Archive for March, 2014

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Eating Naked, Living Naked and Adopting the Naked Lifestyle is the Mission of Naked Food Magazine Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Margarita Restrepo. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview

March 24, 2014

New American Kind & Enlightened Diet (NAKED) Shows Us an Organic and Healthier Way to Choose the Foods that We Eat. The Mr. Magazine™ Conversation with Margarita Restrepo, Founder of Naked Food Magazine and Peter Walsh, Circulation Director For the Magazine…

NFM_Spring_Issue_Cover After being born on the web a year ago, Naked Food is going print, with the mission of getting the Naked Concept of life into the hands of more people across the country. Margarita Restrepo is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and along with Peter Walsh, Circulation Director; the two are determined to see this dream become a reality.

After adopting the plant-based diet when her boyfriend was diagnosed with Stage IV brain cancer, Margarita saw a drastic reduction in the growth of the tumor through the food changes they made during the catastrophic experience.

Unfortunately, it was too late to save her boyfriend, but Margarita is now on a mission to teach others and get the information out there that a person’s diet can make a major difference in their overall health and wellbeing with the print edition of Naked Food.

So sit back and get ready to be “Nakedly Enlightened” as you read the Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Naked Food Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Margarita Restrepo and Circulation Director, Peter Walsh.

But first the sound-bites:

Margarita_Restrepo_px On why the print edition and why now: I think the most important part of this whole story is that going through that experience (her boyfriend’s cancer) was extremely difficult, of course. But the most difficult part about it was that there wasn’t really any information that could have actually saved someone’s life or change their future.

On the aspirations and goals for the printed magazine: Of course the goal is to go out there and change the current paradigm that we have in regards to food, nutrition and health. I think that although there may be somewhat similar titles out there, there’s really nothing that will bring food as medicine and food as a tool to prevent and reverse disease.

On the name “Naked Food”: NAKED (New American Kind & Enlightened Diet) refers to foods that have not been tainted and are not toxic with genetically-modified organisms; in other words, the closer the food is to nature, the better it is for you.

On changing the style of the printed cover from the website design: Because not so many people know about the magazine yet, when they see it, there are a lot of people who would have to look into the magazine to see what it is about and I don’t want to turn people off. And sometimes when they don’t know, it’s easier for them to say, well…this is weird or this might be porn with the title, I mean, you never know.

On where they hope the magazine will be a year from now: I think a year from now the Naked concept is going to be a lot more known and I think it’s going to be a popular magazine. I completely believe in it because I know that it’s something that people need to know.

On what keeps Margarita up at night: The one thing that bothers me the most is that we’re trying to survive through a food system that is killing us. And I believe that there has not been a clear voice out there that teaches people why it is so important to choose the right things.

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Margarita Restrepo, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Naked Food Magazine and Peter Walsh, Circulation Director.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on the new magazine. My first question for you has to be why now and why in print?

Peter Walsh: Margarita has a bit of a back story on that – the plant-based diet having been something she studied and is certified for and she also has a bit of a personal story with her boyfriend who contracted cancer, a GBM, which began her quest, the two of them together, of using a plant-based, natural and organic whole food diet to combat his disease. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for him and he passed away. So it’s a mission for Margarita and a passion.

Margarita Restrepo: I think the most important part of this whole story is that going through that experience was extremely difficult, of course. But the most difficult part about it was that there wasn’t really any information that could have actually saved someone’s life or change their future, either reverse a disease or prevent it. There just wasn’t anything widely available.

And although there are a lot of sources on the Internet, as we know pretty much everything and anything is on the web, there’s really not a source that is proven and scientifically factual. And something that people can actually read and trust that has scientific purpose and is backed up by doctors and by evidence. The one thing that I found really difficult when I started this whole journey was the lack of information.

I’m a designer, that’s my background. I’m a designer and I’m in branding and I’ve done that for about fourteen years. My other background is in music and that’s actually what I was doing before this. I had nothing to do with nutrition and I probably knew what the regular Joe knows about nutrition; I knew about calories and not getting fat and that’s all wrong. It’s not about that. If you eat the right things you don’t have to worry about all that. Food can actually be treated as medicine.

I did start the magazine digitally; the magazine has been in digital format for about a year. But not everybody has access to digital, and although, yes, that’s where we’re going, there’s a lot of people, like myself; again, I’m a graphic designer, a web designer and a very good researcher; I love Google, but still when I needed the information to save somebody’s life or at least help them, it wasn’t there.

I think that having the magazine in print is going to allow us to reach out to a wider audience. This is not just for adults. Obesity is a huge problem right now; so it’s for parents, it’s for kids, elders and families. And it’s something that affects our country and our planet. It has a lot of potential to change our healthcare system because I think if we focus on it, it’s something that we can control ourselves and it’s not about healthcare reform.

Peter Walsh: I would add to Margarita’s answer on your question why print and why now. I think that there has been, as she’s done her digital issues and she has the Facebook followings, there has been a certain amount of demand for people who have said we would love to see this in print, the online looks beautiful, but we’d love to see it in print. And that’s kind of where I come in, being an old print guy myself. We will have a digital version and it will be on all platforms, including mobile, and yet, I really believe that, first of all, no one in print is doing exactly what we feel we’re covering editorially and secondly, I am a firm believer that in order to make a go of it and make a profit, to have a sustainable operation, print helps you to monetize the online audience tremendously. And I think a lot of other print publishers would share that opinion. So that’s “why” print.

Samir Husni: I was looking at your launch plan and I noticed that you’re starting very small. What’s your roadmap? Your first issue comes out in April with around 5,500 copies. What’s your roadmap for the future to make Naked Food a talked-about brand and a major brand? There’s a magazine called Clean Eating that you can find on all the newsstands. Is that one of your aspirations; to be everywhere or would you rather keep it limited?

Margarita Restrepo: Absolutely. Of course the goal is to go out there and change the current paradigm that we have in regards to food, nutrition and health. I think that although there may be somewhat similar titles out there, there’s really nothing that will bring food as medicine and food as a tool to prevent and reverse disease. Nothing that is really evidence-based.

There are a lot of magazines out there that will talk about something similar, but it’s really not the same as ours. Naked Food is more of something that people can apply to their lives. Whatever lifestyle they lead, this is something that can help them.

Because it’s a mission-driven endeavor and magazine; I think that the more people know about its actual mission, it’ll grab attention and it’s going to let people understand what it’s all about. And it’s really not something that is about dieting or anything like that; it’s about true health. And it’s already happened and I haven’t done really any advertising or promotion.

Peter Walsh: As someone who helps small publishers, I feel like my role is to avoid the landmines and I quote you all the time because a long time ago, you used to say things when, for example, there would be 850 to 900 new titles to come out in any given year, and after one year 80 percent would be gone. And after the second year 50 percent of the remaining twenty percent would be gone, so that makes a two year attrition rate of 90 percent.

And I don’t know if it still holds true, but I always think about that with regards to small magazines. And I think at the same time what you had said was: what makes a magazine good enough to last the two years and get to long-term growth? And number one is funding, capital. A lot of people get into the magazine publishing business with a great idea, but they don’t have any idea of the capital that is involved in investing for that first year until you turn cash flow neutral in year two and then cash flow positive in year three.

So I feel a large part of my role is a steward and as an experienced magazine guy is to teach my clients like Margarita, what things cost and when you get paid and how much per copy you get paid and how subs work and etc., etc. And knowing how you have to struggle to get advertising the first year; my goal for a publisher like Margarita is basically to run the circulation profitably in the first year.

I tend to advise toward keeping the cover price a little on the high end and we want to know when we’ve broken even and we want to get a high sell-through on the newsstand, so by design we’ve started out with the organic grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts, they’ve given us very nice newsstand orders through one source in Denver. So the standard shot approach and trying to be in every retailer would make you go broke very quickly.

We’re not afraid of the growth and we can scale it and we do have some capital that is available to us; it’s just that we wanted to make sure that we walked before we ran so we didn’t trip.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name; it’s not every day that you’re going to find a magazine with the name naked in it and it has nothing to do with nudity. What does “Naked” stand for and Naked Food as a whole?

Margarita Restrepo: I’m not sure if you know about the Standard American Diet; actually it’s called SAD (Standard American Diet). I’m trying to move away from that and invite people to look at a different plan.

Peter Walsh: And NAKED stands for New American Kind & Enlightened Diet.

Margarita Restrepo: I’m trying to move away from the SAD diet and into the New American Kind & Enlightened Diet, which as Peter said, is what NAKED stands for.

Besides that, NAKED refers to foods that have not been tainted and are not toxic with genetically-modified organisms; in other words, the closer the food is to nature, the better it is for you. And that’s evidence-based fact. The more you eat foods that have not been processed or tainted, the better. Most of our foods are based in petroleum, believe it or not, and actual aluminum. There are so many carcinogens in the foods, it’s just ridiculous. Every day we’re just ingesting toxins.

Naked Food really refers to that. And it teaches and encourages people to make the right choices; for themselves and their families. So NAKED is really a lifestyle. You become acquainted with organic, non-genetically modified foods. And most of the Standard American Diet is an animal-based diet. Everything has butters, oils, creams and fats that are causing our veins to clog, giving people heart attacks and unfortunately cancer feeds off of fats and sugars. So it’s teaching people this: the more the food comes from the ground, potatoes, legumes, vegetables and fruits, the better it is for you.

Unfortunately, when man attempts to create food, there are a lot of things that is added to the food that are dangerous.

Peter Walsh: And it’s profitable for the food manufacturers.

Margarita Restrepo: Yes, it’s about how much money they can make and there are so many different dangers in the food that people are not aware of. This information needs to get out there, so people can make better choices.

Samir Husni: Having said that, I noticed looking at the website, you were really playing on the word “Naked” with the covers that you had. But now with the first print issue, it seems that you’ve decided to go with a more standard food/advocate/celebrity cover approach. Why did you change the style of design from what you had on the web to what you’re doing with the print issue?

Margarita Restrepo: Because not so many people know about the magazine yet, when they see it, there are a lot of people who would have to look into the magazine to see what it is about and I don’t want to turn people off. And sometimes when they don’t know, it’s easier for them to say, well…this is weird or this might be porn with the title, I mean, you never know. And I didn’t want that connotation with the magazine because it’s going to be in Whole Foods, it’s going to be in Barnes & Noble and there are kids there; I didn’t want parents to feel weird about something like the title.

I think the essence of the point stands. In other words, I do want people to understand that, quite honestly, if they eat healthy, they can look great naked, that’s for sure, because that’s what happens. It’s something that occurs naturally. When you eat healthy, you don’t have to worry about being fat or calories; you don’t even have to own a scale and that’s true. I don’t have one, because I don’t need it.

Naked is one of the concepts that apply to a lot of things. It applies to our lifestyle, because you’re getting rid of toxins, chemicals and carcinogens, etc. and you’re also picking better foods and you’re demanding better food, which is going to hopefully help change the food system. And you’re also doing great things for your body. So it all goes together.

Everybody loves the name and everybody gets it. Everybody knows that it’s about clean eating, which is great. We just went a little different with the cover, because we didn’t want to turn anybody off.

Peter Walsh: We have heard from different people about cover treatments. My own opinion is that we don’t want to show just a food or a recipe on the cover because there are a lot of other magazines, like Clean Eating, Eating Well and Allrecipes that are already doing that.

We’ve heard from people who say food on the cover sells well, yet we have a dual mission. Do we want to start out looking like a medical magazine; no, we really don’t. We really feel like the first step of our two-part mission is to introduce people to food that is good-tasting and that you can make, and yes, there are recipes inside.

A core part of what we’re doing is showing that recipes are no longer the traditional recipes; we’re introducing people to a whole lot of food that they’ve never eaten before. And it’s wonderful.

There is a movement out there, the fastest growing supermarket chains in America are the organic ones like Whole Foods and Sprouts. So there is a movement and a trend and we feel like we’re answering that market demand and we’re kind of leading with the food part of it. As to whether there is a celebrity or not; we could have a celebrity on the cover on every issue probably, but I think what we’re going to do is test different covers in different ways. That way we can read the results of what the market is going to react to the best.

Whether it’s a celebrity or a non-celebrity or a close-up of a food dish, or like our current new cover with Laura Prepon, who is kind of our target audience and she has obviously embraced this lifestyle. If you read the article, it’s actually been her salvation, more or less, regarding her own health, which was really pretty poor beforehand and she really raves about how the nutritionist that she was working with introduced her to this type of diet and she is so much healthier because of it.

So, I think that we’re still small and we’re still growing and we still have things that we’re testing and that we want to learn along the way.

Samir Husni: A year from now, if I’m doing this interview with you; what are you going to tell me about Naked Food?

Margarita Restrepo: I think I’m going to tell you: thank you, Samir, for being the first industry interview that made us go everywhere in the market because of something here, hopefully.

Honestly, I think the magazine has had a tremendous growth, even in one year. The magazine started from nothing to what you see today.

I think a year from now the Naked concept is going to be a lot more known and I think it’s going to be a popular magazine. I completely believe in it because I know that it’s something that people need to know, people really need this information and I do know that once somebody knows about it; they can’t wait to tell someone else. They can’t wait to tell their parents and friends, so I think that there is already growth that we’ve seen in a year. And it’s been pretty much word of mouth.

And I also think that now that we’re going to be in stores with a wider approach and a wider audience that the growth is going to double.

So when you interview us again in a year, we’re going to be celebrating success.

Peter Walsh: A year from now we want to thank you when we’re awarded the Title Launch of the Year and we’ll dedicate it to you, Samir.

As the circulation guy on the business side of the equation, I would say that I really am confident that we’re going to run the magazine sensibly and ethically and we’re going to hit circulation milestones and achieve higher circulations. But that’s something you really can’t do the first issue, you have to kind of grow into it and add-on the Safeways of the world and Wegmans and wherever else we end up.

We’re going to grow immeasurably and sensibly. So we feel like we will be adding a much higher milestone in that our advertisers will be getting lots of responses throughout the next year.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Margarita Restrepo: The one thing that bothers me the most is that we’re trying to survive through a food system that is killing us. And I believe that there has not been a clear voice out there that teaches people why it is so important to choose the right things. It’s not just for your body; it’s also for the greater good. And the greater good means sustainable living for everyone around you: the planet, the animals, the trees. It’s just seriously so important, because every time that you choose something that is bad for your body; you’re increasing the potential of damaging our oceans, our soil and our planet in general.

I think that the only way for people to be able to make a sustainable choice is education, just like with everything else in our country. The more that we educate people regarding a more conscious, more enlightened way of living, the better off we’ll be.

It’s a Catch-22 really, because the more you eat these dangerous foods, the sicker you’ll be. Unfortunately, the healthcare system wants you sick because they need your money. If everyone ate really healthy, they wouldn’t be making a lot of money. And if we are to be healthy, we need to stop buying all these crappy foods.

I believe it relies on education, so my goal and my purpose is to empower people with information and have them be instrumental tools themselves for their own life and the planet. I do want to be able to help people in ways that I was not able to help my boyfriend. Unfortunately for me and for him, it was too late. It was a very advanced cancer and in Stage IV when they found it. He only lived eight months after that.

However, when we started the plant-based diet, we did see a reduction of tumor growth. It was unbelievable. That never happens in that kind of cancer, in that particular stage.

So I have seen it with my own eyes, the difference that a diet can make for someone with a deadly disease like cancer. I’m hoping that people can see that and to be honest with you, that does keep me up at night. The more we can get that information out there, the more we can save people and teach them to take control of their health and hopefully keep them around for a long time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014
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Kruschel: A New German Ink on Paper Newspaper For Children. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Editor Eva Fauth.

March 21, 2014

eva fauth Eva Fauth is the editor, project leader of the children’s weekly newspaper Kruschel. I met Ms. Fauth at the WAN/IFRA Printing Summit 2014 in Munich, Germany. We were both invited to speak at the Summit.

Her premise for Kruschel:

Fewer and fewer people read newspapers? Not at all! In “Kruschelland” is different: As more and more children are looking forward to Saturday when the “Kruschel” comes – a newspaper specially for kids!, The Verlagsgruppe Rhein Main (VRM) was the first regional newspaper publisher in Germany to launch, in May 2012, its own subscription newspaper for children on the market targeted at very young readers (7-11 years old). A model that gives courage – because it shows that newspaper reading is again a family affair and children will be the readers of tomorrow.

So, for my benefit and the benefit of my English language reading audience, I asked Ms. Fauth what is the meaning of the name Kruschel? Click the video to listen to her answer:

Then I fired up my usual line of questions regarding print, newspapers, the future, children in a digital age, etc. etc… click the video below to watch my interview with Eva Fauth, editor and project leader of the German Kruschel children’s newspaper:

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Buying Newsweek and Bringing it Back to Print – The Story Behind the Acquisition and the Rebirth of the Printed Magazine. The Mr. Magazine’s™ Interview with Etienne Uzac, Co-Founder and CEO of IBT Media

March 20, 2014

Newsweek on the Stands

“As soon as we purchased Newsweek, we had partners and businesspeople who wanted to work with us and we were open with them and we want this business to grow so we are willing to do deals, we’re willing to grow the brand based on a strong editorial core.” Etienne Uzac

Fresh life has been breathed into Newsweek with its purchase by IBT Media, a global digital news organization founded by Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis. I spoke with one half of the duo while in New York recently, Etienne Uzac who is also CEO of the company, and was met with enthusiasm for his Newsweek team and profitable plans for the future, including their reawakening of the printed edition.

In Uzac’s opinion, there was no reason not to revive the print product as long as it could be done profitably and provide a major service to their customers and he certainly feels as though it can. He knew there were people out there who loved and wanted the magazine back in print and was determined to give the customer what they desired.

The man and his company’s reasons for the purchase and the return to print follow in the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Etienne Uzac, Co-Founder and CEO of IBT Media. So sit back and enjoy Newsweek’s reemergence with a new company, a new future and a whole new leadership vision.

But first, the Mr. Magazine™ Minute with Mr. Uzac answering my question whether he’d rather read Newsweek in print or digital. Click the video to hear his answer:

And now for the Sound-bites:

On why IBT Media bought Newsweek and why they resurrected the print product: There are several reasons we bought Newsweek. The first one is the excellence in journalism that it represents. When we purchased Newsweek we didn’t rule out going back into print. However, we didn’t think we would go back into print this soon.

On their involvement with international editions already in print: Newsweek has had foreign licensed partners. Those are typically in foreign languages and they are complementary to the global/English editions. We currently have about 6 partners and we are planning to continue growing that number this year with partners all around the world.

On their most pleasant surprise since buying Newsweek: I think working with the Newsweek team; I’ve rarely seen this much excitement in the people who work for the brand.

On their major stumbling block: I think as the team grows, as it integrates into a new company, as it integrates with IBT Media, there are technical hiccups sometimes and there are staff hiccups sometimes; I would say it has not been easy, but it has always been moving forward overall.

On his reaction to the media onslaught after the first print issue came out: There was a lot of talk about the cover story and that had a lot to do with editorial. So from a business perspective, I thought that we had a lot of great articles about the launch.

On the future of Newsweek a year from now: I think this passion and the quality of the staff that we have put together will make for really exciting content over the year. And I think it’s going to get better and better.

On whether he prefers to read Newsweek in print or on the app: Personally I prefer the print right now.

On what keeps him up at night: I think making sure that the customer who used the website, who logged into the applications, who subscribed to the magazines, since we’re just launching; they’re experience was great.

And now the lightly-edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Etienne Uzac, co-founder and CEO of IBT Media about his company’s purchase of Newsweek…

Samir Husni: Tell me first about why you decided to buy Newsweek and why did you choose to bring it back to print?

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 3.13.24 AM Etienne Uzac: There are several reasons we bought Newsweek. The first one is the excellence in journalism that it represents. This is something that we want to aspire to for the current Newsweek team and our company as a whole. Newsweek has an amazing history of great journalism, has won many awards and it’s had some of the greatest journalists in America working for the brand. We want to aspire to bring that back into the brand and into the company. It’s a great legacy to aspire to.

Secondly, I would say that Newsweek has an amazing global brand. IBT Media, from its inception in 2006, has always looked at the world to grow and develop. We want to end up making more of our business outside the United States than inside the States in the long run. So we thought that Newsweek was a great way for us to open up doors to meet new partners and that did happen. Since we bought the brand it has opened up a lot of doors internationally and we‘re glad that we bought it.

The third reason is that Newsweek had complementary business models to IB Times and some of our other digital properties. Even up until today, we make over 90 percent of our revenue from digital advertising. We saw in Newsweek opportunities to diversify that; we wanted to diversify that ahead of the purchase of Newsweek, but we thought that by purchasing it we could bring that know-how into the company. So whether it’s subscription revenues or user-based revenues; Newsweek also had foreign-licensing agreements and it also had great syndication deals with big university content aggregators. So it had complementary business models to what we were doing. That’s some of the reasons that we bought Newsweek as a brand.

When we purchased Newsweek we didn’t rule out going back into print. However, we didn’t think we would go back into print this soon. I think what really allowed us to make this decision was one day I essentially asked for the numbers, basically how much would it cost to do a magazine out of curiosity. And I received the numbers; we have a great team of people who work for us either on staff or as consultants.

I got the numbers and I looked at them and was not surprised or shocked by them at all. Because you hear a lot of fear mongering in the market, you hear losses of $20 million dollars, you hear losses of $40 million dollars; if you just read the news you think it’s really scary.

When I looked at the numbers I thought, yes, it’ll cost a few dozen cents to make and distribute, sure; I didn’t expect it to be free. Really, looking at the pricing and the cost of a yearly subscription, distribution and print as well as newsstand; very quickly we were able to see that there was a way for us to become profitable fairly rapidly based on as long as the pricing model made sense.

When we did decide to go to print, we were very clear in our minds that this would not be a loss-leader. That was very clear. We said if we’re going to do print, this is a new platform for us, we have the website and the apps; print is just another platform to reach our audience. There are people out there who do like and want print; we are printing for them, but it has to be profitable.

Samir Husni: One of the things that very few people noticed in the States is that internationally Newsweek did not stop printing; it stopped maybe for 3 weeks before different licensees started printing it in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Are you now involved in the international editions or is this going to be the national and international edition of Newsweek?

newsweek on the shelf Etienne Uzac: The one you’re looking at now is the U.S. edition and we have a sister edition for Europe, the Middle East and Africa that launched at the same time as the one in the States.

We’re also planning later on to launch an Asia/English edition. So you will have, when the Asian edition comes out; you’ll have your Americas/English edition, you’ll have your EMEA/English edition and you’ll have your Asian/Pacific English edition. So those are all owned and operated by us.

Now, as you said, Newsweek has had foreign licensed partners. Those are typically in foreign languages and they are complementary to the global/English editions. We currently have about 6 partners and we are planning to continue growing that number this year with partners all around the world. And they will typically be in their local language to reach their local audience. And they will probably share the majority of the content with us, they will translate it and there will be a portion of that content that we will allow them to produce on their own. So we will co-exist together; the global/English editions and the foreign licensing agreements in each particular country with their own languages.

Samir Husni: What was the most pleasant surprise in all this, from the day you bought Newsweek until today?

Etienne Uzac: I think working with the Newsweek team; I’ve rarely seen this much excitement in the people who work for the brand. I think just working with this team that’s so passionate about the brand and is trying really, really hard to bring back Newsweek to where it once was; we have really great people on staff. I think working together with them and seeing the level of excitement that we have internally and also externally.

As soon as we purchased Newsweek, we had partners and businesspeople who wanted to work with us and we were open with them and we want this business to grow so we are willing to do deals, we’re willing to grow the brand based on a strong editorial core.

So I guess my best surprise has been the level of enthusiasm that this has generated both internally and externally.

Samir Husni: And what was the major stumbling block?

Etienne Uzac: The major stumbling block? I mean, you have growing pains; we started putting out weekly digital issues, so there were technical difficulties putting out on different platforms: the iPads, Kindles and all that. And transferring the assets from the previous owner and making sure that we fulfilled the date of the digital issue on time for the customer that was stressful.

I think as the team grows, as it integrates into a new company, as it integrates with IBT Media, there are technical hiccups sometimes and there are staff hiccups sometimes; I would say it has not been easy, but it has always been moving forward overall. So I wouldn’t say there have been massive stumbling blocks yet.

Samir Husni: Were you expecting when the first issue came out that you were going to be under the microscope and the gates of the media would “open” at you and were you pleasantly surprised by it, were you upset; what was your reaction when you saw the media onslaught?

Etienne Uzac: There was a lot of talk about the cover story and that had a lot to do with editorial. So from a business perspective, I thought that we had a lot of great articles about the launch. I did several interviews and most of the articles turned out very well.

We did get a lot of media attention, but from a business perspective I was pretty satisfied. I thought that it went pretty well.

Samir Husni: If I sit with you here a year from now; what will you tell me about the year in the life of Newsweek?

Etienne Uzac: I think people will really love the content that we produce and I think they will like the vitality of the content that we bring. Again as I said to you; the team is extremely excited about working here. We have experienced editors that have been doing this for the greatest newspapers on the planet; we have junior guys with digital backgrounds; but really they’re all uniting under this desire to have Newsweek really be a strong editorial brand in media.

I think this passion and the quality of the staff that we have put together will make for really exciting content over the year. And I think it’s going to get better and better. We will continue hiring and investing in editorial. I think that we’ll continue revamping and renewing our apps and the website to give the best possible experience to the user. And I think those folks who are really print nostalgic and who like the medium will be very pleased with the quality of the magazine. They will see beautiful paper, design and images that look really, really high definition, great colors on the beautiful advertisements. So people who like print will be really satisfied by the product.

Samir Husni: Which do you prefer to read Newsweek on, in print or on your app?

Etienne Uzac: I prefer the print because I look at a backlit screen 8 hours a day, so I don’t want to go home and read more news on another backlit tablet screen. Personally I prefer the print right now.

Samir Husni: What keeps you up at night?

Etienne Uzac: Just making sure all the nuts and bolts of the subscription process is working flawlessly. I think making sure that the customer who used the website, who logged into the applications, who subscribed to the magazines, since we’re just launching; they’re experience was great. I think this is what I’m most focused on right now. Making sure that everything runs smoothly as the launch continues to extend.

Samir Husni: Thank you.
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Mr. Magazine™ and MagNet: What the Single Copy Magazine Industry Can and Should Learn from the Numbers. An Exclusive Analysis

March 19, 2014

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An ongoing series of interviews with MagNet’s Luke Magerko.

Luke Magerko was a consistent contributor to my blog in 2013. Luke has partnered with MagNet to provide retail analytics for the publishing industry. Today, we pick up our conversation from 2013 and, going forward, MagNet will provide a column every other week highlighting retail analytics.

Why did you partner with MagNet?
MagNet has what I consider to be the most important commodities in the publishing industry: store-level data and experts at analyzing the data.

Has MagNet found anything that will drive sales?
Yes, this week we will unveil a new analysis called Issue Category Standings or “ICS.” The ICS is designed to provide scan-based rapid analysis to help editors grasp which of the competitive titles were most successful in a given time frame.

Don’t publishers have a ranking system for their titles already?
Some publishers have a ranking system but MagNet will be using scan data to provide near real-time updates for the publishing industry. Further, the ICS will provide editors with a Seasonal Performance Index (“SPI) that publishers and editors can use to easily see which magazine performed the best irrespective of sale.

How can you judge a cover “irrespective of sale”?
I understand the theory that sales results determine success, except sales results alone are a terrible predictor. Two examples: One women’s service magazine sells fairly consistently except for the November and December (strong) issues and the January issue (very weak). Most fitness magazines perform poorly in the fall/winter and explode with the “New Year, New You” issue.
Does that mean every woman’s service magazine should have a Thanksgiving motif and every fitness magazine should only focus on “New Year, New You?” Of course not, however if a publisher and editor are only provided sales results, they will never know that one January issue outperformed every other issue in a recent year and that an October fitness issue was in fact the most successful in another year. Our objective is to provide a clean look at every issue so editors can understand their business and their competitors’ business as well.

Do you have an example?

MagNet produced a celebrity ranking for weeks 50 and 51 of 2013 to demonstrate the output (See below). MagNet included overall sell through percentages, the Performance Index (“PI) and the Seasonal PI for the editor’s review.

What is the objective of this program?

MagNet wants to begin a conversation with publishers and editors. We believe we have both the data and the expertise to help publishers and editors understand their businesses better. We do not want to tell the editors what to do but to provide tools to help them better understand and improve their businesses.

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Walk me through the report:
“Efficiency” represents sell-through efficiency and is the basis for traditional performance results. We include it as the baseline for the report. The “Perf Index” is the performance index, a formula comparing one specific issue versus a series of past issues. 1.0 is considered a success. The challenge with looking at this formula exclusively is that a strong or weak seasonal issue can throw off the results.
The Seasonal PI is a formula comparing one specific issue’s performance index versus that same issue in the past. Again, 1.0 is considered a success. Please note issue 51 of Ok! Magazine. The Performance Index of 0.75 would be considered very weak but issue 51 is traditionally weak, therefore the Seasonal PI is 0.99. This demonstrates that issue 51 is not nearly as bad as the editor might think.

But People probably sold more than all the competitors and wasn’t the winner?

Correct but that is the point. By creating the index, an editor can quickly surmise how their title performed compared to other titles without directly comparing sales. Sales, as any newsstand pro will tell you, is a function of many things: store count, checkout pockets, etc. MagNet addresses that with the seasonal performance index.

What is the schedule for rollout?
In two weeks, we will begin the ICS competition, highlighting results from different categories and having a 2014 cover awards issue at the beginning of 2015.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014.
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When in Comes to Ads, Ad Agencies, and Ad Sales Today, Mad Men Don’t Exist: The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Stephen Davis and James G. Elliott

March 18, 2014

Advertising Sales and Ad Agencies today are nothing like what you see on Mad Men. In an exclusive interview with Steve Davis, president, SRDS & Healthcare Research at KANTAR Media and Jim Elliott, president and founder of the James G. Elliott Co., Inc., Mr. Davis and Mr. Elliott explain to Mr. Magazine™ the reasons behind their research and the major findings of their recent study dealing with ad sales and advertising.

The study was conducted and analyzed earlier this year. The findings are based on invitations that were sent to 4000 individuals and agencies with access to one of the many SRDS databases. Participants who completed the study were given an incentive. A total of 204 individuals responded before entry was cut off. It was a five-page questionnaire done online. Both the research director of SRDS and the James G Elliott Company worked in tandem on the mechanics of this study.

Click on the video below to watch my interview with Mr. Davis and Mr. Elliott and to download the entire study from SRDS click here or click here to download the study from the James G. Elliott website.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014.

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Reader’s Digest: A Return to Yesterday, But in a Fresh New Way…The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Liz Vaccariello, Editor-in-Chief

March 17, 2014

“We wanted to return Reader’s Digest to what it had always been for most of its 90 year history and that is a place for reading…” Liz Vaccariello

liz Reader’s Digest, the magazine, has underwent a major revamp last January and has brought back some old favorites, while reveling in a more compelling and modern presentation for its readers. So the audience can still enjoy “coming home” to the magazine they’ve always loved, but also appreciate a fresher design and concept.

The ever smiling, laughing, energetic Liz Vaccariello is Vice President, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Officer of Reader’s Digest and while she loves the fact that readers have identified with the magazine for decades, to say she is excited and thrilled by the changes that have taken place at the magazine would be an understatement. Liz feels the fresh look of the magazine will attract a whole new demographic without losing the old one.

From a new logo which puts emphasis on the word “Reader’s” to putting the table of contents back on the cover; the magazine is proving that yesterday can still be enjoyed in today’s contemporary world and in the most fascinating of ways.

I visited with Ms. Vaccariello in her office in New York City and engaged with her in a conversation about Reader’s Digest, magazines in general, and the future of mass general interest magazines in this digital age.

So before you sit back and enjoy our conversation, watch her answer about the need for a mass general interest magazine today and then read the Mr. Magazine’s™ conversation with Liz Vaccariello.

And now for the sound-bites:

On her manifesto for the new Reader’s Digest: We wanted to return Reader’s Digest to what it had always been for most of its 90 year history and that is a place for reading. We wanted to say to the reader that we’re curators of interesting stories that are of lasting interest.

On cutting advertising and how long that will be sustainable: Our owners have invested huge sums in 2014 in a consumer ad campaign. Our demographic has gotten older and it’s because we’ve been marketing to the same gene pool for the last 20 years.

On connecting with a new demographic and shedding the image of “our parents” magazine and is that important for the future: I am very glad you said that. If our biggest problem in a consumer’s mind or our biggest challenge is their mother loved it; I can overcome that problem, because they associate us with their family home.

On feedback from the redesign and what the magazine has done over the last three months: This is a three inch thick binder that we went to Kinko’s and had made, double-sided, sever-point type; these are the letters that I received personally from readers, from January 1st to March 1st, so 60 days’ worth of letters, hundreds of letters; I’d say 85 to 90 percent of them simply thanking me.

On where she feels the magazine will be a year from now: Already our renewals and our insert cards are wildly over-budget and up year over year. So hopefully, next year I will have a story about huge consumer marketing success and reader growth and attention and buzz.

On what keeps her up at night: So what keeps me up at night is that I haven’t done this reader, many of whom have been with us for decades, and I value every single one of them, that I haven’t done this reader justice

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Liz Vaccariello, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Officer of Reader’s Digest…

Samir Husni: Reader’s Digest is witnessing yet another revival. The magazine, since January, has seen an uplift in sales, circulation, design and overall looks. Some people feel there is a touch of the old with a new life, rather than a woman’s magazine. What’s your manifesto for the new Reader’s Digest?

photo-5 Liz Vaccariello: We wanted to return Reader’s Digest to what it had always been for most of its 90 year history and that is a place for reading. So everything we did from the change in the logo, where we amplified the word “Reader’s” to the streamlined design that’s much simpler and just highlights the written word, bigger iconic photography as opposed to little bits and pieces, to the table of contents on the cover; we wanted to say to the reader that we’re curators of interesting stories that are of lasting interest. And we’re going to make you laugh, we’re going to teach you something you didn’t know and we’re going to inspire you.

And the reason for it was because the whole company is about attending to the customer first. And that’s why we went with the premium advertising model. Our readers had complained that there were too many advertisements in the magazine and too many of them in the front of the book. So we now have a premium ad model where we said, OK, we’re going to put fewer ads in, but we’re going to charge more.

So everything we did was through the lens of looking at the customer, but also asking what makes us different? What makes the consumer need Reader’s Digest today? And the reasons are the same as they were in 1938 or 1948; you want something in your home that is an oasis from the snark, the pessimism, the partisanship and the celebrity cacophony that is our media landscape today with the 24 hour news channels and entertainment news. Reader’s Digest is an oasis from all that and it’s a place to quietly read and feel good.

Samir Husni: Do you think you’re putting your money where your mouth is when you say you’re cutting on advertising and how long can you sustain that?

photo Liz Vaccariello: We’ve done a number of things that have, to use your words, put our money where our mouth is. First of all, a year ago we went from 10 times a year to 12 times a year because many of our customers still didn’t understand why a magazine was showing up 10 times a year, it needed to be monthly.

That’s number one; number two is many of our readers are older and they complained about the paper. The paper had not only a glare because it was glossy, but it was also hard, it had an awkward finger-feel, it was hard for many of them to turn the pages. So we invested over a million dollars in this new paper stock.

And number three is our owners have invested huge sums in 2014 in a consumer ad campaign. Our demographic has gotten older and it’s because we’ve been marketing to the same gene pool for the last 20 years. We haven’t told the next generation of homeowners or head of households who would want a Reader’s Digest that we’re still around.

The first question that I get asked often when I tell people that I’m the editor of Reader’s Digest; the first thing that they say is “Oh, my parents got it when I was growing up. I loved that magazine. It was a part of my home growing up.” Which is lovely, but then you hear, “But I didn’t know it was still around,” because they can’t find it at retail and because we haven’t marketed it to new consumers. So that’s the third leg of this; our board is investing in a consumer marketing campaign.

Samir Husni: On the editorial and design side; what’s your secret to connecting with a new demographic? How are you going to shed this image of: that was my parents’ magazine? And is there anything wrong with being my parents’ magazine?

Liz Vaccariello: I am very glad you said that. If our biggest problem in a consumer’s mind or our biggest challenge is their mother loved it; I can overcome that problem, because they associate us with their family home.

photo-2 When I interviewed President Barack Obama in the Oval Office; the first thing he said to me was when he was growing up his grandfather used to rip out “Laughter is the Best Medicine,” rip out the jokes in Reader’s Digest and give them to the President when he was a child.

So we have this heritage of sharing among family members down through generations. I don’t care if our readers are 95, 65, 45 or 15 years old; I get letters from all of them. We’re not a demographic; we’re a psychographic. And for people who want stories that are inspiring and uplifting, a little bit of humor that’s family-friendly and service that’s surprising, that they’re not going to find anywhere else, really the best of service, delivered in a package, we find the best of the best, in an easy-to-read format and an easy-to-hold format; that’s ageless.

Samir Husni: Being the journalist who always scans the desks of people he interviews; I see a big binder here with feedback on the redesign and what you’ve done in the last three months…

Liz Vaccariello: This is a three inch thick binder that we went to Kinko’s and had made, double-sided, sever-point type; these are the letters that I received personally from readers, from January 1st to March 1st, so 60 days’ worth of letters, hundreds of letters; I’d say 85 to 90 percent of them simply thanking me. Thanking me for taking these steps, fewer ads, better paper, wider and thicker paper. And bringing back even more of their favorite columns: News from the World of Medicine, You Be the Judge, Points to Ponder; putting some of the more serious and thoughtful pieces in the front of the magazine as opposed to all the food for advertisers.

Just thanking us and saying my old Reader’s Digest is back in a fresh way. How many editors get thousands of letters? I feel so gratified and humbled, that I keep this next to me to remind myself.

Samir Husni: If I’m interviewing and asking you about the magazine, a year later; what will you tell me?

Liz Vaccariello: Hopefully, I’ll tell you that so far, knock on wood, the first three issues at newsstand are scanning an average of 30 percent higher than last year. So already we’re getting attention at the newsstand.

Already our renewals and our insert cards are wildly over-budget and up year over year. So hopefully, next year I will have a story about huge consumer marketing success and reader growth and attention and buzz.

Samir Husni: What keeps Liz up at night?

Liz Vaccariello: This may sound strange, but this is like a little miracle. Every 30 days I know the blood, sweat and tears that goes into every picture, every caption and story, the right mix of stories. And what keeps me up at night is; I’ll wake up at 4 a.m. and have doubts about a headline in an issue that’s about to go to press or the lead isn’t quite right.

So what keeps me up at night is that I haven’t done this reader, many of whom have been with us for decades, and I value every single one of them, that I haven’t done this reader justice. That I haven’t done a good enough job. That I haven’t delivered the joke that’s the funniest or that I’ve done something that could offend them.

If that’s striving for perfection, well…I’m a Type A person, but you can never make a perfect magazine; it’s why I don’t golf, you can never master golf, right? You can never master a magazine. So I live in a constant state of worry that it could be better.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2004
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Traditional American Newsstands Are Dying … So What?

March 14, 2014

husni20143 A Mr. Magazine™ Opinion

Another traditional newsstand shuts down in America. This time it’s One Stop News in Washington D.C. For 25 years it served as a haven for print editions, plopped supremely in its location just blocks from the White House.

For years now, we’ve been hearing how changing American habits, namely the encroachment of everything digital and society’s embracing of it, has slowly been choking the life out of all the traditional newsstands across the country. And maybe, to certain extents that claim holds a merit of validity.

However, it is more to the point to say that changing societal trends and factors that we hadn’t counted on years earlier play a bigger role in the traditional newsstand’s demise.

When I first came to the United States in 1978, newsstands, almost without exception, shared the retail space with tobacco shops. Whether it was in downtown Denton, TX, Columbia, MO or Memphis, TN. Those stores sold any number of tobacco products along with their print offerings. From cigars to cigarettes; tobacco and print at the newsstands went hand in hand. Most of the magazines at those traditional newsstands were sex magazines, or as they were known at that time men’s sophisticate titles.

Of course, in today’s world and with what we know about the dangers of smoking and tobacco products, most people refrain from what was freely enjoyed decades ago. And that’s a good thing.

Sex sold on the newsstands too in days gone by, and it sold a lot. Those newsstands were in fact the only place that offered, displayed and sold tens of different sex titles. In the last twenty years alone new launches for sex magazines declined from a high of 110 titles a year to a mere four titles. Quite a drop when you consider the content at most traditional newsstands across the country relied on sex and tobacco for a large part of their consistent revenue.

Small Mom & Pop newsstands have felt that decline for years and rightly so. And with non sex magazines being sold in other venues, department and grocery stores everywhere; the combination doesn’t make for much of a future for the traditional corner newsstands.

So to blame American audiences for turning to digital as the only reason newsstands are shutting down is not only a misinformed outlook; it’s also completely untrue.

The real question today is not whether digital is killing the traditional newsstands, but rather is there a need for a traditional newsstand?

With sex reigning king and queen (and free of charge) on the web and all tobacco products, with no exceptions, being a danger to your life, the real surprise is not that yet another newsstand is shutting down, but rather why are those newsstands still in business today?

The only hope in this slow demise of yet another American institution is that digital natives and immigrants alike will continue to know the true joy of standing in front of an array of printed material at supermarkets and grocery stores with that wide-eyed feeling of excited expectancy as they discover something they never knew they were looking for until then. Of course, this adventure now has to be sans-sex and sans-tobacco! Who can say that this is a bad thing? No one indeed!

The traditional newsstand is dead. Long live the new newsstand.

So stop crying, wake-up, and smell the roses. There are much better places to browse and to buy magazines at the nation’s state-wide retail stores. Go buy a magazine, relax, grab a glass of wine or iced tea and let the reading begin. Enjoy the weekend. It is much better with a magazine or two in your hands. All the best.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, 2014
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