Royal baby: Aussie magazines mobilise
It is not just Buckingham Palace celebrating the news of a new heir on the way, but also Australia’s legion of women’s magazines.
On Tuesday morning, deadlines are being brought forward, tens of thousands of dollars are being bid on exclusive photos and hundreds of thousands of extra magazines are about to be printed as the beleaguered publishing industry welcomes a baby which could ultimately be its saviour.
This story is huge. Our readers are absolutely fascinated by Kate and everything she does. This is great news for magazines.
Bean counters are currently gathered in boardrooms across Sydney’s major publishing houses ‘‘doing the numbers’’ to see if it is financially viable to spend the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to bring deadlines forward and orchestrate new freighting schedules to get magazines to every newsstand across the continent.
Popular with the gossip magazine ... Catherine Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: Getty Images
While the story is big for all media globally, it is the Australian women’s magazines which specialise in royal births here, a tradition which has dated back over the past century but which exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry during the halcyon days of the late Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s.
Phones began beeping and flashing in the early hours of this morning as the editors of The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, New Idea, Who and OK! were stirred from their sleep to discover their biggest story in years was on its way.
"We began mobilising in the middle of the night," a weary Woman’s Day editor in chief Fiona Connolly told PS this morning.
Pregnant ... the Duchess of Cambridge has set off a media frenzy. Photo: Reuters
"I have been on the phone to correspondents in London, picture agencies, contacts ... basically trying to get every possible angle to go with for the next issue. This is perfect timing for us, our usual deadline is Thursday, so we have the resources and time to bring this story to our readers in a brilliant way."
"Kate and Will’s wedding not only resuscitated the royal family as a hot topic for Australian women’s magazines, it propelled Kate into one of our best selling cover girls. The demand for her stories is huge in Australia, easily on par with the height of the Princess Diana days."
However since the death of Diana in 1997, the Australian and international media landscapes have changed dramatically, with the rise of online media and the explosion of news outlets covering celebrity stories, such as the Royals.
"It is a very different arena to when Prince Harry came into the world, and he really was the last big royal baby. There is a huge online market now, and that plays a big role in how we handle the story, both for our website and for our next magazine, which will be the January issue in late December," Women's Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe explained.
"Another big difference between now and when Harry was born is that the palace is so much more savvy, media wise, in the way it handles these stories. For us it means you don’t get lots of details and pictures. They control it with an iron fist, which makes it challenging when you have nine months ahead of you as an editor to cover it."
"This story is huge. Our readers are absolutely fascinated by Kate and everything she does. This is great news for magazines."
New Idea editor Kim Wilson agreed that while the landscape had changed, the advantage of magazines was that people tended to buy them as keepsakes of important events.
‘‘We will be treating this like a commemorative issue, so there is an advantage we have over digital media which simply disappears into the ether,’’ she said.
The British media has already taken the lead on the story, with a vast media pack descending on Prince William leaving King Edward VII hospital in central London where the Duchess of Cambridge is being treated for hyperemesis gravidarum just a few hours ago. The images were flooding the Australian publishing market within seconds.
But the scant details means the media has had to become more creative in its coverage, with the The Daily Mail publishing a computer generated image of what the baby might look like as a small child.
And this is just the beginning.