Chalk one up for the good guys
My thoughts on the artist formerly known as Kanye West are entirely predictable and not entirely relevant to this newsletter. However, seeing the one-time rap star lose millions in sponsorship contracts has got me thinking about where I would draw the line when it comes to making money.
Pulling the plug on an anti-semitic celebrity is an easy call. Morality aside, brands like Adidas just can’t afford to be tainted by hate speech and they cut Mr West off in pretty short order.
I am very unlikely to get caught up in an ethical shitstorm of Yesian proportions. But I have had experience of advertisers wanting to spend money with projects I’ve been working on when I knew that what they did went against everything I believed as a publisher (Chumbox recommendation engines anyone?).
Do you take the money and shut up, or do you politely decline the business?
Well, recent research suggests that principles pay. IPG’s UM media agency found that socially conscious brands advertising on media that shares the same values see levels of purchase intent from consumers almost double.
Turn that on its head: publishers that carry advertising from brands that align with their values and those of their audience will be see better ROI and, likely, more repeat business. Win-Win-Win!
Never let me go
No not the Kazuo Ishiguro novel that’s to be adapted for Disney+. Your subscribers.
InPublishing’s James Evelegh has been writing about how publishers can keep hold of the Covid-cohort that subscribed at the height of the pandemic and the challenges caused by the cost of living crisis.
Publishers are going to have to work doubly hard and be extra creative if they are to retain their subscribers.
InPublishing’s latest Subscriptions Special has lots of advice on retention from a host of top publishing people. But James offers up some of his own tips too, from making a strong first impression to continually investing in the quality of your product AND in your retention team.
Be more B2B
I’ve worked most of my career in B2B media and it’s sometimes felt like we were the poor relation when compared with consumer newsstand titles. I’m not going to lie, seeing this post that says B2B has something to teach everyone was very satisfying.
It focuses on B2B’s subject matter expertise and its deep understanding of its audiences. Speaking at Di5rupt’s inaugural Mx3 event in Berlin, my old MediaBriefing boss Neil Thackray put it perfectly:
The value creation generated by specialist media is not built on audience size or vacuous measures of engagement or social media; it is grounded on the presentation of data and information that removes friction from business decision-making.
Basically, all magazines - B2B or B2C - need to get close to their audiences, identify their ‘must-reads’ and deliver consistently.
You might not know Defector, but they’ve had a good year. The employee-owned sports and culture website earned $3.8 million in its second year… 95% of that from readers.
This post from NiemanLab gives some great insight into how their earnings break out and some of the tactics they used to grow their subscriber base.
My favourite is the ‘creepy’ email promoting a discounted subscription offer. With the subject line ‘I see what you’re up to’ it got some complaints. But it also got an open rate 1.5 times higher than average, and double the average clickthrough rate for one of Defector’s ‘normal’ subscription appeal emails.
I’m not suggesting you should be demanding money with menaces, but talking directly to your audience in a way that suggests you know what they want is very smart.
The full text of the email follows. Would you write to a potential subscriber like this?
This week’s magazine song is ‘A Magazine Called Sunset’ by Wilco, a lovely little love song that didn’t quite make it to the band’s 2001 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album, but was released on rarities compilation Alpha Mike Foxtrot.
Thanks for reading
Please remember to send me any magazine publishing ideas that you think are worth stealing for future issues. And remember, if you would like any help finding ideas for your business, let's arrange a chat.