Outside Insight: Magazines, live events, and publishing in 2016 – Hearst’s new strategic partnerships director answers our questions
Becky Gee has recently become the new strategic partnerships director at Hearst Magazines UK. She had been the publisher at Red since August last year, and was previously the strategic director for fashion and retail at Grazia. Here Becky answers our questions about the importance of live events, how to create great commercial partnerships, and what 2016 holds…
Live events seem to have become an important part of publishing. Why do you think that is?
Because magazines brands have incredibly strong relationships with their audiences, high levels of trust and great reach. Hearst reaches one in three women through brands such as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar, and our audiences are extremely engaged with our brands.
With the growth of social media, magazine audiences have become communities, and enjoy sharing experiences together. They want to get involved in the brand and to interact with it; an event is a great way for them to do so.
Events are a good way of expanding the brand, but it takes a lot of work and expertise to get it right. We're very careful not to take the trust in our brands for granted and our events business – Hearst Live – is a core part of our business. The team run event activities across all of our brands, manage the marketing and sponsorship, and make sure that the events work for everyone, sponsors and audiences alike.
How successful have the live events at Red been - can you tell us about a couple in particular?
They've been really successful and are a core part of the brands’ plans for the future. Red has a loyal audience, is well known for its strong feature content, and does a lot of work to champion and support women, particularly women at work. This ethos has carried through into its Smart Women Week which this year saw 40 events take place across five days, giving attendees the opportunity to attend bespoke sessions, with each session exploring the concept of “Smart”. Our sessions ranged from How to Start a Business with Kelly Hoppen, fitness sessions with Barry’s Boot Camp, Confidence with Candace Bushnell, a Power Breakfast with Natasha Corrett and “how to” sessions from Google, Pinterest and Twitter. We saw high levels of engagement on social media (over 40 million impacts on Twitter via #ThisIsASmartWoman).
The Smart events also expand beyond the week into regular monthly sessions with a variety of high profile speakers. And the pinnacle of Red’s event calendar is its Women of the Year Awards, which celebrate a host of inspiring and remarkable women.
What new opportunities will there be for commercial partnerships and sponsorship in the future with Hearst?
Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, ELLE and Cosmopolitan all have new event properties launching in 2016. Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Red and ELLE will also look to enhance their current successful properties.
Hearst will also look to deliver a series of dedicated events that will focus on a specific trend or audience. These executions will include all relevant brands in delivering a best in class event and campaign.
All our sponsorship opportunities are fully editorially integrated, allowing our commercial partners to work with our magazine brands in a native capacity alongside bespoke advertising executions. We work closely in partnership with our sponsors, and we put the consumer at the heart of everything we do. We will only do something if it suits and benefits our audience, which is a really important benefit for our commercial partners as it allows them to reach highly engaged consumers.
What does 2016 hold for the magazine industry and Hearst in particular?
If it's anything like 2015, it won't be boring! The magazine industry is smart, and will continue to expand the trust and power in its brands through digital and events. At Hearst we plan to do just that, to keep growing our expanding digital network, and to keep innovating and coming up with ideas and experiential events that keep consumers and our commercial partners happy.