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PPA Scotland

PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!

February 27th, 2017 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!
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The Big Issue’s UK editor, Paul McNamee, took up tenure as Chair of the PPA Scotland on Wednesday evening (15th Feb) in Glasgow, in front of a strong gathering of over 100 people from magazine and newspaper publishing in Scotland.  At this special reception for the new Chair, Neil Braidwood of Connect Communications gave a lively introduction to McNamee as he handed over the reins used to guide the organisation for the last two years. In his acceptance speech, McNamee painted a vivid picture of himself when as a young man of potential, he was keen to get access to the world of publishing and communication.

Bringing the scenario up to date, he pinpointed what was wrong with the industry now – and echoed public statements and report findings produced by the book publishing industry, and indeed many other sectors including marketing and advertising.  He spoke passionately about the lack of diversity in the newspaper and magazine industry, the lack of young people joining the sector from less advantageous backgrounds. “If kids don’t have money behind them, you’ve got to put money in front of them,” he told us and our response was wholeheartedly positive. With the backing of the PPA Scotland, he wants to see the industry supporting disadvantaged young people who have potential and a desire to enter publishing.

Listening to him, I was reminded that in the late Seventies/ early Eighties, I was one of the last to benefit from a full grant for further and higher education, a luxury not available to many in the UK these days.  Now, if someone from a disadvantaged background does decide to become a student (taking on the psychological and practical burden of debt required to do so) and graduates in due course, they will frequently find that to break into their chosen business sector, they are expected to work for nothing often for long periods in the hope that this trial will end in paid-for employment.  Who can afford the luxury of an unpaid internship, where often not even travel is reimbursed? Only those already blessed with some degree of family financial support?  Is it right that entrance to the creative/ knowledge/ communication sectors across the UK can be based on an individual’s financial resource? Surely this must change or the work produced, whether in a newspaper, magazine, book, app or website, will become increasingly irrelevant to most of the population.

It is not wise to have a minority controlling cultural communication.  A monoculture does not reflect society and should not be imposed. Publishers of books, magazines and newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are represented.  Looking forward to seeing how the new Chair and the members of PPA Scotland tackle this initiative.

By Morven Gow

Links:

PPA news link to Paul McNamee’s Chair Reception evening

Guardian article: Penguin Random House – publishing “risks becoming irrelevant”

The Big Issue: latest issue on reading and libraries

First Visitor Talk of 16-17: Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland

October 13th, 2016 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on First Visitor Talk of 16-17: Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland
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ppa-scotAt 2.45pm on 6th October, with a retinue of publishing students bearing boxes of precious periodicals, Nikki Simpson (Business Manager at the PPA – Professional Publishers Association) strode through the seemingly endless corridors of the University of Stirling. She was a woman with a mission. Her aim, to convert Unbelievers – those students convinced that their future lies 100% in the world of book publishing rather than that of the magazine.

A passionate presenter, Nikki soon had many of the most hardened book career diehards rethinking their options and goals. The PPA represents over 700 magazines in Scotland, an industry valued at £154m which supports 1,300 full-time, 560 part-time and 4,400 freelancers. DC Thomson is the largest employer with around 600 employees, but the smallest publisher could have a couple of people working on a “passion project”. Annual events, the international Magfest (make a note in your diary, 15th Sep 17) and the Scottish Magazine Awards (The Beano won in 2015), provide the perfect platforms for the industry to celebrate the drive and passion of those working to produce regular magazines of the highest quality. The PPA is also planning to open a centre for magazine publishing in Edinburgh which would act as a hub for the industry and raise the profile of the sector. Exciting times!

magsThere are three areas of periodical publishing – Consumer, B2B and Contract. The boxes were soon opened and magazines representing each of these areas passed around. To appreciate magazines, it’s vital to get hands on and we certainly did. Delighted sounds filled the room as we were given a design lesson in the art of the mag. Everyone is familiar with the glossy mag, but what caught the imagination in Nikki’s presentation was the sheer variety of paper stock used and glorious typography and images. Smooth, matt, cut outs, glow in the dark, QR codes, VR – seemingly unlimited creative options. Titles like Modern Farmer, Delayed Gratification, Boat, Little White Lies, Oh Comely, ‘Sup, the Gentlewoman and Hot Rum Cow had many fans and turned the head of many a committed book careerist on the day.

It’s worth remembering that the big players are those with circulations audited every six months by ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations). The UK top five are: supermarket mags for Asda, then Tesco; TV Choice, What’s On TV, and Waitrose magazine. Their combined circulation figures, a mighty 6.8 million.

What makes a magazine successful? Nikki explained that in addition to the basic funding models of subscriptions, copy sales, advertising, and crowdfunding, brand extensions via websites, apps, award nights, supplements (even shops in the case of Tyler Brule’s Monocle) are all so important. The issue of ad blocking was discussed. Half of us in the room admitted to using these. After Nikki’s cri de coeur against their use for magazine sites, “Die! Die!” but “I love your content!” and the particularly vivid “ad blockers stab newspapers in the face”, those students using adblockers were swearing off using them again.

Nikki covered 16 possible career areas in magazine publishing from design to insight, through ad sales and procurement – and editorial, of course – as it’s always worth keeping an open mind regarding opportunity for experience.

She rounded off her rallying call for magazines with examples of cutting edge creativity – links below.
Marie Claire
Augmented Reality

Paper Tablets

Google Glass

Following questions from the audience, those magazines which had been objects of desire during the talk were handed over to some lucky recipients, and our first visitor talk in this semester came to an end. Nikki’s presentation had qualities essential for a career in magazine publishing – passion and creativity – and she succeeded in making many of us consider a career in magazines for the first time.

By Morven Gow