Media Pioneers: luxury publisher reinvents business model

For many niche publishers, organising distribution of printed magazines to reach a specialist audience is one of the biggest headaches, expecially if they have international ambitions.  The latest Media Pioneer, Five Star Magazine, has developed a clever way to reach their well-heeled, well-travelled target audience, by establishing partnerships with luxury travel providers who place complimentary copies of their classy travel magazine in first class lounges, hotels, spas and luxury yachts and marinas worldwide.   The editor of the magazine, Renata Parolari Fernandes, has taken a similarly revolutionary approach to the rest of her publishing business model.  Here I have sketched out the main elements – which I believe could be applied to other specialist media businesses:

1. Create a magazine that is as collectable as a book

Five Star magazine is small format, perfect bound, on high quality matt paper; beautifully designed with lush photography.  Each edition focuses on luxury hotels in a specific region, with recommendations for restaurants, spas and luxury experiences nearby.  It feels more like an upmarket travel guide, and as its content doesn’t really  date, it is highly collectable.

2. Develop partnerships to give targeted international reach in print and online

Five Star has developed partnerships with many luxury travel providers to extend its reach in print and online to its upmarket, affluent, well-travelled audience.  It can be found in five star hotels, private jet terminals, first class lounges, luxury spas, yachts and marinas across UK, Europe, Latin America and now India.  Its luscious digital edition is also distributed by its partners.

3. Encourage paid-for subscriptions from magazine and digital edition

Tens of thousands of complimentary copies are distributed through the partners, but the aim is to develop paid-for subscriptions, as the publication is so collectable, and early signs are very encouraging.  Over time this will create a loyal core of luxury travellers, the audience that the hotels and travel providers are seeking.

4. Propose advertorial features to your prospective advertisers

To control the appearance of the magazine, and make the editorial team’s expertise available to advertisers, there are no ads, only advertorial features.  These are paid-for, but the editor decides which hotels are suitable for her readers.  This appears a successful model; the hotel gets quality images, words and design, and readers get a harmonious look and feel.  There’s a waiting list of hotels for the next four issues.

5. Offer broader marketing services to your clients

Once the relationship with the hotel is established, the Five Star team can offer more marketing and PR services, from creating photography to video, to creating content for brochures or other publications, using their editorial skills and knowledge of the hospitality industry.

I’d be interested to hear of other niche publishers who are finding innovative ways round the targeted distribution conundrum, or who are successfully providing broader marketing and PR services to their ad clients.  If you run an innovative specialist media business you can find out more about the Media Pioneer awards and how to enter on the Specialist Media Show website.

Comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on linked-in, where over 400 specialist media people swap ideas and tips and connect with their peers.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, a consultancy that advises specialist media businesses on their digital strategy.  Please contact us if you’d like to discuss how to reinvent your publishing business model.  Carolyn also runs the Specialist Media Show, an event for niche publishers.