This week we hear from Gaby Huddart, Group Editorial Director at Hearst UK and Editor in Chief of Good Housekeeping. We talk about celebrating the brand’s centenary last year with their first multi-day live event, what a Good Housekeeping reader looks like today, and why it’s so important for the title to be future-facing. She also discusses how readers’ attitudes to their homes have changed over the pandemic, and the role the Good Housekeeping Institute plays in building trust.

In the news round-up the team examines some of BuzzFeed’s moves from the past week – including striking a partnership with Meta and embracing our new AI overlords. For the news in brief, we discuss the FT burning out trying to run a Mastodon server, the US government’s latest moves in the war on Google hegemony, and the apparent dwindling of interest in the super-rich for funding newspapers and magazines.

Here are some highlights:

Celebrating 100 years with a live event

A lot of what we did at Good Housekeeping Live, and really over the course of the year, we were celebrating 100 years of heritage. But we really used that special anniversary to be future facing and look at what’s coming down the line for our audiences. The festival was really part of that and there were fabulous talks with lots of our favourite celebrities.

It was an amazing two days, I absolutely loved it, and the team loved it. And it’s important, it allowed us to meet well over 2000 readers over the course of that two days who travelled into London to spend time with us. And it really illustrated their passion for this brand, which is quite humbling really.

It won’t be the last one. It’s re-energised us so we’d love to do it again. But you’ve got to keep these things fresh – it was a great event but we’d need to change it some way. How do we keep it as something that the people who came last year, it would surprise and delight them? That’s the work we’re starting on now.

Helping the next generation

Last year, we partnered with Women Supporting Women, which is part of the Prince’s Trust. That really is about helping young women aged up to 30 get a foothold in their careers, either as a business or to get training to propel them forward. I’m very much conscious that this was important to help the next generation come through. So we encourage our audience – who in print would be a little bit older than that – to become mentors.

We also partnered with the Women’s Prize for Fiction, which shines a spotlight on women authors in particular. We created with them the Futures Prize, which involves a panel of judges from the Women’s Prize and from Good Housekeeping. We shortlisted 10 authors who we feel will be the great authors of the future for this country. We then over the year across platform introduced those authors and their books to our readers who voted. At Good Housekeeping Live, we announced who the readers had voted as their favourite future author.

Going into this year, and continuing with the theme with reading, I’ve chosen as our partner charity for this year the National Literacy Trust, because research by that charity has found that the pandemic, and followed by the cost of living crisis, is really badly impacting young children. And now, 20% of young children have no books at home. Moreover, school libraries are now disappearing.

As a publisher of magazines and websites, we need the next generation reading and finding joy in reading, for all sorts of reasons to ensure fairness in society and diversity of society. People have to have equal access to reading and to books, so we’re really just starting work on that campaign now. Lots of things going on really to try and ensure that Good Housekeeping is future facing. And it’s really assisting the next generation of women and young people coming through as well.

What a modern Good Housekeeping reader looks like

The mission of the magazine when it first launched… was that there should be no drudgery in the house, there must be time to think, to read to enjoy life to hold one’s youth as long as possible to have beauty around us colour in dress form, and colour in our surroundings, to have good food without monotony. So really, it was about, if you have a well-run home, if you organise your life effectively, it frees you up to the finer things of life, the good things… so it’s far more than just about about housework, and housewives.

The second prong was that the burning questions of the day would be reflected in articles by women in the public eye, by women who are fearless and frank and outspoken. That’s still very important – both of those prongs are important to the DNA, and we stay true to that. I think that’s why we’re still successful.

We’ve got lots of different readers. The print audience is largely women, and we’re very fortunate in really appealing to two or three generations of women. But to do a pen portrait of one typical reader is quite hard, because I’ll have readers writing to me who are in their 30s, I’ll have readers who are writing to me in their 80s. We work very hard to appeal across that – not really thinking about the age of somebody, but really to appeal across that audience.

On our website, we will skew younger than that. So if you’re a teenager and you spill a bottle of red wine on your parent’s carpet when you’re having a party, people know Good Housekeeping well enough to come to us about how to get that stain out. And we know that over a quarter of our audience on the website are men who are coming to us for recipes and product reviews. So it’s a vast audience, it’s about the content interesting people.

Top story: A positive week for BuzzFeed stock

BuzzFeed and Meta are teaming up again. The social media giant is paying the viral publisher around $10 million to ‘generate creator content’ for Facebook and Instagram.

  • BuzzFeed will help generate content across Meta’s platforms and train creators to grow their presence online.
  • The two have collaborated on various projects over the years. BuzzFeed was a close partner of the infamous ‘pivot to video’ in 2016, and has build a large portion of its business around going viral on Facebook.
  • However in recent years its influence has waned as Facebook has declined in popularity among young people. This makes it a curious choice of partner for this new creator-focused initiative.

BuzzFeed has also announced this week it will start using AI to help write quizzes.

  • “In 2023, you’ll see AI inspired content move from an R&D stage to part of our core business, enhancing the quiz experience, informing our brainstorming, and personalizing our content for our audience,” BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti said in memo to employees.
  • The publisher isn’t planning to use ChatGPT, but will instead be using OpenAI’s publicly available API.

BuzzFeed Inc stock prices rose 120% with both pieces of news.

  • But that doesn’t mean hard times aren’t ahead. The company announced last month they would be cutting about 12% of the workforce to rein in costs.
  • All this is backgrounded by the piece on Layoff Brain from Anne Helen Petersen that we ran in the newsletter this week, a pretty searing indictment of the management at Buzzfeed.

News in brief:

  • The FT has admitted that its foray into running a Mastodon server was a total nightmare for them. The legal side of it is the big issue – responsibility for what is said on social media probably lies with the platform (or in this case, the people who run the individual server) and while there’s the potential they’d win in court, the FT decided the costs outweighed the benefits. The costs of actually running these servers also grow exponentially. So between that and it explicitly not being fun to run – they decided to nuke it.
  • Ben Smith has written a piece about the apparent dwindling enthusiasm among the super rich for funding newspapers and magazines. Billionaires owning media companies is a bad idea in general, but the new new-money list in this piece has been way more benign than certain other media moguls we could mention. The point is, while these rich dudes have kept these publications afloat, none of them have managed to reinvent the news business model and that’s really the only thing that will save independent news provision.
  • The US government this week filed what Casey Newton describes as potentially its most significant case yet against Google. The US Justice Department and eight states are suing Alphabet Inc.’s Google, calling for the break up of the search giant’s ad-technology business over alleged illegal monopolization of the digital advertising market. The lawsuit calls for Google to divest the Google Ad Manager suite, including their publisher ad server and Google’s ad exchange. The tech giants have managed to avoid any particularly impactful regulation but Newton’s assessment is that this isn’t one they can just brush off. 

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