Author Archives: Elena Cresci

#PPAconf: Why cover design matters for the Big Issue

In the past year, the Big Issue has changed dramatically, regaining its reputation as a “magazine with teeth”, according to editor Paul McNamee.

Speaking at yesterday’s PPA conference in London, he said: “We are a very different magazine than we were a year ago and a radically different magazine from 24 months ago.”

The Big Issue has seen big changes since it teamed up with Dennis Publishing. With editorial now run from Glasgow and one national edition of the magazine, McNamee concentrated on  “the four Cs”, cover, content, columnists and community, to give the magazine some bite.

He told delegates: “The cover was the most important. [A bold cover] could attract a lot of attention and make a lot of noise.

“We had to find a way to find our own space again.”

Simplifying the cover’s design to one element, McNamee showed the delegates how the front page was markedly different to what it was before the magazine’s relaunch. He said: “[The cover has] one, single element to it every week that has power and impact and something to say.”

Along with enlisting footballer Joey Barton as a columnist and strengthening the magazine’s relationship with its vendors, McNamee said he believed the end product is something which will stand the test of time.

“We’ve been going for 21 years now – hopefully, we’ll be around for another few yet.”

#PPAconf: How the Stylist got to know its readers

For its 100th issue, women’s magazine Stylist wanted to try something completely different.

In a risky move that eventually paid off, the magazine put out a call to its readers to supply the content. What followed was an issue which got to grips with exactly what the readers wanted in a way quite unlike anything which had done before.

Lisa Smosarski, Stylist’s editor-in-chief, told delegates at yesterday’s PPA conference: “Through this process, we got to know [the readers] better than we could have in any other way. We were absolutely delighted with the product in the end.”

Handing editorial decisions over to the readers was a daunting prospect, but one which inevitably paid off for the women’s magazine. Equally daunting was handing over the reins to celebrity chef Nigella Lawson for an edition which took eight months to put together, a time-scale almost unheard of in the world of publishing, Smosarski said.

“We hadn’t expected that she’d spend eight months working on this issue – at times we thought we’d absolutely lost the plot. But spending time means you get something that bit more special,” she said. The issue was a commercial success and the caramel-covered Nigella on the cover made national news.

Just as the 100th issue changed Stylist’s dynamic with their readers, the Nigella issue changed their dynamic with celebrities. Smosarski said: “We learnt that there would be a few projects throughout our year that we should spent that much time on.”

Branding themselves “Britain’s thinking women’s weekly”, Smorsarski explained how Stylist’s risk-taking will take them to the next level in the coming year. She said: “We’re pretty confident this is going to be our most important year yet.”

Guardian: Biography claims David Cameron texted Rebekah Brooks before she quit NI

Copyright Lewis Whyld/PA

The Guardian has reported today that an updated biography of the prime minister claims David Cameron texted Rebekah Brooks before she quit as News International’s chief executive.

An article on the Guardian‘s website reports that Cameron allegedly texted Brooks “to tell her to keep her head up” days before she resigned from News International.

It has also emerged that he agreed to meet her at a point-to-point horse race so long as they were not seen together, and that he also pressed the Metropolitan police to review the Madeleine McCann case in May last year following pressure from Brooks.

The prime minister then sent an intermediary to Brooks to explain why contacts had to be brought to an abrupt halt after she resigned. The authors say the gist of that message was: “Sorry I couldn’t have been as loyal to you as you have been to me, but Ed Miliband had me on the run.”

The revelations were made in the updated version of Cameron: Practically a Conservative by Francis Elliot and James Hanning. Brooks is due to appear before the Leveson inquiry on Friday.