I recently spoke to Chris Duncan, European board member of INMA and CEO of UK Publishing Group Bauer Media. He told me about how Bauer had solved a diversity problem within one of its titles. In fact, he’d set an editorial team a challenge: Think about how we can have more diversity and representation within the brand.
“For some magazines, this was more of a creative and methodological challenge, such as looking for diverse writers, being mindful of diversity in images, and making sure language used is inclusive rather than exclusive,” Chris said. “However, for one brand in particular, this wasn’t so straightforward. This magazine was a brand about angling. The cover and images tended to focus on the prize catch rather than the angler: The bigger the fish, the more likely it was to star on the cover. The angler was a secondary consideration.”
Ian Betteridge, director of audience and content development, explained that for hobbies and special interest magazines, representation is arguably even more important than for mainstream publications. Every sport and every hobby wants to be accessible and enjoyed by everyone. Even when the fish is the star of the cover, you need to show that angling can be enjoyed by all.
“Changing the covers to show diversity irrespective of the catch felt to the team like the wrong approach,” he said. “But recognising this meant they had to work harder. They started actively looking for anglers from diverse backgrounds and including them in featured content throughout the magazine.
“By working harder to make sure the featured content in the magazine included diverse voices and stories, the team made sure anyone picking up an angling magazine for the first time had a chance of seeing someone like themselves, and thus knowing that this was a sport where everyone is welcome. And far from alienating the existing readers, this has grown the audience.”
Bauer built on the knowledge that when you create magazines that focus on people’s passions — whether those are angling, cars, or gardening — the audience always wants more people to love what they love. By being inclusive and showing the diversity of everyone who shares their passion, publishers help everyone who might pick up a magazine to think, “That’s something I want to be involved in.”
Summing up they said: No matter what you love, knowing that more people can get involved — and that a magazine is working to make that happen — will always matter.
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