The magazine publishing business in no longer in the either or business. “Our world today is an AND world,” the first lady of magazine publishing Cathie Black, President of Hearst Magazines, told the audience attending the morning keynote event of the second day of the Publishing Business Conference and Expo in New York City.
However, that AND world had a funny start as Ms. Black started her presentation. A computer problem delayed the showing (for seconds) of the Power of Print video that Ms. Black wanted to open her remarks with. She was quick to announce to the audience with a big smile on her face, “That is why I believe in the future of print.”
Ms. Black went on to tell the audience, “We had a tough 18 months, however we did not have a consumer problem; we had an advertising problem.” She was quick to add that, “Now things are getting better. Our multi platform business is getting better and all of us talk about all platforms now.” She gave a new definition of the changing role of magazine companies. “A magazine company is now a diversified magazine company. We have become an advertising agency, we are designing ads, we are designing campaigns, creating events, etc,” she informed the audience.
She reflected on the changes taking place in both the physical shape of the magazines and their contents. “We’ve up-sized House Beautiful last year, we did the same with Good Housekeeping and we will do the same with Country Living this coming fall,” she said. “If we are going to charge more for our content, we have to offer an enhanced consumer experience,” Ms. Black said. “At the end of the day, it is all about innovation.”
Innovation does not necessary means that magazine companies are going to be in the device and tablets business. Ms. Black was quick to answer a question about the involvement of Hearst in the creation of a digital device platform. “We do not want to be in the device business,” she answered with no hesitation what so ever. “We need to create experiences based on what the readers want, where they wanted, when they wanted and how much they will pay for it.” The content is going to be different for each of the devices, invented or yet to be invented. “We are moving away from the devices business,” she concluded.
And as for the future, Ms. Black said, “there is no magic bullet, there is no magic answer, we will work with the innovations that comes to the table.” In conclusion, we all know that every thing is changing including the role of editors who are now can be seen “at NBC thinking about a television program, or attending a tech event or workshop, or taking an advertiser to lunch.”