A customer publication for a publication's customers

Posted by: Paul Keers, White Light Media

There is something extraordinary, almost hall-of-mirrors, about the idea of a customer publication for customers of a publication. But Byline is a new quarterly magazine focussed on giving an exclusive insight into the news gathering and creative process at The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers. Provided for their Times+ members, Byline is essentially a publication about a publication.

This intriguing concept does more than simply confirm the value of customer communication. It also reinforces three principles which agencies have been promoting, by a “client” who clearly understands a thing or two about publishing.

  1. Print is a reward.
    The Times and The Sunday Times have made a success of digital publishing behind an online paywall. But when it comes to rewarding customers, they choose to do so not with a digital product, but with print. In fact, as designer Steve Fenn told Creative Review, the paper came first. “It was important that this felt like a quality product and not just an editorial supplement, that was part of the brief,” he says. “The feel and print quality of the product was important so seemed the best place to start.”

  2. Bylines are important
    This is editorial which really acknowledges, from its very title onwards, that journalists, photographers and other bylined professionals are crucial to a quality publication. It’s all too easy, in this era of blogging and unpaid contributors, for clients to question the value of bylines and the cost of professionally produced content. This magazine not only explains what goes into a successful editorial product, but it demonstrates the value which a leading publisher perceives in bylined contributors, and their presence for readers.

  3. Behind-the-scenes works.
    Companies can be reluctant to “let in daylight upon magic” (as Bagehot once said of the monarchy). It’s sometimes hard to persuade clients that customers are genuinely curious about the functioning of their own business. Yet here is a major publisher, showing its readers behind the scenes, explaining how the product is put together – and achieving a stronger relationship with their customers as a result.

Paul Keers is London Bureau Chief of White Light Media

Posted in CMA blog
23rdMay 2014

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