Autism Eye is the latest addition to the 2012 Media Pioneer Awards shortlist. Carolyn Morgan looks at their rapid journey from launch to growing international readership.
This inspiring story of a small independent publisher reaching a worldwide audience through editorial quality and embracing digital publishing and social media is the latest addition to the Media Pioneers shortlist.
Only a year since its launch, Autism Eye has become the UK’s only parent-led magazine offering in-depth, well-researched and useful information for those who care for children with autism. This distinctive-looking publication has a rapidly expanding UK and international readership, thanks to innovative digital subscriptions and extensive marketing, including the use of social media.
Partnership with leading event grows circulation to 7000+
Even before publishing its second issue, Autism Eye was invited to become the official media partner of The Autism Show, the UK’s biggest autism-related exhibition. Now, by its sixth issue, Autism Eye is seeing advertising revenues almost 400% higher than a year earlier. Circulation has grown to more than 7,000 and there are subscribers across the world.
Practical Content and Modern Newsy design
Mark Hayes and Gillian Loughran, the publisher and editor, are former Editors of the Year with the British Society of Magazine Editors and Professional Publishers Association respectively. They are also the parents of a child with autism. When their son, Finn, was diagnosed with the condition they found there was little information available on how they could help him – so they decided to launch Autism Eye so that people in their position could be more informed.
Other autism parents told Mark and Gillian they didn’t want a glossy “Vogue for autism” – they wanted a publication that was highly practical. Mark and Gillian therefore gave Autism Eye an unusual look – putting news stories on the cover and printing on matt instead of glossy paper.
While providing in-depth information, the magazine avoids looking heavy and grey by using a jewel-like colour palette that reflects its positive attitude: its aim is to inspire and its message is that readers can do a great deal to help children with autism.
Tiered subscriptions appeal internationally
Mark and Gillian worked with Module Media to create a website that would have the same positive feel as the magazine. One of their key focuses has been to create a sophisticated subscription system so that organisations pay more than parents and carers, who are often short of money after paying for treatments for their children.
The subscription system also specifies prices in US dollars and euros, as well as in around 20 other currencies. This caters for global interest in the magazine, since much of its content focuses on areas such as scientific research and therapies, which are of interest to an international audience.
Paid-for digital subscriptions popular overseas
While other UK magazines were giving away digital issues of their magazine as an add-on when subscribers purchased printed issues, Mark and Gillian took the innovative step of launching digital subscriptions. This has enabled them to encourage overseas subscriptions by greatly reducing prices, since there are no postage costs. Within two months of the launch of digital issues the number of overseas subscribers doubled.
Module Media helped to devise the administration system for handling digital subscriptions by creating a bespoke email template that is housed within MailChimp. Digital subscribers are simply sent a hyperlink for a new download when each issue is published.
Social Media and Email drive web traffic
Mark and Gillian publicise Autism Eye by making extensive use of social media and press campaigns, as well as by publishing news stories and features on their website. They post Facebook messages and tweets daily – helping to generate more than 2,000 Twitter followers already – and in this way drive traffic to the content on the website.
One feature from each issue of the magazine is posted up on a Sample Features page on the website, using Scribd. This adds value to the site, as well as helping to give potential subscribers an insight into the quality of Autism Eye and drive subscriptions and sales of current and back issues.
Mark and Gillian begin discussion topics on news stories and features across relevant LinkedIn groups. If they have a particularly strong news story they also send a press release to their database of more than 1,000 relevant journalists, and in this way have generated stories in other magazines and even page leads in national newspapers.
Looking ahead, it is clear that Autism Eye is taking its place among Britain’s best specialist magazines, driven by two home-grown, award-winning magazine editors, and at the same time is making a difference to the lives of families and children affected by autism.
The Media Pioneer Awards recognise innovation and achievement in specialist media. Winners will be announced at the Specialist Media Show on 24 May 2012. Nominations are now closed for 2012. To find out more about the Media Pioneer Awards and how to enter for 2013 contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2012 Media Pioneer Awards are sponsored by Audience Media.