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Media 10 reveals its secret to readership growth through event and magazine partnerships

Media 10 is a privately-held independent publisher and events company owning a portfolio of 13 publications, 39 websites and 30 live events. Headquartered in London, the company owns and runs some of the UK’s most iconic media properties including ICON, Good Homes and Grand Designs magazines as well as events that include the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live and This Morning Live.

The company is one of a select number of niche media owners who have not been overwhelmed by the widespread disruption embattling the industry. Rather than take a defensive position, Media 10 has expanded carefully into live events, conferences and geographical territories, including its luxury event Best of British in China and a growing portfolio of magazines and events in South Africa.

WNIP asked Lisa Allen, Editor-in-Chief at Media 10, to outline the company’s strategy in a bid to assist other publishers also facing the innumerable disruptive forces confronting them, as well as the hidden opportunities waiting to be identified and leveraged.

Give the audience the content they want now in print, online and live

Lisa Allen, Editor-in-Chief, Media 10

Too late in the day, you could argue, traditional print publishers have caught on to the idea that survival is all about brands, not magazines, and have attempted to expand their flagship titles on to new platforms.

Some (often the less high-profile, like Meredith in the US) have been so successful that this has refilled the leaking bucket of declining print circulation and advertising revenues, and even regenerated their brands. Most, though, have been unable to catch up fast enough to stem the decline in print and are still struggling to engage with audiences that have drifted away to new media and experiences.

We’d like to think it’s a different story at Media 10, the relatively young London-based events and publishing business founded 13 years ago by CEO Lee Newton, where we’ve just posted a strong set of ABCs that fly in the face of wider industry decline.

Whether it’s delivering an iconic British event like the Ideal Home Show or running a showcase for British luxury brands in China, we’ve built our business by developing a deep understanding of our audiences and delivering exactly what they want, whether through our own wholly-owned brands, or in partnerships with companies like broadcasters Channel 4 and ITV.

Events are now right at the heart of the business, and it’s these that give us constant face-to-face access to the audiences who are also the consumers of their print publications, which include a diverse range from high-end design authority ICON to baby bible Gurgle.

Events are like giant ongoing focus groups – they’re a window on what consumers and reader communities are feeling and wanting right now. The closer we get to our audiences, the more time we spend engaging with them face to face, the more we understand what we need to deliver to make our brands stay relevant to their real lives. Because of this, our team of editors works in close partnership with the teams running the events.

This month, for example, our lifestyle magazine brand Good Homes will be delivering one of the key Ideal Home Show 2018 content features, a series of editorial-style roomsets showcasing upcoming interiors trends interpreted by the magazine’s stylists. The themes for each room are based on crowd-sourced data and retail insights, rather than simply relying on editorial ‘vision.’

Our Good Homes Editor, Karen Walker, uses the show as an opportunity to immerse herself in the mood of the moment by talking to visitors to both the event and to her roomsets and says, “This is when I can really get close to people and understand exactly what they’re looking for from my team. Then we translate that into features and content for our magazine, website and social platforms”.

Like other Media 10 editors, Karen also takes part in the ‘edutainment’ at the Show, presenting on stage alongside TV celebrities and industry experts; it’s part of a virtuous circle of relationships between the events and magazine brands. As well as extensive feedback from visitor research, editors get insights from audiences in real time, which allows them to tailor their future content, and in return they provide payback by creating polished editorial content for show features.

However, the magazine’s partnership with the show goes far beyond the physical representation of the magazine’s pages ‘brought to life’. Behind the scenes, from show launch to post show, is a constant brand awareness campaign for the magazine to reach the Ideal Home show visitor across many touchpoints.

The customer journey starts with their visit to the show website, where the magazine evergreen content is embedded in the site. Good Homes then follows the customer journey through every piece of show marketing communication, with sales opportunities along the way. From adding magazines as an upsell to the ticket basket, to a free copy or subscription in VIP ticket deals, to sampling the magazine in goody bags, right through to promoting the magazine and its brand extensions via its newsletter and social channels constantly through the journey.

This ensures that across an annual show campaign, Good Homes has not only had brand awareness and engagement with visitors but has also benefitted from many opportunities to add copies to the ABC, even before the show.

At the other, more niche, end of the interiors market, the Grand Designs magazine team is also heavily involved in the Grand Designs Live shows, with Editor Karen Stylianides hosting live sessions and panels with C4 TV frontman Kevin McCloud and homebuilders.

She says: ‘We’re out there to inspire people – but we also need to keep it real. Meeting people at events allows us to spot opportunities to create brand extensions that we know they’re already looking for, like collections of our inspirational country homes, which we’ve begun to publish as successful bookazines.’ The marketing campaign also follows the show visitors’ customer journey in the same way as Good Homes and the Ideal Home Show and ensures we have the same opportunities to engage with their vast databases.

Interiors is just one aspect of the business; Media 10 interacts with mass-market women through several other events, including The Cake & Bake Show, held in London, and TV tie-in This Morning Live, held at the NEC in Birmingham; with the design community via 100% and Clerkenwell Design Week, as well as others.

Media 10 has also been careful to ensure that its events have a wide geographical spread, making sure that the audiences their teams engage with are a true representation of the UK and internationally, rather than reflecting a London/SE-centric bubble.

We aren’t precious about our brands. In the end we know that they aren’t the stars of the show – our audiences are. We get close to our consumers, and that gives us the insights we need to give them exactly what they want. We’re real, and we’re relevant – it’s simple, but it works and it is keeping our magazines’ content alive outside of the print. Our recent ABC’s are testament to that.

Lisa Allen is Editor-in-Chief at Media 10