Casa magazine: The story behind the story

That was the terrifying thought that emerged from Casa Magazines’ e-mail to the staff when the publisher of self-help, parenting and lifestyle titles unexpectedly went into administration. The administrator warned that there could be…

Casa magazine: The story behind the story

That was the terrifying thought that emerged from Casa Magazines’ e-mail to the staff when the publisher of self-help, parenting and lifestyle titles unexpectedly went into administration.

The administrator warned that there could be redundancies if no buyer could be found for the business – and when the media pack arrived at headquarters in south Wales, it was sadly apparent just how serious a situation the company was in.

It was a pity that the administrators also sacked the editorial team.

In a temporary relief for many journalists, the monthly editor and a handful of reporters have been kept on.

But they do not have much time to turn their backs on Casa’s many thousands of subscribers.

From its first issue in 1997, Casa has been a phenomenon, selling millions of copies a month.

Yet managing director David Bennett says he has been amazed at how loyal and supportive his readers have been.

“We’ve had a good first few days, but it’s going to take a while to assess the impact of the closure,” he says.

“For the moment we have plenty of advertisers and sponsors who have thrown their support behind the news-stand pages of their titles, and the magazine stands.”

‘First lady’

The company has paid tribute to its readers, calling them “the first lady’s of the UK” and “mums, dads, sons and daughters of all ages”.

They come from all walks of life and share common common experiences – the pressures of childcare, exercise, cooking, juggling family and work lives, success and failure.

“For me, that’s the exciting part,” says Mr Bennett.

“What’s phenomenal is that no matter where you go in the UK and how much money you earn, the most common thing you come across is someone who reads the magazine.

“And why do people read the magazine? It is because it is a community, and provides lots of recipes and advice that will help.

“Every day there are someone who likes a challenge, or who needs help, or who’s trying to find some healthy ways to eat, that is what we are all about.”

Matchmaking service

As with many consumer magazines, Casa also operates a matchmaking service, tailored to the readers’ needs.

“You can join our group if you think you have the ability to help others or have a life-long interest in helping others. Or you just want to be involved in some activity you’ve never been involved in before,” Mr Bennett says.

“We have been offering a service like this for the last five or six years. People generally come with the expectation that they are going to meet other members of the group who have that same interest or who share that same lifestyle.

“That’s what the Casa Magazine website says – and in my experience it works!”

Mr Bennett said he would be frank with any advertisers approaching Casa.

“In my opinion it’s best to give away whatever advertising you can in an introductory period – but then there comes a point where the next three issues have to be behind the magazine’s cover, and you have to start to deliver your advertising.

“That’s not just how advertising works in publishing and consumer magazines – it’s also the way it works in the rest of the media. When we start to look at subscriptions, we think, ‘Of course we need to be underwriting marketing activity’ – so we take on all kinds of advertising.”

And he says that the closure of Casa Magazine has taken everyone by surprise.

“We’re celebrating it as a great success story, which is why we said goodbye and farewell to the staff so dramatically,” he says.

“But it is a brilliant brand with mass appeal that readers just want to have in their hands.

“We’ve been sending out emails since Thursday morning saying our apologies that our doors are closing, but we’re working with you on our special offer until the end of May, so please come in and ask any questions you might have.”

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