Name: Chris Duncan, CEO, UK Publishing, Bauer Media
I work with the teams here on growing the UK print and digital business for a stable of great magazines, as well as maintaining regular contact with Sue Todd at Magnetic on the big cross-publisher initiatives.
The day to day job is a mix of commercial, editorial and platform debates and decisions, currently on video calls from a spare bedroom…
How are your magazine brands adapting to current world events?
It’s a mix really in terms of reflecting what readers want – we have to recognize the impact restrictions have had on our readers lives and we tailor a lot of content to ‘life in lockdown’ in the lifestyle mags, and some of our mags have to acknowledge that riding bikes, angling or playing golf has been impossible at points, so the feature writers have had to be imaginative about that.
Equally we also know that we provide entertainment and inspiration as an escape from the drudgery of lockdown. We’ve seen growth in Puzzles – launching two new titles this month ‘Bella Puzzles Train Your Brain’ and ‘Bigger Better Puzzles’, Gardening titles, and our TV and True Life titles have given people a break from it all.
Behind the scenes there are a lot of adjustments to content, shoots, distribution; we’re seeing significant growth in subscriptions and streaming as the way people access their favourite titles changes with lockdown, as well as increased traffic to sites helping people decide what to buy from home. I think our teams have handled that incredibly well.
Our advertising customers are being kept up to date with regular audience tracking surveys that look at changing habits and spending patterns over the pandemic. We know that our consumers pay attention to our editorial voice as well as the commercial content, so it’s helpful to clients and agencies to hear what has the most resonance at a particular time.
It was encouraging to see so many of our commercial partnerships feature in Magnetic’s recent Spotlight Awards. Some smart investment in magazine media from Sainsbury’s saw them reap rewards for their Tu brand and take the Client of the Year award. Two of our editorial campaigns ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ and ‘Ban the Rough Sex Defence’ also gained huge traction through our editorial campaigning. We Can’t Consent to This worked with the Grazia team and ultimately got the law amended in relation to the domestic violence bill, so I was delighted to see it take the Magnetic Spotlight award for ‘Best Use of Magazines for Good’.
We’re also foot to the floor on transforming the business – we have some big plans this year to improve editorial workflows which will enable us to deliver the content our consumers want even faster, to build subscription products that give better access to our titles and to accelerate our plans around digital and data. Those projects are still moving ahead despite the conditions.
Which magazines are helping to distract you right now?
All of the Bauer mags, of course!
Share a useful lockdown tip:
We have something for everyone… Would recommend the 2021 stars from Spirit and Destiny to see the future! There are also some great prizes to be won in this week’s Take a Break if you need a lift, and if fishing is your passion, don’t miss 50 ideas for fishing in 2021 in Angling Times. And if you’re struggling with kids at home see @thejuggleuk on Instagram – a new parenting platform we launched recently – where Grazia can help you through with tips, tricks and empathy!