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Retro Fan Magazine: A Nostalgic & Evocative Look Back At The Pop Culture Of Yesterday With A Tagline That Reads “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With” & The Magazine Does Not Disappoint – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Michael Eury, Editor, Retro Fan Magazine…

August 15, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

“To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.” Michael Eury…

From television’s “The Incredible Hulk,” to the highly popular Mr. Microphone, Ronco’s answer to the wireless device of the ‘70s, pop culture has seen many points of era interest come down the pike. The ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s are chocked full of “retro” fads that just cannot be forgotten or ignored, especially now that there’s an exciting new magazine on newsstands to jog our memories. Retro Fan magazine is published by TwoMorrows Publishing and is an ultimate handbook for all things retro and fun, from tattoos in bubble gum packs to our favorite Saturday morning cartoons.

Micahel Eury is editor of the magazine and is also a comic book historian, author and editor and a man who sees the cultural importance of fads, ideas and the things of the past that still impact us today. I spoke with Michael recently and we talked about Retro Fan and the societal reverberations that pop culture brings to all of our lives.

The magazine is filled with these things that still play an important part of our lives: The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek (how many of us grew up on Captain Kirk and Spock), an article with Lou Ferrigno (TV’s Hulk), and fun sitcom quotes, along with much, much more. It’s a great magazine jam-packed with information, and as Michael added, that all-important unpredictable factor that makes it unique.

So, sit back, relax, grab your Slinky for old times’ sake and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Eury, editor, Retro Fan magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why a print, retro-type magazine now, in today’s market: This is a natural outgrowth for the publisher himself. For 20 + years now, TwoMorrows has published a growing line of retro magazines that target comic book history and comic fandom. Over the past few years the publisher has experimented with a few books that branch out beyond comics into the broader popular culture. As far as yours truly is concerned, I have been working in the comic book industry for decades now. I used to be an editor and writer for comics and then overtime, as I got older, I sort of steered my career or it was steered by fate, toward being a comics historian. And since television and toys; collectibles and the moon-landing, and other pop culture events of my past, we’re also part of that pop culture tapestry that we pull from. It just felt like the right time to do this.

On the tagline “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With” and the audience that the magazine is targeting: To very specifically define it, and I’ll say this because this is our target audience I’m about to define, but I don’t necessarily want to anchor it exclusively to that. I’d like to have some flexibility as the magazine grows, but nonetheless it’s ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s popular culture. So, that obviously creates a demographic of a reader who would probably be in his or her forties and up, because again, that’s their childhood that we’re talking about.

On whether he feels a reader can get the same history of pop culture in any other medium other than the printed publication: Well, I think you can. If you are prone to investigate that level of history, you certainly can, but we sort of do the searching for you and the gathering of the information for this. And also, with the involvement of people who are behind the creation of certain toys or comic books or TV shows; just whenever we do celebrity interviews to get their thought processes involved, I think that adds another layer for the audience as they’re reading the publication. Out of all of TwoMorrows’ publications, the others are largely targeted toward the comic book distribution network, meaning that most people who would buy the publication would either buy it off the stands or order it on a subscription list through their comic book shop or from the publisher itself.

On what he would hope to tell someone about Retro Fan one year from now: One year from now, I would hope that we are still on the newsstand. I think that in this particular age, as you know and as you are intimating from your questions, print is diminishing. I think that we have seen though that all of the deaf cries of the print medium that we’ve been hearing, and I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off for a good 30 years now, and people have been attempting to bury it for a long time, but it just isn’t quite going away. There are still readers, and perhaps they’re readers of a certain age who are aging and fading away (Laughs), but they still want to hold something in their hands that isn’t an electronic device. Given the demographic that we largely target, I think that our readers are going to prefer a print publication.

On the statement that today there is no war between print and digital, that it’s up to the reader to decide where they want to consume their content: I think that’s very well said and it’s very, very true. Print has held on in the past few years, and again, we also agree that the print runs are smaller than they have been in the past, but there still seems to be this balance between the two platforms, digital and print. If you were to talk to me about this 10 years from now, we may be fully digital at that point. I do think that there will be a continuing transition, but it’s not happening as rapidly as some of the doomsayers some 10 or 15 years ago were anticipating.

On whether he thinks that as long as we have human beings, we will have print: I hope that’s the case. That’s my interpretation as well. I think that someone half my age might disagree with me, but there’s a value to print. To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.

On anything he’d like to add: The magazine is going to have an eclectic feel. It’s not going to be about one thing. It’s different from the comics history magazine that I edit, “Back Issue!” which is thematically-structured. Every issue of “Back Issue!” is centered around a given theme. And that has provided me editorial structure there. I really like Retro Fan to be more of just a really fun, almost unpredictable, grab bag of content. The second issue has a loose Halloween theme, but that’s a pretty broad subject when you really think about it, especially when couched within the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I’ve never been asked that before, that’s really a challenging question. I would hope that people would smile when they think of me in the future. Maybe through the work I have done with Retro Fan or other publications, because I know at the end of the day, I’m working on magazines and I also write books about comics and pop culture history. Is it the most important thing in the world to record the oral history of a comic book or animation artist? Or write about how the afro became a fashion sensation in the ‘70s? When you compare it to saving people’s lives on an operating table; no, but when you look at it from a broader perspective of just being a nice window into some of the pleasures and interesting things of our past, yes it does have some importance and I’m honored to be a part of this mechanism of recording these stories. So, if people think of me with a smile, wherever I am in the afterlife (Laughs) that will hopefully make me smile as well.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I probably would be watching a little TV or reading a book. I’m finding now that I am editing a second magazine about pop culture that I’m spending less of my free time immersed in pop culture, because largely what has been my hobby in the past is my vocation, which is a really wonderful thing that a lot of people would wish for. So, it’s a blessing for me I believe, to be able to do this kind of work. I enjoy it. But I’m reading a murder mystery at night now, which has nothing to do with anything I do for my job.

On what keeps him up at night: (Laughs) Nothing keeps me up at night, but what gets me up at night is, and I can’t say this without sounding off color, but it’s having to go to the bathroom. (Laughs again) I am a man in my sixties. So, there is that. (Continues laughing) I’m really not that worried about things. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about. I could lose sleep at night over hatred; it does bother me when I really think about it. How, after all of the wonderful advances that I’ve seen throughout my lifetime; I grew up on Star Trek, which had this vision of the future where all cultures were working together as one. And you didn’t think about the fact that this person was from that culture or that planet.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Eury, editor, Retro Fan magazine.

Samir Husni: I understand you have your own publishing company: TwoMorrows Publishing. So, tell me, why a print magazine; why a retro magazine; and why now?

Michael Eury: This is a natural outgrowth for the publisher himself. For 20 + years now, TwoMorrows has published a growing line of retro magazines that target comic book history and comic fandom. Over the past few years the publisher has experimented with a few books that branch out beyond comics into the broader popular culture. One that came out last year, this is by an author named Mark Voger, and the book is called “Groovy.” And it’s essentially looking at the hippie and the flower-power culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s. And there were a number of celebrity interviews, such as with The Brady Bunch kids and people like that. So, this is just a natural growth for him.

As far as yours truly is concerned, I have been working in the comic book industry for decades now. I used to be an editor and writer for comics and then overtime, as I got older, I sort of steered my career or it was steered by fate, toward being a comics historian. And since television and toys; collectibles and the moon-landing, and other pop culture events of my past, we’re also part of that pop culture tapestry that we pull from. It just felt like the right time to do this.

Samir Husni: The tagline of the magazine, “The Crazy Cool Culture We Grew Up With,” is sort of like you’re identifying your audience. Tell me more about that audience and how you want Retro Fan to connect with those of us that grew up in that crazy cool culture.

Michael Eury: To very specifically define it, and I’ll say this because this is our target audience I’m about to define, but I don’t necessarily want to anchor it exclusively to that. I’d like to have some flexibility as the magazine grows, but nonetheless it’s ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s popular culture. So, that obviously creates a demographic of a reader who would probably be in his or her forties and up, because again, that’s their childhood that we’re talking about.

And the types of things that we’re carrying over from other TwoMorrows Publications and the other one that I edit is a magazine called “Back Issue!” It’s a comics history magazine that largely surveys the history of comics and related culture from the ‘70s forward, but mostly the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The thing that we bring over to this, to Retro Fan, is it’s not just nostalgia, although there is a really healthy dose of nostalgia here. There’s also a level of inquisitiveness. It’s essentially looking at all of this fun stuff that we all loved as kids, and looking at it through the lens of adulthood and whatever wisdom that we’ve garnered.

So, when we do an article about, for example, Lou Ferrigno, TV’s Incredible Hulk; obviously, there will be some basic Hulk questions that are asked of him, but also some other questions about his life and his personality to paint a broader picture of him as a person, beyond just him as the celebrity.

When we look at a certain toy or fad that was there at a certain time, yes, there’s a flashback aspect of it. But then we sort of want to analyze for us as a adults why it happened, why it happened at a certain time, and what repercussions do we experience today.

I wrote a one-page Retro fad article in the first issue, which you’ve read, about Mr. Microphone and as I was really looking back at that, beyond just the cheesiness of the marketing campaign (Laughs) and the fact that those things were so popular during their time, I realized that it was one of the very first mass-produced popular wireless devices and look at our culture today. And then secondly it was perhaps the first very popular device that really put the spotlight on the individual and now we live in an era of people carrying Smartphones and taking selfies, with a certain level of self-interest that has grown out of our attachment to these devices. Taking it back historically, Mr. Microphone was more than just this gimmick that a lot of people bought into. It was really a precursor of things to come.

Samir Husni: Do you feel that the magazines, the printed publications, or the books, are the best reflectors of that pop culture? Can you get that history of pop culture at your fingertips in any better medium?

Michael Eury: Well, I think you can. If you are prone to investigate that level of history, you certainly can, but we sort of do the searching for you and the gathering of the information for this. And also, with the involvement of people who are behind the creation of certain toys or comic books or TV shows; just whenever we do celebrity interviews to get their thought processes involved, I think that adds another layer for the audience as they’re reading the publication. Out of all of TwoMorrows’ publications, the others are largely targeted toward the comic book distribution network, meaning that most people who would buy the publication would either buy it off the stands or order it on a subscription list through their comic book shop or from the publisher itself.

With Retro Fan, we felt that there is an audience out there that is not typed in to that distribution network and by having it newsstand distributed, and it is a riskier and more expensive venture obviously to produce enough copies to distribute them in that fashion, we’re hoping to find individuals who are not connected to that distribution network I mentioned just a moment ago. And presumably you’re one of them, and I have gotten a lot of emails from people who have discovered the magazine on the newsstand, which is very encouraging.

To maybe anticipate a question; will that be enough to sustain its publication on the newsstand for months to come, I don’t know, it’s still too early to know. But it’s something that we felt strongly enough about, because I think there are just thousands of people out there who love the stuff that we grew up with. And we’re trying to find them.

Samir Husni: If you and I are chatting one year from now, what would you hope to tell me about Retro Fan?

Michael Eury: One year from now, I would hope that we are still on the newsstand. I think that in this particular age, as you know and as you are intimating from your questions, print is diminishing. I think that we have seen though that all of the deaf cries of the print medium that we’ve been hearing, and I’ve been in the publishing industry on and off for a good 30 years now, and people have been attempting to bury it for a long time, but it just isn’t quite going away. There are still readers, and perhaps they’re readers of a certain age who are aging and fading away (Laughs), but they still want to hold something in their hands that isn’t an electronic device. Given the demographic that we largely target, I think that our readers are going to prefer a print publication.

A year from now I still do hope that we will have a larger newsstand distributed print presence. If we find that the newsstand sales don’t warrant that cost, I think that due to the very strong reaction that we’ve had to the first issue and the anticipation for the future issues that the magazine will continue, but it would be distributed through the comic book world and through the publisher’s website. And we also publish it in the digital edition, so you can download it as well to bypass the print edition. And some people will do that, even older people who might prefer print, but they’ve got a houseful of books and magazines and sometimes you reach a certain point where there’s no more shelf space. (Laughs) But we’re going to continue to publish it as long as we can.

Samir Husni: I just gave an interview with a publication in South Africa and one of the things that I told them was the war between print and digital is long over, it’s up to the people to decide which platform they want to consume their content.

Michael Eury: I think that’s very well said and it’s very, very true. Print has held on in the past few years, and again, we also agree that the print runs are smaller than they have been in the past, but there still seems to be this balance between the two platforms, digital and print. If you were to talk to me about this 10 years from now, we may be fully digital at that point. I do think that there will be a continuing transition, but it’s not happening as rapidly as some of the doomsayers some 10 or 15 years ago were anticipating.

Samir Husni: I am one of those people who believe that as long as we have human beings we will have print.

Michael Eury: I hope that’s the case. That’s my interpretation as well. I think that someone half my age might disagree with me, but there’s a value to print. To me, and again I know that I’m speaking as a person who is 60-years-old and my perspective is obviously shaped by my experiences throughout my life, but I consider something in print to have a degree of permanence and actually a degree of importance that I really don’t think you have in quite the same way when it’s exclusively digital. There’s just something about holding it in your hand and having it on a shelf, having easy access to it for reference if you choose to. Or if it’s a book that you cherish and something that you pull off your shelf every year to reread, there is just something there that is very special.

I also understand though that someone who is 20-years-old, someone who has grown up with an electronic device in his or her hand is going to have an obviously very different look at reality and of how they enjoy their information. Anyone that would be of the age of a child or grandchild of mine would have a different perspective more than likely.

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

Michael Eury: The magazine is going to have an eclectic feel. It’s not going to be about one thing. It’s different from the comics history magazine that I edit, “Back Issue!” which is thematically-structured. Every issue of “Back Issue!” is centered around a given theme. And that has provided me editorial structure there. I really like Retro Fan to be more of just a really fun, almost unpredictable, grab bag of content. The second issue has a loose Halloween theme, but that’s a pretty broad subject when you really think about it, especially when couched within the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

In the second issue, which comes out in September, you’ll have an article about the emergence of the horror movie host on television. There will be an interview with Elvira, and then I interviewed one of the sons of the Ben Cooper Halloween Costume company, who for kids of the ‘50s through the ‘80s, they were the number one manufacturer of these inexpensive, vinyl masked costumes that tied in the back, with all of the characters that you would expect from pop culture. From Mickey Mouse to the Six Million Dollar Man, and some weird things in between. Like Jaws – the shark. (Laughs) Anything that was popular in pop culture, you could dress up like for Halloween. So, I interviewed the son of one of the two founders and it has some very valuable insight and a lot of fun information there. And we look back at cartoon shows and such, so there is always going to be an unpredictable factor to the magazine. But a certain level of quality and intellectual curiosity will always be there.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Michael Eury: I’ve never been asked that before, that’s really a challenging question. I would hope that people would smile when they think of me in the future. Maybe through the work I have done with Retro Fan or other publications, because I know at the end of the day, I’m working on magazines and I also write books about comics and pop culture history. Is it the most important thing in the world to record the oral history of a comic book or animation artist? Or write about how the afro became a fashion sensation in the ‘70s? When you compare it to saving people’s lives on an operating table; no, but when you look at it from a broader perspective of just being a nice window into some of the pleasures and interesting things of our past, yes it does have some importance and I’m honored to be a part of this mechanism of recording these stories. So, if people think of me with a smile, wherever I am in the afterlife (Laughs) that will hopefully make me smile as well.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Michael Eury: I probably would be watching a little TV or reading a book. I’m finding now that I am editing a second magazine about pop culture that I’m spending less of my free time immersed in pop culture, because largely what has been my hobby in the past is my vocation, which is a really wonderful thing that a lot of people would wish for. So, it’s a blessing for me I believe, to be able to do this kind of work. I enjoy it. But I’m reading a murder mystery at night now, which has nothing to do with anything I do for my job.

Often, I do watch old television shows and movies, because I have a great appreciation for them. So, sometimes you would find me watching the Andy Griffith Show. I am from North Carolina, by the way, so that is gospel here. (Laughs)

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

Michael Eury: (Laughs) Nothing keeps me up at night, but what gets me up at night is, and I can’t say this without sounding off color, but it’s having to go to the bathroom. (Laughs again) I am a man in my sixties. So, there is that. (Continues laughing) I’m really not that worried about things. I mean, there are plenty of things to be worried about. I could lose sleep at night over hatred; it does bother me when I really think about it. How, after all of the wonderful advances that I’ve seen throughout my lifetime; I grew up on Star Trek, which had this vision of the future where all cultures were working together as one. And you didn’t think about the fact that this person was from that culture or that planet.

We just had the Charlottesville, Va. anniversary and I went to see Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” recently and just to see the level of hatred in this country is something that would keep me up at night, but I think maybe I’m cushioned a bit by the nostalgia and the warm, fuzzy feelings of my youth to not allow it to affect me to my core. But I still carry it with me in my desire to try and be a good person every day and just treat people with respect.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Garment: Where Fashion Shows Off In Print…

August 1, 2018

“Garment embraces the battle of the opposites, and this is what [mis]suiting is all about.” Thus states Editor in Chief Emma-Chase Laflamme in her Editor’s Letter of the new Amsterdam Fashion Institute’s magazine Garment.

She goes on to say, “We believe there is no better analogy to reflect the evolution and current state of the fashion industry than the suit…They say if the suit fits, wear it. Garment says, does it have to? Welcome to the [mis]suit issue.”

The annual publication from Amsterdam University of Applied Science’s Fashion Institute has been a fixture in the Dutch magazine world for more than a decade. Each issue is unique, as unique as the students and faculty who creates it.

After a short hiatus of no print issue, this summer the magazine is back in print. Frank Jurgen Wijlens, one of two editorial coaches of the magazine and the program coordinator, tells me in a note that accompanied the magazine, “Dear Samir, happy to show we were back to print. Happy readings. All the best, Frank.”

Happy readings indeed. Well designed, well edited, great photography and greater [mis]suits.

Another good example of what print can deliver that digital can’t. The sense of holding this issue of Garment in your hands, flipping the nicely sewn pages (no pun intended), is worth every penny of the 13 Euros that the magazine costs.

Want your own copy? Go to http://www.hva.nl/amfi or http://www.amfi.nl

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NewBeauty Magazine: A Relaunch That Highlights Editorial Integrity & Authority, While Cultivating More Than Just A Millennial Audience – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Agnes Chapski, President, NewBeauty…

July 27, 2018

“It’s a huge population and a very affluent audience. They actually have more spendable income and more money. In the beauty space, it’s completely underserved, so when you think about it, to me, it’s an amazing opportunity to speak to women who are hungry to have this kind of information. No one is really intelligently speaking to them, so that is a strong business reason.” Agnes Chapski On Why Baby Boomers & Gen Xer’s Are So Important To NewBeauty…

NewBeauty has been described as the definitive authority on all things beauty, and has the tagline to prove it. As a brand that believes in content that is 100 percent dedicated to beauty, from the scientific to cutting edge, NewBeauty has carved a unique niche for itself in the beauty space. And while the scientifically-driven approach to beauty that founding editor Yolanda Yoh Bucher created is still very much present, new Editor in Chief, Emily Dougherty and President of the company, Agnes Chapski, decided that a bit of tweaking was in order. So, along with the design vision of Creative Director, Dean Sebring, the team has raised the bar even more to include not only the scientific, but a palpable new emphasis on fun and personal storytelling.

And it’s inspiringly beautiful – as the beauty content of the title demands. I spoke with Agnes recently and we talked about the present and the future of the brand – and not just the magazine. With a focus on the Omni-channel development of the entire brand, Agnes has the goal of further diversifying and developing the brands existing revenue streams and initiating even more. And with her experience, Agnes was publisher and chief revenue officer of Allure for nine years prior to joining NewBeauty, there is no doubt that she can handle the job and her goals. And while the millennial audience is always important, Agnes isn’t avoiding the baby boomers and the GenX generations either. Recognizing the potential that lies within that group, she is determined to speak to all women, no matter their age. Just another sign that she has a firm grasp on the helm of this strong brand.

So, grab a nice glass of your drink of choice and join me as we take a stroll down the lanes of beauty with a woman who is excited about the multiplatform of her brand and can’t wait to lay the foundation (pun intended) for all the great things to come, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Agnes Chapski, president, NewBeauty.

But first the sound-bites:

On reinventing the magazine to have not only the science behind its content, but also the heart: I’ve been at Sandow now for about nine months and it was really important to relaunch the magazine for multiple reasons. A big part of it was finding the right editor in chief, finding Emily; obviously that was the first step. But when I think about NewBeauty and all of the assets that we have, we really are an Omni channel. We have so many other media assets, but also businesses that are surrounding the brand, but to me the magazine is really the foundation; it’s our most visible asset. And that editorial integrity and authority is extremely relevant, especially in today’s media landscape where for many other companies that has not been the priority. We truly believe, especially in the beauty space, that credibility matters to women.

On what she’s doing to ensure that NewBeauty doesn’t disappear from advertisers’ radar: I’m going to answer this question in two parts. Number one, we’re not solely reliant on advertising revenue in our organization. Our founder, Adam Sandow, always looked at business first and what I mean by that is, there are a lot of things that he created around the NewBeauty brand that are profitable and not reliant on advertising. So, it’s creating relationships and trying to be full-beauty solution providers to our clients versus just trying to attract advertising dollars from them. Advertising is an important revenue stream, but it’s not what we’re completely reliant on.

On what has been the most pleasant surprise for her since becoming president of NewBeauty:
I like that it’s really spread out, that we can go to clients and offer multiple solutions. We can talk to big clients and it would be one conversation, and we can talk to small, emerging brands and it would be a completely different conversation. But with both, we’re helping them to attach to the right customer and are offering them ways to accelerate their businesses. And that’s what’s interesting to me, going in as a brand consultant rather than just one that’s trying to sell someone something.

On whether there have been any stumbling blocks during the relaunch or it’s been a walk in a rose garden:
(Laughs) Nothing is a walk in a rose garden. I don’t really look at things too much as stumbling blocks; instead, it’s how do we fix this or how do we make it better? I look at things like that as fun, business challenges and as what keeps things interesting and challenging. Nothing is ever perfect, nor should it be, this is a constantly evolving and changing business, so it’s fun to be able to get ahead of it and adapt and to always be thinking differently. For those of us who have been in this industry for a long time and have stayed in it, you have to be that in order to be successful.

On what she would like to say one year from now that she had achieved and what goals met: I don’t think you should ever feel that you’ve met your goals; you should just start to create new ones as you go along. And yes, you can checkmark off certain goals and certain benchmarks, but what we wanted to accomplish here is the foundation where we make sure this is a really strong brand from every one of our assets. So, the magazine being relaunched is one part of that.

On why baby boomers and GenX audiences are so important to NewBeauty, while other magazines cultivate the millennial audience:
Why it’s important to us is because of exactly what you said. It’s a huge population and a very affluent audience. They actually have more spendable income and more money. In the beauty space, it’s completely underserved, so when you think about it, to me, it’s an amazing opportunity to speak to women who are hungry to have this kind of information. No one is really intelligently speaking to them, so that is a strong business reason.

On some constants that she believes should never change in the magazine business: I think there’s always going to be a strong demand for really good, credible content. And to me, in magazines, if you’re not doing that, what’s the point? It doesn’t matter whatever genre you’re in, you should be concerned about content. It shouldn’t be homogenized, it shouldn’t be built for one and played out across other brands. It should be respectful of the consumer and who you’re trying to serve. To me, that’s foundationally why magazines are so powerful as well. Good magazines are powerful. And consumers will respond to that. That’s a constant that has to happen.

On what drives her to get up in the morning and head for the office: That’s a good question. A lot of things drive me. Number one, I would say that always working on something that you really believe in, and I’m sure a lot of people say that, but it really is true. If you don’t have a passion for it and you don’t really believe in it and you don’t love it, it’s pretty hard to get up and go to the office.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home:
I have two young boys, so I don’t know if I really relax when I get home. (Laughs) It’s almost like a whole other job starts, but we do family time and cooking is a big part of it. Just being in our home together as a family, when we all come back from our various activities during the day. But that is relaxing to me, even though it is a bit of chaos. (Laughs again).

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her:
It would go back to what I said a minute ago, which is that I do great teams and cultures and people want to work with me and on my team.

On what keeps her up at night: Nothing. I sleep so well. I work so hard each day and I don’t bring it home. When I’m at home, I’m about my family and I sleep really well. Work is challenges, it’s not things that keep me up.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Agnes Chapski, president, NewBeauty magazine.

Samir Husni: You have a brand new, reinvented, reengineered NewBeauty magazine and as Emily Dougherty, editor in chief, told WWD, in addition to the science there is now a heart for the magazine. As president of NewBeauty, can you expand a little on that?

Agnes Chapski: I’ve been at Sandow now for about nine months and it was really important to relaunch the magazine for multiple reasons. A big part of it was finding the right editor in chief, finding Emily; obviously that was the first step. But when I think about NewBeauty and all of the assets that we have, we really are an Omni channel. We have so many other media assets, but also businesses that are surrounding the brand, but to me the magazine is really the foundation; it’s our most visible asset. And that editorial integrity and authority is extremely relevant, especially in today’s media landscape where for many other companies that has not been the priority. We truly believe, especially in the beauty space, that credibility matters to women.

So, magazines have, at least for our properties, the deepest consumer engagement. MPA came out with some new data that I was reading and was fascinated with, the things that they’re looking at, and they said that on average women spend 51 minutes with magazines. I looked at where NewBeauty is and our women actually spend 90 minutes with every NewBeauty issue. I thought the MPA number was pretty impressive, but the NewBeauty numbers were almost twice that.

And that’s really where everything starts, with our magazine, and that is our core consumer. And our goal with her is to really create this holistic beauty experience, and Emily spoke to this. We want to inspire them as much as we want to inform them, and it’s the best place to really create that emotional connection. And then from there, as we engage her and push her and move her to our other media platforms, such as our web, our videos, social and our other businesses like our sampling business, TestTube and all of that, those are important pieces of our business, but the strength of them comes from that magazine consumer.

Samir Husni: Your background is in the beauty sector, you were at Allure for years. And as we look at the business side and the advertising revenue that’s shrinking at most magazines, do you feel that the beauty category is more protected than any other sector, in terms of the advertising revenue? And what are you doing to ensure that the beauty category isn’t going to disappear from the advertising revenue radar?

Agnes Chapski: I’m going to answer this question in two parts. Number one, we’re not solely reliant on advertising revenue in our organization. Our founder, Adam Sandow, always looked at business first and what I mean by that is, there are a lot of things that he created around the NewBeauty brand that are profitable and not reliant on advertising. So, it’s creating relationships and trying to be full-beauty solution providers to our clients versus just trying to attract advertising dollars from them. Advertising is an important revenue stream, but it’s not what we’re completely reliant on.

The other piece of that is also our circulation. If you look at our business model, our circulation is profitable. I’ve never worked in an organization where circulation has been profitable, it’s actually a drain on the P&L. We’re newsstand-driven, we charge $10 per copy and our subs are not discounted comparatively to the way the industry standard has been, where you’re pretty much giving the magazine away. So, we’re very conscious of making sure that we create a value around the product that we’re serving to our customers and that they pay for that and everything we do; every business line, not just the magazine.

And then the beauty piece of it is, I think this is one of the most vibrant categories out there. I have worked in many different areas in my career and the most interesting was when I came to Allure and got to work 100 percent in the beauty category. And if you think about the changes that have happened in this industry in the past 15 years, it’s incredible. The idea that all of these brands are emerging and they have the ability to push themselves out in a way where consumers are really in command of what it is they want and need. It has allowed so many different players in the beauty space to enter into it. And I find that fascinating and I think it’s going to continue to grow stronger. Women are so intrigued with what’s out there and finding and discovering solutions for their beauty.

The other thing that’s always really intriguing too about NewBeauty is, and I mentioned it earlier, it really is a full, holistic experience. Where Allure was more driven by traditional beauty, and what I mean by that is NewBeauty also tackles cosmetic enhancements and doctors, our expertise is driven from a more serious place. So yes, we want to inspire and we have amazing, beautiful content on beauty, but we also take a more serious approach to it as well. We always talk about inspiring and informing and having more credible information for women. It covers a much more holistic landscape than anything that’s out there in the marketplace.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant surprise since you became president of NewBeauty?

Agnes Chapski: I like that it’s really spread out, that we can go to clients and offer multiple solutions. We can talk to big clients and it would be one conversation, and we can talk to small, emerging brands and it would be a completely different conversation. But with both, we’re helping them to attach to the right customer and are offering them ways to accelerate their businesses. And that’s what’s interesting to me, going in as a brand consultant rather than just one that’s trying to sell someone something.

Samir Husni: Have there been any stumbling blocks or has it been a walk in a rose garden for you?

Agnes Chapski: (Laughs) Nothing is a walk in a rose garden. I don’t really look at things too much as stumbling blocks; instead, it’s how do we fix this or how do we make it better? I look at things like that as fun, business challenges and as what keeps things interesting and challenging. Nothing is ever perfect, nor should it be, this is a constantly evolving and changing business, so it’s fun to be able to get ahead of it and adapt and to always be thinking differently. For those of us who have been in this industry for a long time and have stayed in it, you have to be that in order to be successful.

Samir Husni: If you and I are talking about NewBeauty one year from now, what would you like to tell me that you have achieved and what goals met?

Agnes Chapski: I don’t think you should ever feel that you’ve met your goals; you should just start to create new ones as you go along. And yes, you can checkmark off certain goals and certain benchmarks, but what we wanted to accomplish here is the foundation where we make sure this is a really strong brand from every one of our assets. So, the magazine being relaunched is one part of that.

We’ll be focusing on our digital assets in Q-4. In the fall, we’re relaunching our TestTube, which is our sampling subscription business and you’ll see that we have a new platform for that. We’ve already relaunched our awards business and credentialing and there will be more to come on that. We have plans to launch a few new initiatives that I can’t talk about yet. So, we’re constantly thinking toward what’s next, while shoring up everything that we have in our arsenal and making sure that we have the best products out there and that they’re all up to our standard, which is a premium consumer experience.

I guess a year from now, if I could checkmark off all of the assets that I inherited to work with and they are all in the right place, then I would be very happy as we start to launch new initiatives.

Samir Husni: One of the things that you’ve done is not to shy away from reaching the non-millennials, people who are older: the baby boomers and GenX. Why do you think people in the magazine business, I don’t want to say ignored, but you hear more of them talking about millennials, yet common sense will tell you that baby boomers and GenX have more money to spend, and there are as many of them as millennials. Why do you think that audience that you’re after now has been avoided by others for so long?

Agnes Chapski: Why it’s important to us is because of exactly what you said. It’s a huge population and a very affluent audience. They actually have more spendable income and more money. In the beauty space, it’s completely underserved, so when you think about it, to me, it’s an amazing opportunity to speak to women who are hungry to have this kind of information. No one is really intelligently speaking to them, so that is a strong business reason.

Why are other companies not embracing this audience? I think you’d probably have to ask them, but in my opinion, they don’t see that possibly the marketing dollars are there to support going after this older market segment. I disagree with that. I think they’re really smart marketers who have possibly gone the millennial route and have found that doesn’t work for some of the brands. For the brands they should know who they’re producing the products for and what age group makes sense and speak to them. And be proud of that. I’m of that age segment and I’ll spend a lot of money in that sector. I don’t want to be ignored.

Samir Husni: Change is the only constant in the magazine business these days, but there are some constants that I believe should never change, no matter the evolvements that are taking place. You’re a seasoned publisher, now president; what are some constants that you believe should never change in the magazine business?

Agnes Chapski: I think there’s always going to be a strong demand for really good, credible content. And to me, in magazines, if you’re not doing that, what’s the point? It doesn’t matter whatever genre you’re in, you should be concerned about content. It shouldn’t be homogenized, it shouldn’t be built for one and played out across other brands. It should be respectful of the consumer and who you’re trying to serve. To me, that’s foundationally why magazines are so powerful as well. Good magazines are powerful. And consumers will respond to that. That’s a constant that has to happen.

And the change is, I think, being flexible and nimble. It’s nice to work at a company that’s entrepreneurial. We can go out and try things and if we fail, okay, then we’ll try something else. We’re not beholden to a corporate-type structure that doesn’t allow for flexibility. And I think brands will survive if they can remain nimble in the marketplace, so that’s the business piece of it.

Samir Husni: What excites you and motivates you to get up in the morning and head for the office? What drives you?

Agnes Chapski: That’s a good question. A lot of things drive me. Number one, I would say that always working on something that you really believe in, and I’m sure a lot of people say that, but it really is true. If you don’t have a passion for it and you don’t really believe in it and you don’t love it, it’s pretty hard to get up and go to the office.

But the other really critical piece of it to me and it’s something that I hope I’ll be remembered for, is that I take a lot of pride in putting together and building great teams and cultures, and places where people come to and want to work. We care about each other, it sounds sort of cliché, but we work really hard and we are constantly striving to perform at a really high level, but in the context of a culture that supports that. And I’ve always built these microcosms within even bigger organizations and have built these amazing teams and cultures. And that makes you want to get up and do the best work that you possibly do. So, I think those two in combination are what gets me going.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Agnes Chapski: I have two young boys, so I don’t know if I really relax when I get home. (Laughs) It’s almost like a whole other job starts, but we do family time and cooking is a big part of it. Just being in our home together as a family, when we all come back from our various activities during the day. But that is relaxing to me, even though it is a bit of chaos. (Laughs again).

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Agnes Chapski: It would go back to what I said a minute ago, which is that I do great teams and cultures and people want to work with me and on my team.

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

Agnes Chapski: Nothing. I sleep so well. I work so hard each day and I don’t bring it home. When I’m at home, I’m about my family and I sleep really well. Work is challenges, it’s not things that keep me up.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magazine Media: Change Is Constant, But Consistency Can Be Crucial.

July 24, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

We all know that change is the only constant in the world that we live in, but while change brings about progress and evolution, there are times when evolvement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For instance, just ask Amazon about its not-so illustrious Fire Phone that convinced the mega company its future was not in phone technology.

And so it goes in magazine publishing too. There are reasons to remain consistent and staunch when it comes to certain things. And let’s be honest, Mr. Magazine™ is here to talk about the magazine business, certainly not cell phone technology.

Take Rolling Stone, for example. Now that the 50-year-old musical and cultural staple is under new ownership, there have been significant changes made to the title. It’s now a larger format that will publish monthly rather than biweekly. However, the man behind the magazine’s successful legacy, Jann Wenner, is still ensconced as editor and has vowed in his first letter since becoming a non-owner persona that certain characteristics of Rolling Stone shall remain eternal:

“What isn’t changing is our commitment to the integrity, honesty and quality of our journalism and to our tradition of bold, clean design and original photography. It is our intention to continue that tradition for as long as we exist.”

And Wenner went on to say:

“In my view, magazine journalism – deep reporting, with original photography and a point of view – will always have a firm place in the cultural conversation.”

And that is why Rolling Stone’s impact is globally felt. From the shores of the U.S. to the European landscape, the magazine is as relevant and effective on one side of the ocean as it is on the other.

Recently, I made a trip to the land where I was born, Lebanon. Stopping in Italy during the flight, a dramatically impressive Italian version of Rolling Stone caught my eye and my heart. Needless, to say, it came home with me. The cover was spellbinding. Jann Wenner’s belief that magazine journalism should have a point of view was driven home as I looked at the poignant and impactful Italian issue that most definitely took a verbal and visual stand.

Magazines have always been reflectors of our society at that particular time, so they’re always evolving and morphing. But there are some facets of the profession of journalism and the magazine industry that should never morph into anything other than what it has always been: the pursuit of truth and the presentation of information and entertainment. After all, that’s what magazines do best!

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

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Fighting For Freedom, Democracy, And Justice – The Lebanese Way: Journalist Paula Yacoubian, The Newest Member Of The Lebanese Parliament In An Exclusive Interview with Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

July 23, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Report From Lebanon

Paula Yacoubian, journalist and one of the newest members of the Lebanese Parliament.

“I feel like I have an obligation to give back and I enjoy it. I love to feel that I’m useful and that I’m helping. And honestly, I cannot imagine myself sitting around. Sometimes I get tired and I want to go and just have fun like everyone else. I go for one day and then the next I realize that what’s fun for me is helping people. So, it’s not only an obligation, it’s a pleasure to help, honestly.” Paula Yacoubian…

“Although it is not yet in the Guinness book of records, I read my first national newscast at the age of 17. Reading the news was not the only skill I started to develop… I had the chance to develop my news writing and language skills…” So starts the biography of one of the most recognized names in Lebanese media Paula Yacoubian. At age 42, Ms. Yacoubian was elected last May to the Lebanese Parliament.

During my visit to Lebanon, I was so intrigued by the story of Paula Yacoubian, I felt the need to meet with her and find out more about the many changes that took place in the Lebanese media since I left my home country in 1978.

Honest, truthful, energetic, ambitious, are but a few of the adjectives that I can think of after my meeting with Paula. She beams with enthusiasm as she recalls her career and her plans now as a member of the parliament rather than a member of the media. The old adage, “nothing will stop us now,” is certainly applicable to her mindset.

I met with Paula at al Mandaloun Café in the Achrafieh district of Beirut and the conversation that followed shed some light on her career, the media, and the issues that are of major concern to her and, if I might add, the majority of the Lebanese people.

“Is it more powerful to be a journalist or a politician in Lebanon?” I asked her. Paula Yacoubian’s answer will surprise you.

Reporting from Beirut. This is the first of interviews and stories about the media in Lebanon, my birth country.

So join me as we go on a journey of Lebanese media and politics in the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Paula Yacoubian.

But first the sound-bites:

On how Lebanese media has changed in the 25 years she has been involved with journalism: Technically, it has changed and evolved. We have beautiful, big studios and great technologies. However, the problem is the owners are the same and the media in Lebanon is part of the political system.

On who supports Lebanese media: All Lebanese press is supported. Even the Lebanese media that is published outside is no longer supported by foreign governments, but rather is supported by well-known, influential Lebanese individuals. There is no more foreign support of the media in this day and age in Lebanon. The days that Qadafi or other Arab leaders paid to help and launch Lebanese media are long gone.

On some of the stumbling blocks that she’s faced in starting her own communications company: I decided to start my own company because I knew as a journalist I would never be free unless I had my own company. As an employee I would never have the freedom that I would have as the owner, the boss. I care about freedom a lot and without ownership there is no financial security, no building self-confidence and no independence. Because, as you know, working for someone else is never secure. At any time they can let you go regardless of your performance or ability.

On the moment she knew that she wanted to be a journalist:
It happened by pure coincidence. I was paying a visit to someone in television and they asked me would I be interested in doing a screen test. And I said yes, why not. I was in the elevator with the lady and I asked her what kind of anchor she was looking for and she said a news anchor. I wondered how in the world I could do it, but I took the test. And the grammar wasn’t that hard to read and they liked my voice. So, the next day they told me I was hired.

On whether she feels that she has reached the top of her profession or that she still has more climbing to do: It depends on how you want to measure it. My mom’s ambition for me was to have a decent job and to have security. When I look back, I arrived a very long time ago, but you don’t know what life has in store for you around the next corner. And things unfold in your life. Now my ambitions are much, much bigger. I want to try and make a difference in my country. I want people to believe again that they can do change. And if they elect someone out of the box, out of the system, out of the ruling parties, they will do the right thing. This is how change happens.

On her social activism and why she always felt compelled to keep doing more:

“I want to try and make a difference in my country. I want people to believe again that they can do change.” Paula Yacoubian to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni.

I like to be proactive with my life and when I feel that I can help, that I can bring something to the society that has given me so much, I like to pay back. The Dafa Campaign started because I was visiting one of the Syrian camps and it was so awful; the conditions were not human. So, I decided to do something. And I realized when you are a well-known figure you can do so much more than anyone else. A famous person can get things done, but most people don’t think of using their fame to do something for society.

On whether her work as a journalist was easier than her work as a member of Parliament: My work as a journalist wasn’t bringing any change to society. People don’t listen to journalists, unfortunately for us. I wish they did. They would know so much more. If they listened to journalists more than the politicians, they wouldn’t be living in denial. Now that I’m a politician, they listen much more to what I say, it gets more coverage.

On the trust factor that’s missing in both journalism and politics right now and the fact that she represents both: The campaigns in my race were really unheard of. They said all kinds of things about me. Some parties told very Christian conservatives that I was Muslim, because I was once married to a Muslim. I named my son Paul, he is baptized. I’ve never changed my name, it’s always been Paula.

On whether she can ever shed the journalistic Paula and just be the politician: I really wasn’t a journalist when I was a journalist. I was more of a politician, I used to give my opinion. I’ve never thought that objectivity was a really important part of being a journalist. I was always more of a politician when I was a journalist, because living in Lebanon you cannot just cover the news, the news is your life. You just can’t be objective in Lebanon and you shouldn’t be. Amanpour said it in a very nice way, being useful is more important than being objective.

On why she’s never seemed to mind crossing television networks: And it was also any challenge for me was a new challenge. I don’t like routine; I don’t like to keep on with the same thing. I get bored easily and I like new challenges, so that was partly why I used to change television stations. And sometimes circumstances forced me. Like MTV, I had to leave due to a contract obligation.

On how she felt being chosen to conduct an interview with the current Prime Minister: I think they chose the television, someone chose that that interview should be on Future Television and I was the only one who had a political show on Future TV, so I think that the network was very lucky that I was the person conducting the interview because I did everything possible to help the network with the situation they were in. And I did that despite the fact that maybe it was against my own interests, but I did what I had to do and I did the right thing without thinking twice about whether it was the thing for me to do or not.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Honestly, you wouldn’t find me in the house. I don’t go back to the house before midnight. Tonight for instance, I’m having dinner with someone, an environmental specialist, before that I have another engagement, and before that another meeting. I have continuous meetings usually. Normally, I start around 8:00 a.m. and have meetings all day and then dinners in the evening that are related to what I do, such as the garbage crisis.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: Humbleness, because this is also one of our major problems in Lebanon, we all think that we know about everything and no one wants to be just a normal citizen, everyone wants to be someone. And we have an attitude problem. So, I just remind myself everyday about being humble, it’s just so important to stay in touch with reality and be human.

On what keeps her up at night: The garbage crisis, especially the environment. I used to say a few years ago that we can’t swim in our sea anymore. Very soon our kids will not be able to touch the sea and people would say that I was so pessimistic. And then before we realized it, it’s there. You cannot swim anywhere on many of our shores, and things are getting worse and worse by the day. And nobody cares.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Paula Yacoubian, acclaimed journalist, talk show host, and member of the Lebanese Parliament.

Reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.

Samir Husni: You’ve been at this for almost 25 years now; you started as a journalist at 17-years-old. Briefly, from your point of view, tell me how the Lebanese media has changed in those 25 years.

Paula Yacoubian: Technically, it has changed and evolved. We have beautiful, big studios and great technologies. However, the problem is the owners are the same and the media in Lebanon is part of the political system. And this is the same since the end of the civil war. They’re either directly party television or newspapers, or independent television or newspapers that need a political cover to support or defend in order for it to survive. There is really no free press in Lebanon, all the media are nothing but voices of the authority, I am sad to say.

Samir Husni: One of the very first articles I wrote in the States was about who owns the Lebanese press and I said there are three groups: the political parties, the Arab government and the foreign governments.

Paula Yacoubian: All Lebanese press is supported. Even the Lebanese media that is published outside is no longer supported by foreign governments, but rather is supported by well-known, influential Lebanese individuals. There is no more foreign support of the media in this day and age in Lebanon. The days that Qadafi or other Arab leaders paid to help and launch Lebanese media are long gone.

Samir Husni: You’ve done a lot and have established an integrated communications company that you are the CEO of. What have been some of the stumbling blocks that you, as a journalist, have faced throughout your career?

Paula Yacoubian: I decided to start my own company because I knew as a journalist I would never be free unless I had my own company. As an employee I would never have the freedom that I would have as the owner, the boss. I care about freedom a lot and without ownership there is no financial security, no building self-confidence and no independence. Because, as you know, working for someone else is never secure. At any time they can let you go regardless of your performance or ability.

Samir Husni: When Henri Sfeir took a chance on you, you were 17-years-old.

“My work as a journalist wasn’t bringing any change to society,” Paula Yacoubian to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni

Paula Yacoubian: (Laughs) I lied about my age. I said I was 21, and he wasn’t the one to decide, actually. There was someone else who said that this girl could be an anchor and I told him that I was studying political science and that was how I started. And then he told me that my Arabic was very good, even though I was Armenian. And that’s when I told him that they were asking for my papers and I couldn’t bring any papers. And I told him that I was 17 and didn’t have any degree.

But I said one day I will have a political science degree and that’s when he told me to go and do not worry about it. So, I started with a lie and I never thought it would continue, but it was something to do during the summertime. But then it took over my whole life and I’m still somehow, even in what I do right now, I still have my journalistic skills and curiosity, even in my new job.

Samir Husni: You have a new job, as a member of the Lebanese Parliament. I guess congratulations are in order.

Paula Yacoubian: Thank you.

Samir Husni: At 17, even before going to college, when was that moment that you said this is it, this is what I want to do?

Paula Yacoubian: It happened by pure coincidence. I was paying a visit to someone in television and they asked me would I be interested in doing a screen test. And I said yes, why not. I was in the elevator with the lady and I asked her what kind of anchor she was looking for and she said a news anchor. I wondered how in the world I could do it, but I took the test. And the grammar wasn’t that hard to read and they liked my voice. So, the next day they told me I was hired.

It wasn’t something I planned or worked for or applied for; I didn’t even apply for the job. I didn’t fill out an application. But soon I was reading the newscast. And that’s how it happened. I had colleagues who helped me to read well and to know what I’m reading about. Then I learned Arabic and the grammar.

Samir Husni: But you moved from an anchorperson to a journalist, a reporter, an interviewer. And through the years you’ve become a household name in Lebanon and the Arab countries. When did you feel that you’d finally reached the top of your profession, or are you still climbing?

Paula Yacoubian: It depends on how you want to measure it. My mom’s ambition for me was to have a decent job and to have security. When I look back, I arrived a very long time ago, but you don’t know what life has in store for you around the next corner. And things unfold in your life.

Now my ambitions are much, much bigger. I want to try and make a difference in my country. I want people to believe again that they can do change. And if they elect someone out of the box, out of the system, out of the ruling parties, they will do the right thing. This is how change happens.

We have to overcome fears and believe that our country is not doomed and that it can have a future. And that the problem is with us and our choices and this political cast, this molding, and that it owns almost everything: the media, the money, the services. And they own the stories, they can do the stories the way they want. So, this is my new ambition now. But now the sky is the limit and if there are still Lebanese people who can still believe in anything, we can succeed.

Samir Husni: One of the things that I tell my students all of the time is that I never want them to say that the sky is the limit. I want them to say that they are the limit, such as Samir is the limit of himself.

Paula Yacoubian: Circumstances are important. I am lucky enough that people are ready to believe again. I think in four years we can have a major breakthrough and we can be a real alternative to this corrupt cast.

Samir Husni: But even before you entered politics, as a journalist you were involved with a lot of social issues. You did the Dafa Campaign, and I was reading some of your background and you’ve fought for women’s rights; you name it and you’ve done it. Why didn’t you just stop and enjoy being the top journalist and anchorperson in the country?

Paula Yacoubian: I like to be proactive with my life and when I feel that I can help, that I can bring something to the society that has given me so much, I like to pay back. The Dafa Campaign started because I was visiting one of the Syrian camps and it was so awful; the conditions were not human. So, I decided to do something. And I realized when you are a well-known figure you can do so much more than anyone else. A famous person can get things done, but most people don’t think of using their fame to do something for society.

For me, I feel like I have an obligation to give back and I enjoy it. I love to feel that I’m useful and that I’m helping. And honestly, I cannot imagine myself sitting around. Sometimes I get tired and I want to go and just have fun like everyone else. I go for one day and then the next I realize that what’s fun for me is helping people. So, it’s not only an obligation, it’s a pleasure to help, honestly.

Samir Husni: Do you think your work in journalism was easier than the work you will be doing as a member of Parliament?

Paula Yacoubian: My work as a journalist wasn’t bringing any change to society. People don’t listen to journalists, unfortunately for us. I wish they did. They would know so much more. If they listened to journalists more than the politicians, they wouldn’t be living in denial. Now that I’m a politician, they listen much more to what I say, it gets more coverage.

And others are always worried about my next step, what will I do. I think people are watching and they should be able to know what’s happening. They should be able to know the difference between smear campaigns and other things. I’m hoping that now I can do something if I continue, if I have the stamina and the energy. If I don’t get depressed. I can do a lot of things. But I need to feel that I have the support of the people. I think those who elected me are happy. And I hope that I’m making more people happy.

Samir Husni: Trust is the biggest missing factor in media today and in politics. And now you have double mistrust, you’re a journalist and a politician.

Paula Yacoubian: Not only that, they discredited me like no one else. The campaigns in my race were really unheard of. They said all kinds of things about me. Some parties told very Christian conservatives that I was Muslim, because I was once married to a Muslim. I named my son Paul, he is baptized. I’ve never changed my name, it’s always been Paula.

And still they had the guts to go and lie to people and tell them that I had changed my religion. With every Tweet they were saying different statements just to discredit me. And they were picking videos from my interviews, taking sound-bites and cutting them and it was going viral. Things like I wasn’t Armenian and people shouldn’t vote for me. It was a machine that had nothing to do but discredit me.

Samir Husni: But you overcame all of that and you were elected five weeks ago. Are you missing journalism? Can you ever shed the journalistic Paula and just be the politician?

Paula Yacoubian: No, I really wasn’t a journalist when I was a journalist. I was more of a politician, I used to give my opinion. I’ve never thought that objectivity was a really important part of being a journalist. I was always more of a politician when I was a journalist, because living in Lebanon you cannot just cover the news, the news is your life. You just can’t be objective in Lebanon and you shouldn’t be. Christiane Amanpour said it in a very nice way, being useful is more important than being objective.

Samir Husni: You started with the ICN (Independent Communications Network), then you went to LBCI, then MTV, then ART, and briefly at Al_Hurra in the United States. Your last job before being elected to the Lebanese Parliament last May was with Future TV. It seems that you didn’t mind working at politically diverse television stations. It seems to me, it was always Paula, rather than MTV; Paula rather than LBCI, etc…

Paula Yacoubian: Every new job for me was a new challenge. I don’t like routine; I don’t like to keep on with the same thing. I get bored easily and I like new challenges, so that was partly why I used to change television stations. And sometimes circumstances forced me. Like MTV, I had to leave due to a contract obligation.

So, it wasn’t always me choosing to leave or change television stations. I was always looking for something different. I never felt that this is what I want to do and this is where I want to stay. It’s more now that I feel that this is what I’m maybe destined for or what I’d like to do. I’m much, much better as a politician in Lebanon than being a journalist, because there is no independent journalism in Lebanon. It’s part of the system. All media outlets are part of the system.

Samir Husni: When the eyes of the world were on Paula, the only journalist to conduct a live interview with Prime Minister Hariri after he resigned from Saudi Arabia, every television channel, every country, the entire world was watching you. Can you describe for me the feeling that you had the night you were heading to the airport to do the interview and the world was watching you more than anybody else?

Paula Yacoubian: I think they chose the television station, someone decided that that interview should be on Future Television and I was the only one who had a political show on Future TV, so I think that the network was very lucky that I was the person conducting the interview because I did everything possible to help the network with the situation they were in. And I did that despite the fact that maybe it was against my own interests, but I did what I had to do and I did the right thing without thinking twice about whether it was the thing for me to do or not.

Samir Husni: My final typical three questions always start with this: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Paula Yacoubian: Honestly, you wouldn’t find me in the house. I don’t go back to the house before midnight. Tonight for instance, I’m having dinner with someone, an environmental specialist, before that I have another engagement, and before that another meeting. I have continuous meetings usually. Normally, I start around 8:00 a.m. and have meetings all day and then dinners in the evening that are related to what I do, such as the garbage crisis.

So, it’s every day, ongoing. Day and night, working as a Parliamentarian. And also for the issues that I’m handling. It’s difficult to be up to standards when it comes to the garbage crisis because you have to be a bit of an environmentalist, chemist, and you have to be a lawyer to know how they are doing the TOR (terms of references). So, it’s not an easy job.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Paula Yacoubian: Humbleness, because this is also one of our major problems in Lebanon, we all think that we know about everything and no one wants to be just a normal citizen, everyone wants to be someone. And we have an attitude problem. So, I just remind myself everyday about being humble, it’s just so important to stay in touch with reality and be human.

And to know that chance and luck are important components in our lives and is what drives you anywhere you go. I believe there are people who are much more qualified than I am, in a much better position to do what I’m doing and they just don’t have the same chance. If we’re all aware of this, maybe we’ll all be more humble.

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

Paula Yacoubian: The garbage crisis, especially the environment. I used to say a few years ago that we can’t swim in our sea anymore. Very soon our kids will not be able to touch the sea and people would say that I was so pessimistic. And then before we realized it, it’s there. You cannot swim anywhere on many of our shores, and things are getting worse and worse by the day. And nobody cares.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Magazine Cover Wraps By The Numbers: What Print Can Do And Digital Can’t… A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive From MEDIARadar

July 16, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

I know I am a magazine and print junkie, but that does not mean that I do not value digital and what it has to offer to and for magazine media.

However, like I always say, there are some areas print can’t compete with digital, and some other areas where digital can’t compete with print.

One such area where digital can never compete with print is Magazine Cover Wraps. “Ain’t” no such thing in digital. Pure and simple.

So how can one utilize that print advantage? Well, rather than just be sentimental about it, MEDIARadar’s CEO Todd Krizelman, told me he “caught David Pilcher’s article on cover wraps yesterday morning as I was commuting into the office. I was curious to learn more, so went into MEDIARadar to see what we might find. We track cover wrap advertising specifically. It turns out that he’s right. There really is still a meaningful business here. About 20% of titles have sold a cover wrap in the past year, and both b2b and consumer magazine titles are active. The numbers are posted below:

I guess the numbers speak for themselves. Enough said.

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Humanized Content & Your Very Human Audience – It’s Not Bots Out There Reading Your Stuff. A Mr. Magazine Musing & Revisit…

July 7, 2018

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

In the summer of 2008, I wrote an article for the magazine of the Custom Publishing Council called “Content.” And while I realize that was 10 years ago, some things never age, such as the content of the “Content” article. That’s a lot of “content” you might say, and I agree with you. But content, good content combined with experience making, is what magazines are all about and custom publishing is still just as relevant and prevalent as it was in ’08, even more so.

I recently published an interview that I did with Drew Wintemberg, president of Time Inc. Retail. The focus of that conversation was on Special Interest Publications, or SIP’s as they are called in the world of publishing. There is nothing more customized than a singular topic magazine that targets a singular-topic-interested audience champing at the bit to learn more about that singular topic. That’s a lot of “singular topics” you might say, and I agree with you. But singular topics are what custom publishing is all about, even if you’re not a singular topic brand, knowing the singular topics that your audience is interested in is vital to the success of your custom publication.

Which leads me to the real crux of having success with any type of publishing, custom or otherwise, you have to know your customer’s customer, i.e. – the audience and the advertiser. That is the true mark of a professionally marketed and targeted publication. If you cannot humanize that magazine and give it a pointed and rigorous personality, one that can carry on a particular conversation with both the audience and the advertiser, then you’re simply tilting at windmills, because a one-dimensional idea that has not been “fleshed” out isn’t going to work. Not for you, not for your advertisers, and certainly not for your readers.

Hence, the revisit of my article for “Content,” the magazine. In it I suggest 7 easy steps to know your customer’s customer. Well, actually, it’s six easy ways plus one, which is seven anyway you add it. And these are not only good for yesterday and today’s market, they’re even more crucial for tomorrow’s marketplace. They present the idea that protecting and promoting your brand properly is the future of your publication and your entire company. And there is no better way to do that than by knowing your customer’s customer. You have to understand each and every facet of your brand, from who’s buying it to who’s advertising in it.

So, come along with Mr. Magazine™ as we take a trip down memory lane and run into today and tomorrow there as well…

Mr. Custom
Samir Husni

Protecting the Brand
Six (plus one) easy ways to know your customer’s customer

The most essential objective on the mind of any marketing director or head of a company is protecting the brand. This is paramount because companies must ensure their brand is not tarnished. That challenge becomes a huge responsibility on the shoulders for any individuals launching custom publications. If you fail to understand and help promote your customer’s brand in the proper way, the only thing the future holds for you, your marketing director or your media company is disaster.

There is no better way to protect and promote a brand than by understanding the customer’s customer. Knowing the people your custom publication targets is important to your success as a custom publisher, but success can only be guaranteed if you know the advertisers that are targeting your audience as well.

One of the simple questions I always ask people is, “Who is your audience?” Without really knowing who it is you are trying to reach, it is impossible to be successful at custom publishing. When I hear clients telling me that “everybody” is their audience, I know they haven’t even begun to do their homework. Before you attempt to create a custom publication, here are six plus one easy steps to consider:

1. Know the brand. This may sound elementary, but if the brand becomes unclear or gets diluted, it will lead to failure of the brand across the board and media outlets. You must know the brand inside out, upside down, forward and backward. It’s not enough to just know the brand you are working with from a marketer’s standpoint. You have to know it from the customer’s standpoint as well. Become a user of the brand, and if you aren’t the target demographic, find someone in your company who is.

2. Humanize the brand. You know the brand front and back; the next step is to make it warmer and more approachable than a concept. Imagine that soft drink, that pair of shoes, whatever product it may be, as a human being. Is it young or old? Rich or poor? Male or female? If you have taken my advice and have worked to know your audience better, then you should be able to identify the exact demographic and psychographic information about the human being that your brand has transformed into. Who does this human being want to have a conversation with? Once you have humanized your brand, it is much easier to create a voice for it.

3. Identify the voice. By combining the vision and the value of the brand, it becomes easier to create its voice. Is the voice preaching? Teaching? Conversational? Confrontational? Storytelling? You name it. Humanizing the brand isn’t enough. You have to take it further and come to a realization of how to protect the voice of the brand.

4. Identify the prototype person (if there is such a thing). Now that you have identified the voice of the brand, you need to identify who will be carrying on a conversation with it. A good way to think about it is if the humanized pair of shoes or the humanized soft drink came knocking on the door, would you welcome it in? You have to identify who will respond to the product. It will be easier to pair advertisers with your customers if you know who is involved in this conversation and exactly what they are like.

5. Think of the conversation that will take place. Once you have the humanized brand and the prototype person that will be holding a conversation, you need to think about the conversation that will take place. What will they talk about? Custom publishing has multifaceted goals, from the creation and retention of customers to the engagement of customers. Which of these facets applies? Also, how long will the conversation take?

6. Find the addictive elements of the conversation. What makes the prototype customer ask the humanized brand more questions? What aspects of their conversation make the customer more engaged? Find out what will make that prototype customer come back for more. In this day of brand dilution, not providing your customers with an addictive, exclusive and timely yet timeless conversation will do nothing but make the engagement between the brand and the customer brief. And when that happens, customers have no other choice but to look other places for the conversation they need, want and desire.

7. And above all, a dash of good luck. Why seven steps and not six? Because I believe seven is a much better number than six. Hope your next project will excel with these easy seven steps.

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