Empire: Turning a Title into a Brand

Ask Empire Magazine’s Terri White to define her overall goal, and she pulls no punches.

“To make the world’s biggest film magazine the world’s biggest film and entertainment brand,” she recently told Mary Hogarth writing in InPublishing.

She’s well on her way … and print remains the bedrock on which the growth is based.  Hogart reports on the current challenges facing White and her brand.

“While the magazine has a readership of around 735,000, its circulation, according to ABC figures (January-June, 2016), was 125,889 for print and just 10,777 for digital with the digital element being less than 10 per cent of overall copy sales,” Hogart notes. “That said, Empire has built a strong subscription base with total subscription sales for the same period of 58,105. Quite an achievement when many titles struggle to reach five figure sales.”

White gives some of the credit to the atmosphere in which they publish in the UK, saying, “UK magazines have a nerve, a confidence, a wit and a boldness that I think is truly unique.”

That confidence and nerve come across in the bold plans White has for the brand.

“While the print magazine remains very much the heart of Empire, we now have a brand reach of four million across all platforms,” White said. “We see tremendous opportunity in the new cinematic world and how to explore that across all products and platforms.”

They are making huge gains in streaming content – apropos for a brand all about movies – and White sees no conflict with the movie industry and digital streaming.

“We’re constantly working to ensure we’re executing a consistent message and saying the right thing in the right way on the right platform at the right time,” she said. “I think it was important to emphasise that opening up our world to include TV and streaming would not take away from movies; 2015 was the biggest box office year in history and also the year that Netflix announced 74 million subscribers.”

With events and special interest publications also in the mix, the brand is poised to continue its growth. And it all comes down to remaining true to your editorial instincts,  and not worrying too much about the data.

“As an editor, instinct and passion is the most important thing. Data and research is vital (I can spend an eye-watering amount of time in an analytics rabbit-hole), but use it to inform, not dictate,” she advises.

While Hogarth predicts a rise in digital sales of the title over the next few years, one thing is clear: with a focused commitment to quality content, and a process to publish it to the right people at the right time on the right channel, the magazine-turned-media-brand is poised for all possibilities.