This week, CEO of White Light Media Fraser Allen takes us through what it’s like to close a much loved indie magazine, the launch of World Whisky Day and trends in the content marketing world.
In the news roundup the team discusses Time Inc UK’s renaming, the Guardian’s new approach to a premium app, and whether Elon Musk is right to launch a site grading journalists’ credibility (no).
- A progress report on Deepnews.ai, via Frederic Filloux
- How media paywalls work in authoritarian countries, via Bloomberg
- RIP Interview: Here’s what killed Andy Warhol’s iconic magazine, via AdAge
In our own words: Peter Houston
I came to know Fraser Allen through the work he and his company did on an independent magazine called Hot Rum Cow. If you’re not familiar with the indie scene, Hot Rum Cow is as good a place to start as any. Beautifully produced, narrow of niche, light on advertising – it’s a classic of the genre. Or at least it was until, after 13 issues, Fraser pulled the plug.
The story of Hot Rum Cow’s end lies in its beginning.
In 2011, Fraser’s content marketing agency, White Light Media was struggling to break out of the constraints of the cash-strapped financial-services and public-sector markets. He wanted to win more creative work and decided the best way to do that was to make a magazine that showed off all the skills within the business.
Five years later the magazine had done the job and changed people’s perception of what White Light could do. And after winning the award for the best drinks publication in the world at the Spirited Awards in New Orleans, Fraser called last orders.
As well as being the only independent magazine that I own every issue of, Hot Rum Cow was one of the smartest pieces of content marketing I have ever seen. And once we moved on from mourning its passing, Fraser and I talked about applying that type of creative thinking to other content marketing projects.
His team has just finished World Whisky Day 2018, a global social media event that attracted 26,000 people this year. It’s a social media project that’s profitable, based on brand partnerships with distillers associating themselves with the whisky enthusiast community that has grown up around a hashtag. But these days it’s held together by email newsletters, quirky whisky stories and clever video clips – this year’s highlight was a drone delivering a wee dram.
White Light’s next effort at self-promotion won’t be in print. Instead it’s a project to highlight the company’s multimedia chops. The team that once put together Hot Rum Cow will be producing ‘White Light’s Got Issues’, a website with text, video and social content highlighting the things that keep the marketing sector awake at night.
Anxiety is first and in true Hot Rum Cow style, the team will be reporting on just how anxious they got doing stand-up comedy, bungee jumping and playing naked badminton.
The one thing that I got from talking to Fraser is a sense that, no matter what type of content you are creating, you need to commit to it, look for an angle and give it everything. And then, once it’s done its job… move on.
Sign up for our newsletter! Get the latest episode, plus all the week’s news, links, and what we’re reading in your inbox every week.