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Pacific Standard Magazine – A Magazine Worth Printing With Stories That Matter – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Nick Jackson, Editor In Chief, Pacific Standard Magazine.

July 25, 2016

COD_PacificStandard_w_580“We had to think what makes a magazine piece different than what anybody can get anywhere else? And for us that are the stories that we’re going to put months of work into; we’re going to dedicate extra research toward, whether that’s through fact-checking, copyediting, or just research and report. Also, I think that as much as people have tried, you can’t really replicate the print experience in any other medium.” Nick Jackson

“I have a walk-in closet that’s just my magazine closet. I subscribe to 40 magazines in print, despite being a guy who started in the digital space. I still think that print magazines are just such a perfect medium. They’re a great thing and I love seeing what everybody else is doing.” Nick Jackson

 Making the worlds of research, media and public policy, not to mention academia and technology, engaging and compelling to the general populace is something that Pacific Standard’s new redesign is setting out to do.

Launched originally in 2008 as Miller-McCune magazine by Sara Miller McCune, the founder and head of Sage Publications, the name was changed to Pacific Standard in 2012. The magazine has always striven to publish stories that are important and matter, covering topics that are left untouched by many other publications.

However, today’s Pacific Standard, with its compelling new redesign, has taken the maelstrom of hot topics that are splashed across today’s mediums and featured them within the pages of the magazine to captivate readers with timely information in a new and deeper format that brings the art of long-form journalism back to the forefront.

Nick Jackson is editor in chief of Pacific Standard and has brought the brand into this redesign boldly and confidently, anxious to show readers the positive changes that have been made. Nick comes from a background that includes such giants in publishing as The Atlantic, Slate and Outside magazines. He knows his stuff and is proud to be cultivating stories that inform and change people’s lives.

I spoke with Nick recently and we talked about the magazine’s new look and more poignant perspective. It was an interview that was filled with focus for the brand’s future and excitement for its present, without discounting its esteemed past, recognizing the brilliance of Sara Miller McCune, founder of Sage Publications, who launched the magazine.

So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who is helping his brand to continue to raise the “standard” in today’s journalism, Nick Jackson, editor in chief, Pacific Standard magazine

But first the sound-bites:

08 Nick_PacificStandard_0817_webOn his definition of a magazine “worth printing” in 2016: We need to differentiate ourselves from what everybody else is doing. We have a pretty robust presence at this point. We’re not huge, but we’re up to the point where we’re publishing 10 to 12 original, non-aggregation pieces a day on our site. So, we had to think what makes a magazine piece different than what anybody can get anywhere else?

On how they’re using digital to enhance the printed product: I actually think that’s something that I’m proudest of. My background is almost exclusively in digital. I got my start at Slate and The Atlantic years ago. And we’ve really created a truly hybrid newsroom; it’s a small newsroom, but it really is platform agnostic and informs everything we do.

On how the brand is doubling its efforts to utilize more research and investigative reporting in both the printed magazine and on its website: I think first of all; we have to do that. There’s really sort of a mass versus class situation in publishing right now. We don’t really aspire to be a BuzzFeed or even a Vice or Vox. And so we thought that it was really important to double down on our mission, which I think is something that not a lot of other places are doing. It’s really a couple of different factors for us and part of that is the academic background. A lot of our work is informed by the latest research, particularly in the social and behavioral sciences, rather than just relying on an anecdote.

COD_PacificStandard2_w_580On the redesign issue’s second cover: The other cover is Ralph Nader. We have special distribution on Capitol Hill, in airport lounges and a couple of other places. One of the things that we want to do is affect policy one way or another and I think that it helps for us to do hand delivery on Capitol Hill, where we thought Ralph Nader would resonate a little more strongly.

On whether the magazine’s targeted audience is shrinking or expanding in today’s world: For us, the audience is expanding. I don’t know what the larger groups of those sorts of people are; they’re difficult to reach. That’s the future. We were founded by Sara Miller McCune, whose background is in starting Sage Publications 50 years ago, which is an incredibly successful academic publisher, but that’s an entirely different business where you have to publish in those journals to go up for tenure.

On the biggest stumbling block he’s had to face during the redesign and how he overcame it: It would probably be finding that balance. We’re more focused on our mission than we’ve ever been. And I’ve worked with a lot of people here on narrowing that down. Knowing that we want to reach our audience and ultimately everybody wants their stuff to get out in front of as large an audience as possible.

On what has been the most pleasant moment during the redesign: It’s hard to pick just one. It’s been a lot of fun. At its best, magazine making is just a really fun and collaborative project, and over the past year or so while we were remaking the magazine we were also building out a new office space that has more room for us to grow into. So, we were actually making the magazine, and I talk about meeting in coffee shops and other things in the editor’s letter, but that’s completely true. (Laughs) A lot of this was made on the fly around California while we were building this new office space, while we were getting ready to grow and expand.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly at his home one evening: I’m probably reading a magazine. I have a walk-in closet that’s just my magazine closet. I subscribe to 40 magazines in print, despite being a guy who started in the digital space. I still think that print magazines are just such a perfect medium. They’re a great thing and I love seeing what everybody else is doing.

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: It’s the magazine we’re putting out. As I said, I worked at The Atlantic, Slate and Outside, and I did a lot of work there that I’m really proud of. Those are incredible publishers doing great work today, but a big chunk of my time was thinking through things such as; I’m going to send someone to live on Everest and report on the plight of Sherpas there, which is something that we did when I was at Outside.

On what keeps him up at night: Fact-checking. (Laughs) Fact-checking headaches. We’re about to close a food issue and for us that’s a big feature on food safety; an issue that involves 46 or more government agencies. So, the headaches of closing a piece like that are many. But, they’re very exciting challenges to work through. But they’re still challenges. So, you’re constantly worried.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Nick Jackson, Editor In Chief, Pacific Standard Magazine.

 Samir Husni: Congratulations on the new and improved Pacific Standard magazine. You wrote in your editorial that you decided to actually create a magazine worth printing in 2016. How would you define a magazine “worth printing” in today’s digital age?

Nick Jackson: We need to differentiate ourselves from what everybody else is doing. We have a pretty robust presence at this point. We’re not huge, but we’re up to the point where we’re publishing 10 to 12 original, non-aggregation pieces a day on our site. So, we had to think what makes a magazine piece different than what anybody can get anywhere else?

And for us that are the stories that we’re going to put months of work into; we’re going to dedicate extra research toward, whether that’s through fact-checking, copyediting, or just research and report. Also, I think that as much as people have tried, you can’t really replicate the print experience in any other medium. So, we’ve put a lot more energy, resources, time and money into our art and photography and we’re really trying to create this object that people want to keep.

One thing that I’m constantly thinking about is what National Geographic was to people in the 1980s and 1990s, which was a magazine that lived on the newsstand, but was also a magazine that people kept and collected. We’re trying to capture some of that in 2016. We want to last more than just a moment. We don’t want to compete with newsweeklies or other printed products. We want to create something that you’re going to keep and share and pass around; something that you’re going to refer back to over and over again. Those are the kinds of things that you can do in print in a way that you can’t do online. So, that really began the whole discussion about redesigning the magazine.

Samir Husni: I was looking at the redesigned issue and reading your letter from the editor and saw the accompanying photo. In that picture you’re using digital devices as you create this magazine, so how are you using digital to enhance this new Pacific Standard magazine that you’re trying to create?

Nick Jackson: I actually think that’s something that I’m proudest of. My background is almost exclusively in digital. I got my start at Slate and The Atlantic years ago. And we’ve really created a truly hybrid newsroom; it’s a small newsroom, but it really is platform agnostic and informs everything we do. Being platform agnostic is something that everybody talks about and aspires to, and it’s something that we’ve been talking about industry wide for five or six years now. But every place that I’ve worked there’s still people who work in digital and people who work in print. And for some places that works very well. You can look at Hearst where they’ve completely split the two.

Every single person on my team is working on both and that’s made both products better. For us that means that if we have someone who is primarily responsible for assigning featured stories, they can say this story is going to benefit from a quick turnaround time; maybe there’s news pegged like the upcoming election that we want to push out online, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense in print because of the long lead time. So, we really have people who are able to, because they’re working across platforms; decide something works best here or there. This is the story that’s going to be better if we put a couple of months of editing into it for the print magazine.

And that’s also helping our website. We’re doing more fact-checking and copyediting and some of the more traditional print processes; we’re doing more of that online that a lot of places are, so it’s making our website better too.

letter from the editorSamir Husni: You mentioned that in both, the print and the PS mag.com that you’re doubling down on the mission to combine research with narrative and investigative reporting; give me some examples of how you’re doing that.

Nick Jackson: I think first of all; we have to do that. There’s really sort of a mass versus class situation in publishing right now. We don’t really aspire to be a BuzzFeed or even a Vice or Vox. And so we thought that it was really important to double down on our mission, which I think is something that not a lot of other places are doing.

It’s really a couple of different factors for us and part of that is the academic background. A lot of our work is informed by the latest research, particularly in the social and behavioral sciences, rather than just relying on an anecdote.

Another differing factor is our core focus areas, where we focus on educational, economic and social justice, and the environment, which largely is a lot of climate change for us now. But you can see those in almost any story we do, so the new redesign issue’s cover for newsstands is “The Addicted Generation.” We had a separate cover for some of our special distribution, but that’s another conversation.

“The Addicted Generation,” which is a traditional magazine piece in that there was weeks’ worth of reporting and dozens of sources of people in their late 20s and early 30s, largely millennials who grew up on Ritalin and other ADHD drugs and who are now struggling, trying to get themselves off of it. They would consider themselves addicted, that’s a word that we don’t use lightly, but it comes up over and over again in our reporting on this.

But it’s more than just their stories. We actually in print and we struggled with this a little bit online, where you can see the packaging of print really is something special. We moved a lot of their individual and personal stories into sidebars, and ran them like “as told” and we focused the feature itself around what the research really told us about how people become dependent on these drugs or don’t become dependent; where’s the research at? The core of the feature is really written with the people studying this issue and the doctors at the heart of it, and then we moved the actual effected millennials into the sidebars.

So, that’s probably a slightly different approach than another magazine would have taken on this story, but I think it really sets us apart and offers something unique and important to our readers.

Samir Husni: You’ve piqued my interest by mentioning another cover; what’s the other cover?

Nick Jackson: The other cover is Ralph Nader. We have special distribution on Capitol Hill, in airport lounges and a couple of other places. One of the things that we want to do is affect policy one way or another and I think that it helps for us to do hand delivery on Capitol Hill, where we thought Ralph Nader would resonate a little more strongly.

I mentioned this in the editor’s letter too; in the redesign we opened up the feature well a little bit, we’re going to be running four features an issue instead of three and with some of that extra space we’re going to be doing more photo essays and more long-form interviews. So, Ralph Nader is our first long-form interview.

We’ve paired with Lydia DePillis, who used to be a labor reporter at the Washington Post and is now at the Houston Chronicle down in Texas. But she has a deep background in a lot of these issues that Ralph Nader’s been involved in for 40 or 50 years at this point. We paired them up and had them talk a lot about the election and what’s coming up. We thought the timing would do well, so he’s our first. And then we have a couple more in the works, but the long-form interview is something that I think we want to do more of and we’re hoping that opening up the feature well will allow us to do that.

That’s the first time that we’ve done a split cover, I don’t know if we’ll keep doing it, but we have been playing around a lot with covers lately. Even the previous issue, which was an entirely water-themed issue; we did a wraparound cover and because we’re a non-profit, we’re in a slightly different position than other places. That back page real estate is less important to us for advertisers and I think it really helps differentiate us. We’re going to try and do some more wraparound covers. I think it gives this thing more of a book quality than a traditional magazine.

back cover useSamir Husni: I love your insect and spider back cover. It’s been said that 55% of people in the Western Hemisphere start reading the magazine from the back.

Nick Jackson: Right. We’ve been working on this redesign while putting out the magazine for 9 or 10 months or so, and there are a lot of obvious things that we wanted to do: expand the feature well, bring more art and photography in, eliminate stock completely; probably the most difficult thing to come up with was what to do with that back page. Not the back cover, but that last page in the magazine. I think everybody in the industry talks about it, and I think only a few magazines have figured it out. You think about The New Yorker cartoon, or maybe the Proust Questionnaire at Vanity Fair, but it’s such a difficult piece of real estate.

Samir Husni: I think even with the prison tattoo; it’s a very captivating last page.

p useNick Jackson: Yes, we’re just going to try and keep it really bold and bright; just focus on a single object that’s related to some of our core coverage areas and tell a brief, little historical story about that object. It was fun, because we actually had someone create that prison tattoo gun before we shot it, so we have it here in the office. I talked about using it to maybe give myself a small Pacific Standard tattoo or something. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Let’s talk a little about your targeted audience. “You’re trying to reach civically engaged citizens interested in improving both private behavior and public policy to promote a more fair and equitable world.” I read that from your letter from the editor. Is that audience shrinking or is that audience expanding? Do we have such an audience in the country as we see it today?

Nick Jackson: For us, the audience is expanding. I don’t know what the larger groups of those sorts of people are; they’re difficult to reach. That’s the future. We were founded by Sara Miller McCune, whose background is in starting Sage Publications 50 years ago, which is an incredibly successful academic publisher, but that’s an entirely different business where you have to publish in those journals to go up for tenure.

We know that most academic papers are only read by three or four people and there’s really important work being done in the space, and that’s really why we put out this magazine, which is how do we take some of the best research happening today and package that in a way that gets people excited.

I just talked about Ralph Nader being our first big interview; we don’t do the big celebrity profile; we don’t do the extended service package; we don’t do a lot of the things that are easier sells to an audience for other people. We’re doing some pretty deeply investigative reporting. We’re doing a lot of scientific work; how do you package that in a way that gets people excited about it and engaged with it?

That’s really why we redesigned the magazine. We’re constantly thinking about how you get in front of those people; how do we stay true to our mission and reach them? So, we know that our audience is expanding.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face during this redesign and how did you overcome it?

Nick Jackson: It would probably be finding that balance. We’re more focused on our mission than we’ve ever been. And I’ve worked with a lot of people here on narrowing that down. Knowing that we want to reach our audience and ultimately everybody wants their stuff to get out in front of as large an audience as possible.

So, a lot of it was thinking, OK – we have this front-of-book that’s largely built around the academic work that is our foundation, but maybe it’s too academic in its presentation. We were doing a lot with citations to journals; we had a lot of departments named after things that hinted back at the university and the Ivory Tower. Maybe it was a little off-putting for just your general reader, which is really who you’re trying to expose with new information.

A lot of that we worked on, and I think we’ve landed in a place that we’re pretty comfortable with. We have pushed what used to be our prospector section, as a sort of short front-of-book stuff, with this new section called “Field Notes,” which is really our version of Talk of the Town. They’re very short, very fun pieces and they’re lighter on the research than a lot of the other stuff we do. So, trying to find that balance is always tricky for us.

But it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to stray from our mission too much and just do work to attract an audience, because if that’s what we wanted to do, we would work elsewhere. I worked at The Atlantic and Outside and at a bunch of big publishers and had a much larger audience than we do here, but the reason for me coming to Pacific Standard was that I wanted to do work that I felt was important. I wanted to do stories that mattered, which we make our tag on. And work that feels like it can make a difference, whether that’s affecting public policy like we talked about, even if it’s affecting private, individual behavior in some way.

Obviously, with everything going on now we’re doing a lot of work around the Black Lives Matter movement and police violence. If you can just use the latest social behavioral research to get people to think about their actions and maybe change them, instead of, I don’t know, creating some quiz or list or something that’s been done in the past, then that’s the most important thing, even if you’re not reaching a huge audience.

Trying to find that balance is always hard. I’ve got a lot of people who have left bigger and more well-known magazines to come out here and try to work on this, because they think everybody is excited about having some affect. So, you’re looking to give up the scale for the impact. Trying to measure impact and trying to figure out what the right equation is will always be tricky.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment during the redesign?

Nick Jackson: It’s hard to pick just one. It’s been a lot of fun. At its best, magazine making is just a really fun and collaborative project, and over the past year or so while we were remaking the magazine we were also building out a new office space that has more room for us to grow into. So, we were actually making the magazine, and I talk about meeting in coffee shops and other things in the editor’s letter, but that’s completely true. (Laughs) A lot of this was made on the fly around California while we were building this new office space, while we were getting ready to grow and expand.

And just getting this brain trust, this group of people who have come from all over the country to work together on this magazine, to think through things such as if we start from scratch, and there are a lot of things that have remained the same from previous iterations because they work, but let’s think about it as though we’re creating a magazine from scratch and we have the resources to do that; how do we make a magazine that we’re excited about putting out?

And it’s really the collaborative nature of magazine making that’s a great joy. The best part about it is that it doesn’t end when the redesign is ready and that’s a daily process. I’m in the middle of shift week right now and I have a lot of people huddled around, trying to put out the best thing they can on a timeline. And that’s always so much fun.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home one evening after work unexpectedly, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine, or reading your iPad; watching television, or something else?

Nick Jackson: I’m probably reading a magazine. I have a walk-in closet that’s just my magazine closet. I subscribe to 40 magazines in print, despite being a guy who started in the digital space. I still think that print magazines are just such a perfect medium. They’re a great thing and I love seeing what everybody else is doing.

So, I’m probably reading a magazine; maybe I’m reading other stuff online. There’s very little I’m doing that’s not related to my work, which may sound sad to some people, I guess, but it’s how I found my way into this. I went to a boarding school for math and science geeks and thought I would become a physicist, and only decided to get into journalism and magazine making because it was sort of my hobby and my interest on the side. And I thought if I can make that a career, then that’s the way to go.

When your put in a position when you seem to have a clear trajectory in one direction and you shift from that because you’re so passionate about whatever it is that’s pulling you in another direction, then that shows in your work.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Nick Jackson: It’s the magazine we’re putting out. As I said, I worked at The Atlantic, Slate and Outside, and I did a lot of work there that I’m really proud of. Those are incredible publishers doing great work today, but a big chunk of my time was thinking through things such as; I’m going to send someone to live on Everest and report on the plight of Sherpas there, which is something that we did when I was at Outside.

But I also have to think about how do I put together a great service package for somebody? Or how do I grow the revenue streams on the website? And that’s something that we’re still sort of thinking about here, but most of our energy and focus goes into just putting out great stories, which I think is what everybody who gets into this business wants to do, but realizes at best that can only be a percentage of what they do. Here, it’s a much larger percentage than anywhere else.

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

Nick Jackson: Fact-checking. (Laughs) Fact-checking headaches. We’re about to close a food issue and for us that’s a big feature on food safety; an issue that involves 46 or more government agencies. So, the headaches of closing a piece like that are many. But, they’re very exciting challenges to work through. But they’re still challenges. So, you’re constantly worried. The difference with print over web is that I have a ship date that I have to meet; these stories have to be ready at a certain time. No matter what they have to be ready to go out the door. And that can be tricky.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Niépi Magazine Launches In The U.S. – Teaching Us Cuisine & The Art Of Living As Only The French Can – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Peter S. Walsh, Publisher, Niépi Magazine, U.S.A.

July 21, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 7.15.43 PM “I’m a huge believer that print helps to monetize the digital audience. And as evidence of that is the fact that All Recipes was digital-only and then launched print.” Peter S. Walsh

(On whether he believes newsstands are dead or dying) “I would never use those words because I have too much respect for all of the good people who are in the newsstand industry, whether it’s retailer, distributor, national distributor, wholesaler, or publishers. We’re all aware over the last 25 years how much things have changed, in that the amount of magazines that are being distributed through the system has grown tremendously, but the amount of space for display has not. Yet, the largest and the most sophisticated and healthiest publishers like Meredith, like Condé Nast, like Hearst; they continue to launch magazines in print.” Peter S. Walsh

 Niépi – defined as a Balinese ceremony held on the night of New Year’s during which noise is made to scare away demons and our own fears. Niépi Magazine embraces that definition – only from a food state of mind.

The magazine was created and founded by Frédérique Barral and her daughter, who were both diagnosed as gluten intolerant. A native of France, Frédérique decided that she and her daughter needed to take control of the ingredients that went into their bodies, learn about them and decide what went into their foods. And it was in that mindset the idea for Niépi magazine was born and began publishing a French language version in France and Belgium in 2014.

Peter S. Walsh is a businessman who knows quite a bit about the magazine media business, from circulation to distribution to print production, Peter has done it all for many, many years. And he knew a great title when he saw it. That’s why when he was approached about publishing an English language version of the magazine, he did his research and Niépi magazine was born in the United States. It’s scheduled to debut on newsstands in early September.

I spoke with Peter recently and we talked about the magazine; about its origins; its name, and its future. Oh, and if you’re trying to tie the meaning of the name in with the food category – think about it this way: learning to live free of the demons that can affect our bodies, or in Peter’s words, “It’s teaching its readers about sustainable, organic food and showing people ways to eat so that it enhances their health and wellbeing.” And it’s extremely memorable and the tagline totally befitting: Cuisine & the Art of Living.

So, make some noise and create your own “Niépi” as you read and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter S. Walsh, Publisher, Niépi Magazine, U.S.

But first the sound-bites:

Peter Walsh Head Shot 7_17_16On why he decided to launch a print magazine in the food space in today’s digital age: I’m a huge believer that print helps to monetize the digital audience. And as evidence of that is the fact that All Recipes was digital-only and then launched print. I thought there was a really great opportunity in the marketplace for a magazine that sets out up front that it’s covering organic, natural foods, sustainably-sourced foods, etc.

On what Niépi brings to the marketplace that isn’t already there: Our editorial mission is to show people beautiful food and recipes so that they’re eating things that are healthy and natural, which increases their wellbeing and overall health. And we’re covering it from the viewpoint and through the prism of the French people, or in particular, this French editor.

On his expectations for the magazine: In terms of the newsstands, like all magazines, I want to put it where I believe the readers are. And we believe that overwhelmingly the readers are female and we believe that we’ll attract an audience that is younger than, let’s say, Bon Appétit’s audience. So, what I want to do is, and am accomplishing this now with the help of Curtis Circulation, is get into Whole Foods and Kroger and Mariano’s Fresh Market and other great markets. The first order of business is bringing it into those retailers that are really devoting space to organic produce and foods.

On whether he feels the newsstand is dead or dying: I would never use those words because I have too much respect for all of the good people who are in the newsstand industry, whether it’s retailer, distributor, national distributor, wholesaler, or publishers. We’re all aware over the last 25 years how much things have changed, in that the amount of magazines that are being distributed through the system has grown tremendously, but the amount of space for display has not. Yet, the largest and the most sophisticated and healthiest publishers like Meredith, like Condé Nast, like Hearst; they continue to launch magazines in print.

On anything else he’d like to add: I hope that I defined it correctly as sustainable, organic food and showing people ways to eat so that it enhances their health and wellbeing.

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: I tell people all of the time that I am a bit of a magazine geek. And I’ve been involved with magazines since 1981 when I started with ICF, a division of the Hearst Corporation here in Chicago. Over the years I’ve worked for companies such as Hearst and ADS Publisher Services. And I am somebody who just finds magazines one of the greatest media out there. I enjoy the format.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up at his home one evening after work unexpectedly: You’d probably catch me at my desk or on my couch. I read a lot of magazines and also I wear a lot of different hats in my business. I am one of the owners of Niépi, that’s part of it. I am an owner.

On whether this is the first time he’s been a magazine owner: It is, yes. For 35 years I’ve either been a circulator or a consultant to publishers. And I continue to do that and I specialize in circulation and I also, over the last 10 years, have specialized in print production, because I currently do a lot of graphic design and printing projects. I print catalogs as well as I print magazines. So, to a small publisher I have been functioning as the circulation department and the production department.

On whether it makes a difference that he’s an owner this time around, rather than a hired consultant: Of course it does. It makes me want to work harder and obviously over the last three or four months I’ve had to set up many, many different parts of the structure, including the postal and the fulfillment, e-commerce, the website and social media.

On what keeps him up at night: To be brutally honest, what keeps me up is will our editorial be compelling enough to attract readers and to have them return and repeat purchase, whether that’s on the newsstand or subscription, because I tell people all of the time as good a circulator as I am; I can print it and make it look beautiful, but I cannot make people buy the magazine. And that’s the Catch-22.

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter S. Walsh, Publisher, Niépi Magazine, U.S.

Samir Husni: How did you reach the decision to launch a print magazine, especially in the food space, in this digital age?

cover01-2Peter S. Walsh: I’m a huge believer that print helps to monetize the digital audience. And as evidence of that is the fact that All Recipes was digital-only and then launched print.

What happened in this particular case was that I am a consultant and a long-time circulator, and a gentleman who was an American, but lives in the south of France, met this couple that had started this magazine in 2014. He met them within just the last year. And when he met them he thought it was a beautiful magazine and he realized that they produced it in French, in France and Belgium, and he asked them would they be open to a co-publishing or royalty agreement where we would do it in English, and so we’re calling this the International version – English language version, of Niépi.

So, John, my financial partner, found me after poking around the newsstand business a little and realized that he needed someone to kind of steer the ship. And some people referred him to me. We sat down and talked. I was very impressed with the magazine and even though I knew the category of cuisine and food titles well, I wasn’t recently familiar with it, but I did a lot of research after John and I talked. I thought there was a really great opportunity in the marketplace for a magazine that sets out up front that it’s covering organic, natural foods, sustainably-sourced foods, etc.

And of course, we see how the supermarket industry has been doing in the last few years, where more or less the largest supermarkets have plateaued or flattened. And the ones that are growing are the ones that are devoting more space in their produce department to organic foods.

Samir Husni: What’s the expectations? Food has become the sex category of the 21st century in magazines; we have more food titles in the marketplace than ever before. You name the specialty and it’s there. What does this new magazine bring to the market that’s not already there?

Peter S. Walsh: You’re right. Years ago we had the very large food titles like Bon Appétit, Gourmet, which obviously Condé Nast folded years ago in 2009, and Food & Wine. And they’re all very large. And as you indicated, in recent years the category has fragmented into subject-specific food titles, such as gluten-free or sugar-free, etc. And I believe those are all covered in what we’re doing.

Our editorial mission is to show people beautiful food and recipes so that they’re eating things that are healthy and natural, which increases their wellbeing and overall health. And we’re covering it from the viewpoint and through the prism of the French people, or in particular, this French editor.

Samir Husni: You’ve been involved before with the magazine Naked Food and you’ve done other things in this category, so you’re no stranger to the niche. Now, if you would please put your newsstand cap on and tell me about a magazine with a French name, one that has gorgeous pictures in it; what do you think your expectations should be? Do you think that people are going to stop in their tracks and say: what’s this?

Peter S. Walsh: Actually, the name Niépi is not French. It’s French spelling because the couple that founded the magazine is from the south of France. The name Niépi is from the island of Bali and they have sort of a New Year’s celebration that goes on for about a week. And in the middle of it, they call one evening of the festivities Niépi. And what they do is people go outside and bang on pots and pans and make lots of noise and you may have heard about this in other cultures as well. The idea is that they’re casting out evil spirits and starting the New Year fresh.

It’s also a bit of an allegory of embracing our lives and casting away fear and living a little more fearlessly. And in the case of our magazine, the couple liked the theme and then they changed it to a French spelling, but the idea is that food and the way people approach it, it just so happened that this couple, Frédérique Barral and her daughter, were having some health issues, They became diagnosed as gluten intolerant, so they started the magazine talking about gluten-free, and again, it’s the two of them saying to the readership: take control of your diet. Take control of the ingredients in the food that you put into your body. So, that’s the reason behind the name.

When I was introduced to the magazine I thought: OK, it’s not an English language word. We’ll immediately need to spell that out to the reader, so if they see it on the newsstand they’ll know what it is. But with that said, I still liked the name Niépi because it’s short and cute, and because it’s memorable. People can remember it very quickly. And what we did is add the tagline right below it, which is Cuisine & the Art of Living.

In terms of the newsstands, like all magazines, I want to put it where I believe the readers are. And we believe that overwhelmingly the readers are female and we believe that we’ll attract an audience that is younger than, let’s say, Bon Appétit’s audience. So, what I want to do is, and am accomplishing this now with the help of Curtis Circulation, is get into Whole Foods and Kroger and Mariano’s Fresh Market and other great markets. The first order of business is bringing it into those retailers that are really devoting space to organic produce and foods. Of course, we’ll also be in every Barnes & Noble because we pay the promotional fee. Also, like most food titles, we’ll have a lot more subscriptions than we will have newsstand sales.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you have a hefty cover price.

Peter S. Walsh: Yes, $9.95. And that’s quarterly.

 Samir Husni: People keep telling us that the newsstand is dead or dying; is it?

Peter S. Walsh: I would never use those words because I have too much respect for all of the good people who are in the newsstand industry, whether it’s retailer, distributor, national distributor, wholesaler, or publishers. We’re all aware over the last 25 years how much things have changed, in that the amount of magazines that are being distributed through the system has grown tremendously, but the amount of space for display has not.

Yet, the largest and the most sophisticated and healthiest publishers like Meredith, like Condé Nast, like Hearst; they continue to launch magazines in print. And what we try to do is just basically be targeted and be very vigilant about where the copies go, because I like high sell-through. I want to get a 50% sell-through and I remember years ago when 50% was a low sell-through, so that shows you my age. (Laughs)

There was also a study recently that I read, which I was very interested in, and it showed that when people have great discounts off of their newsstand price; when they sell subscriptions at discounts of 50% or 60%, or more, then that’s connected to lower sell-throughs on the newsstand. And I thought that was really insightful and intriguing.

Cover prices have obviously gone higher. We’re printing a magazine that will be on heavier paper and it’ll be thicker than most of the other magazines that are in the space. And we know that quarterly $10 is not too much. Our basic subscription is $29.95, so that’s 25% off the newsstand. And if we increase frequency, I hope we can do six issues next year in 2017, and if things are profitable and the marketplace wants more, we’ll increase it to maybe 8, 9, or 10 issues in 2018. We’ll lower the cover price a bit if we increase frequency.

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

Peter S. Walsh: I hope that I defined it correctly as sustainable, organic food and showing people ways to eat so that it enhances their health and wellbeing.

Samir Husni: And the first issue will hit newsstands when?

Peter S. Walsh: Around September 1, 2016. We’re shipping around August 15th.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Peter S. Walsh: I tell people all of the time that I am a bit of a magazine geek. And I’ve been involved with magazines since 1981 when I started with ICF, a division of the Hearst Corporation here in Chicago. Over the years I’ve worked for companies such as Hearst and ADS Publisher Services. And I am somebody who just finds magazines one of the greatest media out there. I enjoy the format.

When I was with Times Mirror Magazines, I was the guy who got cross-merchandising into Wal-Mart and Kmart. So, we put hunting and fishing magazines in the hunting and fishing departments, rather than the mainline and it was shortly followed by craft magazines, etc. I’m a great magazine devotee. I literally touched or worked on hundreds of magazines. I’ve been able to catch lightning in a bottle a few different times and I really like talking about magazines, whether it’s the operations or whether I’m selling advertising, which I am starting to do with this magazine.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your house one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching television; or something else?

Peter S. Walsh: You’d probably catch me at my desk or on my couch. I read a lot of magazines and also I wear a lot of different hats in my business. I am one of the owners of Niépi, that’s part of it. I am an owner.

Samir Husni: Is that a first for you, being an owner?

Peter S. Walsh: It is, yes. For 35 years I’ve either been a circulator or a consultant to publishers. And I continue to do that and I specialize in circulation and I also, over the last 10 years, have specialized in print production, because I currently do a lot of graphic design and printing projects. I print catalogs as well as I print magazines. So, to a small publisher I have been functioning as the circulation department and the production department.

Every facet of magazine publishing is interesting to me and I’m not an editor; I’m not trained as an editor, but I hire editors and designers. As far as the business side of publishing magazines, that’s really my passion. It really is.

Samir Husni: Does it make a difference that you’re an owner this time around, rather than a hired consultant?

Peter S. Walsh: Of course it does. It makes me want to work harder and obviously over the last three or four months I’ve had to set up many, many different parts of the structure, including the postal and the fulfillment, e-commerce, the website and social media.

Of course, being an owner and having partners; I have people to answer to and I’m giving this 110% of my time.

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

Peter S. Walsh: To be brutally honest, what keeps me up is will our editorial be compelling enough to attract readers and to have them return and repeat purchase, whether that’s on the newsstand or subscription, because I tell people all of the time as good a circulator as I am; I can print it and make it look beautiful, but I cannot make people buy the magazine. And that’s the Catch-22.

I believe that the editorial mission and the brand that comes from editorial and the design together; that is what drives a magazine. All great magazines; people can instantly tell. What is Rolling Stone about editorially? Well, we all know it’s rock and roll, but it’s also politics and it’s liberal. And that’s a voice that’s been going on since Jann Wenner was throwing the bundles off the back of his station wagon in San Francisco in 1967, same thing with Time or Playboy.

I think that if we want to be a great magazine and be around for the long term, we have to be compelling editorially and be of service to our readers. The proof is in the pudding and we’ll see when we get out there.

Samir Husni: Thank you

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Local Pittsburgh & Local Arts Magazines: Two Regional Publications That Believe Both In The Printed Word & The Need For It Today More Than Ever – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jeff Rose, Owner/Publisher, Local Pittsburgh & Local Arts Magazines

July 19, 2016

Local Pittsburgh 1“The first reason is that I think people are on digital overload. You look at your phone and your computer all day or your tablet all day, and it’s not comforting. If you go to sit on your porch and you want to just read something; our publication is set up to be interesting, fast reads. We’re not trying to do five page essays on things, because I don’t think people’s attention spans allow for that anymore.” Jeff Rose… (On why he still sees a need for print in this digital age)

 “Millennials, the younger generation that has been overloaded from the day they were born with digital, are now discovering the pleasures of reading a book or reading a magazine. It’s almost like an escape; you don’t have to worry about your tablet and that email that’s popping up in the middle of your reading something.” Jeff Rose

Any publication that puts its readers first by putting its content first will receive a big thumbs-up from Mr. Magazine™. Content is king because your audience is your kingdom; without them there would be no need for you – or your advertisers.

jeff roseLocal Pittsburgh magazine has been devoting itself to its “kingdom” for three years now and Owner/Publisher Jeff Rose is a firm believer that his audience is and always will be first and everything else is secondary. I spoke with Jeff recently and we talked about his regional publication and his newest launch, Local Arts, which focuses on Pittsburgh’s art scene.

Jeff’s take on publishing is straight-on, no holds-barred customer and stories first. He doesn’t believe in cultivating advertising relationships based on advertorial or any other ties that bind, other than good old-fashioned, well-written content.

He is a man who calls himself a “small” businessman, but in reality his integrity and strong belief in his brand make his outlook and professionalism cast a very big shadow indeed. Plus, he is print passionate and gives some very good reasons why the world still needs to be flipping pages with their fingers, not their mouse.

So, I hope that you enjoy this very informative and straightforward interview with a man who is just as informed and candid as his opinion, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jeff Rose, Owner/Publisher, Local Pittsburgh & Local Arts Magazines.

But first the sound-bites:

LocalArtsOn how he moved from direct marketing and coupon-type publications into the consumer side of publishing with Local Pittsburg and Local Arts magazines: My business partner and I felt that, in the city of Pittsburgh anyway, there wasn’t any publication that was a champion of small business and of stories that mattered. Everything that was being done in Pittsburgh was pay-to-play. There are some good publications in Pittsburgh, without a doubt, but we just felt there was a gap there.

On how he decided to fill that gap: We looked at the demographics of some of the other publications. They were either really high-end or we have a weekly city paper that’s published that’s really just more or less covering the bars and some of the weekly activities, but there was nothing on a quarterly basis that was really talking about things going on in and around the city and that was speaking to people who engage in the city.

On why he decided to launch a local arts magazine: About a year ago we brought on a full-time editor, before we were basically flying by the seat of our pants. The editor had some background with a web page that focused on the arts and so he started introducing stories on painters and on performing arts, but I noticed that he was only getting a couple of pages in the back of the book. And I noticed in other publications and in newspapers; everywhere was devoting just a little bit of space to the arts, but not a lot.

On the non-traditional sizes of both magazines: Well, because we were Local Pittsburgh and there was already a publication called Pittsburg Magazine; if I had gone traditional magazine size, I think there might have been some confusion. Then when Local Arts came along, if I had done it the same size as Local Pittsburgh, it would have been thought of as maybe just a supplement. I wanted it to be different.

On why he thinks there’s still a need for a printed publication in this digital age: The first reason is that I think people are on digital overload. You look at your phone and your computer all day or your tablet all day, and it’s not comforting. If you go to sit on your porch and you want to just read something; our publication is set up to be interesting, fast reads. We’re not trying to do five page essays on things, because I don’t think people’s attention spans allow for that anymore.

On the most pleasant moment he’s had on this journey: I don’t know if there’s been a single moment; it’s ongoing. Being a small business owner, it’s frustrating at times. I’m question myself and what I’m doing, but it’s when I walk in to talk to a client and instead of them saying that they like the ad we’re running for them, they say to me that they read a certain article and found it totally immersive and that the magazine is publishing good pieces.

On the biggest stumbling block he’s had to face: Well, when you hear all of the time that people are putting all of their money into digital or that they don’t believe in print anymore; it’s frustrating because first off, in a lot of instances, the I-put-all-of-my-money-into-digital, especially when it comes to small business owners, really means that they don’t have a marketing budget. And that’s really what it comes down to.

Local Pittsburgh 2 1On anything else he’s like to add: Things changed tremendously when I brought on an editor who understood that end of the business. That was kind of an A-ha moment for the company. As a magazine, you need to think of readership first.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly to his home one evening: I’m a Netflix and Amazon Prime documentary junkie. I watch documentaries constantly. So, that’s probably what you would find me doing, because I don’t get home until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. and that’s pretty much what I do.

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: The pure panic of knowing that I have to pay bills and pay people; I have to go out and finish up articles; I have deadlines coming up. So, pretty much sheer panic gets me out of bed every morning. (Laughs)

On what keeps him up at night: I always second-guess and question myself. Not so much question what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it. In other words, when we went with the smaller size for Local Arts; I loved it and it received great reviews, but I immediately questioned myself. Should I have gone with a larger size? Should I have stayed with the Local Pittsburgh size?

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jeff Rose, Owner/Publisher, Local Pittsburgh & Local Arts Magazines.

Samir Husni: Tell me the history behind Local Pittsburgh and Local Arts; I know you were in the direct marketing, advertising and coupon-type publications for about 15 years, but what gave you the idea to move into the consumer side of things with Local Pittsburgh and then just this year, Local Arts magazine?

Local Pittsburgh 3Jeff Rose: My business partner and I felt that, in the city of Pittsburgh anyway, there wasn’t any publication that was a champion of small business and of stories that mattered. Everything that was being done in Pittsburgh was pay-to-play. So, all of the articles coming out, anything that was written, you could basically trace it back to an ad on the page or two that followed. And the content was really lousy and people weren’t reading, and because of that I think other publications were struggling. There are some good publications in Pittsburgh, without a doubt, but we just felt there was a gap there.

Samir Husni: And how did you decide to fill this gap?

Jeff Rose: We looked at the demographics of some of the other publications. They were either really high-end or we have a weekly city paper that’s published that’s really just more or less covering the bars and some of the weekly activities, but there was nothing on a quarterly basis that was really talking about things going on in and around the city and that was speaking to people who engage in the city; young families living in the city; singles living in the city; graduate students; people who go out and spend money in these small businesses that are engaged in local events and go to the art galleries and volunteer. And we felt that we could fill that gap and so far, so good.

Samir Husni: I know that Local Pittsburgh has been publishing for three years now and then you launched Local Arts earlier this year; why did you decide to branch specifically into the arts?

Jeff Rose: About a year ago we brought on a full-time editor, before we were basically flying by the seat of our pants. The editor had some background with a web page that focused on the arts and so he started introducing stories on painters and on performing arts, but I noticed that he was only getting a couple of pages in the back of the book. And I noticed in other publications and in newspapers; everywhere was devoting just a little bit of space to the arts, but not a lot.

In the last five to eight years in Pittsburgh, we’ve witnessed a restaurant renaissance and now we’re kind of experiencing an art renaissance going on here. A lot of local artists from Brooklyn and from other large cities are moving to Pittsburgh because it’s affordable. And the art scene here is bursting. I realized that no one was doing a publication that was focused on this.

Our publication, as opposed to being an art publication like a lot of the others are, they’re basically written for artists and written for art collectors; we write for the general population that might be interested in art and want to know more about what’s going on in the arts and aren’t trying to educate themselves. So, we take it from a different point of view than a lot of other art publications across the country and what they seem to focus on.

Samir Husni: One thing that I noticed about both magazines is that you opted for a different size, not the traditional magazine size. Local Pittsburgh has more of a horizontal flow and Local Arts is a bit larger than a square. Why is that?

Jeff Rose: Well, because we were Local Pittsburgh and there was already a publication called Pittsburg Magazine; if I had gone traditional magazine size, I think there might have been some confusion.

Also, I just felt like that if I was going to do something to make the publication stand out immediately, it had to be a change in format and a little bit non-traditional, so that’s why we went with Local Pittsburgh that way, and we’ve gotten excellent reviews on it. People really like reading a publication in that format.

Then when Local Arts came along, if I had done it the same size as Local Pittsburgh, it would have been thought of as maybe just a supplement. I wanted it to be different.

No, we are toying with the idea of going more traditional with Local Arts, just because of the fact that it’s very picture-heavy. When people read it, things need to pop off of the page. But that wouldn’t be until next year. We’re getting very good reviews on the size it is now; people like it and it’s similar to a playbill size or something that you’d pick up at theatres or galleries.

Samir Husni: I hear people ask all of the time: why would you need a print publication in this digital age, especially for a local market where everyone can Google something or go to their mobile phone and get the information? Why do you think there’s still a need for a printed publication?

Jeff Rose: The first reason is that I think people are on digital overload. You look at your phone and your computer all day or your tablet all day, and it’s not comforting. If you go to sit on your porch and you want to just read something; our publication is set up to be interesting, fast reads. We’re not trying to do five page essays on things, because I don’t think people’s attention spans allow for that anymore.

We want something that can be read in comfort; you have an extra 15 or 20 minutes at a coffee shop or a couple of minutes before a business meeting; you’re at a restaurant eating by yourself. In the past, people went to read newspapers and it was to gain information and to find out the news that was going on in the world. Today, I think people pick up publications as a way to relax and escape from what’s in front of them all of the time. And I think that’s why it’s been successful

Millennials, the younger generation that has been overloaded from the day they were born with digital, are now discovering the pleasures of reading a book or reading a magazine. It’s almost like an escape; you don’t have to worry about your tablet and that email that’s popping up in the middle of your reading something. I see people reading on their phones and suddenly a call comes in. Reading print is that alone time, away from all of that.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment for you since you began this journey?

Jeff Rose: I don’t know if there’s been a single moment; it’s ongoing. Being a small business owner, it’s frustrating at times. I’m question myself and what I’m doing, but it’s when I walk in to talk to a client and instead of them saying that they like the ad we’re running for them, they say to me that they read a certain article and found it totally immersive and that the magazine is publishing good pieces.

We publish pieces that no one else publishes, because to me content is first and everything else follows. The rest of Pittsburgh seems to always tie their content in with the advertising. And I look for stories that you can’t sell ads about, because they’re not profitable stories, but they’re good stories, so you sell the readership. And when you sell the readership, then the advertising gets seen. Then there’s real time spent looking at something and readership means that ads are getting seen and people are talking about them and our advertisers win.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

Local Pittsburgh 4Jeff Rose: Well, when you hear all of the time that people are putting all of their money into digital or that they don’t believe in print anymore; it’s frustrating because first off, in a lot of instances, the I-put-all-of-my-money-into-digital, especially when it comes to small business owners, really means that they don’t have a marketing budget. And that’s really what it comes down to.

It’s frustrating. I’ve been in with clients when they tell me that they don’t believe in print or they’re not putting in a print marketing budget because they don’t think it works much, and I look on their desks and it’s full of magazines and newspapers. So, I know that they’re reading print, but I think that they’re scared because all they’re being told is you have to spend money on Facebook and Twitter and it’s become beaten into their heads.

But I do see it starting to turn around again and it’s doing so a lot with small businesses. They’re engaging back with print, I believe, more than the larger companies, and that’s because it’s harder to turn a big ship than a smaller one.

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

Jeff Rose: Things changed tremendously when I brought on an editor who understood that end of the business. That was kind of an A-ha moment for the company. As a magazine, you need to think of readership first.

It’s easy to sell your soul; it’s easy to have a big company come to you and ask you if they promise to spend $20,000 in advertising with your publication, will you write four articles that they want, or when you do write an article on healthcare, I need you to not say anything bad about what we’re doing here in Pittsburgh.

It’s hard to turn away that money, but ultimately, over a period of time it gets recognized by everyone else. I have people who notice that we don’t sell our soul. And if you have good readership, it might be a slower course to success, but it will be a stronger course. It’s one that doesn’t have weak legs beneath it. You’re not one client away from going out of business, which a lot of times these companies do if they tie themselves in with big partners.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after your workday is done, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine, or reading your iPad; watching television, or something different?

Jeff Rose: I’m a Netflix and Amazon Prime documentary junkie. I watch documentaries constantly. So, that’s probably what you would find me doing, because I don’t get home until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. and that’s pretty much what I do.

 Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Jeff Rose: The pure panic of knowing that I have to pay bills and pay people; I have to go out and finish up articles; I have deadlines coming up. So, pretty much sheer panic gets me out of bed every morning. (Laughs)

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

Jeff Rose: I always second-guess and question myself. Not so much question what we’re doing, but how we’re doing it. In other words, when we went with the smaller size for Local Arts; I loved it and it received great reviews, but I immediately questioned myself. Should I have gone with a larger size? Should I have stayed with the Local Pittsburgh size?

I always tell people that I’m the guy that buys a black car with a red interior, but stays up three nights wondering if I should have bought a red car with a black interior. It’s not so much second-guessing myself as it is just asking myself questions and rethinking.

We do a lot of research within our advertisers, within the people we write stories on. We’ve gone to a lot of different art people in the city who are respected and we’ve asked them what they thought about the size of Local Arts and it’s about 50/50. Some say yes, but eventually it might be nice to go to a full size and some say no, it sets yourself apart and people like the size. So, I think that’s the biggest thing, me just questioning things.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflections And Random Thoughts Of A Long Hot Magazine Summer…

July 16, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing… On Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, Guns & Ammo Sniper, Vanity Fair Classics, And Ladies’ Home Journal.

In Mississippi where I live, we have extremely long, hot, humid summers – sweltering, in fact. So, what better time to grab some magazines and get contemplative? Of course, in Mr. Magazine’s™ realm of existence, it’s always a good time to grab a magazine – for any reason.

Summer 2016 has certainly proven to be an interesting and speculative season so far in the world of magazine media.

Sports Illutrated PP After much publicity and talk about the Caitlyn Jenner, Sports Illustrated cover for their special summer double issue on “Where Are They Now?” I was surprised to walk into my local Kroger Supermarket and find Ken Griffey, Jr. on the cover of the magazine instead of Caitlyn Jenner. Of course, after I picked up the magazine and looked inside, it mentioned on the table of contents that there were two covers.

But what stunned me more than anything else and made me quite pensive was why did they decide to do a split cover on such a trending cover? Did they assume that many of the newsstands wouldn’t welcome a Caitlyn Jenner front-and-center or didn’t they trust in the cover enough to sell the desired issues with the Sports Illustrated audience?

Needless to say, when I went to the closest Barnes & Noble, I found the Caitlyn Jenner cover. Maybe they’re just testing the waters, but after the huge increase in sales for Vanity Fair when they used Caitlyn Jenner on their cover, I was really surprised the powers-that-be at Sports Illustrated decided to split the SI cover. But Vanity Fair’s audience isn’t the same as a Sports Illustrated audience, that is a given. However, I felt that I would be remiss as a connoisseur of everything “magazine” if I didn’t at least call attention to the fact that as I’ve always said the magazine cover is a powerful tool. It can affect people in many different ways and must be used with care. And obviously, the folks at Sports Illustrated would agree.

CosmoCosmopolitan has been taking the word “sex” out of subscribers’ covers for quite some time, but leaving it on the newsstand editions, which boggles the brain of Mr. Magazine™. I mean, do we, the readers, really not know what Cosmo contains, whether subscriber or newsstand connoisseur? And maybe it’s because subscribers know what the magazine is all about that they don’t feel the need to mention the word sex on the cover of their issue. After all, it’s newsstand buyers’ attention that’s at stake when your magazine is propped up against an army of others who are also jostling and elbowing for consumer recognition. But are we thinking for our customers again? Are we forgetting that content is worth much more than shock value?

But I’m just musing here, remember.

It’s amazing the play on words used when it comes to cover lines on each magazine, the comparison of “look at this issue and look at that issue” of the August editions of Cosmo. The subscriber cover reads: “So Hot! How to Keep the Flame Alive,” but the newsstand cover fairly shouts: Gold Medal Sex – How to Cross the Finish Line Together!” Even the exclamation points are in different locations for dramatic effect.

In doing this, we assume that all newsstand buyers are impulse shoppers, but that’s simply not the case. In reality, a lot of newsstand consumers, based on my own studies and on research done by other professionals; many consumers buy habitually from newsstands because they choose not to subscribe. And they also carefully peruse many titles before selecting the ones they want. Many don’t know the meaning of the word “impulse.”

SniperSniper edI also picked up a copy of Guns & Ammo’s Sniper magazine and immediately fell in love with the editorial. “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery. It’s Also The Most Annoying.” Sniper Editor, Tom Beckstrand, points his finger at a copycat title that hit a bit too close to home and wrote about it in his Letter from the Editor note in the recent issue. It was a joy to read and also really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the business of imitation. While it’s not uncommon to “copy” the look and ideas of one title to a new one; it’s very uncommon for the copycat to look exactly the same, right down to using a similar font (as Editor Beckstrand points out in his editorial). And then when the mirror image comes out several weeks ahead of the original in an attempt to fool readers…well, that’s certainly questionable, to say the least . But Beckstrand handles the entire debacle with aplomb and grace, as only an original can. Kudos to the real Sniper.

Vanity Fair ClassicsOn a positive note, in a nearby bookstore I found the first issue of the French Vanity Fair Classics and it is amazing. I was bowled over by everything about the magazine, the design, the feel, the look, and the content, which I had to deputize my wife, who speaks French, to read and translate for me. It’s a great magazine and I know that Vanity Fair is trying to do similar things here in America with Vanity Fair Icons, but Vanity Fair Classics is definitely a keeper. It was worth every penny of the $16.90 that I paid for it.

Ladies Home Journal 1And last, but certainly not least; I was browsing the magazines at my local store and was pleasantly stunned to see the new design of Ladies’ Home Journal in the latest issue. The content and the presentation were wonderful. My first reaction was: why didn’t they do this before? Could the change in the content and the change in direction have kept them publishing on a regular, monthly basis?

But my musings do not dwell in the past. I will say this issue of Ladies’ Home Journal is one of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. And hopefully, as more magazines are rediscovering print and rediscovering frequency, and rediscovering the way content in print should be, the lessons learned will ring true for many decades to come.

Until next time…

Mr. Magazine™ suggests you grab a magazine and get contemplative – you never know what you might discern…

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Food Mexico And Me & Food Acapulco: Two Magazines Launched South Of the Border By An American With A Strong Determination And A Fierce Passion For Entrepreneurship – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Executive Editor Kenneth Isom Barnes

July 14, 2016

“I think in Mexico it would be very difficult to exist without a print edition for a magazine, mainly because much of Latin America is still a very tactile society. Credibility really depends on being able to show something, so being taken seriously by advertisers, by media partners, by writers, does require a print version.” Kenneth Isom Barnes

Food Mexico Accepting an invitation to experience Mexico with a friend who lives there is not the most typical of ways to start two magazines in another country; in fact, some might call it atypical. And in some cases, complete craziness. But to those passionate dreamers and risk takers we all know as entrepreneurs, it’s just another day inside their heads.

Kenneth Barnes is one young man whose motto of “make life beautiful wherever you are” would probably be one of the biggest catalysts that caused him to stay in Mexico after that initial visit and launch two gorgeous food magazines. And living with regrets should he not have followed his heart would probably be the other propeller that carried him straight into his seeming destiny.

I spoke with Kenneth recently and we talked about his early life and then his eventual magazine life. He’s a man who has known responsibility, having cared for his grandmother until her death when both of his parents died within weeks of each other. And he’s a man who believes in taking chances and then working hard to make the most of any opportunities that might come his way.

With Food Mexico and Me and Food Acapulco, he’s achieved what some might call two impossibilities, having seen quite a bit of success with the two magazines in just a little over three years. Just goes to show that with hard work and a passionate spirit about what you’re doing, a person can capture their dreams and run with them. Or in Kenneth’s case; stay put with them and build them into a Mexican brand.

I hope that you enjoy this inspirational story of a man who believes you can make your life beautiful and successful no matter your environment, even if you’re carving your niche in unfamiliar surroundings. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Kenneth Barnes, Executive Editor, Food Mexico and Me and Food Acapulco.

But first the sound-bites:

0392_PSHPOn why he’s thinks the environment in Mexico is much more open to new magazines and ideas than the United States: I think that magazines are still important in Mexico and print media is also very important here. The United States has a lot more digital media than Mexico. But the Mexican media tends to be more flexible in that there are more opportunities to enter and even though there are some very large companies that are in the magazine business, smaller players do have a place to enter into the business.

 

On what gave him the idea to go to Mexico and launch his magazines: It’s sort of a complex story. I was in my 20s and both of my parents died 13 days apart and I became the sole caregiver for my grandmother. A few years later she died and a friend of mine who was Mexican and was going back to Mexico to spend time with his family suggested that I come with him and visit Mexico. So, when I went to Mexico, I eventually got my Visa and a job. And after a few years in late 2012, I was thinking that maybe I should choose a new city to live in. I lived in Acapulco, which is a very challenging city right now, and it came to me that if I don’t make where I am beautiful, I can go all over the world and I’ll have the same troubles after six months or a year. So, I decided one way that I could do that was to do something constructive. And that’s when I came up with the idea of Food Acapulco, merging the idea of the international culinary assets, local culinary assets, and some interviews, in a print format. And it was picked up by Wal-Mart within the local region and it sold extraordinarily well.

 

On his next magazine launch, Food Mexico and Me in both English and Spanish: Yes, it was launched in English and Spanish. We got the contract to test market our magazine in Manhattan, so that’s why we did an English version of it as well.

 

food-mexico-meOn the positive and negative things he’s learned from his Mexican experience launching magazines: On the positive side I’ve learned that in Mexico people will at least listen to you, they will at least hear you out, which is something that you don’t really have in the United States. Try to get a deal with CBS or Comcast and it would be nearly impossible, where in Mexico, whether it’s a large advertiser or a distributor or retailers; you can be heard. As far as the negatives, I think that the negatives in Mexico are very similar to other countries in that print is a challenging market because there is so many other media formats, in particular the Internet.

 

On whether he thinks he could exist without the print component of his brand: I think in Mexico it would be very difficult to exist without a print edition for a magazine, mainly because much of Latin America is still a very tactile society. Credibility really depends on being able to show something, so being taken seriously by advertisers, by media partners, by writers, does require a print version.

 

On whether he’s had any backlash from the Mexican audience since he’s a United States citizen basically telling them how to cook and eat their own food: No, absolutely no backlash. In fact, there has only been a very welcoming environment. You have to remember that a lot of Mexican media already is dominated by foreign corporations. For example, Mexicans love Hollywood movies.

 

On the magazines’ future: The future for the magazine is that I want to increase the frequency as well as increase the way that we reach out to consumers. The Mexican media market is becoming more fractured over time, so we’re using our magazines as a way to build our initial brand and our initial business.

 

On any upcoming plans for the brand: We’re consistently talking to partners about helping us to launch new magazines, to sponsor new advertising in our magazines, to do promotional projects outside of the traditional print realm.

 

On anything else that he’d like to add: Mexico is a very aspirational market. Many people are really seeking to improve themselves and improve themselves many times by the items that they consume. That means that you have to advertise in the market to a Mexican consumer in a slightly different way than you would to an American, German or a Japanese consumer, which are countries where people have traditionally for generations more wealth.

 

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: Usually what I do is a lot of research about Mexican society and culture. Though not so much as what has been told, but the subtext. That helps me a lot in trying to craft messages for our magazine and in finding new opportunities which maybe larger companies in Mexico that print magazines aren’t looking at.

 

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: What drives me is that Mexico is an open market where there are many large companies that dominate the industry, but very few startups. So, because of that it gives you an open field to reach out to all types of sources that may have never been reached out to before. Having that chance of being more or less an explorer, I find interesting.

 

On whether he has any plans to return to the United States: I would definitely consider coming back to the States in the future, but for the foreseeable future I’m going to be focusing on the Mexican media, whether it’s print or other media formats. But I have a lot of love for the United States and I have a lot of interest in American media as well; I’ll just see how things work out.

 

On what keeps him up at night: What keeps me up at night is just the idea or worry that I might miss an opportunity on any given day and then how am I going to make an opportunity for tomorrow?

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Kenneth Barnes, Executive Editor, Food Acapulco & Food Mexico and Me.

Samir Husni: You have experience in the U.S. with media, but you’ve said that the environment in the United States was less flexible and open for new magazines or magazine ideas than in Mexico. Why do you think that it’s easier to publish in Mexico than here in the States?

Food Acapulco 1Kenneth Barnes: I think that magazines are still important in Mexico and print media is also very important here. The United States has a lot more digital media than Mexico.

 

But the Mexican media tends to be more flexible in that there are more opportunities to enter and even though there are some very large companies that are in the magazine business, smaller players do have a place to enter into the business.

Now, granted, it depends on the genre. Are you a celebrity magazine; a history magazine; a food magazine, and so on, but we’ve found in the food space it’s been very open and welcoming. And I know from my friends and colleagues that starting magazines in the U.S. can be quite challenging.

Samir Husni: Where are you originally from?

Kenneth Barnes: I grew up for most of my life in North Carolina, but lived a few other places as well. I also went to Duke University there as well.

Samir Husni: What gave you the idea to go to Mexico and launch your magazines?

Kenneth Barnes: It’s sort of a complex story. I was in my 20s and both of my parents died 13 days apart and I became the sole caregiver for my grandmother. A few years later she died and a friend of mine who was Mexican and was going back to Mexico to spend time with his family suggested that I come with him and visit Mexico.

And eventually when I told my other friends and family about that; I thought they would tell me that I was being crazy for even considering it, but everyone encouraged me to go. So, when I went to Mexico, I eventually got my Visa and a job.

And after a few years in late 2012, I was thinking that maybe I should choose a new city to live in. I lived in Acapulco, which is a very challenging city right now, and it came to me that if I don’t make where I am beautiful, I can go all over the world and I’ll have the same troubles after six months or a year.

So, I decided one way that I could do that was to do something constructive. And that’s when I came up with the idea of Food Acapulco, merging the idea of the international culinary assets, local culinary assets, and some interviews, in a print format. And it was picked up by Wal-Mart within the local region and it sold extraordinarily well.

After that, we were able to, with our second issue; place it in Sanborns, which is where the dominant retail companies sell books and magazines in Mexico. And then this past December we made a deal with Televisa, which owns the largest magazine distributors here in Mexico, and they’ve been great to work with.

It’s been a progression in my experience, and I sort of fell into the magazine projects more so than starting out with a particular plan to move to Mexico and make a magazine. It was more of a personal journey of being constructive and productive wherever I was in the world.

Samir Husni: After Food Acapulco, you launched Food Mexico and Me, both in Spanish and English.

Kenneth Barnes: Yes, it was launched in English and Spanish. We got the contract to test market our magazine in Manhattan, so that’s why we did an English version of it as well.

Samir Husni: And are you still doing Food Acapulco or just Food Mexico and Me?

Kenneth Barnes: We’re primarily doing Food Mexico and Me, but we do have a new issue of Food Acapulco coming out later this year.

Samir Husni: You’ve been doing this for over three years now; how would you evaluate your experience? Would you encourage more people to come from the States to Mexico to launch a magazine? What lessons have you learned, both positive and negative?

Food Acapulco 2Kenneth Barnes: On the positive side I’ve learned that in Mexico people will at least listen to you, they will at least hear you out, which is something that you don’t really have in the United States. Try to get a deal with CBS or Comcast and it would be nearly impossible, where in Mexico, whether it’s a large advertiser or a distributor or retailers; you can be heard. And that doesn’t always mean there’s a positive conclusion, but what it does mean is that you have a chance to at least have an audience, which may lead to something.

I think that’s the biggest positive that I find in the Mexican market, as well as a general sense of people being flexible to new ideas. So, there is no road block to people saying we’ve been doing this for 50 years; we’re not going to change, which sometimes happens in other countries.

As far as the negatives, I think that the negatives in Mexico are very similar to other countries in that print is a challenging market because there is so many other media formats, in particular the Internet. I think there’s also a tendency in the Mexican market to be more television-dominant than print-dominant, so that also becomes a challenge as well.

Samir Husni: When you look at the print magazines and when you look at Food Mexico and Me, and Food Acapulco, what’s unique about the print edition and do you think that you could exist without the print component?

Kenneth Barnes: I think in Mexico it would be very difficult to exist without a print edition for a magazine, mainly because much of Latin America is still a very tactile society. Credibility really depends on being able to show something, so being taken seriously by advertisers, by media partners, by writers, does require a print version.

I think what also makes our print version unique is that there are ways that we can exhibit content to a Mexican audience that’s unique to print and that doesn’t always translate well into the digital format. The Mexican audience can be quite sophisticated, those people who buy magazines, so you can really go on a much more in depth level than the typical “30 Ways to Lose Weight in 30 Days” type thing.

 Samir Husni: Have you had any backlash from your Mexican audience, considering it’s a United States citizen telling them how to cook and eat their own food?

Kenneth Barnes: No, absolutely no backlash. In fact, there has only been a very welcoming environment. You have to remember that a lot of Mexican media already is dominated by foreign corporations. For example, Mexicans love Hollywood movies.

In my particular case, we do a lot of international food, as well as Mexican food, and I think what has helped me was my first year in Acapulco I lived with a Mexican family. So, I was able to deeply understand the psyche of Mexicans and what they find acceptable and unacceptable. And in general, Mexicans are warm and pleasant people and they’re open to new ideas and new concepts. This isn’t a society where people will just shun something because it’s different.

Samir Husni: Where are you living now, Mexico City?

Kenneth Barnes: Yes, in Mexico City.

Samir Husni: What’s the future for you? Are you going to increase the frequency of those magazines; are you making a living from those magazines; or do you still feel as though you’re a tourist there?

Kenneth Barnes: I think in Mexico you always feel like a tourist at times. The future for the magazine is that I want to increase the frequency as well as increase the way that we reach out to consumers. The Mexican media market is becoming more fractured over time, so we’re using our magazines as a way to build our initial brand and our initial business.

And then go forward into areas of increasing our social media outreach, our audience outreach, our online outreach, as well as branching out into new mediums, such as television, films, radio; just the many ways that we can reach a larger segment of the Mexican population that don’t always have the time to read a magazine.

As far as income, the magazine has generated income, but definitely not enough that I would say that I have “arrived.” It’s an ongoing process, but we have a lot of positive things coming up in the future, which I’m optimistic about.

Samir Husni: Such as?

Kenneth Barnes: We’re consistently talking to partners about helping us to launch new magazines, to sponsor new advertising in our magazines, to do promotional projects outside of the traditional print realm.

We also have plans to eventually do something in video here in Mexico, relating to recipes, food culture, things of that nature. But that’s really been my direction. I’ve received enough positive feedback, both from a financial and market standpoint, it has led me to continue the process for three years and to be optimistic for the future.

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

Kenneth Barnes: There are two things that I’d like to say. First, that Mexico is a very aspirational market. Many people are really seeking to improve themselves and improve themselves many times by the items that they consume. That means that you have to advertise in the market to a Mexican consumer in a slightly different way than you would to an American, German or a Japanese consumer, which are countries where people have traditionally for generations more wealth.

The second thing that I would say is that the Mexican consumer’s mind isn’t always transparent, it can be opaque, so what people may say they want and what they actually want can be different. So it’s important to have really good people on the ground to help you navigate the marketplace. In my case, I have a really great team of people who help me, both Mexicans and internationals here in the country. And that helps us not only do market research, but to get all of the paperwork required to get our magazines done, find great partners, advertisers and distributors. Those are the two things that I’d like to add.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly one evening at your home, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine, reading on your iPad, watching television, or something else?

Kenneth Barnes: Usually what I do is a lot of research about Mexican society and culture. Though not so much as what has been told, but the subtext. That helps me a lot in trying to craft messages for our magazine and in finding new opportunities which maybe larger companies in Mexico that print magazines aren’t looking at. That’s what I spend a lot of my time doing.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Kenneth Barnes: What drives me is that Mexico is an open market where there are many large companies that dominate the industry, but very few startups. So, because of that it gives you an open field to reach out to all types of sources that may have never been reached out to before. Having that chance of being more or less an explorer, I find interesting.

Samir Husni: Any plan to come back to the United States or Mexico is home now?

Kenneth Barnes: I would definitely consider coming back to the States in the future, but for the foreseeable future I’m going to be focusing on the Mexican media, whether it’s print or other media formats. But I have a lot of love for the United States and I have a lot of interest in American media as well; I’ll just see how things work out.

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

Kenneth Barnes: In life, like my original point that I made earlier; you have to make life beautiful wherever you live. I don’t want to miss out on opportunities. I think that so many times in life we miss great opportunities to improve ourselves or the ones around us. And I don’t want to be that person who says I should have, I could have.

I started a magazine in Mexico, which may have been a kind of strange thing to do for someone who just came to the country to stay for a few months and then gets a job and starts a magazine, but I’m glad that I did it, instead of waiting and wondering my whole life if I should have.

And now that I’ve tried to make my life more beautiful where I am, I see that there are people who walk with you and help you along the way. So, it’s not as lonely or scary as you might think, if you’ll just start and make a five-year plan.

What keeps me up at night is just the idea or worry that I might miss an opportunity on any given day and then how am I going to make an opportunity for tomorrow?

 Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

 

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The “YouEconomy” According To Success Magazine: Take Control Of Your Time, Your Happiness & Your Money – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jim McCabe, General Manager & Josh Ellis, Editor In Chief, Success Magazine

July 11, 2016

SM1608_YouEconomy_no_barcode“This is more of a general statement of how we look at print as part of our brand. We’re very, very happy to be in the magazine business and we look at the print product as a powerful opportunity for us to be able to put out issues like the “YouEconomy” issue with careful study of interesting issues that are effecting our readers lives in a way that only print can do it. And that is in a format that is long-form, and that people can spend time with and can share with others and that’s durable.” Jim McCabe

 

“You mention all of the different avenues that we have to put the good news about this out and express it to as many people as we can, but yes, the print magazine was the lead edge. That’s where we really wanted to plant the flag was with that identifiable cover that we have on the August issue.” (On the role of print versus all of the other platforms Success has) Josh Ellis

 

“That’s why for us as a magazine and a media brand that is targeted to people and that really wants to be partners with people as they journey to success; that’s why the print product is so important for us. It’s the place where we can have the longer form discussion; it’s durable and we have all of the avenues where people can continue that discussion socially and online and we give them day-to-day inspiration with those vehicles, but nothing can replace print as the durable place for a long-form discussion.” Jim McCabe

 

“The cover story alone is 6,000 words, and that’s just something that you don’t see online very much. People will not sit down for the hour that it takes to read a story that long and from the same website and keep scrolling and scrolling, but in print it’s an enjoyable read, because of things like layout and the feel of the paper. We thought it was so important for our readers to get the entire sense of what has developed in the “YouEconomy” that print is the perfect place to really make the announcement.” Josh Ellis

 

jimupdate

Jim McCabe

Take action and work for yourself in the “YouEconomy.” The upcoming August issue of Success magazine is sounding the trumpet and ushering in the concept/movement that could change people’s professional lives with a positive and affirming message that according to General Manager, Jim McCabe, is both naturally evolved and organically grown. Through the thought process that there are no limits or boundaries except the ones we set for ourselves, the “YouEconomy” and Success magazine will show us how we can free ourselves from all types of restrictive mindsets.

 

I spoke with Jim and editor in chief, Josh Ellis, recently and we talked about this incredibly liberating concept that a person can live and work basically anyway they choose when they decide to follow their passions and become engaged with their own agenda, instead of an employer’s. It’s a fascinating subject matter and definitely worth an expanded special issue of Success, which is what readers will get with the August issue. The magazine is devoting each and every feature, including the 6,000 word cover story, to the “YouEconomy” in some form or fashion. A must read for those ready to take control of their own professional destiny.

 

Josh Ellis

Josh Ellis

As Josh and Jim each brought their own passions and ideas to the table, the discussion was lively and informative with a hint of “You can do this too” behind every word. Of course, Mr. Magazine™ already subscribes to the “YouEconomy” with every new magazine that hits newsstands, as his passion would allow for nothing less. And the August issue of Success offers each of its readers the same opportunity to explore their own unique passions.

 

So, without further ado, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jim McCabe, General Manager & Josh Ellis, Editor In Chief, Success Magazine.

 

But first the sound-bites:

 

On how the magazine’s team is being used to create the “YouEconomy” movement (Jim McCabe): It’s not necessarily that we’re creating a movement; it’s the sense that I think we’ve tapped into something that has naturally evolved, and that’s this sense that people are looking at their lives in a different way for a lot of different reasons.

 

On whether success today is easier or harder than ever (Jim McCabe): What we preach is that there is no universal definition of success. To each individual, success means something different. To some success is very traditional, it means what they can acquire: how big a house they have, how many cars they own, how they travel the world. To others success could mean something very different. Success could mean throwing themselves into charity work to be able to try and find a cure for a disease that’s affected a loved one.

 

Success 1On how the “YouEconomy” concept is captured within the pages of the magazine (Josh Ellis): It’s completely representative of what we’ve tried to make the magazine about for as long as I’ve been here. Some people sort of confuse it with something like Money or Fortune, but it hasn’t been that. It’s been a holistic definition of success.

 

On whether the “YouEconomy” humanizes success (Josh Ellis): I think so. As Jim touched on, there were a lot of old definitions and I think it can even go back as far as the Industrial Age. We had this old timey view of what success looked like, but really it’s an individual thing. And so much of what we do and why we settled on the “YouEconomy” name in fact was to make it individual for each person, because each person’s definition of success in this 21st century economic paradigm is really up to them.

 

On how you know when you’ve achieved success (Jim McCabe): That’s a very individual thing. But one thing that we talked a lot about in the magazine as one of the measurements is plain happiness. Are you satisfied with what you’re doing? Do you feel as though the work that you’re putting in is fairly compensated? And are you doing not only the things that you want to do professionally, but are you able to do the things that you want to do personally and developing as an individual to a place that you want to be?

 

On whether the “YouEconomy” formula is the same for everyone when it comes to achieving success and happiness (Jim McCabe): What I think is fascinating about the “You Economy” is that it’s cross generational. There are people in their 50s now who started their careers and were 100% sure they were going to be in corporate America for the rest of their lives and their biggest fear in life was always losing a job and not having an opportunity to earn income and then where that next job was coming from and what they were going to do. And then you also have the younger people, the millennials, who have just come out and have always looked at life differently and aren’t necessarily enamored with signing up with a company forever and having a boss tell them what to do. But the one universal thing that they all have now is immediate opportunity. The one thing that I think the “YouEconomy” eliminates is the unknown.

 

On whether the “YouEconomy” formula is the same for everyone when it comes to achieving success and happiness (Josh Ellis): With our research; we did a Harris Poll, with more than 2,000 adults, and we found that a third of Americans in the workforce have made money in this way within the last year and millennials are the biggest part of it. And so to your question about whether this is an avenue for just about everybody, I think that our research does support that.

 

On the role the print magazine plays in the “YouEconomy” concept versus all of the other platforms Success has (Josh Ellis): You mention all of the different avenues that we have to put the good news about this out and express it to as many people as we can, but yes, the print magazine was the lead edge. That’s where we really wanted to plant the flag was with that identifiable cover that we have on the August issue.

 

On how important it is to spread the message that print is still viable in this digital age (Jim McCabe): This is more of a general statement of how we look at print as part of our brand. We’re very, very happy to be in the magazine business and we look at the print product as a powerful opportunity for us to be able to put out issues like the “YouEconomy” issue with careful study of interesting issues that are effecting our readers lives in a way that only print can do it. And that is in a format that is long-form, and that people can spend time with and can share with others and that’s durable.

 

On how important it is to spread the message that print is still viable in this digital age (Josh Ellis): The other thing too is this was such an important tent-pole for our brand as a whole and in really helping our readers to understand what we’re about and to sort of define, whether they knew it or not, who our readers are. And the cover story alone is 6,000 words, and that’s just something that you don’t see online very much. People will not sit down for the hour that it takes to read a story that long and from the same website and keep scrolling and scrolling, but in print it’s an enjoyable read, because of things like layout and the feel of the paper.

 

On anything else they’d like to add (Jim McCabe): Just that we’re very, very proud of it and I’m extremely proud of it because this is the reflection of Josh’s leadership, taking over the magazine and producing such a quality product so quickly. And taking on a subject that I think is really interesting and newsworthy and groundbreaking. And it’s a reflection of how great a staff he put together for us to be able to do this.

 

On anything else they’d like to add (Josh Ellis): I think that a lot of times a national magazine that isn’t in the New York sphere can be easy to overlook, but doing big issues and really getting out there and trying to produce something that will make a statement is an important way to create some brand awareness. And so this was really a huge issue for the magazine and for everything that we do at Success.

 

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening to their home (Jim McCabe): I’m usually catching up on the day’s news one way or the other, either scanning CNN or Bloomberg or something, or catching up with the Journal or The New York Times or the Post or some of the things that I have to read every day, but haven’t gotten to, and possibly exercising and trying to squeeze that in as well.

 

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening to their home (Josh Ellis): I love to cook; I try to do that as much as I can. But I am a subscriber to several magazines, so I will take some time and read through a few long-form pieces a week. Other than that, playing with the dog or playing video games. (Laughs)

 

On what keeps them up at night (Jim McCabe): These days? The state of politics in the U.S. (Laughs) That really does worry me, because I just think that we’re in a place now where we’ve pushed out a good group of people, a moderate group of people and we’re constantly debating on the fringes as opposed to trying to understand all of the amazing blessings and things we have here.

 

 

On what keeps them up at night (Josh Ellis): I’m easily fixated on some kind of content that I’m enjoying, so whether I’m reading a magazine story or a book or watching something on Netflix, I have contrary to what a lot of people assume about my generation, a pretty good attention span, so I’m willing to invest some time in entertainment or to learn something new, or to just think about one thing for a long time.

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jim McCabe, General Manager & Josh Ellis, Editor in Chief, Success magazine.

 

Success August IssueSamir Husni: I was reading about the “YouEconomy” movement in an article in the August issue of Success and it said that it’s much more than money, it’s opportunity for growth, innovation, creating a legacy; it’s about your skills, ideas, your smile. Tell me how you’re taking the magazine and creating the “YouEconomy” movement with the Success team?

 

Jim McCabe: It’s not necessarily that we’re creating a movement; it’s the sense that I think we’ve tapped into something that has naturally evolved, and that’s this sense that people are looking at their lives in a different way for a lot of different reasons.

 

Thirty years ago the way that people looked at their career was very, very different, it was predictable; you knew what courses to study in college if you were going into a certain discipline, you would attach yourself to a company that had a particular path that would allow you to see your future there for decades and the compensation was arranged to give you pensions and other things that made it very comfortable and worthwhile to invest your time there.

 

When the world began to shift and we could go into hundreds of reasons why that was, but that covenant between the worker and the business began to erode and it became much more of a transactional relationship, people began to look at what they were doing for the majority of their lives and instead of just looking at compensation from the financial standpoint, they looked at compensation from a number of different standpoints. They looked at the emotional standpoint, the legacy standpoint, and from a simple happiness standpoint.

 

And these are all things that we’ve preached in the magazine, so naturally what happened was people began to identify with what we were talking about and we began to see this group of people who were growing become much more interested in the things that we were doing. And that’s part of the reason I think you saw our website over the past couple of years go from 300,000 monthly uniques to close to two million. That’s why we have the three million Facebook likes that we have.

 

It’s been a natural marriage of what we have always consistently said. And the circumstances of where people are in their lives have matched that and that’s how we’ve come together.

 

Samir Husni: Do you think achieving success today is easier or harder than ever?

 

Jim McCabe: What we preach is that there is no universal definition of success. To each individual, success means something different. To some success is very traditional, it means what they can acquire: how big a house they have, how many cars they own, how they travel the world.

 

To others success could mean something very different. Success could mean throwing themselves into charity work to be able to try and find a cure for a disease that’s affected a loved one. Success for some people could mean that they just want to surf all day and they need to have the right amount of income to be able to support that, so finding something that they can do in the off-surfing hours to support that lifestyle is important.

 

I think the major difference that we’re in now and one of the major points about the “You Economy” is that there are many accepted definitions of success. In the past, again thirty years ago, there was a pretty universal definition of how people measured each other when it came to success, the size of their home, the type of car they drove. Now, people look at individuals and are very open to saying, OK, they’re living the life that they want to live and I’m fine with that. I’m not going to judge them. They’re successful by their own definition and that’s great.

 

Samir Husni: Josh, how do you take the “YouEconomy” and try and capture it in the pages of the magazine, because you now have to deal with work, play and life?

 

Josh Ellis: It’s completely representative of what we’ve tried to make the magazine about for as long as I’ve been here. Some people sort of confuse it with something like Money or Fortune, but it hasn’t been that. It’s been a holistic definition of success.

 

We redesigned the front of the book to try and encompass as many of the major pillars of how our readers define success and it’s happiness, health, growth and purpose. And I think for a lot of people, especially younger people, millennial readers, the growth and the purpose aspect of success and the “YouEconomy” as an avenue toward that is just a natural fit. We think that younger readers especially, they recognize that there is a certain amount of money that will allow them to live comfortably and to pursue the passions that they want.

 

Jim talked about people who want to surf all day; some people, especially my age, we don’t want to come into an office. We want to work from home or only work 15 hours per week and still be able to make a living doing that and the “YouEconomy” represents a way that that’s possible. It also makes it possible to be able to make a living doing things that we’re passionate about, whether it’s contract labor, something that we have great skills in, or even something as simple as Uber driving. There are so many avenues to entrepreneurship now that the “You Economy” makes perfect sense for us.

 

Samir Husni: With the “YouEconomy,” are you humanizing success?

 

Josh Ellis: I think so. As Jim touched on, there were a lot of old definitions and I think it can even go back as far as the Industrial Age. We had this old timey view of what success looked like, but really it’s an individual thing.

 

And so much of what we do and why we settled on the “YouEconomy” name in fact was to make it individual for each person, because each person’s definition of success in this 21st century economic paradigm is really up to them. It’s how they want to achieve it, the things that they can do, and this is in a lot of ways where we come in. It’s the things that they can do to supplement their skills and to make themselves more productive or more persuasive, or so many different soft skills that we can teach that are helpful not only in traditional careers, but also in careers as our readers define them for themselves.

 

Success 2Samir Husni: Jim, as an achiever, how do you know or when do you feel that you’ve achieved that success with the “YouEconomy?” Do you have a measurement or some sort of guideline that let’s someone know they did it, they achieved success?

 

Jim McCabe: That’s a very individual thing. But one thing that we talked a lot about in the magazine as one of the measurements is plain happiness. Are you satisfied with what you’re doing? Do you feel as though the work that you’re putting in is fairly compensated? And are you doing not only the things that you want to do professionally, but are you able to do the things that you want to do personally and developing as an individual to a place that you want to be?

 

So, that’s a very individual and emotional thing, but I think anybody who has worked in a traditional career has had times when they felt like they were stuck in a job or that they weren’t being recognized or were worried about whether or not they were getting that promotion.

 

And I think taking those equations out and allowing yourself to say that you’re going to be responsible for your own paycheck and everything else that happens gives people a sense of freedom and happiness that if they’re able to meet those goals, which we’re saying in the “You Economy” that there’s so many different options for someone to be able to do that and there are combinations of options out there that allow you to do that, the happiness equation is something that people get.

 

Samir Husni: From what I understand, happiness today is more of a science than an emotion. With that happiness as the anchor for success, do you think that people from all walks of life can achieve the same results from the “YouEconomy” concept, achieve the same level of happiness? Is the “YouEconomy” formula for everyone?

 

Jim McCabe: What I think is fascinating about the “YouEconomy” is that it’s cross generational. There are people in their 50s now who started their careers and were 100% sure they were going to be in corporate America for the rest of their lives and their biggest fear in life was always losing a job and not having an opportunity to earn income and then where that next job was coming from and what they were going to do. And their world was thrown upside-down in the past couple of decades. Some people said it was chapter two or whatever, but people had to reinvent themselves, but there was always that sense that they were rejected by what they thought was the establishment and they didn’t know if they were going to go forward.

 

And then you also have the younger people, the millennials, who have just come out and have always looked at life differently and aren’t necessarily enamored with signing up with a company forever and having a boss tell them what to do. But the one universal thing that they all have now is immediate opportunity. That person who’s been thrown out there, there are tons of things that they can do and tons of ways that they can use the skills that they’ve developed in their career with freelancing or whatever, even if they wanted to do something like drive for Uber, they can immediately still be out there earning an income. So, for the younger folks, there’s the ability to figure out what they really want to do and take time between jobs and earn additional income doing different things as they figure it out.

 

The one thing that I think the “YouEconomy” eliminates is the unknown and the fear of not having access to income. And that was something that drove generations of people. I think one of the most interesting things about the “YouEconomy” from our standpoint is the same people, especially when you’re looking at freelancers, have realized that they were selling themselves short by allowing themselves to be employed by other companies. And what they found was that their work was more valuable than they thought it was. And those companies were willing to pay them more as individual contractors than they were paying them as employees, and that they could work for more people.

 

So, I think that mindset and the ability to take advantage of that has given them a freedom and eliminated a layer of fear that drove people for a long time.

 

Josh Ellis: And I just want to add to that, because I think your question was a little bit about how widely encompassing this is, at least among the population. With our research; we did a Harris Poll, with more than 2,000 adults, and we found that a third of Americans in the workforce have made money in this way within the last year and millennials are the biggest part of it. Of course, they are now like the largest generation in total numbers, but they only make up just over 50% of the “YouEconomy” workforce. People over 55 are 30% of the “YouEconomy” and there’s also a majority of minority participants, 55% of the people in the “YouEconomy” are racial or ethnic minorities.

 

And so to your question about whether this is an avenue for just about everybody, I think that our research does support that.

 

Samir Husni: What role does the printed Success magazine play in all of this and how do the other platforms fit in: the books, videos, website and your video courses? Is the print magazine the anchor for all of this or just a part of it? What drives that relationship that you want to establish between the brand and those generations?

 

Josh Ellis: You mention all of the different avenues that we have to put the good news about this out and express it to as many people as we can, but yes, the print magazine was the lead edge. That’s where we really wanted to plant the flag was with that identifiable cover that we have on the August issue.

 

Jim was getting to the point that a lot of the time people who worked in companies and then became freelancers didn’t realize until after the fact just what a great opportunity this was and I think that’s what our issue is, it’s like a siren call kind of thing to jostle people into understanding what the opportunity is for them now, with what technology has made possible and changes in the economy have made possible.

 

And in the August issue, it isn’t just about the cover story where we’re expressing the total opportunity of the “YouEconomy,” but it’s also every feature in the issue is designed to either speak to people of a certain background, whether they’re women or younger people or older people or anyone wanting to start a traditional business.

 

Or take on something like an Uber’s job, which we‘ve mentioned a couple of times, but that’s just one of the many avenues into this. There are so many others; you can walk dogs and make a living doing it now and find work doing that at the touch of a button on your iPhone. There are also direct selling opportunities where people can find a product that they’re really passionate about and share that with other people in their network. So, what we tried to do was use the entire issue to really highlight what’s available.

 

Success 3Samir Husni: How important do you feel it is to spread this message that print is still viable in this digital age?

 

Jim McCabe: This is more of a general statement of how we look at print as part of our brand. We’re very, very happy to be in the magazine business and we look at the print product as a powerful opportunity for us to be able to put out issues like the “You Economy” issue with careful study of interesting issues that are effecting our readers lives in a way that only print can do it. And that is in a format that is long-form, and that people can spend time with and can share with others and that’s durable.

 

We went through a redesign a year ago and as part of that redesign we talked a lot about what we wanted the print product to do and be in our universe of users and readers. And one of the things that we talked a lot about was, and one of the reasons that we changed our paper stock and other things that we did, was because durability was something that was important. We want the print product to be something that people save, use and refer back to and is part of a library that they use in developing the strategy they have to build their own personal level of success.

 

And as Josh said, by taking the entire edit well and looking at this story from different personal angles, from different contributors, that’s something that people will invest hours in and they’ll all invest hours in a print product to do that. So, that’s why for us as a magazine and a media brand that is targeted to people and that really wants to be partners with people as they journey to success; that’s why the print product is so important for us. It’s the place where we can have the longer form discussion; it’s durable and we have all of the avenues where people can continue that discussion socially and online and we give them day-to-day inspiration with those vehicles, but nothing can replace print as the durable place for a long-form discussion.

 

Josh Ellis: The other thing too is this was such an important tent-pole for our brand as a whole and in really helping our readers to understand what we’re about and to sort of define, whether they knew it or not, who our readers are. And the cover story alone is 6,000 words, and that’s just something that you don’t see online very much. People will not sit down for the hour that it takes to read a story that long and from the same website and keep scrolling and scrolling, but in print it’s an enjoyable read, because of things like layout and the feel of the paper.

 

We thought it was so important for our readers to get the entire sense of what has developed in the “You Economy” that print is the perfect place to really make the announcement.

 

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

 

Jim McCabe: Just that we’re very, very proud of it and I’m extremely proud of it because this is the reflection of Josh’s leadership, taking over the magazine and producing such a quality product so quickly. And taking on a subject that I think is really interesting and newsworthy and groundbreaking. And it’s a reflection of how great a staff he put together for us to be able to do this.

 

As I said before, we’re happy to be in the magazine business and this is a reflection of the talented group of people we have under Josh.

 

Josh Ellis: I think that a lot of times a national magazine that isn’t in the New York sphere can be easy to overlook, but doing big issues and really getting out there and trying to produce something that will make a statement is an important way to create some brand awareness. And so this was really a huge issue for the magazine and for everything that we do at Success.

 

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your house one evening after work, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine, reading your iPad, watching television, or something else?

 

Jim McCabe: I’m usually catching up on the day’s news one way or the other, either scanning CNN or Bloomberg or something, or catching up with the Journal or The New York Times or the Post or some of the things that I have to read every day, but haven’t gotten to, and possibly exercising and trying to squeeze that in as well.

 

Josh Ellis: I love to cook; I try to do that as much as I can. But I am a subscriber to several magazines, so I will take some time and read through a few long-form pieces a week. Other than that, playing with the dog or playing video games. (Laughs)

 

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

 

Jim McCabe: These days? The state of politics in the U.S. (Laughs)

 

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

 

Jim McCabe: That really does worry me, because I just think that we’re in a place now where we’ve pushed out a good group of people, a moderate group of people and we’re constantly debating on the fringes as opposed to trying to understand all of the amazing blessings and things we have here. And it’s an uneasy time. I have children and they’re going to live in a different world than I lived in, and although they have the opportunities of the “YouEconomy” which is great, I’m just hoping that they can enjoy all of that, plus the freedoms and happiness that I had.

 

Josh Ellis: I’m easily fixated on some kind of content that I’m enjoying, so whether I’m reading a magazine story or a book or watching something on Netflix, I have contrary to what a lot of people assume about my generation, a pretty good attention span, so I’m willing to invest some time in entertainment or to learn something new, or to just think about one thing for a long time. I don’t have any great fears like Jim, but I’m happy to sit down with something and enjoy for a good while.

 

Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

h1

Rodale’s Organic Life: Chapter Two Unfolds As The Handbook For Happy, Healthy Living – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Melanie Hansche, Editor In Chief, Rodale’s Organic Life Magazine

July 6, 2016

COVER“I’m also pretty old school; I do love the feel of print. I love the feel of sitting down and flipping through pages. It’s a very experiential thing. I find it very relaxing. And I think what’s been interesting with what we often refer to as the digital disruption is as iPad magazines are also fabulous because they also offer a kind of interaction and interactivity that you can’t get with the printed page, but I have always returned to that more tactile, page-turning approach and I think actually the markets have gone back that way too.” (On what it is about print that ignites her creative passions) Melanie Hansche

 

“We’re seeing a lot of magazines enter the market with beautiful paper stock and beautiful photography and they’re very lush, vibrant visual experiences. Print products still represent escape for people. When their subscription arrives in the mail, the reader might flip through it very quickly, maybe starting from the back, but what’s been found is they return to it on the weekend and read it cover to cover. And I’m certainly that person too.” Melanie Hansche

 

Fifteen months ago, Rodale’s Organic Life was reborn from the legacy title Organic Gardening. The magazine has transitioned from its original how-to approach when it comes to the organics of a healthier style of life, to a more all-encompassing lifestyle title that embraces the organic way of life completely without the purist attitude that some people fear when they pick up a magazine about organic living. With the current issue Rodale’s Organic Life starts chapter two of the rebirth.

 

Organic Life’s brand new editor in chief hails from Sydney, Australia and believes strongly and passionately in the brand and agreed that the militant idea that a reader had to be 100% committed to organic living was not what the magazine was about. Melanie Hansche is vivacious and ardent when talking about her new organic baby and was adamant that the magazine was willing to meet its readers on whatever level of their own organic journey they might be on at the time when they first pick up the magazine.

 

I spoke with Melanie recently and we talked about her future plans for the magazine and her intense passion for the printed page. It was a conversation that was both delightful and informative. The dedication to print and its tactile nature that could be heard in her voice when talking about the magazine was not lost on Mr. Magazine™. It was extremely well-received.

 

So, grab a copy of Rodale’s Organic Life, kick back, relax and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a woman who loves everything organic, especially her magazine, Melanie Hansche, Editor In Chief, Rodale’s Organic Life.

 

But first, the sound-bites:

 

Melanie Hansche_Corporate Portrait-Rodale-11-21-2014_0195-2On what her plans are for the future of the new adopted Organic Life: The new adopted child that I’ve inherited is very young; it’s 15 months old. As a very young brand, it was and still is trying to find its space. And the really exciting thing, I think, is to take on a young brand or a product and think about how you can evolve it and take it in a direction that really resonates with your audience. The team and I, we have decided to evolve the brand even further by being a lot more targeted about our audience.

 

On the new “target” audience: When the brand started it did have a legacy with Organic Gardening readers and it’s really tried to be all things to all people, which I totally understand, because on the one hand, we want to try and welcome every person into this organic lifestyle. But really I think that approach wasn’t working and it wasn’t resonating and we wanted to be a lot more positive about who we’re speaking to and particularly who are the people that are embracing this kind of lifestyle or asking questions and changing their habits.

 

On what she brings from her native Australia to Organic Life magazine: I think my Australian sensibility that I bring to the magazine is probably the magazine experience that I’ve had in Australia and the way that Australians are really not into the way they execute magazines, in terms of photography, styling and visual direction; it’s very fresh and vibrant and very modern. The food styling and photography is fantastic and so I feel like that’s a sensibility that I’ve brought with me from Australia.

 

On how she plans to use her skills as a curator to place the organic movement between the covers of a 104 page magazine: That’s a really good question. First of all we’re expanding our content areas, so when I talk about the fact that women in their 30s are making decisions about children, we’re going to include more parenting and family content. And the other two areas that we’re expanding and that we feel resonates with this audience is obviously beauty, as we’re talking to a more female audience, and then also home décor and home style and the stories behind craftspeople, artisans and makers, as I like to call them. So, we want to talk about an organic lifestyle on many different levels. And by expanding our content areas, we explore the conversation, so to speak.

 

On the most pleasant moment she has encountered in her new job since moving to America 18 months ago: When I joined Rodale, I was working on special projects in the food space because food media has been my specialty for over 10 years. And that was really exciting because I worked on a lot of different assets. I worked on a cookbook; I worked on building up our test kitchen; I worked on a digital project that was a database of recipes, and I worked on an event. So, I was able to work on many different things, but when I was asked to look after Organic Life three months ago, I realized how much I missed putting a magazine together. I’ve always worked in magazines and I love the creative process.

 

On what has been the biggest stumbling block that she’s had to face and how she overcame it: I would say the biggest stumbling block in moving here was being an unknown quantity, building relationships and trust; it’s getting buy-in from your coworkers. When I was in Sydney, it was like being a big fish in a little pond. And suddenly I arrive here in America, very innocent and wide-eyed, and I became a very little fish in a big pond and I really had to establish myself, establish my credentials all over again and have people understand what I do and what my skillset is and how I could benefit their brand and what I could bring to the table.

 

On what it is about a printed magazine that ignites her creative passions: The reason why I went into magazines in the first place as opposed to perhaps becoming a young newspaper journalist was that I always felt that magazines were more creative and certainly the writing and the imagery was, because it allowed editors and writers to explore areas in a lot more depth and in a much better visual style than say the old pyramid structure of newspaper writing did, which I found very formulaic and boring. So, I went into magazines because I found them to be much more creative and they allowed for more creative writing, and that still resonates with me today and is why I still love magazines.

 

On how it is to edit her CEO, Maria Rodale: I will say that Maria and I have a fabulous relationship built within the last 12 months because I edited her cookbook. And so we know each other very well and we also complement each other very well.

 

On anything else that she’d like to add: I’m excited about what the future holds for us, because I’ve always thought that this brand can resonate really strongly with an audience, particularly as the organic movement grows. One thing I want to say is that a lot of people are a little bit afraid that when you see a magazine called Organic Life that they have to be 100% organic. And the anecdote that I always go back to is one that a friend told me. She said that I can’t read your magazine because I drink cola. And this is exciting and is a great example because it’s how an organic lifestyle can be perceived. It can be perceived as really pure and really evangelical. So, what we’re trying to do at the magazine is say that this movement is approachable and it’s fun and vibrant; we’ll meet you at whatever stage of your journey you’re at.

 

On the tagline: a handbook for happy, healthy living: The magazine never had a tagline before and I felt very strongly that it would give this brand a more distinctive identity and a personality if we stated on the magazine just what the magazine does. It helps us lead a happier, healthier life.

 

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly at her home one evening: You would probably find me cooking actually. I’ve worked in Sydney for so long that I’m fairly food-obsessed, but the other reason you would find me cooking is that I find it relaxing. Cooking lets me switch off in the evening and I destress.

 

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning: Moving to New York has given me an energy and an engagement and has inspired me in ways that I guess Sydney didn’t. It’s a city that drives you and being here really excites me. And it’s also the product. To be honest, working on something that you personally and passionately believe in; it’s very easy to get out of bed in the morning.

 

On what keeps her up at night: I have a tendency to sweat the small stuff. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could just turn my brain off, but sometimes, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing when you care too much about things, but sometimes I worry about little things that I shouldn’t.

 

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Melanie Hansche, Editor In Chief, Organic Life Magazine.

 

Samir Husni: Organic Life is a little over a year old and you’re the new editor in chief; what are your future plans to take care of this new adopted child?

 

Melanie Hansche: The new adopted child that I’ve inherited is very young; it’s 15 months old. As a very young brand, it was and still is trying to find its space. And the really exciting thing, I think, is to take on a young brand or a product and think about how you can evolve it and take it in a direction that really resonates with your audience.

 

The team and I, we have decided to evolve the brand even further by being a lot more targeted about our audience. And with our editorial content and our vision direction definitely reflects that new target audience.

 

Samir Husni: Can you explain a bit more about the new “target” audience?

 

Melanie Hansche: When the brand started it did have a legacy with Organic Gardening readers and it’s really tried to be all things to all people, which I totally understand, because on the one hand, we want to try and welcome every person into this organic lifestyle. But really I think that approach wasn’t working and it wasn’t resonating and we wanted to be a lot more positive about who we’re speaking to and particularly who are the people that are embracing this kind of lifestyle or asking questions and changing their habits.

 

And we’re really clear that that person is most likely a young woman, 30 to 40-years-old. A better choice of words is it’s a young Gen X woman, and indeed, an older millennial woman, and guys too. I really think there’s a split, perhaps 70 percent female, 30 percent male split.

 

I am that reader; I am in that age group, that late thirties woman who for the last few years started making changes in my life. And the first gateway for me was food and I changed my diet to a more organic diet.

 

And then I started thinking about the skincare that I was using and I went organic, and a year later I switched out all of my makeup to an organic brand. I think a lot of women in that age group are making those kinds of decisions. And when you’re having children is the other point, the other gateway, if you will, where women start to make different choices as it pertains to their health.

 

And I do think that younger millennial audience is far more switched on and far more engaged in the kind of clothes that they wear and who makes them and who’s producing their food and the kind of travel they do; they’re a lot more thoughtful. And this is a brand that’s definitely about being thoughtful.

 

So, when you talk about our new audience that is the audience that we’re talking about, that older millennial and younger Gen X woman and to a certain extent men a well.

 

Organic Life editor's letter Samir Husni: Do you think your being from Down Under; can it be more organic than that, bringing someone all the way from Australia to lead this magazine? What do you bring from the land Down Under to Organic Life?

 

Melanie Hansche: Interestingly, the organic movement in Australia pretty much mirrors the organic movement in America. And it’s the very same issues. People Down Under are embracing an organic lifestyle for the same reasons. But there are also the same barriers, whether that’s price or information; it’s exactly the same, but a smaller microcosm.

 

When I moved to the States I remember my first trip to Whole Foods and I was just amazed at how the trends that I had been seeing back in Australia were just blown out. In Australia, for example, people had just started drinking coconut water and there were a couple of brands on the shelf. And walking into Whole Foods I remember thinking, oh my gosh, there are 20 coconut waters on their shelves. And it was the same whether it was nut milk or flour alternatives; just the sheer amount of organic products and lines that were available.

 

I think my Australian sensibility that I bring to the magazine is probably the magazine experience that I’ve had in Australia and the way that Australians are really not into the way they execute magazines, in terms of photography, styling and visual direction; it’s very fresh and vibrant and very modern. The food styling and photography is fantastic and so I feel like that’s a sensibility that I’ve brought with me from Australia.

 

Samir Husni: I noticed in your first letter from the editor, you also showed a picture of your cottage in Australia and you also brought the family aspect of the organic lifestyle into the forefront and how you want the readers to enjoy the magazine on their own porches or wherever they want to sit down and relax with it. As a curator and someone who is seeing all kinds of organic trends taking place, how are you going to use your skills to curate that organic movement and put it between the covers of a 104 page magazine?

 

Melanie Hansche: That’s a really good question. First of all we’re expanding our content areas, so when I talk about the fact that women in their 30s are making decisions about children, we’re going to include more parenting and family content.

 

And the other two areas that we’re expanding and that we feel resonates with this audience is obviously beauty, as we’re talking to a more female audience, and then also home décor and home style and the stories behind craftspeople, artisans and makers, as I like to call them. So, we want to talk about an organic lifestyle on many different levels. And by expanding our content areas, we explore the conversation, so to speak.

 

And the other thing that we became very clear on was that as a magazine called Organic Life, we have to show some kind of leadership, or advocacy in this space and in this movement. So, from now on every issue that we do, we make sure that we have one very hard-hitting or thoughtful piece of advocacy in the organic world, whether that’s in America or abroad. And an example of that is in our first issue, the large story that we did on a very small town in the Italian Alps that is the first town in the world to ban pesticides.

 

When we talk about our content strategy it’s really about pushing these different buttons and it’s inviting people into this movement by giving them inspiration and information in areas that pertain to their everyday life: beauty, food, health, and gardening. But then also it’s really hard-hitting where it counts and gives the audience really serious journalism and some serious leadership on issues that take place.

 

Samir Husni: How long have you been in the States?

 

Melanie Hansche: I’ve been here for 18 months.

 

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your new job since you moved here 18 months ago?

 

Melanie Hansche: When I joined Rodale, I was working on special projects in the food space because food media has been my specialty for over 10 years. And that was really exciting because I worked on a lot of different assets. I worked on a cookbook; I worked on building up our test kitchen; I worked on a digital project that was a database of recipes, and I worked on an event. So, I was able to work on many different things, but when I was asked to look after Organic Life three months ago, I realized how much I missed putting a magazine together. I’ve always worked in magazines and I love the creative process.

 

And when I began this, it was like getting back on a bike. I was so excited and the team was so great and I loved the creativity of it that honestly, the most pleasurable moment was being asked to edit this magazine.

 

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

 

Melanie Hansche: I would say the biggest stumbling block in moving here was being an unknown quantity, building relationships and trust; it’s getting buy-in from your coworkers. When I was in Sydney, it was like being a big fish in a little pond. And suddenly I arrive here in America, very innocent and wide-eyed, and I became a very little fish in a big pond and I really had to establish myself, establish my credentials all over again and have people understand what I do and what my skillset is and how I could benefit their brand and what I could bring to the table.

 

And to be honest, that was very hard, but I also feel like it’s making me stronger and making me more persistent than I was before. (Laughs)

 

Samir Husni: I could feel the passion in your voice when you talked about putting the magazine together; you’ve worked in digital and books, what is it about a print magazine that delivers that high for you, rather than just working on digital or some other project?

 

Melanie Hansche: The reason why I went into magazines in the first place as opposed to perhaps becoming a young newspaper journalist was that I always felt that magazines were more creative and certainly the writing and the imagery was, because it allowed editors and writers to explore areas in a lot more depth and in a much better visual style than say the old pyramid structure of newspaper writing did, which I found very formulaic and boring. So, I went into magazines because I found them to be much more creative and they allowed for more creative writing, and that still resonates with me today and is why I still love magazines.

 

I’m also pretty old school; I do love the feel of print. I love the feel of sitting down and flipping through pages. It’s a very experiential thing. I find it very relaxing. And I think what’s been interesting with what we often refer to as the digital disruption is as iPad magazines are also fabulous because they also offer a kind of interaction and interactivity that you can’t get with the printed page, but I have always returned to that more tactile, page-turning approach and I think actually the markets have gone back that way too.

 

We’re seeing a lot of magazines enter the market with beautiful paper stock and beautiful photography and they’re very lush, vibrant visual experiences. Print products still represent escape for people. When their subscription arrives in the mail, the reader might flip through it very quickly, maybe starting from the back, but what’s been found is they return to it on the weekend and read it cover to cover. And I’m certainly that person too.

 

Magazines to me, the way the type and the photography stick to each other and can work together; the way the illustration or the way hand-drawn fonts work together, I just love the creativity of that, and how we can speak to an audience with the simplicity of the printed page.

 

Samir Husni: You’re one of the few editors that I know of in the States that their CEO writes a column for the magazine or a story or article. How difficult is it for you as an editor to edit Maria Rodale?

 

Melanie Hansche: I will say that Maria and I have a fabulous relationship built within the last 12 months because I edited her cookbook. And so we know each other very well and we also complement each other very well. One of the reasons that she brought me onboard in the first place was because she knew the brand that I had come from in Australia and she loved it a lot. There is a lot of great respect and humor between the two of us; so in fact, it’s fairly easy to have an open editor/writer relationship with each other and we often brief her on the theme or topic of that issue. Generally, we let her have free reign over what she writes about and then workshop her columns a little bit, but I have to say given the history and the nature of our relationship, it’s actually not as tricky as you might think. (Laughs)

 

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Maria is a rare entity in this business, where you have the CEO actually writing.

 

Melanie Hansche: Exactly. And to some extent, this magazine is also her baby. It was birthed as Organic Style over 10 years ago and now it’s been rebirthed as Organic Life and she really believes in this product and she believes in how much this can resonate with an audience. And she is very passionate about it and I’m actually very lucky that our CEO is as engaged with the product as I am. So, it’s a really good thing.

 

organic spread 2 Samir Husni: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

 

Melanie Hansche: I’m excited about what the future holds for us, because I’ve always thought that this brand can resonate really strongly with an audience, particularly as the organic movement grows.

 

One thing I want to say is that a lot of people are a little bit afraid that when you see a magazine called Organic Life that they have to be 100% organic. And the anecdote that I always go back to is one that a friend told me. She said that I can’t read your magazine because I drink cola. And this is exciting and is a great example because it’s how an organic lifestyle can be perceived. It can be perceived as really pure and really evangelical.

 

So, what we’re trying to do at the magazine is say that this movement is approachable and it’s fun and vibrant; we’ll meet you at whatever stage of your journey you’re at. And we’re not here to scold you for what you are or are not doing. This organic life is a journey and it means different things to different people.

 

So, I would love an audience to give this magazine a chance and realize that it’s actually really fun and it’s really vibrant and engaging. And it’s not judgmental. Living an organic life is about intentions; it’s not about some tricky label definition or certification. I want this to be a very encouraging and joyful magazine. And also for it to be really practical too, so I want people to understand that our mission isn’t a completely pure and militant one; it’s much more welcoming and inquisitive than that.

 

Samir Husni: Is that the reason for the tagline: a handbook for happy, healthy living?

 

Melanie Hansche: Correct, correct. The magazine never had a tagline before and I felt very strongly that it would give this brand a more distinctive identity and a personality if we stated on the magazine just what the magazine does. It helps us lead a happier, healthier life. And that’s why we included a tagline for this issue.

 

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing, reading a magazine or reading on your iPad, watching television, or something different?

 

Melanie Hansche: You would probably find me cooking actually. I’ve worked in Sydney for so long that I’m fairly food-obsessed, but the other reason you would find me cooking is that I find it relaxing. Cooking lets me switch off in the evening and I destress. After a long day, there is something about chopping, stirring, creating dishes that I really like. So, I would probably invite you to sit down and share a plate of food and a glass of wine with me.

 

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

 

Melanie Hansche: Moving to New York has given me an energy and an engagement and has inspired me in ways that I guess Sydney didn’t. It’s a city that drives you and being here really excites me. And it’s also the product. To be honest, working on something that you personally and passionately believe in; it’s very easy to get out of bed in the morning.

 

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

 

Melanie Hansche: I have a tendency to sweat the small stuff. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could just turn my brain off, but sometimes, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing when you care too much about things, but sometimes I worry about little things that I shouldn’t. And those are the things that keep me up at night. Sometimes I just need my husband to bring me back down to earth, when he asks me what I’m worrying about. And when I tell him, it’s generally something that happened at work that day that I probably don’t need to think about anymore. But that’s what keeps me up at night, the small stuff.

 

Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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