Time Out puts focus on digital with personalised content

Last month, Time Out appointed Tim Arthur as UK editor-in-chief. He takes charge of its definitive weekly print guide Time Out London.

Time Out: Eating and Drinking Awards
Time Out: Eating and Drinking Awards

His promise to expand on the brand's digital and online offerings is something to which PR professionals should pay close attention.

Having spent nearly 20 years with Time Out London, Arthur remains positive about the future of the magazine, despite a 5.3 per cent decline year-on-year in circulation figures for the period from January to June 2011.

'It is a tough marketplace for magazines and we are aware Time Out London is a significant purchase for readers, so we want to give them some in-depth and meaty articles,' says Arthur.

But with entertainment listings available for free online and TV listings shown on electronic programme guides, how can Time Out add value for readers?

Arthur's vision lies in a digital overhaul.

'Digital expansion is the main focus and we are putting in a lot of work to create Time Out 2.0,' he explains. 'The next big thing PR professionals can contribute to is large content packages online. An example is our "101 things to do in London", which has received more than one million views within two months.'

Arthur adds: 'Personalisation is a big thing too. We want to produce something on the lines of My Time Out, which is geared to your location and uses intelligent content tailored to the user.

'Wherever you are in Britain, whatever technology you are using, you should be able to find the best things to do in relation to your likes, price constraints and timescales.'

Head of Beattie Communications' Only Travel division Pauline McLaughlin believes these changes would be the right move for Time Out to make, but argues the brand needs to cleverly harness input from online users. 'Time Out needs to focus much more on user-generated content,' she says. 'TripAdvisor has shown that we trust our peers a lot more than traditional journalists, so the brand needs to move with the times.'

In anticipation of the next 12 months, managing director of Siren PR Peter de Wesselow says the brand will also need to keep innovating in the online space for the Olympic Games. 'It should be very strong in terms of new audiences in London and there should be some great opportunities to gain client coverage,' he says.'The challenge will be how to leverage that post-2012.'

Meanwhile, with all these additional outputs, Hannah Blake, head of consumer at Davies Tanner, says it is crucial for PR professionals to prepare and work in advance of the magazine's seven-day lead time.

'The editorial team is stretched, so allow three weeks, and make sure you have a few ideas up your sleeve to show you have gone that extra mile,' she says.

Circulation 55,171 (ABC, January-June 2011)
Readership 242,000 (NRS)
Website Timeout.com/london
Unique users 3 million
Time Out London iPhone app users 500,000
City guides More than 50
Contact timarthur@timeout.com 020 7813 3000


Who reads Time Out London?

Intelligent, culturally aware people who love London. But the demographic is growing in age and background hugely, so we are looking to cater for everyone's unique needs and requirements using different platforms.

What changes are being made to the brand?

The TV section Time In will be going online as a listings grid, which is something we have not exploited before. We are also opening up and changing the way we talk to people, giving Time Out London online a much more 'open to the public' voice.

What will happen to Time Out London's online presence?

Owing to the sheer level of coverage we are receiving, we are going UK-wide by the end of the year. The UK website will use local experts to write about the best things in their cities.

What should PR professionals be doing to target the magazine and online?

We want to see exciting content for dynamic features that can hold well. It needs to hit our broad and ever-growing demographic with a fun angle and create a stimulating debate. We are always looking for web-specific pieces with a social media spin-off, so that we can engage with online users.

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