The days of magazine publishing being a one-way medium have well and truly passed. Today, magazine brands are customer-centric.
Claire Bradley, Associate Publisher of Homes at NewsLifeMedia, (pictured below) sees audiences being at the core of everything she does. “I really believe that’s the key: understanding what your audience wants, where it wants it and how it wants it,” she says.
In order to create a seamless experience, Bradley says today’s magazines need to be platform agnostic; the people who create them must understand what’s going on in the rest of their reader’s lives so they can stay relevant. Social media allows for much more direct communication with audiences, which makes it easier to identify and deliver what they want in real time.
As the associate publisher for Inside Out, Vogue Living, Country Style and homelife.com.au, Bradley has her finger on the latest in home trends, such as hygge, a Danish word used to describe a special feeling or moment. In homes, this manifests as cosy décor; a trend distancing itself from minimalism. Bradley says, “It’s a move towards a softer, more nesting environment to balance out the inevitable high impact, high technology touch-points.”
Delivering magazines in the digital age
In contrast, keeping ahead of business trends sees Bradley arming herself with new information in an environment where change is rapid and new platforms develop constantly. She says, “It’s about making sure you understand how your brand lives among all the different platforms and where your message is best communicated.”
Digital has seen large-scale change in the industry and as magazines are changing with the times, each title is following its own path. Bradley sees this as an exciting opportunity for the home brands. She says, “Innovation is the ability to harness the power of a really great idea, which has always been the core of editorial.”
For brands such as Inside Out this means innovations such as Open for Inspection, which sees readers go inside the homes featured in the magazine both virtually through video tours and in real life through ticketed events. “You can really make the stuff that you dream of come true now,” she says.
As the industry evolves further, collaboration is key. The increase in digital native content in particular calls for a closer relationship with advertisers than the days of standalone print advertising. Bradley says, “I love the challenge of figuring out the publishing puzzle pieces and how you can fit them together differently to create a more wide-reaching brand.”
Career-wise, magazines are in Bradley’s blood. Her mother worked an art director for many years before retiring and Bradley started as a photographic stylist before moving away from art direction toward editorial. It was the ultimate disappointment for her mother. She says, “There were lots of ‘round-the-dinner-table conversations about why I chose words over pictures.”
Following a series of internships and a stint as an editorial coordinator, Bradley joined News Corp at Sunday magazine. Of her time at News she says, “Every time I feel like I need a new challenge, I’m presented with one. There’s so much opportunity and I feel very fortunate to be with a business that is open to change.”
Bradley’s own media consumption habits range from true crime and history podcasts to social media, but magazines remain close to her heart. She says, “I love magazines with long-form articles, they are a constant source of inspiration.”
As for what’s next, Bradley is presently studying a Women in Leadership course through Monash University and Women in Leadership Australia. She says, “I genuinely don’t know where we’ll be in five years but I’m excited to find out. As long as we’re flexible and agile, I certainly feel that we’ll be a part of it.”