'I'm going from fashion to features to QR codes'

Two women's magazine editors turned 360-degree brand guardians explain how they are extending their titles beyond the print medium.

SUSIE FORBES EDITOR, EASY LIVING

- What is the secret to sustaining growth in the current print climate?

No secret - understanding our audience and continuing to deliver what they want, and maintaining quality, is at the core of everything we do. Also, rather than focusing on one particular field, we took the decision at Easy Living to be experts across all the areas we cover, a genuine general-interest magazine. This, along with our innovative colour-coded device, makes us both easy to use and glamorous. We offer our readers enough content to keep them revisiting the magazine right through the month.

- How important is it for magazines to extend their brand beyond the print medium?

Brand extensions only work if they're brand-consistent with the magazine, where editorial values remain integral - the print magazine is the beating heart. That said, it is now possible for our readers to download a digital version of the magazine via Zinio, and our apps launching later this year will offer practical help and advice in two of our most successful content areas, giving a direct and practical extension of our editorial. Conversely, the website isn't there to duplicate what the magazine offers, but to capitalise on the immediacy of the web, while still maintaining our voice consistently throughout.

- What is the relationship between the print and online versions of your magazine?

The Easy Living website is led by the blog, written by the editorial print team, so the synergy between the two is strong. The website is also the home of our very popular Easy Living recipes from the food editor, David Herbert, all of which have appeared in the magazine; as well as Easy Living Help, where our team of magazine experts answer reader queries; competitions and a reading list. The aim of our site is to drive traffic, so no pay-wall, helping to boost magazine subscriptions as well as online ad revenue.

- What different opportunities do they offer advertisers?

Easy Living's breadth of content is a unique offering in itself, which enables us to appeal to a broad church in terms of advertisers. The different platforms of print and digital allow increased collaboration, creativity and content. The printed version offers advertisers an intimate relationship with our readers, while digital, with its ad-friendly video and animated banners, delivers strongly for the faster-paced attitude with which sites tend to be browsed. Whatever the medium, we offer advertisers a unique proposition as they are able to reach the 150,000 or so of our readers who read Easy Living and no other magazines.

- How important is social media to print magazines?

We useTwitter to reinforce our authority across the areas we cover. Rather than Tweeting content, we're retweeting external links we think are particularly of interest to our readers, as well as Tweeting from events we're attending. It allows magazines to offer expertise in real time, while Facebook can be optimised for conversation and debate.

- What trends are you seeing in the women's magazine market?

The sector remains as competitive as ever with our sector populated by good-quality, longstanding magazines. Our subscriptions have risen every period since launch so both recruitment and retention are going strongly. All the indicators are that, in the slightly older market demographic in which we operate, magazines would appear to still be the favourite medium of choice.

SUE JAMES EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, WOMAN & HOME, WOMAN AND ESSENTIALS

- What is the secret to sustaining growth in the current print climate?

Understanding your consumer and remaining totally focused on her. You need to listen to her and stay just one step ahead of what she's thinking, doing and aspiring to. And you must not be afraid to redevelop, even when things are going well. I think all of this has helped us to grow our circulation consistently over the past decade, so we're now at our highest level for 15 years - we rose 5.5 per cent in the last year alone and now sell 385,800 copies a month.

- How important is it for magazines to extend their brand beyond the print medium?

It's vital. I no longer see myself as an editor of a magazine, but as the editorial director of a 360-degree brand that has content appearing in a number of directions - whether that's print, digital or events. We encourage more than 4,000 of our readers to participate in sponsored walks for Breast Cancer Care each spring and our networking lunches sell out within 24 hours every time. The past few years have been transformed by technology - including social media, the need to be interacting 24/7 with your audience and more elaborate partnerships with advertising clients. All of this makes it an exciting time to be an expert on quality content - wherever you find it.

- What is the relationship between the print and online versions of your magazine?

We are one team - it's very integrated and we are learning all the time. My web editor is a department head, and the filter and final edit comes through me. Sometimes I'm amazed these days that I go from fashion to features to deciding where QR codes fit in the magazine. My readers want access to our content on many levels - daily, weekly and monthly - so I run that edit through everything I'm touching. I'm switching conversations and devices all day through my editing direction - BlackBerry, face-to-face, iPad. It has become the norm in a very short space of time.

- What different opportunities do they offer advertisers?

The responsiveness of my audience and their brand-new attitude to ideas could be tapped into further. I'm so pleased I now see substantial support from the beauty industry, including the premium houses. For example, Origins partnered exclusively with Woman & Home on its recent launch, using our multiple platforms - and it was so successful, it became a number-one bestseller at a leading high-street retailer within a week. I'd like to see the same from other sectors, such as technology - my audience are as excited by tablets and smartphones as everyone else, but somehow they get overlooked and I'm not sure why.

- How important is social media to print magazines?

Social is not a new idea for our audience. For the past three years, they have had their own online network on www.womanandhome.com, and 30,000 of them have joined it and privately e-mail each other as well as posting openly. So the addition of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn streams into this audience complements our efforts and gives us bigger opportunities.

- What trends are you seeing in the women's magazine market?

Talking about too many of these will give away our future plans! What I do know is that women are looking for value - this refers to quality, relevance and making an emotional connection. I think we have to service our readers to help guide them through life as it shifts and changes. We've just launched a new regular feature, Midlife Without a Map, which I think sums up the future - it's exciting!