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Three magazine editors addressed the question "is content still king?" at the Professional Publishers' Association 2013 conference this afternoon, sharing their thoughts on "what kind of content is king".

Use print skills online

Simon Kanter, as editorial director at the Haymarket network, produced the daily London 2012 magazine last summer, garnering praise as the "holy grail of magazine making... taking speed-publishing to a more significant level" from Jeremy Leslie in Creative Review, according to Kanter.

They delivered 1,836 pages of content over 27 days in 19 locations with a daily 8.30am deadline. The magazine was a success, said Kanter, in both the the enjoyment for readers and writers. But what made the difference?

"Above all it is about talking to communities with an authentic voice and doing it with authority," he said. "We enquire and we inspire."

He said it is not a question of "print vs digital", but of print being a part of the digital mix and reapplying the skillsets that are so important in print media to the various different platforms available in the modern digital world.

Content and context

Jane Bruton, in her role as editor-in-chief at Grazia, has come to believe that success in publishing is still about great content, but also the context in which it is delivered is equally important.

Describing the list of subjects which came up in one of the weekly editorial meetings at Grazia, including why miscarriage is still a taboo subject and the Saudi man that was deported for being too handsome, she said that every issue aims to get "behind the headlines" on the issues that matter most to the readers.

"When you get it right you build up a bond with your readers that is incredibly strong," she said, "the kind of bond that non-magazine publishers spend millions trying to create."

Multiplatform timing

The final speaker was editor-in-chief of Top Gear magazine Charlie Turner.

Turner discussed what he described as "the motoring story of last year": tracking down the Aston Martin One-77, and turning six hours with the car into enough content to be applicable to all the relevant platforms.

"What readers are looking for," he said, referring to the print readership, "is to get beautiful imagery, take them on a journey and give them beautiful writing."

As such the story, an exclusive among the motoring market, went as a reward to the print readership and only went online once the magazine was coming off sale.

"The true value of content," said Turner, "is what happens afterwards."

The exclusive generated 2.7 million page impressions and led to a One-77 app which was downloaded over 34,000 times, he said.

It was that diversification of how the content was used, rewarding readers, building anticipation for the online content and branching out to new platforms that made it even more successful, Turner explained.

"Content has never been more important," concluded Turner. "How you edit a piece and how you access it has never been greater because of the platforms we are able to deliver them on."

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