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In Residence: Jarrod Kris (Smith Journal)

Earlier this year Jarrod Kris, National Advertising Manager for Smith Journal, joined our Reservoir by the Office Space share workplace. Prior to this he held the position of Advertising Manager for frankie Press in Melbourne – the umbrella company that publishes both the refreshingly crafty and quirky frankie magazine and the enlightening Smith Journal for “real” guys who have niche interests outside the sport, cars and grooming arenas. With over 15 years of sales and marketing experience, he shares with us his views on the dual importance of both print and digital platforms in the publishing arena and the shifting trends in advertising.

Can you describe the editorial content of the magazine? Published quarterly and peppered with offbeat stories about history, science, adventure, design and the arts, it’s far from a mainstream take on current trends for men. Yeah, it’s an interesting one. When we first came to market people pigeon-holed us as a hipster men’s mag, but since then we’ve proven to be much more than a fad or trend. Our content is definitely worldly and we try to ensure there is a good balance of both local and global brands involved along the way to support that. It’s really content aimed at the creative, thinker and adventurer at heart. We often say it’s like telling a great story to your mate at the pub; it’s honest, intriguing, funny and unique. More often than not you walk away having learnt something about a field of interest you had never even considered. It’s much more down to earth and inspiring than ‘how to get 6 pack abs’ and ‘the best male aftershave’!

We’d imagine Smith Journal has cross-generational appeal given the range of people you interview and stories you feature. You’re bang on! Whilst our core demo sits at a 25-44 year-old male we’re constantly inundated with emails and stories of grandads in their 70’s and 80’s that love to pick it up and read through those nostalgic tales as well as young kids leaving school that find it aspirational.

How do your digital platforms (blog, social media etc.) support your print publication and vice-versa? And what’s your strategy for aligning the two? Now-a-days they go hand in hand. We place just as much emphasis on curating our digital content and ads as we do our print. Whilst it’s important not to lose sight of our hero product, we are constantly aware of the need to syndicate content across all touch points to maximise our reach. 90% of online content is new and completely separate to that of Smith print editions. This ensures our readers are constantly getting their fix and our traffic continues to spike and keep our advertisers happy.

How different is the readership demographic between your print and digital platforms? We see a lot of Smith readers hopping online and via their mobile devices to consume their Smith hit once they’ve read through the print edition. Being a quarterly publication we need to ensure we have constant touch points with our readers which is why we roll out new content online every day. Funnily enough, across our social platforms we find that women are nearly equally as active as Smith men. It shows us two trends:

  1. they love our content for themselves
  2. men see the appeal for both sexes and tag their partner who they think may like it

Tell us about your responsibilities as National Advertising Manager for Smith Journal. We’d imagine it involves strategy, branding and design plus the mighty slog of securing advertising partners. You’re based in Sydney, though the editorial team is in Melbourne. So how does that work? It certainly involves a good mix of all those things. Our head office is based in South Melbourne where I was previously located until the beginning of this year, so travel was a key element in the reasoning for my transition to opening up a satellite office up here. Our client base across frankie Press is pretty evenly distributed across Melb, Syd and overseas so it enables me to strengthen relationships on the ground here whilst still maintaining what we built in Melbourne. My main focus is driving revenue for frankie Press and predominantly Smith Journal. That’s generated across print and digital with a small team in Melbourne I skype daily with so no one is out of the loop or ever feels unreachable. We work quite closely with clients, both directly and through agencies. The direct relations are sometimes the most fruitful as you can really help develop bespoke creative solutions that more often than not won’t be seen anywhere else.

In 10 year’s time, describe how you envisage magazine publishing will change. Do you believe that print promises a long and productive future provided it is supported by digital platforms (and advertorial)? I think there is definitely a healthy future in print and more specifically in niche titles, it’s merely about how quickly publishers can adapt to market change. We can see it now with major publishers opting to close the dated design and formulaic approach of their struggling glossy titles and shift towards more tactile and meaningful print executions. There is so much choice available to the end user now. Readers and clients alike can be picky and demanding regarding how they consume their media. Our digital landscapes are a lot more volatile than print with social platform algorithms constantly changing and affecting abilities to genuinely target consumers en masse.  This has led to an explosion of native advertising and content marketing pieces. Digital will continue to support and drive new innovative ways to deliver creative client solutions and of course with that ad revenue!

At a time when many publishing houses lament the plateaued support of financial endorsement with direct advertorial, name three key creative approaches that have helped financially secure your publication – we’d imagine you have to think outside the traditional ‘place and ad and pay for the space’ box? Absolutely, gone are the days where clients are looking to just book spots! They expect high level engagement with their brand and want to reach our readers for a reason. Where frankie Press differs is in the fact that we employ stringent brand guidelines; this relates to both the clients we choose to work with and the creative they run. Editorial integrity is paramount and the reason for our strong growth over the years aside from an aesthetically pleasing publication with great content. The moment you compromise your integrity is the moment your savvy readers turn away. They came to our titles for that very reason after all! Our 3 keys would be mainly driven through our digital platforms to ensure there is little to no compromise across our print product:

  1. we deliver strong content partnerships across our site with like-minded brands that resonate well with readers.
  1. we utilise our social platforms to further drive that messaging.
  1. we look to experiential marketing activations to bring to life client stories/brands.

Prior to working in print you worked in radio (Nova FM for two years as a Direct Client Executive). Are there any skills that you learnt there that have benefitted you in your role at Smith Journal and immediately prior to that at frankie magazine? I worked across both the direct and agency team and whilst it’s a fun, fast paced environment, radio is a tough slog because you’re selling the intangible. It really builds your resilience and ability to qualify and formulate lasting partnerships because you need to work closely with your client’s campaigns to effectively communicate and deliver the right messages to cut through in 30 seconds!

Lastly, it’s Friday night. Friends are meeting you in Surry Hills after work. Name two bars you’ll be hopping to and why you love them. Tokyo bird is pretty cool If you love a small little bar with a vast array of Japanese alcohol and yakitori. Shady Pines is also pretty cool if you feel like diving into ye olde saloon for a drink!

Both banner and header image sourced from Smith Journal

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