Telum Talks To… Ryan Swift, Managing Editor, Asia-Pacific Boating

Telum Talks To… Ryan Swift, Managing Editor, Asia-Pacific Boating

Big Congratulations on the relaunch of Asia-Pacific Boating in September! This is a big piece of good news for the local media market. Could you tell us more about the relaunch plan?
 
Thank you, it is exciting!
 
First, we are giving Asia-Pacific Boating magazine a huge redesign, to make it more youthful and energetic, to attract a new, more diverse audience. The content focus is being updated as well. Each section of the magazine will have its own distinct style, which is an upgrade from before.
 
We are also giving our digital presence a massive boost with a new website. The superyacht industry has traditionally been very print focused, in terms of marketing and media. But we are now seeing that the yacht sales journey is increasingly happening online. So we are keen to make sure that our digital presence grows quickly, to reach a new audience in Asia and beyond.
 
Taken together, these changes constitute what I consider to be a new era for the publication.
 
Asia-Pacific Boating magazine’s origins trace back to a simple news bulletin put out by the Hong Kong Yachting Association in 1976. I was Editor of the magazine from 2008 to 2013, when it was owned and managed by Blu Inc Media, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings. The title is now produced by Two2 Co. Ltd., a start-up publisher based in Hong Kong.
 
So, what's the difference now in terms of content and editorial strategy? 
In its earliest form, Asia-Pacific Boating, then known as Boating Monthly, was focused on regattas and sailing. Over the years, the focus switched to motor yachts, and then to superyachts and a high-end lifestyle more associated with cruising in the Mediterranean.
 
We will, of course, continue to feature beautiful yachts, but we are also focusing a lot more on a marine lifestyle, ocean conservation and marine tourism – what is sometimes referred to as “the Blue Economy”.
 
For example, marine biologists and conservationists want to establish marine protected areas over 30% of the ocean by 2030. One critical way of sustaining such projects is through marine tourism, often typified by yacht visits. The Asia-Pacific region is home to some of the world’s most important and biodiverse seas, and so we are linking up our editorial to this grand mission, and to highlight the amazing places of the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific Ocean.
 
In our first discussions on editorial strategy, we saw that most major yacht builders, especially in Europe and Australasia, were already talking about this. In print and especially online, we will be one of the first luxury yachting magazines worldwide to have sustained focus on this subject.
 
These new areas of focus on marine tourism and conservation also mean that we can enlarge our audience from yacht owners to those interested in diving, water-borne adventure, marine eco-tourism and more. We have also noticed that a lot of yacht builders are designing their boats for longer ranges and expedition-style cruising, and that works well with our new areas of concentration.
 
Please share more about Asia-Pacific Boating.
Asia-Pacific Boating’s target audience is ultra-high net worth individuals, typically though not exclusively men, who own yachts, wish to own yachts, or are yacht-curious.
 
Most of our focus will still be on yachts, but not exclusively so. For example, we have destination features that suit yacht owners, dive enthusiasts and wealthy vacationers alike. In future, I anticipate we’ll have editorial that looks at subjects ranging from private islands to clean tech in boating.
 
The print magazine is mostly distributed in Hong Kong and Singapore, but we aim to expand our distribution to all the major markets of Asia. Of course, by making our digital offering a key focus of our strategy, we will reach a global audience.
 
Is yachting popular in Hong Kong / Asia and why? 
For years, Hong Kong has been the centre of yachting activity in Asia. One dealer that covers the entire Asia region recently told me that Hong Kong yacht sales constituted over half of his Asia business.
 
Most wealthy families in Hong Kong own yachts, while community sailing and junk boats (prior to Covid-19 restrictions) are still very popular. People in Hong Kong like getting out on boats. The reason is that Hong Kong is blessed with great sailing conditions, beautiful local destinations, and a long seafaring tradition.
 
In this time of Covid-19, Hong Kong yacht dealers have been reporting huge sales, showing just how deep the popularity of yachting goes in Hong Kong, as people turn to their boats to do social distancing.
 
In the rest of Asia, yachting is slowly gaining popularity. Most people are still reluctant to venture out on the water in a yacht, but that is changing. The idea of owning a yacht and touring the world seems to be more popular among younger businessmen and women, who may have gone to school in Europe and the US and learned about yachting there.
 
And of course, PRs would like to know more about you, Ryan. Are you a yacht lover? Share with us a little bit of your journalism journey. 
It is hard to be the Editor of Asia-Pacific Boating and not be a yacht lover! I once owned a Taipan 28, an old, Hong Kong-built yacht, and I’ve had numerous friends with boats and yachts. Getting out on the water changes your view of Hong Kong. 
 
When I moved to Hong Kong in 2003, I started working on ad copy and marketing. Since then, I have had stints in editing and journalism, most recently working as a Correspondent at the Business desk of the South China Morning Post, before rejoining Asia-Pacific Boating.
 
Tips for PRs - how can they work with you efficiently? 
To be honest, editors and journalists have their own ways of working, so I can only convey my own preferences. When drafting and sending a press release, please be brief and include a link to high res images. Help facilitate a meeting with a client I’m showing interest in, so I can communicate with someone on the company side directly. Please don’t call right after sending a press release. I prefer to communicate via email, not WhatsApp. I appreciate a meeting to go through client lists and determine which ones are of editorial importance, over a cup of coffee.

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