Awards Case Study - Shout

By : PPA Communications

Shout won the Magazine of the Year at the Scottish Magazine Awards 2014 in December.

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Shout, published by DC Thomson, won awards for Online Presence, Consumer Magazine and Scottish Magazine of the Year at the Scottish Magazine Awards 2014. We asked Eileen McGinley, Editor-In-Chief of Girls’ Magazines, to tell us more about the magazine.

Shout is a magazine that has always given teen girls exactly what they want – from fan-girl content, to high-street fashion and supercool beauty trends, we’ve always been ahead of the curve when it comes to teen girls.

Over the past few years, however, we became more aware that the readers are moving away from taking a casual wander down to the shops to buy a magazine and towards consuming on their phones and tablets, chatting to friends and glued to social media.

Turning the magazine around

In early 2014 the teen market saw all other lifestyle magazines close. We realised that now, more than ever, we had to be visible to readers on the platforms they were on, and most importantly, engage with them there, to keep Shout relevant and on-trend. They still loved magazines once we got the magazine into their hands!

We decided to commission a piece of consumer research, meeting a total of 71 girls throughout the UK aged 8-14, which identified that social media was now even more important to them compared with previous years – very few were visiting traditional websites anymore. Most had received a smart phone or tablet for their Christmas and connected with digital predominantly through You Tube, Twitter and Facebook.

In response to this we pared back our website schedule, gave the magazine a complete editorial and design overhaul, and embarked on a social media campaign for Shout magazine to re-engage our readers and make that big leap to creating targeted content that was perfect for social media and a print product.

It was called Project Smile, and aimed to boost readers’ self-esteem and give them the confidence to tackle their life problems head on, and with positivity!

Every member of the team was involved and we all had a brilliant time bringing our ideas to the table and coming up with ever-changing ways to create content for the campaign, the magazine, our online presence and our new look. We found we could extend the Shout voice (which is fun, positive, girly, cool, fashion-forward and esteem-building) across the various platforms and our print product, in different ways.

Using Social Media

Particular to YouTube is the popularity of fashion and beauty vloggers. In response to this, we recruited two of YouTube’s biggest stars as our reader ambassadors – Zoella and Sprinkle Of Glitter. The girls’ involvement was the result of our editorial team developing the relationship with the girls – they saw how important the campaign could be to our readers and became our ambassadors. They wrote a monthly column that inspired teenage girls and tackled sensitive subjects such as anxiety. We invited our readers to write an article on what it means to be a teen today and our favourite was picked to meet Zoella and Louise for lunch and write a regular blog for us. It was hugely popular. Louise vlogged this interaction and it received 338,089 views. We also filmed and broadcast our own beauty tutorials and issue previews giving readers and fans a glimpse into the world of the people who write and create the magazine (albeit a bit glossed up!)

Facebook’s teen audience love sharing quotes and memes with friends. In response we uploaded daily memes created by the same creative teams that work on the magazine. Readers shared these images and tagged their friends, building brand loyalty. On the day we started the campaign we had 36, 479 followers, we now have more than 100,000 (and counting!) engaged users.

Particular to Twitter amongst this age group is the connection to celebrities. In response to this we engaged with a targeted group of celebrities to create a buzz around the Shout brand.  For instance we asked The Vamps to retweet the cover they featured on – once they did so the issue was up 14,598 copies on the previous issue. We ended our campaign with a Twitter Party when our ambassadors Zoella and Louise completely took over the twitter handle @shoutmag for one hour on Oct 1st 2014. Our hashtag trended worldwide for 90 minutes and Zoella’s accompanying vlog had 867,989 views.

We bolstered our package with branded covermounts through the same great relationships we have with our fashion and beauty PRs, and boosted our subscriptions with brilliant incentives such as branded hair curlers. We followed up that incentive with fun YouTube content that featured “how to curl your hair”, and targeted shareable memes to drive sales.

Partnerships and Events

We came up with fresh, innovative print content that tied in with new social media content, and coupled this with a strong design revamp that takes reference from the high street. We changed our covermount strategy to feature cosmetics, posters and cool accessories (such as geek glasses) and have secured fantastic big brands such as Lipsy, Simple and Lip Smackers.

In addition to our celebrity Twitter activity, we actively pursued and cultivated excellent relationships with relevant celebrity, beauty and fashion PRs. As a result we have secured exclusive features and covers that are fresh, new and on trend and frequently get the exclusive before our competition do.

This summer we have tweeted live from celebrity and pop events such as Radio One’s Big Weekend and featured print features to go alongside, presenting our readers with the biggest pop celebrities such as One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.

We also secured an exclusive deal with Penguin to feature an extract from Zoella’s new book. We have been backstage everywhere from Radio One to X Factor’s Live Auditions, and secured the hottest celebrities to write for us – we’ve had a regular Union J column, and a regular Joe Sugg column that our readers are raving about.

The design, editorial and commercial innovation that we have put in place on Shout have meant that every single published issue this year has been above our budgeted goals and we have had five issues increasing year-on-year performance, in a declining market. We have built a fast-growing and very engaged community on social media who share their views and help us decide (through the use of online analytics) what content is hitting the mark.

Our new Shout strategy has added brilliant value for our print readers as they cannot get this tied-up content they love anywhere else in print form. They can now find Shout content on their phone and on their tablets – creating an exclusive in-the-know, fan-girl, self-esteem-boosting, positive community of like-minded friends. We make celebrities, celebrity bloggers and the team at Shout magazine accessible to them, to become a world that is no longer beyond their reach.

By interacting with our readers in their chosen space and media, they feel connected to both the magazine and the creative team that put it together. They know they have a huge say in what they see within the print product and we pride ourselves on being so close to our readers, that the content is as user-generated as it gets.

Shout Social

Our publishers have been pleased with Shout’s performance and have encouraged us to capitalise on it with a Shout Special called Shout Social which is out on February 11th, nationwide.

This experimental limited-edition print product is the first of its kind, focussing purely on the social media content our girls love. It includes exclusives extracts from Tanya Burr’s new book, interviews with New Tubers, money-can’t-buy posters, printed slogan stickers, selfie props, advice on how to become a vlogger by You Tube extraordinaire Lily Pebbles, and more. If successful we are hoping to continue the series throughout the year, bringing in a whole new revenue stream.

Throughout all this change, the creative team on Shout really pulled together in a very positive and admirable way to comprehensively and cohesively pull off the overall editorial and commercial direction we decided to take. They powered ahead confidently and jumped on every commercial and journalistic lead that came their way, met every challenge head on and embraced innovation and change. They made it look easy, even when it wasn’t.

So, in true teen mag style, we celebrated with a massive pizza delivery to the office when our Facebook followers reached 100,000, and with a lunch of McDonalds and Moet when Editor Laura Brown and I brought home our PPA Awards!

Email: emcginley@dcthomson.co.uk

LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/eileentowns/en

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