Report: MagCulture Edit: Our neighbourhood, April 9

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The first in our new series of events, ‘The magCulture Edit’ took place earlier this month, in a packed-out apartment space at the Hoxton Hotel, Shoreditch.


Isabel Warby, Jessica Miller, James Manning and Luciane Pisani

magCulture founder Jeremy Leslie chaired a discussion about ‘Neighbourhood’ with editors from four free magazines that cover different areas of London. Here are some of the points raised.

South East London Journal founder Jessica Miller felt like there was no publication that summed up that her area of London, so began one herself to connect the dots. Still a one-woman team, events aren’t always a possibility so she focuses on building good relationships with the businesses that act as the magazine’s distributors, which is a good way to organically expand the reach of the magazine as it spreads through independent stockists.

She noted that dealing with PR people is a new thing, because her magazine’s reach and the nature of the businesses have changed. Jessica themes the magazine, which helps her focus and curate the content, and is also handy whjen she needs to say no to pushy press people.

Luciane Pisani, representing Village Raw, the magazine she co-founded in North East London, explained that by generating their features bottom up, rather than top down, her magazine puts community at the heart of the project. They started with research, a Kickstarter, flyers, social media – and now people are subscribing even though they could get it for free: they want to support it. Their content is longer, more indepth – such as a piece about a café closing (rather than opening), or the state of the high street – so it’s not just a shallow echo of press releases.

James Manning, city life editor of Time Out London revealed that London has more neighbourhoods than any other city his international brand covers – and that comes from its history as a cluster of villages that have slowly been stitched together.

This presents a unique challenge for the original London edition, in that if they run a particular neighbourhood focus it’s not going to be read by locals, so they bring local expertise but with the knowledge that it will be read by a wider audience. They try to achieve a good balance of different parts of London, and work hard to cover the people that don’t have a big marketing budget as well as the ones that do.

Isabel Warby, Courier London’s editor, explained that they launched to fill a gap; originally free itself, Courier successfully adopted a paid-for model last year, leaving room for a London-targeted publication that reached their original audience: people who would pick the magazine up for free in coffee shops or independent or creative businesses. It’s got more of a lifestyle element to it now, and has a focus on covering both enduring local business models as well as new inspiring ones. After a test issue late last year, it launches properly next month.

This was the first in a new series of collaborations with the Hoxton; thank you to the the Hoxton team for hosting, and to our speakers for their insights.

The next magCulture Edit will take place in June; subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to hear about it.

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