Sheffield: Mags needed to stop beating up on their own

By Damian Francis | 5 October 2012

NewsLifeMedia chief executive Nicole Sheffield has said magazine publishers are partly to blame for their blemished reputation in the past thanks to a culture of beating up on their own.

However, she claimed the future for magazine publishing was looking a lot better in light of Robin Parkes coming on board at Magazine Publishers of Australia (MPA) as chief executive, as well as a tighter relationship between the heads of the three major magazine publishers.

“I think what happened was magazines liked to trash other magazines, and with the fragmentation of the market and media, we forgot to really celebrate the great products and brands that we had,” she said. “I think that is going to change but it did have an impact. People like a fight so the press jumped on board and it became cool to trash magazines and tell a negative story.”

On the appointment of Parkes, Sheffield said MPA hadn’t been a particularly strong body in the past but that was set to change. “In her second week she has already done a fantastic job to pull us all together. Matt [Stanton of ACP], Nick [Chan of Pacific Magazines] and I also get on very well which I think promotes strength in the industry,” she said.

Sheffield has been fighting an uphill battle since she joined NewsLifeMedia as chief executive in March. The company saw the biggest total drop-off in circulation of the big three in the latest audit but also saw some positive growth on individual titles such as Country Style in terms of readership.

To rectify the situation, Sheffield has made significant internal changes. “All of this is about ensuring your brand and your products are on as many platforms as possible. We live in a multi-platform world – that’s how people are going to consume you. In the process of doing business you ensure that the right value is attributed to that,” she said.

That multi-platform ambition is something the publisher has been working hard towards, and Sheffield said things were looking positive.

“Touch wood, our forwards are looking very strong. We are seeing particular growth in certain areas. What we are seeing at the moment is advertisers waiting until the very last minute to make sure before they go and spend but the forwards are very good. Do I think it’s here to stay? Generally with the economy the way it is, people are being cautious,” she said.

This article first appeared in the 5 October 2012 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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