PPA Re_Invented// Conference Review 2014

If you attended this year's PPA event you might have seen the tweets by our Social Media Manager, Susan Yeates. This is Susan's blog about the day and some of the exciting developments that were discussed.

On Thursday 22nd May I attended the PPA Re-Invented conference 2014 in central London on behalf of Gould Publication Papers. Having not attended any PPA events before I can’t compare it to previous years but as the title suggests, this event was a conference reinvented, refreshed and overhauled for its regular publishing audience.

In his welcome speech, PPA Chairman Kevin Costello stated "We're doing things just a little bit differently this year: a new name, a new venue, a completely new approach."

The Venue and Organisation

The day began by entering through a pop up magazine shop at the front of the building. Delegates then moved into the rather fresh, open-plan venue all to the accompaniment of rather upbeat music. I must say, as someone who has attended many conferences in the past (and even event-managed one), I was impressed with the day and the way the conference was smoothly managed.

There were three separate rooms of talks to choose from, a selection of supplier stands, a delicious boxed hot lunch (plus a mini tub of Häagen Dazs), roaming photographers, live video filming and screening, 99 second pitches from suppliers, refreshments and funky augmented reality Layar there to enhance the experience with some high-tech stuff!

The venue allowed for free flowing movement of people from area to area and to drop into sessions whenever you wanted. There was no pre-booking for sessions – all first come first served. Luckily, for each talk that I attended, I always managed to get a seat, even though some sessions were incredibly busy.

For those that weren’t near the front, good sound and video screens meant that everyone could see and hear clearly. There was also an abundance of live tweeting from the #PPAreinvented hashtag throughout the day, into which I got completely stuck in, highlighting key trends and even a @leaderboard for most the engagement.

The Sessions – A Wide Range of Content to Absorb

The main room, entitled ‘The Big Picture’ provided talks discussing wider topics, including sessions such as ‘View From the Top 3.0’ ‘The Marcus Morris Lecture’ and interviews with celebrity guests such as Stella Creasy MP, Victoria Coren, Mark Ellen, Tony Parsons and Jamie Cullum.

The second room ‘The Bottom Line’ tackled subjects related to content delivery such as ‘Content Everywhere’, ‘Video: Content Onscreen’, ‘Print: Content on the Page’ and ‘Mobile: Content on the Go.’ The third and final room entitled ‘The Buzz,’ discussed buzz-topics such as specialist masterclasses, case studies and comparisons of digital publishing platforms.

All session were a mixture of panel-based discussion sessions, interviews, lectures and informative presentations. Each room had a moderator leading the discussions and allowed for questions to be asked by the audience. There was certainly something for everyone to take away – and almost too many talks to choose from!

Key Themes

So what were the key themes to come out of the day? Well certainly the theme of re-invention was prevalent and many of the talks, although based upon current trends and stats, were certainly forward-looking.

The theme of content is key seemed to run through many of the sessions I attended, backed up by the fact that one whole room was dedicated to delivery of content through various digital and non-digital media channels. "Talented people that create and curate content are at the heart of the industry..."

There was also a general sense, especially from magazine editors, that publishing is "moving into a magazine media brand era..." (Tom Bureau). The view from the top panel also agreed that there is a need for deep understanding of and engagement with their audiences, moving away from big data to small and relevant data. Marcus Rich stated "It's a fantastic time for consumer media businesses that have deep connections with their audiences."

All in all, there was a very positive vibe towards magazines, with Tony Parsons for example discussing in his interview how "we need great magazines more than ever…" and he also described magazines as “fantastic and beautiful objects”. 

In fact the final interview of the conference discussed the launch of new print-only magazine The 88 Journal: an eclectic and beautifully designed collection of curiosities by curator Jamie Cullum: an interview that was very much the highlight of the day.

Now, with Gould Publication Papers having a strong interest in the printed page, we were keen to see what was discussed in the ‘Print: Content on the Page’ talk during the afternoon.

As well as touching on the launch of new print-only titles, there was a positive outlook for print, in context however of a generally mixed digital and non-digital approach, i.e. digital can drive traffic to print and vice versa.

Tim Slee from Square Up Media said that he is ‘pro-print but used in close connection with other media channels’. In this same talk, David Goodchild, MD at H Bauer, was very much defending print. "Will print disappear? Of course not. Not in my lifetime, anyway!"

He also stated “86% of our revenue comes from circulation....” and Porter magazine believed “print has a very important emotional connection for readers, it works in a way digital content does not.”

There were plenty of other statistics and interesting case studies available that delegates will have gained great insight from. Statistics such as “Over 45s accounting for nearly two thirds of consumer expenditure, over 40s due to be majority of population by 2020” were tweeted live by @PPA_Live on the day. In his welcome speech, Kevin Costello also announced that the PPA ”will be setting up an independent marketing agency to better promote the value of magazine media content.”

Key Stats and Final Thoughts

Some key stats for the day…

  • 600 attendees
  • 73 fantastic speakers
  • 25 sessions
  • 32 event partners

If you want to find out more about the day, there is a selection of blogs of all the sessions, video, pictures & tweets still available on the PPA website here: http://www.ppa.co.uk/events/ppaconference2014/#live

There are also pictures from the event available here

And on a final note I’d like to congratulate the PPA on a great event, a great venue, a great conference brochure and look forward to next one!

Susan Yeates
Social Media Manager
Gould Publication Papers