Archive for December, 2013

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2013 New Magazines: Survival is Way UP, Launches are Barely Down… The Mr. Magazine™ Year-End Wrap-Up

December 26, 2013

The Headlines:

865 Total New Magazines Launched in 2013; 5 less than 2012.
183 Total New Launches with Four Times Frequency or More; 48 less than 2013.
85% Survival Rate of New Magazines Launched in 2012; the highest ever compared with the high of 70%.

But now the days grow short
And the new launches are wrapping up
From Politico to Closer
From newsstands to grocer
New Magazines printed from ink sweet and clear
It was a very good year…

Taking liberties with the song Ol’ Blue Eyes made famous was perhaps a desecration on my part, but well-deserved when it comes to wrapping up the year 2013 in the magazine media world. There was absolutely no letdown when it came to new launches and re-launches for this past year.

And while all eyes are on the re-launch of Newsweek and the new launch Dr. Oz – The Good Life in the upcoming 2014; this past year witnessed a plethora of its own in rebirths and blessed deliveries.

At the front of the nursery window are three magazines that are sure to strike up conversations among the magazine media world in the coming year.

allrecipes-3Closer2-4politicomagcover

allrecipes
is certainly stirring things up – just like their tagline professes. From website to print, Meredith Corporation deepens their commitment to the food category by expanding their very popular digital brand into a print product. With the built-in recognition of the popular website, allrecipes in print is definitely making an impact on the magazine media world.

Closer Weekly a celebrity magazine targeted at women 40 and up, is from Bauer Publishing and promises to give their competition a run for their money. With Bauer’s commitment to newsstand sales and their aim to feature celebrities that women forty and over grew up with, they’re counting on a different market than the rest of the celebrities titles. Their premier issue sold for 25¢ and Bauer distributed 2 million copies. The regular price of the magazine is $3.99 a copy. Judging by Bauer’s earlier commitment to their magazines, I have no doubt that regardless of the media prophets of doom and gloom, the magazine is going to have a very good future indeed.

Politico the digital go-to site for political junkies, launched their print counterpart, Politico Magazine, and hasn’t looked back. With the print version, Politico is going for the deeper dive, featuring long-form journalism and a broad spectrum of topics that appeal not only to the core Washington audience, but also international and non-political readers around the country. Giving birth to a political print magazine that’s lofty goal is to become the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, is definitely ambitious, but without ambition where would any magazine new or established be today? It should be noted that Politico was born both on the digital and the ink on paper platforms. They actually did years back what everyone else is trying to do today.

During this year-end wrap-up, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t talk about three very important factors concerning the year 2013.

1.Launches are down, Survival is UP: While magazine launches with a regular frequency (those published with the intention to publish at least 4 issues a year) were a bit down over 2012: 183 in 2013 versus 231 in 2012 and the total of 865 titles overall in 2013 compared to 870 in 2012. However it should be noted that for the first time since I have been tracking the numbers, more than 30 years ago, the survival rate for new launches after one year in business is 85%. This is 15% above the previous highest survival percentages.

2.Digital is discovering Print: To realize the phenomenal impact that print has had on the digital world in 2013 is amazing. Going from the mantra: “Print is dead – Long live Digital” to the fact that many digital entities themselves are discovering the solid foundation and revenue-building facets that print provides is nothing short of stunning. Sites like allrecipes.com, pitchfork.com and others launched print products that allow them a different platform to showcase more of their great content and photographs, in an entirely dissimilar way than their digital counterpart.

3.Book-a-zines rule the Newsstands: While the total of new launches with frequency declined somewhat in 2013, the host of Book-a-zines certainly filled any empty slots on the newsstands. Book-a-zines are niche marketing at its best. They’re targeted to just about any topic or personality a reader might be looking for.

To sum the aforementioned factors, and as I stated earlier, the survival rate entirely offsets that difference in the number of titles in 2013 compared to 2012. Having an 85% survival for the launches of 2012 is most definitely a worthy factor.

The top 10 categories of new magazines in 2013 are:

• Special Interest/lifestyle: 23
• Crafts/Games/Hobbies/Models: 16
• Epicurean: 11
• Metropolitan/Regional/State: 11
• Art/Antiques: 9
• Fashion/Beauty/Grooming: 8
• Entertainment: 7
• Popular Culture: 7
• Men’s: 7
• Sports: 7

And that’s just less than half of the varied categories, but as you can see, some remained the same and some did not. But every year, the categories differ along with the magazine producer’s dreams.

I hope you have enjoyed the Mr. Magazine™ 2013 wrap-up. And once again, in the words of Ol’ Blue Eyes: “It was a very good year!”

To check all the magazine launches of 2013 and to stay tuned with all the magazine launches on a monthly basis check the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor
.

Have a great and wonderful new year and enjoy the wonderful world of magazines.

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Print Integrated: Reliving the ACT 4 Experience. Part 9 (The Last and Final Part) of the Power of Print Ingerated

December 21, 2013

Now that the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 4 (Amplify, Clarify, and Testify) Experience is one for the history books, the Mr. Magazine™ Blog is going to showcase the keynote speakers and panels that took place during the two and a half days Experience.

In part nine, the final installment, of Reliving the ACT 4 Experience five leaders in their respective fields offer their vision on where and how the future is shaping up for integrating print with the digital world. The presenters and the presentations are in the order that they appeared at the ACT 4 Experience on Thursday Nov. 7:

First, Keith Kawasaki, senior director at iostudio on the power of print integrated:

Next is Maarten Lens-Fitzgerald, founder of Layar:

And to recap the entire ACT 4 Experience a panel led by Lisa Scott, executive director of the PBAA, Lind Ruth, president, Publishers Total Sales Services, and Luke Magerko, managing director, Marketing Analytics Project, LLP:

Save the date for the ACT 5 Experience Oct. 7 to 9, 2014: The future of digital starts with print!

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Bringing the Passion and Love of Soccer (Really Football) Into the Pages of a New Beautiful Magazine: 8by8 Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Robert Priest and Grace Lee.

December 17, 2013

eight-by-eight When you hear the names Robert Priest and Grace Lee, the first thing that comes to mind is a great design team. Between the two of them they have designed, redesigned and reinvented an endless number of magazines. But, today, in addition to their design work, they have new titles: Robert Priest, founder and editor and Grace Lee, founder and creative director of a new magazine of their own creation 8by8: The Magazine The Beautiful Game Deserves.

I asked them to share with me the pleasures of moving beyond design into creating and editing an entire magazine. Last Friday I posted the Mr. Magazine™ Minute with the two of them, today you have the entire intriguing Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Robert Priest and Grace Lee. Get ready, set and go…

As with any Mr. Magazine™ Interview, first the sound-bites followed by the lightly edited full transcript. Enjoy.

The Sound-Bites:


On what 8by8 is trying to accomplish:

From our point of view, we’re trying to have a voice in football — world, global football. We’re trying to make our way into that arena. I feel that we’ve got something to say. There’s a lot that goes on in soccer that’s underreported. There are some major issues in here, even about the World Cup. And I feel like we have this other dimension that’s our bread and butter, we make things look good.

On the use of illustrations in 8by8:
I felt that by adding the additional element of illustration where it’s really a political commentary that the idea of it goes back to classic cartoon where you sort of have a dig at something. It allows you to say something that you can’t ever get in a photograph. You can say that diving is an issue or you can say something about a personality without being mean-spirited, but you can just say something and people will just kind of subliminally go “Oh yeah, of course.”

On why a creative director has become the editor in chief of a soccer magazine:

Also, you know, there’s that thing where I’ve worked on men’s magazines and political magazines and business magazines and women’s magazines, but I’ve never had a chance to do a sports magazine. So this is my chance.

On whether or not 8by8 is a vanity project:
No, not at all. We’re in this to make money. We’ve had this discussion and it’s a good question. It’s not a vanity project at all. It’s something we know about and it’s something that we know we can make look good and I think once you get six or 10 or whatever it ends up being on your table; I think this is going to be a really nice body of work.

On the expensive cover price ($15.99):
You’re going to eliminate some people that would like it but they can’t manage that — it’s true. It’s an audience of people who are, we imagine at that price, going to be well-educated, prepared to pay that kind of money and love the thrill of the game and the look of it. But we do know that and we do know that we are going to miss out on some.

On the lost art of illustration in magazines:

It is, but you know for the longest time it also says now, modern…For me the way we’re assigning illustration with the combination of veterans and young kids at our school, I’m very conscious that they are modern-looking, energetic, colorful, the likenesses have to be perfect. Then you can start making a point, as I said the idea of political commentary through illustration. And I feel like it again separates us from literally every magazine because hardly any magazine uses illustration anymore or if they do it’s for decoration and there’s no decoration here — it’s pure editorial commentary.

On a detail-heavy magazine like 8by8 appealing to the current ADD generation:
I feel like that it fits with the ADD audience. Most of our articles are 1,500 to 2,000 words; they don’t go on for 12,000 words. And then the pacing of it is very exciting. It’s not a traditional magazine in the sense that there’s a front of the book and then there’s a well and then there’s a back of the book. It’s almost wall-to-wall feature.

On attempting to duplicate ink on paper with digital:
The simple duplication doesn’t have the emotional pull for me that that does. I can see the same image on the screen and I appreciate it but there’s something that literally drives me — it’s like a drug — to this. So I personally don’t think so, but I’m sort of getting up there so I’m quite prepared to be wrong on this.

On the future of 8by8:

This would be an all-out brand and maybe do other extensions of sports magazines off of this. We would like to up the frequency, we would like to have a daily web presence, we would like to have a TV channel and we would like to have products.

On the future of magazines:

I think the future is where each magazine is a kind of club. You’re a member of 8by8 and for that you get this gorgeous magazine, information off the web, you go to their parties — only subscribers go to their parties and events — information comes to you as if you’re just a very select person.

On the challenges 8by8 is facing:

Grace Lee: Distribution is one, marketing is the other, getting it out there, getting people to see it and know about it. That’s extremely hard I think. There’s a lot of word and mouth and all of that, but how do you get it to a bigger audience. You can create fantastic products but if you can’t market them you’re not going to do well.

Robert Priest: We’re being pretty aggressive and we’re learning a lot about social media and what that can bring to us. We’re learning how that works. It’s fascinating really, isn’t it? That’s it — we need to get it out there, we need for everybody to know about it.


And now the lightly edited transcript of Mr. Magazine’s™ Interview with Robert Priest and Grace Lee of 8by8 magazine

Robert Priest and Grace Lee

Samir Husni: Last year it was Howler, this year it is 8by8. Tell me about the evolution of Robert Priest and Grace Lee from Howler to 8by8.

Robert Priest: The genesis of it is that we wanted to start a magazine here at Priest and Grace when we first started our company. We looked around and we knew we wanted to do a soccer magazine or a site but something soccer related and we went to England and we looked for editors and it was just a long process and we never found anybody who was good. And we found these two youngish guys – George Karushy and Mark Purvey.

Grace Lee: Well what happened was we were like, forget it, and let’s just start something. So we remembered George, who was an intern at Portfolio — we were both at Condè Nast Portfolio. And he helped coach one of Robert’s soccer teams. And we’re like he’s a soccer guy, let’s contact him and see if he can help start producing some content with us. We contacted him and he said that’s strange let’s meet because I have an idea too. So when we met he wanted to start an American soccer magazine and we said that’s funny because we want to start more of a European soccer magazine and we thought we could combine the two and that’s how we started.

RP: So we designed the identity for it, we designed the logo.

GL: The website, all the identity pieces. They had nothing to do with the decisions on any visual aspects of it. It was completely ours.

RP: It just turned out that it just wasn’t a good fit for any of us really so we ended up deciding to part company. As you probably know we did very well with the design in terms of shows and awards and stuff like that. But we still wanted to continue, but we wanted to change the editorial content to more European, not to deny America at all — the US men’s national team and some MLS for sure, but we wanted to work with the content being some of the very best soccer you can get. And so it ends up being a largely European, South American content and as you know you can do a publication in more or less any country about anything. It works fine. What would you say the percentages of overseas orders are, Grace?

GL: I would say about 40 percent which is, I think, kind of unusual.

RP: But I think again it’s early days for us and we’re getting the word out, we’re progressive on social media and all of that.

SH: Howler looked great. It felt great. It’s sort of like what ink on paper is supposed to be in this day and age, in this digital age. Tell me a little bit about 8by8. Now you are in control of the editorial and in control of the design. What’s the mission? What are you trying to accomplish?

RP: From our point of view, we’re trying to have a voice in football — world, global football. We’re trying to make our way into that arena. I feel that we’ve got something to say. There’s a lot that goes on in soccer that’s underreported. There are some major issues in here even about the World Cup. And I feel like we have this other dimension that’s our bread and butter, we make things look good.

It’s not an all action soccer magazine, it’s a sort of selected action. Every photograph is curated. I think I looked at 500,000 photos acting as the photo editor. I feel that with that kind of attention to detail I want to bring this sort of romance back into soccer but I also want to address the issues within soccer. I felt that by adding the additional element of illustration where it’s really a political commentary that the idea of it goes back to classic cartoon where you sort of have a dig at something. It allows you to say something that you can’t ever get in a photograph. You can say that diving is an issue or you can say something about a personality without being mean-spirited but you can just say something and people will just kind of subliminally go “Oh yeah of course.”

And so to me it’s about the personalities of the game. I sort of grew up with this weird magazine called Charles Buchan Football Monthly and my first impressions of that were that all these portraits, really kind of bad headshots of people coming at you all the time, well that really made an impression on me — just to look at the guy’s face who’s so dazzling on the field and just read into his personality. That’s what this is, it’s kind of pushing that further, commenting on the personality, it’s giving everybody sort of a straight look, that feeling of “Who is this guy?”

SH: Everybody who I told that I was going to interview Robert Priest said, “You mean the creative director?” But I said he’s also the editor in chief. How has that transformation gone? Did it come naturally or did Grace help?

GL: No. I’m not a soccer fanatic, I don’t know very much about soccer. But when it comes to making a magazine that’s what I love to do. So in terms of editor in chief that’s his entire background — he’s obsessed with soccer and I don’t think anybody would of known about it but he knows more than most people so it was a natural progression.

RP: Also, you know, there’s that thing where I’ve worked on men’s magazines and political magazines and business magazines and women’s magazines but I’ve never had a chance to do a sports magazine. So this is my chance.

And then beyond that I have to say it was a kind of shock to be doing the editorial assigning and as much as when you read stories by writers and then you get something that isn’t as good back, the notion of whipping a story into shape is so much more important than I ever imagined and thankfully we’ve been very well supported by a couple of line editors who are geniuses so that we are in good shape right there.

But I don’t presume to go too deep with writers with the structure of the stories — my line editors do that — it’s more to do with the overarching feeling and the idea and the writing, of course. If the writing is crappy, and a lot of soccer writing is, that’s what I want to avoid.

SH: So is this more of a pursuit of a passion, a pursuit of a dream rather than a business model, that you hope to be rich and famous some day?

RP: No, not at all. We’re in this to make money. We’ve had this discussion and it’s a good question. It’s not a vanity project at all. It’s something we know about and it’s something that we know we can make look good and I think once you get six or 10 or whatever it ends up being on your table; I think this is going to be a really nice body of work. But we’re relentless about making sure this is a success. And that’s not that easy. Obviously starting a new magazine — you are the one person in America who knows the success rate and it’s pretty low. But we’re completely convinced that there are enough people here, let alone the rest of the world, to support this easily and we’ve just got to reach them.

SH: A cover price of $15.99 is pretty hefty.

RP: You’re going to eliminate some people that would like it but they can’t manage that — it’s true. It’s an audience of people who are, we imagine at that price, going to be well-educated, prepared to pay that kind of money and love the thrill of the game and the look of it.

But we do know that and we do know that we are going to miss out on some. We’ve noticed a lot of other magazines are being highly priced right now, sort of indie magazines. We feel that the value within this is more pronounced than some of the magazines out there that can sell for $25.

So we feel like we’ve put a lot of energy into it and we think the readers can understand that. That’s certainly the first response, that they can’t believe the amount of detail. It is pricey and we are going to lose a certain number of readers, but the readers who get it really enjoy it and I feel like there are enough of them.

SH: Do you feel like this is the future of print — for ink on paper we have to go after the customers who count rather than just counting customers?

RP: The idea of an almost limited run with a high-quality product perhaps oversized on very nice paper can be the future if it’s backed up with other things. We’re not going to get to a site for a bit, but we are going to back it up with an app. We go back and forth on a daily basis. We have the app done but we just want to make sure that it makes sense. Once you start you can’t go back. That’s a thing a lot of magazines are facing right now because I think they would go back.

GL: I don’t know if they’re even monetizing off of it.

SH: You mentioned in the beginning the use of illustration — we used to say that if you can’t get a real picture, use an illustration. Your concept is different — it’s the opposite. Why?

RP: First of all, I love illustration. I acknowledge the fact that illustration has been going downhill, not downhill, but it’s been less used in major publications. It’s just a fact.

GL: When we’ve worked on redesigns for major publications the editor always wants photographs because it says realism, which is sad.

RP: It is, but you know for the longest time it also says now, modern. For me the way we’re assigning illustration with the combination of veterans and young kids at our school, I’m very conscious that they are modern-looking, energetic, and colorful, the likenesses have to be perfect. Then you can start making a point, as I said, the idea of political commentary through illustration. And I feel like it again separates us from literally every magazine because hardly any magazine uses illustration anymore or if they do it’s for decoration and there’s no decoration here — it’s pure editorial commentary.

SH: What is the reaction so far — what’s some of the feedback?

RP: 99 percent positive. To be frank, early on people were confusing why we looked like the first two Howlers. Because Howler now doesn’t look anything like us. Once you’ve done a few issues nobody’s going to worry — if they want to buy either they will.

I think it’s a very precise look and it kind of talks about where Grace and I work together. It’s very precise work and very detailed work. I feel like that just seems like it’s thought out — it certainly is. But the detail is really worked on a lot. All the facts, all the information, it’s a lot of content.

Picture 27 SH: Some will say Grace and Robert are wasting their time. We have an ADD generation — they don’t pay attention to details; their attention span is roughly 2.5 seconds. So who is your audience?

RP: I feel like that’s not the audience that we’ve got. For instance, there’s that timeline about Arsenal that people have been lapping up. Just as recently as this morning someone wrote that they had spent nearly the whole day just wading through it, reliving their past and understanding their further past and understanding their future. I feel like that’s fine. Not everything is so detailed…

GL: I feel like that fits with the ADD audience. Most of our articles are 1,500 to 2,000 words; they don’t go on for 12,000 words. And then the pacing of it is very exciting. It’s not a traditional magazine in the sense that there’s a front of the book and then there’s a well and then there’s a back of the book. It’s almost wall-to-wall feature.

RP: It’s really important, the order of the pages, and I know it is with other magazines but I’ve always felt that I was as good as anybody in terms of the pacing. I remember GQ with Art Cooper, he always used to really listen to my ideas of which order the stories should be because I always felt that I just had that natural sense about that. And I think it really helps.

SH: One of the things that struck me when you told me that you’re doing this; now you have to deal with distributors you have to deal with this and that. What happened to the Robert Priest and Grace who used to enjoy the design and the beauty and now they have to deal with the ugly part of the magazine business. How is that?

RP: Grace really is the business brain. She’s a very quick learner and we’ve learned a lot really, haven’t we, Grace?

GL: We learned a lot the first time around when we did Howler and I streamlined it the second time around, knowing all the things that we shouldn’t have done, and how to make it easier on ourselves. But personally the ugly part is the part I love. I love doing that stuff and figuring how to get it out there, why it works, building the website, how do we distribute. I love knowing all that stuff.

Then I love designing on top of it but I love doing that part of it. To know only one aspect of the magazine you feel so sheltered, when you come out you realize there are so many things to doing — the physical shipment and storing that nobody ever thinks of.

Picture 26 SH: Do you think you can ever duplicate the beauty of design on ink on paper in the digital world and will it have the same lasting impact, the same lasting effect?

RP: The simple duplication doesn’t have the emotional pull for me that that does. I can see the same image on the screen and I appreciate it, but there’s something that literally drives me — it’s like a drug — to this. So I personally don’t think so but I’m sort of getting up there so I’m quite prepared to be wrong on this.

GL: I feel the same way. I’m drawn toward print too and when we are duplicating it for the iPad it looks great, but the size is so constrained and then the movement and the restrictions. You can do a lot more and add interactivity and video and sound and stuff like that but it still doesn’t feel the same to me either.

And it’s interesting because the only thing I do read on my mobile stuff is The New York Times, which is very disposable, and New York Magazine and The New Yorker and that’s about it. I love the designs of Wired just like everyone else but when I see it on the iPad it falls flat. So I’ll never ever purchase it for my personal use so it makes me wonder if I won’t even use it, why anyone would purchase our iPad version of it. We’re definitely going to do a digital version of it, but I just don’t know if it’s going to live in an app or if it’s going to live on the web. That’s where we are.

SH: Will you also charge $16 for the app?

GL: Yeah, I will actually. Because the content is the same and like anybody in the publishing industry knows, doing a magazine on your own is incredibly expensive, especially if you don’t have the volumes that the bigger companies have. It will be free to subscribers. People think the money in distribution and paper costs a lot; actually it’s more content than anything.

SH: If you can put your futuristic hat on — first on 8by8…

GL: This would be an all-out brand and maybe do other extensions of sports magazines off of this. We would like to up the frequency, we would like to have a daily web presence, we would like to have a TV channel and we would like to have products.

SH: In general what is the future of magazines in this country?

RP: I think the future is where each magazine is a kind of a club. You’re a member of 8by8 and for that you get this gorgeous magazine, information off the web, you go to their parties — only subscribers go to their parties and events — information comes to you as if you’re just a very select person. I’ve heard this from Condè Nast, the idea that Vogue is suddenly this big printed magazine on even better paper than this and it’s a small run and you get it and you get to meet Anna Winter, you’re at the party, you’re meeting the models, you’re meeting the various people in the issue. It becomes something else.

It is a brand but I think that brand is going to become more spread out. I feel like print will always be there but I think it will become a component of the brand.

SH: What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing?

RP: You talked about it yourself. I think distribution is the biggest challenge.

GL: Distribution is one, marketing is the other, getting it out there, getting people to see it and know about it. That’s extremely hard I think. There’s a lot of word of mouth and all of that, but how do you get it to a bigger audience. You can create fantastic products but if you can’t market them you’re not going to do well.

RP: We’re being pretty aggressive and we’re learning a lot about social media and what that can bring to us. We’re learning how that works. It’s fascinating really, isn’t it? That’s it — we need to get it out there, we need for everybody to know about it.

SH: My last question for you — what keeps you up at night?

RP: I’m driven crazy by contributors who don’t call me back within 10 seconds. I want to know that they’re going to write that story or they’re going to do that illustration for me. It drives me absolutely bonkers.

GL: I think it’s finding time to do this honestly. It’s been great because we’ve been getting a lot of recognition and jobs from it, but at the same time I want to do this and we’re so stretched thin. But at the same time I guess that’s a good problem.

SH: Thank you and good luck.

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A Mr. Magazine™ Invite: Join Me for the Mr. Magazine’s™ Year-End Wrap-Up: Wednesday Dec. 18, 1 PM Eastern Time…

December 17, 2013

Tomorrow, Wed. Dec. 18 at 1 pm eastern, noon central time, I will be reviewing the 2013 launches, highlighting the trends, and shedding some light on the year to come in the wonderful world of magazines. Please be my guest as I broadcast live from my office and feel free to ask me any questions. To register (it is free, but you need to register) please click here.
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Robert Priest and Grace Lee: This is Why we Opted to Launch 8by8 the New Soccer Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Mintue

December 13, 2013

When you hear the names Robert Priest and Grace Lee, the first thing that comes to mind is a great design team. Between the two of them they have designed, redesigned and reinvented an endless number of magazines. But, today, in addition to their design work, they have new titles: Robert Priest, founder and editor and Grace Lee, founder and creative director of a new magazine of their own creation 8by8 magazine.

I asked them to share with me the pleasures of moving beyond design into creating and editing an entire magazine. Their answer is in the Mr. Magazine™ Mintue below:

And watch this space for a more in-depth interview with Robert and Grace about the story of 8by8 magazine soon.

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Necessary, Sufficient and Relevant: The Rodale Publishing Model Finds Success on All Magazine Media Fronts. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Chris Lambiase, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of Rodale

December 11, 2013

Last week, in my introduction to the Mr. Magazine™ Minute with Chris Lambiase, I wrote:

In the midst of the print doom and gloom that some in the media world wants us to believe, one magazine media company, Rodale, has had one of it best years in print yet. Yes, you read that right. In 2013 a magazine media company telling the world that 2013 had been their best year yet.
So, I asked Chris Lambiase, senior vice president and group publisher of Rodale (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention, Runner’s World, among many others), about the secret of Rodale’s success in 2013 and his expectations for 2014.

I knew, one minute with Chris Lambiase was not enough to understand the entire Rodale approach to today’s magazine media publishing… So here is the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Mr. Lambiase and click here to review the Mr. Magazine™ Minute with him.

First the sound-bites followed by the lightly edited transcript of the interview. Enjoy.

The sound-bites:

Picture 21 On why Rodale is enjoying so much success:
I think one of the most important things is that the healthy, active lifestyle is very much in vogue right now. And regardless of the economy, job situation and everything else, it’s a way of life that people are turning to more and more to have a sense of control, of well-being, of health, both physically and psychologically.

On print and digital coexisting at Rodale:

One of the things I think that works so well here at Rodale on the digital front and why it sort of coexists so well with print is that most of the brands that we have surround participatory activities and because of that our digital products whether it’s the website or our apps all lend themselves to the tools that help you live that life in real time. So whether it’s training advice and guidance, a place to store the maps of your runs or rides, a place to log your workout and then take it the next step forward and share it with the community, we’ve established it on our websites.

On whether or not any of the Rodale titles – Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World — would ever go digital only:
No. However, you might see Runner’s World for beginners or more expanded running for women digitally or with cycling for instance, perhaps a website for commuters now that cities are becoming more bike friendly, etc. I think there are all kinds of digital-only ways that we can expand our brands into areas that wouldn’t necessarily be something we would devote an entire magazine or website to.

On the importance of advertising in Rodale titles:

If we have Bicycling magazine with no ads in it, no one would want to read it. They want to look at the ads; they want to look at the gear, the bikes, etc. The same is true for Runner’s World and the same thing is true for Men’s Health and Women’s Health. So many of the advertisers are creating products and marketing them to people that are trying to live a lifestyle and they want to know about what’s out there and what products are there to help live that lifestyle to the fullest. So we’ve done research here and asked our readers point blank what they would think about this magazine if we could serve it up to you without any ads and that’s not what they want.

On predictions for Rodale in 2014:
I think you’re going to see our content find its way to websites for corporations in America, for insurance companies, healthcare provider networks, etc. I think that’s going to become a bigger and bigger part of our business

On another prediction for Rodale in 2014:

Then the other area, and everyone is talking about native advertising, the sort of new form of advertorials and it’s a place that we’ve been actually playing in for a while because again companies realized early on that if they want to talk to our readers they need to come from a position of authenticity.

On what keeps Chris Lambiase up at night:

Seriously, the things that we’re looking at now are how not to rest on the laurels. I think expanding on the events, creating more opportunities to grow through mobile, which you heard this morning somebody announced “We just learned 50 percent of our site users are coming through mobile devices.” And I thought, you haven’t looked down a few lines because you’ll learn that those folks don’t click through to as many pages and there’s an evolution taking place there. So one of the things that keep me up at night is how do we change that dynamic, how do we make our sites where folks visiting us through mobile devices want to stay and have a more enriched experience and thus result in more inventory for us to sell.

On the possibility of any new Rodale titles in the making:
Nothing I can say yet, but I think some of the things we talked about digitally you’ll see.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Chris Lambiase, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of Rodale

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 11.49.45 PM Samir Husni: My first question to you… Why are you up and positive while everybody is down and crying and mourning?

Chris Lambiase: I think it’s a number of things all working in our favor this year. I think one of the most important things is that the healthy, active lifestyle is very much in vogue right now. And regardless of the economy, job situation and everything else, it’s a way of life that people are turning to more and more to have a sense of control, of well-being, of health, both physically and psychologically. It just seems that right now this is becoming more and more of the American way of living — the healthy, active way of living. And you know, no other media company owns it like we do, whether it’s general fitness and exercise like Men’s Health and Women’s Health to more specific things like running or cycling or to really general health and wellness issues like prevention.

No company out there right now has so many brands aligned in the space to offer to marketers in America. And right now it seems to be among marketers a very popular target and you see it everywhere. All advertising has people running, riding — even in automotive advertising, these days it’s very rare you see an SUV that doesn’t have bikes on the roof.

SH: People say digital is taking over yet your print titles are seeing an increase in ads and an increase in revenue. Where do you see this mix between print and digital heading? Do you imagine a day when it will flip flop where print is making a little money and all the money is coming from digital or is this just wishful thinking?

CL: I think that it will continue to grow and I think there will be a day where it represents at least half of our revenue overall, but I think this year is a perfect example of the fact that print is far from dead when you have the right magazines, the right brands. It almost seems to me that this year there was a little bit of a return to the known entity of print media and the quality content of magazines like ours at Rodale.

I think the amount of money that continues to be spent on social media continues to grow and it’s significant but I don’t think it’s working as well as everyone expected it to work five years ago. I believe one of the things that tell me that is the fact that the whole big data industry seems to have grown up around supporting digital marketing and digital advertising because I don’t think it’s actually working as expected. And now we’re seeing this year advertisers that really turned away from print and to digital a while ago are turning back now to print with a digital counterpart.

One of the things I think that works so well here at Rodale on the digital front and why it sort of coexists so well with print is that most of the brands that we have surround participatory activities and because of that our digital products, whether it’s the website or our apps, all lend themselves to the tools that help you live that life in real time.

So whether it’s training advice and guidance, a place to store the maps of your runs or rides, a place to log your workout and then take it the next step forward and share it with the community, we’ve established it on our websites.

So what happens is, and this happened when we were at Smart Money as well because at that time in the 90s investing was such a participatory activity, it became a sport of sorts back in the day and we set up Smartmoney.com to be tools to live the life — to trade, to analyze stocks, to analyze risk, to manage and keep your portfolio and then the magazine was a place where you could get the more thoughtful reads about what Greenspan was thinking and sort of the longer narrative stories behind the stories.

The same thing is happening here now at Rodale. Our magazines are longer form, more thoughtful reads and obviously when people are passionate they can’t wait to get it, they consider it their favorite, they spend close to two hours with it, but then they’re living the life in real time. Every morning they’re logging on, they’re finding out what their workout is for the day, they’re finding out who is meeting where to go for a ride together, they’re communicating with like-minded people and community. It really becomes an excellent companion piece for print and thus they can coexist.

There are some magazines clearly that can go 100 percent digital if they’re news and not necessarily something that a person is participating in.

SH: I did a quick analysis where I looked at all the magazines that are purely digital from ’06 to today. At most they lasted 16-18 months before they disappeared completely or they have become a shadow of their former self. Do you think there is a future for digital without a print component or without print being the mechanism that moves the brand?

Picture 22 CL: That’s a really good question and I think that again it comes down to whether it’s a general news delivery mechanism, which I do, or if it’s something that’s passion-based. I think in the case of an enthusiast title, like a Runner’s World or a Bicycling or a Men’s Health where people are really passionate about it, I believe that it really is a two-part relationship that they have with us, print and digital.

If the magazines went away completely I think the relationship would be cut in half. I think there would be less driving to the web and a big part of their sort of emotional attachment to the brand would be gone. And theoretically they could drift away. So that is a good question.

Now, if it was the Times or the Journal, I think they would do just fine 100 percent digital forever. I think if it’s a second- or third-tier news operation or even in the case of Smart Magazine they shut the magazine and went full time digital and it all went away. Well, there are a lot of other places now. But I think when it’s something again, going back to what you asked me up front “Why us, why this year?” there’s a special bond that we have with our readers with almost every title here and it’s very special.

SH: So I take it you will never see a Men’s Health or Women’s Health or Runner’s World just digital?

CL: No. However, you might see Runner’s World for beginners or more expanded running for women digitally or with cycling for instance, perhaps a website for commuters now that cities are becoming more bike friendly, etc. I think there are all kinds of digital-only ways that we can expand our brands into areas that wouldn’t necessarily be something we would devote an entire magazine or website to.

SH: If that’s the case then how are you only going to support financially those digital-only entities when you have people telling you now we have a Hopper on TV and we can skip all the ads. We have the AdTrap on the mobile and we can plug it in to our Internet and skip all the ads on my mobile phone… And so where do you think as a magazine media institution as a whole; where did we fail in recognizing or understanding the customers who count rather than being in the business of counting customers?

CL: You’re touching on something that really is at the core of Rodale. We consider our customers No. 1. It’s the relationship that we have with them that is the keystone to everything else that we do whether that’s selling magazines or books or DVDs or apps or anything. We have a very devoted following at this point. That’s what I think is really important.

I also think when you have the type of magazines that we have that are fairly vertical and enthusiast-based, advertising becomes a very important part of the content. If we have Bicycling magazine with no ads in it, no one would want to read it. They want to look at the ads; they want to look at the gear, the bikes, etc. The same is true for Runner’s World and the same thing is true for Men’s Health and Women’s Health.

So many of the advertisers are creating products and marketing them to people that are trying to live a lifestyle and they want to know about what’s out there and what products are there to help live that lifestyle to the fullest. So we’ve done research here and asked our readers point blank what they would think about this magazine if we could serve it up to you without any ads and that’s not what they want.

SH: There was a recent study in the UK where they asked people to select their 10 favorite pages from their favorite magazine, three out of every 10 pages were advertisement.

CL: That’s what we’re finding as well. So back to your question, I think the ads at least in our brand, it might not be true everywhere, I think the ads are part of the whole experience.

SH: Can you put your futuristic hat on and predict where we’re headed in 2014?

CL: If you had asked me this a year ago, would I think that 2013 would be a record-setting year for Rodale in print, I would have probably said no. So that is a very, very tough question.

But I think that we are a sort of leading indicator on two things. And one is that the emphasis on health and wellness in the United States is not going away. And whether that’s a healthy, active lifestyle or whether it’s the nuts and bolts and dealing with the expense of dealing with healthcare going forward with the expense of Obamacare and the complications of Obamacare and everything that goes with it and the health care networks that are cropping up and sort of navigating these waters.

I think issues of health, wellness and fitness are going to become more and more important. And more and more people are going to be seeking information and guidance. I think that our magazines will continue to grow both in print and digitally. I think that the demand for our content, which is growing by leaps and bounds, will also continue to grow and become a bigger part of our business.

We’re now talking to insurance companies; we’re talking to health care providers. There’s something that took place with 401Ks back in the 80s that is now taking place with healthcare. It’s being put on Americans’ backs to manage for themselves. And just like the government dictated that companies and investment service companies educate Americans on what to do with their money, I think we’re sort of in the position now where everyone needs to educate their employees and their customers.

So our brands are going to play a bigger role in that advice and guidance business going forward. I think you’re going to see our content find its way to websites for corporations in America, for insurance companies, healthcare provider networks, etc. I think that’s going to become a bigger and bigger part of our business. All the while, print and digital will continue to grow and the magazine itself will continue to stay strong.

Then the other area, and everyone is talking about native advertising, the sort of new form of advertorials and it’s a place that we’ve been actually playing in for a while because again companies realized early on that if they want to talk to our readers they need to come from a position of authenticity. If they’re not Nike or Trek or GNC, I think advertisers have been creating ads that speak to our readers and we’ve been helping create those ads and thus we’ve been sort of on the leading edge of the whole native advertising front.

The thing that we’re discovering over the last couple of years and in particular this year now is that because of the participatory nature of our magazines and our brands, events is another frontier that we’re pushing out now.

You probably saw in our note to you that over 100,000 people have participated in our events this year globally. But in the last couple of months alone in the United States, 50,000 people have participated in Urbanathlon, the Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival, Bicycling Fall Classic and the Prevention R3 Summit in Austin. And again, this works so well for us — it drove about 12 percent of our advertising revenue for this year. We’ve created Rodale Events LLC and we’re putting some further investment in to taking another step in to that business. And that’s interesting because to me that’s the ultimate advertising. We can help our advertisers reach these people literally at the point of sweat.

SH: You’re one of the few VPs, group publishers of a media company in the last, maybe two years that is so positive. So my last question is what keeps you up at night?

CL: I’ve been at this for a long time and I’ve fortunately had mostly good years in my entire career. I was blessed by working at great brands between The Wall Street Journal and Smart Money at that time, but I think you sleep worse after a good year looking down the barrel of a new year. When you have a bad year you kind of have a bad year thinking there’s nothing but up next year.

But seriously, the things that we’re looking at now are how not to rest on the laurels. I think expanding on the events, creating more opportunities to grow through mobile, which you heard this morning somebody announced “We just learned 50 percent of our site users are coming through mobile devices.” And I thought, you haven’t looked down a few lines because you’ll learn that those folks don’t click through to as many pages and there’s an evolution taking place there. So one of the things that keep me up at night is how do we change that dynamic, how do we make our sites where folks visiting us through mobile devices want to stay and have a more enriched experience and thus result in more inventory for us to sell.

SH: Any new magazines in the making?

CL: Nothing I can say yet but I think some of the things we talked about digitally you’ll see. Cycling commuting is taking off…

SH: Thank you.

h1

Creativity, Innovation, Politics, In-Depth Reporting, Great Content, Excellent Design, Ink on Paper, Pixels on a Screen, and Ambition: That, in Short, is the New Politico Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Susan Glasser, Politico Magazine’s Editor.

December 9, 2013

“You know, you may serve audiences with multiple different kinds of approaches that work for them at different points in their day. They read and encounter The New York Times on their mobile phone and it’s different than the paper they consume in print in the morning over their coffee and it’s different than how they read it at work. And I think that’s a great thing.”
-Susan Glasser

politicomagcoverIt may be the “Launch Issue” of Politico magazine, but it looks, reads and feels like a 50th anniversary issue. It’s not everyday a new magazine comes along and captivates me like Politico Magazine did. It feels like an established magazine that has reached its prime. It is already on the top of the mountain.

However the question on how to integrate a print magazine that features long-form journalism and a broad spectrum of topics that appeal not only to the core Washington audience, but also international and non-political readers around the country, into Politico’s already successful repertoire remains editor Susan Glasser’s ambitious goal.

And she uses the word ambitious many times throughout our interview, and with good reason. Giving birth to a political print magazine that’s lofty goal is to become the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, is definitely ambitious, but certainly attainable, especially with the enthusiasm and dedication of Politico Magazine’s Editor, Susan Glasser.

So get ready for an uplifting and energetic conversation as Mr. Magazine™ interviews Politico Magazine’s Editor, Susan Glasser. And enjoy digital/print integration at its best!

But first the sound-bites:


Susan Glasser, POLITICO Magazine staff Nov. 7, 2013. (John Shinkle/POLITICO)On why it took the industry so long to discover digital and print can coexist successfully:
For too long people greeted the rise of the Internet and digital technology in a very zero sum way. The rise of the Internet meant the decline of print. And clearly we have seen the decline of print, but I think Politico is a good example of how we all need to be thinking in a much more – not platform agnostic way, but multiplatform way and reaching audiences in a variety of different ways.

On the genesis behind Politico Magazine:
If Politico’s transparent ambition is to own the Washington conversation and to be the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, to do so I think this kind of content is an important component of that.

On the most pleasant surprise since the magazine’s launch: You know I was very excited about Glenn Thrush’s cover piece in the first issue of the print magazine “Locked in the Cabinet,” a very ambitious piece of reporting with 7,500 words, probably one of the longest stories that Politico has ever run.

On the biggest obstacle the magazine’s launch faced:
Well, this was a very ambitious project that we’re doing with a very small start-up staff. It’s a terrific group of people, but it’s really small. We got this project up and running and we were adding people and throwing them into it as we were hurdling down the path toward launch.

On what keeps her up at night:
Issues number two through the rest of my life. It’s an ambitious project to keep going at this pace and I want for it to keep getting better and better.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Susan Glasser, Editor of Politico


Samir Husni: Politico was one of the first entities from the beginning that was both print and digital and now the magazine. Why do you think it took the industry so long to discover that the two can work together, rather than against each other?

Susan Glasser: I agree with the framing of your question; I mean I totally agree with it, as a matter of fact. For too long people greeted the rise of the Internet and digital technology in a very zero sum way. The rise of the Internet meant the decline of print. And clearly we have seen the decline of print, but I think Politico is a good example of how we all need to be thinking in a much more – not platform agnostic way, but multiplatform way and reaching audiences in a variety of different ways.

I think most publishing companies have moved in that direction and I’m delighted about that. You know, you may serve audiences with multiple different kinds of approaches that work for them at different points in their day. They read and encounter The New York Times on their mobile phone and it’s different than the paper they consume in print in the morning over their coffee and it’s different than how they read it at work. And I think that’s a great thing.

Samir Husni: Earlier in the year Politico Pro was launched and now Politico magazine; can you tell me what the idea is; what’s the genesis behind Politico magazine?

Susan Glasser: I do believe there’s a genuine opportunity after a number of years that people are definitely pulling back and retrenching and not producing as much great ambitious original journalism on big subjects. There’s certainly an opportunity to come in and set up the flag and say in addition to living in the 24 hour news cycle and aiming to drive the conversation there that there are opportunities to do longer, bigger, deeper report-to-projects and magazine articles that exist outside of that news cycle and that exist in a way to set the agenda as well as react to it.

And if Politico’s transparent ambition is to own the Washington conversation and to be the leading, dominant news outlet for coverage of Washington, politics and power-at-large, to do so I think this kind of content is an important component of that. And so it’s a platform for great outside writers and thinkers. The war of ideas is a big part of the daily combat of Washington. You need those outside writers and thinkers and that conversation existing under your umbrella. So that’s one aspect of Politico magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s a day in the life of Susan, especially since you’re updating the magazine every single day?

Susan Glasser: It’s a very ambitious project and we’re just getting used to keeping the plane in the air; now that we’ve built it, we have to fly it. And that’s definitely challenging.

The flip side is it’s great to have such a wonderful and adaptable new tool. I’m so thrilled about the magazine platform that we’ve built on the website. I think it’s beautiful; I think it’s a showcase for big impactful content and big stunning visuals and we’re really trying to signify to readers in every way possible that this is a different environment; this is a new kind of Politico for you to experience. In addition to – you came for all this great news and up-to-the-minute information and agenda-setting beat coverage of Congress, the White House or healthcare, but here is a space where there’s going to be a terrific cover story every day and three or four interesting things to go around it and I think that’s a cool model.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant surprise since you launched the magazine that came your way?

Susan Glasser: You know I was very excited about Glenn Thrush’s cover piece in the first issue of the print magazine “Locked in the Cabinet,” a very ambitious piece of reporting with 7,500 words, probably one of the longest stories that Politico has ever run.

And it turns out that that kind of great journalism filled with new information really cracked the code on the often opaque White House by coming at it from a totally different perspective, that of the cabinet. So I knew it was great journalism, but I was really delighted to see that it broke through as well and really took off with audiences and readers too. That is also one of the most read stories in Politico of the year, with over a million readers. I knew it was a great piece, but it was certainly a surprise to me to see how well it connected with people and how big it went.

Samir Husni: And what was the biggest obstacle you had to face?

Susan Glasser: Well, this was a very ambitious project that we’re doing with a very small start-up staff. It’s a terrific group of people, but it’s really small. We got this project up and running and we were adding people and throwing them into it as we were hurdling down the path toward launch.

Our art director, her very first day and week in the office, was the week that we did a lot of the key work in designing the website. Literally people were saying to each other, “Nice to meet you. What fonts were thinking about?”

So it’s been an incredible amount of work by all of our people.

Samir Husni: One of the things that struck me about the first issue is that it felt as an established magazine and not a newbie. Are you going to be able to maintain that?

Susan Glasser: Well, I certainly hope so. I think that this project is very much about power in politics and in that sense I think there should be an inexhaustible interest in it, not only from core Washington readers but from people around the country for whom these are subjects of great interest and internationally too. So I’m pretty bullish about the prospects.

I think also it’s a great complement to what Politico already does. It reaches not only its core audience, but also people who don’t need the 15 terrific updates about what’s happening in the negotiations in the middle of the government shutdown, for example. But they want to read one or two great pieces a day on that subject.

My hope is that we reach potentially millions of readers for whom, day in and day out, politics is an interest, but not necessarily a necessity and we can do it, while at the same time clearly serving the interests and the needs of our core Washington audience.

Samir Husni: Do you wish that you could have done anything differently with that first issue?

Susan Glasser: Sure, I wish I could have had twice as much time and space. It’s so humbling to have the chance to do something new and to work from the proverbial blank page. Because you immediately realize that could be a paralyzing opportunity. And we didn’t really have the luxury of doing the months and months long version of designing some ideal magazine.

So on one hand I’m sure we could have come up with something better, but on the other hand this was very much a learn-by-doing exercise. And I think the publishing we’re doing every day is fine.

And there are real benefits as well. Seeing what readers respond to, understanding a little about what works and what doesn’t. Being forced to make those millions of small decisions that come up when you actually sit down and go from your theoretical magazine to actually having to put it out. That’s when a lot of the real policy decisions get made, so I hope there was a benefit in just jumping in and getting started on this.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Susan Glasser: Issues number two through the rest of my life. It’s an ambitious project to keep going at this pace and I want for it to keep getting better and better. So of course, I’m worried about how to do that.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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