Nick’s grand day out

Nick.13.2It can’t be often that Nick Brett, managing director of BBC Worldwide (magazines) and multiple industry-award winner, finds himself lost for words. But for a moment he did on his visit to the University of Central Lancashire when an international student spontaneously greeted him with “Are you our guest speaker? Oh, you are so handsome”.

Handsome is as handsome does indeed, as Nick, with 25 years at the BBC under his belt, treated the UCLan journalism students to a five-star tour of Good Food magazine, one of the BBC’s leading titles. What started out as an idea “dreamed up in an afternoon” to piggyback a magazine on a TV programme has sold over 100m copies in its 24 years and generated the multi-platform international success it is today.

The magazine was launched in 1989, followed by live events in 1990, books in 2003, international licences in 2005 ( six countries – UAE, Bulgaria, Hungary, india, Romania and Singapore), website in 2006, UKTV, app and social media in 2009 and tablet (now with 8,000 paid subscribers). Could there be any thing more? Ah yes, licensed products such as saucepans and aprons are in the pipeline. And where next – holidays and cookery schools? All this has turned Good Food magazine into a brand itself, worth millions to the BBC. It’s no wonder Nick told the students “your future will be very multipurpose”, that they should be agnostic about platforms and feel comfortable on all of them.

He highlighted the challenges such success presents, from the dangers of digital cannibalism to the entrepreneurial mindset needed to stay on top of trends. But the overall lesson, the key to successful magazines remains constant: journalists should always put the reader first to provide the amazing content, on the right platform, audiences are looking for. Looking good or not, it’s all about engagement. And Nick urged the students wanting to join him on the rollercoaster of a journalism career to “love talking about magazines… show your passion”.

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