Cedar looks to give customer publishing an online boost

Investment in online is fundamental to the future of Cedar, the customer publisher's new editor-in-chief has said.

Lori Miles, who joined the company that publishes the customer magazines of Tesco and British Airways last week, said a new deal with web agency Reactive will enable Cedar to offer both print and web content to clients.

Miles said of the deal with Reactive, an Australian-based company which launched in London last year: "It is absolutely fundamental to Cedar's future because all the clients expect an online presence. What we'll have to do is make sure those web pages are editorially driven, a thing of beauty.

"We are just working out what we can provide that's different from being BA.com, with an online companion to the BA magazine, High Life.

"We have to work out that relationship between the sell and the magazine – they have to work together, but High Life online is a different proposition from Ba.com.

Previously Cedar worked with a range of agencies to provide digital services, but with Reactive it will develop in-house expertise. Reactive will move into the Cedar offices, with both companies working as separate entities but offering "combined resources" to clients.

Miles said: "I've been surprised how fast digital has taken off. Cedar wants to be up the front – you don't want to play catch-up on this."

Julia Hutchison, the Association of Publishing Agencies' chief operating officer, said digital was a huge growth area and that most agencies now offer either in-house or external digital content.

In January, Story Worldwide – the company formed from a management buyout of Interpublic's publishing agencies in the UK and the US – merged with Byte Interactive to provide digital content.

Meanwhile, publishers such as Zone who provide the content for print, web and mobile applications and which fall under the APA umbrella, publish the majority of their clients' content online.

Hutchison added: "More of our publishers are providing online content. It's quite an easy extension. If they're good at providing print content, they'd be good at providing web content. At the moment, 10 per cent of what our members do is digital."

She said the distinction between consumer and customer magazines was that the latter were producing marketing communications for a brand and it was therefore the client, and not themselves, who were investing in the web content.

"The content has to be relevant to the medium," she said. "Producing a magazine, you have to have a different sort of content and a different amount of content from the stuff you have online.

"What they are not doing is shoving a magazine online. The only two real growth areas in marketing spend at the moment are internet and customer magazines.

"I see that as no coincidence – the two work really well together. You might get your customer magazine, see an article and go online to read more or purchase [an item from the article]."

The extent of Cedar's future ambitions has been revealed with what it called "its highest profile hiring yet".

Lori Miles will oversee the day-to-day editorial running of Cedar's titles in conjunction with creative director Stuart Purcell.

Editorial director Mark Jones has moved to a consultancy role within the company.

Miles said: "Mark is here to keep the quality of writing high, to help with new business and if a client needs specific help."

Miles is a five-time consumer launch editor who has been at the helm of Take a Break, Mizz and TV Choice.

In the 1980s she edited Associated Newspapers' London Evening News, launched as a spoiler to Robert Maxwell's London Daily News.

Most recently, Miles has been deputy editorial director at News International's magazines arm.

Her new role at Cedar would be a continuation of overseeing editorial duties, Miles told Press Gazette.

"This is where I have found my forte now. Not particularly the writing, but on going into teams and trying to help them cope with the workload, get ready for the future, firefight any crisis they are having, reposition their thinking.

"I'm very much a people person and editorial places are very stressful.

"It's very hard to bring out the paper every day or the magazine every week. People can be working too hard and not working smartly.

"I come in with systems and ways of monitoring people and getting everyone swimming in the same direction."

A full interview with Lori Miles will appear in next week's Press Gazette.

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