Interview: Kevin Petley at HELLO! magazine
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
Kevin Petley is Business Director at HELLO! and a PPA board member. Kevin works with the newstrade group that is shaping the Press Pause campaign, a cross-industry initiative to promote magazines to consumers and increase sales at retail.
We talked to him about what lies behind his love for magazines, and what he thinks about the future of the industry.
What was the first magazine that you bought?
My magazine/comic relationship started with 'The Beano', although I did dabble with the 'The Victor'.
What was your first job?
Along with some newspaper delivery my first proper job, whilst studying for 'A Levels', was repairing beer barrel pallets for Whitbread's, also learnt a bit about beer too!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Fortunately I have many as I have weaved and ducked my way through all things magazines, from retail, through Wholesale, via Distribution and then Publishing. But I guess my role at HELLO! is definitely up there as it's such an iconic brand, which epitomises everything that is good about magazines.
What do you enjoy most about working with magazines?
Along with the skill of the people across this industry, the fact that magazines are probably the most FMCG of all products; every issue is different, every topic you can think of is covered, and when you get it right the impact is immediate. What more could you ask for?
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
Always a great question, but always a difficult one to answer. To be honest as my career developed I was in contact with and inspired by many different people, and for different reasons. Having said that and apart from my father, I would say my first manager who taught me to 'take one step at a time' and encouraged me to remain 'agile'.
What’s next at HELLO!?
What next indeed, well the exciting thing for HELLO! is that its content resonates so well across all media channels, due to the brand's philosophy of positive reporting and nurturing relationships with key talent, and its unrivalled access to all things royal. So our next steps will be to expand this ethos across more channels, although the magazine will always be at the heart of our business.
What would be the biggest change you would like to see in the magazine category?
I would like to see the industry genuinely working together and in partnership, for the sake of the whole category. Magazines are under threat, the days of the massive sellers are gone, and if we ignore this fact, we do so at our own peril. There has never been a more relevant time for magazines to demonstrate their value and relevance as a whole, to both consumers and advertisers!
What would your ideal magazine promotion look like?
Magazine, Product, Retailer (tri-party), linking a brand advertising in a magazine with a product offer in store, exclusively to a retail group, to the benefit of all three brands whilst offering extra value to a consumer.
Where do you think the biggest opportunities lie in the category?
To bring more theatre to the category. Individually a magazine's content covers exciting and relevant topics, lifestyle trends, hobbies etc, but you could be forgiven, when looking at a typical news run, for failing to see the energy and get that vibe. Too often magazine displays are flat and lifeless, hiding what is really going on. I think it is the responsibility of publishers, retailers and racking manufacturers to come up with more innovative approaches to bring the category alive and make it relevant to today's audience, as it was in the past.
Which magazines do you read regularly?
Apart from HELLO!, The Beano remains an important read (just kidding!). I don't really have a favourite one, instead I tend to be a sampler and pick one up if a cover catches my eye, or a headline my interest. Although I am partial to Time, GQ and What Car.
How do you spend your time when you’re not driving magazine sales?
Two grandsons and one more on the way keeps you active, along with restaurant hopping. I have also been known to travel a lot with my wife, particularly holidays in the sun.