Category Archives: Video

The Best-Ever Publishing Festival Line Up

PPA-festival-line-upI’m producer of the two big content streams at this year’s PPA festival, where along with CEO Barry McIlheney and his team we’ve put together the most fantastic line-up. Four stages, 60 speakers, CEO’s, MD’s Facebook, Google and…Mushpit!

The festival is Thursday May 12th, there’s still a few tickets left, buy them here.

‘The interface is the product’. Apple prove Steve Jobs’ mantra yet again with the introduction of their new system font.

san-francisco-fontHere’s a video from WWDC 2015 where Apple introduce their brand new font, San Francisco. It’s similar to Helvetica, but with several key differences that create a warmer, more gender neutral feel. In my opinion it draws heavily on the success of Proxima Nova discussed on this blog at length a few weeks ago. See more

How newsstand pressure is bending even the biggest brands out of shape

 

This year at the PPA conference, Top Gear magazine’s editor-in-chief Charlie Turner made an excellent presentation about what was surely the biggest motoring scoop of 2012.

When the new Aston Martin One-77 was launched a couple of years ago, it was so expensive (£1.2 million) and so exclusive that Aston decreed, ‘No journalist will ever drive this car’. The idea being that the driving experience had to remain that of the owner, and the owner alone.

A fine piece of PR, but Top Gear found a way round by way of a super-wealthy oil sheik, a collector of super-cars and a fan of Top Gear. He said he’d buy a One-77, let Top Gear magazine drive it, then sell it on.

So the editorial team had a day’s notice to get to Dubai where they had just four hours in the desert with the car. Photographer Justin Leighton took over 8000 shots, he and Charlie made this good looking video and Tom Ford wrote the whole thing up.

As Charlie told it at the PPA conference, it’s a great story, but right at the end of the tale, we learned that although the scoop was on the cover, it had been aced by a great big red Ferrari. It was, as David Hepworth, the PPA panel moderator said, ‘a duvet moment’.

When I asked Charlie how this came about, he reflected ruefully that the One-77 isn’t actually very good, and that these sorts of cover decisions were ‘political’.

He didn’t elaborate, but I am assuming that Ferrari had understandably been promised the cover in return for access to the car.

Which puts the editor between a rock and a very hard place. Why run a review of two-year old supercar which no-one will ever see, let alone sit in, mightily piss off Mr. Ferrari and risk a newstand drubbing at the hands of Car and Evo, who could very well have the Ferrari themselves. The bottom line is that Ferraris will absolutely sell more copies. Given that publishing isn’t a charity business, Top Gear did what they had to do.

But the result is that the cover ends up looking like all the others. Some kind of head-to-head test, flattening out the quality of the work, making the whole offering feel generic and not at all special, either for Ferrari or Aston Martin.

As Charlie told us the Aston story came in really late, I can only assume it was not possible to put the One-77 on a subscriber cover, as that could have solved the problem. Those would have been the issues sent to advertisers, the industry and used in upcoming PPA conference presentations, allowing Top Gear to own the event, whilst the red Ferrari happily sold its socks off in Smiths.

Top Gear is not alone in having to make very hard decisions around newsstand sales, but at the end of the day, they’re a big enough brand for this not to hurt them. Far more troubling is the way many other titles are seeing their brand DNA being bent totally out of shape by the demands of newsstand, whether they be celebrity weeklies or more specialist titles.

What’s needed are innovative ways to get cover ideas in front of potential customers without them needing to be standing in a shop or browsing Apple’s newsstand.

Social media can really work here, witness Elle’s success with David Beckham, The NME’s ‘record that changed my life’ and Time’s breastfeeding mom. Combined with traditional PR and SEO, all these initiatives drove print purchase. The challenge now is to think of new ways to seed a cover idea in a readers mind, and how to create promises that are still worth spending money on, whether that be in print or digital.

Hashtag cover strategy: #howtosellanissue

Following the shocking murder of two of their vendors a few weeks ago, The Big Issue have created this fine cover campaign celebrating the very thing that makes them special, their vendors.

But the beauty of this work lies not just in the cover (which is excellent) but in the hashtag, #celebrateyourvendor.

A magazine cover may well be the primary sales tool, but social media, and twitter in particular, is now pivotal is raising awareness of the print part of the brand, and driving purchase.

Here’s what Big Issue Editor Paul NcNamee (@pauldmcnamee) told me last week about the campaign:

‘I wanted to build on the connection people have with their vendors, and make something positive of the terrible events around the deaths. So, with that Newsweek cover somewhere in mind, I wanted a simple mechanism to combine the onstreet goodwill and essential sales, with a way to grow online presence. The idea is that people across Britain send us details, anecdotes and possibly pics of their vendors, we collect them and build up a load of great copy about our vendors and the relationship people have with them. And we get #celebrateyourvendor trending’

All-in-all, a simple and smart idea. And a hundred times better than the Newsweek cover Paul referenced.

Here it is, the very last print issue of Newsweek. When news of it’s closure was announced, there was a ton of talk about what Newsweek might have done differently, not least in my own coverthink post.

But no-one has yet said how rubbish this last cover was. To be fair, Newsweek didn’t have much left to say, other than comment on their own demise, but unlike the Big Issue’s hashtag, there is no real meaning here, no value, and nothing to celebrate. It’s just a backward looking attempt to try and stay relevant.

As with so many things in digital, the first brand to properly exercise the hashtag cover idea was the NME with #songthatchangedmylife.

Cathy Ma, Head of Social Media at IPC, has tracked the impressive story of this hashtag, and the response it created. First published by NME online Editor Luke Lewis in November 2011, the hashtag generated tens of thousands of interactions (30,000 on November 24th alone) and is still going strong as we speak

Spurred on by this success, NME took the story online, interviewing a host of stars about the song that changed their life. (I can’t get the video to embed, but you can watch it here) The blog post and the video both saw big traffic, along with strong ad revenue on account of high video CPMs.

Then, they took it to print, with this fine cover revealing who would be telling all inside, but keeping it highly engaging with the question, ‘What’s yours?’

And in this instance, print proved that it’s clearly not dead, as the cover sold like a train, up 7.8% year-on-year. It’s a fantastic case study of how a brand can leverage unique and valuable content across a true range of platforms.

How a successful #hashtag strategy can define your brand

Following the shocking murder of two of their vendors a few weeks ago, The Big Issue have created this fine cover campaign celebrating the very thing that makes them special, their vendors.

But the beauty of this work lies not just in the cover (which is excellent) but in the hashtag, #celebrateyourvendor.

A magazine cover may well be the primary sales tool, but social media, and twitter in particular, is now pivotal is raising awareness of the print part of the brand, and driving purchase.

Here’s what Big Issue Editor Paul NcNamee (@pauldmcnamee) told me last week about the campaign:

‘I wanted to build on the connection people have with their vendors, and make something positive of the terrible events around the deaths. So, with that Newsweek cover somewhere in mind, I wanted a simple mechanism to combine the onstreet goodwill and essential sales, with a way to grow online presence. The idea is that people across Britain send us details, anecdotes and possibly pics of their vendors, we collect them and build up a load of great copy about our vendors and the relationship people have with them. And we get #celebrateyourvendor trending’

All-in-all, a simple and smart idea. And a hundred times better than the Newsweek cover Paul referenced.

Here it is, the very last print issue of Newsweek. When news of it’s closure was announced, there was a ton of talk about what Newsweek might have done differently, not least in my own coverthink post.

But no-one has yet said how rubbish this last cover was. To be fair, Newsweek didn’t have much left to say, other than comment on their own demise, but unlike the Big Issue’s hashtag, there is no real meaning here, no value, and nothing to celebrate. It’s just a backward looking attempt to try and stay relevant.

As with so many things in digital, the first brand to properly exercise the hashtag cover idea was the NME with #songthatchangedmylife.

Cathy Ma, Head of Social Media at IPC, has tracked the impressive story of this hashtag, and the response it created. First published by NME online Editor Luke Lewis in November 2011, the hashtag generated tens of thousands of interactions (30,000 on November 24th alone) and is still going strong as we speak

Spurred on by this success, NME took the story online, interviewing a host of stars about the song that changed their life. (I can’t get the video to embed, but you can watch it here) The blog post and the video both saw big traffic, along with strong ad revenue on account of high video CPMs.

Then, they took it to print, with this fine cover revealing who would be telling all inside, but keeping it highly engaging with the question, ‘What’s yours?’

And in this instance, print proved that it’s clearly not dead, as the cover sold like a train, up 7.8% year-on-year. It’s a fantastic case study of how a brand can leverage unique and valuable content across a true range of platforms.

Wilko

Terrible news yesterday about Wilko Johnson. He’s got terminal cancer, and is not expected to live out the year. There’s been much reporting, but for those with an interest, this story from The Southend Echo, Wilko’s home town, is the best. The story reveals that he will be honouring his forthcoming touring commitments in Japan, among other places. And that he will flying first class, as ‘There was no point in hanging on to his savings’.

Wilko is one of my earliest heroes. I too grew up in Essex, just a few miles from Canvey Island, and for a little while in the mid to late 70’s Wilko and his music made me feel I was from the centre of the universe. This video clip is from the Geordie Scene in 1975. It’s totally pre-punk, and totally shows why Wilko’s talent was so unique.

He totally does it right.