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“We’re U.S. first, that’s where the opportunities lie”: An interview with The Week’s Richard Campbell

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Richard Campbell is Managing Director, News at Future plc where he oversees both The Week and The Week Junior. His portfolio spans both the U.S. and UK markets, giving him a unique perspective of the differences between both territories as well as insights into the opportunities for publishers looking to expand overseas.

Richard Campbell has occupied two of the most important seats in UK publishing. At Immediate Media he was publisher of the Radio Times, Britain’s leading magazine brand, while at Future plc he is now Managing Director of both The Week and The Week Junior globally. 

The Week Junior, brought to market in the fall of 2015, has been a particularly successful launch with an audited print circulation of 91K for the UK and 100K for the U.S. Ad revenue is also expanding rapidly – for the U.S. alone it has grown 8x from 2021-2022 and is now a six-figure revenue stream.

We started by asking Richard what he felt were the key differences between the UK and U.S. markets for publishers looking to broaden their footprint on either side of the Atlantic.

Richard Campbell: “There are a lot of similarities between both markets and the demand for The Week and The Week Junior across the U.S. and UK is really strong. The Week Junior, in particular, is seeing a fantastic growth rate across both geographies.

“If I look at the U.S. for The Week Junior, the angle is more explicitly achievement-focused, it’s about giving your children any advantage you can to propel their future in the best way possible. The UK is more subtle, with an element of British reserve, and the focus is more on providing information about the world and children’s place in wider society.”

We’re a customer-centric, subscription-led publisher, and understanding our audience is vitally important.

Richard Campbell, Managing Director, News at Future plc

WNIP: What would be your key tips for managing publishing brands across geographical territories?

RC: “Being an English-language brand gives us wider reach but we do think it’s important to have regional specialization within that, which is why we have different editorial teams in the U.S. and UK. We already have a significant overseas readership and we ship copies all around the world.” 

I have to listen to the U.S. market experts – we have fully stocked U.S.-based editorial teams and I trust them. 

Richard Campbell, Managing Director, News at Future plc

“Our business is evenly split between the U.S. and UK but the total opportunity is bigger in the U.S. because of the market size. We therefore have a U.S.-first approach.

“Future is a good place to do this because although we are a UK-skewed business in terms of people and history, we’re absolutely U.S.-first in terms of our thinking. This allows me to compare notes and cross reference with my peers at Future who are working on other publishing brands – we’re all in this together.”

WNIP: You recently launched The Week Junior Book Club but only in the U.S., why is that?

RC: “We’ve got critical mass and scale in both geographies which allows us to try new things. It’s a combination of thinking where we can make the most difference to the brand, and most quickly.

“The Book Club is something we would like to do in the UK, but our existing relationships with partners in the U.S. allowed us to move quicker. We have real ambitions in the book space and literacy in both markets.

“In the UK we will probably move quicker with events, which we have already tested, and we will learn from this and take it to the U.S. market. We take learnings from both markets.”

WNIP: Have you any plans to take The Week into other territories? (The Week closed its Australian edition in 2012)

“Future’s approach is generally to publish in the UK and U.S. as they are our key markets, with other English markets as a secondary opportunity. We do have a lot of interest from potential licensors in other territories, but it’s not an active part of our thinking to launch a regional edition somewhere else at the moment.”

WNIP: What are the biggest opportunities coming up for you in 2023?

RC: “There are a stack of opportunities for us in 2023 across both markets. We’re excited about what we can do with events – if I take The Week Junior we already have a program in both markets to help kids remain excited about reading throughout the summer and we want to take that one step further to tackle the decline in reading from age nine upwards. 

“We did some UK events last summer at The British Library which were immensely successful with both children and families, as well as the children’s book publishing industry at large, and we want to build on that with more literacy and book-themed events in 2023.”

Moving into 2023, overall it’s a real privilege to work on The Week and The Week Junior, and I feel especially blessed to work on a children’s brand that is commercially successful but also makes a big difference to children and their families. We’re only just getting started!

Richard Campbell, Managing Director, News at Future plc

WNIP: What do you think are the biggest challenges you face moving into 2023?

RC: “The macro economy presents challenges for anyone, in any type of business. That’s the first one. The second one is the discretionary spend that consumers might or might not have, although we feel set up for success in this regard because what we provide to children and their families is really valuable – we’re a subscriptions-first business and we’re masters of our own destiny in many ways.

The Week and The Week Junior are great brands and we’re putting resources behind them but in a considered, measured way to ensure we’re returning value from these assets as well. That’s a big task because we have to strike a balance.

Richard Campbell, Managing Director, News at Future plc

WNIP: You’ve been fortunate to work at two of the U.K.’s more innovative and dynamic publishers, Immediate Media and Future plc, how do they compare?

RC: “They are both publishers who take what they do incredibly seriously and who are competitive about serving customers and consumers in the best way they can. They have different relative strengths with regards to their brand mix and business models, but they are two great businesses.

“I would add, however, that the U.S. focus and international outlook that Future has is quite different from the business I left at Immediate in 2018, and Future is split into three parts between digital advertising, ecommerce & affiliate revenue, and print publishing. Immediate was a little more print focused at the time I left, but five years is a long time in publishing so I can’t really speak about Immediate now.

Thank you.