Scotland’s lifestyle magazine turns the page as it enters the digital field

by Katie Hogg

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Scottish Field’s web editor explains how a digital revamp has helped to boost the magazine to new heights

PR portrait photograph of Kenny Smith, the web editor at the Scottish Field Magazine smiling

ESTABLISHED back in 1903, Scottish Field has been serving up quality lifestyle news to the masses for over a century.

Earlier this year, the household name gave its tired website a makeover, super-charging its social channels to boot.

We caught up with the web editor, Kenny Smith, to find out all about the move from traditional to online, and how the magazine’s new digital offering has helped reaffirm its position as one of the country’s leading titles.

The magazine’s website underwent a revamp earlier this year. What’s different?

I’ve been at Scottish Field for 15 months now, but I’m aware from looking at older editions that our editor, Richard Bath, has taken what was a strong magazine, and made it even better, by taking the existing strengths and developing them further. We had a relaunch earlier this year with a clean, fresh look and redesign, and new features, with regular columnists who provide entertaining comment looking at different areas of life, relevant to the readers. It’s gone down well. The big change is the rise in our online readership, which has increased substantially, and advertisers want to be partners with us on our website.

Is there a big difference between online content and that of the physical magazine?

By and large, the online content is unique compared to the print version. We tend to carry more immediate news on the website, which wouldn’t make the print deadline for the magazine. We do feature magazine content, from our Leopard edition for Aberdeenshire, Cask & Still magazine, as well as SF Edinburgh, but the print title comes first, so I supplement that with new content online, including videos.

We have a new video feature, 60 Second Dram, which is great fun, and it’s exactly what it sounds like from the title. Please do check it out! The website is perhaps slightly more relaxed in tone, as it appeals to people outside the normal SF realm, bringing them in to discover who we are and what we do. There’s plenty of food and drink news, and restaurant reviews, as well as theatre reviews in our culture section, which is proving to be our most popular.

Did you come up against any challenges with the new site?

The biggest challenge was finding the site’s identity. I wanted it to be unique, in that it would reflect the magazine in content areas, but more open to the public. The content is pretty much what I would want to read, with stories about people and places.

So you would say that the relaunch has been a success?

The relaunch has gone well, as previously 9,500 was the average number of hits in a month to the website. For November 2018, we achieved over 102,000. That was the number I’d hoped to do by the end of the year, after the relaunch of the site in March, so that’s not bad – a month early!

Scottish PR image of the front cover of the Scottish Field Magazine's January 2019 edition featuring a stag on snowy mountains

What about successful content? Have there been any stand-out features?

Successful stories have been many and varied. The opening of a leading whisky distillery visitor centre has done well for us, but anything involving Outlander star Sam Heughan does well, especially in America where the TV show has a huge following.

What sort of content are you looking for PR companies to submit for the website?

Sometimes I receive content that just isn’t quite on the Scottish Field brand. We like to feature more light-hearted material for the evenings when people are home after a hard day at work and want something that will entertain them.

 With the online offering doing so well, do you think physical magazines have maybe seen their day?

I disagree that magazines are dead. Far from it. A magazine can sit on a shelf, and you can come back to it a few months later and re-read it. I’ve got a complete collection of Doctor Who magazines dating back to 1979, and I regularly dip in and out of them, so no, I believe print still has a future. Good writing and photographs never go out of fashion. And there’s something nice about having something you can pick up and put down, not just on a screen.

And finally – what about you? Your experience within the industry must have helped the success of the site?

Maybe! I started as a junior reporter at the Inverurie Advertiser in Aberdeenshire in June 1994, before moving to the East Kilbride News in March 1995, and was there until July 2001 when I moved to the Wishaw Press as chief reporter. I moved to the Rutherglen Reformer in 2003, which was my hometown paper, and worked my way up to become editor there. I was there until 2015 when I moved to the Ayrshire Post, Scotland’s biggest-selling local weekly newspaper. It won Scottish Local Weekly Newspaper of the Year for 2017, which was a real highlight, under my editorship.

Other career highlights moments include getting to meet and interview heroes from my youth and my present, such as Sylvester McCoy, Peter Capaldi and Alex McLeish. That’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

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Katie Hogg is part of the PR team at Holyrood PR in Scotland

Katie Hogg

Katie Hogg is part of the award-winning PR team at Holyrood PR. She is also a former journalist, most notably with luxury lifestyle magazine, Scottish Field

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