Media: Double Standards - The magazines 'smarting up, not dumbing down'

It is testament to the quality of their news titles, Jacqui Kean and Taylor Gray say, that The Economist and Time can continue to flourish even in today's 24-hour news culture.

JACQUI KEAN - GLOBAL BRAND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, THE ECONOMIST

- What distinguishes your magazine from the competition?

The Economist presents well-considered analysis of the world's business, political, scientific, technological and cultural affairs and the connections between them. In a media landscape dominated by soundbites, fads and dumbing down, The Economist meets the global demand for intelligent insight and analysis that enables people to make sense of their world. The Economist is about smarting up, not dumbing down. That's the key differentiator.

- What is the key to making your title a global success?

First, the excellent editorial content. The Economist has remained relevant by consistently challenging readers to take part in "a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy timid ignorance obstructing our progress". Each issue is tightly edited according to a style guide that puts a maximum amount of information into a minimum of column inches and for its dry wit and irreverent style. Second, a marketing strategy that positions The Economist as a "must read" for smart and curious people around the world.

- What are the main difficulties in making a brand work across different markets and cultures?

The biggest challenge is to understand that the competitive landscape, reader habits and levels of awareness vary from market to market, and then to devise marketing strategies that are driven by the essence of The Economist's global editorial stance and at the same time relevant to local market context. It's about thinking global, acting local.

- How do you maintain the title's identity while orientating it towards new markets?

The Economist is a global brand with a global positioning and values that remain constant whether we are communicating with people in Baltimore or Bangalore. This is the starting point from which we develop marketing propositions that are based on market-specific consumer insights.

- How much original content do your international editions carry?

All of our content is original. Unlike other "global" titles that publish different editorial in different regions, The Economist has a single global edition, content is not adapted to a local market "fit" and commercial teams have no influence over editorial.

- Are you planning to expand into any new markets?

The Economist is available in 206 countries, and we continue to look to grow our circulation in all markets. India, The Economist's second-biggest market in Asia-Pacific, is key to regional and global circulation growth. We have just launched a investment plan there with the objective of increasing sales to 50,000 in two years. We are also focusing on the GCC countries, particularly on Dubai.

- How does a weekly compete in a 24-hour news culture?

Very successfully. Breaking news has become a commodity, the equivalent of a quick snack that gets you through the day. The Economist is the perfect antidote to this, giving readers the facts behind the headlines, the equivalent of a gourmet meal that readers can enjoy at their leisure.

- How do you get your daily news fix?

No daily print title. The Today programme, Guardian and BBC online, and Channel 4 News.

TAYLOR GRAY - GLOBAL MARKETING DIRECTOR, TIME

- What distinguishes your magazine from the competition?

Today, Time is so much more than a magazine; it's a weekly international news magazine, Time.com, Time Style & Design and Time For Kids. Our readers consistently cite their trust in the brand as one of the most important reasons they return. Our international network of reporters, editors and photographers provide local and regional coverage with a global perspective, and that commitment to editing and design resources creates a highly readable product.

- What is the key to making your title a global success?

Time has been a global player for more than 60 years and has the largest global readership of any news magazine, with 27 million readers. We try to lead the global conversation through deeply reported analysis of the key challenges of our time. We will continue to grow Time.com, which in January 2008 averaged more than 6.9 million users and more than 83 million pages views. To us, expanding the international audience of Time.com - 25 per cent of the site's audience is made up of international readers - will continue to be a point of focus.

- What are the main difficulties in making a brand work across different markets and cultures?

Publishing in English provides us with a pre-screened audience that is globally minded and comfortable working in any part of the world. The majority of readers of Time International are business leaders, and the market for global coverage and hunger for trusted news sources only continues to grow. Most new media developing around the world are very good at local coverage. We provide the global perspective.

- How do you maintain the title's identity while orientating it towards new markets?

Since we're known the world over as a very trusted name in news, there is, in some ways, no such thing as a new market. We have five editions - US, Canada, Asia, South Pacific and Europe/Middle East/Africa - managed and published by regional staff. And with Time.com, we can now reach readers in the places where it has been traditionally difficult to have print distribution.

- How much original content do your international editions carry?

Roughly 50 per cent of the content of the international editions is generated by Time reporters and bureaus around the world. And, of course, plenty of the stories that appear in the domestic US edition of Time are generated from our global bureaus as well.

- Are you planning to expand into any new markets?

Our main areas of growth into new markets are taking place online. Time.com continues to grow at a rapid clip, and around one-quarter of its more than six million users are international. We expect that proportion to grow. More than 30 per cent of our online traffic in Asia comes from China, and we continue to target new regions where people are hungry for trusted, global news reporting.

- How does a weekly compete in a 24-hour news culture?

Time.com and Time are complementary halves in our overall news coverage. In 2007, we relaunched Time.com as a 24/7 news site. The print edition is something that people want to spend time with, that is wonderful to look at and read, that highlights our beautiful photography and offers deep reporting and smart, investigative analysis.

- How do you get your daily news fix?

I keep Time.com as my homepage at work and read the New York Times during my commutes to New York.