Hello! and Mirror lead way for 'once in a lifetime royal opportunity'

Hello! and the Daily Mirror are among the first publications to ride the celebratory wave surrounding Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement this week, with special edition publications.

Hello! magazine's royal engagement souvenir edition
Hello! magazine's royal engagement souvenir edition

Hello! magazine, which traditionally hits shelves on Monday, has published a second issue this week priced at its regular £2 and on newsstands from today.

It is only the second time in Hello!’s 22-year history that the magazine has had two issues out in the same week, with the first being a special Michael Jackson issue on the Friday of the week he died last year.

The Daily Mirror has published 120,000 copies of a bookazine of the couple’s relationship history, on sale from today at £4.99 and titled ‘Wills and Kate – A Royal Love Story’.

Mark Hollinshead, managing director of Trinity Mirror Nationals Division, said: "We decided to exploit the enormous wave of interest in the engagement announcement. We were able to quickly go through our picture archive and put it together and get the product quickly to market."

He added: "It's a good news story that will hopefully lift newspaper sales in coming months."

Both special edition publications are devoted to the engagement and have been within days.

Publishers hope for royal lift in 2011

The news of the impending royal union was immediately seized upon by the British press; in a year with no World Cup or Olympic boost, the royal wedding could potentially provide a welcome fillip.

The day after the Prince and Kate, soon to be called Catherine, made their announcement, the UK's nine daily national newspapers published 120 pages about it. Publishers and editors are hoping it doesn't stop there. 

Charlotte Stockting, publisher of Hello!, said the news was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for the title. She said: "Hello! is primarily Royal and society orientated – celebrity takes third rung for us. Royalty is something people expect in Hello! Everybody loves reading about the Royals, from age 14 to 85."

Stockting also said she thought the coverage would attract new advertisers to the magazine in the coming months, such as jewellery and dressmakers. "We will be talking to such advertisers en masse until June next year," she said.

Hello!’s publisher warned that she didn’t think the news would have a "universal effect across the entire market" and that more celebrity-led titles would not reap as many rewards as a Royal-led magazine such as Hello!.

The celebrity weekly market is also set to embrace the story of Will and Kate’s trip down the aisle. Grazia publisher Ella Dolphin said the Bauer-published magazine would focus on the fashion element of the story, in particular what Kate is going to wear and how she will be styled at the wedding.

Dolphin said: "We’re really excited about it – it’s a huge fashion story for us. It’s very good for Grazia, there’s a huge interest in that story."

Society titles such as Condé Nast’s Tatler and The Lady are also expected to be well-positioned to reap the greatest rewards in terms of circulation boost and advertising lift.

Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast, said: "Ever since the engagement was announced, Vogue, Brides and Tatler have been on full alert, being the three primary sources for insider information and comment. Our editors and teams have given numerous radio, TV and newspaper interviews already."

The royal wedding on 29 July 1981, when Prince Charles wed Diana Spencer, boosted Tatler’s circulation figures to 19,876 for the six months to June 1981 compared to 11,332 for the same period the year before, according to ABC reports from the time.

Coleridge said: "During the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Diana Spencer, magazine sales saw a distinct boost, and in the case of Princess Diana this continued for several years, since she put 15% on sales whenever she did a cover."

The Lady, edited by Rachel Johnson, is also set to capitalise on the story. Publisher Ben Budworth said the title would focus on "the social changes that the marriage represents".

He added: "The Lady has covered every royal wedding since 1885 so we know how to make it interesting. What we find fascinating is the Middleton family. We’re pro the wedding 120% and pro the Middletons."

Budworth said covering the story of a middle-class woman marrying into royalty would help attract a new wave of readers who are "not only interested in butlers and footmen". He added that "it will prove that The Lady is far from exclusive.

"The wedding shows progression and modernisation. We will cancel the subscription of any reader of The Lady who takes the view that the Middleton girl is unsuitable."  

Budworth added that the story is great for the magazine market and will encourage younger people to recognise the enduring appeal of printed matter.

Kelvin MacKenzie, who was editor of The Sun during Prince Charles and Diana's wedding in 1981, tempered the enthusiam, believing it simply can't compare with the 80s bash.
"The Diana effect was enormous at the time in the run-up to her wedding with Charles. It was much more public than this one and was senstational news," he said.

"There is no comparison to this one. Sticking Kate Middleton on the page one of a newspaper will not have the same effect as it did with Diana. You could have Diana drinking a cup of coffee and it would sell papers."

He believes that this time around Prince William will do everything in his power to stop 'excessive' press coverage surrounding the couple following the tragic death of his mother.

One thing both weddings have in common is that they fall outside of the every other World Cup or Olympic years, and follow a period of national financial recession.