipping Pages.

Here follows some thoughts from a number of the students in attendance:

Kate Patrick, MSc Publishing:

“What I found interesting in the PPA Digital Meeting was the strategies that each presenting company are implementing in order to make a fundamental shift to produce digital content alongside print. Issues with this shift that were raised included accessibility, quality of the content and differentiating between content appropriate for print and for digital. Each presenter stressed the importance of embracing digital content, as this is without a doubt the direction in which the consumption of magazines is going. Magazines need to exist on different platforms that include engagement with consumers through social media, videos, competitions, polls, etc.

I also found Peter Houston’s discussion of what makes ‘good’ content interesting. He argued that the conception of what is ‘good’ is subjective, and also that good content is a constantly moving target. It must be informative, entertaining or actionable in order to be distinguishable from the mass of ‘bad’ content that exists online.”

Peter Houston from Flipping Pages: what makes good digital content?
Peter Houston from Flipping Pages: what makes good digital content?
 Maya Castille, MSc Publishing:

“One of the best parts about attending the PPA Scotland Digital Meeting was the true interactivity between the audience and the presenters. While listening to Eric Campbell and Adam Wilson from White Light Media, I tweeted about how their magazine, Hot Rum Cow, had the coolest name ever. Before the meeting had even concluded, Hot Rum Cow had replied to my tweet. Not even a few moments later, White Light Media had retweeted my and the Hot Rum Cow response!

It was an amazing feeling to have the companies who were presenting about being more involved with their audience actually show their dedication to social media. Before the night was over, even PPA Scotland, our programme leader Avril Gray, and a peer of mine had retweeted several other tweets I’d sent during the digital presentation. Social media is an integral part of our culture and I was very encouraged to see how dedicated all the companies are to embracing the future.”

Alisdair Dawson, MSc Magazine Publishing:

“Perhaps the most salient point that came across at Thursday’s meeting was how eager the industry is to embrace the new technology, which is the opposite to what the wider public thinks about the publishing industry: considering them to be nothing than Moaning Myrtles about the impending doom of paper. Yet as DC Thompson and White Light Media demonstrated by displaying their wares to us, they are becoming more savvy to the fact that their audience is progressively moving towards life on the tablet.

However they did stress that print sales are still higher than digital ones, and that there must be a culture-shift within the industry as a whole; that no longer does content have a shelf life. Rather it is now more than ever being dictated by the audience, and with this shift in content it has become important more than ever to make your content engaging both in terms of interactivity and stimulating intellectually.”

Anastasia Gorgan, MSc Publishing:

“I think the most important underlined points were how to share information with customers and simplify the processes of sharing. A website should be functional and also emotional users targeted. I will try to keep going in this way.”

Harriet Leslie, MSc Publishing:

“It is clear that more and more people are accessing digital content over print publications. With this changing demographic in mind, it is clear that publishers need to alter their business models accordingly. However, it is necessary to be aware of the volume of information available in the digital sphere; indeed, 90% of all data has been created in the last two years. With this in mind, publishers must find the most relevant way of reaching their consumers without diluting their message along the way. DC Thomson seem to be doing this well, most surprisingly with uptake of The People’s Friend on the iPad. What can we take from this? Create a product which people love and never underestimate your audience’s capacity for change.”

Flipping Pages: understanding the audience's needs is critical
Flipping Pages: understanding the audience’s needs is critical
Jack Evans, MSc Publishing:

“What was key from White Light Media‘s presentation is that there are so many variations of digital products; apps, web, emails for example. All of these platforms have completely different requirements.

DC Thompson was interesting – the need for balance between print and digital was highlighted. Print is still very much king – it is what pays, where the funding for digital comes from and therefore a balance needs to be struck, whilst also trying to increase digital output to make up for a decline in print.

What particularly engaged me from the Flipping Pages presentation was the concept that producing content can be made more credible and the content better through partnerships with others. It also taught a lesson that audiences and readers are completely different and subjective – what might be seen as brilliant to some markets can in fact be seen as terrible by others; as highlighted by Sturgeon’s Law.”

Kyra Jones, MSc Publishing:

“I find that most presentations dealing with digital media, particularly digital magazines as apps, tend to have an element of okay, you have done that, but now what? However, this meeting of the PPA Scotland, which featured several guest speakers talking about different aspects of digital media, managed to move beyond the typical flashy, one-hit-wonder aspect of magazine apps and deal with real questions of reader engagement and what determines the viability of apps.

Touching on questions of what the relationship between print and digital is and can be, the presentations focused on the importance of the right content for the right platform, the greater potential for innovation and risk-taking in digital publications, and the question of finding and retaining an audience. In particular, I was impressed with White Light Media‘s magazine, Hot Rum Cow, which discussed their subscription based email magazine, which placed the content directly into the email, rather than bombarding their audience with click-through stories, which I thought was a smart and impressive way to reach an obviously interested audience that would ensure their engagement.”

Laura Will, MSc Publishing:

“At PPA Scotland’s Digital Meeting we had the opportunity to listen to a series of very interesting talks. I would like to emphasise Eric Campbell’s (White Light Media) contribution about the advantages and disadvantages of content distribution via app, web or e-mail and the difficulties of adjusting content for different devices. Further highlights were Kirsten Morris’ (DC Thomson) explanation of the challenges inherent in the current commercial and editorial culture shift due to digitisation and Peter Houston’s very visual presentation about the subjectivity of good content and the importance of its shareability. Thank you very much for this enlightening afternoon!”

For more information, please see: www.ppa.co.uk/scotland/flippingpagesblog.comwww.whitelightmedia.co.uk/,

http://www.hotrumcow.co.uk/ and http://www.dcthomson.co.uk/.