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Heavy Metal Magazine: A Great Heritage Brand Moving Straightforwardly Into The Future With a New CEO & A New Vision…The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Matthew Medney, CEO, Heavy Metal…

February 24, 2020

“We have the magazine on track and we’re doing eight issues this year and 12 issues next year and we’re going to be continuing to do it as a monthly magazine moving forward. Keeping print as the cornerstone is easy enough, we’ve been doing it for 44 years and I think we can continue doing it and continue growing it. But the more interesting side is how do we bring it to other platforms.”…Matthew Medney

Heavy Metal has been the leading magazine publication in Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy, for the past forty years. Today, there’s a new CEO and a new vision for the legacy brand; one that includes a widespread variety of multimedia from video to print to podcasts. The new CEO is Matthew Medney, a man who has been ensconced in comics and fantasy for quite some time, and is also the founder and CEO of comic book publishing company, Herø Projects.

I spoke with Matt recently and we talked about this dual role he’s now handling and his plans for the Heavy Metal brand which holds a very special place in his heart. According to him, he took the CEO job at the brand because of that special place and because he believes that Heavy Metal is one of the first really amazing pieces of animation that pushed the boundaries and made readers think and imagine. Matt has an eye for Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror, three genres that he loves. He is determined to take Heavy Metal into a bright multimedia future and up its frequency to eight issues in 2020 and 12 in 2021 with unique and original storytelling that keeps the classics and introduces new characters too.

So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matthew Medney, CEO, Heavy Metal magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why he took the position as CEO of Heavy Metal magazine in addition to being founder and CEO of his own company: I took the job because, like most of us, Heavy Metal has a really special place in my heart. It’s one of the first really amazing pieces of animation that pushed boundaries, made us think, and made us imagine what storytelling could be in the future, back in a time when it wasn’t as clear and communication wasn’t as widespread, you obviously didn’t have social media and YouTube. And the imagination that poured out of it is just something that uses my curiosity. So, when the opportunity came, I thought that it was really unique to try and take the reins of a company that was so enriched in the industry that I was trying to make my own mark on.

On whether he thinks he has begun to leave his footprints on the brand yet, after just a few months: I think we have. We have the magazine on track and we’re doing eight issues this year and 12 issues next year and we’re going to be continuing to do it as a monthly magazine moving forward. We have a huge issue set up for Comic-Con this year, the 300th issue, and we’re going to expand into comic books. So, not only are we going to have the magazine, we’re going to have original stories that are based on Taarna, that are based on new characters that we’re creating within our Heavy Metal universe.

On expanding the brand into many platforms while maintaining print as its cornerstone: Keeping print as the cornerstone is easy enough, we’ve been doing it for 44 years and I think we can continue doing it and continue growing it. But the more interesting side is how do we bring it to other platforms. I’ve been strategically working with different studios, taking meetings within Hollywood, with companies that I really cannot talk about yet because nothing has been signed.

On being a writer and creator, as well as a CEO, and whether his creative side conflicts with his business side: I wouldn’t say there’s conflict, if anything the creative side gets jealous. At the end of the day, I have to be the leader to make sure the company is moving in the direction that is most suited for the ownership, but my creative side would like nothing more than to lock myself in a cabin with my typewriter and iPad and just write for a few weeks. But that can’t always happen, so it’s been more about adaptations, learning to get up a bit earlier, write for 45 minutes here, think about a story there. Yes, I would say jealousy is more of the right term.

On Hero Comics and Heavy Metal sharing a mutual DNA even though they aren’t related: I think naturally, with Heavy Metal having such an influence in music, rock music specifically, and this is something I say around the Heavy Metal office all the time, it’s an attitude, it’s not really genre. For example, I believe today, hip hop is rock music. And Hero operates a lot in hip hop. And the attitude of the music and what it means to the culture and the fans is embedded in our DNA just like rock music in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s and even today is embedded in heavy metal. That commonality, that thread has seeped over universe to universe through the cosmos. There is probably more of a connection sublimely than I would even give credit for because of those reasons.

On Heavy Metal’s expansion plans: The real expansion is in this multimedia world, so I want to tell more podcast stories. I think Taarna deserves more podcasting. There are a lot of really interesting full circle things going on. When Heavy Metal started its radio shows, they had a lot of the novel feel read to them and now audio books, audible and podcasts are bringing that back around 35 years later. And there’s no brand out there, there’s no company that tells stories that are more made for graphic audio than Heavy Metal.

On whether the new launch Soft Wood will continue: I think there’s a place in the heavy metal world for Soft Wood right now. I’m really focused on Heavy Metal and getting the Heavy Metal brand to a place where I can spend a few days not thinking about it and still move forward. But I do think Soft Wood has a place in the Heavy Metal universe. As to when the next issue will come out, there is no scheduled street date. We haven’t really started diving into yet. I’d be pretty comfortable saying there will be at least one coming out this year.

On anything he’d like to add: I think that a lot of times, in the last decade specifically, the company had a point of view of finding the best talent that was established and using that to create its stories. I’m more of a money ball type of guy. I’m more of the guy that wants to find the next James Gunn or the next Ridley Scott or John Carpenter. I want to be the one who figures out who is the champion; who is that next special creator, whether graphically or as a writer, and then I want to champion them and give them a platform to rally around.

On whether anyone told him he was crazy for deciding to increase his print frequency: Yes, I’ve definitely been told that print is dying and there is no place for it, all that good stuff. And I do think there’s a lot of truth in that; print isn’t what it was even a year ago and it’s compounding every month, let alone every year, into being less and less profitable. But I don’t think that’s a reason to not provide stories in their classical form, especially when you’re talking about moving stories to TV, film, podcasts and other multimedia genres. That is thriving and allows you many opportunities. And putting out more stories cuts into my bottom line by seven percent and that’s an easy loss for us to take, knowing that we’re putting more really strong stories on the market.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I definitely like my wine; I like a good glass of Bulleit Rye on the rocks. I love a great graphic novel and I like to watch The Expanse and every other show that you would expect a heavy metal CEO to watch, and I also love reading novels. I read Start Trek novels and I’ve read all the Harry Potter stuff; I read a lot of Sci-Fi fantasy; I also read a lot of autobiographies. But a typical night at home, you can catch me doing any one of those things on my deck, looking out into the greenery and thinking while I read.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I hope that nobody has any misconceptions. I’m not a typical Hollywood guy. I wear my emotions on my sleeve; I tell you how it is. I grew up in New York City on 20th and 1st. I’m pretty brazen. I’m really an open book. My passion for everything bleeds out, but maybe it’s that I answer things fast. That doesn’t mean that a lot of thought didn’t go into the answer.

 On what keeps him up at night: Nothing. (Laughs) It’s funny though, growing up in New York City I feel like I was trained for that because we had an apartment on 20th and 1st and it was right by one of the firehouses. So, as a kid if you didn’t learn how to sleep through anything, you probably weren’t going to sleep. I grew to adapt to that ability as a young child, You grow up in New York City and there’s firetrucks and sirens at all hours of the day. The city that never sleeps is very true.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matthew Medney, CEO, Heavy Metal magazine.

Samir Husni: You were appointed CEO of Heavy Metal magazine a few months ago, a brand with a 40 year tradition in comics, science fiction and fantasy. Why did you decide to accept that position, in addition to having the comic book publishing company, Herø Projects?

Matthew Medney: I took the job because, like most of us, Heavy Metal has a really special place in my heart. It’s one of the first really amazing pieces of animation that pushed boundaries, made us think, and made us imagine what storytelling could be in the future, back in a time when it wasn’t as clear and communication wasn’t as widespread, you obviously didn’t have social media and YouTube. And the imagination that poured out of it is just something that uses my curiosity. So, when the opportunity came, I thought that it was really unique to try and take the reins of a company that was so enriched in the industry that I was trying to make my own mark on.

Samir Husni: After only a few months, do you think you’ve started leaving your own footprints on the brand yet, or is it just too early to tell?

Matthew Medney: I think we have. We have the magazine on track and we’re doing eight issues this year and 12 issues next year and we’re going to be continuing to do it as a monthly magazine moving forward. We have a huge issue set up for Comic-Con this year, the 300th issue, and we’re going to expand into comic books. So, not only are we going to have the magazine, we’re going to have original stories that are based on Taarna, that are based on new characters that we’re creating within our Heavy Metal universe.

We’re really looking to do a widespread of storytelling in the Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror themes. We have a new mantra at the company that I kind of denoted which is: Where pop culture meets the best stories in Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. And the idea that we confuse where pop culture is today with some intelligent thoughts through the guise of interesting stories is the mark I’m hoping I’m starting to make.

Samir Husni: I read that you want to take that art of storytelling to all kinds of platforms, from video to blogs to movies. And with you bringing the magazine back to a monthly frequency next year, how do you plan on expanding the platform, which was print-only, to all of these different platforms while maintaining print as the brand’s cornerstone?

Matthew Medney: Keeping print as the cornerstone is easy enough, we’ve been doing it for 44 years and I think we can continue doing it and continue growing it. But the more interesting side is how do we bring it to other platforms. I’ve been strategically working with different studios, taking meetings within Hollywood, with companies that I really cannot talk about yet because nothing has been signed.

But we’ve really been talking to influencers, people from agencies and production companies to look at taking the stories that are within the magazine already, as well as new stories that fit the moniker of Heavy Metal and turn them into TV, film, podcasts, YouTube shorts and Instagram stories. I think Instagram is going to start being a medium of storytelling in the next few years and I want to be on the cutting edge of that.

People like Gary Vaynerchuk, even though what he does is a different medium, if you actually watch his Instagram story, it’s a more non-fictional story about motivation and focusing on what you want to focus on, but in token areas throughout every post. And I think it’s going to catch on more with a lot of other people. And being on the forefront of using social platforms to communicate, not the main story, but ancillary missions, diary entries, spaceship video games in between warp-drive traveling, kind of creating an immersive world where magazines’ main story is what drives all of the ancillary stories around it.

Samir Husni: You’re also continuing to be the CEO of your own business, Hero Comics, and at the same time  you’re probably one of the few CEOs in this country of a magazine media brand that is also an author, writer, and comic creator. Do you find it easier having that creative mind when it comes to leading the management side or sometimes there is conflict between the two?

Matthew Medney: I wouldn’t say there’s conflict, if anything the creative side gets jealous. At the end of the day, I have to be the leader to make sure the company is moving in the direction that is most suited for the ownership, but my creative side would like nothing more than to lock myself in a cabin with my typewriter and iPad and just write for a few weeks. But that can’t always happen, so it’s been more about adaptations, learning to get up a bit earlier, write for 45 minutes here, think about a story there. Yes, I would say jealousy is more of the right term.

But it is as you said, not overly easy to juggle, and you have to be very cognizant. But the secret that I don’t really tell anyone is sleep. Most people think I’m up 18 hours a day, working all the time. And the reality is I sleep eight to nine hours every night and I use that energy that I get from being well-rested in a very proficient way when I’m awake. I hope that I will have a platform one day to educate younger entrepreneurs, CEOs and leaders that the methodology of four to six hours of sleep… I don’t know how they do it. The people that do it and can work like that are a mystery to me because I can’t operate at the same level as I can when I’m well-rested. And that is the secret as to how I can personally juggle as many of the items as I do, and the way that I can stay focused every day.

Samir Husni: As I look at some of the Hero Comics and look at Heavy Metal, I feel there is some shared DNA there, although they are not related. Am I wrong or would you agree with that?

Matthew Medney: I think naturally, with Heavy Metal having such an influence in music, rock music specifically, and this is something I say around the Heavy Metal office all the time, it’s an attitude, it’s not really genre. For example, I believe today, hip hop is rock music. And Hero operates a lot in hip hop. And the attitude of the music and what it means to the culture and the fans is embedded in our DNA just like rock music in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s and even today is embedded in heavy metal. That commonality, that thread has seeped over universe to universe through the cosmos. There is probably more of a connection sublimely than I would even give credit for because of those reasons.

Samir Husni: Tell me more about Heavy Metal’s expansion plans.

Matthew Medney: The real expansion is in this multimedia world, so I want to tell more podcast stories. I think Taarna deserves more podcasting. There are a lot of really interesting full circle things going on. When Heavy Metal started its radio shows, they had a lot of the novel feel read to them and now audio books, audible and podcasts are bringing that back around 35 years later. And there’s no brand out there, there’s no company that tells stories that are more made for graphic audio than Heavy Metal.

I fell in love as a kid with the Harry Potter book on tape because the narrator, Jim Dale, did a different voice for every single character. And it immersed you into a world that you wouldn’t think a book could immerse you into. That motif is something that Heavy Metal does. The graphic novel immersed you into a world that you didn’t even know existed and pushed it to the edge. And the videos and the other things that we’re doing, more partnerships with artists, and more original stories on paper and on audio, are also exciting.

And I think podcasts are going to be a huge opportunity to show not only our fans but our fan’s fans and the people who haven’t discovered us yet that we’ve taken a company that was cemented in ink on paper and brought it to an era that is more tangible for use, while allowing the classics to still rein free.

Samir Husni: I picked up the new magazine Soft Wood that was recently launched by Heavy Metal. It reminded me of the time when National Lampoon and Heavy Metal were the two sisters or two cousins, whatever you want to call them. Are you going to continue with Soft Wood or was it a test issue?

Matthew Medney: I think there’s a place in the heavy metal world for Soft Wood right now. I’m really focused on Heavy Metal and getting the Heavy Metal brand to a place where I can spend a few days not thinking about it and still move forward. But I do think Soft Wood has a place in the Heavy Metal universe. As to when the next issue will come out, there is no scheduled street date. We haven’t really started diving into yet. I’d be pretty comfortable saying there will be at least one coming out this year.

More than that is still TBD. And if you ask me what I think about it in terms of how I see it working in the future, I think a quarterly or biannually publication would make a lot of sense for that brand.

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

Matthew Medney: I think that a lot of times, in the last decade specifically, the company had a point of view of finding the best talent that was established and using that to create its stories. I’m more of a money ball type of guy. I’m more of the guy that wants to find the next James Gunn or the next Ridley Scott or John Carpenter. I want to be the one who figures out who is the champion; who is that next special creator, whether graphically or as a writer, and then I want to champion them and give them a platform to rally around.

For that Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror genre, I think it was something in our original DNA. Back when it started, all of these people who came together to create Heavy Metal, it was a movement. And it was a movement of likeminded creators who had an idea and a vision and I want to get back to that ethos.

Samir Husni: Did anyone tell you that you were crazy when you decided to expand your print frequency to eight times in 2020 and 12 times in 2021?

Matthew Medney: Yes, I’ve definitely been told that print is dying and there is no place for it, all that good stuff. And I do think there’s a lot of truth in that; print isn’t what it was even a year ago and it’s compounding every month, let alone every year, into being less and less profitable. But I don’t think that’s a reason to not provide stories in their classical form, especially when you’re talking about moving stories to TV, film, podcasts and other multimedia genres. That is thriving and allows you many opportunities. And putting out more stories cuts into my bottom line by seven percent and that’s an easy loss for us to take, knowing that we’re putting more really strong stories on the market.

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; or something else? How do you unwind?

Matthew Medney: I definitely like my wine; I like a good glass of Bulleit Rye on the rocks. I love a great graphic novel and I like to watch The Expanse and every other show that you would expect a heavy metal CEO to watch, and I also love reading novels. I read Start Trek novels and I’ve read all the Harry Potter stuff; I read a lot of Sci-Fi fantasy; I also read a lot of autobiographies. But a typical night at home, you can catch me doing any one of those things on my deck, looking out into the greenery and thinking while I read.

I’m also into fitness, I love to work out and run and to lift and it’s my one hour escape for the day. Some days work gets me up early and you’ll see me doing that at night before I go to bed.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Matthew Medney: I hope that nobody has any misconceptions. I’m not a typical Hollywood guy. I wear my emotions on my sleeve; I tell you how it is. I grew up in New York City on 20th and 1st. I’m pretty brazen. I’m really an open book. My passion for everything bleeds out, but maybe it’s that I answer things fast. That doesn’t mean that a lot of thought didn’t go into the answer.

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

Matthew Medney: Nothing. (Laughs) It’s funny though, growing up in New York City I feel like I was trained for that because we had an apartment on 20th and 1st and it was right by one of the firehouses. So, as a kid if you didn’t learn how to sleep through anything, you probably weren’t going to sleep. I grew to adapt to that ability as a young child, You grow up in New York City and there’s firetrucks and sirens at all hours of the day. The city that never sleeps is very true.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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A Magazine And Magazine Media Extravaganza: 46 CEOs, Presidents, Publishers, And Editors Converge On Oxford, Mississippi For 2 ½ Days Of Everything Magazines & Magazine Media: The ACT 10 Experience. Register Today. Space Is Limited. Registration Fee Underwritten By Quad.

February 19, 2020

Register today… Registration fee underwritten by Quad.  Space limited to 100 attendees.

The movers & shakers of the magazine and magazine media world, which includes 46 experts that are either CEOs, publishers, editors, printing authorities, digital professionals, distribution and marketing virtuoso’s and many others are descending upon Oxford, Miss. at the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 10 Experience between April 21-23, 2020 and it’s going to be explosive!

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, the Magazine Innovation Center’s founder and director, is calling in all the national and international magazine giants available to a summit in Oxford. Miss. This call to arms will address the topical theme: Change Is The Only Constant, in typical magazine fashion: head-on and straight up, the only way to face any elephant in the room.

Bonnie Kintzer

Vicci Rose

Daren Mazzucca

Andy Clurman

Bonnie Kintzer, president & CEO, Trusted Media Brands will be there to answer Mr. Magazine’s™ call; Andy Clurman, president & CEO, Active Interest Media will also be in full outdoor battle gear, ready to take on any challenge; Vicci Rose, executive vice president & CRO, Us Weekly, will fly in from the East Coast with all the celebrity power she can bring with her; Daren Mazzucca, senior vice president & group publisher, Meredith Corp. will also come from the East, Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple each sending a big thumbs-up along with him. And speaking of the power of the thumbs (digital), Joe Hyrkin, CEO of issuu, and Karolyn Hart, founder & CEO, InspireHub., Canada, will also be on hand to share those integrated digits of importance as both print and digital continue to work together to rein in this monumental challenge called “change.”

Simon Leslie

Sue Holt

Also from across the pond, Simon Leslie, CEO & cofounder, Ink, will be hopping over from the U.K. Rumor is, he may bring Excalibur! Sanne Groot Koerkamp from The Netherlands will also be there and Sue Holt, director, ITP Consumer, United Arab Emirates was thrilled to be on Mr. Magazine’s™ team, as he was as thrilled to have her there.

Rebecca Darwin

Krifka Steffey

Then, fellow southerners from Garden & Gun Magazine, Rebecca Wesson Darwin, president & CEO and David Di Benedetto, senior vice president & editor in chief, will be onsite as well, so it may get a bit rowdy! Us Southerners know how to throw a party, whether we’re born down south or transplanted there.

Dan Heffernan, vice president & chief product manager, Advantage CS, will be onboard for the summit and Krifka Steffey, director, Merchandise & Newsstand, Barnes & Noble, definitely wanted to be there, plus the usual suspects, Bo Sacks, president, Precision Media, Tony Silber, president, Long Hill Media, & James G. Elliott, president, James G. Elliott Co. Without the latter three nimble magazine and magazine media cohorts, the ACT Experiences would never go off as smoothly as they do, and that’s also thanks to our official ACT scribe, Linda Ruth, PSCS Consulting.

Doni Ambrosine

Tyler Nacho

And of course, those upstart entrepreneurs wouldn’t dare miss a Mr. Magazine™ call: Tyler Nacho, publisher and editor in chief, Kill Pretty Magazine, Andréa Butler, editor in chief, Sesi Magazine, and Doni Ambrosine, editor in chief, Culturs Magazine, Chris Walsh, founder & editor in chief, Fifty Grande Magazine, and John Thames, CEO/publisher, Covey Rise and Bourbon+ Magazines.

Plus, we will have six panels of epiphanies that you won’t want to miss, which explores the mainframe topic of:

Transformation of magazines from pure ink on paper entities to multi-magazine media platforms!

It’s going to be amazing! So, don’t wait, space is limited and registration, thanks to our Leadership Sponsor, Quad, the registration fee is underwritten by Quad. But you must register to attend. Click here to register.

Click here to see the entire list of  ACT 10 Experience speakers.

See you at The ACT 10 Experience – April 21-23, 2020!!

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Scott Mortimer, Meredith Corporation’s Vice President & Group Publisher, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “The Business Is Constantly Changing And Here At Meredith We’ve Embraced Change. And We Do That By Being Nimble, Opportunistic, And Evolving On A Weekly Basis.”… The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

February 18, 2020

Today, Meredith Corporation is the largest media company in the world and they sustain that position by not slowing down. Scott Mortimer is vice president & group publisher over at Meredith, and he knows that new blood pumping through the company’s veins is a life giver for sure. From wildly compatible and sustainable partnerships to unbelievably innovative ideas that shift the company to another level, Scott is looking forward to the future and has his eye on the prize for Meredith: more new titles.

I spoke with Scott recently and we talked about the changes that are constantly a part of the magazine and magazine media life today. Scott says that while that can be a challenge and not for the faint of heart, at Meredith, the scale and size that they approach challenges with, makes them look forward to the opportunities.

I hope that you enjoy this very fascinating discussion with Scott Mortimer, vice president & group publisher, Meredith Corporation, as he talks about the enormous growth opportunity special interest titles offer the company, and quite possibly, magazines in general.

Please enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview…

But first the sound-bites:

On Meredith’s success story: From a speculative media perspective, it’s a consumer experience and we’re doing our best to create products that consumers want to buy and want to be a part of and that they’re passionate about. We have an unbelievable lineup of brands inside of Meredith that we’re leaning into and we’ve been very fortunate to also work with some great publishing partners and some great new brands out there; Magnolia Journal, Happy Paws, Forks Over Knives and Reveal; brands like that. We’ve just been fortunate that we’re creating products that consumers are engaging with and spending money to be a part of.

On the company’s push forward to launch more print magazines: Consumers vote with their pocketbooks, and let me give you some context around that. In our fiscal year, which ends in June, we’re going to sell about 20 million copies of special interest publications at retail. And 17 million of those are priced at $10 and higher. So, there’s clearly an appetite out there for quality products and immersive experiences that magazines deliver, we sort of compare it to the Netflix of magazines, if you will.

On whether he thinks the newsstands and single copy sales will eventually only be for the big, major corporations: I think when you talk checkout pockets, that’s certainly going to be the case. There are not as many mainlines as there used to be. Barnes & Noble and some of the big, book retailers and those kinds of folks have them, and Walmart certainly still has a mainline. But checkout is where we sell 90 percent of our product, and to provide a little bit of color around that, we have over 42 percent of this market. And we’re up to close to 1.3 million pockets right now, so there’s nobody in our space that has the brand lineup and display space we have to be able to do what we’re doing. It’s a business that, while very challenged, there’s no question about it, we’re competing at checkouts with gum, candy and mints like everybody else is, but when we get display space. We sell products. And that’s what’s so exciting about this, that people are looking for the brands that we have and looking for those experiences, and looking for the products that we’re delivering.

On Meredith’s Special Interest publications utilizing its relationships with other media publishers, such as ESPN: I think it goes back to what I said earlier, nobody has the scale at checkout that we do. And some of those brands you mentioned, ESPN is a brand new relationship for us, but one where we’ve been talking to them for some time now, and we just finalized that in the last couple of weeks. I can’t speak for all of those brands, but they have such rich content wells and such great content that they’re looking for other ways to share that with consumers. Obviously, ESPN is a huge platform with its TV and digital business, and didn’t have a print product anymore. So, this gave them an opportunity to expand back into the print space.

On what a magazine has to have for Meredith to bring it back after the company has closed or suspended it: Those are all high-quality brands that have illustrious histories and reputations, but the business model has changed where maybe advertising doesn’t carry as much weight as it once used to. Obviously, the advertising business, while we’re doing terrific there, it is challenged in a lot of ways and there’s a lot of competition out there. So, what we’re trying to do with these brands is find a way, if consumers love them as much as we think they do and as much as they’re telling us they do, to bring them back as a newsstand product or bring them back as a quarterly, high-priced, maybe $20 per year for four issues, product. People will pay for that sort of content.

On any challenges the company has had to face: It’s not easy. There are still discovery challenges. If you think about people’s shopping experiences; when you go to your local grocery store there may be 12 checkout lanes and only four of them are open at any point in time. And of course, we don’t have every magazine in every lane.  So, if you’re shopping that day and you happen to be in a lane that we don’t have a product in, but you see it in the next lane over, but it’s closed, it becomes a discovery issue. And it’s also getting people to know that it’s out there. We’re doing great, we’re selling 20 million copies, but it’s getting people to know the products are accessible, that’s the biggest challenge and has been for a long time.

On why they offered a subscription to Reveal, the Property Brothers’ new magazine, before the magazine was even released: We try to evaluate each business on its own merits and for that brand and that business, we felt that there was going to be a strong enough consumer demand to go right out of the gate with a subscription offer.

 On whether Meredith has yet to see another success story like Magnolia Journal: We had quarterlies in the portfolio before Magnolia Journal. Titles like Diabetic Living, DIY Magazine, Country Gardens; so those are all quarterly subscription, consumer revenue driven brands that were before Magnolia. Magnolia Journal is certainly the gold standard and an incredible launch for us. We’ve been on record saying that it’s Meredith’s most successful launch in our history, so I’m not sure it’s fair to compare anything else to Magnolia, quite candidly, but we’ve obviously had considerable success with other brands and other businesses that we’re leaning into.

On how Happy Paws stands up to his expectations: I can’t get into too much of that, but we’ve done two issues of Happy Paws; we have another issue coming out in May. And again, the success of a brand like that… when you put a couple issues out you learn what time of year works, what cover blurbs work; and you kind of learn what the appetite of the consumer is for a frequency and a cadence for the magazine.

On the special edition issue from Forks Over Knives: It’s called “How Do You Eat Plant-Based.” Forks Over Knives is a brand that does incredibly well and I would say that it’s at the top of all the food brands that we publish. There is a great appetite out there for more clean, plant-based eating and all of the components that the Forks Over Knives Brand represents. So, we’re seeing great success with that brand. We don’t have a read on the plant-based title yet, but I imagine it’s going to do incredibly well.

On what changes he sees for the future when it comes to new launches: We embrace and evolve and adapt virtually every day. Literally, our publishing schedule and publishing calendar for the special interest media portfolio changes weekly. And what I mean by that is we’ll have 300 to 325 titles on the publishing plan, but as we get sales data in and competitive data in; as current events happen out in the world, we’re constantly leaning into one area and pulling back from another.

On whether the change is too constant to even plan for three years out: Yes, three years is a long time in any business these days. We are going through our strategic planning process at Meredith over the next 60 days, and we do look a year or two out, but candidly, those are benchmarks and mileposts that we aim for, but we do try to evolve and change as we go. Literally, as I mentioned, the special interest media portfolio is one that’s in constant change and evolution every week.

On anything he’d like to add: Just that we’re using our size and scale and our edit expertise, which we didn’t touch on, but we have wonderful content leaders across the organization that understand consumers and are on point and on trend for what customers are looking for. It’s a collaborative process in the special interest media portfolio, where our marketing team sits with the edit team and tries to create products and brands that resonate with consumers. And I just can’t stress enough that it takes a village in this business to be successful, and we lean on our content leaders heavily in that process too for that success.

On what keeps him up at night: Just continuing to innovate and being relevant to consumers. We sell 20 million copies a year and that’s a lot. So, we have to continue to be relevant to the audience. That’s why we’ve tried to be innovative and aggressive with partners. And Ayesha is a great example of that. We’re so excited to have her be our partner in this and to bring this brand alive. She has close to 10 million social followers. Five years ago I don’t know that we would have thought about doing this, but today she is a brand and a business that we’re excited about. But being relevant to consumers is the answer, that kind of keeps us awake at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Scott Mortimer, vice president & group publisher, Meredith Corporation.

Samir Husni: The first obvious question, Scott, why is Meredith on fire?

Scott Mortimer: (Laughs) From a speculative media perspective, it’s a consumer experience and we’re doing our best to create products that consumers want to buy and want to be a part of and that they’re passionate about. We have an unbelievable lineup of brands inside of Meredith that we’re leaning into and we’ve been very fortunate to also work with some great publishing partners and some great new brands out there; Magnolia Journal, Happy Paws, Forks Over Knives and Reveal; brands like that. We’ve just been very fortunate that we’re creating products that consumers are engaging with and spending money to be a part of.

Samir Husni: About a year ago, you and I chatted when Happy Paws was first published. And that rule of thumb as far as new launches has continued; this year alone you reinvented Rachael Ray to Rachael Ray In Season; you published Reveal; you’re getting ready to publish the new magazine with Ayesha Curry; what is driving all of this…almost like a magazine a day, at these high cover prices?

Scott Mortimer: Consumers vote with their pocketbooks and let me give you some context around that. In our physical year, which ends in June, we’re going to sell about 20 million copies of special interest publications at retail. And 17 million of those are priced at $10 and higher. So, there’s clearly an appetite out there for quality products and immersive experiences that magazines deliver, we sort of compare it to the Netflix of magazines, if you will.

If you want to deep dive into a subject or a brand or a personality, this gives you the opportunity to do that unlike anything else that’s out there. The websites are great and the social handles are terrific and everybody has those and have incredible followings, but the magazine experience is one that is immersive and one that people are still looking for and desiring to have, as evidenced by us selling 20 million copies this year.

Samir Husni: I hear so much about the problems at the newsstands and single copy sales, and of course, we all know the problems are real, yet you have over one million pockets across the country. So, do you think eventually the newsstands will only be for the big, major corporations?

Scott Mortimer: I think when you talk checkout pockets, that’s certainly going to be the case. There are not as many mainlines as there used to be. Barnes & Noble and some of the big, book retailers and those kinds of folks have them, and Walmart certainly still has a mainline. But checkout is where we sell 90 percent of our product, and to provide a little bit of color around that, we have over 42 percent of this market. And we’re up to close to 1.3 million pockets right now, so there’s nobody in our space that has the brand lineup we have and the display space that we have to be able to do what we’re doing.

It’s a business that, while very challenged, there’s no question about it, we’re competing at checkouts with gum, candy and mints like everybody else is, but when we get display space. we sell products. And that’s what’s so exciting about this, that people are looking for the brands that we have and looking for those experiences and looking for the products that we’re delivering.

Samir Husni: How is Meredith special interest publications utilizing relationships with other media and magazine publishers, such as ESPN, The New York Times, the L.A. Times, Bonnier, or Active Interest Media?

Scott Mortimer: I think it goes back to what I said earlier, nobody has the scale at checkout that we do. And some of those brands you mentioned, ESPN is a brand new relationship for us, but one where we’ve been talking to them for some time now, and we just finalized that in the last couple of weeks. I can’t speak for all of those brands, but they have such rich content wells and such great content that they’re looking for other ways to share that with consumers. Obviously, ESPN is a huge platform with its TV and digital business and didn’t have a print product anymore. So, this gave them an opportunity to expand back into the print space.

The L.A. Times and The New York Times, even with Time and National Geographic, or other examples of traditional publishing partners that we deal with, are utilizing our size and scale, whether it’s printing, procurements and our distribution and display scale to get products out to consumers.

Samir Husni: In the industry, it’s rare to hear about a publisher killing a magazine and then bringing it back. You suspended Cooking Light and Coastal Living, and now they’re both back as subscription-driven publications. Did Meredith just change its mind and can we expect to see the same thing from Family Circle? What does the magazine need to have for Meredith to bring it back?

Scott Mortimer: Those are all high-quality brands that have illustrious histories and reputations out there, but the business model has changed where maybe advertising doesn’t carry as much weight as it once used to. Obviously, the advertising business, while we’re doing terrific there, it is challenged in a lot of ways and there’s a lot of competition out there. So, what we’re trying to do with these brands is find a way, if consumers love them as much as we think they do and as much as they’re telling us they do, to bring them back as a newsstand product or bring them back as a quarterly, high-priced, maybe $20 per year for four issues, product. People will pay for that sort of content.

We call it portfolio management; it’s just changing the business model a little bit and switching it and flipping it from advertiser-driven to consumer-driven. We’ll do that where it makes sense for the portfolio. And wherever there’s great brand affinity, we want to get that product into consumers’ hands.

Samir Husni: What are some of the challenges that you’ve had to face along the way?

Scott Mortimer: It’s not easy. There are still discovery challenges. If you think about people’s shopping experiences; when you go to your local grocery store there may be 12 checkout lanes and only four of them are open at any point in time. And of course, we don’t have every magazine in every lane.  So, if you’re shopping that day and you happen to be in a lane that we don’t have a product in, but you see it in the next lane over, but it’s closed,  it becomes a discovery issue. And it’s also getting people to know that it’s out there. We’re doing great, we’re selling 20 million copies, but it’s getting people to know the products are out there, that’s the biggest challenge and has been for a long time.

We are doing a lot of digital marketing around these brands, so when we have launches we’ll do digital campaigns, either socially or through the Meredith data base. So, we do drive awareness to them, but that’s always the biggest hurdle to overcome.

Samir Husni: I noticed that you did something different with Reveal, something you’ve never done before, you actually offered subscriptions before the magazine was out. Why did you make that change?

Scott Mortimer: We evaluate each business on its own merits and for that brand and that business, we felt that there was going to be a strong enough consumer demand to go right out of the gate with a subscription offer.

Samir Husni: You have had enormous success with Magnolia Journal and then all of the new titles that have come after that. Have you been able to replicate or even come close to the success of Magnolia?

Scott Mortimer: We had quarterlies in the portfolio before Magnolia Journal. Magazines like Diabetic Living, DIY Magazine, Country Gardens; so those are all quarterly subscription, consumer revenue driven brands that were before Magnolia. Magnolia Journal is certainly the gold standard and an incredible launch for us. We’ve been on record saying that it’s Meredith’s most successful launch in our history, so I’m not sure it’s fair to compare anything else to Magnolia, quite candidly, but we’ve obviously had considerable success with other brands and other businesses that we’re leaning into.

We let each brand stand on its own because they are clearly distinct and separate businesses and they have their own editorial voices and their own editorial perspectives and whether they grow to be “X” size or not doesn’t really matter to us… it goes back to that portfolio management. We set each business up on its own and it has to stand on its own. Whether it compares to another title or not, we just don’t pay much attention to that.

 Samir Husni: If you were to rate Happy Paws on a scale from 1-10, in terms of meeting your publishing expectations or the business plan for that magazine, what would you say?

Scott Mortimer: I can’t get into too much of that, but we’ve done two issues of Happy Paws; we have another issue coming out in May. And again, the success of a brand like that… when you put a couple, three issues out you learn what time of year works and you learn a little more about what cover blurbs work; and you kind of learn what the appetite of the consumer is for a frequency and a cadence for the magazine.

It takes a year or two to get all of that knowledge in about the product; one of the drawbacks to the newsstand space is you don’t get an immediate take on how products are selling, it takes some time to get POS updated and get return rates. So, we’re constantly evaluating that and overtime we figure out the right frequency and cadence for the magazine. And we’re right in the middle of that with the Happy Paws brand.

For example, Hungry Girl is another great case in point. We’ve done three issues and we’ve found the January timeframe for that brand works out well. That kind of “new year, new you” healthy recipes and that sort of thing, so it doesn’t mean that we won’t do more throughout the year, but finding when it resonates best with consumers is part of the discovery process in all of this.

Samir Husni: I also saw that Meredith had a special edition issue from Forks Over Knives, can you tell me about that?

Scott Mortimer: Yes, it’s called “How Do You Eat Plant-Based.” Forks Over Knives is a brand that does incredibly well and I would say that it’s at the top of all the food brands that we publish. There is a great appetite out there for more clean, plant-based eating and all of the components that the Forks Over Knives Brand represents. So, we’re seeing great success with that brand. We don’t have a read on the plant-based title yet, but I imagine it’s going to do incredibly well.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, what changes do you see for all those new titles that will soon be coming out in your almost a-magazine-per-day program?

Scott Mortimer: We embrace and evolve and adapt virtually every day. Literally, our publishing schedule and publishing calendar for the special interest media portfolio changes weekly. And what I mean by that is we’ll have 300 to 325 titles on the publishing plan, but as we get sales data in and competitive data in; as current events happen out in the world, we’re constantly leaning into one area and pulling back from another.

Some of our strongest performing categories right now are health and wellness, the plant-based that we talked about, animals; Royals tend to do very well for us as you can imagine. Pop Culture tends to work, franchises like Star Wars, and seasonal and holiday always do well for us. So, you’ll see us to continue to lean into those areas and when we have other things that don’t work as well, we usually pull back from those.

The business is constantly changing and here at Meredith, we’ve embraced change. And we do that by being nimble, opportunistic, and evolving on a weekly basis.

Samir Husni: And with that constant change, do you believe there is no way to know how to strategize or plan for what’s going to happen even three years from now?

Scott Mortimer: Yes, three years is a long time in any business these days. We are going through our strategic planning process at Meredith over the next 60 days, and we do look a year or two out, but candidly, those are benchmarks and mileposts that we aim for, but we do try to evolve and change as we go. Literally, as I mentioned, the special interest media portfolio is one that’s in constant change and evolution every week.

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

Scott Mortimer: Just that we’re using our size and scale and our edit expertise, which we didn’t touch on, but we have wonderful content leaders across the organization that understand consumers and are on point and on trend for what customers are looking for. It’s a collaborative process in the special interest media portfolio, where our marketing team sits with the edit team and tries to create products and brands that resonate with consumers. And I just can’t stress enough that it takes a village in this business to be successful, and we lean on our content leaders heavily in that process too for that success.

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

Scott Mortimer: Just continuing to innovate and being relevant to consumers. We sell 20 million copies a year and that’s a lot. So, we have to continue to be relevant to the audience. That’s why we’ve tried to be innovative and aggressive with partners. And Ayesha is a great example of that. We’re so excited to have her be our partner in this and to bring this brand alive. She has close to 10 million social followers. Five years ago I don’t know that we would have thought about doing this, but today she is a brand and a business that we’re excited about. But being relevant to consumers is the answer, that kind of keeps us awake at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Fifty Grande: A Unique Travel Magazine With A New Outlook On Exploring The Fifty States – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Chris Walsh, Founder & Editor In Chief…

February 12, 2020

“I definitely wanted something that was kind of an offline, unplugged experience. We have that visceral reaction. I love magazines and we have that visceral reaction when we touch something; when we touch a magazine. And I definitely wanted to try and capture that. That’s part of the reason for the special box it comes in; it should feel like an event when something shows up at your door. It’s kind of all of these things in one, but ultimately I love magazines and that’s why I started it.”… Chris Walsh

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Combining food, music and travel, Fifty Grande has got you covered if you’re interested in a different kind of travel magazine, one that concentrates solely on the U.S. and offers a unique take on the look, feel and content of a magazine.

Founder and Editor in Chief, Chris Walsh, says that Fifty Grande is a biannual that explores the U.S. and does good along the way. The first issue features seasoned writers and new ones alike exploring the main theme of hometowns. Chris adds that the magazine’s mission is to inspire more people to take advantage of all the incredible places and experiences across the country, connect with its communities and do good along the way. This is a magazine for the fun and adventurous—those who aspire to a life well-lived and see traveling, open-mindedness and new experiences central to that pursuit.

I spoke with Chris recently and we talked about this new title that arrives to its readers in a box, which Chris hopes will present to people the unique experience he is trying to achieve with each issue, which explores the country through one theme, offering immersive stories from a variety of voices and perspectives. You can expect in-depth articles, essays, oral histories, roundtables, Q&As, photo essays, travelogues and more, about every phase of traveling: planning, getting there, staying, doing, and recovering. Chris adds that since food and music are integral to traveling, and community and good citizenship are both important when viewing the world, the magazine uses all four as cornerstones for its coverage in each issue.

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Walsh, founder and editor in chief, Fifty Grande magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind Fifty Grande magazine: The idea came about in a definite slow-build. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years. And as odd as it might sound, I think the travel market is actually underserved. You know there are many travel brands out there; there are many that are focused on the one percent, the ultra-luxury market and then there are a bunch of others that really focus on kind of niche parts, but I really felt there was an opportunity because there isn’t a travel magazine out there that really spoke to me, something that incorporated travel, music and food. And something that regular people can afford, a middle of the market type travel experience.

On the special box that the magazine comes in and how it feels like an event: That’s exactly what I was hoping for, that it becomes an event when people get it and they really enjoy the experience. It is meant to be an event on someone’s calendar. I hope to grow it to be a quarterly, and I really want people to be excited about it when they know that it’s coming.

On the fresh design: Design is as important an anything else. I’m an editorial guy, so I went to journalism graduate school at Columbia. I worked at magazines and online editorial teams, so I love the storytelling part of all of this, but design is so important. When you look at the newsstand, one of the things that I felt was lacking in the travel category was a travel magazine that had a travel feel. Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes when you look at what’s out there, the aesthetics are aspirational, but also sometimes very cold, just in scenery, such as just one person laying in a pool. Since travel is fun, the design of the magazine needs to be fun.

On his targeted audience: It’s for anyone who feels like they’re still trying to connect to an adventurous spirit. The magazine is really aimed at millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, who enjoy traveling. Those people will find something in here that they will like. Some of the reactions that I’ve gotten so far have also been from couples who have now moved out of their urban areas and are still trying to connect to their prior lives, either traveling or listening to music, so there’s a little bit of that and that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s really aimed at travelers in their 20s and 30s who are just trying to find places that might be fun to see and to visit.

On implementing the idea of Fifty Grande: I did a lot of research and I kept coming back to two ideas which were a travel magazine, which actually came to life, and then some sort of either online magazine or a magazine focused on New England; I’m from New England. And the more I focused on that second idea, the more I realized either I thought the market was covered or just the economics really didn’t work. And then I gradually started to come back to the idea of the travel magazine more and more.

On the biggest challenge he was able to overcome: To be honest with you, it was on the design side. For me, putting together a magazine is fun, coming up with the concepts, talking to the writers and working on those stories, that’s the fun part, but the design side – I had a very specific look and feel in my mind and what I was hoping would come to life. And this is what was in my head. This is what I wanted. So, finding someone who understood that was really the tough part. And it was just me talking to a lot of people. I worked on this idea for more than a year before I even began to plan the first issue. So, I talked to a lot of creative people and it just took me a long time to figure that piece out, because that wasn’t something that I had done before or was comfortable doing on my own.

On his happiest moment during the creation of the first issue: When the pallets showed up at my apartment. The first run was 5,000 magazines and of that 5,000, I had 500 shipped to my apartment in New York. So, I was just waiting around for a truck one morning and when the truck rolled down my street and these guys popped off the back of it and took a pallet and put it on the sidewalk in front of my building, that was kind of the most surreal and happiest moment for me. Again, going back to this physical thing we all love, the magazine, opening the boxes and pulling it out. It probably sounds very cliché, but it was a really happy and nice moment.

On his $28 per year subscription price and the fact that he is looking for an engaged audience not just skimmers: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what the whole idea is behind the editorial. You have to enjoy reading and you have to enjoy magazines to really like Fifty Grande. A lot of people keep asking me am I going to put it online and change the edit to make it shorter, but I’m not interested in doing that. The stories in the magazine aren’t even that long. I think the longest story was maybe 2,300 words. And maybe the shortest was around 500. But the average is somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 words, but it is considered long-form when it comes to the online media out there. So, I do think you have to enjoy reading stories in order to enjoy Fifty Grande and get the most out of it.

On where the name Fifty Grande came from: Fifty, in reference to the states, obviously, and Grande, just trying to come up with something that was quasi-inspirational, and Grande just speaks to the vastness of the country, which I think gets lost in the conversation a lot when you talk about traveling in America, there’s just so much here. I keep saying there’s a whole world to see in the country. And of course, there was the very pragmatic issues of could I get the web domain and the trademark and all of that.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him: I think I’m much more reserved than I think I am, that’s some of the feedback that I get about myself. More reserved, quiet and laid-back when I actually think I’m being quite high-strung. So, people thinking that I’m not engaged when I’m really engaged might be something, but other than that I don’t have anything too top of mind.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I’m definitely with my daughter; I have a two-½-year-old and I actually have another one on the way. I’m an older dad, I’m 48, and I have a very young daughter, obviously, so I’m sort of playing catch-up with being a dad, but I love it so much. So, I spend tons of time with my daughter, both on the weekends and right after work. I tend to work on this magazine after she goes to bed, from around 8:00 p.m. until midnight. And I typically work on it early in the morning before I leave for work; I have a regular full-time job as well.

On what keeps him up at night: The magazine and just trying to get the word out, really. And I think I underestimated how difficult marketing a magazine really is; I mean, I knew it was difficult, I never had any misconceptions that it would be easy, but the retail aspect… for one, I don’t know a lot about it, so I’m learning, which is nice. I could have 10 people working on retail full-time and I don’t think it would be enough. So, thinking about how to get the magazine out into the world and how to get people to really understand what I’m trying to do is what keeps me up all the time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Chris Walsh, founder and editor in chief, Fifty Grande magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s the idea behind your new magazine, Fifty Grande?

Chris Walsh: The idea came about in a definite slow-build. I had been thinking about it for a couple of years. And as odd as it might sound, I think the travel market is actually underserved. You know there are many travel brands out there; there are many that are focused on the one percent, the ultra-luxury market and then there are a bunch of others that really focus on kind of niche parts, but I really felt there was an opportunity because there isn’t a travel magazine out there that really spoke to me, something that incorporated travel, music and food. And something that regular people can afford, a middle of the market type travel experience.

I also felt that there wasn’t a huge focus on the U.S. There are many parts of the U.S. that are vastly under the radar for a lot of people. That was what was top of mind for this, and the other part of it was kind of a reaction to how web content has developed over the past 10 years. And what I mean by that is, I feel like there are a lot of great travel online media companies out there, but there’s also an onslaught of online lists and Top Tens, so I felt there was another opportunity there to offer a different editorial, deeper stories and different stories.

And I definitely wanted something that was kind of an offline, unplugged experience. We have that visceral reaction. I love magazines and we have that visceral reaction when we touch something; when we touch a magazine. And I definitely wanted to try and capture that. That’s part of the reason for the special box it comes in; it should feel like an event when something shows up at your door. It’s kind of all of these things in one, but ultimately I love magazines and that’s why I started it.

Samir Husni: You mentioned the packaging; when my copy arrived, it felt more like that special event that you just spoke about. Like I needed to sit down and read it cover to cover, and even enjoy the box itself.

Chris Walsh: Thanks so much. That’s exactly what I was hoping for, that it becomes an event when people get it and they really enjoy the experience. It is meant to be an event on someone’s calendar. I hope to grow it to be a quarterly, and I really want people to be excited about it when they know that it’s coming.

Samir Husni: The design is very fresh…with a few Easter Eggs scattered throughout, such as a plug page in the magazine with the good old-fashioned ads that you put on billboards.

Chris Walsh: To me, design is as important as anything else. I’m an editorial guy, I went to journalism graduate school at Columbia. I worked at magazines and with online editorial teams, so I love the storytelling part of all of this, but design is also very important. When I looked at the newsstand, one of the things that I felt was lacking in the travel category was a travel magazine that had a travel feel. Traveling is fun and exciting. Sometimes when you look at what’s out there, the aesthetics are aspirational, but also sometimes very cold, just in scenery, such as one person lying in a pool. Since travel is fun, the design of the magazine needs to be fun. And hopefully a little bit reverent. I don’t know if we’ve gotten there yet, but we’re certainly aiming for that. We were definitely trying to put a few Easter Eggs in there too and we’ll be doing more of that going forward.

Samir Husni: With the content, who is your targeted audience for the magazine?

Chris Walsh: It’s for anyone who feels like they’re still trying to connect to an adventurous spirit. The magazine is really aimed at millennials, people in their 20s and 30s, who enjoy traveling. Those people will find something in here that they will like. Some of the reactions that I’ve gotten so far have also been from couples who have now moved out of their urban areas and are still trying to connect to their prior lives, either traveling or listening to music, so there’s a little bit of that and that doesn’t really surprise me. It’s really aimed at travelers in their 20s and 30s who are just trying to find places that might be fun to see and to visit.

I think there is a natural crossover with music, food and travel. And you don’t often see that coverage in travel media. So, I think anyone with those interests, especially the three of them combined, would be very interested in this magazine.

The idea with the hometowns issue was I was trying to take this very big topic, the United States, and then somehow try to make it smaller for the first issue so that people could get their heads around it and also for the people writing the stories to get their heads around it too. That was the most insightful, yet personal, theme that I could come up with. So I used the Hometowns issue as a starting point and I hope each issue gets better from here on out with different themes and topics.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the actual implementation of the magazine.

Chris Walsh: I did a lot of research and I kept coming back to two ideas which were a travel magazine, which actually came to life, and then some sort of either online magazine or a magazine focused on New England; I’m from New England. And the more I focused on that second idea, the more I realized either I thought the market was covered or just the economics really didn’t work. And then I gradually started to come back to the idea of the travel magazine more and more.

And I just started talking to people. I partnered with research teams in my past jobs, so I started doing research with a friend and then on my own, just talking with people about travel magazines and what they want from them. And like I said earlier, I honestly feel, as odd as it sounds, because there are so many travel magazines out there and so many travel properties, I think the market is underserved in this area. I think there is the opportunity to focus on the mid-market, the upper mid-market of hotels and experiences and do it in a fun way. I’m not saying that we’re the best travel magazine out there, but we certainly can be different and that’s what I’m shooting for. A different look and feel and a different editorial. Something that stands out and is fun.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest challenge that you’ve been able to overcome?

Chris Walsh: To be honest with you, it was on the design side. For me, putting together a magazine is fun, coming up with the concepts, talking to the writers and working on those stories, that’s the fun part, but the design side – I had a very specific look and feel in my mind and what I was hoping would come to life. And this is what was in my head. This is what I wanted. So, finding someone who understood that was really the tough part. And it was just me talking to a lot of people. I worked on this idea for more than a year before I even began to plan the first issue. So, I talked to a lot of creative people and it just took me a long time to figure that piece out, because that wasn’t something that I had done before or was comfortable doing on my own.

So someone coming in and being able to articulate what was needed for stories and to just understand and get in sync with me was probably the most challenging part, finding the right person, but once we began talking, we moved very quickly.

Samir Husni: What was your happiest moment during the creation of this first issue?

Chris Walsh: When the pallets showed up at my apartment. The first run was 5,000 magazines and of that 5,000, I had 500 shipped to my apartment in New York. So, I was just waiting around for a truck one morning and when the truck rolled down my street and these guys popped off the back of it and took a pallet and put it on the sidewalk in front of my building, that was kind of the most surreal and happiest moment for me. Again, going back to this physical thing we all love, the magazine, opening the boxes and pulling it out. It probably sounds very cliché, but it was a really happy and nice moment.

Samir Husni: I see your subscription price is $28 per year, which shows that it’s not a magazine for skimmers, you’re looking for an engaged audience.

Chris Walsh: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what the whole idea is behind the editorial. You have to enjoy reading and you have to enjoy magazines to really like Fifty Grande. A lot of people keep asking me am I going to put it online and change the edit to make it shorter, but I’m not interested in doing that. The stories in the magazine aren’t even that long. I think the longest story was maybe 2,300 words. And maybe the shortest was around 500. But the average is somewhere between 1,100 and 1,500 words, but it is considered long-form when it comes to the online media out there. So, I do think you have to enjoy reading stories in order to enjoy Fifty Grande and get the most out of it.

I’m hoping that I engage a certain type of reader who is looking to approach travel in a different way. And someone who enjoys reading and who enjoys fun design.

Samir Husni: Where did the name “Fifty Grande” come from?

Chris Walsh: Fifty, in reference to the states, obviously, and Grande, just trying to come up with something that was quasi-inspirational, and Grande just speaks to the vastness of the country, which I think gets lost in the conversation a lot when you talk about traveling in America, there’s just so much here. I keep saying there’s a whole world to see in the country. And of course, there was the very pragmatic issues of could I get the web domain and the trademark and all of that.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Chris Walsh: I think I’m much more reserved than I think I am, that’s some of the feedback that I get about myself. More reserved, quiet and laid-back when I actually think I’m being quite high-strung. So, people thinking that I’m not engaged when I’m really engaged might be something, but other than that I don’t have anything too top of mind.

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; or something else? How do you unwind?

Chris Walsh: I’m definitely with my daughter; I have a two-½-year-old and I actually have another one on the way. I’m an older dad, I’m 48, and I have a very young daughter, obviously, so I’m sort of playing catch-up with being a dad, but I love it so much. So, I spend tons of time with my daughter, both on the weekends and right after work. I tend to work on this magazine after she goes to bed, from around 8:00 p.m. until midnight. And I typically work on it early in the morning before I leave for work; I have a regular full-time job as well.

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

Chris Walsh: The magazine and just trying to get the word out, really. And I think I underestimated how difficult marketing a magazine really is; I mean, I knew it was difficult, I never had any misconceptions that it would be easy, but the retail aspect… for one, I don’t know a lot about it, so I’m learning, which is nice. I could have 10 people working on retail full-time and I don’t think it would be enough. So, thinking about how to get the magazine out into the world and how to get people to really understand what I’m trying to do is what keeps me up all the time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The ACT 10 Experience Welcomes IMAG. Complimentary Registration Courtesy Of Quad. Space Is Limited, So ACT NOW.

February 10, 2020

Change is the Only Constant.

The Magazine Innovation Center is pleased to announce Quad as a Leadership sponsor of this year’s ACT 10 Experience. We also welcome the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media’s IMAG to Oxford, Miss. and to the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, where the two events will come together to celebrate all things magazine and magazine media. The Quad partnership will underwrite the cost of attendee registrations, making this year’s conference free to attend.  We thank them, and our Diamond (Advantage CS, Democrat Printing & Lithography, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation), Platinum (issuu), Gold (Active Interest Media, Bonnier USA, LSC Communications), and Silver (Advantage Circulation Specialist, Bauer Media USA, Delta Magazine) sponsors for their continued support of our industry and their investment in the future industry leaders, our students.

The theme for the ACT 10 Experience is: Change is the Only Constant. And today, with magazines and magazine media, never has that statement been truer. ACT 10 Experience will explore all of the ins and outs, possibilities and impossibilities that await everyone who is a part of this amazing industry or who simply love it from a different perspective, perhaps.

Thanks to our partners and sponsors, The ACT 10 Experience will bring together under one roof, magazine and magazine media notables from around the world. From CEOs to publishers, editors in chief, to printers and paper companies, digital to social, rest assured, this is no ordinary conference. And scattered among these elite and renowned people are the students who we perpetuate with this experience, giving them each and every one an opportunity to get to know the best of the best in the industry, from journalism to marketing. ACT 10 Experience provides something no other conference has: the ability for a student with fresh ideas and innovative creativity to sit down and have a conversation with the CEO of a major magazine or magazine media company.

Quad will also sponsor the gala event for the IMAG Recognition Award – IMAG will recognize an individual for their expertise and service to the magazine media industry, and also the Mr. Magazine™ Launch of the Year for 2019 and the Student-Created Magazine Launch as well.

We are thankful to all of our sponsors (see list below) for their continued and very appreciated support of our efforts here at the Magazine Innovation Center on the campus of the University of Mississippi, where our focus is always on the future industry leaders.

For a list of confirmed speakers, please click here 

And once again, millions of thanks to our ACT 10 Experience sponsors:

Leadership Sponsor

Quad

Diamond Sponsors

Advantage CS

Democrat Printing & Lithography

Hearst Magazines

Meredith Corporation

Platinum Sponsors

issuu

Gold Sponsors

Active Interest Media

Bonnier USA

LSC Communications

Silver Sponsors

Advantage Circulation Consulting

Bauer Media USA

Delta Magazine

To visit the sponsor page for your own opportunity to support our future industry leaders, please click here 

And click here to register for this phenomenal event today! There is a limit of 100 registrants on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Us Weekly Executive Vice President & CRO, Vicci Rose, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “I Think Our Future Is Really Bright…” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

February 5, 2020

“As someone in the business for multiple decades and who is extremely enthusiastic about where we are today and about the future, I have to say that as long as good content is developed and we have a willing and excited audience on the receiving end of that, I think our future is really bright, whether the form function is in print, digital or social, I think the quality content will really continue to compel a worthy community of highly coveted readers.” … Vicci Rose

Vicci Rose is Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of Us Weekly and its digital properties. Shortly after the publication’s March 2000 re-launch to a weekly frequency, Rose became one of the chief architects of the magazine’s turnaround and its impressive growth for nearly two decades. When someone says weekly magazines aren’t viable in this day and age, I always think of Vicci and the success she has brought to Us Weekly.

I spoke with her recently and we talked about the American public’s almost insatiable desire for celebrity news and entertainment. It’s a part of the magazine world that has never really gone away. It may have waned for a while, but people have always been very faithful to the genre.

Vicci has been a vibrant part of the magazine world for decades and believes in being positive, upbeat and hopeful about the future. She’s not wearing blinders by any stretch of the imagination, she just knows what pleasure and indulgences magazines bring their audiences. And indulgence is certainly the decided term she uses. Vicci said that while we may not allow ourselves many indulgences in our busy worlds of today, magazines may just be the only one we deem worthwhile to allow.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicci Rose, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of Us Weekly and its digital properties.

But first the sound-bites:

On her assessment of the future of magazines and magazine media: As someone in the business for multiple decades and who is extremely enthusiastic about where we are today and about the future, I have to say that as long as good content is developed and we have a willing and excited audience on the receiving end of that, I think our future is really bright, whether the form function is in print, digital or social, I think the quality content will really continue to compel a worthy community of highly coveted readers.

On whether she believes that magazines are more of a luxury item today, rather than an impulse buy, and based more on their individual value to the consumer: The term luxury; what does that mean? Is it a small luxury? Perhaps. I would say that we’re talking about indulgences; is it a candy bar that someone says, I have to have my piece of chocolate every day? I do feel that today with the economy being what it is for the average American, despite the health and wellness of the stock market, I do think we have very little indulgences and magazines may be that indulgence.

On the biggest challenge she thinks magazines and magazine media are facing: While there are so many challenges facing us in terms of the overall business, but thinking about my own point of view and how our business is affected, it’s been over a decade or more, and it’s not a new phenomenon, but I do think that the role of procurement and the need for businesses to increase their cost efficiency across the board, whether it’s my business or your business, there is this emphasis on prioritizing efficiency and sometimes sacrificing productivity.

On magazines being the original influencers: There is no question that social media has become part of our daily lives. But each one of these channels plays a role for each of us in varying degrees. You might be an Instagram follower; I might rely more on Twitter; one of us might read more magazines; we might take our newspapers in the digital format today. So, I do think the idea of personalization is also playing a greater role, which does make our jobs difficult, but I’m very optimistic about the future as long as consumers remain curious, as long as they remain passionate, and I don’t know about you, but every consumer I know has extended their day well beyond the 24 that seems to be the criterion today. (Laughs)

On whether she believes social media in all its platforms is friend or foe to magazine media: I think social media partners that are committed to quality content are absolutely our partners. We have benefited, and initially we had an audience that was really early adoptive, first to the digital landscape, mobile, and then Facebook and Twitter. And today we still see really rapid growth in Instagram and Instagram Stories and Instagram TV, so we believe very strongly in social media as a real advocate for our content.

On anything she’d like to add: I would say to keep the emphasis on good, quality journalism. I believe that will keep the lights on for all of us.  That rallying cry that is hopefully on the tip of everyone’s tongue, behind all of this is the importance of good quality journalism. The journalism has to survive in whatever form it’s in. We need to have a society that allows reporters, honesty and principles to be governing what we do and we need to have a society that believes in it, and that believes in truth.

On what keeps her up at night: You know I don’t sleep. (Laughs) I would say again, it’s back to the challenge of the corporate consolidation. Our industry is being consolidated, has been consolidated in terms of the big publishing companies, where there were once many and diversification, now there are a handful. And that’s happening now in the digital landscape. As you know, almost every one of my primary digital competitors, within the last three or four months before the holidays, consolidated as well.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicci Rose, Executive Vice President & CRO, Us Weekly, American Media.

Samir Husni: What is your assessment of the future of magazines and magazine media?

Vicci Rose: As someone in the business for multiple decades and who is extremely enthusiastic about where we are today and about the future, I have to say that as long as good content is developed and we have a willing and excited audience on the receiving end of that, I think our future is really bright, whether the form function is in print, digital or social, I think the quality content will really continue to compel a worthy community of highly coveted readers.

And what I mean by that is, of course, there is a lot of argument as to whether we should be targeting millennials or Gen X or Gen Z, but the bottom line is, we exist in a population in a community of consumers who are still very curious, very eager to learn more. The Royals are a fascination for the public, of course. People have a consuming passion that is still unsatisfied. The more we can give them, the more they can connect.

So, I do see that the future remains bright, but it is not without its challenges. I do believe that an environment where we continue to provide content with open borders, so to speak, on the digital platform, that puts the emphasis on those of us who are charging for our content to really focus in on those qualities that will command a price for that content.

For example, for our magazines, Us Weekly and many of the other titles here at American Media, we are charging premium prices at the newsstand. For our 52 issues per year, we’re charging $5.99 at the newsstand. So, in order for that consumer to feel justified for that purchase at retail, and by the way we’re competing with an average of 35 or 40,000 individual products for that shopper’s basket each week she goes into the store, we better have something of true value when she picks up that magazine, brings it home, and then sits down and consumes it. I believe the pressure continues to mount on us to make sure that the value to price equation is at an all-time high.

Samir Husni: I was speaking with the director of marketing and newsstand at Barnes & Noble, and she said that she looks at magazines today as luxury items. Do you believe with that high cover price, $5.99, on a weekly basis, that magazines are no longer just an impulse buy, but instead the consumer finds true value in them?

Vicci Rose: The term luxury; what does that mean? Is it a small luxury? Perhaps. I would say that we’re talking about indulgences; is it a candy bar that someone says, I have to have my piece of chocolate every day? I do feel that today with the economy being what it is for the average American, despite the health and wellness of the stock market, I do think we have very little indulgences and magazines may be that indulgence.

And they bring great joy to their audiences, whether you’re talking about the reader who picks up The New Yorker and is immersed in that editorial environment and again, the magazine may also have a very healthy digital business, but to that reader there’s nothing like picking up that magazine and sitting down as an avid reader of The New Yorker and doing so in print.

I do think that we would use the term indulgence as we sit down and really enjoy these physical experiences. And while we all have audiences that are intensely engaged with our digital, mobile and social properties, I don’t think the same adjectives are used when someone is explaining their connection to our digital content. There isn’t that same passion, that same indulgence, when you’re talking about the physical experience.

The short-term, near-term future for the next couple of years looks like magazines will continue to connect with the consumer. In fact, our audiences that are younger, the 18-34 year olds and the 18 to 49 year olds, are still quite strong in the magazine business. Of course, the need for a healthy and committed ad community has been one of our greatest challenges, as you well know. In 2019, and I don’t want to speak for other competitors, but I would say the rationale behind a number of very healthy and iconic editorial properties, the rationale for them to cease publication was not a lack of readers or a lack of committed audiences, it was a moving away by advertisers. And personally I think that’s one of the greatest challenges, not a loss of readership per se, but a loss of advertising support.

Samir Husni: What do you think is the biggest challenge for magazines and magazine media? The loss of advertising support?

Vicci Rose: While there are so many challenges facing us in terms of the overall business, but thinking about my own point of view and how our business is affected, it’s been over a decade or more, and it’s not a new phenomenon, but I do think that the role of procurement and the need for businesses to increase their cost efficiency across the board, whether it’s my business or your business, there is this emphasis on prioritizing efficiency and sometimes sacrificing productivity.

So, I believe more and more corporate consolidation and more and more emphasis on ROI and again, productivity efficiency, has hurt brand equity; our brand equity, as well as our client brand equity. When you look at the landscape, and again this brings in other elements of our business, do we in an error of urgency and immediacy and immediate gratification, do we have brands and marketers who are able to take a longer-term view of the health of their businesses? We’re all under the idea that in order to do something we need to see an immediate return on investment. And I absolutely think that has changed the mentality of opportunities in the marketplace.

And I think some of the change in our business has been to take highly productive businesses supporting print, and as you know there are mechanisms like media-mixed modeling, which is obviously a very important component of our marketers and our advertisers’ research to allow them to assess the success of their dollars in each media channel.

But I hear frequently about how print works. But the idea is they’re under pressure to explore new channels of innovation and so, even though they know print works for them, the idea of innovating and moving their businesses forward and exploring new channels is more important to the company than really reinvesting in what they perceive to be a “traditional,” even using the word “antiquated” medium. And I think for the magazine media industry, that’s one of our greatest challenges, because for every client that tells me that, that’s a client who is walking away from a tried-and-true mechanism for productivity into the unknown.

In fact, there was a recent article I read about the huge emphasis and continued emergence of influencer marketing and yet, there is no real trusted mechanism to measure the true ROI. There was a survey in the marketplace that this journalist quoted as 84 percent of the marketers that he queried admitted that there was absolutely no proof that their dollars had any kind of ROI, that they were investing in influencer marketing, yet they felt that it was working for them.

So, the question is, why is there still this double standard? And as long as there is that double standard, that will continue to be our biggest challenge on the magazine media side.

Samir Husni: I recall Linda Thomas Brooks , when she was the CEO of the MPA, I heard her speak once and she said something like: magazines are the original influencers.

Vicci Rose: (Laughs) We talk about that all the time, as you can imagine, with the earlier conversation we had about celebrities. Whether it’s Ariana Grande or Selena Gomez competing with each other, I think the current number is well over 180 million Instagram followers for one of the two of them, so you can’t dispute that social media impact of those individuals.

And we recognize that. There is no question that social media has become part of our daily lives. But each one of these channels plays a role for each of us in varying degrees. You might be an Instagram follower; I might rely more on Twitter; one of us might read more magazines; we might take our newspapers in the digital format today. So, I do think the idea of personalization is also playing a greater role, which does make our jobs difficult, but I’m very optimistic about the future as long as consumers remain curious, as long as they remain passionate, and I don’t know about you, but every consumer I know has extended their day well beyond the 24 that seems to be the criterion today. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Do you think social media, in all of its many platforms, is a friend or foe to magazine media?

Vicci Rose: I think social media partners that are committed to quality content are absolutely our partners. We have benefited, and initially we had an audience that was really early adoptive, first to the digital landscape, mobile, and then Facebook and Twitter. And today we still see really rapid growth in Instagram and Instagram Stories and Instagram TV, so we believe very strongly in social media as a real advocate for our content.

We see our celebrities when they are covered in the magazine or on our website, reposting their photographs and their articles, and it brings back another huge community of readers and visitors. So, when the properties are committed to responsible journalism and responsible content; yes, we see them as a symbiotic partner and an advocate for our content and for what we do.

I think they’re, for the most part, the leading social media sites, and I do think that consumers value them. And we have to respect and recognize those properties that our consumers value. We approach our audiences as a community. And as you know our property, entertainment and celebrity journalism, especially through Us Weekly’s purview, which is very much about lifestyle through the lens of celebrity, is editorial content that is shared, relied upon and trusted, and those are very important attributes that are also part of the trusted social media properties.

So I think that we have everything to gain from a good and solid relationship with them. In fact, something that we’re very excited about and that we made a commitment to in the latter half of 2019, is a renewed commitment to YouTube. Our friends over at YouTube are working very closely with us to make sure that our new commitment across the portfolio, not just Us Weekly and J-14, but also OK! and In Touch Weekly; all of our properties, really understand how we can best navigate that flank to truly add value to our audiences.

And it’s not just going to be a repurposing of content; we’ve never believed in that from print to digital or from digital to mobile, we really see these various channels as opportunities to take the information and translate it in unique ways that particular population needs and we’re very excited about this new flank.

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

Vicci Rose: I would say to keep the emphasis on good, quality journalism. I believe that will keep the lights on for all of us.  That rallying cry that is hopefully on the tip of everyone’s tongue, behind all of this is the importance of good quality journalism. The journalism has to survive in whatever form it’s in. We need to have a society that allows reporters, honesty and principles to be governing what we do and we need to have a society that believes in it, and that believes in truth.

At Us Weekly, it’s a very important key tenant of our editorial and it’s important to us in the marketplace and it has also allowed us to trade on that with other elements of our story, whether it’s taking the material that we produce on a daily and weekly basis into a very productive email newsletter business, which we’ve been doing for almost two decades for our opt-in subscribers, roughly about 700,000 per day, and we’re almost on our second anniversary of a very healthy podcast business.

And while we’re still very committed to the almost two million copies of the magazine that goes into the hands of our consumers on a paid basis every week, we are continuing to thrive by adding new channels into the mix. And I do think it’s the diversification which will allow us to continue to thrive for the next 20 years. We just celebrated our 20th anniversary as a weekly and I’m hoping that these new flanks will allow us the next 20 and beyond.

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

Vicci Rose: You know I don’t sleep. (Laughs) I would say again, it’s back to the challenge of the corporate consolidation. Our industry is being consolidated, has been consolidated in terms of the big publishing companies, where there were once many and diversification, now there are a handful. And that’s happening now in the digital landscape. As you know, almost every one of my primary digital competitors, within the last three or four months before the holidays, consolidated as well.

So, the challenge that I mentioned a few minutes ago about the marketing community looking for that efficiency concerns me. I want to engage with clients that are interested in talking about ways to further their brand equity. To really design programs for them that capitalize on the strong relationships between their consumer and potential consumers and their brands, and the potential consumers that we have in common that look to our content to make the match. So, that’s what keeps me up at night because I see that potential audience of marketers who are willing to pursue brand and brand equity shrinking. That does keep me up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

 

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“Change Is The Only Constant…” Confirmed List Of Speakers Covering The Theme For The ACT 10 Experience…

February 4, 2020

Look who is coming to the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 10 Experience at The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media April 21 to 23.  The list of the confirmed speakers so far listed alphabetically:

Donnyale Ambrosine – Editor in Chief, Culturs magazine

Joe Berger – Publishers Marketing and Sales Consultant, Joe Berger Associates

Doug Bitto – Principal, Advantage Circulation Consulting

Bruce Brandfon – Chief Media Officer, Duration Media, LLC.

Nicole Bowman – Principal, Bowman Circulation Marketing

Andréa Butler – Founder and Editor in Chief, Sesi Magazine

Andy Clurman – President & CEO, Active Interest Media

Deborah Corn – Intergalactic Ambassador to the Printerverse

Brittany Duhon – Business Travel Sales Manager, The Adolphus

James G. Elliott – President, James G. Elliott Co.

Allen Filson -Director, Professional Services, Canon Solutions America, Inc.

John French – Cofounder, French LLC

Karolyn Hart – Founder and CEO, Inspirehub Inc., Canada

Dan Heffernan – Vice President & Chief Product Manager, Advantage CS

Mona Hidayet – Executive Director, Clients and Products, Advantage CS

Sue Holt – Managing Director, ITP Consumer, United Arab Emirates

Joe Hyrkin – CEO, issuu

Jeff Joseph – Publisher & Editorial Director, Luckbox Magazine

Bonnie Kintzer – President & CEO, Trusted Media Brands

Sanne Groot Koerkamp – Editor in Chief, Quest magazine, The Netherlands

Michael Kusek – Publisher, Different Leaf Magazine

Simon Leslie – CEO & Cofounder, Ink, The United Kingdom

Matthew Lulay —  Senior Director, Mather Consulting

Jerry Lynch – President, Magazine and Book Retail Association

Chris Lyons – President, Brand United

Daren Mazzucca – SVP, Group Publisher, Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, Meredith Corp.

John Mennell – Founder, Magazine Literacy

Tyler Nacho – Publisher and Editor in Chief, Kill Pretty magazine

Jo Packham – Creator & Editor in Chief, Where Women Create, Where Women Cook, What Women Create

Victoria Rose – EVP, CRO, Us Weekly, American Media, LLC

Lori Rosen – Founder & President, Rosen Group

Linda Ruth – Publishing Management And Consulting, PSCS Consulting and Official Act Experience Scribe

Bo Sacks – President, Precision Media

Brigitte Schmidt Gwyn – President & CEO, MPA: The Association of Magazine Media

Tony Silber – President, Long Hill Media

Krifka Steffey – Director, Merchandise, Newsstand, Barnes & Noble

John Thames – CEO/Publisher, Covey Rise Magazine & Bourbon +Magazine

Chris Walsh – Founder & Editor In Chief, Fifty Grande Magazine

And here are some more info regarding The Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media announces the theme for its 10th anniversary ACT (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience: Change Is The Only Constant.  The ACT 10 Experience is also proud to announce that it is welcoming the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media’s IMAG 2020 conference to the magazine media experience in Oxford, Mississippi.  The dates for the event are set for April 21 to 23, 2020.

The Magazine Innovation Center was founded in 2009.  The Center is the birthplace of the annual ACT Experience, which in 2020, will be in its 10th year. Each year MIC strives to provide industry leaders and aspiring media members a Think-and-Do Experience, brimming with ideas, inspiration and a little fun along the way. It’s also a time when students (future industry leaders) can meet and network with current industry leaders and professionals in the media community to further their own portfolios and knowledge. The magazine students are paired with industry leaders to shadow and learn from their expertise and experience. It’s a three-day world filled with possibilities for everyone; from potential careers for students to new friendships and business conversations between leaders.

The topics covered in this year’s ACT Experience are:

  1. Transformation of magazines from pure ink on paper entities to multi- magazine media platforms: print, digital, video, audio, events, and social media.
  2. The future of social and marketing roles of magazines and magazine media
  3. The future of paper and printing industries
  4. The future of circulation and distribution
  5. The future of advertising and marketing
  6. The future of magazine launches

Click here to check the list of the confirmed speakers so far and click here to register for the ACT 10 Experience.

Space is limited so don’t delay…. register today.

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