#MPconf16: Growing A Reading Community: “Words and pictures working together.”

mpconf16.pngIs there anybody out there?  | The Bookseller’s Marketing and Publicity conference began with five lessons from five years of Emerald Street with Anna Fielding, Editor of Emerald Street, and Tim Ewington, Director of Shortlist Media. Emerald Street is a daily email for 150,000 professional women, and here’s what they’ve learned:

They’ve defined their moment and their purpose. That’s to say it’s at around 11.30am with a cup of tea. The moment is so important, and quite rare in media. When you picked up a paper, it had a moment in your life to sit down and read it, and their email does the same. It’s a 5-15 minute moment of calm in someone’s day.

Who has time to read the London Review of Books? They say it with love, but readers are very busy at the moment. Their main bulk of readers are professionals in their early 30s in an urban area – they often read Emerald Street at work. It needs to be bitesize. They know their readers go for books and longer form content too, but their ‘moment’ is a finite amount of time.

emerald street

Viewers… then readers. To read something, you must first view it. No brainer, right? You look first to decide what you want to read later, so make the images strong and stand out. The effort they put into a vintage ice lolly collection sums it up – “it’s words and pictures working together.”

Study your data. You’re told it time and time again – get under the skin of your data – but then ignore it. The danger is that it can lead you to an alley of repetition. Understand your data, but then editorially decide on the right thing.

Stand out from the crowd – calmly. We’ve all had the 20% OFF NOW NOW NOW type emails, but the subject header allows you to be the still point in chaos. Intriguing but not shouting. Don’t be afraid to be quirky and break the mould if need be. They generally avoid personalisation, bar two instances: one of which being “Ground Control to Major Tim” (taken from Tim’s email, rather obviously). It made sense for that day. It’s fine to change it up: if something makes you laugh in the office then it’s probably a good gut instinct for the email.

They then took Emerald Street offline and threw a literary festival – their first attracted 650 attendees. It brings the community to life – it’s a community where they think very carefully about it, craft it, and get people’s attention.

More from the Bookseller’s Marketing and Publicity Conference.

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