23 February 2011

BBC's Nicholas Brett sees bright future for magazines

Nicholas Brett

BBC Magazines boss Nicholas Brett gave a powerful illustration of how the magazine industry is moving with the times and added an upbeat message for students wishing to find work in the sector, at a special guest lecture for the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield.

Mr Brett, who is Deputy Managing Director and Editorial Director of BBC Magazines, told how several publications in the BBC stable had embraced new technology and he was particularly enthused by the opportunities opened up by Apple’s iPad and other similar tablet devices.

Popular magazines such as Good Food magazine and the science publication Focus have developed iPad apps. The Good Food version has been downloaded 30,000 times since its launch last month and the profit margins were healthier than with subscriptions to the printed product, he said.

He said reading magazines on tablet devices was an emotional and engaging experience and he pointed out that iPad use peaked in the evenings and at weekends when people were at their most relaxed and receptive.

He said the apps had been developed by current magazine staff without the need for expensive retraining or extensive outside help, making the point that flexibility and adaptability are essential qualities needed in editorial staff.

He advised students to follow the “four Ps” when applying for a job – preparing well for your interview; having a passion for magazine journalism; being professional in your CV and covering letter and being persistent if you don’t succeed first time around.

The BBC Portfolio includes Top Gear, Who Do You Think You Are? Lonely Planet, Girl Talk, Country File, Gardens Illustrated, Olive, Top of the Pops, Doctor Who and Match of the Day magazines.

Mr Brett is also chairman of the Periodicals Training Council and in November 2006 he received the BSME’s lifetime achievement award – The Mark Boxer Award - for his outstanding editorial contribution to magazines in this country.

In July 2007 he was honoured with the PPA’s Chairman’s Award for his services to training of and development in the UK magazines industry.