As media organisations harness new initiatives to attract both readers and sponsors, Homestyle represents the epitome of a modern-day magazine making things happen. Donned this year's Hottest Magazine, we sat down with general manager at Homestyle Nicholas Burrowes to discuss its finely executed offerings.
After 13 years in business, Homestyle has generated a readership of 90,000 and circulation of 13,310 (according to Magazine 360's June data) One of Homestyle's biggest tricks is its ability to integrate branded content. An example being the, ‘Style your Space’, campaign for Citta, which took out the top Content Marketing Award at the Magazine Media Awards. Designed to give customers the opportunity to curate their own interior space, the three-year interactive campaign ran a mixture of workshops, editorial spreads and online competitions. It fostered high levels of engagement and stemmed further branded content, such as its slick work with Fisher & Paykel. Burrowes says it only produces and publishes branded content that is unique, and a perfect fit, look and feel for its channels. "We’ve found every piece of work we put into the market lives far longer than the immediate campaign, and adds to our client’s content strategies. We’ve seen content we produced two years ago being republished in other publications now.” Further success has been met on its use of social platforms. In January, Homestyle had the top Instagram following of all MPA member’s publications, according to Magazine 360, with 47,200 followers. That's since grown to 49,300 and Burrowes says it's been conscious of harnessing social media platforms to garner engagement and interaction. Another invaluable move for Homestyle has been its recent rebrand, which according to Burrowes, better aligns to its audience, editorial and business directions. He credits art director Juliette Wanty with the task of crafting a masthead that would translate equally well as a standalone brand outside of the print product. “At the pace media moves we don’t see a lot of value in the retrospective heritage of most magazine brands, so we were looking ahead with a circuit breaker. There was a short-term risk of brand confusion, but the new look created a retail uplift of 25 percent uplift in the first week on sale – it spoke a lot to being bold rather than safe.” Alongside stiff competition embracing our national property obsession and DIY boom, Homestyle has managed to hold its point of distinction with integrity. Burrowes says Homestyle manages to attract a new wave of modern home lovers, who are in their 30s and 40s, affluent and are highly active. He points towards its commercial offerings, which extend beyond the magazine and into the greater home category, showcased in its content marketing, photoshoots, interior styling and the occasional work in a consultant capacity. Asked how Homestyle juggles its multiple offerings, Burrowes says: “Print remains our core medium and we only focus on digital channels that have the right fit and values for our brand. Being a small team everyone is across the activity in each platform, so it’s more of a fine balance than a juggling act.”
all, quality journalism is still all around us. “Sometimes it’s easy to fall into a trap where we spend most of our time whinging and complaining, or calling out the bad stuff, but there’s so much good stuff that needs to be championed.” Something he’s proud of is The Spinoff’s recent launch of The Bulletin, a daily curation of top stories from across the country. The aim is to fill that void that had been contracted out to social media. He says although that works to some degree, there’s also “an awful lot of bullshit and vitriol you have to wade through” to get there". “Meanwhile the front pages of some of our biggest news sites, the Herald and Stuff, are full of some extraordinarily good journalism by extraordinarily good journalists.” The Bulletin is just one branch of what is “permanent revolution” at The Spinoff, Manhire says, with a TV show, new sections and “all sorts of things on the boil”. He says replacing founding editor Duncan Greive was less of a coup d’etat than a continuation on in the same direction, with Greive now focusing on business development. “The thing that’s really exciting about The Spinoff is that it’s still in a kind of fast changing state, a little bit amorphous and we’re developing all sorts of sprout limbs at random.” The key, at the heart of everything is “really smart and imaginative and funny writing", which he’s “massively proud of”. He admits it sounds trite but says the essence of the site’s success rests totally on the group of people behind it. “Across the board it's staggering the level of creativity and empathy and wit.” Funding the storytelling is a sponsorship model and while Manhire’s embraced it, he says it’s no silver bullet in terms of a business model for journalism, and the fact that everyone is trying everything is the right approach. Looking forward, Manhire says the beauty being in this “weird media startup hybrid” is that it can just embrace the idea that what it will look like in a year’s time will be very different. Some ideas will prosper, some won’t, and although he’s wary of the terms “nimble” and “agile”, he admits the business – from top to bottom – has a fleetness of foot and will keep using that to say: “Oh hey, that looks cool let's go and do that.”