My Media Week: Richard Johnstone, IPC

London Fashion Week and the build-up to Milan Fashion Week mean a busy week for Marie Claire's publishing director Richard Johnstone

Richard Johnstone, publishing director, Marie Claire
Richard Johnstone, publishing director, Marie Claire

Monday

Up at 6am to walk my black labrador Esther before breakfast with my wife Amelia and my daughters Tilly (seven) and Martha (two), which is one of the highlights of my day before catching the 7.30am train from Hertfordshire to London. In the office, my first meeting is with head of marketing Sian Cupid and events manager Holly Patrick to talk about the pop-up shop Marie Claire is running in association with Maybelline to coincide with London Fashion Week. The first weekend’s trading was not as strong as we hoped, so we decide to rebrief the promotional Street Teams and the in-store staff to improve footfall and conversions to sales.

From 9.30am, the rest of the day is spent in an in-house digital strategy day, attended by all seven members of the IPC Southbank board and facilitated by Richard Townsend from Circus Street. It is a great chance for us to step outside our day-to-day work and think about how we can develop the online properties of our homes and fashion brands, including InStyle and Wallpaper.

Finish the day with birthday drinks in the office for Yvonne Ramsden, publishing director of IPC’s homes titles. When I check my BlackBerry on the train home I am pleased to see the trading results for the pop-up shop are stronger, with the conversions for Monday up 6% on the previous day to 20%.

Tuesday

In the office for 8.30am, where I start the day with IPC Southbank’s weekly trading reports. Everything is as it should be, and I am pleased to see London Fashion Week, which started last Friday, has created an uplift in web traffic.

Next I meet Ben Oakden and Gemma Melhuish from our distribution arm MarketForce to make sure the December and January issues of Marie Claire - two of the biggest issues in the fashion monthly market - will have the right positioning in our key retailers Tesco and WHSmith to maximise sales.

The previous week I presented my plans for the 2010 year-end forecast and the 2011 budget to chief executive Evelyn Webster, finance director Sylvia Evans and Southbank’s managing director Jackie Newcombe. So today I gather management accountant Nicola Cassells and Marie Claire’s associate publisher Roger Cummings for a finance meeting to make sure the changes raised by our senior executives are incorporated into the new budget plans.

Then it’s off to the Ivy Club for lunch with Nancy Cardone, the publisher of Marie Claire US, to finalise plans for the US and UK Marie Claire party we are jointly hosting in Milan on Friday as part of Milan Fashion Week. Meeting Nancy is brilliant because I get a broader view of the business; she tells me the US is bouncing back quickly and they are obsessed with the iPad.

Back in the office I have my fortnightly catch-up with Jackie Newcombe, where we discuss trading and I present the plans for Marie Claire’s first iPhone and iPad app, which will launch in November as a paid-for service focusing on the beauty element of the magazine. I finish the day with a bit of 70s glamour by stopping off at the relaunch party for Biba at Home House.

Wednesday

Meet Trish Halpin, editor of Marie Claire, to talk about the cover shoot for the December issue - we need an extension on the print deadline to shoot our top-secret cover star. So we rejig the print schedules before interviewing a candidate for the position of web editor for Marie Claire.

Next I meet the Hair magazine team to talk about the details of the Hair Awards at the Vinyl Factory in Soho next Tuesday. We run through the budgets and discuss ticket sales, presenters and scripts. In the afternoon, I have a meeting with the technology partner for our beauty app to finalise designs. He also updates me on our negotiations with Apple, which the whole thing hinges on.

After work, Trish and I head to the pop-up shop in Shorts Gardens to meet our partners: Maybelline’s UK marketing director Karen Jones; Jeremy Schwartz, general manager for Maybelline and Garnier; and L’Oreal managing director Pierre-Yves Arzel. Over drinks at the Ivy Club, they tell us the shop has exceeded their expectations - the results of the exit interviews were strong in terms of changing perceptions of the brands, which was a key objective.

Thursday

Start the day with an 8.30am production meeting with Sam Bishop, who gives Roger Cummings and I an update on our change of printer to Wyndham Press. I then work on a memo to our joint venture partners Groupe Marie Claire, based in Paris, updating them on advertising, trading and the December issue. Advertising for Q4 is up on forecast and up year on year, driven by print display, special projects and digital, so it is a nice memo to write.

I then catch up with Kaye Woodhouse, head of PR and Sian Cupid, head of marketing, to talk about our PR strategy for the cover star of our November issue, Glee’s Lea Michele, as well the model scouting day we are holding on Saturday in association with Elite Model Management. I also have a conference call with Cristina Preatoni from our Italian sales office Cesanamedia, who is helping organise the Marie Claire party on Friday. On the way home, I stop off at the London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House to meet the marketing and PR team from Elizabeth Arden, who are sponsoring the event.

Friday

A car arrives at 7am to pick me up for a 9am flight from Heathrow to Milan, where I meet Paolo Cesana, chief executive of Cesanamedia and his head of magazines Paolo Mongeri. Over lunch, we talk about a commercial partnership and discuss advertising performance in Italy, which is picking up. As in the US, all things iPad and iPhone is a real point of interest.

Spend the afternoon making the final preparations for the party at the Milano Scala Hotel. We plan to hold the party on the amazing roof terrace, but no sooner have we put up the final decorations than the heavens open and we have to move everything to the bar downstairs.

By 8pm the party is packed, with a great turnout from all the key fashion houses, including Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Armani, as well as fashion PRs and retailers including Net-A-Porter, My-Wardrobe and Selfridges. We move on to dinner and then to the Versace party, which is in a beautiful converted Milanese building. The party is full swing when I retire, exhausted, at midnight.

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