A new woman climbs aboard Redwood stage

Sara Cremer has left the news-stands behind to focus on producing multi-platform titles for the likes of Harvey Nichols and the Royal Mail. Ian Burrell talks to her and finds out more

It must be one of the finest jobs in publishing, with a generous salary, an office in a building that overlooks Trafalgar Square, and the chance to put your feet up and watch a bunch of Aguilera videos.

Sara Cremer, the former editor of such consumer titles as New Woman and Eve, has been lured across the great magazine divide to become editorial director of Redwood Publishing, where her portfolio includes Your M&S, Zoom Zoom for Mazda, and the rather iffy-sounding Contact, which turns out to be from the Royal Mail.

And yes, she does get to watch a lot of Aguilera clips, though they do not feature Christina getting back to basics, but rather Redwood's talented video producer Katherine Aguilera, 28, who is assigned to filming the content that is rapidly changing the publisher's stable of magazines into multi-media offerings.

So Cremer talks of the magazine business, which is part of the advertising-based media giant AMV BBDO, "moving even faster and further towards becoming a multi-content agency" and she says she wants all her staff to be "thinking across platforms and be trained across platforms".

Redwood has its own video editing suite, where Aguilera hones her stuff for clients ranging from the online fashion brand, Oli, to big businesses such as BT. "She came to us through college and she has been with us for five years," says Cremer. "Her background is in design and she is particularly interested in the video side."

It would be wrong, though, to imagine Redwood staff streaming in and out of the building, video cameras in hand. Of the team of 10 working on the NSPCC magazine and website Your Family, none sees themselves as a future Ridley Scott. "I don't think any of them are trained in actually holding a camera," says Cremer. "But they are obviously trained in finding the case studies."

She cites the charity's website "it's all about positive parenting" as an example of how a brand can be developed in a combined print and interactive online strategy. The site has a virtual nanny who will respond to requests from parents for advice. "You will get back a personalised piece of advice saying, 'When Kevin is behaving like this, it would be best to...'," says the editorial director.

Paul Kerzeja, Redwood's creative director, has developed a fairground analogy to make sense of the way the company now markets to the public. Where once he saw himself in a bowling alley, trying to make maximum impact with a strike, now he is a pinball wizard, trying to ring as many buzzers and bells as possible and keep the game alive. "You build up a score by creating as much interaction as possible and extending that interaction for a long as possible," he explains.

But surely this means that Redwood's journalists must think of themselves more as marketers, and surely some of this video-making is encroaching on territory that is also coveted by advertising agencies, which increasingly offer clients viral content on new product launches to support more traditional ad campaigns?

Cremer says her journalists remain journalists. "They are having to think even more like journalists and be more creative. Now you have to think of more ways that you can get into the news cycle. If you are going to interview somebody, you can do a two-minute video and put that on as a chaser to the full feature coming up. It is quite liberating actually, they can think about all the places where they can get across what they want to say."

The switch from consumer to customer publishing has not been the culture shock she anticipated. For a start, the notion that consumer magazine editors are somehow divorced from the commercial world is outdated. "There aren't many editors in the world who aren't very conscious of themselves as marketers. Sitting in front of a client and pitching a new magazine idea does not feel much different from sitting in front of a fashion brand in Milan, wanting them to invest in your magazine with advertising. All magazines are, in the end, a business and I think consumer editors have become more and more aware of that."

There is also a far greater urgency. "It is much faster-moving here because we have new projects and pitches coming in and we need to move very quickly. Big consumer publishing houses will take a couple of years to launch something, whereas we can do it in a couple of months." And the nervousness surrounding publication of the bi-annual circulation figures is also a thing of the past. "There is a certain liberation from the news-stand," admits Cremer of her new company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. "The news-stand is a tough place to compete and you are quite restricted in terms of how brave you can be with covers and with your brand."

Partly thanks to this liberation from the news-stand, she says, "some of the best creative work is coming out of customer publishing agencies" and the sector is no longer regarded within magazine circles as "being slightly second-best".

"I haven't felt any snobbery," Cremer adds, "all I got from people was congratulations on a fantastic job. People do not now go into customer publishing and that's the end of it, they go in and out of it. It is a very interesting experience and I think you would come out of here being a better editor and a better journalist because you would have more awareness and be able to move so much more quickly."

But before she gets too comfortable, the prospect of economic downturn threatens this sector more than most. Cremer is aware of the danger, as you would expect of someone who oversees not only the Harvey Nichols magazine, Small, but also Engage, the publication produced for Jobcentre Plus. "You would have to have not seen a newspaper for six months to believe that the economy is still in a healthy state," she admits.

"In those times people, look very hard at where they get their value in terms of their marketing budget. So it is incumbent on us to really show the value of customer communications across all the platforms, and to show the return on their investment."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn