Stronger Processes for Stronger Returns - Publishing at Hearst UK

These are challenging times for publishing. but it's far from being over - read what positive steps publisher Hearst UK took to seek out new audiences and broaden their offerings

  1. chevron left iconStronger Processes for Stronger Returns - Publishing at Hearst UK
Morag Cuddeford-JonesSeptember 12, 2019
  • Digital Asset Management
  • Content Management

These are certainly challenging times for publishing. There has been a well documented decline in print of all kinds and even in digital, where the share of consumer attention continues to rise overall, dedicated publishers can struggle to gain their share. But forward thinking publishers can still succeed.

One such publisher is Hearst UK. It hasn’t been immune to declining sales on the newsstands but took positive steps to both arrest the decline as well as seek out new audiences.

For international fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, it runs events that reports suggest sell out in hours*. Leading fashion and entertainment publication Cosmopolitan runs daily Snap stories which include featured ads and have audiences in the millions. There are also Facebook and Instagram posts that complement advertising in the print edition.

As you can imagine, this spreading of wings ever wider to capture new and broaden existing audiences makes Hearst a very content hungry business. To stay current, it must be able to find and deliver content rapidly to counter both its ‘formal’ online competitors, which can be anything from Buzzfeed to Conde Nast, to informal competition such as citizen journalists on social media.

Not only this, but that content has to represent the brand values that make Hearst’s magazine brands so unique and coveted by readers. Content can’t just be fast, it has to be premium too.

Speed is of The Essence

There is, quite simply, no way to achieve this without using automation. Some of the publisher’s titles receive 20,000 images from photo agencies every day. But even then, it’s not enough to be able to process a large volume of information. It has to be done intelligently too.

After all, magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar are known for their relationships with some of the world’s most exclusive photographers including Helmut Newton and Mario Testino. Of the 20,000 images, only two per cent end up being saved. This is where the human skills can step in and use their talents which are best directed at finding the best image, not managing thousands of files.

Intelligent Organization

The pressure on revenues in publishing is immense. Every penny counts. Publishers have had to adapt to the new business models that digital presents. Yes, there is a demand for free content that publishers such as Hearst have to accommodate, still without compromising on quality. But the organization also has to find ways of expanding into revenue generating services. All this without raising costs. And preferably, while lowering them.

Finding internal efficiencies has been a vital route to cost effectiveness. Photography is the lifeblood of most fashion and lifestyle magazines that make up a large proportion of Hearst’s business. It is therefore one of its most significant expenses.

By centralizing the company’s image assets, it can reduce wasteage through duplication or buying in images when it already owns very suitable alternatives. Through making these assets available universally to a wide range of magazines, rather than siloing (and duplicating) by publication, cost savings can be multiplied across P&Ls.

Creating a Foundation for Diversification

‘Cleaning house’ for existing titles and projects should only be the first stage in a more forward thinking publishing strategy. It is clear that the newsstand/lead advertiser model is no longer fit for purpose in a digital age and many publishers who don’t move on from this format soon find themselves in difficulties.

But, with centralized assets and teams schooled in a more agile, asset sharing, real time model, there are opportunities to expand into new areas such as events and licencing. Since implementing censhare, it is now used by two thirds of the Hearst UK organization. This allows it to manage existing properties in a much more efficient manner – it has saved 3,000 hours of production time and cut yearly page costs by 5% - as well as expand its product offering. The events team has grown by 30% and brand licensing is moving into areas such as electronics and soft furnishings.

You can download the Hearst UK success story here to find out more about how its executives use censhare systems to improve asset management and liberate the publisher to explore new revenue streams.


Morag Cuddeford-Jones
Morag has been a marketing journalist and editor for 20 years but is still trying to convince herself that she doesn’t look it. She came to journalism after a brief flirtation with the music and entertainment industry, which ended when she discovered that she nurtured a passionate dislike of any tunes not produced in 1985.

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