Getting the inside story on Scoop

25/05/2004 - 22:00

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THIS year marks something of a coming of age for Scoop Magazine founder David Hogan.

THIS year marks something of a coming of age for Scoop Magazine founder David Hogan.

At the end of June his company, Concept Reality Media Group, will publish three magazine titles, producing about 75,000 magazines a quarter.

Scoop is also ramping up its online travel site, not to mention assessing more publishing projects for 2005 and a possible expansion to the east coast.

The past few years have marked a major transition for Mr Hogan, who has grown his $40,000 start-up from magazine producer to fully-fledged publishing business.

The June launch of his third publication, a home/style magazine called InSite, follows on the heels of the 2003 debut for Scoop Traveller.

And so far the response has been positive.

Scoop Traveller is making a profit and InSite looks likely to break even in its first issue.

In the past six weeks Mr Hogan has recruited his first sub-editor, a position he used to fill, as well as six other staff members to handle the growing workload.

But it’s a relatively low capital expansion for Mr Hogan, given that he’s now generating advertising and subscriptions for two new products.

“It makes tonnes of sense why big publishers don’t just do one publication – they have four, five or six,” he said. 

“It’s because there are key overheads that you need for one publication but you would use for a range of them. We don’t need a new administration person, we don’t need a new production team, and we don’t need new offices.

“We’ve grown from 12 staff for the one mag to 15 when we did Scoop Traveller to 20 people,” Mr Hogan said.

But producing another new magazine for the Perth market was not feasible, he said.

“We could do another two magazines using this model, but not in Perth. We’ve got a lifestyle magazine, home and travel. They are very broad topics and our market is niche. You can’t be a niche player in a niche market,” Mr Hogan told WA Business News.

With this in mind, Mr Hogan is looking at replicating his success in Western Australia in Victoria and New South Wales.

“There is no doubt that this model will work in other States but if we were going to do it we would do it with a joint venture partner who is prepared to make a capital investment,” he said.

Mr Hogan said the most difficult part of operating a media business was the time it took to build masthead recognition.

“In any other business you might have a product or service that you provide, but in media you are providing market awareness and reaching an audience to get advertisers,” he said.

“It takes a long time to build mass awareness and what we sell is being well known. It doesn’t matter how good the magazine might be or how good the production is, it needs to be out there and known.

“We’ve been around for seven years now so we are more than likely going to be around another 20 years because the barriers to entry are so high.”

Recognition of the success of Mr Hogan’s business model has come in the form of takeover offers from other media players.

But he’s not selling just yet.

For the first time since its inception the business is enjoying good returns, and thanks to better income and a strong brand, Mr Hogan has been able to employ experienced professionals.

While Vanessa Pribil continues in her position as design director, a role she has filled since Scoop’s inception, Mr Hogan has appointed Julie Hoskin as editor of Scoop. Serena Kirby, with 17 years’ experience in journalism, has started in her new role as InSite editor.

“I used to drive everything but now I have these people in who have a better idea about what should be in the magazine; it’s a great change,” Mr Hogan said.

“Up until six months ago there were only two of us aged over 30. Now half of the business is.”

Mr Hogan said advertising for all three publications was strong.

“The greatest advertising selling tool that we have is that we have a cross section of industries that are the most successful in that industry. They are quality focused and the ads are good,” he said. 

“We did a survey a few years ago and one of the top three reasons people were reading Scoop was the advertising. It’s an important part of the mix because they are good ads. If we got rid of half of them and put a big insurance ad in the middle of the food section we’d have heaps of calls from people saying we have too much advertising.” 

With new staff recruited to produce the magazines, Mr Hogan is now concentrating his efforts on making scooptraveller.com a dedicated revenue stream.

He started it more than four years ago but it has been relatively stagnant for the past two years while Mr Hogan focused his energy and working capital on the magazine business.

“It’s a database of accommodation places, restaurants, and travel business and the traffic to the site is fantastic,” Mr Hogan said. “We haven’t resourced it but I am now and I want to make that a national website.”

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