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Southern Living Magazine: Putting The “Southern” Back Into The Brand As The Magazine Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sid Evans, Editor-In-Chief & Ron King, Publisher, Southern Living

December 23, 2015

“No, I don’t see that day in my lifetime. I think that the bond that we have with our audience is really extraordinary. It’s remarkably strong. And don’t get me wrong; we have a very diverse business and we’re being very aggressive about what we’re doing in the digital space and what we’re doing in terms of video and in brand extensions and new businesses and in books. But our readers love the print magazine and we hear from them all of the time asking us to never do anything to the print magazine.” Sid Evans (on whether he can envision a day when Southern Living does not have a printed magazine)


“The excitement that comes and builds on Instagram and all of the posts that we re-Gram, the day the issue arrives; these consumers stage little photo shoots the day their magazine gets there because it is their time, when they’re online looking for recipes, that’s not me-time, that’s family-prep time. They’re working. When they sit down to go through Southern Living magazine that is time that they’ve decided to set aside for them every single month. They really lose themselves in the pages of Southern Living and I can’t think of a better time for advertisers to reach them than during their me-time.” Ron King (on the advantage of having a printed magazine in this digital age)

Picture 23 The South has always been a place steeped in good food, beautiful homes, glorious landscapes and a culture that is both magnetic and unexplainable. Much like the magazine that epitomizes “Southern Living” to the hilt.

In 2016 Southern Living celebrates its 50th anniversary of personifying its regional namesake: the South. The largest issue ever, since May 2008, will be on sale in February 2016, and both Sid Evans, editor-in-chief and Ron King, publisher, are as doubly excited as the colossal double issue will make its readers.

I spoke with Sid and Ron recently and we talked about the enormous responsibility they both have when it comes to leading the country’s largest regional magazine, and one of the largest publications period in the United States, into the future. It is a passionate duty they both welcome and look forward to with excitement and a clear vision of where their powerful brand is heading.

We spoke about the legacy of the magazine, its generational rite of passage attraction to its audience, and the powerful footprint it has in the future, both digitally and in print. It was an enlightening and illuminating conversation about a giant brand that remains intimately connected to its audience, even though its reach is all-encompassing.

So, grab a glass of sweet tea and relax for a moment in your front porch swing, wherever that might be, and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with two southern gentlemen who love their very own style of “Southern Living.”

But first, the sound-bites:


Sid Evans portrait.

Sid Evans portrait.

On whether the powers-that-be 50 years ago could have predicted the success of Southern Living magazine today (Sid Evans): I don’t think that they could have predicted how big an idea they had. I can tell you that they had a lot of confidence in what they were doing when they founded the magazine. But I don’t think that they realized the impact or the longevity or the resonance that it would have with southern consumers.

On whether the powers-that-be 50 years ago could have predicted the success of Southern Living magazine today (Ron King):
I think it was launched by some very smart people, but I think it was happy coincidence. They just did it right. Looking back, it’s very easy to understand why it’s been so successful. One of my favorite stories to tell advertisers in the market is actually why the magazine was launched. What was going on in the south 50 years ago was not good and there were a group of businessmen who got together and agreed that what was going on wasn’t good. But they knew that there were a lot of good things about the south that were not being talked about in the media then. So, they thought about how they could inform people and give them a forum to celebrate the things that were good about the south during those trying times.

On whether Sid feels a different type of editorial responsibility at Southern Living than he did at Garden & Gun or Field & Stream or any of the other magazines that he’s worked on (Sid Evans): I always like to say that this is not our magazine, this is their magazine. Southern Living was built on the backs of the readers and their recipes; their homes and their gardens. It’s really about them.

On whether Ron feels, as a publisher, Southern Living is where he wants it to be at this point in time (Ron King):
One is I’m a southern boy; I think that’s important too. I was born and raised in Arkansas. And I’m a publisher, so I’m greedy. It’s never quite enough. We just closed our February issue, which is our actual 50th anniversary issue; Sid has made it a commemorative issue. And it is the largest revenue-producing February issue in the 50-year history of Southern Living. Even in the heyday of magazines where we couldn’t take the insertion orders off of our fax machines fast enough, we have beaten that February. And if you look beyond February issues, at all issues; it’s the largest issue since May 1996.

On the thought that print is dead and advertisers are fleeing from the medium (Ron King):
Southern Living’s business is a very healthy mix of both consumer revenue and advertising revenue. A lot of brands in the industry don’t have that mix scaled quite correctly. Our consumers love our magazine and they don’t unsubscribe because it is their connection to the south. So, it is not the first thing that goes when they look at their discretionary spending. We gave very strong consumer revenue and we have one of the healthiest pink sheets in the industry.

-1 On what Sid can reveal about the upcoming 50th anniversary commemorative issue (Sid Evans):
I can’t reveal too much, but I can tell you a few things about it. First of all, it’s a double issue, so it’ll have twice as many pages as a typical issue. Secondly, it really is a celebration of the south. That’s the theme of the issue. And we wanted to recognize all of the extraordinary things that are happening in southern culture right now.

On whether Sid can envision a day when Southern Living isn’t a printed entity (Sid Evans):
No, I don’t see that day in my lifetime. I think that the bond that we have with our audience is really extraordinary. It’s remarkably strong. And don’t get me wrong; we have a very diverse business and we’re being very aggressive about what we’re doing in the digital space and what we’re doing in terms of video and in brand extensions and new businesses and in books. But our readers love the print magazine and we hear from them all of the time asking us to never do anything to the print magazine.

On the advantage to having a printed magazine in this digital age from an editorial viewpoint (Sid Evans):
I think one of the things that I love about the print magazine is just the sense of discovery. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s always a pleasant surprise. And it’s not the same thing in digital. You go onto the website and you’re looking for something; you’re usually looking for a specific thing. With the print magazine, it’s a surprise every month. And it’s a pleasant surprise.

Ron King 2[1] On the advantage to having a printed magazine in this digital age from an advertising standpoint (Ron King):
I think the engagement is what the advertisers really want. The term that I hear most used when I’m in market is the idea of “me time.” So, what we know about our consumer is that she lives a busy, busy life and she’s pulled in a million different directions. There’s a particular time that’s very important to her and it’s getting her kids on that school bus, wrapping up her errands, grabbing her Southern Living and sitting down with it, and going through it cover to cover.

On the biggest challenge that Ron has faced since he took the job as publisher (Ron King):
For me, the biggest challenge that I’ve faced since rejoining the brand a little over three years ago was turning our revenue around. We were on the exact same revenue trajectory as the other brands in the industry. But we stopped it and in fact, reversed it and that took a lot of work and was a much longer process than I thought it would be.

On the biggest challenge that Sid has faced since he took the job as editor-in-chief (Sid Evans):
I think in the same way; we had to rebuild some trust with our consumers. We had made some decisions years ago to try to make Southern Living more generic in an effort to broaden the audience. And it had the opposite effect. It was resisted by our readers who felt that we had perhaps abandoned our southern mandate for a time. And this didn’t go on for very long, but there was a period of experimentation there and it was a failed experiment. What I had to do after that was to try and put the southern back in Southern Living and to make sure that we rebuilt that trust and that bridge that we had with our consumers; that everything in this magazine is going to be southern to the core.

On future plans for Southern Living to stay relevant and current with print, digital and any other brand extensions (Sid Evans): I could say that we’ve had extraordinary success in terms of digital growth. And we have a very engaged digital audience that’s growing by leaps and bounds. We’re also rolling out a much-improved website in January in sync with our 50th anniversary. We’re going to be very focused on mobile, of course. And we’re also very focused on video. Video has been one of the most exciting new mediums that we’ve been working with. Our consumers respond to it very powerfully and I think that’s going to be a big focus for us going forward.

On future plans for Southern Living to stay relevant and current with print, digital and any other brand extensions (Ron King):
Beyond the magazine and beyond the website, you can buy more than 600 different Southern Living branded products in Dillard stores across the South. You can stay in Southern Living hotels; you can hire a Southern Living custom builder to build your Southern Living house plan and live within a Southern Living-inspired community. You can landscape Southern Living plants from the Southern Living plant collection, so we are exactly as your question stated; our consumer is everywhere, all-encompassing. And we are meeting her at as many of those points as possible.

On the new Southern Living test kitchens (Sid Evans):
We have incredible new test kitchens. It’s called the Time Inc. Food Studios and is based here in Birmingham. We have 35,000 sq. ft. of test kitchens and photo studios and a video studio. There are a dozen photo studios and 28 kitchens and a state-of-the-art video facility. Food has always been the core franchise for Southern Living. This magazine and this brand were built on the power of its recipes; the reliability of its recipes; the fact that our recipes always work every time; that you can serve them for company and you know that it’s going to work.

On what either of them would be doing if someone showed up at their house unexpectedly in the evening (Ron King):
The truth is I work all day; I go home, do a little bit of exercise and I start working again.

On what either of them would be doing if someone showed up at their house unexpectedly in the evening (Sid Evans):
I might be playing my guitar very badly. (Laughs)

On what motivates them to get out of bed in the mornings (Ron King):
We come in and we work really hard every day and we have such an amazing team and so to see this team working as hard as they do and seeing the results, because unfortunately, so many times in life we work really hard and we don’t see the results. And their passion for this brand is contagious. And that feeling that we have created the culture at Southern Living and that it is a very special culture. And I am aware that it may not always be this way in my career.

On what motivates them to get out of bed in the mornings (Sid Evans):
I’m very lucky to work with an extraordinary team and there is a great surprise in store from my team every day. There are so many ideas flowing through this place that it just makes it very exciting to walk through the door. And I still get a great charge out of seeing an amazing picture or reading a great story or even seeing a great headline. And I also get a great charge out of having a successful video that gets 20 million views.

On what keeps them up at night (Ron King):
I feel a lot of responsibility for this team and it’s a recurring thing that you’ve heard Sid and I talk about, our products and our teams are first. So, are we doing enough and working hard enough to create a brand that will keep these team members employed and engaged and happy with their work life for the next decade?

On what keeps them up at night (Sid Evans): I worry about the main things like numbers, budgets and hitting our targets in terms of traffic, but I think what really keeps me up at night is making sure that I’m keeping the consumers happy. I thrive on feedback from them. That’s my life’s blood and what keeps me going. And it’s also what keeps me awake at night; thinking about have we done the right thing; have we put together the 50th anniversary issue that they’re going to be just ecstatic about? And I think we have.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Sid Evans, Editor-In-Chief & Ron King, Publisher, Southern Living Magazine.

Samir Husni: When Southern Living began; do you think anyone could have predicted that it would become the powerful magazine that it is today; the largest regional magazine in the country and one of the largest magazines period in the United States? Do you think anybody thought that Southern Living would be around and still publishing when it began 50 years ago?

Picture 21 Sid Evans: I don’t think that they could have predicted how big an idea they had. I can tell you that they had a lot of confidence in what they were doing when they founded the magazine. But I don’t think that they realized the impact or the longevity or the resonance that it would have with southern consumers.

Ron King: I think it was launched by some very smart people, but I think it was happy coincidence. They just did it right. Looking back, it’s very easy to understand why it’s been so successful.

One of my favorite stories to tell advertisers in the market is actually why the magazine was launched. What was going on in the south 50 years ago was not good and there were a group of businessmen who got together and agreed that what was going on wasn’t good. But they knew that there were a lot of good things about the south that were not being talked about in the media then. So, they thought about how they could inform people and give them a forum to celebrate the things that were good about the south during those trying times.

And so they launched a magazine that’s all about celebration. And all of the editors since then, all the way up to Sid, focus on celebrating the south. And so we are a very positive and very specific message across five different pillars and our consumer is an exceptional consumer.

I recently gave a presentation talking about the 16 million women who read this magazine. And they don’t read this magazine just because they’re magazine readers. And they subscribe to a list of six or seven magazines and we’re one of them. They are southerners and Southern Living is their connection to this culture that’s so important to them.

So, it’s very easy to understand its success and to look back and say, well of course we’ve been around for 50 years and we have decades ahead of us, although the platforms will be changing. We have decades ahead of us staying connected to our consumers. But I don’t know if they exactly knew that when they launched it.

What they did know was that there was a change happening in the south. They were very prescient because they recognized that there was a migration happening from the rural areas into the cities. People were leaving their farms and they were moving into the cities and the suburbs. And all of those people needed guidance; they needed ideas about how to improve their homes; how to cook; how to take care of their gardens and their yards. There was a vacuum there. There was nothing for them and Southern Living stepped into that place at just the right time.

Samir Husni: Sid, as a southerner yourself; how big does the responsibility feel on your shoulders to be creating and editing a magazine that reaches 16 million women readers, as Ron said? Or does it feel the same as when you were editing Garden & Gun or Field & Stream, or any of the other magazines that you’ve worked on? Do you feel a different type of editorial responsibility at Southern Living?

Sid Evans: I always like to say that this is not our magazine, this is their magazine. Southern Living was built on the backs of the readers and their recipes; their homes and their gardens. It’s really about them. It’s always been a reflection of who they are and I feel like my job is to make sure that reflection is accurate. As long as the magazine is about them, I feel like that connection really stays strong.

Samir Husni: And Ron, with all of the changes that have taken place at Southern Living over the years; as a publisher, do you feel that the magazine is where you want it to be at this point in time?

Ron King: Two things. One is I’m a southern boy; I think that’s important too. I was born and raised in Arkansas. And I’m a publisher, so I’m greedy. It’s never quite enough, but I’m very proud of where we are as a business.

We just closed our February issue, which is our actual 50th anniversary issue; Sid has made it a commemorative issue. And it is the largest revenue-producing February issue in the 50-year history of Southern Living. Even in the heyday of magazines where we couldn’t take the insertion orders off of our fax machines fast enough, we have beaten that February. And if you look beyond February issues, at all issues; it’s the largest issue since May 1996. We are doing a really good job. It’s never quite enough for me, but we’re doing a really good job.

Samir Husni: But I thought that print is dead and advertisers are fleeing from it as fast as they can?

Ron King: Unfortunately, for some brands that is true. But in a recent meeting, we talked about that very subject and we’re very fortunate at Southern Living; Sid is a great leader on the editorial side and I’m a great leader on the publishing side and we both have amazing teams that we support. But the product and the consumer are the reasons that we’re so successful.

Southern Living’s business is a very healthy mix of both consumer revenue and advertising revenue. A lot of brands in the industry don’t have that mix scaled quite correctly. Our consumers love our magazine and they don’t unsubscribe because it is their connection to the south. So, it is not the first thing that goes when they look at their discretionary spending. We gave very strong consumer revenue and we have one of the healthiest pink sheets in the industry.

On the advertising side, Southern Living performs a function on a media plan that not a single other magazine in publishing can do. And that is filling in and bringing unduplicated eyeballs, 60 million southern consumers into a national media plan. So, very rarely do we say that Southern Living should be the only magazine on your media plan. But we do say that you do not have a truly national print media scope without Southern Living. And we have the U.S. Census data and pink sheet data to prove it.

We do something that nobody else does. Our magazine is the best it’s ever been and our consumers are very loyal and engaged consumers. And that is really our recipe for success.

Samir Husni: Sid, can you give me a preview of the 50th anniversary issue? What can you reveal about the commemorative issue?

Sid Evans: I can’t reveal too much, but I can tell you a few things about it. First of all, it’s a double issue, so it’ll have twice as many pages as a typical issue.

Secondly, it really is a celebration of the south. That’s the theme of the issue. And we wanted to recognize all of the extraordinary things that are happening in southern culture right now. The south is really going through a kind of renaissance and you see it in the emergence of southern food, in the exciting things that are happening in the cities, in the creative communities and design communities. There’s just an explosion of interest in southern culture right now. And I wanted this issue to reflect that and how exciting it is to live in the south right now.

But we also wanted to take a moment to look back at our history. You know, Southerners are obsessed with our history and our past. So, we had a lot of fun digging through the archives, pulling out some of our best recipes ever and revisiting some of our favorite places.

And we also poked a little fun at ourselves as well. We have a story called “Bless Our Hearts” where we went back and looked at some of our more embarrassing moments and some of the things that we regretted doing. And that was one of the more fun stories that we worked on in the issue.

Samir Husni: Can you envision a day when we don’t have Southern Living in print?

Sid Evans: No, I don’t see that day in my lifetime. I think that the bond that we have with our audience is really extraordinary. It’s remarkably strong. And don’t get me wrong; we have a very diverse business and we’re being very aggressive about what we’re doing in the digital space and what we’re doing in terms of video and in brand extensions and new businesses and in books. But our readers love the print magazine and we hear from them all of the time asking us to never do anything to the print magazine.

There’s a visceral connection that they have and it really crosses generations. That’s been a big secret to our success. You have people passing this magazine down from one generation to the next. You have mothers passing it down to their daughters; it’s almost a rite of passage. When you’re getting married or buying your first home; you get a subscription to Southern Living. And that’s a really profound tradition in the south and I don’t see that going away. And I don’t see any softness in their response to the print magazine.

Samir Husni: From an editorial point of view, what’s the power of print? What’s the advantage to having a printed magazine in this digital age?

Picture 20 Sid Evans: I think one of the things that I love about the print magazine is just the sense of discovery. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s always a pleasant surprise. And it’s not the same thing in digital. You go onto the website and you’re looking for something; you’re usually looking for a specific thing. With the print magazine, it’s a surprise every month. And it’s a pleasant surprise.

It’s also the mood that the reader is in when they’re looking at the print magazine. I think they’re relaxed and open to new ideas and the excitement of seeing a new recipe or a decorating idea that they had never considered.

Samir Husni: And Ron, what about from an advertising standpoint; what is the advantage in having a printed magazine?

Ron King: I think the engagement is what the advertisers really want. The term that I hear most used when I’m in market is the idea of “me time.” So, what we know about our consumer is that she lives a busy, busy life and she’s pulled in a million different directions. There’s a particular time that’s very important to her and it’s getting her kids on that school bus, wrapping up her errands, grabbing her Southern Living and sitting down with it, and going through it cover to cover.

And we hear it every single month in a variety of different ways, even on Instagram. The excitement that comes and builds on Instagram and all of the posts that we re-Gram, the day the issue arrives; these consumers stage little photo shoots the day their magazine gets there because it is their time, when they’re online looking for recipes, that’s not me-time, that’s family-prep time. They’re working. When they sit down to go through Southern Living magazine that is time that they’ve decided to set aside for them every single month. They really lose themselves in the pages of Southern Living and I can’t think of a better time for advertisers to reach them than during their me-time.

Sid Evans: I think Ron is exactly right about that. We hear that all of the time, that they look forward to having time with the print magazine by themselves, when they can really relax and enjoy it. And I think they see themselves in the magazine as well.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced since you took this job and how did you overcome it?

Ron King: For me, the biggest challenge that I’ve faced since rejoining the brand a little over three years ago was turning our revenue around. We were on the exact same revenue trajectory as the other brands in the industry. But we stopped it and in fact, reversed it and that took a lot of work and was a much longer process than I thought it would be. But Southern Living is a giant brand and to stop a downward trajectory and in fact reverse it, takes a lot of time and patience. And that has been both my biggest challenge and my biggest reward.

Samir Husni: And Sid, what has been your biggest challenge?

Picture 19 Sid Evans: I think in the same way; we had to rebuild some trust with our consumers. We had made some decisions years ago to try to make Southern Living more generic in an effort to broaden the audience. And it had the opposite effect. It was resisted by our readers who felt that we had perhaps abandoned our southern mandate for a time. And this didn’t go on for very long, but there was a period of experimentation there and it was a failed experiment.

What I had to do after that was to try and put the southern back in Southern Living and to make sure that we rebuilt that trust and that bridge that we had with our consumers; that everything in this magazine is going to be southern to the core. That’s the first mandate of any piece of content that we’re doing, it has to be southern.

It also has to do something for them. It has to provide a service to them and it has to give them an idea of something that they can work with. And the other S of the three S’s that we often talk about is that it needs to be seasonal and it needs to be relevant to the season in which they get it.

So, that has taken some time and I feel like our bond now with our readers is as strong as it has ever been. We’ve heard that loud and clear through email correspondence, through social media and it’s also been reflected in our numbers and in our success.

Samir Husni: You are a part of a big, major company, Time. Inc. in which I’ve heard from almost everybody, from the CEO down to other employees there, that this belief in print and these digital platforms that we’re creating have brought about the realization that it’s no longer either/or. So, what are the plans for Southern Living after 50 years to be a part of that dawning realization? We are in print and we are in digital, we are a brand that’s all over the place. What are the all-over-the-place plans for Southern Living besides the powerful printed magazine?

Sid Evans: I could say that we’ve had extraordinary success in terms of digital growth. And we have a very engaged digital audience that’s growing by leaps and bounds. We’re also rolling out a much-improved website in January in sync with our 50th anniversary. We’re going to be very focused on mobile, of course.

And we’re also very focused on video. Video has been one of the most exciting new mediums that we’ve been working with. Our consumers respond to it very powerfully and I think that’s going to be a big focus for us going forward.

I’ll give you an example. We have one of the most viewed, if not the most viewed, videos at Time Inc. We did a video earlier this year on Oreo Cookie Balls of all things. It’s been viewed more than 20 million times on Facebook.

So, people are watching these videos; they’re sharing them with their friends and they love where they’re coming from. And they love videos with a southern point of view. I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for us in that space.

Ron King: Beyond the magazine and beyond the website, you can buy more than 600 different Southern Living branded products in Dillard stores across the South. You can stay in Southern Living hotels; you can hire a Southern Living custom builder to build your Southern Living house plan and live within a Southern Living-inspired community. You can landscape Southern Living plants from the Southern Living plant collection, so we are exactly as your question stated; our consumer is everywhere, all-encompassing. And we are meeting her at as many of those points as possible.

When she eats lunch at Ruby Tuesday restaurant, there are items on the menu that we have sent to the Southern Living test kitchens and they are Southern Living approved. We’re always looking for unique and impactful ways to reach our consumer wherever she is.

Samir Husni: You mentioned the Southern Living test kitchens; Sid, can you talk a little bit about the test kitchens and their new surroundings at the Southern Living headquarters?

Picture 18 Sid Evans: Absolutely. We have incredible new test kitchens. It’s called the Time Inc. Food Studios and is based here in Birmingham. We have 35,000 sq. ft. of test kitchens and photo studios and a video studio. There are a dozen photo studios and 28 kitchens and a state-of-the-art video facility.

Food has always been the core franchise for Southern Living. This magazine and this brand were built on the power of its recipes; the reliability of its recipes; the fact that our recipes always work every time; that you can serve them for company and you know that it’s going to work.

So, we take that very seriously and the company also believes in the power of recipes and the importance of being able to create great food content. Time Inc. made a significant investment in these kitchens and studios. And I think it’s just going to add to the power and reach of the brand.

In addition to our ability to create incredible content there, we also have a great space where we can host events and where we can do chef demonstrations and videos and engage with our consumers. The first thing that consumers want to see when they come and visit us here in Birmingham is the test kitchens. That’s where they want to go. And I think we’ve got more beautiful and exciting test kitchens for them to see now than we’ve ever had before. It’s very exciting.

Samir Husni: Is there anything else either of you would like to add?

Ron King: I’d like to make one correction, Samir. I stated two facts about our February issue earlier and one of them was incorrect, so I’d like to restate them both for the record. Our February anniversary issue for February 2016 is the largest February issue in the 50-year history of Southern Living. It is the largest issue period since May 2008, not May 1996.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening; what would I find you doing; would you be having a glass of wine and reading a magazine or reading something on your iPad, watching TV; what would you be doing?

Ron King: I’ll go first because mine is easy; I’d be working.

Samir Husni: At home?

Picture 17 Ron King: Yes, I’m not very interesting, Samir. (Laughs) The truth is I work all day; I go home, do a little bit of exercise and I start working again.

Samir Husni: And Sid, what about you?

Sid Evans: I might be playing my guitar very badly. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: What motivates either of you to get out of bed in the mornings?

Ron King: I have sort of a silly answer and a serious answer to that. One of my favorite moments of the day is, and this is a quote actually from something I read a long time ago that Robin Williams said; the moment that latte hits your chest. So when I open my eyes the first thought I have is how long until my latte? (Laughs)

But no, we come in and we work really hard every day and we have such an amazing team and so to see this team working as hard as they do and seeing the results, because unfortunately, so many times in life we work really hard and we don’t see the results. And their passion for this brand is contagious. And that feeling that we have created the culture at Southern Living and that it is a very special culture. And I am aware that it may not always be this way in my career. But at this moment I’m working with amazing people on an amazing brand and that culture is really energized. How could you not want to get up and come into work to that?

Samir Husni: And Sid?

Sid Evans: I would echo that. I’m very lucky to work with an extraordinary team and there is a great surprise in store from my team every day. There are so many ideas flowing through this place that it just makes it very exciting to walk through the door.

And I still get a great charge out of seeing an amazing picture or reading a great story or even seeing a great headline. And I also get a great charge out of having a successful video that gets 20 million views. So, those things keep me fired up and it never gets old and I hope it never does.

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

Ron King: (Laughs) Hitting my numbers. I’m grateful that for the last 14 months that has not kept me up at night. But we are a giant brand with giant responsibilities. And I feel a lot of responsibility for this team and it’s a recurring thing that you’ve heard Sid and I talk about, our products and our teams are first. So, are we doing enough and working hard enough to create a brand that will keep these team members employed and engaged and happy with their work life for the next decade?

And I would say that I spend half my time focused on the success of Southern Living today and the other half of my time focused on the success of Southern Living five years from now. And that’s a huge responsibility that neither of us takes lightly, but one that we’re both happy to take on.

Samir Husni: And Sid, what keeps you up at night?

Picture 23 Sid Evans: I worry about the main things like numbers, budgets and hitting our targets in terms of traffic, but I think what really keeps me up at night is making sure that I’m keeping the consumers happy. I thrive on feedback from them. That’s my life’s blood and what keeps me going. And it’s also what keeps me awake at night; thinking about have we done the right thing; have we put together the 50th anniversary issue that they’re going to be just ecstatic about? And I think we have.

The consumer is always first in my mind and it’s a constant effort to keep them happy. You can’t ever relax or let your guard down or get lazy, because they expect great things from you. So, I’ve lost a little sleep over that. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

—————————————————————————————————————————-

Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year from Mr. Magazine™ and the staff of the Mr. Magazine™ blog. We will be back after the holidays… cheers and all the best.

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