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A new revenue stream, brand building and more: How publishers can benefit from diversifying into training and development

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Many publishers are looking into education as a way to diversify their revenue streams. According to the market research firm Research and Markets, the global e-learning market is projected to grow to $325B by 2025. 

Education fits in naturally with many publishers’ expertise. For example, Condé Nast which publishes fashion and lifestyle titles like Vogue, Glamour, and GQ runs The Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design in the UK.

The college offers both short and longer term courses aiming to prepare students for careers in the fashion industry. The courses have the USP of experts from Condé Nast’s publications and other reputed names from the industry serving as teachers and guest speakers. 

A great educational course can build a publisher’s brand, leverage the credibility and expertise of its editorial staff, and develop a new stream of valuable customers. 

Max Willens, Digiday 

Other publishers, like HBR, offer self-paced online learning programs for business professionals. The Economist offers a wide range of courses from leadership to data science to productivity at Learning.ly. BBC Good Food started delivering online cookery classes earlier this year at price points of $269 and $69. 

Training in the form of apprenticeship: A case study

Then there is Bauer Media, the German multimedia conglomerate which publishes over 700 magazines, 400 digital products, and runs 100+ radio stations. It is now setting course for the future as a global multi-business company by investing in new business models. One of these is Bauer Academy, the publisher’s training and development arm, established in 2014. 

Bauer Academy offers apprenticeship training to individuals already working in the media industry to further develop their skills. It also offers courses for people who want to gain media-specific qualifications on entry to the industry.

The academy is on the UK government-approved Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and delivers courses in a vocational learning style, offering work-based experience throughout.

According to Courtnay Mcleod, Director at Bauer Academy, when they established the academy they were not thinking about it only as a new revenue stream. “It was far wider than that,” she says. 

Firstly, Bauer had identified that the talent pipeline coming into their business needed to be widened in scope. The Academy was seen as an opportunity to broaden the net and spot good talent early. Secondly, Bauer does a lot of work within the community as part of their CSR outreach – the Academy was seen as a natural extension to this work.

Courtnay Mcleod, Director at Bauer Academy

The learners on these programmes are given access to Bauer Media’s experts and resources to learn practical skills like content production, creative writing, podcasting, radio production, web development, and more. The training is also delivered across the whole of the UK for businesses in a variety of public and private sectors. The academy’s clients include ITV, the7stars, Sue Ryder, JP Morgan and Immediate Media, whilst the uptake has seen it grow from “a couple of people” to 30 full-time staff and over 20 freelancers.

Recently, Bauer Academy teamed with the Grazia Academy (Grazia magazine is a Bauer publication) to offer career-enhancing courses on leadership and storytelling taught by industry experts. The courses are priced at £750.

Mcleod comments, “The Grazia Academy is another natural extension to what we’re doing and is a really exciting step for Bauer. We feel the Academy is offering something that is timely and relevant for the title’s audience. Training in the creative sector is now really tapping into people’s lifestyles e.g. web development, podcasting, blogging, etc.”

“Turn the taste for digital self-enhancement into serious businesses”

For publishers looking into diversifying into training and development, Mcleod suggests, “My advice to other publishers thinking of setting up a training academy is this: you need absolute commitment. This isn’t something you can set up at a whim – it’s harder than it looks – and there are numerous procedures and protocols to follow. 

Bottom line is that you need an absolute commitment to excellence from the Board downwards.”

For publishers looking at e-learning opportunities, senior tech journalist Steve Smith adds, “Magazine brands in both B2B and B2C markets now have the opportunity to leverage both their brand equity and their existing content infrastructures to turn this taste for digital self-enhancement into serious businesses.

“But in talking to several publishers in different grades of e-schooling, several lessons become clear: Formats must map against use cases, careful attention must be paid to customer acquisition strategies and cost containment and content quality and innovation are the specific strengths that the magazine world brings to e-learning.”

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