Industry News

PPA Festival Audience stage overview with Jackie Scully

By Jackie Scully

3 May 2022

Audience engagement is top of the wish list for publishers and media brands looking to successfully build and monetise specialist communities. But, with competition for attention harder than ever, how can organisations best understand, nurture and connect with those communities? That’s what our great line-up of speakers on the Audience stage at PPA Festival are ready to discuss. Here are five quick insights…

1. Focus on the positives and your audiences will too

With the rise of doomscrolling and the hunt for negative information, you could be forgiven for thinking that bad news sells. But, thanks to ground-breaking research, the team at Hearst have proven the opposite to be true. Their Positivity Project has demonstrated that when you create a positive environment for your audiences, they will reward you – both in terms of their loyalty and their desire to engage with commercial partners. The team will be sharing the results of their latest emotional uplift survey and exploring the real business value that can be gained from a deeper understanding of audience attitudes and behaviours.

2. Create members not subscribers

If the pandemic has taught us anything it is that we all want to belong. That’s why publishers and brands are increasingly moving away from traditional subscription offers and towards membership clubs. With the help of our membership mindset panel, we will take a look at the practicalities of turning subscribers into members, the art of great community management and the benefits of enabling your audiences to feel part of something.

3. Adopt a growth mindset

Meaningful communities are not created by simply chasing numbers. That’s the message from Immediate Media, who recently smashed through the one million subscriber mark. By focusing in on the lifetime value of their customers, improving the product (in line with audience feedback), fostering a collaborative relationship between the content and marketing teams and deploying innovative, continuous campaigns rather than relying on seasonal offers, sustainable audience growth is achievable. The Athletic are also on stage to tell us how then went from 0 to 1 million in just four years – a move that saw them acquired by the New York Times earlier this year.

4. Find your data champions – and use them tactically

Publishers and media organisations are constantly gathering audience data. But, how much of the data stored actually ends up delivering in real insight let alone practical action to drive businesses forward? Not enough. That’s the verdict from the data champions on our panel who are here to convince us of the merits of digging a little deeper and bringing colleagues along on that all-important data-led journey.

5. Get to the heart of what matters

Designing at the whiteboard without listening to, reflecting and celebrating your audiences needs to be a thing of the past. Attention is hard won, but it can be won, with a consistent focus on being a source of trusted information, by bringing different audience segments into the content, by creating tangible learning opportunities and by campaigning for change in areas that will genuinely make a difference to the lives of those interacting with you.

With a day immersed in audience-led discussions, our aim is for you to come away with lots of practical and actionable advice and a real enthusiasm for taking your audience strategy to the next level.

The AUDIENCE STAGE is one of five stages of content at this year’s PPA Festival, taking place on Thursday, 19 May 2022 at Tobacco Dock, London.

For the full agenda and to book tickets, visit


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