Why credibility ‘with your tribe’ is crucial in today’s media world

With House and Home magazine and its French-language counterpart Maison & Demeur, special interest publications, bookazines, websites, apps, mobile content, streaming web television, social media and more, this multi-platform brand reaches over 10 million consumers annually. 

Reeves founded House & Home Media, a Toronto-based company, in 1986 to publish Canadian House & Home magazine. It was an instant success and fledgling magazine grew quickly and spun off into the first daily home show broadcast on a Canadian national network. For the next ten years, Lynda hosted “House & Home with Lynda Reeves,” which aired on two of Canada’s national networks, followed by HGTV in Canada and the U.S. and 26 countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

More, among them the launch of Maison & Demeur, followed. In 2010, House & Home TV became a web-based television series with new shows appearing weekly on houseandhome.com. This past spring, the show was launched as a streaming TV series on Samsung Smart TVs. 

Reeves will be speaking at the FIPP World Congress in Toronto, Canada. The Congress, taking place from 13-15 October 2015, will bring together more than 60 international speakers and some 700-800 delegates (register to join, here). 

Magazines Canada contributor Kim Pittaway spoke to Reeves ahead of the Congress.

How would you characterise the state of magazine media right now?

No brand has critical mass anymore. Media is generally diversified and fractured, and we’re all looking for ways to maintain our audiences. The borders are gone in many ways—and that’s good. Digitisation is forcing all of us to think globally. Fortunately, at House & Home, we’ve been thinking globally for many years. 

Does print still have a place in this fractured media world?

The role of print is changing but it’s still important. It used to be that print was the medium you used to reach the masses. You used print because you had no other option. The Internet was a poor substitute for a long time, but online media has improved and overtaken print in its ability to reach a mass audience. Still, print has an important place. 

Print exists in the real world. When you walk past a newsstand, you see magazine brands—not iPads. It’s the same in the doctor’s office and on your coffee table. Print has immediacy. It’s interesting, because now we’re seeing digital brands launch bricks and mortar stores and physical magazines, because they recognise the need to have a physical presence. There’s a permanence that audiences value.

Has your approach to brand extensions changed over time?

In the past, we would trade off some control in order to reach a mass audience—with our television show, for instance. And it was the right thing to do at the time in order to become a household name. But cable TV and in particular specialty channels no long deliver the mass audiences. Now, we’re better off focusing on our product and maintaining creative control, looking for the right partnerships that allow us to do that, and the right multimedia platforms to reach our market.

What is the secret to surviving as a brand in today’s environment?

You have to produce great quality that is right for your tribe. And you need to recognise that you must allocate your resources differently. Yes, we have a thinner print edition than we may have had in the past—but we’ve also got an iPad edition, a streaming TV show both online and in an app built into Samsung Smart Screens, bookazines, websites, and they all have sponsors and advertisers. 

We have some customers who only read the magazine, some who only go to the website—and many who interact with us on multiple platforms. Maintaining our credibility with that audience is critical. 

Advertisers are demanding more than ever, they all want their messages integrated with the editorial content. We do custom content: gorgeous, made to order, clearly marked. But we need to maintain the trust we have with our audience. You can’t give up your integrity and then wonder why your brand is dying. 

With some advertisers, we need to explain that to them, to say, “If we did what you want us to do, you wouldn’t want to be in our magazine, so it’s not going to happen.” The only way you’ll make it today is with quality, a strong point of view and credibility with your tribe. 

What should we watch for next from House & Home?

We’re relaunching our website this summer. In early 2016, we’ll be launching a retail site, and it will be fabulous. I think there is real opportunity in online retail that is focussed and highly curated. And then? There may be another brand or two for us to launch, some specialised apps, such as House & Home Food or House & Home Gardening. I have an incredibly talented team, and I’m proud of what we’ve built—and what we will continue to build in the future.

Join her at the FIPP World Congress

Reeves will be speaking at the FIPP World Congress in Toronto, Canada. The Congress, taking place from 13-15 October 2015, will bring together more than 60 international speakers and some 700-800 delegates (register to join, here).

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