By Leigh Andrews
On Friday, 19 February, I had the opportunity to interview Khosi Siguqa, Editor of Move!
and Move! Parent
magazines, at the Thought24 offices in the heart of Sandton’s bustling business hub. We discussed Move!
’s recent 200th issue, as well as turning five years old in March; exciting developments in light of the future of the magazine; and the implications of being Editor of the biggest circulating black woman’s magazine.
Siguqa began by explaining that the publication goes beyond the simple formula of giving the female reader what they want: advice on relationships; career; family; beauty; food; and health, in that it caters for ‘the woman of today’ and ‘tells it like it is’. Move!
gives practical examples and unique insights as the staff have all ‘been there’. The editorial team is in touch with the realities of the magazine’s readers, as they are immersed in understanding this psychology, as well as the motivation behind how they live their lives. For example, if the reader typically drives to work and suddenly starts choosing to travel by taxi instead, there might be financial reasons behind this – other consumer magazines take these changes for granted. Move!
doesn’t merely tell of what happened, it also delves into why it happened, as today’s woman is a tapestry of different influences, held together by her culture and traditions, yet open to new ideas and influences.Move!
celebrated its 200th issue in the week of 10 February. Siguqa attributes the publication’s success in the tough economic climate to its supportive and insightful team of publishers and managers, who have kept operations above board over the past 14 months. She feels that the 200 issues are indicative of the hard work the team has put into the magazine, and proudly adds that the Move!
team has not once missed deadline. Another key factor of the magazine’s success has been its strong reader input basis. Siguqa loves hearing from readers as they are of a wide mix, and their input actually forms part of the magazine’s content, as participants in the process. She speaks to readers personally when they call in; reads each letter; and replies to SMSes and emails, of which the magazine receives hundreds each day. Siguqa feels that keeping in touch with today’s reader is imperative, as insights gleaned from readers last year may now be outdated. This forms part of the research into their target market, and Siguqa also gains insight from her aunts and cousins who read the magazine.
With regard to many publications feeling the crunch and shutting down, Siguqa was shocked to hear of Femina
magazine’s looming closure. She feels that the decision is not a reflection of the title’s editorial content, but rather that the closure is indicative of the economic climate and the prioritisation of factors within the industry. Siguqa says she feels personally affected, as colleagues and friends alike will be affected by this. Siguqa suggests that editors need to shift from measuring themselves and the quality of work produced, to knowing that even if your product shuts down, it is still the best out there. It is a sign of the market, not of you. She hopes to end the practice of measuring an editor’s value by the publication’s circulation figures. She says, “if you sign off all the copy and know that it’s the best, give it to the Universe and proudly state, ‘this is the best magazine I can put out there’.”
Certainly a practice that is proving effective, as Move!
is celebrating its fifth birthday in March. To celebrate, there will be a big team party and the festive theme will extend to readers, with the title giving away R25 000 over four weeks. Magazine content for the birthday issue resonates strongly with the ‘celebration’ theme, which include an interview with the top female bus driver, and a feature on why women are self-conscious of their body image. Multi-award winning songstress, Lira, will appear on the cover, sharing her philosophy on what’s kept her moving in difficult times - reminiscent of Move!
’s growth and celebrating its brand essence. The fifth birthday issue is not Move!
’s only cause for celebration – Siguqa is proud that the title has begun to collect awards that show its recognition in the industry, among these, AdMag’s Award for Magazine of the Year
and Best Women’s Magazine
(24 to 35) in 2008, and the best female consumer publication. Her most personally meaningful award was the recognition attributed to receiving the Neil Hamman Award for Best Magazine
2009 by parent company, Media24. Move!
’s appeal – and therefore, the reason it’s the most widely circulated women’s interest magazine - is that it is: “not big on marshmallow fluff or plain vanilla.” Siguqa says her readers have no time for fantasy as they have real challenges in life. The magazine is a direct reflection of this, inspiring women to make the best of their situation. They are very aware that life will get better if they are motivated to improve their circumstances, as there is a constant trend toward self-improvement and leading a fuller life. Siguqa says her readers are her inspiration in putting the magazine together.
In terms of competition in the market, Siguqa says it is not just magazines, as competition comes from: “anybody who can do what I do better.” She identified mobile as the next big thing as it is up-to-the-minute, stating that from their research, the average reader has two cell phones in their household. This alludes to constantly being ‘in the know’. Coupled with newspapers, which are daily; and television, which is up to the minute, a weekly magazine has many competing media channels to contend with.
Siguqa would advice aspiring journalists out there to focus on their craft. She is disappointed with the calibre of many journalists out there, and is worried that the quality of journalism is slowly eroding. Journalists are in such a hurry to get their work out there, but they need to marry this with a passion for their craft and a certain pride in the results of their efforts – it’s not just about rushing to beat your deadline and everyone else’s. She says, “We need to get more old school about it,” adding that passion and dedication to the craft will never be replaced by digital, as it has no heart. Siguqa speaks from experience, having been the youngest and first female to be Editor of Vaal Vision
and Vaal Weekly
newspapers, which taught her different writing styles; how to write for different target markets; as well as how to be an effective leader.
With this in mind, Move! Parent
was launched last year, just as the effects of the recession began to hit South Africa. This was her brainchild after identifying a gap in the market for a black parenting magazine. She says, “there was a desperate need in Move!
readers’ communication whenever the issue of parenting came up. This was largely due to the complexity of raising children in a multilingual; multicultural; and dynamic environment, which came with a post-apartheid, democratic South Africa. Hence our positioning statement: ‘Move! Parent
embraces both the modern and traditional elements of ‘Afropolitan’ parenthood’.”
Siguqa feels that it is not necessarily a bad thing to launch in a recession, as you know that things will only get better from then on. The market is there and the parenting sector is huge. Siguqa found that many black parents struggle with their children, and are looking for advice. As a result, the reception of the magazine has been fantastic, as people see it as a trusted brand extension of Move!
magazine. There is a re-launch of Move! Parent
magazine in the pipeline, to further differentiate the title from Move!
magazine in terms of a different gloss of paper and a redesign of layout, and the resulting new magazine will set a new standard in this market.
and Move! Parent
’s target market is becoming more computer-intensive in their day-to-day tasks, the magazines are looking into providing more online offerings. Siguqa feels it is important for a magazine to supplement its print copy with an online strategy – not simply a case of dumping the same content online, but offering readers something extra, of value – not forgetting the lucrative mobile channel for this, too.
Upcoming plans for the publications include the Move! Parent
re-launch, and a brand new mobile strategy. In terms of events, Siguqa would like to expand on the gospel sector, and already has plans gaining traction in this regard.
Siguqa relaxes behind the scenes by spending time with her family. She’s quick to point out that editing the publications is: "a 24/7 kind of gig”, which means that she now can’t read magazines without analysing what they have included. She indulges in light romance novels to switch off and is rejuvenated by spending time with her children, nephews and nieces. She is a busy babysitter and really enjoys spending time with ‘littlies’.