Yesterday, Marina Go, general manager of Hearst Australia brands ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR and COSMOPOLITAN, told B&T about her time at Bauer and hopes for her successor. In part two of our exclusive chat with Go, she revealed the tricks to keeping print alive in the digital age.
In our interview, Go strongly agreed with the sentiment, “If magazines don’t take risks, they’ll die”, adding that it was about the balance between constant evolution and maintaining brand consistency.
“I love print, but everything has a time and a place now,” she explained. “People that buy magazines are digitally-savvy, and they love it in the context of a magazine.
“But I do think we have to stop this thinking that we’re creating a magazine, and if it’s good enough people will find it. Because you know what? They won’t.
“The mantra now is if the content is good enough it’ll find me. That’s what millennials say. And Facebook has done that to us. Millennials expect that content will come to them, so it’s completely at odds with them that they would go seeking out something, unless we tell them to or give them a good enough reason to. Therefore, it’s up to us to reach them.”
Go said she hopes this will be enough to keep the print product alive.
“I believe in magazines; I believe in the fact that they add value to a person’s life. There is a time in your day or in your week or in your month, depending on how you read magazines and what you use them for, when magazines have meaning.
we have to keep in mind, what is the place of magazines?
“And we’ve spent the last few years finding that meaning, and really focusing on what a magazine means to readers now in the context of everything else that they’re dealing with in the news cycle and in their day. They’re constantly being interrupted by all sorts of media. But we have to keep in mind, what is the place of magazines?
“I don’t think the struggle is that magazines are suddenly irrelevant. I feel like the way we market to readers has to change and maybe the way we distribute them has to change.”
Go is currently working on two media-related projects, which she says will keep her involved in the industry while she pursues her new role. Something she says is “very dear” to her is a mentoring program she has developed with a friend that helps young women in their career, which is called Breakthrough Blueprint.
The second project is a geo-location, push notification retail app called Daily Siren, that aims to drive more foot traffic into stores.
Speaking about the latter, Go said she hopes this kind of technology might help keep the physical print product of magazines alive for longer.
“I’m hoping that this has application for magazines, because one of the challenges I’ve noticed in the time I’ve been working here, is that the consumers that buy our magazines absolutely love them, but the marketing is so fragmented now and consumers by nature – certainly the millennial generation – are not necessarily going to the places where we sell magazines.
“So in some ways, there’s no more stumbling over a magazine and being delighted by a cover when you find it. I feel like the casual readers are not there anymore.
“What I’m hoping is that we can use something like this push notification app to remind people that magazines are on sale when they’re near a newsagent or supermarket. Then hopefully the ones who say they love it but don’t know when it’s on sale will actually go into the store and buy it.
we have to stop this thinking that we’re creating a magazine, and if it’s good enough people will find it. Because you know what? They won’t.
“Think about it – how do we remind people that a magazine is on sale? When I was a magazine editor years ago, consumers were all on the same cycle, which was a monthly cycle. As a magazine reader and as a magazine editor, we were all working to the same on-sale date.
“Now, our consumers are on a 24/7 news cycle – some of them don’t know what month it is – they certainly don’t know when the magazine is on sale next.
“Whereas when I read Dolly as a teenager I would be the first one at the newsagent on the Monday morning because I knew that the new one was coming out. Our readers don’t know anymore; they don’t even know if they’ve missed one.
“And as publishers, the opportunity to market to them is so fragmented now, it’s really difficult to reach them unless you reach them via phone. Which is why I feel like the [Daily Siren] app could be a good opportunity.
Quizzed on what looks to be the most promising trend for 2017 in the print world, Go said it’s still all about mobile.
“I still think that whatever happens next, it’s the smartphone that we have to completely remain across, and think very carefully how to use this to our advantage so that we remain at least in some relationship with the consumer on a personal level. Otherwise the consumer takes full control and we could be cut out,” Go warned.
there’s no more stumbling over a magazine and being delighted by a cover when you find it. I feel like the casual readers are not there anymore.
“The smartphone is the only way to reach people on a personal level. I don’t think we’ve yet exhausted the whole need for personalisation in terms of consumers wanting to feel like things have been specifically created for them.
“And I think that’s one of the benefits of a magazine, actually. The most personal form of media has always been a magazine, because it’s created for a specific audience. Whereas in the digital world, there’s a lot of content and you’ve got to filter it.
“I think the greatest challenges have always been understanding the customer; making sure you never sit comfortably and assume that customer behaviour is always going to be consistent. Staying one step ahead or at least in line with changing customer behaviour us the most challenging thing.
“You have to be reminded that your readers have different lives to people working in publishing, and the things we think really matter don’t always matter as much to them, but something else might matter more to them.
“So just making sure we always remain in touch with our consumer is, to me, the most important thing.”