Guest Newsletter – Heather Pownall

Once a month we invite our Patrons, magazine publishers and enthusiasts to guest-edit our fortnightly email newsletter. The aim is to inspire others with magazine-related content, connect Patrons and build our community so we can learn from each other.

This month our guest editor is Heather Pownall, media, marketing and communications consultant and Founder of Heather’s Media Hub. If you like what you read here, connect with her on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter.

Tell us about yourself

Hi, my name is Heather Pownall and I’m the founder of Heather’s Media Hub. After 18 plus years in magazine publishing, I decided to start my own thing. This was a combination of needing more flexibility (two little ‘uns at home) and answering a burning desire to create my own company.

So I took my experience, evolved, retrained and read, read and read some more to develop Heather’s Media Hub into a marketing department plug-in for my clients. Four years in, I can tell you it is far harder than I thought, but also far more rewarding. I have the flexibility for my family, I get to learn to upskill and improve my offerings constantly, AND I have the all important creative freedom.

I work with a range of clients from medical societies, charities, international associations, stand-alone events and training companies. Many of my clients make a huge difference in the world, and I love that I get to facilitate them in making this difference – or at least let people know about it!

For some of my clients, my company is THE marketing department and for others, Heather’s Media Hub slots in with their existing team to move their plans forward, creating content and implementing strategies. This includes creating, writing and implementing marketing plans and strategies, launching podcasts and conference/membership apps and generally increasing their online presence.

It is all about engagement and reaching audiences using digital to enhance existing brands, and I love it!

What’s on your mind?

Well, I am thankful I have survived another school summer holiday, juggling childcare and running a business whilst delivering on multiple projects!

This point in the year is incredibly busy for me. Heather’s Media Hub is assisting on six annual conferences, four of which take place this autumn, while the others will be in spring 2023.

My work includes writing, creating and implementing marketing strategies. I create a lot of the media which is used in the strategies such as webinars, graphics, promotional videos and podcast production. My company is involved in the production of five podcast series at the moment. I love working on such projects, helping to shape and guide the end result.

Here I am, interviewing Rose Henrichs MD of Soluvos Medical.

I’ll be heading off to Vancouver in mid-September to attend one of the conferences I am working on. I will set up a studio to record live podcasts and videos with an eye on the content we can use for the next 12-month marketing strategy. It is all very exciting and my first long haul as Heather’s Media Hub!

And if that wasn’t enough – I am part of the volunteer team bringing The Marketing Meet Up to Scotland! The first ever Scottish event took place on the 15th June at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh. The International Magazine Centre and White Light Media kindly sponsored this event (thanks, Nikki and Eric!)

The second TMM Scotland will take place at the CCA, Glasgow, on the 7th September. Doors will open at 6pm. I am really excited as Eric Campbell of White Light Media will interview Laura Kelly, Future Generations Editor for the Big Issue on Telling Tales: 5 hacks for authentic storytelling. If you can make it make sure you say hi.

So, yip, incredibly busy but loving and learning from it all.

The Marketing Meetup’s first ever Scottish event in Edinburgh, June 2022.

What’s the best article you’ve read this month?

This was a tough one to answer, and I can’t keep it to one. I subscribe to a ridiculous number of magazines, so I will stick to a theme: trying to make sense of where we are.

The below shows examples of articles I feel articulate the realities we find ourselves in. They also give a sense of not being alone and feeling part of a community, which magazines do very well.  

Heather’s magazine wall is real!

The first is from Freelancer Magazine – ‘The World Came Back But Where Did We Go?‘ written by feature editor Penny Brazier. I loved this because Penny highlighted that although life has opened up, we all feel a bit different; we are not as we were. We are emerging from a pandemic,  a period in time we are all still trying to make sense of. It was great to read an article that verbalised how I and many others are feeling.

This brings me to the Happiful magazine article, ‘What is the sandwich generation?’ written by Debbie Fletcher, an integrative counsellor and clinical supervisor. I loved it because, like Penny’s article, it resonated with me, giving words to help the reader make sense of their life and what they are experiencing. Many of us now find ourselves with young children, ageing parents and careers that are very demanding and/or at their peak. The article addresses how we manage this stage and put our well-being first.

Finally, I received the magazine ‘The Future of Ghosts,’ from Stack. The last few years have been unpredictable in a way I have never experienced before. I find myself looking for answers wherever I can find them. Just look at the state of the political landscape! So I was intrigued by this magazine’s suggestion that the ‘longing for ghosts is a symptom of discontent with modern society, an indication that the present has become ungraspable and the future sterile.’ I had to read on…

Show us an incredible magazine cover

I subscribe to Empire magazine. I love that the subscriber edition differs from that of the newsstand. I am always interested in comparing the two front covers. It is a great touch and adds an element of feeling valued as a subscriber.
The June 2021 edition of Empire had Tom Hiddleston as Loki, the God of Mischief, on the front covers to promote the launch of the Marvel TV series Loki. I loved both versions used by Empire.
At the same time, Entertainment magazine placed a motion front cover featuring Tom Hiddleston across social media. I love when the idea of print is pushed and played with to try new things and see how else to engage with your audience. This is why I loved the motion front cover produced by Entertainment magazine.
It reminded me of a personal publishing highlight back in 2012. I worked on a client campaign that used augmented reality on a printed magazine cover. It was different, fun, challenged the status quo and extended the print platform further. Was it perfect? No! Did it offer possibilities for the future? Yes!
We should all be trying different ways to engage with our audience through our front covers, whether this is subscriber-only art or using some sort of AI or motion, or how it is presented across digital marketing. Creativity and innovation can be incorporated, adding more fun for the audience to engage with. It is just a matter of how you will do it.

What’s your top tip for publishers?

Keep innovating. Never lose sight of why you are creating a title. If a publisher only serves the bottom line, they miss the point.

Illustration by Gary Bates with thanks to Ikon Images. Like what you see? 
Patrons receive their first 5 Ikon Images illustration uses for £50 each

Yes, we need to be profitable and make money to sustain the business but the audience should never be forgotten. Some of the most successful titles have shifted their business models to adapt. They have invested in their audience to serve their community.

You see this with many independents – their community backing is huge and a large part of why they are succeeding. You must keep adapting and incorporating all ways your reader consumes information. I know it can feel impossible to do with rolling deadlines, but if you can have a team working on developing a brand, free from deadlines, you can make so much more happen.

Housty, we have a problem

What problem would you like our magazine consultant, Peter Houston, to solve in the next newsletter?

My question is: I saw a quote the other day that said everyone and their grandmother has a newsletter. Is it worth me starting one?

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