Pottermore is a home for Harry Potter fans, an e-place for the wizarding world, and CEO Susan Jurevics used her keynote at FutureBook to discuss their recent revamp.
That revamp removed the more interactive content like being assigned a house, replacing it with a news-based, update-driven resource for JK Rowling’s wizarding world. The two ideas are so stark and unsettled many, but Susan says their main goal remains to “engage and delight the wizarding world community.”
“We’re changing the definition of our brand,” she continues, “bringing in new members, publishers and non-publishers.” This is critical to facilitate change.
“Simply put, the world around us changed,” she adds, but, “people still love Harry Potter.” There’s a new generation reading them, but the way they read has moved on, so reaching them has profoundly shifted.
The smartphone statistics are staggering, and through utilising this and studies into usage of technology, they felt they had to evolve, especially when JK Rowling, the main creative force, evolved as a writer. She is no longer just an author, but a screen writer (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and has written a stage play (The Cursed Child). JK Rowling has multi-media ability.
“What has this got to do with us? Everything,” she says. “We become less relevant and accessible.” It’s about brand definition. Previously they just focussed on the book series, and now they can reach a new digital heart of JK Rowling. They’re mobile first, they’re partnering with retailers to sell their products there for the first time; refusal to adapt for smartphones is something that could put your business at risk down the line.
Pottermore want to engage on the go, be socially shareable, drive audiences. Joanne’s writing is the most critical aspect, but they cannot rely for daily updates from her, so that’s where the new writers come in. They report on the film and theatre as it moves forward, and they also spoke to Jim Kay, who illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Their customer is the young adult woman who grew up with the books, and that was the driving force for removing the gamified elements of the site, making it easy to access and tap or swipe your way through. Data proves that it’s more appealing and useful, and not just “for roleplaying superfans”. In releasing digital copies and seeing them soar to the top of charts, and data supporting their growth, they wanted to be “more open” and reach a greater consumer audience.
“We’re not yet done,” says Susan. The world is moving fast, and you can’t predict the media landscape, but there is a blurring of the boundaries that she believes Pottermore will be among those paving the way on. “After all, we’re in the imagination business.”