My role is to tell stories and my aim is to make these stories connect.
I’ve worked in many subject areas while telling stories for people. Luckily, for me, media works in similar ways despite the subject area. So, as long as you are telling your story in as fresh and clear a way as possible, then you can grab people's attention and never let go.
I’ve used a wide variety of formats throughout these different projects, whether they have been content marketing for blue chip companies or social media for niche groups, my task has been to understand the people I am talking to and deliver what they want with as little interruption to the story as possible.
Hyperlocal media has been around for some time, but the rise of social media in the last 10 years has seen a lot of interesting developments.
In the 90s free local magazines flourished in the UK. Relying on advertisers these publications are glossy, usually A4 and have common features: diary pages, profiles of local crafts people or shopkeepers and celebrities on tour. They may feature local notables who give readers a glimpse into their lives and houses. And they often carry a piece on local history. In addition, columnists give a wry view on local life. On the whole these publications are worthy additions to local life - some do it better than others but the model is tried and tested. Local commerce, entertainment, food, drink and property are the mainstays of the content and the advertising.
This was the model KOB Publishing, which I co-founded in 2014, decided to set up in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan.
The magazine follows the model described above, we have columnists, a photo story, diary pages and so on but we also tailored it specifically to Hell's Kitchen. The neighborhood [sic] is capital of the off broadway theatre scene and filled with restaurants. Ninth avenue and the surrounding area hosts food venues of every stripe from dollar pizza to three of the best Ramen restaurants on the island. As such we amplify the messages from the theatres and cover as much about the food on offer as possible. Another local anomaly are our pooch pages, ‘Wagging Tales’. New York towers house a lot of pets and, as we suspected, these pages have performed very well in print and also on social media.
The magazine took off quickly and by issue three people who at first had seemed cautious were asking for more copies. Distribution growth was logarithmic and steady - we went from getting copies in three hotels to filling 17 in these initial months. Currently we put out 20k all of which are taken - as we’ve found to our archive's cost if we don’t keep a box back.
When setting up W42ST We were keen to give it a strong social media presence and chose to concentrate on Facebook.
Currently the W42ST Facebook page is heading for the 15k Like mark - the vast majority of whom are Hell's Kitchen residents. With a resident population of 80k our 12k+ represent a significant proportion of the neighborhood. This amount of Likes is managed and focussed – we don't advertise W42ST outside of Hell's Kitchen as increasing Like numbers isn't the goal. By concentrating on locals our engagement rates are disproportionally high (in compabecause the stories we put out are relevant. Highly relevant it seems: on the night of the 'superstorm' in January 2015 we got an average of three engagements (reads, clicks, shares etc) per Like. This is due to the fact that, by becoming the main source of media for an area, we amplify messages from other sources to give the local community a single place to congregate.
There is a healthy relationship between the magazine and social media. Print gives the brand legitimacy and Facebook allows us to increase the frequency of our messaging and to react to people immediately – such as on delivery day when people are asking where they can find the magazine.
Content Marketing is worth over £4bn, and represents about £1 in every £4 spent on marketing. Budgets allocated to Content Marketing are increasing and are currently at around 25% a year. This is the opposite story to that of media owners on the print newsstand which is why so many are looking at shifting into this area.
Working with a brand means understanding how to create compelling content. Knowing what people want to read or watch or listen to and knowing when and how they want to. Having people interact with your brand as opposed to simply tolerating it, or barely noticing it, makes and breaks brands.
In the early 00s I was asked to write a board report on creating a fully integrated content marketing strategy for Future Publishing. I then launched Future Plus, the content marketing arm of Future Publishing and pitched, won and launched a number of accounts. I worked with O2, Roland, The Musician's Union, The GMB, DoCrafts, BT Vision, SKY, ASDA and more in myriad different ways.
Future Plus was the first publishing agency I set up and I learnt a lot along the way, including organising the sales and creative teams, and establishing a pitch process. We hit profit within the first year and the division continues to go from strength to strength - currently under the title Future Fusion.
Specials - Bookazines
Specials - Bookazines
Below you'll see a selection of the titles created for Future Publishing.
In 2013 I was asked to blueprint and implement two new publishing strategies for Future Publishing. We needed to grab more of the flourishing bookazine market and, concurrently, to look at new ways of reusing existent content to compete in Australia and the Far East.
Our The Royal Baby title was one of the best-selling titles for the company and we introduced new ways of working, new subject areas and new content reuse practices.
All the content was created to work in print or as an app. Craft Beer 365 Best Beers in the World was to become the app A Beer a Day and the full range of Fighting Fit titles was shot as sequential stills both for print and also for animated exercises in a Fighting Fit app.