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So this is clearly a little specific for creatives in the digital realm but in general industry magazines are one of the best ways of keeping up-to-date with what is going on. They fit somewhere in-between reading books and getting on-demand content. The quality of editorial on some of the best mags is exceptional and in theory a monthly mag can only be up to a month out-of date. That said, there is a clear place for books and more on-demand interactive content but I’ll cover these in a different post.

Most of the good magazines have digital editions which tend to be a little cheaper but one of the major attractions for me is that they are paper-based. I spend so much time looking at a backlit screen that I really enjoy the break that reading a print edition gives me. The cost of subscribing varies from publication to publication but monthlies are normally around the £50 mark for a years subscription. When you think that this is often the cost of a single decent creative book, it feels like pretty good value to me.

There are lots of different publications you can subscribe to and I’d like to say the more the merrier but we only have so much time in a day to read them. It’s therefore better to be selective about the ones you subscribe to. I subscribe to 5 publications and spend about an hour a day reading them which sort of works out that I can read them all before the next ones arrive. I’ll go into the specific titles I subscribe to and why in a bit but first I want to talk about general news.

One of the most important life skills a creative needs to have is in understanding the world around them. It’s why a lot of us agencies favour recruiting grads that have had taken some time out to travel, making them a little more worldly. The importance in understanding the world around you comes from picking up the skills to determine the many differences between human backgrounds and behaviours that are shared among certain demographics or target audiences. Its also handy to understand the needs and wants of a general population which includes current and world affairs, lifestyle, business and unfortunately politics. The best way of doing this is to read a newspaper.

Those that have grown up with a newspaper will just see this as common sense but there are still more people that choose to not read one than do. For those new to newspapers, you’ll need to choose one you feel is suitable for you. Firstly choose a quality paper…or more often called the broadsheets. Then buy a few different papers on the same day and choose one you like. I chose ‘The Times’ because of the world recognised quality of journalism but the guardian is also a strong alternative, particularly with its media section and great tablet version (The Times isn’t so great on tablets)

So, assuming you have general news covered, the next step is to get a little more specific with the publications. I split the types of publications you may like to read into four different categories. Publications that…

1) …assist in your understanding of your industry’s skills.
2) …assist in your understanding of your industry’s business.
3) …assist in your understanding of your client’s business.
4) …assist in nothing obvious but really gets your imagination going.

It goes without saying that ideally you’d choose to read one magazine from each category but sometimes you may need to read more than one from each category, like in my case for example. In catgeory 1, I choose to read three magazines; Creative Review, Computer Arts and .net as I need to keep in touch with creativity, computer arts and computer science. You may also find that one magazine covers multiple categories. Again, as an example I cover categories 2 & 3 reading Campaign, which helps me to keep in touch with both the agency world and the things our clients (large consumer brands) are up to. My publication of choice for category 4 is Wired. This is one of the best magazines I have ever read and in my opinion the editors have set a new level for magazines in terms of editorial quality, responsiveness to their readers and how to make the most of the mixed paper-based/digital mediums.

So if you are, or want to be a digital creative, I suggest reading the same magazines as me albeit with your own choice of daily newspaper. If you are not in digital or creative then you can still select an appropriate combination of magazines that will make a massive difference to your job knowledge. I can guarantee you after a month of committing time to doing this you’ll appear (and will be) more intellectual and knowledgable about your work than even the most senior of colleagues that don’t do this.

If you are interested in finding out more about the publications I read daily and or subscribing the URL’s are below:

The Times
Creative Review
.net
Computer Arts
Campaign
Wired