The 2017 British Media Awards took place last night (in fact, since this article goes live at midnight, the party’s still ongoing), with companies from across the media world honoured at a ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane.
Each of the winners, whether they took home the bronze, silver, or gold, is advancing the media industry in some way, whether that’s delivering upon the mission of ethical journalism, forging a new path to profitability, or being the vital link between two other industry giants. Every one has some lessons they can impart, so in this round-up of the winners we’ve pulled out some lessons from the winners that we believe are worth emulating.
Print has a future – if you’re smart about it
Notably, two of the three finalists for our Print Product of the Year award were launched in the past year, something that hasn’t been true at any of the previous BMAs – and the third, the i, was founded less than a decade ago, barely the blink of an eye in media terms.
There’s been a sea change in how publishers are approaching new launches, treating those new products as ephemeral, almost experimental trials that occupy a place in the portfolio rather than sitting at the top of the hierarcy.
One of those titles is currently serving a relatively recently invented role at their publishers – that of the portfolio print product, in service to a wider brand rather than the brand itself: Bronze place winner the i is sitting pretty as the link between national and regional at Johnston Press.
At Archant, our silver place winner The New European is a prime example of an experiment gone right. Its editor Matt Kelly has previously told us why the product could only have been a print product:
“The reason I think print was important for The New European was that people, journalists, were intrigued, interested and wanted to write for it because it was a newspaper. Secondly, there’s a propensity to pay for stuff in print that there just isn’t online. The only revenue model we’ve got really is that cover price. The last one and genuinely the most important is that a newspaper can be a form of visible anger.”
Meanwhile our gold award winner The Week Junior is a true anomaly – at least according to received wisdom. The chief executive of its publisher Dennis, James Tye, told us how an agile approach to print is ever more vital as previously reliable sources of print revenue shift:
“A positive example would be Coach, which wasn’t working as a print product for us last year, we made the decision in well under a year to pivot that to the digital-only model because that’s where our revenue growth was. With the Week Junior, there’s a positive model and it’s already grown to profitability within a year of launch. You have to be seeking quick and effective returns on your business model.”
The success of those products demonstrates that, while the role of print is diminishing as publishers look to grow reach and profitability digitally, there is absolutely still room for success print products. You just have to be smart about how you use the medium.
Diversification is diversifying
In our Launch of the Year category, the consistent trend was that most of the entrants were diversifying their output, expanding past the bounds they’d previously placed on their content. That was especially obvious in our three eventual winners, who demonstrated an exception amount of gumption and savvy in building new products upon their existing expertise.
For instance, our bronze award winner, 1843 from The Economist, is a smart rebranding of the publisher’s previous Intelligent Life magazine. Retooled to fit the demands and expectations of a modern audience, it takes a much more global approach to the high-end lifestyle content of its predecessor. In an era where global content is becoming the norm, it’s a smart move that reimagines the strengths of an old product.
Meanwhile, the silver award winner, New Scientist Live, is a great example of breaking expertise free from print and digital and bringing it to a live audience. Only this week we wrote about how live events that demonstrate the publisher’s expertise are a smart way to bring in revenue and connect directly with audiences, and New Scientist Live is showing exactly how that’s done.
And while it didn’t take home the gold in Print Product of the Year, our Launch of the Year gold award winner The New European has shown how a new product can be launched quickly, with an experimental attitude, and yet grow and expand over a year to be a defining feature of 2017’s media landscape. Very much deserved.
Editorial campaigns continue to hit hard
Based on the challenges facing media business models, you might expect that some publishers would shy away from socially-aware editorial campaigns around social issues, for fear of alienating any of an already dwindling audience. It would be all too easy to retreat into spoon-feeding an existing audience confirmation bias – just look at the behaviour of the UK tabloids for proof of that.
But each publisher on the shortlist for our Editorial Campaign of the Year award is attempting to make a difference to the lives of their audience, whether that’s by promoting their businesses or addressing an issue that doesn’t get as much airtime as it deserves.
So our judges have given the bronze award to Startups.co.uk for its intelligent promotion of small business in the UK. Its clever use of a competitive format gave potential start-ups the chance to try out their wares, and ultimate winner Lavolio and miPic reaped the benefits of that.
Our silver award winner Make Renting Fair by Bauer Media’s Debrief, was an unambigious success. It took an issue facing a lot of its audience and delivered upon its goals, as it explains:
“There are now over 4 million households renting in England and this change will benefit all of them. It’s expected that by 2025 over half of the under 40s will be renting, unable to buy their own home, the success of our campaign demonstrates that government are finally listening to millennials.”
But our gold award winner, Shame by the BBC Arabic, truly delivers on the promise of campaigning journalism, and our judges felt that no other entrant deserved the top spot as much as this pioneering piece of journalism. You should experience the poweful campaign for yourself here.