Hearst Digital drafts in help as print sales slip

Publisher Hearst is focusing on promoting digital versions of its titles, as new circulation figures show a stagnant market for print magazines.

Cosmopolitan: flagship title
Cosmopolitan: flagship title

Hearst Digital has brought in consumer agency The SPA Way to boost its online stable, which includes web versions of flagship titles Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

The appointment coincides with the Audit Bureau of Circulation's (ABC) publication of its figures for the second half of 2007, showing a lacklustre market for women's titles. Two mainstream magazines, First and NW, published by Bauer, closed altogether earlier this month.

Hearst Digital marketing director Claire Higgins said that the decision to hire PR support was not based on fatigue in the print sector.

'We've decided to look at PR to increase brand awareness of the titles,' she said. 'We want to show that Hearst Digital is the publisher that knows women online. We work within a publishing company that has really successful print magazines, and we don't really see them as competition. We're building on the success of our print titles.'

The SPA Way MD Sara Pearson has appointed associate directors to run separate teams at the London agency, with PROs targeting different consumer and trade titles for each respective Hearst Digital website. 'A site like handbag.com is very different from NetDoctor,' said Pearson.

She added that digital publishing would increasingly be a focus for The SPA Way, which works for print magazines Men's Health and Time Out but has not tackled web titles until now. 'There's a huge scope, and an opportunity,' she said.

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