The panel discussion, moderated by the CEO of Associated Media Publishing (AMP) in South Africa, Julia Raphaely, will be part of a half-day line-up of presentations at two FIPP Insider events in Cape Town on 21 August and Johannesburg on 22 August. Both events will also include an update on global news media trends by FIPP president and CEO, James Hewes, as well as a presentation about paid content models by Nikolay Malyarov, chief content officer and general counsel at PressReader in Canada.
One of the panellists of the ‘Spotlighting your brand’ group discussion will be Cosmopolitan South Africa’s editor-in-chief Holly Meadows. Meadows says they decided to include their August cover star in the panel discussion because she has a huge contribution to make in answering questions such as why a specific outfit was chosen as part of the cover styling. “She will explain certain styling decisions against the background of owning sexuality in a post #metoo era… And why we decided to run with a coverline that speaks to giving patriarchy the middle finger, especially as a woman navigating a very male dominated music scene in South Africa” explains Meadows.
Holly Meadows, editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan South Africa
A hot topic
She says the name of the cover star is being kept under wraps as the magazine edition is not on the newsstand yet. “But it will be a hot topic at the time. The cover star will be joined on stage by Lulama Mnisi, the brand manager of Sportscene, a South African retailer of footwear and clothing from iconic street-inspired brands. Sportscene and the cover star have recently collaborated on a ‘capsule collection’, a wardrobe of a few essential items of clothing.
Lessons from the panel discussions will include tips on how magazines can remain relevant by collaborating with cover stars that are particularly topical. “In this case we chose a local rapper who released a new album. Questions that editors need to answer when picking cover stars is why her now? Why that specific outfit for the cover? Why that coverline? What message are you trying to convey to the reader?”
Mnisi, along with Meadows, will also answer questions about strategies to monetise from cover content. “We are always looking at ways to bridge the gap between content and commerce wherever possible”
Connecting readers with brands
To illustrate one solution, the audience will receive Cosmopolitan magazines and they will be shown how to shop from the cover by utilising their mobile phones and the QR code on the cover. “In this interactive segment with the audience, they will see how we create a direct link between our magazine and shopping off the Sportscene ecommerce website.”
This FIPP Insider panel discussion comes at a time when more and more publishers worldwide are trying to find new ways to connect readers with brands, creating diversified revenue streams. A very recent example is the announcement by Hearst Magazines that fans of its foody website Delish.com can now visit the brand’s dedicated online store to find exclusive products curated and designed by its editors.
Meadows says one of the questions that arises from magazines collaborating with brands is editorial independence. This will be part of the panel discussion. “We will talk about how a collaboration remains authentic. If a brand comes to you and says ‘we want to dress your cover star’, unless it makes sense editorially you cannot do it. In this instance it worked because we selected the cover star, and then spotted a synergy with the brand that made commercial sense, the brand did not approach us.”
Another important topic that will be discussed is collaboration between an editorial team, a cover star and commercial brand partners. “Ultimately it is the magazine that decides on the final cover image. It’s not the star or the commercial partner, and when you have multiple parties interested it can become a very confusing and contested space. It’s crucial however that editorial integrity is upheld at all times, but also that all voices are heard and creative direction is as fair and as collaborative as possible.”
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