Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Intercourse, The Magazine: No, It’s Not What You Are Thinking… The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor & Director Of Education Development, Catherine Despont.

August 18, 2014

INTERCOURSE-1INTERCOURSE BACK COVER-2 What’s in a name? I just did a blog about that very topic. However, I didn’t include a magazine that is relatively new and devoted to the creation, synthesis and discussion of art, science and education.

The name of the magazine is Intercourse and just mentioning that moniker is cause for conversation. Indeed, isn’t that the sign of captivating content?

The magazine was created within the confines of Pioneer Works, a non-profit organization that according to its Founder & Director, artist Dustin Yellin, fearlessly bridges the chasm between disparate disciplines.

TheBuilding15 (2) The organization is housed in a building built in 1866 and was first occupied by Pioneer Iron Works, one of the largest machine manufacturers in the United States- constructing ships, boilers, tanks, sheet iron, detachable railroad tracks, grain elevators, and machinery for sugar plantations. The building was completely destroyed by a devastating fire in 1881 and rebuilt shortly thereafter.

As for the magazine, Yellin describes it better than I ever could in his letter from the editor in the current issue of Intercourse:

“Ballet or blitzkrieg, Intercourse is not the sickeningly sweet swill used to fatten you at the trough. It is not cotton candy confirming old prejudices. Burning up in the synaptic pop, boiling over in the cosmic crucible, drowning in a million possible futures, it is a swath of spinning galactic organisms coalescing. Intercourse is a capsule to treat tunnel-vision tremors. Anyone can swallow it. You’ll soon feel it dissolving, swimming up your bloodstream, mincing and chirping, to make your beautiful brain grab someone and dance a jig.”

catherinedespontCatherine Despont is the Editor of the magazine and is in charge of Education and Editorial Development. I reached out to Catherine to discuss the magazine’s title and mission and discover more about Pioneer Works in general. The Mr. Magazine™ interview follows and I think you’ll be both amazed and inspired by her answers.

But first the sound-bites…

On the background of the magazine’s title: For us it was about being in this space in a world that was increasingly virtual, when this space is really about being physically present with other people and to that sense, an idea of both intellectual interchange and dialogue, but also physical presence, community and closeness is tied up in the word Intercourse for us.

On why they decided to do a print product instead of just a digital entity: Because the printed product really has the physical presence and so much of this space is about the physical.

On consumer reactions to the ink on paper magazine: People think it’s very beautiful and say it feels like a real object. It has more of a book-like quality because of the format.

On the drive behind the magazine and the non-profit organization, Pioneer Works: To me it’s the opportunity to start a different conversation here. To look at art not just as a fine art object, but as a creative methodology that can be used to understand the world and to approach any kind of subject.

On how they can assess the success of the magazine and Pioneer Works: I believe that step-by-step we’re experiencing success with all we’ve done so far. It’s just a matter of getting the word out to people and getting people to the space and obviously getting them engaged with the magazine, even if they’re in cities that aren’t next door to us.

On what keeps her up at night: Deadlines keep me up at night, dreams of who I could entice into this building; I’m constantly thinking about who I can reach out to, who I can talk to, who I can bring in and do a lecture with and who I can start a conversation with.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Catherine Despont, Editor, Intercourse Magazine…

Samir Husni: My first question has to be about the title. To see a magazine called Intercourse has to stop you. Can you give me a little bit of background on the title?

Catherine Despont: It’s important to know that the magazine is associated with a large exhibition space in Brooklyn called Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation. And it’s a 25,000 square foot old factory space and it houses a museum, with museum-style exhibitions. We have art and science residencies, so artists and scientists have studios in the space for anywhere from 1-6 months to work on their projects. And we also have a big education department.

And this whole project is the vision of an artist named Dustin Yellin. Dustin is an artist who makes these large sculptures out of glass. He has very big studios and he’s always had kind of a stream of having a place where artists can work together in a common space and just share ideas. He’s always had environments where lots of people have been working together at one time. He had a large studio in Red Hook, just up the street from this space for many years. This place became available and it was always his dream to buy it. And so he bought it just under three years ago and initially thought that he would live in it and have his studio in it, but this project has grown exponentially in that time, so he’s moved his studio out of it, but now runs it and oversees the project.

I’m the editor of the magazine, which ties together all the contents that comes out of this space and I also do the educational programming here.

To answer the question about the title Intercourse, it was always a word that initially Dustin thought he might call the space, but it was a bad choice for a lot of reasons. Intercourse really, obviously, has this idea of discourse, of interchange and catches the eye, but for us it was about being in this space in a world that was increasingly virtual, when this space is really about being physically present with other people and to that sense, an idea of both intellectual interchange and dialogue, but also physical presence, community and closeness is tied up in the word Intercourse for us.

Samir Husni: Here is this community of artists; you have this whole venue – why did you decide to actually do a printed product, in addition to everything else you’re already doing? Why not just the web or digital?

intercourse spread-4 Catherine Despont: Because the printed product really has the physical presence and so much of this space is about the physical. And the idea is we don’t just have artists here; we have artists and scientists; we have a Microscopy Lab, geneticists in residence, we’re working with a new community bio-genetics lab to set up a wet-lab for people to actually do bioengineering here.

For us the space is really about access to subjects and disciplines that would be traditionally sort of reserved for institutions or university settings. And we felt that we really did need the space where lots of different ideas could come together so that a person who is a creative thinker can access any idea, resource or type of person that they need in order to bring their vision to it as well as to voice their expression.

And in that sense it’s also important to have a printed document, both as a way of archiving, as a way of having a tangible trace of the work that’s going on here and also because a lot of internet magazines and print magazines in general also tend to have this very specialized feeling. Either they’re specialized to a particular content or they’re directly targeted to a specific audience.

And it was important to us to have a document that captured the compendium, like the full range of the discussions that happen in this place. The magazine has been our best resource for visitors coming to the space and in trying to get people to understand what we’re doing in a nutshell.

cathedralspace.4 (2) The space itself is very dramatic; it’s a former ironworks and it was built in 1866 and it has this large cathedral-like hall because they originally built train cars in it. There’s something very stunning about walking into it and seeing it. People have a hard time understanding how all of our programming comes together until they see the space and so the magazine is another platform for us to get people to understand the scope and the range of what we’re talking about.

Samir Husni: When people pick up the magazine for example at Pioneer Works; have you been able to track any reactions to it?

Catherine Despont: People think it’s very beautiful and say it feels like a real object. It has more of a book-like quality because of the format. The word Intercourse has this very interesting resonance against the image of the cover that it’s on, because it’s such a fine art image. So immediately there is this tension between the actual word and the elegance of the drawing that’s on the cover. It’s a very dense document and there is a lot of different material in it. There is a lot of strange sort of connections between the articles and people are just very excited. It’s like their way of touching and holding what’s been going on here.

We have so many events and classes, so many exhibits that people like to feel like they’ve taken a part of the place away with them when they leave and that they’ve interacted with it.

Samir Husni: What’s the drive behind Pioneer Works and the magazine? What is it that keeps Catherine going every single day?

Catherine Despont: To me, it’s establishing a new paradigm in education and the creative arts. I think we have a real crisis in education right now; it’s much too expensive and it’s incredibly specialized and competitive. I think it really stalls ideas from just reaching their fullest expression because of the silos that things exist in.

To me it’s the opportunity to start a different conversation here. To look at art not just as a fine art object, but as a creative methodology that can be used to understand the world and to approach any kind of subject.

What drives me is just feeling like I’m really at the forefront of a new movement, in terms of education, in terms of the way we understand the relations between creativity and science and the way in which all of these things can have real effects on people and their lives. So this is really about a community of change and an experiment in envisioning what kind of structures we want for the future; how we want to learn about the world and how we want to engage with the world.

Samir Husni: How can you assess your success; when can you say that you’ve met your goal?

Catherine Despont: We’re launching new programs all the time, for example, when we have 500 people come through our door for events. All of this when we have hundreds of applications for our residency program; all of those things signal success to us.

We’re still in the process of capitalizing within the space and there are a number of building projects that we want to complete. We’re building a science lab, a music recording studio; we want to build a woodshop and a metal shop and an observatory and eventually we see this operating as a canvas.

Once we’ve secured an endowment and once we have people regularly enrolled in this full time as a school and people see us as a resource for a new way of thinking, I think that will definitely be success. But I believe that step-by-step we’re experiencing success with all we’ve done so far. It’s just a matter of getting the word out to people and getting people to the space and obviously getting them engaged with the magazine, even if they’re in cities that aren’t next door to us.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Catherine Despont: I just wish there were more hours in the day to do the work that we have to do. Deadlines keep me up at night, dreams of who I could entice into this building; I’m constantly thinking about who I can reach out to, who I can talk to, who I can bring in and do a lecture with and who I can start a conversation with.

It’s the most exciting opportunity I’ve had and my mind is constantly racing about making the most of it.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Traveling the World One New Magazine at a Time… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

July 31, 2014

When many people travel they attempt to learn words and phrases from their host countries in order to communicate and understand the local citizens better – and while that is a most noble and natural cause; when Mr. Magazine™ travels, not only is communication a priority, but also the word “new” is paramount on his list. Whether it’s nouvelle, noveau, jadīd or neu; Mr. Magazine™ revels in the many ways to say the word new.

husniinriga At the newsstands in Riga, Latvia.

Why, you might ask? Because new inserted before the word magazine is an exciting prospect to me and when you put the word stand behind it (OK – plus an extra “s”), the word newsstand is born. And I ask you; what could be more thrilling than new magazines and newsstands in foreign countries?

I can’t think of anything.

While most people when traveling to foreign lands are picking up a guide or a map to the best museums or the best places to visit, such as the National Museum of Beirut, Belem Tower in Lisbon or Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, Mr. Magazine™ is searching for newsstands, asking locals to show him where the best in the city he’s visiting is located and the quickest route to get there.

And visiting I did. In the last five months or so, my travels took me to Cape Town, South Africa…Riga, Latvia…Paris, France…Amsterdam, The Netherlands….Lisbon, Portugal…Helsinki, Finland…Munich, Germany and Beirut, Lebanon to name a few.

I have delivered presentations and seminars ranging from trends in magazines to the need to place the customer or the audience first in these wonderful countries and while the presentations and the meetings went very well, it is that newsstand street education that was the secret ingredient that held all the seminars and presentations together.

A newsstand in Riga No shortage of magazines in Riga, Latvia.

There is a lot to be learned from a visit to a newsstand anywhere in the world, they remain the best reflector of any society and the latest magazines found there are the new blood of any newsstand. And as I traveled the globe this summer, it dawned on me that this revelation must be shared to be appreciated. So typically, I began to buy these new magazines, searching nooks and crannies of cities so beautiful, they took my breath away, to find sometimes quaint, sometimes immense newsstands across the world. And from my determined hunts, I gathered some of the finest and most creative ink on paper products that I have seen in a long time.

So for your viewing pleasure, take a look at the treasures I brought back from a few of the world’s newsstands and…Vive le pouvoir des revues imprimées!

Until my ship sails again…
Mr. Magazine™
© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014.

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Coming Home: God Bless Magazines…One. A Magazine and Bella Grace: Two Blessed Beauties

July 29, 2014

samirinlebanon As some of you may know, I took a much-needed vacation during the month of July to visit family (and newsstands) in Lebanon. It was nice to find upon my return to the office that the publishing world continued on without Mr. Magazine™, even though I’m sure it was extremely difficult – please note the wry tone clearly audible in that last statement. The reason I know magazines went on without my normal eagle-eye upon them is due to two pieces of very pleasant reading material that were amongst my mountain of mail.

The first is called One. A Magazine. To explain the uniqueness of this particular ink on paper product, allow me to quote from the introductory letter that I received along with the magazine:

One. A Magazine, the magazine for creatives in advertising and design, has announced that it is transitioning from an online publication to an all-new medium. The new format, a thin material produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically derived from wood, rags or grasses, called “paper,” will be launched at The One Club Gallery in Manhattan on July 16.

One-62 Notice the magazine’s own sense of wry humor in describing the move from digital to print. The description is priceless. And while Yash Egami, Director of Content of The One Club made it clear in the letter that print would be their main focus, he did say they would continue to publish an online version temporarily to satisfy the digerati.

The intro letter uses tongue-in-cheek humor to poke fun at the new “8.1” version of the magazine, calling on the array of boastful features it offers: from the crinkling and crackling sound of turning pages to the fact that this new version can be read, bent, folded rolled or turned into a paper airplane if the customer should want.

The One Club, producer of the prestigious One Show and Creative Week, is the world’s foremost non-profit organization recognizing creative excellence in advertising and design. The One Show honors the best work across all disciplines, including Advertising, Interactive, Design and Branded Entertainment.

As I perused the simplistic artistry of the premiere issue, I realized that print is the most interesting of bedfellows; nowhere online could I ever experience the sensation this folded and stapled product evoked within me, nowhere. And while unconventional in its presentation, it was totally mesmerizing within the covers. One. A Magazine basically rocks.

Bella Grace-61 The second surprise that sent a breath of fresh air blowing my way was Bella Grace, the latest contribution from Stampington & Company. With the tagline: Life’s A Beautiful Adventure and a first cover that certainly sat out to prove that fact; Bella Grace is one beautiful magazine. No one could say it better than Christen Olivarez, Editor-in-Chief:

Bella Grace is meant to be savored. It is meant to get tossed in your beach bag, or tucked under your pillow to enjoy before bed. It is meant to be read over and over again. It is meant to inspire you to see the beauty and the magic that surround you, no matter where you are. It is meant to be written in and dog-eared It is meant to accompany you on this beautiful adventure called life.

Bella Grace is a 160-page book-a-zine which is quite the departure for Stampington & Company, who is known for their arts and crafts-type publications. Throughout the pages of the first issue there are striking photographs and beautifully-penned stories that touch the heart and soul of the reader.

There are unique features to this beauty as well such as a folding book-jacket cover, more than 12 thought-provoking prompts with worksheets, where readers can fill in their responses directly on the page; and zero outside advertising. Bella Grace is scheduled to hit newsstands beginning August 1.

The feel and touch of this magazine is unbelievable. When your fingertips flex across the pages, the sensation is full and complete, an experience not easily forgotten. Bella Grace is exquisite.

Sharing these two wonderful additions to the family of print with you has been not only a pleasure, but an honor. My advice: get your own copies as soon as possible.

photo Well, the vacation is over and we had a wonderful time. But it’s great to be back at home. And to steal a line from the August cover of Esquire Magazine: God Bless Magazines.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014.

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First Half of 2014 Ends with a Bang! 123 New Magazines Launched + 311 Book-a-Zines.

June 30, 2014

The first half of 2014 ended up with a bang. More new magazines and book-a-zines arrived at the marketplace this first half compared with the same period in 2013.

A total of 434 new magazines arrived on the marketplace divided into 123 new titles published with an intended frequency of four times a year or more and 311 book-a-zines.

The aforementioned numbers reflect an increase of 23 titles from the 100 regular frequency titles published in the first half of 2013 and 10 more book-a-zines from the 301 book-a-zines published in the same period in 2013.

The variety of the titles continue to be amazing, even for one who has followed this industry since 1978. Below are a few late arrivals…

Animal Tales-16All thiings sports-18Bizou-19LGBT Wed-17New American-15Underground-13

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Parents Latina: Born from the Womb of Data — Reaching Hispanic Millennial Mothers. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Carey Witmer, President – Meredith Parents Network & Enedina Vega, Vice-President/Publisher– Meredith Hispanic Media.

June 30, 2014

“We have a lot of data that shows in most instances print is a very important component to the media mix.” Carey Witmer

Parents Latina Cover Parents Latina, a new English-language magazine focused on serving U.S. Hispanic millennial mothers, one of the fastest-growing demographics in the United States, is about to take its place on the newsstands and the powers-that-be behind the new print product are enthusiastic and energetic about consumer reception.

Carey Witmer is President of Meredith Parents Network and Enedina Vega is Vice-President and Publisher, Meredith Hispanic Media and both women are confident the magazine will be a great addition to the Meredith portfolio, so much so that Parents Latina will have a guaranteed rate base of 700,000.

As the most respected brand in the lifestyle category focusing on moms, the Parents brand, along with Meredith Hispanic Media, plan on Parents Latina serving a unique niche of millennial, Hispanic moms across the country.

So sit back and get ready to see why the Parents brand is still going strong today and launching a print product that’s sure to be a success…the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Carey Witmer & Enedina Vega – Parents Latina Magazine.

But first the sound-bites…


On why the Parents brand is launching Parents Latina with a guaranteed rate base of 700,000:
We saw the changing demographic and that really led us to launching what we’re launching. We were seeing what was happening with the language questions we were getting from marketers and what we were observing from our consumers as well.

On the unique selling feature of Parents Latina:
There are some nuances just in terms of how she feels about family, which varies somewhat from the general market. So she does have specific needs that we will be addressing.

On whether they’re looking for a new audience or to just add to the consumer reception they already have:
I would say that we are looking to expand the data base of women that we reach.

On the stumbling blocks that they’ve faced during the preparation of the launch:
The hurdle really is to educate the advertising community and the agencies about the nuances of the Hispanic market because as marketers it’s easy for us to put people into silos and to think of segments as being homogeneous and we know that the Hispanic market is not.

On whether the message is on selling the power of print:
We have done quite a bit of research on Moms and media, so we have a lot of research that shows that this is a market segment that consumes media and it’s really not a question of digital versus print or broadcast; this is a multi-channel information-consuming market segment.

On their most pleasant surprise during this venture:
I like the phone calls; people calling us, that’s hard to come by. And from big companies that matter.

On what keeps Carey Witmer up at night: For me, it’s discovering what the next big thing is that’s going to matter to the consumer and therefore matter to Meredith.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Carey Witmer & Enedina Vega – Parents Latina Magazine…

Samir Husni: Can you tell me about the birth of the idea; what did you do before you decided to have a Parents Latina?

Enedina Vega: We worked on the strategy for almost a year, just looking at what all of the company’s assets were when it came to the Hispanic population across the company’s portfolio. We worked to identify who was in our data base and who we were reaching across digital.

And as a result we’ve found that we are reaching 6.6 million unique viewers monthly who are Latina across the Meredith data base and that we’re reaching these women with content that was both in English and in Spanish. And that’s a pretty significant number.

And then of course, the opportunity that we uncovered with this particular market’s segment: Latina millennial moms in print.

We really worked for a period of time to identify where the pockets and the assets were within the company that we could monetize and take to market in a unique way. And part of that was really focusing on our data base, the 6.6 million that we have in digital and now Parents Latina.

And we looked at a number of different, once we focused in on something in the parenthood space; we looked at many different iterations of what it could be and what we would call it. We had long meetings about what the name would be and then finally we agreed on the Parents name and we did some consumer testing and it just came back so incredibly positive. And we thought it would, we weren’t sure, but we thought that would be the case, so that really led us to where we are today.

Samir Husni: And what is the launch date?

Carey Witmer: The first issue will be out in, hopefully, April, 2015.

Samir Husni: Why now? Why are you launching a 700,000 guaranteed rate base magazine, Parents Latina, in today’s marketplace?

CareyWitmer_8.12Carey Witmer: We believe that there’s a real opportunity here. And Enedina and I and several others have been looking at this opportunity for quite some time. We were thinking about doing something last year, but I’m glad we waited to really understand marketplace. We saw the changing demographic and that really led us to launching what we’re launching. We were seeing what was happening with the language questions we were getting from marketers and what we were observing from our consumers as well. We wanted to put our toe in the water, in terms of an English-oriented magazine for Hispanics. And we examined the categories where we thought we had a lot of credibility and where there was room to play.

And then we began to study what was happening with the second generation Hispanics in that 18 to 30 year old segment, coupled with the fact that we have this incredible, iconic trusted brand with over 90% awareness in the Parents name. It just became really clear that Parents Latina was, we thought, clearly a winner.

Vega, Enedina 8.13_3 Enedina Vega: In spite of the downturn in the economy and the recession from 2008, the Latina market is a very dynamic growing market. So it’s sort of the bright spot for the American economy today, if you will. It’s kind of going counterintuitive, because it is the population segment that’s growing and fielding the middle class.

And one of the other things that we’re seeing, in terms of media consumption is that this consumer base does consume media and she does read magazines.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me what’s going to be the unique selling feature of Parents Latina and what it will offer the Hispanic second generation that they can’t get from any other source?

Carey Witmer: We believe that by and large the English-dominant millennial mom is an individual who primarily is born in the United States and we believe her experience as a bilingual, bi-cultural mom is different from that of other moms. And there really is no publication at this point, not even significantly digital, or broadcast that addresses her uniqueness.

So she is someone who is living her life in two cultures and balancing that, to some degree, in two languages. So there are some unique opportunities to address in what she’s going through.

There are some nuances just in terms of how she feels about family, which varies somewhat from the general market. There are health concerns that face her that are a little different than the general market. So she does have specific needs that we will be addressing.

Samir Husni: Do you think that those 700,000 Hispanic women are adding to the 100 million women data base that Meredith has or they’re already there, getting the other Hispanic magazines that Meredith already publishes? Are you looking for a new audience? Or is this audience already part of your data base?

Carey Witmer: I would say that we are looking to expand the data base of women that we reach, there may be a small degree of duplication, but the opportunity is to expand and reach women who we don’t have as part of our Meredith family.

Samir Husni: What have been some of the stumbling blocks that you have encountered concerning this launch?

Carey Witmer: Well, most people are excited and people who are in the know completely understand the opportunity and are looking for content that is being directed to these millennial moms who are English-preferred, so the reaction has been great.

The hurdle really is to educate the advertising community and the agencies about the nuances of the Hispanic market because as marketers it’s easy for us to put people into silos and to think of segments as being homogeneous and we know that the Hispanic market is not. And it’s really just getting the message out and educating the clients.

Samir Husni: Is part of that message selling them on the power of print? Everybody tells us that we live in a digital age and I agree; we are in a digital age, but what’s the power of a printed magazine in 2015? And how can you sell that?

Carey Witmer: That’s a big question. We have done quite a bit of research on Moms and media, so we have a lot of research that shows that this is a market segment that consumes media and it’s really not a question of digital versus print or broadcast; this is a multi-channel information-consuming market segment. We have a lot of data that shows in most instances print is a very important component to the media mix. And we feel very confident just on the basis of the number of advertisers that we do have across our Parents network print portfolio that there is enough interest and commitment to the medium that makes this viable.

Samir Husni: It seems that we have to prove that print is a viable medium quite often due to the “digital” age, while people are picking up digital without even thinking about a return on their investment. So with that in mind, what is the power of the brand Parents?

Carey Witmer: Well, we have our portfolio, which is a beautiful thing for us. We’ve worked really hard to organize it in such a way that we have something for everyone across all platforms.

We have American baby, which is pregnancy and newborn and the compliment to that is a combination of Ser Padres Espera and Ser Padres Bebé. We have Parents, of course, which is the mega brand. We have Family Fun and that is a different kind of brand, but it’s in the group as well and then Ser Padres and now Parents Latina.

So we have total market, we have in-language, we have the English solution for the English dominant Hispanic and optimally we’ll be able to calibrate the circulation levels of the entire portfolio based on how the population changes over the course of time. We feel like the strategy is really smart.

Enedina Vega: And another thing is that a lot of the research that’s out there now has surprisingly reinforced the fact that the millennial generation is actually embracing magazines as much as previous generations.

Carey Witmer: The recent MRI saw a pretty sizeable uptick in millennial to our reading print magazines. We have some circulation programs that we are doing with the Parents and American Baby brands that are going quite well that we’re excited about.

We think that motherhood is a real entry point for millennials into print; it’s when she needs trusted, branded content for the health and wellbeing of her family. So that’s one of the drivers for her to come to our portfolio.

Samir Husni: Do you think it’s better for the brand Parents to be almost the only player on the marketplace now? Have you benefited from that or how do you handle it when people come up to you and say, “It’s either Parents or nothing?”

Carey Witmer: There are lots of different ways; a lot of Pure Plays that are digital. So there’s a lot of competition, but it’s not just in print. We’re not the only game in town, but we believe we’re the most effective.

It’s interesting too; we’ve had some discussions with various digital websites over the last several years in our space and many of those in the parenthood/mom space, many of those Pure Plays are looking for a print solution because clients are looking for that 360 surround sound and of course we have that.

Samir Husni: When you were talking about all the different brands; it’s as though I’m hearing about all these titles that appear to be adjacencies around Parents, which seems to be the core of the brand and then everything else is surrounding it.

Carey Witmer: This is just really another edition to the group of offerings that we have that does include digital and data base marketing and all of our other capabilities across the company, including video and mobile, so it’s really an invigorated way when it comes to overall parenting content for the Parents network at Meredith.

Samir Husni: Steve Lacy (Meredith CEO) told me at one time that, I think he was referring to Better Homes and Gardens; that only 2% of revenues were coming from digital and 98% from print. Is it the same at Parents?

Carey Witmer: Our digital is more than 2%, I don’t know when he said that, but for Parents.com it’s a big contributor to the overall portfolio, but make no mistake print does the heavy lifting in terms of the revenue generation for this group.

Samir Husni: What was the most pleasant surprise when you announced the launch of this magazine?

Carey Witmer: I like the phone calls; people calling us, that’s hard to come by. And from big companies that matter.

Samir Husni: Cosmopolitan launched Cosmo Latina and it was a success and they increased the frequency, any chance that you’ll go from quarterly later to something more frequent? Is there a strategic plan? Is quarterly just the beginning?

Carey Witmer: What we do know is that we’re going to calibrate frequency and distribution optimally to what we’re seeing in the consumer marketplace.

Enedina Vega: And with the Meredith model, the consumer drives everything at the end of the day. So we’ll watch that and monitor it and make decisions based on that. We’ve done that with the other brands that you’ve seen us put out over the last few years. We base everything on consumer calibration.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Carey Witmer: For me, it’s discovering what the next big thing is that’s going to matter to the consumer and therefore matter to Meredith. We obviously have to have the right portfolio of products that can engage the consumer in a meaningful way, but it also has to have the proper return on investment for the company as well. We think about that a lot.

Enedina Vega: For me, since I’m focused on the Hispanic space, is the fact that this is a growing, dynamic and changing consumer and demographic population.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Rights to excerpts and links to the blog are hereby permitted with proper credit. Copying the entire blog is NOT permitted without permission from the author and is a violation of the copyright laws.

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Magazine Conversations: 27 Down-to-Earth Mr. Magazine™ Conversations with Industry Leaders. A Mr. Magazine™ New Book.

June 23, 2014

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 9.28.10 PM Magazine Conversations is the latest book from Mr. Magazine™ celebrating the magazine and magazine media industry and the people who create, edit, design and publish magazines. The first volume of Magazine Conversations include interviews with 27 leaders from the magazine industry and is published by the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi.

“Samir’s access to industry leaders is unmatched in the marketplace,” writes Michael Simon, executive vice president for Publishers Press in his introduction to the new book. He adds, “He (Samir) can take you into the executive suite, the art departments and copy desks of new and seasoned publishers. In an environment as challenging as publishing Samir’s passion and his interviews with those who have succeeded in the face of the long odds, will provide you with ideas, and hopefully some perspectives that you haven’t considered before.”

The book contains conversations with:
Bowlers Journal’s Keith Hamilton
Business Blackbox’s Geoff Wasserman and Jordana Megonigal
Cake & Whiskey’s Megan and Mike Smith
Dinosaur’s Steven Gdula
Domino’s Beth Brenner
Dr. Oz The Good Life’s Kristine Welker
Dwell Media’s Michela O’Connor
Esquire’s David Granger
Essence’s Vanessa Bush
Fitness’ Eric Schwarzkoph
Forbes’ Randall Lane
Good Housekeeping’s Rosemary Ellis and Pat Haegele
InStyle’s Ariel Foxman
Kuier’s (South Africa) Kay Karriem
Live Happy’s Karol DeWulf Nickell
Lose It!’s (South Africa) Suzy Brokensha
Men’s Health’s Ronan Gardiner and Bill Phillips
Naked Food’s Margarita Restrepo and Peter Walsh
Newsweek’s Etienne Uzac and Jim Impoco
Parade’ Maggie Murphy and Jack Haire
The Pitchfork Review’s Chris Kaskie
Politico’s Susan Glasser
Redbook’s Jill Herzig and Mary Morgan
The Saturday Evening Post’s Steve Slon
TIME’s Nancy Gibbs
World Wildlife’s Alex Maclennan

Magazine Conversations is available for a $50.00 donations payable to the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. Send a check or money order payable to the Magazine Innovation Center at 114 Farley Hall, Meek School of Journalism and New Media, University, MS 38677. Magazine Conversations is published by the Magazine Innovation Center and is printed and sponsored by Publishers Press.

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Ellen Levine: The Launch Queen of Successful Magazines. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Hearst Magazines’ Editorial Director

June 11, 2014

“I believe that you have to be the reader. You can’t try and force the reader to be you. So you have to give them what they want and understand it emotionally, understand the voice and the need.” Ellen Levine

HCI Being responsible for some really big magazine titles that have been around for a very long time is only one of Ellen Levine’s job duties as the first-ever Editorial Director of Hearst Magazines; she also knows what it means to develop and strengthen the flock. Dr. Oz The Good Life, Food Network Magazine, HGTV Magazine are just a few of her success stories while at Hearst.

If anyone in the magazine industry deserves the title “launch queen,” it is Ellen Levine. And not only launch queen, but successful magazines launch queen. She succeeded where others failed and she continues to do so. Levine is the no non-sense editor who puts her money where her mouth is. In fact, she is the “less-talk” and “more-do” editor. Levine’s mantra for success is becoming the reader, learning to look at each one of her titles through the eyes of her audience and connecting with each individual person in a very human, very empathetic way.

I spoke with Ms. Levine recently about her past and present accomplishments and her secrets of keeping that audience engagement.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Ellen Levine, Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines.

But first the sound-bites:

On her recipe for audience connectivity: You need to be able to give them what they didn’t know they wanted or needed in a way that’s appealing.

On her secret for keeping her feet firmly planted on the ground: I really don’t know my secret. I like to define myself as a normal reader when I read all the magazines that we do.

On what keeps her up at night: I am usually up at three in the morning, saying, we should have fixed that headline or that cover line.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Ellen Levine, Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines…

Samir Husni: You’ve launched and supervised more successful magazines than probably any female editor that I can think of; what’s your secret recipe for that editorial connectivity with an audience in these changing times? Things have changed so much and yet, from your days at Woman’s Day until the present with Dr. Oz The Good Life, you’re always able to captivate that audience out there.

Ellen Levine: That’s a good question. I believe that you have to be the reader. You can’t try and force the reader to be you. So you have to give them what they want and understand it emotionally, understand the voice and the need. In terms of that, it doesn’t mean you have to have multi-personalities, but you have to be open to what they want. You’re not a teacher, you’re not forcing things. And you need to be able to give them what they didn’t know they wanted or needed in a way that’s appealing.

Everybody wants health information, but they don’t want it the same way. Some want it in an academic voice, some want it in a kind of sillier voice and there is an intimacy that you have to feel. You can’t intellectualize it.

Samir Husni: You also keep your feet on the ground. A lot of editors who have achieved less than you have aren’t so grounded. You see their heads above the clouds; what’s your secret?

Ellen Levine: I don’t know. I’m sorry. I really don’t know my secret. I like to define myself as a normal reader when I read all the magazines that we do. Maybe I have so many different personalities that I should be hospitalized.

But in fact, I can just get into it. And we look to hire staffs that have the same wonderful journalism skills and are very embedded in that fact, but also have understanding and empathy with the reader, none of the holier-than-thou attitudes. You come to us and we will educate you. We want to speak in a different language in each magazine and of course, with somebody like Oz it’s very easy to capture what the energy should be.

On other brands where you’re trying to read the needs of the Food Network person, the best lesson that we ever learned, first of all was to hire brilliant editors like Maile Carpenter, Sara Peterson and now Jill Herzig; you have to understand from that reader exactly how to approach her.

The one other anecdote on Food Network, which is very much of an example, is that we went into focus groups, we did two prototypes and we went into those groups thinking, oh my gosh, what are we going to name this magazine? We liked Spoon, we liked Butter; you know we went through all these names and we’re putting them out there in the focus groups and one of the women said, “I don’t care what you call it, I’m calling it Food Network Magazine.” And there became the name.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Ellen Levine: Everything, my children and my husband. But really, toward the closing of every magazine issue, I am usually up at three in the morning, saying, we should have fixed that headline or that cover line.

Samir Husni: Thank you.
© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
Rights to excerpts and links to the blog are hereby permitted with proper credit. Copying the entire blog is NOT permitted and is a violation of the copyright laws.

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A Record-Breaking Month In New Consumer Magazine Launches: What A May and If I May… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

June 2, 2014

A Month’s Bevy Of New Launches Is Unbelievable! 96 New Titles In All & 27 Of Them Are With Regular Frequency…

From titles whose premier issue didn’t make the cut due to a non-newsstand presence to their second or third issue that did; May 2014 has proven to be a successful month for new launches. 96 new faces smiled back at me as I joyfully shopped and purchased each one…27 are with regular frequency; titles such as Anglers Journal, Bible Fun, and TVTOR show the diverse spectrum of topics that tempted magazine lovers in May…and from the 69 special issues; there was anything from Erotic Ink to book-a-zines paying tribute to the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

All-in-all, May was a spectacular month for new launches. Sit back and have a glass of lemonade as summertime approaches, and we say hello and goodbye to the month of May 2014. Something tells me we won’t be seeing the last of some of these titles from the frequency list…

not a newsstands So for the critics who continue to attack the state of new magazines and its future, all I have to say is that they will continue to talk nonsense when it comes to the health and pulse of the industry and the newbies it brings to the marketplace day in and day out. Some like to talk “non-sense,” others “some-sense,” but as for me and my blog, you are not going to see anything here but commonsense combined with actual field research and study. No pontifications from behind the desk, in the den or inside the walls of academia… (Photo Illustration: The Critics and I)

With all the problems facing the newsstands, (and I know there are a lot) single copy revenues are still far far higher than any digital revenue being generated by the so called “digital magazines.”

Enough said, relax, and take a look at all the new titles. Enjoy!

Here are the new launches with frequency:

12B-12Angler's Journal-5Angler's Journal-35Back to Absolute-16BBQ America-26Bible Fun-13BOSS-30Club Kink-28Code Breakers-27Design Anthology-17Diabetes Self-Management-19Gluten Free Baking4Home & Hill-18Jughead & Archie-25M&V-22Nautilus-32PEOPLE ESPANOL-23Prairie Style-31Red Hot Rock 2-7Red Hot Rock-6Samata-15The Bight-14The OGM-21TV Tor-8TV Tor2-9Ultratravel-10US Veteran's Magazine-20Vapor Digest-11Washington Examiner-24Willow & Sage-29

And now for the specials:

2014 World Cup-34A Taste of Summer-66Afghanistan-51Backyard Style-55Beach Body-49Beach Cottages-65Best of Flea Market-97Best Summer Knits-71Big Boy-40Black Heritage-38Build A Shed-63Climate Shift-44Collector's Edition US-75D-Day 70th Anniversary-52D-Day-60Derek Jeter-82Dragon2-86Dwell-84easy edible gardening-12Erotic Ink-96Farmer's Market Cookbook-81Freedom Summer-58French Style-64From Garden to Plate-42Gluten-Free Cookbook-88Good & fresh-100Great Garden Design-67Grilling recipes-69GRIT-94How to paint anything-77Jackie-61Jordan-70LIFE D-Day-47Living-87MAD-41Man Caves-74Modern Shooter-50National Geographic-83No Bake Recipes-73Out there style-46People Amazing Pets-80Photo Pocketing-98Pope Francis-37Puppies 101-93Quilts-99Reagan-53Recipe Box-39scientific american-59seaside style-68Simple Patterns-102Simply Sweet-89Skinny One Dish-54Slim Down Fast-62Small Yard Makeovers-95Southern casseroles-90Stay Alive-85STYLE-76Sugar Detox-56The Saturday Evening Post-91Two Saints-43USA Today-33USA TODAY2-45Vanity Fair-57Vintage Gardens-72Vogue-79Weeknight Mexican-48Women of the Bible-78World Cup 2014-92World War II-101

©Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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A Launch Story: Lose It! A New South African Magazine Promoting A High-Fat Low-Carb Diet…

May 7, 2014

People May Wonder If South Africa’s Suzy Brokensha is “Losing It” With The Launch Of A New Magazine Promoting A High-Fat Diet – But The Editor-In-Chief Of Fairlady Magazine Is Quick To Tell You That’s Just Not True – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Suzy Brokensha…

Screen shot 2014-05-07 at 11.16.07 AM Cape Town, South Africa: Controversial doesn’t even begin to describe it, low-carb and high-fat; two terms that most nutritionists and doctors have heart palpitations over when they hear them. But the Editor-in-Chief of South Africa’s Fairlady magazine, Suzy Brokensha, isn’t sweating it. She believes in the concept and in the new magazine: Lose It! 100 percent.

The new ink on paper product is inspired by Professor Tim Noakes and his reversal of his former doctrine of a high carb diet. Once a promoter of this type of eating routine with his book “Lore of Running” Noakes backtracked a few years ago when late onset diabetes took the lives of his father and uncle. His change in view has brought him both kudos and lividness from South Africans and people everywhere.

But Suzy Brokensha – Editor-In-Chief of the new magazine – is behind him all the way. She knows first-hand due to her own family’s experience with late onset diabetes that sometimes the most logical of ways doesn’t always work and blazing new trails with a print magazine that provides cutting edge evidence of unfamiliar horizons may be the only right answer.

I spoke with Suzy on a recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa and her beliefs and convictions about this magazine and as she calls it: this movement, are evident in our conversation.

So get ready to hear some things your cardiologist may not want you exposed to as you read the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Suzy Brokensha about the new print magazine – Lose It!…

But first the sound-bites…

On the concept of the new magazine: The new magazine is based on the Banting Diet, or a low-carb, high-fat diet that is not new at all.

On why she decided to launch Lose It! in the first place: I became interested in it about four years ago because my dad was also a late onset diabetic and because he died in the end of diabetic complications. And I know diabetes is a huge issue in South Africa and my brother is also a pre-diabetic and I didn’t want it happening to me.

On the initial reaction from the marketplace: It’s only been on street now for about a month and the initial reaction was incredibly positive.

On the uniqueness of the magazine and the diet itself: So I think what appeals to men is that performance aspect of it. You don’t feel deprived, in fact, you feel very satisfied and it’s a very satiating diet.

Screen shot 2014-05-07 at 11.02.12 AM On the need for print versus a digital entity: I think this is a magazine that explains the differences and the route that we’ve taken. And it’s very direct and it’s very directional. And it tells you exactly what to do. Whereas if you went online, you might find different, little snippets of information from a whole lot of different sites, but it wouldn’t be as directional as the magazine.

On what keeps her up at night: What am I worried about? I’m not worried at all about this magazine. There is absolutely nothing that worries me about it. I think that we’re lucky in that we struck at the right time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Suzy Brokensha – Editor-in-Chief of Lose It! magazine…

Samir Husni: You recently launched a new magazine – Lose It! – can you talk a little bit about the concept of this magazine?

Suzy Brokensha: The new magazine is based on the Banting Diet, or a low-carb, high-fat diet that is not new at all. The first person to talk about the diet was probably Atkins, maybe forty or fifty years ago, when the idea for the Atkins Diet first came into being.

And since then it has been written about extensively by Gary Taubes in the States, in particular. He’s the most famous. He wrote a book called “Why We Get Fat” and it’s all about the Banting Diet.

The first incidence of the diet was around 1812 when a British doctor advised his client to go on the diet and he lost a huge amount of weight. He was a very wealthy guy and he published a little book about the diet which is still circulating today and is quite fabulous. It’s beautifully written actually.

Anyway, it’s been around for a long time, but what happened was in the 70s the whole way that we eat changed. And it basically coincided with the food pyramid in the States which had all the carbohydrates at the bottom and right at the top, a few fats and oils, vegetables and fruits. And that diet and that way of eating have been recommended for years.

The history is that what happened in America in the 70s was that there was a problem with corn growers and they weren’t making money and actually that pyramid was deliberately designed, not by nutritionists, but in order to boost the sales of the corn growers in Middle America, which it completely did.

And what it did also was create a market for corn starch which is the most lethal substance known to man. And American food, in particular, is full of corn starch. It’s incredibly fattening, with no nutritious value at all. And it’s highly addictive.

So all this diet is really is looking at all of the 70s and looking at the way people ate then with more real food and less pre-packaged food, where the idea of low-fat didn’t exist. Because when they take fat out of a product, to make it appetizing, they have to add sugar. And even if it’s artificial sugar, that’s what they do and none of that is good for you.

If you look at the amount of sugar, for example, that we eat now in the Western diet, compared to the amount of sugar Westerners ate 80 years ago, it increases unbelievably. And it’s not only in the diet drinks; it’s specifically in the low-fat foods. And that’s the issue.

Samir Husni: So why, after all these years, did you decide to launch Lose It! magazine now?

Suzy Brokensha: Well, what’s really interesting is South African Professor Tim Noakes who has become very famous internationally because of this book; he was always a marathon runner. He himself has run about a 150 marathons, he’s very fit, started the Sports Science Institute in South Africa and he wrote a book about 15 or 20 years ago called “The Lore of Running.” It was all about how a high carbohydrate diet was essential in order to run or to be an athlete and to be healthy.

And his father was a late onset diabetic and he became a late onset diabetic and he started noticing in himself that he couldn’t run anymore and he was getting fatter despite the fact that he was eating sort of militantly healthily according to his own doctrine. And he started questioning what was going on. And he kept on trying to exercise more and he tried to eat more carbohydrates and less fat, but nothing worked. And he saw himself going exactly the same way as his father had gone.

And when he started questioning it, he realized that he was wrong. And he had the courage to, about three or four years ago, to come out and say that he was wrong and that he wished he’d never written that book. It was wrong. Every bit of advice I gave about carbohydrates in that book was wrong. And in South Africa there was a massive backlash against him. Everyone was livid that this guy who they had revered for so long could reverse his decision. I thought it was excellent science. I thought with all the evidence to the contrary, it’s a great scientist who can reverse his decision and say that he was wrong.

I became interested in it about four years ago because my dad was also a late onset diabetic and because he died in the end of diabetic complications. And I know diabetes is a huge issue in South Africa and my brother is also a pre-diabetic and I didn’t want it happening to me.

So I started reading what he was saying and I went to all the talks that he was giving and I tried to get as much information as I could. And I thought he really is changing the way that people think about food in this country. And I started looking at the response when he wrote the book “The Real Meal Revolution” and it sold 200,000 copies in South Africa which is really the biggest selling book we’ve ever had in this country. And I thought there is a market for a magazine like that. The book was mainly a recipe book and there is so much information to get across about this diet that I thought it was ripe for a magazine.

I sat next to him at the launch of his book and I said to him what you need is a magazine and he said perfect. And he said we need to get the information out there, so I knew that we had his interest. And that’s what we did. We started the magazine.

Samir Husni: And what was the initial reaction from the marketplace?

Suzy Brokensha: It’s only been on street now for about a month and the initial reaction was incredibly positive. I think that I’ve seen two detractors on Twitter who were saying it’s absolute nonsense, it’s unhealthy, how could you recommend a high-fat diet in a country like South Africa, isn’t that irresponsible when obesity is such a huge problem.

But the point is that it makes people lose weight. And that diabetes is a massive issue in South Africa and it actually stops late onset diabetes, diabetes Type II. Most people go off their medication when they’re on this diet.

The biggest criticism comes from cardiologists or people who say it’s bad for your heart. And increasingly, as you know from Dr. Oz, you’ll know that cardiologists are reviewing that decision that they made all those years ago, that fat or cholesterol is the cause of heart disease. But they are seriously reviewing it now. I see it as the beginning of a movement, a revolution. And I believe in it.

Samir Husni: So do you feel you are a leader in the movement?

Suzy Brokensha: I do. I feel like I’m a leader, because there hasn’t been a magazine like this. There is a Paleo Magazine, I think; I’m not sure where it’s published, probably in the States. But it’s a different diet. I just don’t think there’s anything like it in South Africa.

And I know that it’s hugely influential because sports people are increasingly using it, because it improves their performance.

Samir Husni: After looking at the magazine, you are reaching a dual audience. You are going after, men, women and children. Most diet magazines are aimed at women; it’s rare to see a diet magazine aimed at men. What’s the uniqueness of Lose It!?

Suzy Brokensha: What I think is interesting is that it’s your performance that improves, your performance in life improves, your brain functions better, you can run farther, and you can run faster. If you look at those statistics about people who are on this diet and Professor Tim Noakes is tracking some of those people, the athletes and their performance since they started eating this way; it’s absolutely incredible. Someone I read about recently knocked 21 minutes off their marathon. And that’s really huge.

So I think what appeals to men is that performance aspect of it. You don’t feel deprived, in fact, you feel very satisfied and it’s a very satiating diet. Because of the fat, because the fat, the fix and the hormones that tell you that you are full. And that’s actually always been the problem with low-fat diets; you never feel full because you constantly feel dissatisfied because those hormones are not activated.

But the person eating a high-fat diet, those hormones are activated, so they don’t feel deprived and they perform better. And they sleep better and that fact appeals to men, I think and that whole idea that they’re functioning as a bit of a machine. And women like it because they lose weight.

Samir Husni: And why did you feel the need for a print magazine instead of just going to the website and finding all that information?

Suzy Brokensha: I think it’s about curating. So we have got several different experts speaking in this magazine and they will appear in all the magazines. And it’s about a different aspect every time. We work together to curate the best content possible for this.

So you could find little bits, but everybody that I have spoken to as well has asked: what is the actual difference between Paleo, Atkins and Banting? What are the actual differences between multitudes of diets? And I think this is a magazine that explains the differences and the route that we’ve taken. And it’s very direct and it’s very directional. And it tells you exactly what to do. Whereas if you went online, you might find different, little snippets of information from a whole lot of different sites, but it wouldn’t be as directional as the magazine. It’s a blueprint, not just a magazine. And I don’t think we could have done that just online and achieve the same thing.

Samir Husni: Do you think it’s a trend or a fad?

Suzy Brokensha: I don’t think it’s either. I think it’s a return to the truth of how we should eat. Because I think a trend also implies that it will have an end; I think this is a rediscovery of the way that we should eat. I also think it will last forever and have a massive impact on the way people will live their lives.

Samir Husni: And I have to ask you; do you follow the diet?

Suzy Brokensha: I do. But my weakness, and it’s interesting as to what your weakness is, some people battle an issue with carbs, I don’t do battle with carbs at all. I’m not eating bread or pasta, that doesn’t bother me. Potatoes? I wouldn’t care if I saw any of that again in my life.

My weakness is chocolate and wine. It’s those two things. And you can have both sparingly, but it’s the sparingly that presents the problem.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Suzy Brokensha: What am I worried about? I’m not worried at all about this magazine. There is absolutely nothing that worries me about it. I think that we’re lucky in that we struck at the right time. I think that there are going to be followers and imitators. My main concern is when we were thinking about it was to get it out first. I wanted to be first and to put it out with the authority of the people we have contributing to the magazine. And I think we have achieved that and I’m sure there will be imitators, but because we were first and because we have that staff of authority; we will stay the distance.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014. All Rights Reserved.
Truth in Reporting: Lose It! magazine is published by Media 24 in South Africa, a media company that I consult for. I had no role in the launch of Lose It!.

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Covering Every “Stitch” Of The Crafting Community And Every “Thread” Possible; Stampington & Company Isn’t Slowing Down When It Comes To Launching New Magazines In Print…The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Christen Olivarez – Editor-In-Chief & Director Of Publishing – Stampington & Company…

May 2, 2014

“It sounds silly that we have a magazine about aprons, but it’s still doing extremely well. And people who love aprons love aprons. That’s what we’re finding.”… Christen Olivarez.

Christen Olivarez When it comes to the art of crafting, no one does it better than Stampington & Company. Not only do they publish the largest number of crafting and arts magazines in the industry; the magazine media company recognizes the value and the target points of niche marketing as well.

With seemingly endless additions to their repertoire, Christen Olivarez, Editor-In-Chief and Director of Publishing, talks with Mr. Magazine™ about the company’s desire to fulfill every want their readers might have by offering up a multitude of variety and discernible selection when it comes to the titles available under their banner.

And in the words of the inimitable Carly Simon, “Nobody Does It Better.” From crafts to cooking to business to aprons – yes, I said aprons, Stampington & Company is proving that niche is where it’s at when it comes to launching new magazines.

So grab your favorite pastime and bring it along as you read the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Olivarez – because there’s a good chance she has a magazine just for you…

But first the sound-bites…

On why she believes there is still room for more crafting magazines:
What we’re noticing is that the entire craft movement and even just a move back to domesticity with cooking and things like that are becoming more and more popular especially thanks to the rise of Pinterest as a website.

On whether or not she believes print is the right platform for all their new launches:
Right now we’re solely focusing on the print product and any of our new publications; upon first printing is always a print magazine.

On all the specialized titles and whether they’re still reaching the same audience: I think what we’re trying to do is that we’re finding that a lot of our loyal readers and some of our new readers have so many interests that we’re trying to cater to all them.

On the major stumbling block they’ve faced:
Our biggest thing is just trying to keep everything fresh so that people feel drawn to pick up the magazine when they could just as easily find something on the computer to make.

On her most pleasant surprise:
That people still get so excited about our new launches.

On her favorite title out of the 32 they have: That’s just so hard. I’ve been with the company for almost seven years and I’ve been in charge for a little over three years now. I have to say right now that Willow and Sage has taken me completely by surprise, I can’t believe how much I’ve grown to love it.

On what keeps her up at night:
For me, it’s all the ideas we have and how we’re going to put them into place and where we’re going to put them.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Olivarez – Editor-In-Chief and Director of Publishing – Stampington & Company…


1WIL-1401 Samir Husni: Over the last few years, you’ve been bringing a lot of new titles into the fold. So why do you think there is still room for more craft, business and cooking magazines, the style that you do, on the market? Why did you think that today was a good time to launch yet another one with Willow and Sage?

Christen Olivarez: What we’re noticing is that the entire craft movement and even just a move back to domesticity with cooking and things like that are becoming more and more popular especially thanks to the rise of Pinterest as a website. More people are getting involved in arts and crafts; it’s becoming a more mainstream type of hobby versus just a few select women doing it at home. As well as a lot of people are realizing that they can make this into that and so we’re able to launch a magazine based on having creative businesses.

So we really just watched the industry as a whole and saw what seemed to be emerging as a trend and a lot of our readers were at the forefront of setting those trends. So that’s what really determines how we’re going to launch a magazine. We don’t have big focus groups or anything like that; if we feel like something needs a magazine, then we’ll go ahead and launch it because we’re a very small company so we can turn things around really quickly.

And we’re noticing a huge rise in people making bath and body products, especially to give as gifts. So we thought sure, there’s stuff available online but let’s put it all together in a nice book and have it as a magazine twice a year so that people can learn a bunch of different things about handmade bath and body products. The market really drove the need to launch it, so how could we not do it. It’s also a dream that our publisher, Kellene Giloff, had had for a long time.

Once the market seemed right for it, we went headfirst and we’re just thrilled at how it came out.

Samir Husni: Are you still a firm believer that print is the right platform for all these publications or do you think you’ll be moving more in the direction of merging print with digital?

Christen Olivarez: Right now we’re solely focusing on the print product and any of our new publications; upon first printing is always a print magazine. Once we’ve sold out a title, because we do not do reprints of anything, we will then go ahead and issue it as a digital magazine, but no new content right now. Our model is we will not produce anything new that will be solely a digital platform.

We just think that there is still a good market for print. It may be a little bit smaller now, but the people we cater to really like the feel of a print magazine. So we’re still continuing to invest money and all of our resources with our great paper and everything like that to produce a quality magazine that customers feel like investing in, so for now digital only after we have sold issues out.
Samir Husni: Your titles are becoming more and more specialized: Digital Inspiration, Willow and Sage, Where Women Create Business, Where Women Create; are you still reaching to the same audience or are you trying to slice and dice the market?

APR-200x200 Christen Olivarez: I think what we’re trying to do is that we’re finding that a lot of our loyal readers and some of our new readers have so many interests that we’re trying to cater to all them. There’s just so much available out there, especially in the crafts realm, people like sewing, so of course we want to have sewing magazines. People like making jewelry, so we want to have jewelry magazines for them.

So we just see a big wide world and that’s why we’re able to create these almost niche of a niche magazines for people. And they seem to really like them. It sounds silly that we have a magazine about aprons, but it’s still doing extremely well. And people who love aprons love aprons. That’s what we’re finding.

So we’re not trying to split people up, we’re just realizing that people have many interests. And so we have a jewelry artist who also wants to find out about launching her own business. Maybe she also likes sewing on the side, so we’re just trying to offer something for everyone.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block that you’ve faced in the process of launching all these magazines?

Christen Olivarez: I think there’s so much available online. So we’re trying our hardest, especially with craft blogs and Pinterest, there’s just so much on the web and so we’re always trying to find things that are not available there so that people feel compelled to pick up the magazine and they’re not just getting something that they’ve already seen on the Internet.

Our biggest thing is just trying to keep everything fresh so that people feel drawn to pick up the magazine when they could just as easily find something on the computer to make. That’s our greatest struggle.

Samir Husni: And what has been the most pleasant surprise?

Christen Olivarez: That people still get so excited about our new launches. We actually have another one coming out in August that we’re working on and people are still so excited to see what we’re going to do next. And we’ve been around for 20 years and of course readers move on but we still have the same base of readers and they’re still picking everything up and that’s great to see that we’ve built such a loyal base that they can’t wait to see what specialty pub we’ll make the next time. Just to see what tiny little area of crafting that we’ll decide to explore.

Samir Husni: You mentioned that the market may have shrunk a little bit for print, but as a publishing director; do you still think this is a good business and will it continue to be a good business?

Christen Olivarez: I think so as long as people follow smart business models. I think when people try to undersell their magazines and sell them at such a low rate of subscription that’s really hard. And I think that we’re really smart in the way that we handle our business model in that we still keep the high cover price that’s going to keep us in business. If we offered a two-year subscription for $2 we would have been out of business a long time ago.

Staying true to the product is important. We’ve seen some other magazines, not our own, over the years that the quality of the material they use just keeps getting lesser and lesser and it becomes thinner and thinner. And we haven’t changed paper, we’re still buying the same paper and we’re still keeping our page counts higher than ever. So you really just have to stay true to your product.

Also not having to have these huge print counts and just trying to stay small helps us, we’re not trying to be the next huge magazine, we’re just trying to develop a good product that people want.

Samir Husni: You have 32 titles now. If someone asked you which one is your favorite baby, what do you say?

Christen Olivarez: That’s just so hard. I’ve been with the company for almost seven years and I’ve been in charge for a little over three years now. I have to say right now that Willow and Sage has taken me completely by surprise, I can’t believe how much I’ve grown to love it. I think it’s because we got involved with creating a lot of the content ourselves because people weren’t sure of what we wanted when we were seeking submissions from people.

And I feel like when you launch a new magazine it’s so important to set the right tone for the first issue so people will know what to expect and if they want to take part in it and they know what you’re looking for. And we worked so hard on Willow and Sage and I was just so surprised at how much I fell in love with the content and just coming up with the product and the design. It’s really taken over for me.

And then our next launch is actually called Bella Grace and it’s our first time going into the women’s interest section. And it’s not a craft magazine this time. And this is another one that has taken me completely by surprise because I am a crafter at heart and I usually like the craft-related magazines. But these two new launches have completely taken over for me because it’s new and it’s a challenge.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little bit about Bella Grace?

Christen Olivarez: It will launch in August. And it will be in the women’s interest section, which is completely new for us and a little scary, but it’s coming together really beautifully.

Samir Husni: And what about Digital Inspiration, which you launched last month?

BDI-200x200 Christen Olivarez: Digital Inspiration was fun for us because it was our first Bookazine. We launched it in a larger format with a bigger dimension and what we did was we published so much incredible digital artwork in our other magazine, Somerset Digital Studio, we thought we’d go through and pick our favorite pieces and our best of and go ahead and put it together in a newly designed magazine and hopefully entice people who maybe haven’t seen Somerset Digital Studio to pick up Digital Inspiration and see the artwork coming from that magazine and maybe they’ll pick up the other one as well, because they are in two different areas of the newsstands. Somerset Digital Studio often winds up in the crafting section and our hope was that Digital Inspiration would be in the graphic design section to hopefully entice readers to pick up both titles.

So that one was really fun just learning the new format of working with the larger dimensions. We had to work with a different printing press this time and the different dimensions were challenging and fun and it’s been really well received, which is great.

Samir Husni: So, if someone comes to you today and says, you’re an expert, you’ve been doing this for years and you’ve established a print-driven customer-based business model, high cover price and subscription; I have an idea for a magazine. What advice do you have for them?

Christen Olivarez: I would first make sure that they have a really concrete idea of what they want. We’ve had people come to us before who’ve said I have an idea for a magazine and it’s “this.” And I’ll ask, what visuals will you have to go with it and what kind of contributors? And a lot of times people won’t fully think it out. So there are great ideas, but you have to see how logical they are and make sure there will be a market for it as well.

So I would just say to plan everything. There are a lot of people putting great magazines together, but it’s a lot more work than people realize. They have to make sure they have a great marketing plan too; how are they going to get it to people? It’s not always as easy as it seems. And it might seem easy because there are so many digital magazines out there too.

I would just say you really have to think it through. Will you have advertising, what kind of contributors will you have? You just have to consider every facet of it.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Christen Olivarez: For me, it’s all the ideas we have and how we’re going to put them into place and where we’re going to put them. We just have so many ideas and the office is full of people just going back and forth saying, what if we tried this in this magazine or why don’t we try doing this.

I stay up because I get excited and think how in the world are we ever going to do all the things we want to, especially working in a small company. We sometimes have our hands tied with how much we can do with the staff that we have.

And that’s what keeps me up at night…the excitement and how to carry out all our ideas.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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