h1

An Experience Like No Other: Future Industry Leaders Meet Current Industry Leaders At The Magazine Innovation Center April 25 to 27.

April 21, 2017

act7Magazines Matter. Print Matters. That is the theme for the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT (Amplify, Clarify, Testify) 7 Experience that will take place April 25 to 27. Space is limited, so check the agenda and register to join us for an experience of a life-time.

h1

Coastal Living Magazine Celebrates A Milestone – 20 Years Of Publishing Success With A Passionate Coastal Toast To The Magazine’s Most Important Crew Members…Its’ Audience – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor In Chief, Steele Marcoux…

April 13, 2017

“We mentioned that the industry is changing, but readers are changing as well. Recently, it occurred to me that there is basically content everywhere these days, and I think that’s actually made good storytelling all the more valuable. These days, people want to know the story behind that beautiful painted fabric, for example, who makes it, what’s her story and what’s the process like. And people want to know not only where their oysters came from, but who harvested them; not only where their shrimp was caught, but by whom. So, I think that’s made us all the more relevant, in a way. It’s required us to adapt, for sure, but it’s also made our jobs as storytellers more relevant and important, and in a way, more fun, in terms of how we cover travel. With all things local mattering more than ever before, our audience really relies on us to discover the unique, off-the-radar coffee shops or seafood shacks or artists’ studios; or even photo op spots that of course would never have a Facebook page. But we’re able to do that for them.” Steele Marcoux…

Coastal Living magazine celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, and editor in chief, Steele Marcoux, believes this milestone triumph belongs to the magazine’s most important family members, its audience. Giving credit to her incredibly talented staff and team of editors, designers, contributors and just everyone who makes the magazine possible each and every issue, Steele said that celebrate, she and the magazine definitely plan to do.

I spoke with Steele recently and we talked about the upcoming anniversary issue and its bonus pages of tent-pulled franchises in each of the magazine’s core content areas. The anniversary publication will go on sale April 14, and Steele is excited about the audience’s reaction to this very special edition that is chock full of the “Best Places to Live – (Visit for a Weekend, Stay for a Lifetime), the Best Seafood Dives around, and many other informational and entertaining features.

In addition to the anniversary Coastal Living issue, upcoming events for this landmark occasion include some very special features along the way; a dinner series in partnership with an Orange Beach, Ala. exquisite seafood restaurant, and the first-ever Coastal Living cruise, which will host instructional classes from photographer, author and filmmaker, Jad Davenport. The cruise will be a two-week excursion from Portugal to Rome and promises to fulfill many high seas and “Coastal Living” dreams along the way for its seafarers.

So, I hope that you enjoy celebrating this wonderful milestone anniversary with the Coastal Living family as the magazine’s captain at the helm unfolds this delightful tale by the sea, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Steele Marcoux, editor in chief, Coastal Living magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether when she was offered the opportunity to come back to Coastal Living as the editor in chief she immediately accepted and thought it was her dream job or took some time to think about it: Pretty much the first way you described it; yes, this is my dream job. There’s so much about working at Coastal Living that feels like a dream. It’s so much fun to put together and to think about that it almost doesn’t feel like work at all. Putting together the issues and brainstorming content for our site and our social platforms; we’re almost living the dream that we create for our audience.

On whether the last two years have been a walk on the beach for her (no pun intended): (Laughs) Yes, for the most part, I would say so. The industry is changing, of course, as you well know, but I work with an incredibly talented team and we have, I think, the most beautiful content, and potentially one of the most emotionally engaged and loyal audiences out there.

On how the decision is made regarding what content goes in print and what goes online: That’s a great question, and it’s definitely something that consumes our process and our thinking quite a bit, for much of the day really. I would say that we think about audience first; for whom are we making this content and how is he/she going to engage with it? When it comes to print; when it comes to the space confines of print, we value storytelling and voice, and really the experience of an entire issue.

On the fact that a magazine about coastal living is published in Birmingham, Ala.: Who knows; we may make it down to the Cahaba River; no, I’m just kidding. (Laughs) We try to get out and about as much as possible. Maybe there was a time when being in Birmingham would have made a difference, because we weren’t sitting right there on the beach, but in this day and age, when travel is easier to do and research is certainly easier to do, I don’t think where we are matters as much. But we do try to get out and about as much as possible.

On something she’s done over the last two years at the magazine that she’s most proud of: Over the past two years, we’ve worked hard to add more personality, more soul, and more meaning to the content. I think with so much content out there, you really have to give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. So, I’ve started with adding warmth and personality and heart to the content, not only in terms of the types of homes, or the types of travel or food, or the type of person who will cover the story, but also in terms of the voice and the packaging.

On the biggest challenge she’s had to face in the last two years and how she overcame it: I’m a first-time editor, so it certainly felt like I was drinking from the firehose when I first came back. But I’m fortunate to work with an extremely talented staff, and I’ve learned so much from them every, single day. Probably, one of the other greatest challenges for all of us is that our passion and our creativity far exceeds the number of hours in a day, which sometimes means that we feel like we’re not actually able to accomplish all that we want to, so it just comes down to prioritizing.

On how she thinks the role of editor has changed since she became an editor: It’s changed greatly. It’s evolved from pure content creation to, I think, more of a strategic role for the business. And you have to think beyond just the pages of a printed magazine, such as licensing products, events, branded content, native content; all of those things. I think this is probably true of the entire industry, but obviously I can speak best to Time Inc. over the past two years. A lot of the silos within the industry have come down; the silos between editorial and sales and marketing, or even kind of between brands, these silos have come down and it has changed how we work.

On what’s on the horizon for Coastal Living as the magazine celebrates its 20th anniversary: The closest event on the horizon is our Special Anniversary issue, which is our May issue, and that goes on sale April 14th. We’re really proud of it, there’s bonus pages, and we have such a loyal and passionate audience, such an engaged audience, that we really wanted to do something special for them in print, with a special issue that has kind of tent-pulled franchises in each of our core content areas.

On anything she’d like to add: We mentioned that the industry is changing, but readers are changing as well. Recently, it occurred to me that there is basically content everywhere these days, and I think that’s actually made good storytelling all the more valuable. These days, people want to know the story behind that beautiful painted fabric, for example, who makes it, what’s her story and what’s the process like. And people want to know not only where their oysters came from, but who harvested them; not only where their shrimp was caught, but by whom.

On whether the “no people” factor on the January/February and April covers was intentional: You haven’t seen May yet, have you? (Laughs) We have “a” person. That is something I would love to do more of, because as I said at the outset, one of the things that I wanted to do in coming back was add the soul, add the personality, add the warmth. Traditionally, our audience has not always been super-receptive to celebrity personalities, but I think there is an opening for us to put, what I would call, real people on the cover. And bring more real people into the pages. We are such a lifestyle brand and there’s such a strong, emotional connection there. And you can’t have lifestyle and emotion without people, so I’m glad you asked that.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly at her home one evening: Somehow, my husband and I have managed to make family dinner a bit of a ritual. It’s often later than I would prefer it, but the four of us do sit down together almost every night. That was a struggle when I first started this job, because I wasn’t getting home in time for dinner, or I wasn’t able to cook meals the way I would have liked to, but now we’ve made it a priority and it’s just something we do every night.

On what keeps her up at night: The six and the four year old; they are truly masters of the delay bedtime game. You should see the song-and-dance we have to do in order to get them to go to sleep. In April, sometimes it is the threat of bad weather in Alabama. (Laughs again) But basically, I would turn it back to family; it probably takes us over an hour to get them to go to bed at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Steele Marcoux, editor in chief, Coastal Living magazine.

Samir Husni: You came back as editor in chief two years ago; you were there before as a design editor and then you went to Southern Living and Country Living, and then back to Coastal Living. When you were offered the opportunity to work again at Coastal Living as editor in chief, did you immediately think that it was your dream job and accept? Or did you have to consider it some and give it more thought? What was your reaction two years ago?

Steele with Sawyer, her cockapoo on Rosemary Beach in April 2015

Steele Marcoux: Pretty much the first way you described it; yes, this is my dream job. There’s so much about working at Coastal Living that feels like a dream. It’s so much fun to put together and to think about that it almost doesn’t feel like work at all. Putting together the issues and brainstorming content for our site and our social platforms; we’re almost living the dream that we create for our audience.

So, yes, I jumped at the chance. I have been very fortunate over the past few years to have some great opportunities, and I’ve also never really shied away from taking a risk. Not that this was a risk, but it was a kind of stretch job for me. And I felt very fortunate to be offered it, so yes, I jumped at the chance with enthusiasm.

Samir Husni: So, have the last two years been, and no pun intended, a walk on the beach for you?

Steele Marcoux: (Laughs) Yes, for the most part, I would say so. The industry is changing, of course, as you well know, but I work with an incredibly talented team and we have, I think, the most beautiful content, and potentially one of the most emotionally engaged and loyal audiences out there. So, in a lot of ways yes, it is a walk on the beach, virtually speaking.

Samir Husni: You mentioned that the industry is changing and it has changed, certainly. How do you balance between the offline and the online; between the printed magazine and your digital presence? When I look at the “Havens” pictures, for example, and all of the colors are combined in one spread and more than 50 images; how do you decide that one thing belongs to print and the other belongs to digital?

Steele Marcoux: That’s a great question, and it’s definitely something that consumes our process and our thinking quite a bit, for much of the day really. I would say that we think about audience first; for whom are we making this content and how is he/she going to engage with it? When it comes to print; when it comes to the space confines of print, we value storytelling and voice, and really the experience of an entire issue.

And that’s one of the most fun and fulfilling parts of the job for me. So for print, we consider the entire issue; it’s a moment or a season or it’s a mood. Sometimes it’s a theme, but we really think through that experience of sitting down with the entire issue for an hour or so and reading it from cover to cover. And we even like to set the mood with our cocktail of the month, which runs on our masthead page. The thinking behind that was, who knows, maybe someone will actually make themselves a drink and sit down and read the whole issue.

Whereas, I think with digital content the sky is really the limit. There’s more we can and more we should do, really. There’s the straightforward service content like “The Seven Best Things to do on Amelia Island.” Then there’s the newsy piece like “When Scientists Discover the Real Reason Whales Beach” or when Trulia publishes a study about the “Hottest Real Estate Markets,” and three of them turn out to be in Florida, which is our number one market. Then there’s what we call the quick, happy fix, like our “Moment of Sin” franchise that we do on our social platforms.

And on social and digital, we also relish the opportunity to do what we call engaging in kind of community-driven events almost, like our “Happiest Seaside Town” voting contest. And there’s really still a place on digital for even the long-form article, what we call a “Sunday Read” in our newsletter that goes out on Sunday.

With digital, I think our brand’s identity is a bit broader; we cover the environment more; we cover weddings; we cover crafts; we cover real estate. Whereas, with print, we try and stick to our core content pillars of home, travel and food. And I think expanding for digital sometimes presents a challenge in terms of resources, but at the same time we relish the opportunity to flex our muscle a bit as reporters and storytellers and create content beyond just the parameters of what we’re able to do for print.

Samir Husni: When you tell people that you publish this magazine from Birmingham, Ala., the Heart of Dixie, where’s the coastal connection? (Laughs)

Steele Marcoux: (Laughs too) I know. Who knows; we may make it down to the Cahaba River; no, I’m just kidding. (Laughs again) We try to get out and about as much as possible. Maybe there was a time when being in Birmingham would have made a difference, because we weren’t sitting right there on the beach, but in this day and age, when travel is easier to do and research is certainly easier to do, I don’t think where we are matters as much. But we do try to get out and about as much as possible.

And anytime we are able to send an editor out to the coast, he/she is capturing content in a variety of ways. They may be doing reporting for a print article, but they’re also going to do a Facebook Live of the sunset on the beach for our Facebook platform. We try to be as smart and as efficient about it as we can, but yes, there are many days where we dream about relocating to California, Florida or the Bahamas. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: In reality, do you feel that the magazine is more bicoastal living, such as Florida and California, both the east and west coast? You’re not limiting yourself just to Florida.

Steele Marcoux: No, we’re not. We cover the west coast and international coasts as well.

Samir Husni: You’ve been at the helm now for two years; can you tell me about something that you’ve done that you’re most proud of within these last two years?

Steele Marcoux: Over the past two years, we’ve worked hard to add more personality, more soul, and more meaning to the content. I think with so much content out there, you really have to give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. So, I’ve started with adding warmth and personality and heart to the content, not only in terms of the types of homes, or the types of travel or food, or the type of person who will cover the story, but also in terms of the voice and the packaging.

We wanted to do this without sacrificing service, so we’ve been really intentional about how we package each and every page of the magazine, and of course, our digital posts as well. So, that’s one thing that I am particularly proud of. I’m proud of the whole team, frankly.

I also think that we’ve simplified, elevated and modernized our design; we launched our redesigned print product in December 2016, with more sophisticated fonts and treatments that allow our gorgeous photography to really shine. And we’ve added a few more new, engaging columns, such as our “Weekend Getaway” column, which opens our travel section, and it has a working tagline; I don’t think it appears anywhere, but “Visit for a Weekend, Stay for a Lifetime.” And that’s because we know that our audience, when they go and visit a new coastal place, they’re the kind of people that spend the weekend there and then on the third day, their last day in that town, they’ll drop by the real estate office and kind of poke around; at least imagine what it might be like to move there someday. So, that’s another thing I’m proud of.

The other big change that we’ve done over the past two years is we’ve truly become a multimedia brand. We have a staff of just 17 people, and with that staff we produce 10 issues per year and at least two special editions. And then we also produce content for coastalliving.com, which these days is averaging around 1.1 million unique visitors, which is up from an average of about 800,000 visitors in 2015. Then we have a social following over 2.2 million, which is up from one million two years ago.

I think that social following, not only is it something that we’re really proud of, it’s also where we see even greater opportunity. We sort of feel like we punch above our weight on social, because our audience has such a strong emotional connection to this brand, which again, kind of goes back to what we really wanted to play up in print when I came back two years ago.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve had to face in the last two years and how did you overcome it?

Steele Marcoux: I’m a first-time editor, so it certainly felt like I was drinking from the firehose when I first came back. But I’m fortunate to work with an extremely talented staff, and I’ve learned so much from them every, single day. Probably, one of the other greatest challenges for all of us is that our passion and our creativity far exceeds the number of hours in a day, which sometimes means that we feel like we’re not actually able to accomplish all that we want to, so it just comes down to prioritizing. We aim for what we believe will be the biggest win for our audience and just kind of go from there.

Samir Husni: You’ve worked with other editors in chief before; how do you feel the role of editor at a magazine has changed since you became an editor?

Steele Marcoux: It’s changed greatly. It’s evolved from pure content creation to, I think, more of a strategic role for the business. And you have to think beyond just the pages of a printed magazine, such as licensing products, events, branded content, native content; all of those things. I think this is probably true of the entire industry, but obviously I can speak best to Time Inc. over the past two years. A lot of the silos within the industry have come down; the silos between editorial and sales and marketing, or even kind of between brands, these silos have come down and it has changed how we work.

Most of the time that feels really exciting to me, because I like to picture the whole business and strategize for the entire business, but again, it comes back to how many hours there are in a day. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) No new technology has yet to affect change in that area.

Steele Marcoux: No, that’s true. We have not added to the hours in the day yet.

Samir Husni: Are you having a big bash for the anniversary; what’s in store for Coastal Living this coming year?

Steele Marcoux: Yes, I’m glad you asked. The closest event on the horizon is our Special Anniversary issue, which is our May issue, and that goes on sale April 14th. We’re really proud of it, there’s bonus pages, and we have such a loyal and passionate audience, such an engaged audience, that we really wanted to do something special for them in print, with a special issue that has kind of tent-pulled franchises in each of our core content areas.

First and foremost, and for the first time ever, we named our 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast, and we worked with a team of lifestyle experts to do this, including some friends at Money magazine and Travel + Leisure magazine, to identify the best small towns; the best cities, communities, islands and international coasts with the highest quality of life. We really are seeing that more people are moving to the coast than ever before, and we feel like our coastal lifestyle has never had greater appeal than it does now, so this felt like the moment to really celebrate that with this larger franchise. So, we’re really proud and excited about that.

And then, we also worked with our 2017 Trendsetter, this is a franchise that we’ve had for a few years now, but we worked with them to name the 20 Best Beach House Design trends that we believe have real staying power, along with our 20 Best Buys for a Beach House, so we had a lot of fun with our “20” number.

One of the other pieces of content that we’re most proud of in celebration of our anniversary is our 20 Best Seafood Dives of All Time. We worked with a seafood dive expert, which, that is not a joke it’s a real job, a freelance position, but real nonetheless. He’s been reporting on seafood dives for us for two decades and I think he’s covered more than 350. And for the first time ever, he ranked the 20 best that he’s visited, and I kid you not, you could base an entire years’ worth of travel around visiting these places. So, we’re really excited about that as well.

We’re also hosting a dinner series with a man named Johnny Fisher in Orange Beach, Ala. at his restaurant, Fisher’s. The event is called “The Southern Grace Supper” series and we’re very excited about this. I believe the first dinner is sometime in mid-May, but the dinners run through August, and this is right at the core of our mission. He brings in renowned chefs from all over the country to the Gulf and has them create a menu at his beautiful restaurant right on the water that really celebrates gulf seafood. These dinners typically feed around 150 people and he usually sells them out right away, and we’re really excited to be a part of that and to celebrate and elevate gulf seafood.

And in October, our first-ever cruise, our anniversary cruise, will happen. And we are very excited. We’re working with photographer and writer, Jad Davenport, who is a frequent contributor to Coastal Living. The cruise goes from Portugal all the way to Rome, which is really exciting. It’s a two week cruise and he’s (Jad) going to be teaching seminars and giving instruction on how to take better vacation photographs during our expeditions off the cruise, which I’m really excited about. So, Jad will be there, along with myself and our travel editor, Tracey Minkin.

We also have another really fun print franchise that actually doesn’t appear in our anniversary issue, but appears in every other issue this year called “Top Down, Sails Up.” It’s two epic coastal trips, one by car, and one by sea. So, a road trip from Seattle to San Diego and a boat trip from Key West to North Virginia, each of which unfolds in a serial fashion month by month. And we’re really proud of this. We wanted to do something ambitious and on a bigger scale, and something that you could really only do in print, but at the same time, we wanted to get local and get to these smaller towns and markets that we don’t always have a chance to get to, and this has given us an opportunity to do that. So, we’re proud of that as well.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Steele Marcoux: We mentioned that the industry is changing, but readers are changing as well. Recently, it occurred to me that there is basically content everywhere these days, and I think that’s actually made good storytelling all the more valuable. These days, people want to know the story behind that beautiful painted fabric, for example, who makes it, what’s her story and what’s the process like. And people want to know not only where their oysters came from, but who harvested them; not only where their shrimp was caught, but by whom.

So, I think that’s made us all the more relevant, in a way. It’s required us to adapt, for sure, but it’s also made our jobs as storytellers more relevant and important, and in a way, more fun, in terms of how we cover travel. With all things local mattering more than ever before, our audience really relies on us to discover the unique, off-the-radar coffee shops or seafood shacks or artists’ studios; or even photo op spots that of course would never have a Facebook page. But we’re able to do that for them.

And a lot has changed with home design and development as well. When Coastal Living launched 20 years ago, traditional new developments and new urbanism developments were ramping up in popularity, but now nearly every new development incorporates some sort of TND (Traditional Neighborhood Development) principle, whether it’s walkable streets or mixed-used construction or public green spaces. And building and design has gotten smarter and more energy-efficient and less wasteful. And nowhere is that more relevant than on the coast, where our audience is just incredibly passionate about their environment.

So, I think there has been a lot of change over the last two decades, but I also think that makes us more relevant now than ever before, which is exciting for us.

Samir Husni: Looking at the covers of January/February and April; beautiful settings, no people. Was that intentional?

Steele Marcoux: You haven’t seen May yet, have you? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Not yet.

Steele Marcoux: Well, get ready for May.

Samir Husni: We have people?

Steele Marcoux: We have “a” person. That is something I would love to do more of, because as I said at the outset, one of the things that I wanted to do in coming back was add the soul, add the personality, add the warmth. Traditionally, our audience has not always been super-receptive to celebrity personalities, but I think there is an opening for us to put, what I would call, real people on the cover. And bring more real people into the pages. We are such a lifestyle brand and there’s such a strong, emotional connection there. And you can’t have lifestyle and emotion without people, so I’m glad you asked that.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing; are you sitting and relaxing with that “cocktail of the month” from the masthead; or you’re having a glass of wine; or you’re spending quality time with your sons and husband; or something else?

Steele Marcoux: Somehow, my husband and I have managed to make family dinner a bit of a ritual. It’s often later than I would prefer it, but the four of us do sit down together almost every night. I have two little boys, one is six and one is four. And that was a struggle when I first started this job, because I wasn’t getting home in time for dinner, or I wasn’t able to cook meals the way I would have liked to, but now we’ve made it a priority and it’s just something we do every night. It’s not always pretty, there are usually dessert bites in exchange for vegetable bites, or meltdowns over who gets to say the blessing, but it is a regular occurrence now and that’s really important to me.

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

Steele Marcoux: (Laughs) The six and the four year old; they are truly masters of the delay bedtime game. You should see the song-and-dance we have to do in order to get them to go to sleep. In April, sometimes it is the threat of bad weather in Alabama. (Laughs again) But basically, I would turn it back to family; it probably takes us over an hour to get them to go to bed at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Coloring With Mommy: A New Magazine From Bauer Media That Offers Moms & Daughters A Return To That Special Bonding Time That In Today’s Busy World Is Often Hard To Come By – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Brittany Galla, Editorial Director, Bauer Media Group’s Youth Division…

April 10, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“Right now there isn’t a digital component for Coloring with Mommy, because it’s really print and paper-driven. It’s a book that digitally, even if you printed out a comic book page, it wouldn’t be the same quality and it wouldn’t have the heart that we put into the magazine, because it’s not just coloring book pages. It’s that bonding time and the extra stuff that makes the magazine feel more special.” Brittany Galla…

“… But of course with our other launches, such as Bake It Up! with our digital team, there have been things such as recipes that they’ve put on Facebook live, and there are things to promote the magazine and the content on there, but really we are looking at targeting the newsstand reader and the newsstand parent with these new launches.” Brittany Galla…

Bauer Media’s youth division has been offering up new print titles throughout the last few years as though digital was simply a extensional platform that could complement print or offer a different perspective than its ink on paper counterpart – and what do you know, I do believe they’re right. Brittany Galla, editorial director for the media group’s youth division, said their latest title “Coloring with Mommy” offers something that Bauer strongly believes in, a break from “screen time” and that bonding experience that many mothers and daughters find elusive in this fast-paced digital age.

I spoke with Brittany recently and we talked about Coloring with Mommy, and about the other titles that are growing up under her wing. With this latest launch, Bauer is targeting the loyal readers of Star-tastic Coloring Book, and Brittany said that the new magazine featured 28 beautiful side-by-side, outward facing images for mom to color along with her child, while bonding and spending quality time together, something she feels parents need today.

Brittany added that while Bauer is very excited about its digital division, these new launches are targeted strictly for newsstand and, as with Coloring with Mommy, offer something that both children and parents need in this busy time we live in, a moment to escape and exhale from the bombardment of information that we all receive second-by-second onscreen.

So, sit down, relax, and take a breath from your busy schedule and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brittany Galla, editorial director, Bauer Media Group’s Youth Division.

But first the sound-bites:

On why Bauer is putting out more and more print magazines for teens and children in this digital age: What’s going on here is that we’re just bursting with creativity and ideas, and I think in a time when we do see a lot of digital growth, which we’re excited about for our digital sides of the brand, we also see a lot of opportunity to concentrate and focus on print and what’s on the newsstand and what’s not really being offered to readers right now.

On where the ideas for these new magazines come from: Honestly, it’s a mix of different things. An idea comes from a focus group or where we’re talking to 10 or 12 girls and Sebastian (Raatz, executive vice president of Bauer Media Group) and I are taking notes and they’ll say something about a hobby that they love and everyone talks about it and discusses what that could mean on the newsstand. Some ideas do come to me at night as well and some ideas come to my great staff and then they present it to me.

On how she brings the idea to life: Time-wise, it was probably over a span of three to four months, from beginning to end. First, we decide if it’s really a good idea, such as with Coloring with Mommy, which is a way to get a child and her mom to bond more. It’s something more than just a coloring book they’ll find on bookshelves. It’s different and it means more than that. And it has more reselling factors.

On whether there is a digital component for Coloring with Mommy: Right now there isn’t a digital component for Coloring with Mommy, because it’s really print and paper-driven. It’s a book that digitally, even if you printed out a comic book page, it wouldn’t be the same quality and it wouldn’t have the heart that we put into the magazine, because it’s not just coloring book pages. It’s that bonding time and the extra stuff that makes the magazine feel more special.

On what she feels the role of print is in today’s digital age: I feel like the role of print is to really give these young kids and tweens across America and the world something that they’re not getting digitally, and it’s a way to still connect and to bring families together, still speak and relate to their lives. And I think that it’s also just a chance to be creative and to challenge digital. There are many great things happening digitally and at Bauer XCEL, but I think that there is still a lot of growth and room to succeed on the newsstand and it’s time to challenge what we can do and what we can offer readers.

On whether as an editor she believes that there is a responsibility to help with the digital addiction that many children are reported to have: I do. Speaking from a personal sense, my mom is actually a teacher and a reading specialist, and has been for many years. It’s so important to read books. And it’s constantly encouraged by teachers in schools to read the sight words and practice index cards. And there’s something about reading a book together, with your parent, with your mom or dad, as opposed to just everybody being connected to their tablets or phones. It’s so important to have that communication and to have those times together to read.

On whether she feels that she has a social responsibility and a duty to push reading on paper: I feel like I do. I oversee J-14 Magazine and I feel that way when I think of the teenaged reader that I’m targeting. I do think a lot about the reader and a lot about the families that are buying the magazines and what they need and what’s going on. How stressed they could be and maybe they just need 10 minutes with their child to bond, and that’s what I think about every day. I think of the reader and how we can help them bond with their daughter, or their mom, to feel a bit more connected.

On what makes her tick and click and get out of bed each morning, looking forward to her day: It’s the reader. I have wanted to work in magazines since I was a young teenager growing up in Long Island. I read all of the magazines: YM, Cosmo Girl, and they weren’t just magazines to me, they were much more. I lived by every word. They really were my bible. They told me about myself and they empowered me. And that’s what drives me. When I think of the reader that I once was and what magazines were able to provide for me, escape, advice, just being a big sister; when I get out of bed every morning, I’m thinking about that same reader and how I can connect with them. And I think about what our reader needs. That really drives me every day.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly at her home one evening: I’m obsessed with my dog. My husband and I have a rescue dog named Bo and he’s a Black Lab/Rottweiler mix, and we are just completely obsessive. So, if you were to find me at our house, I would be playing with him or hiking with him or just walking him.

On what keeps her up at night: I usually just fall right asleep because I’m so tired from the day, but if I do toss and turn a little bit, it’s usually just thinking about all the new ideas we have and how to put them in motion.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brittany Galla, editorial director, Bauer Media Group’s Youth Division.

Samir Husni: What’s happening at Bauer; are you all crazy, putting more print magazines out there for teens and children when everybody is telling us the entire future is digital?

Brittany Galla: (Laughs) What’s going on here is that we’re just bursting with creativity and ideas, and I think in a time when we do see a lot of digital growth, which we’re excited about for our digital sides of the brand, we also see a lot of opportunity to concentrate and focus on print and what’s on the newsstand and what’s not really being offered to readers right now.

We do a lot of focus groups and we talk to a lot of moms and daughters; tween girls who are not on their phones just yet, they might have iPods, but it doesn’t always connect to Wi-Fi, of course, and they don’t have iPhones until fifth or sixth grade, or even later. Some parents are really insistent that they don’t have a cell phone before fifth grade, so we do see these ages who are younger who really do need magazines and are looking for something to read and to do during their free time.

And I think here, what’s been going on in the past year is we sat down and thought about how we could attract a reader who is not being targeted on the newsstand right now in different ways, just getting new readers. And we have a lot of conversations with girls and moms who are not really spending the time together that they used to, because things are so busy with sports and school. The moms are on their phones a lot too, and admit that.

So, we really wanted to create products where we are bonding the family together. We think that family time is really important and so we created products like “Bake It Up!” and even “Star-tastic” and now with “Coloring with Mommy,” you can really sit down with your mom. With “Bake It Up!” it was baking and making cute stuff in the kitchen together, and now with “Coloring with Mommy” it’s a different type of coloring book, where the left side of the page is more difficult and detailed, and the right side is an easier replica of the same image. So, it’s a coloring book that they can share and do together. They’re working on the same page, but the mom has a bit more of a detailed one and the daughter has a little easier one and they’re sharing and doing it together.

And then the mega poster that we have is an image that they can fill in together; it’s completely joined on one giant page, so they can do a beautiful mega image together. And we also added content in the book, and we call it “Bonus Bonding” time. There are 10 questions where both mom and daughter can interview each other, such as “What is your biggest fear?” “What was your favorite childhood toy?” Questions that someone may have never asked their mom. I’m 31 and there were questions that I didn’t even know about my mom that I asked her. Just little ways to spend time with your mom and have these special moments that you don’t always get because life is so crazy right now.

Also, in the mega we have a little list where they can write 10 reasons that they love their moms and then a place where the moms can write 10 reasons why they love their daughters. Then they can cut it out and color it. We really wanted it to be a magazine that makes them happy and makes them have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside that I think a lot of girls can identify with. In 2016, we launched five new titles, and this is our first for 2017, so really excited about it being on newsstand.

Samir Husni: Who comes up with these creative ideas for the new magazines? In the last two or three years, you have been putting out one new title after the other aimed at a segment of the population that almost everyone else has written off. As the editorial director, how do you come up with these new ideas? Is it a group effort or do you have this dream at night and wake up and say we need to do this Coloring with Mommy magazine?

Brittany Galla: Honestly, it’s a mix of different things. An idea comes from a focus group or where we’re talking to 10 or 12 girls and Sebastian (Raatz, executive vice president of Bauer Media Group) and I are taking notes and they’ll say something about a hobby that they love and everyone talks about it and discusses what that could mean on the newsstand. Some ideas do come to me at night as well and some ideas come to my great staff and then they present it to me.

Over the last year, Sebastian and I have really worked together quite a lot and we met on a weekly basis and we had a list of over 100 ideas. We would write everything down, from the simplest and most obvious ideas, to the craziest and most extreme ones. And we’d keep this running list that we would add to and then choose which to focus on. With the coloring, obviously, it’s no secret that coloring has been huge on the newsstands for magazine publishers in both 2015 and 2016. And so we thought about how we could make it different and that’s when Star-tastic Coloring Book came into play, so people could color their favorite celebrities.

And then we just thought about what we could do in the coloring section that was a little different from Star-tastic, such as going a bit younger like the Coloring with Mommy, and where it’s not just a coloring book. If you look at the adult coloring books, those could be way too complicated for a little girl with all of the fine detail. She may could do it, but it would be very time-consuming. And then the kid coloring books are very easy, almost too easy. So, this was a way to combine both, where it’s not just an adult coloring book or one for just the child, it’s a coloring book that you can enjoy together and that’s perfect for your age group. It’s perfect for the parent to do, and then the page right next to mom’s is perfect for the daughter to color. And it’s sometimes the same image, just easier, and takes the same amount of time to finish.

So, really, the ideas do come to us in a variety of different ways. I think being creative and thinking outside of the box is something that Bauer has always really encouraged since I’ve been here. And just talking with readers and understanding what’s going on in their lives and finding out what they need and talking to moms. Also, I have six nieces that are my go-to when I have a lot of questions about what kids like and want to see. And all of those things just help form an excellent idea.

Samir Husni: Can you take me through the process of actually bringing the idea to fruition, maybe relive that a-ha moment when you decided that you were definitely bringing Coloring with Mommy to life?

Brittany Galla: Time-wise, it was probably over a span of three to four months, from beginning to end. First, we decide if it’s really a good idea, such as with Coloring with Mommy, which is a way to get a child and her mom to bond more. It’s something more than just a coloring book they’ll find on bookshelves. It’s different and it means more than that. And it has more reselling factors.

So, once we’re a 100 percent go on that, I pitch a bunch of ideas for the title, Coloring with Mommy was one of a few. My team also pitched some and Sebastian picked maybe one or two favorites. Then we presented them to the focus group to make sure that they liked them and that they spoke to the reader. And then we check to make sure that the title we’ve chosen can be used. After that, our art director, who is excellent, and we have an art pool of designers that we use, and we start a style guide for the magazine. For this one, it was almost like a “Girls’ World” type category, we used a lot of the “Girls’ World” fonts and bright colors.

And really, in just a few hours we had the templates and the images ready. I thought about the “Bonus Bonding” content, and then really the magazine was designed pretty quickly, I would say. When we have an idea, there are little tweaks here and there, and then I show Sebastian and the team, make any other tweaks that are needed and we go through the magazine together, and then that’s it.

Samir Husni: You’re newsstand-driven, but is there a digital component, or do you think that print is enough?

Brittany Galla: Right now there isn’t a digital component for Coloring with Mommy, because it’s really print and paper-driven. It’s a book that digitally, even if you printed out a comic book page, it wouldn’t be the same quality and it wouldn’t have the heart that we put into the magazine, because it’s not just coloring book pages. It’s that bonding time and the extra stuff that makes the magazine feel more special.

So, with Coloring with Mommy there’s not a digital component, but of course with our other launches, such as Bake It Up! with our digital team, there have been things such as recipes that they’ve put on Facebook live, and there are things to promote the magazine and the content on there, but really we are looking at targeting the newsstand reader and the newsstand parent with these new launches.

Samir Husni: From an editor’s point of view, what do you feel the role of print is in today’s digital age?

Brittany Galla: I think that digital has obviously opened up many avenues of different creativity, but I think that there’s still a need for families and kids to unwind. We’ve read about kids literally being addicted to social media and all of these apps. In an article in the New York Post, it was basically called digital heroin by a psychologist.

I feel like the role of print is to really give these young kids and tweens across America and the world something that they’re not getting digitally, and it’s a way to still connect and to bring families together, still speak and relate to their lives. And I think that it’s also just a chance to be creative and to challenge digital. There are many great things happening digitally and at Bauer XCEL, but I think that there is still a lot of growth and room to succeed on the newsstand and it’s time to challenge what we can do and what we can offer readers.

Samir Husni: Based on the research you’ve done, and all the studies we’re beginning to see, we’re starting to learn that millennials do read, and yes, while they do spend a lot of time on their digital devices, they’re also engaged in reading ink on paper. As an editor do you believe that there is an obligation to help remove the addiction or help with it a little bit?

Brittany Galla: I do. Speaking from a personal sense, my mom is actually a teacher and a reading specialist, and has been for many years. It’s so important to read books. And it’s constantly encouraged by teachers in schools to read the sight words and practice index cards. And there’s something about reading a book together, with your parent, with your mom or dad, as opposed to just everybody being connected to their tablets or phones. It’s so important to have that communication and to have those times together to read.

I do think that we can play a role in encouraging the reading. In our magazines we have fiction stories in Girls’ World and little starred facts and even puzzle fun targets the sight words. Puzzle fun is for kindergartners and it’s great as a kindergarten prep. So, there really is a call for us to be able to offer this educational content. And with Coloring with Mommy we’re helping with that bonding time and helping them to connect more than they would be if they were just sitting there with tablets looking at screen time. It’s a way to give a screen time break, which I think is something that many families are craving right now.

Samir Husni: Do you feel then that in addition to being an editorial director in charge of the magazines that you also have a social responsibility and a duty?

Brittany Galla: I feel like I do. I oversee J-14 Magazine and I feel that way when I think of the teenaged reader that I’m targeting. I do think a lot about the reader and a lot about the families that are buying the magazines and what they need and what’s going on. How stressed they could be and maybe they just need 10 minutes with their child to bond, and that’s what I think about every day. I think of the reader and how we can help them bond with their daughter, or their mom, to feel a bit more connected.

In terms of my other magazines, there are so many topics that we cover in J-14 and in Girls’ World, and it’s always about the reader and purpose and how we can make their lives better. And that’s always what I’ve seen my job as.

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click and get out of bed each morning, looking forward to your day?

Brittany Galla: It’s the reader. I have wanted to work in magazines since I was a young teenager growing up in Long Island. I read all of the magazines: YM, Cosmo Girl, and they weren’t just magazines to me, they were much more. I lived by every word. They really were my bible. They told me about myself and they empowered me. And that’s what drives me. When I think of the reader that I once was and what magazines were able to provide for me, escape, advice, just being a big sister; when I get out of bed every morning, I’m thinking about that same reader and how I can connect with them. And I think about what our reader needs. That really drives me every day.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your house unexpectedly one evening after work, what would I find you doing; reading on your iPad; watching TV; cooking; reading a book; or something else?

Brittany Galla: I’m obsessed with my dog. My husband and I have a rescue dog named Bo and he’s a Black Lab/Rottweiler mix, and we are just completely obsessive. So, if you were to find me at our house, I would be playing with him or hiking with him or just walking him. I go home and it’s all about Bo. (Laughs) I do some work, but in the mornings I hike with him and as soon as I get home, he just has so much energy, I become completely obsessed and that’s what I’m usually doing after work.

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

Brittany Galla: I usually just fall right asleep because I’m so tired from the day, but if I do toss and turn a little bit, it’s usually just thinking about all the new ideas we have and how to put them in motion.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

WIN Magazine: The Day Magazines Paid For “User-Generated Content”… A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past.

April 7, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Magazines have been valuing their readers and their ideas for years, even before This Old House magazine became “Your Old House” for an issue a few years ago, allowing its readers to have free rein with the content. Also before many cooking magazines, such as titles from Southern Progress Corp., were asking its readers to share favorite recipes; and even before Roy Reiman built an empire based on a business model that worked successfully for him, where his readers wrote around 80 percent of the content of his magazines.

Today, it’s called “User-Generated Content” or UGC and there are all kinds of articles and inspirations out there to help one learn how to best utilize and collect this important – and you would think – newly discovered strategy. However, it’s far from new, as you read from the previous examples, and it’s certainly not unique to those prestigious entities either.

I opened up my Mr. Magazine™ Classic Vault recently and dug around inside, coming up with a beautiful title from 1939 called “WIN.” And it would appear this over 75-year-old magazine’s contents were entirely reader-written, wait – that’s the same as user-generated, correct?

The tagline for the first issue of WIN dated March 1939 reads: ‘The Magazine Written By The People – Photos – Stories – Gags – Poems – etc. And not only did this magazine accept content written by its readers, it paid them for it by utilizing the received material in a contest format. Somebody had on his or her thinking cap in 1939, that’s for sure. In fact, inside the magazine, next to its Table of Contents, there is this reminder: Don’t forget, $5,000 every issue.

It’s a very good execution of what many in the media business are trying to do today. And it’s a forerunner of that brand new catchphrase: user-generated. But just remember, there is nothing new under the sun; if we’ve done it today, guaranteed it’s a long shadow and being cast from someone many decades before.

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

See you at the newsstand…

h1

ChicagoMod Magazine: A New Luxury Title That Promises To Deliver On Its Tagline By Showing Us How To Have A “Life Well Lived” – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Shannon Steitz, President & Publisher, ChicagoMod Magazine…

April 5, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“The first five years of any business is never a walk in a rose garden. (Laughs) I knew that when I set out to do this, so I was never expecting a walk in a rose garden. Also, this industry is a challenge. As you mentioned earlier, there is a lot of competition out there, and there will continue to be, regardless of the misconceptions about print. And certainly, around niche publications, I feel there is a heavy misconception.” Shannon Steitz (On whether launching two print magazines has been an easy endeavor)…

A luxury magazine geared toward the ultra-affluent market, ChicagoMod joins its sister publication, HudsonMod, and gives us a glimpse of modern-day luxury for the Chicago metropolitan area, while also offering international perspectives for its very niche audience.

Shannon Steitz is president and group publisher of MOD Media, the company that produces both ChicagoMod and HudsonMod and said that their newest publication presents a fresh and different look at all the things that pique the interests of individuals who have a minimum annual income of $500,000, which she is the first to admit, is a very niche audience indeed, but one that isn’t being served in the way that ChicagoMod delivers.

I spoke with Shannon recently and we talked about this latest endeavor and how her company, which includes a custom publishing division, focuses on partnering with its clients to meet key marketing objectives, something that Shannon said is a must in the luxury magazine business. She hopes ChicagoMod will create opportunities for its brand partners to connect with Chicago’s most discerning audience and present the “Windy City” as a sought-after worldwide market for them.

The magazine will be distributed six times a year through exclusive in-home delivery to Chicago’s most affluent residents between the ages of 35 and 55, at high-profile events in the Chicago area, and through placement in-room at hotels and resorts and in high-end establishments, such as luxury retailers, spas and private jet terminals. It’s a beautiful, glossy publication that promises to deliver on its tagline of showing its readership how to have a “Life Well Lived.”

So, I hope that you enjoy this up close look into a luxury market magazine and the woman behind it – the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Shannon Steitz, president & publisher, ChicagoMod Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether people have asked her if she’s out of her mind for producing another luxury title for an already crowded Chicago market: I’ve heard that Chicago is a crowded luxury market before, but I don’t really view it that way. Greenspun and Modern Luxury are there, that’s two publications, and there are some others that we’re certainly aware of as well. But I think that’s just an indication that it’s a viable market, really. Competition is good; I’ve always viewed it that way.

On how her luxury titles differ from the others already in the marketplace: From a content standpoint, people will see a distinction there, in that while it is a Chicago magazine, and we certainly have a lot of Chicago content, there is also international content to serve the discerning appetites of our ultra-affluent readership.

On whether she thinks print is still the best way to reach that readership: I think a customized, multimedia solution is the best way to reach any audience, including the ultra-affluent. Print is one of many pieces of the puzzle, and that’s how we approach all of our client relationships.

On what she offers in that multimedia approach: We approach each relationship with a comprehensive needs analysis, really trying to understand our clients’ objectives and coming up with custom-tailored solutions to meet them. And that’s different for every client.

On what some of those solutions are: It really ranges, but at the end of the day, it’s really about tapping into their perspective buyer who has the ability based on demographics, and we’re able to deliver that more effectively, I feel, than most other media companies.

On the magazine’s tagline “Life Well Lived” and what it means: As far as the meaning of a “Life Well Lived,” we’ve learned over the years by interviewing many, many people and asking them what luxury means to them, it’s so subjective and it means very different things to various people.

On who would be standing in front of her if she could strike the magazine with a magic wand and turn it into a living, breathing human being, and would it be her: It wouldn’t be any one person. I think, certainly, my opinions weigh heavily, in terms of our publications, but at the same time, I look toward others on my team to collaborate and ensure that we’re putting out the very best quality product that we can possibly produce. I’m the type of person that sits in meetings and encourages feedback from my staff, realizing at the end of the day that I don’t know everything, and it’s impossible to stay on top of everything that we have to cover.

On whether her last five years in the publishing business with HudsonMod and now with ChicagoMod has been a walk in a rose garden, or she’s had to face challenges along the way: The first five years of any business is never a walk in a rose garden. (Laughs) I knew that when I set out to do this, so I was never expecting a walk in a rose garden. Also, this industry is a challenge. As you mentioned earlier, there is a lot of competition out there, and there will continue to be, regardless of the misconceptions about print, certainly around niche publications. I feel there is a heavy misconception.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the mornings: What makes me most satisfied is when I see that our services and our products are working on behalf of our clients, and that we’re having a positive impact on their business. As a former CFO, there’s nothing better than that.

On what’s next for her company: That remains to be seen, but there will certainly be another market next year, and we’ll continue to also grow the custom publishing division of MOD Media as well.

On anything else she’d like to add: I think Chicago is a great city and I’m so thrilled that we chose it for this magazine. I’ve spent a lot of time there. Aside from all of the statistics that support us moving into that territory, it’s just a place that I now consider home myself.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly to her home one evening: I’m rarely at home, you’d be lucky to catch me there, but you would certainly find me with my dog, Missy. I have a rescue that is half Shar-Pei and half Yellow Labrador. Her pen name is Hudson Maddie, as she grew up in the office of HudsonMod. So, I’m certainly with my dog and my children, when they’re not off playing sports and doing their thing, because they take a lot after their mother, so they’re rarely home as well.

On what keeps her up at night: Just thinking about the things that I wasn’t able to get to during any given day. It’s never fast enough; it’s never good enough; it could always be done better, quicker and differently. So, I’m always looking to, basically, enhance and elevate all that we do as a company, in each and every publication.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Shannon Steitz, president and publisher, ChicagoMod magazine.

Samir Husni: Do people ask are you out your mind because you published a print magazine five years ago, and now you’re doing another one in a very crowded luxury market; what gives?

Shannon Steitz: I’ve heard that Chicago is a crowded luxury market before, but I don’t really view it that way. Greenspun and Modern Luxury are there, that’s two publications, and there are some others that we’re certainly aware of as well. But I think that’s just an indication that it’s a viable market, really. Competition is good; I’ve always viewed it that way.

And we do offer key points of distinction and unique offerings to our clients, so I think there’s room for another publication, and there is certainly room for ChicagoMod.

Samir Husni: When you say there’s room for other publications and other points of differentiation; tell me the DNA of ChicagoMod, and HudsonMod, since you’ve been doing that title for five years now, and how are your titles different from the other luxury titles in the marketplace?

Shannon Steitz: From a content standpoint, people will see a distinction there, in that while it is a Chicago magazine, and we certainly have a lot of Chicago content, there is also international content to serve the discerning appetites of our ultra-affluent readership. In order to receive ChicagoMod, one has to earn a minimum of $500,000 annually, so we want to ensure that we’re serving those appetites with insider perspective and content written by industry experts.

Samir Husni: Do you think print is still the best way to each that audience?

Shannon Steitz: I think a customized, multimedia solution is the best way to reach any audience, including the ultra-affluent. Print is one of many pieces of the puzzle, and that’s how we approach all of our client relationships.

Samir Husni: Can you describe that multimedia approach in your client relationships; what are you offering besides the content of the magazine that is a different experience than they can get with Modern Luxury or Greenspun?

Shannon Steitz: We approach each relationship with a comprehensive needs analysis, really trying to understand our clients’ objectives and coming up with custom-tailored solutions to meet them. And that’s different for every client. More times than not, given our track record on the events side, our clients do want us to host events. So, we typically produce events on their behalf, in addition to digital and other strategic marketing offerings.

Samir Husni: Can you name a few of those solutions?

Shannon Steitz: It really ranges, but at the end of the day, it’s really about tapping into their perspective buyer who has the ability based on demographics, and we’re able to deliver that more effectively, I feel, than most other media companies.

Samir Husni: You’re tagline is “Life Well Lived.” And your Letters from the Publisher are so personalized, they actually reflect your life well lived. Do you see yourself as the persona of the magazine and it’s a reflection of you?

Shannon Steitz: As far as the meaning of a “Life Well Lived,” we’ve learned over the years by interviewing many, many people and asking them what luxury means to them, it’s so subjective and it means very different things to various people.

As far as what I view myself as, that’s an interesting question because I’ve never thought of it. What is top of mind is, I view myself as a businesswoman and an entrepreneur; I love what I do and I think that represents a piece of that “Life Well Lived,” loving what you do every day.

Samir Husni: If you could strike the magazine with a magic wand and turn it into a living, breathing human being, who would be standing before you afterwards? Would it be Shannon Steitz?

Shannon Steitz: It wouldn’t be any one person. I think, certainly, my opinions weigh heavily, in terms of our publications, but at the same time, I look toward others on my team to collaborate and ensure that we’re putting out the very best quality product that we can possibly produce. I’m the type of person that sits in meetings and encourages feedback from my staff, realizing at the end of the day that I don’t know everything, and it’s impossible to stay on top of everything that we have to cover. So, at the end of the day, yes, I think the magazine, of course, represents a fair amount of me personally, but also my staff.

And on our staff we have experts. If there’s an auto feature, it’s written by Ferrari magazine’s former editor in chief, Dom Miliano. He’s an expert and has driven every make and model car prior to writing about it. So, I really look toward my staff quite a bit to ensure that the quality level is there in this publication.

Samir Husni: Has it been a walk in a rose garden for you these last five years with HudsonMod and now with launching ChicagoMod, or have you had some challenges along the way?

Shannon Steitz: The first five years of any business is never a walk in a rose garden. (Laughs) I knew that when I set out to do this, so I was never expecting a walk in a rose garden. Also, this industry is a challenge. As you mentioned earlier, there is a lot of competition out there, and there will continue to be, regardless of the misconceptions about print. And certainly, around niche publications, I feel there is a heavy misconception.

I think we’ve been very fortunate, and we’ve been very blessed at the same time to have had the five years that we’ve had. Part of that is probably luck, and the other part is our hard work. We live this. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears in every client relationship; in every publication that we produce, especially on our custom publishing side. So, nothing is a walk in the park. (Laughs again)

Samir Husni: What makes Shannon click and tick; what motivates you to get out of bed every morning and look forward to another day in a life well lived?

Shannon Steitz: What makes me most satisfied is when I see that our services and our products are working on behalf of our clients, and that we’re having a positive impact on their business. As a former CFO, there’s nothing better than that.

Samir Husni: You began with New Jersey/New York, now Chicago; what’s next?

Shannon Steitz: (Laughs) That remains to be seen, but there will certainly be another market next year, and we’ll continue to also grow the custom publishing division of MOD Media as well.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Shannon Steitz: I think Chicago is a great city and I’m so thrilled that we chose it for this magazine. I’ve spent a lot of time there. Aside from all of the statistics that support us moving into that territory, it’s just a place that I now consider home myself. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

In fact, we’re premiering the magazine in Chicago very soon and Taylor Kinney and the cast of “Chicago Fire,” a number of athletes and other celebs will all be lining the red carpet.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after work, what do I find you doing; reading a book; watching TV; having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; or just playing with your dog?

Shannon Steitz: I’m rarely at home, you’d be lucky to catch me there, but you would certainly find me with my dog, Missy. I have a rescue that is half Shar-Pei and half Yellow Labrador. Her pen name is Hudson Maddie, as she grew up in the office of HudsonMod. So, I’m certainly with my dog and my children, when they’re not off playing sports and doing their thing, because they take a lot after their mother, so they’re rarely home as well.

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

Shannon Steitz: Just thinking about the things that I wasn’t able to get to during any given day. It’s never fast enough; it’s never good enough; it could always be done better, quicker and differently. So, I’m always looking to, basically, enhance and elevate all that we do as a company, in each and every publication. Occasionally, does that keep me up at night? Absolutely. But not often, because typically when my head hits the pillow, I’m out, preparing to go onto the next day and the next adventure, which I love.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Pew Research Center’s Report Finds That Most Americans Say That Tensions Between Trump’s Administration & News Media Hinder Access To Political News – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jeffrey Gottfried, Senior Researcher…

April 4, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Update…

“I think what the findings of our study reveal is that the public does sense that there is a problem. That they see the relationship that’s going on between the Trump administration and between the U.S. news media as a problem, both in terms of creating an unhealthy relationship between those two parties, but also in terms of, they sense that they’re not getting the information, the important political news that they would be getting otherwise. And so, there is this sense that there is a problem with the way that this relationship is going.” Jeffrey Gottfried…

Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey and found that large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans say the relationship between the Trump administration and the news media is an unhealthy one. The focus of this study shows how amazing it is that almost 94 percent of Americans are aware of this debilitating relationship. And if you piggyback that with the research the Pew Center did in 2016, where 75 percent of Americans felt that the media tended to support one side more than the other; if you take both of those surveys together, you can’t help but to stop and think what is the future of journalism?

As a journalism professor; as an educator; I have to wonder what is the future of journalism and what prescriptions do we need to heal this unhealthiness between the media and the present administration, so that the public will have more access to political news, as they now feel they don’t have free and open access to political information?

With everything that’s going on in the world, it seems like it’s all being muddied by this unhealthy relationship.

These are not the opinions of myself or Mr. Gottfried, these are the actual findings of the report from the American people. And this morning, I spoke with Jeffrey Gottfried, senior researcher and one of the report’s lead authors about the actual findings of the study. What follows is that conversation:

Samir Husni: Did anything about this study surprise you?

Jeffrey Gottfried: Something that was really interesting about this was the high level of awareness that American’s had of the relationship between Trump and the news media. What we see is that this really is virtually ubiquitous of America. Everyone seems to have heard about it and everyone seems to know what’s going on. As it says, 94 percent of U.S. citizens have heard something about what’s going on.

What we found is that for a large majority of Americans, what they have seen does not reassure them. And that’s something that we found to be really interesting.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you didn’t ask about who shares the blame in all of this.

Jeffrey Gottfried: Right, this is something that we didn’t ask as part of our survey. The survey was really to get a sense of how and where people are, and to get a sense of whether they thought this was a problem or not. So, no, we did not ask in the survey who is to blame for these tensions.

Samir Husni: As a researcher; as someone who has done a lot of surveys and research, where do you think we’re heading, in terms of the journalism aspect? Are we on the right or wrong track? If the public is saying that this is hindering the access to political news; what is the future of journalism?

Jeffrey Gottfried: Your question may go a little beyond what we were after, but I think what the findings of our study reveal is that the public does sense that there is a problem. That they see the relationship that’s going on between the Trump administration and between the U.S. news media as a problem, both in terms of creating an unhealthy relationship between those two parties, but also in terms of, they sense that they’re not getting the information, the important political news that they would be getting otherwise. And so, there is this sense that there is a problem with the way that this relationship is going.

Samir Husni: During all of the research that you’ve done over the years, have you ever seen anything like this before?

Jeffrey Gottfried: We haven’t been able to ask this question before.

Samir Husni: Is it because we never had such a problem?

Jeffrey Gottfried: We’ve seen throughout the campaign that there were these tensions, and from the campaign itself through now, we do see many tensions that are going on and we felt that this was a really important question when it came to trying to understand what their relationship is and what the public thinks about it. Whether that people think there were tensions in previous administrations or not, we don’t really have that data point to be able to compare that. But it was because we did see these tensions manifesting themselves, so we wanted to get a sense of whether the public was actually feeing them or not.

Samir Husni: My concern, since I am also a professor of journalism, as well as being a magazine person, are you concerned about the future of journalism? I teach an Intro to Mass Communications class of 184 students, and when I asked them who they thought was more biased, President Trump or the news media, 134 of them said news media.

Jeffrey Gottfried: Again, that goes a bit beyond our study. But I think that our findings do sense that the, and I don’t want to speak to my concerns, I want to speak to the public’s concerns, but the public seems to be concerned. They seem to be thinking that what’s going on between the media and the Trump administration is unhealthy. They seem to sense that they’re not getting the information that they should be getting. So, the public has concerns, and I think that’s what’s really important here and that’s what we were trying to go after here. Does the public sense that there is a problem? And we see that overwhelmingly, a vast majority of Americans do sense that there is a problem. And that’s what we were really going after with this report.

Last year in another survey, we asked the extent to which people sense that the news media tend to favor one side or not. In 2016, about three-quarters of Americans overall, sensed that the news media overall do tend to favor one side. What side that is, we didn’t ask, but there is this overall sense among Americans that the news media do favor one side or another. In that case, we didn’t ask who do they favor and who is more biased, presidents or the media, but there is this overall sense, at least in 2016, that the media tend to favor one side.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Jones Publishing: Serving The Hobbyist, The Retailer, and Today’s Christians Through A Host Of Print Magazines – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With President And Publisher, Diana Jones…

March 31, 2017

“The thing that we have discovered, and we have such niche publications, is that our readers want what we have. Dolls Magazine, which is probably our biggest base where we’re the only one out there, so people want it because they’re collectors. It’s the same with Teddy Bear & Friends; people want it because that’s what they collect and that’s what they’re passionate about. And so if we can provide them information on their passion, they subscribe. And we have our highest renewal rates with those two titles. But I think because we have such targeted audiences, print is never going to be dead.” Diana Jones

For over 30 years, the family-owned Jones Publishing in Wisconsin, has been producing niche titles that range from doll (Doll Magazine) and teddy bear collecting (Teddy Bear & Friends) to its venture into the Christian world (Today’s Christian Living). The leadership of the company today has moved from Joe Jones, who founded the company back in 1986, to his daughter-in-law, Diana Jones, who serves as president and publisher of all of the titles that Jones has under its umbrella.

But the one nearest and dearest to Diana’s heart, Today’s Christian Living, is a cross between her ministry and the secular family business. I spoke to Diana recently and we talked about the company in general, and more specifically about Today’s Christian Living. Diana is excited about the content of the magazine that, according to its tagline, encourages, equips and engages Christians. Applying Christian principles to the way she runs the business and treats her staff, Diana doesn’t believe there is anything hard about running a mission-based magazine as a business. In fact, she believes the two complement each other nicely.

As someone who has a master’s degree in microbiology, she also doesn’t understand why many people think that science and Christianity don’t go hand-in-hand. She certainly does. And the magazine celebrates that, and offers testimonies of faith and hope, while connecting people with their passions. It’s an inspirational magazine with a message of hope and encouragement, just like its editor. So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Diana Jones, president and publisher, Jones Publishing.

But first the sound-bites:

On the DNA of Today’s Christian Living: Today’s Christian Living exists to encourage, equip and engage Christians. That’s our tagline and it’s something that I strongly believe in. Christians need encouragement; it’s hard for people to speak out and evangelize and share with others.

On why Jones Publishing, a secular company, is publishing a Christian magazine: For me, we got into this because my husband was a pastor in the early 2000s. And so our heart has always been in the ministry. And then this publication, it was Significant Living at the time, came across our desk. Our printer knew that my husband had been a pastor and told us that he had the perfect publication for us. So, as Christians, we immediately said yes, this is a ministry for us. And it was really exciting for me, and was actually what brought me into the publishing business. I’m a microbiologist. I have a master’s in microbiology. (Laughs) I don’t do much of that these days. The thing that I was so excited about was just being able to share what Jesus is doing in people’s lives. And that’s how I got into it.

On how they combine a ministry with a business: That’s a good question, though for me it’s actually not that hard. We raised support and were pastors on campus at U.W. Madison for five years. And that gave us a good feel for ministry. I worked in the microbiology field for a few years as well, and that’s where I got all of my management experience. I also homeschooled my kids for many years. The Significant Living editor position opened up and I said, ‘this is totally doable.’ As a Christian running a business, I operate on Christian principles and that’s how I treat my employees, respectfully. One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that everybody has a say. We listen to everyone, and even though they may not have the final decision, they do have a say.

On the biggest challenge she’s had to face: Honestly, Jones Publishing has been in the magazine publishing business for 31 years. We have a very well-trained staff. So, for me coming in, I had never worked in an editor’s position before, so that was probably our biggest challenge or stumbling block. My first issue was a learning experience, but I think we recovered well. (Laughs)

On what she would tell someone who asked her if she was out of her mind for continuing to publish print magazines in this digital age: Of course, we’re not out of our minds. (Laughs) The thing that we have discovered, and we have such niche publications, is that our readers want what we have. Dolls Magazine, which is probably our biggest base where we’re the only one out there, so people want it because they’re collectors. It’s the same with Teddy Bear & Friends; people want it because that’s what they collect and that’s what they’re passionate about. And so if we can provide them information on their passion, they subscribe. And we have our highest renewal rates with those two titles.

On how she balances all of the different titles within her mindset: I don’t have a problem with that at all. Just because I know that there are people in each of these areas who are passionate about what they do. And I’m passionate about what I do. I’m passionate about helping my employees be the best that they can be. And in producing the content that our readers want. I see it more as I’m passionate about what I love, these people are passionate about what they love, so it’s more about the passion of all of it. I don’t have a problem with switching gears and trying to think outside the box.

On a typical day in her life: After I get the kids off to school and I’m headed to work, it bounces everywhere. I was actually working on some of our websites the other day, just because they needed some tweaking. I like to have my hand in everything, because then I know what’s going on. As for running a company, if I don’t know what’s going on in some area, then I feel like I’ve failed, because you can’t keep the plate spinning if you’re not checking on the plate.

On what makes her tick and click about her job: I really love the management part, because I’ve probably done that the longest out of my entire career. But I love the editorial part too. I do not like ad sales. I don’t like doing that. And as publisher, just being able to direct content, and then working with the editors. I really do enjoy all of it. Some of our titles I’m not able to dig in as deep, such as with our aviation titles. I’m involved and aware, but I’m not determining how someone should fix their airplane. But Smart Retailer is one of my favorites as well. All of it is just a lot of fun.

On whether her life in the role of magazine president has been a walk in a rose garden: Well, there are always moments, but they’re fixable, and sometimes they don’t get fixed the way we want. I would never look at my life as a walk in a rose garden, just because of the things that have happened in my life, but you can always find the positive in most anything. And that’s what I try to do, especially for the sake of my kids. That has helped them transition through some different things we’ve gone through in our lives. It has allowed them to see that circumstances do not define who we are. And I think that’s important. We don’t define who we are by the negatives in our lives or the things that go wrong. We define ourselves by what we do about those negatives and how we fix them.

On anything she’d like to add: We have some exciting news; I’ll share that. We were just awarded the Small Business Associations Family-Owned Business of the Year award for the state of Wisconsin. So, we’re very excited about that.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly to her home one evening: If you were to show up at my house you would walk in and think I really needed a cleaning lady. (Laughs) It would depend on the night, but I’ll play a game with the kids, or we’ll read a book. On the side, I created a website because our school ward isn’t doing what they should be right now. So, I’ve been challenging them. Yes, you’d find me either sitting at the computer and creating something there or hanging out with the kids.

On what keeps her up at night: Typically and honestly, nothing keeps me up at night. And I try to go to bed knowing that I accomplished what I needed to for the day. The schoolboard has been keeping me up some, however. But outside of that; I love what I do and the more I’ve thought about it, I realize I’m happy with where I’m at in my life. This is where I want to be.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Diana Jones, president and publisher, Jones Publishing.

Samir Husni: You’re the president of Jones Publishing and also the publisher of every single title your company has. And you have a variety of titles, ranging from B to B to consumer magazines. Let’s talk about Today’s Christian Living; can you give me the DNA of the magazine and tell me the mission statement of the title?

Diana Jones: Today’s Christian Living exists to encourage, equip and engage Christians. That’s our tagline and it’s something that I strongly believe in. Christians need encouragement; it’s hard for people to speak out and evangelize and share with others. And equipping, meaning that we want to be a magazine where someone can go and say, ‘here’s how I handle this situation’ or ‘this is what the Bible has to say about it’ or ‘here’s how I can relate this to the culture.’ And then to engage in the culture is the other facet, because we want people to feel comfortable about passing it on to a non-Christian friend, and then they can read about the things that God is doing in our world.

Samir Husni: What type of credibility or authority does Jones Publishing have? Two years ago, Bauer Media launched Simple Grace, which Bauer is a secular company launching a Christian magazine. And you’re the same. All of your other titles are not Christian-based. If someone asks you why are you publishing Today’s Christian Living, what do you tell them?

Diana Jones: For me, we got into this because my husband was a pastor in the early 2000s. And so our heart has always been in the ministry. And then this publication, it was Significant Living at the time, came across our desk. Our printer knew that my husband had been a pastor and told us that he had the perfect publication for us. So, as Christians, we immediately said yes, this is a ministry for us. And it was really exciting for me, and was actually what brought me into the publishing business. I’m a microbiologist. I have a master’s in microbiology. (Laughs) I don’t do much of that these days.

The thing that I was so excited about was just being able to share what Jesus is doing in people’s lives. And that’s how I got into it. When I first came in, I wasn’t thinking, ‘oh, we’re a secular company,’ I was thinking, ‘this is my ministry.’ We spun it off of Jones Publishing, it’s still under the main company, but now it’s called CrossLife, which is the company that we publish it under because we wanted to set it apart.

Samir Husni: As people see the growth of non-traditional Christian magazines, the question some ask is how do you combine a ministry with a business?

Diana Jones: That’s a good question, though for me it’s actually not that hard. We raised support and were pastors on campus at U.W. Madison for five years. And that gave us a good feel for ministry. I worked in the microbiology field for a few years as well, and that’s where I got all of my management experience. I also homeschooled my kids for many years. The Significant Living editor position opened up and I said, ‘this is totally doable.’

As a Christian running a business, I operate on Christian principles and that’s how I treat my employees, respectfully. One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that everybody has a say. We listen to everyone, and even though they may not have the final decision, they do have a say.

Samir Husni: As far as business, I do see what you’re saying. One time I had a group of students who all wanted to start Christian magazines, so I brought in Harold Smith, who is now the CEO of Christianity Today, to speak with them. I figured, let them hear the business side from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. The first thing he told them was if they thought they would be working for Peter and Paul, they should think again, because they ran their business like a business. Yes, they are a Christian magazine, but they ran it as a business. While part of it might feel like a mission field, they still had to make money to survive.

Diana Jones: That is so true.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest challenge for you since acquiring Significant Living and changing it to Today’s Christian Living?

Diana Jones: Honestly, Jones Publishing has been in the magazine publishing business for 31 years. We have a very well-trained staff. So, for me coming in, I had never worked in an editor’s position before, so that was probably our biggest challenge or stumbling block. My first issue was a learning experience, but I think we recovered well. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Diana Jones: But for me, that was the biggest stumbling block. As a company, not all of our employees are Christians, and I’m okay with that, because I know that we do things with integrity. And who knows what might happen down the road. I do think that for me the business and the ministry aspects don’t collide the way people say science and Christianity do. Going through and getting my master’s degree in microbiology, no one there was a Christian, to be honest. I took a lot of flak. But I don’t see them as butting heads, I see them working together. And that’s how I see business and being a Christian and being a ministry.

Samir Husni: Did your parents start Jones Publishing?

Diana Jones: No, it was actually my parents-in-law.

Samir Husni: So, you came into a family publishing business, and now you are the president of that family publishing business?

Diana Jones: Correct.

Samir Husni: So, if someone asks you whether you’re out of your mind for continuing to publish print magazines in this digital age, how do you answer that?

Diana Jones: Of course, we’re not out of our minds. (Laughs) The thing that we have discovered, and we have such niche publications, is that our readers want what we have. Dolls Magazine, which is probably our biggest base where we’re the only one out there, so people want it because they’re collectors. It’s the same with Teddy Bear & Friends; people want it because that’s what they collect and that’s what they’re passionate about. And so if we can provide them information on their passion, they subscribe. And we have our highest renewal rates with those two titles.

But I think because we have such targeted audiences, print is never going to be dead. And we are looking forward. I became president in December 2016, and as I’ve been asking my management staff; where are we going to be in two, five, or ten years? Everything is always changing and if in 10 years we’re still where we are today, we won’t be viable.

So, we just hired somebody last month who is now our digital guru, he was with F+W Publications, and that’s what he did there. He will be looking at how we can monetize across all of our titles. And to just grab more people’s attention.

Samir Husni: How do you balance your business brain when you’re dealing with teddy bears, dolls, and Jesus? Is there a difference for you; when you have one magazine that you totally believe in, it’s your mission, and the other magazines are strictly business, unless you collect dolls and teddy bears?

Diana Jones: I don’t have a problem with that at all. Just because I know that there are people in each of these areas who are passionate about what they do. And I’m passionate about what I do. I’m passionate about helping my employees be the best that they can be. And in producing the content that our readers want. I see it more as I’m passionate about what I love, these people are passionate about what they love, so it’s more about the passion of all of it. I don’t have a problem with switching gears and trying to think outside the box. When we got our B to B titles, which are so different from our consumers; I found that I liked the diversity.

Samir Husni: Describe for me a passionate day-in-the-life of Diana Jones.

Diana Jones: (Laughs) After I get the kids off to school and I’m headed to work, it bounces everywhere. I was actually working on some of our websites the other day, just because they needed some tweaking. I like to have my hand in everything, because then I know what’s going on. As for running a company, if I don’t know what’s going on in some area, then I feel like I’ve failed, because you can’t keep the plate spinning if you’re not checking on the plate.

So, a day would look like me seeing things that need to be done, not having anyone at that moment to do it, and me doing it myself. Or maybe talking to the staff, or typically what will happen is I won’t get much done during the day because we try to have a numbers system, like if you’re at the deli where you pick a number and wait in line, and some days it’s like that, there will be a line out my door with people waiting to ask me something. It depends on the day, but they’re never the same.

Samir Husni: What’s your favorite part of your job and makes you tick and click?

Diana Jones: I really love the management part, because I’ve probably done that the longest out of my entire career. But I love the editorial part too. I do not like ad sales. I don’t like doing that. And as publisher, just being able to direct content, and then working with the editors. I really do enjoy all of it. Some of our titles I’m not able to dig in as deep, such as with our aviation titles. I’m involved and aware, but I’m not determining how someone should fix their airplane. But Smart Retailer is one of my favorites as well. All of it is just a lot of fun.

And I told my employees, if there is a time when you don’t want to come into work anymore, come and talk to me and let’s figure out why so we can fix it. To me, that’s probably the most important thing; making sure everybody is doing what they should be, but also that they love doing what they’re doing.

Samir Husni: Some people who read this interview might think your life is nothing but a walk in a rose garden; is that true? Is the role of a magazine president these days simply a walk in a rose garden? Or are there moments that make you wonder why you got into this business?

Diana Jones: (Laughs) Well, there are always moments, but they’re fixable, and sometimes they don’t get fixed the way we want. I would never look at my life as a walk in a rose garden, just because of the things that have happened in my life, but you can always find the positive in most anything. And that’s what I try to do, especially for the sake of my kids. That has helped them transition through some different things we’ve gone through in our lives. It has allowed them to see that circumstances do not define who we are. And I think that’s important. We don’t define who we are by the negatives in our lives or the things that go wrong. We define ourselves by what we do about those negatives and how we fix them.

Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Diana Jones: We have some exciting news; I’ll share that. We were just awarded the Small Business Associations Family-Owned Business of the Year award for the state of Wisconsin. So, we’re very excited about that.

Samir Husni: Congratulations.

Diana Jones: Thank you.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your house unexpectedly one evening after work, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; having a glass of wine; cooking for the kids; or something else?

Diana Jones: If you were to show up at my house you would walk in and think I really needed a cleaning lady. (Laughs) It would depend on the night, but I’ll play a game with the kids, or we’ll read a book. On the side, I created a website because our school ward isn’t doing what they should be right now. So, I’ve been challenging them. Yes, you’d find me either sitting at the computer and creating something there or hanging out with the kids.

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

Diana Jones: Screaming six-year-olds. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: How many six-year-olds do you have?

Diana Jones: Only one. (Laughs again) Just the other night I was up until about 2:00 a.m. with that one. Typically and honestly, nothing keeps me up at night. And I try to go to bed knowing that I accomplished what I needed to for the day. The schoolboard has been keeping me up some, however. But outside of that; I love what I do and the more I’ve thought about it, I realize I’m happy with where I’m at in my life. This is where I want to be.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

%d bloggers like this: