Archive for December, 2015

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The Clever Root: A Magazine That Brings The Cannabis Plant Back To Its Roots With Fruits, Flowers & Farms For A “Clever” Audience – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Publisher/Editorial Director, Meridith May

December 9, 2015

“People want something beautiful in their hands, I see it over and over. And again, the requests we were getting, even before the first issue came out with all the buzz we received, but after the second issue, and no pun intended on the buzz (Laughs), after that issue did come out the requests have been in the thousands every week.” Meridith May

Clever Root-3 A farm-to-table food magazine with a unique twist; The Clever Root combines everything that grows, including the cannabis plant, to create a singular reading experience that is showcased in a beautifully done print magazine. It focuses on ingredients, chefs, ranchers and growers and brings the farm-to-table movement to life in new ways that both enlighten and entertain.

Meridith May is the captain at the helm of this new endeavor. As both publisher and editorial director, Meridith has a strong and steady hand on the wheel of her new ship as she not only guides The Clever Root, but also her other two vessels, Somm Journal, which summarizes consumer, restaurant, and wine trends and news for wine professionals, and The Tasting Panel, a widely circulated trade publication for the beverage industry.

I spoke with Meridith recently and we talked about The Clever Root and how it brings an industry-insider’s look at food, the trends and tools of the trade, and the different ingredients that are used, and how the magazine takes a “clever” twist to include an intelligent look at the booming cannabis industry.

All in all, The Clever Root is an astute and savvy magazine that is smartly-done and highly informative and entertaining. Just like the woman who guides it.

So, sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine and get ready to embark on a journey back to your “Clever Roots,” the ones that connect you to Mother Earth and all things that grow. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Meridith May, Editorial Director and Publisher, The Clever Root.

But first, the sound-bites:


Meridith May On the genesis of The Clever Root and the “leaf” aspect of the magazine:
It all started when I received a call from the Department of Agriculture and the State Board of Equalization in California. The first thought I had when I got the call from the State Board was: uh-oh, do I owe back taxes? (Laughs) But apparently, they were getting the other magazines that we do, The Somm Journal and the Tasting Panel. And they liked the magazines and they asked me would I ever be interested in producing a magazine about marijuana and the cannabis industry. And this was the government calling. (Laughs) And I said no; I don’t really have any ties to that side of it, but I’m flattered.

On the name The Clever Root:
First, we were going to call it Grow and I called my trademark attorney and she said no. Please don’t do that. We thought of Something with a Leaf, no not that either. What I learned was you really have to have a name that no one else has and something clever. OK – The Clever Root. The name was that simple.

On why she felt the magazine needed to be a print publication:
That’s a great question. The Tasting Panel keeps growing and growing and after seven years we really feel like it reaches all of the important people in the industry throughout the U.S. And they want that print publication; those requests keep coming in every single day. So I thought, people want something beautiful in their hands, I see it over and over. And again, the requests we were getting, even before the first issue came out with all the buzz we received, but after the second issue, and no pun intended on the buzz (Laughs), after that issue did come out the requests have been in the thousands every week.

On the uniqueness of The Clever Root:
Again, it’s not food, it’s everything that grows: fruit, flower, farm and leaf. Whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral, in the case of salt; it’s really everything that’s consumed and grown and raised and about how it relates to the working, professional chef.

On any stumbling blocks she had to face with the magazine:
We really didn’t face any stumbling blocks and yes, the stars were aligned; the right people were in the right place to pull me up and mentor me on the cannabis side, so I would have enough seed money, again no pun intended, to get this off the ground.

On her major source of revenue besides advertising:
My major income for all of the magazines is sponsorships and events. There are so many different things that we’re involved in with our clients, which is the wine industry for Somm Journal and the spirits side for The Tasting Panel.

On how she started in the publishing industry:
I started in media in 1977 when I began working at KISS FM radio in Los Angeles and I was VP of marketing after a few years in my 20s and I saw that I was quite ambitious, but I loved being in the media. So I stayed in radio for a while; started a little radio show about food and wine; started writing about food and wine for the Santa Barbara News Press and then was hired as editor for Patterson’s Beverage Journal, which was similar to the bible 20 years ago. Eventually, I was contracted to run Patterson’s and later on I bought the name from the owner and killed it and turned it into The Tasting Panel.

On whether everything in the magazine is sampled and taste-tested:
On no, it’s not a recipe magazine. Each individual writer who goes out and meets with the chefs; they might taste the food and sip, but I personally don’t. We also have a section called the Clever Marketplace where people send in samples of everything from pickles to coffee to ice cream and that’s sampled by our Clever Pantry editor. Everybody has their own experience and that’s pretty much the same way with our other magazines.

On what she might be doing at any given moment when she’s at home:
I’m probably spending time with my dog, my Border collie; either walking her or just being with her. But at home when I’m relaxing; yes, I’m on my iPad, watching some great new Netflix series with my husband.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the mornings:
The stress of the new day; an exciting stress, but again coming to the office, overseeing the three magazines and having a great, wonderful team who are responsible for so much.
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On her favorite magazine out of the three she captains:
I think Somm Journal is my pride and joy because it’s 100% mine and Clever Root is also mine, but I do have a partnership with several people, but I’m proud of it, very proud of it.

On what advice she would give to someone who had an idea for a new magazine:
I would tell them that they better have some backup money to get it, not only off the ground, but to even know who your audience is. To make sure you continue to get that support, because having a niche publication is one thing, but having a consumer magazine where you’re depending on anything from watches to car money; I mean, good luck.

On whether there are any other magazine ideas in the hopper: No, but if somebody called and really could support it and wanted to do a shoe magazine (Laughs), I could give free samples. No seriously, I’m done. I’m pretty sure I’m done. We also create catalogs for Southern Wine & Spirits, which is a major distributor in the U.S. for California and soon Illinois.

On anything else she’d like to add:
No, I just appreciate in advance that you use your magic for magazines, because I do get your emails and I do enjoy reading them and everything that you write about. I hope that you do your magic with The Clever Root and get the word out.


On what keeps her up at night:
Worrying about feeding my employees and making payroll, of course. It’s always about being responsible to the people around me and never letting anyone down. That would hurt me the most; letting my team down.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Editorial Director, Publisher, Meridith May, The Clever Root.

Samir Husni: I’ve read a lot about The Clever Root even before it was first published and everyone was billing it as a “farm-to-table” type publication. Yet, when I looked at the cover and I saw the tagline “fruit, flower, farm, leaf,” I knew there was more there than just “farm-to-table.” Tell me a little bit about the name; the combination of the three F’s and the L. What is the genesis of the magazine and the “leaf” aspect of The Clever Root?

Picture 15 Meridith May: It all started when I received a call from the Department of Agriculture and the State Board of Equalization in California. The first thought I had when I got the call from the State Board was: uh-oh, do I owe back taxes? (Laughs) But apparently, they were getting the other magazines that we do, The Somm Journal and the Tasting Panel. I’ve owned the Tasting Panel with Anthony Dias Blue since 2007 and I bought and relaunched The Somm Journal two years ago, which was the Sommelier Journal, and has been rebranded as The Somm Journal.

And they liked the magazines and they asked me would I ever be interested in producing a magazine about marijuana and the cannabis industry. And this was the government calling. (Laughs) And I said no; I don’t really have any ties to that side of it, but I’m flattered.

A couple of weeks later a colleague of mine who had left the wine and spirits industry and went into the cannabis industry as a distributor asked me: hey, have you ever thought of doing a cannabis magazine?

Well, the coincidences were just too much and I put the government together with my friend and I said the magazine would have to be food-focused. We have a wine and spirits publication, the Tasting Panel, which has a broad market, we have a geeky wine trade publication, The Somm Journal; I need to have a trade publication for chefs, and for people who are supplying chefs with ingredients. So, why don’t I have a magazine about everything that grows, including cannabis? And that’s how The Clever Root was born.

I really didn’t have that much on the cannabis side, so using the contacts from the government; we created The Ganjier and the stories about terroir and the selection for cannabis because the government really does want this to pass in California, but we’re a national magazine, so I reached out to the Colorado Cannabis Chamber and I reached out to Washington State and several other regions.

Meanwhile, back to the chefs; Food Arts magazine went out of business, as you know, about a year ago, and there were a couple of other publications for chefs that didn’t quite make it, so I thought there was a need for it, to bring them back into the spotlight. And to tie in everything that grows, unique ingredients, wild Alaskan salmon fishing; stories on salt, pigs, chickens, whatever, everything that grows and how it fits into the restaurant industry.

Samir Husni: How did you come up with the name, The Clever Root?

Meridith May: First, we were going to call it Grow and I called my trademark attorney and she said no. Please don’t do that. We thought of Something with a Leaf, no not that either. What I learned was you really have to have a name that no one else has and something clever. OK – The Clever Root. The name was that simple. My managing editor and I tossed a bunch of names together on the board and we just liked that one.

Samir Husni: I noticed from the magazine that you have an editor and then you have a cannabis editor.

Meridith May: Yes. The cannabis editor is specialized. I was pleased that we had a great team for both sides.

Samir Husni: We live in a digital age certainly; why did you feel that you needed The Clever Root to be a printed magazine?

Picture 16 Meridith May: That’s a great question. The Tasting Panel keeps growing and growing and after seven years we really feel like it reaches all of the important people in the industry throughout the U.S. And they want that print publication; those requests keep coming in every single day. With the Somm Journal we’ve quadrupled our circulation again, through these requests from the most important people in the wine industry; people who wouldn’t even think about subscribing to The Tasting Panel are subscribing to the Somm Journal because they think it’s important and that makes me feel so good.

So I thought, people want something beautiful in their hands, I see it over and over. And again, the requests we were getting, even before the first issue came out with all the buzz we received, but after the second issue, and no pun intended on the buzz (Laughs), after that issue did come out the requests have been in the thousands every week.

Samir Husni: I think in this year alone, this is the fourth cannabis magazine to come out, but I like the unique identity of The Clever Root. There’s MG (Marijuana Grower), also from California, and there’s Marijuana Venture…

Meridith May: Yes, those are business magazines.

Samir Husni: Yes, those are business magazines and that’s what I love about The Clever Root; its uniqueness. You’re more of a food magazine that happens to also delve into the world of cannabis cooking and cannabis in general.

Meridith May: Again, it’s not food, it’s everything that grows: fruit, flower, farm and leaf. Whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral, in the case of salt; it’s really everything that’s consumed and grown and raised and about how it relates to the working, professional chef.

Samir Husni: So, were the stars aligned perfectly during this endeavor and it was smooth sailing all the way, or were there some stumbling blocks you had to face and overcome?

Meridith May: We really didn’t face any stumbling blocks and yes, the stars were aligned; the right people were in the right place to pull me up and mentor me on the cannabis side, so I would have enough seed money, again no pun intended, to get this off the ground. Now, there’s no more seed money left and it’s my job with my team to raise enough money to keep this magazine alive through advertising because it’s free to the trade, it’s $36 per year for subscription for the non-hospitality trade consumer and we’re getting a lot of the subscription cards back for paid subscriptions as well. The only stumbling block now is making enough money to keep the printer happy.

Samir Husni: Now that you have three magazines under your belt; besides advertising, what is your major revenue source?

Meridith May: My major income for all of the magazines is sponsorships and events. For the Somm Journal we put on Somm camps all over the world, where we bring in Sommeliers; we just brought a group to Champaign; we brought a group to Napa and then on to Washington State. We’re going to be doing Oregon next year and British Columbia. So that brings in money.

We sponsor events such as SommCon, which is a big Somm conference, and also at the Culinary Institute; we work with them on events. We also produce the International Chardonnay Symposium. There are so many different things that we’re involved in with our clients, which is the wine industry for Somm Journal and the spirits side for The Tasting Panel. We put on spirits competitions and we create unique experiences for mixologists and that brings in our extra money.

Samir Husni: You wear both hats of publisher and editorial director; how did you end up in this industry?

Meridith May: I started in media in 1977 when I began working at KISS FM radio in Los Angeles and I was VP of marketing after a few years in my 20s and I saw that I was quite ambitious, but I loved being in the media. So I stayed in radio for a while; started a little radio show about food and wine; started writing about food and wine for the Santa Barbara News Press and then was hired as editor for Patterson’s Beverage Journal, which was similar to the bible 20 years ago. Eventually, I was contracted to run Patterson’s and later on I bought the name from the owner and killed it and turned it into The Tasting Panel.

So I was always writing about things and that was my editor’s side and then when I realized how much fun it was to actually run a business, to bring the money in as publisher; now I kind of oversee the editorial team as well as the entire business. I’m not writing as much anymore.

Samir Husni: I noticed that there wasn’t an introduction letter in the magazine, but rather there was a letter about both the Clever audience that you’re trying to reach…

Meridith May: And a letter from our Managing Editor, Karen Moneymaker and she is the soul behind the magazine. She is my teammate when it comes to making the pages come alive and working with the designer. She helps me assign stories and come up with articles, so I prefer that she be the voice and the face of the magazine at this point. I’m sort of the executive producer.

Samir Husni: (Laughs) I was going to say that you’re the cornerstone.

Meridith May: (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: Do you test everything, all the articles and the recipes?

Meridith May: On no, it’s not a recipe magazine. Each individual writer who goes out and meets with the chefs; they might taste the food and sip, but I personally don’t. We also have a section called the Clever Marketplace where people send in samples of everything from pickles to coffee to ice cream and that’s sampled by our Clever Pantry editor. Everybody has their own experience and that’s pretty much the same way with our other magazines. Whoever is meeting with the winemaker or the master distiller is having that experience in tasting.

Samir Husni: Does that include trying the cannabis samples?

Meridith May: Well, you can’t help but say when in Rome…

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Meridith May: It’s Humboldt County, you can’t help but sample when you’re sniffing and smelling.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your house; what would I find you doing? Reading your iPad; reading a magazine; watching television with a glass of wine in your hand?

Meridith May: I’m probably spending time with my dog, my Border collie; either walking her or just being with her. But at home when I’m relaxing; yes, I’m on my iPad, watching some great new Netflix series with my husband.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?

Meridith May: The stress of the new day; an exciting stress, but again coming to the office, overseeing the three magazines and having a great, wonderful team who are responsible for so much. I don’t get to see the little details anymore, which is sad. I guess, just making sure that the engine is running.

Samir Husni: Out of the three magazines, do you have a favorite? Is the baby the favorite now because it’s still in its infancy?

Meridith May: No, I think Somm Journal is my pride and joy because it’s 100% mine and Clever Root is also mine, but I do have a partnership with several people, but I’m proud of it, very proud of it.

But Somm Journal is just gaining ground and growing so fast; I’ve never seen anything like it with Tasting Panel. And I hope Clever Root grows that way, the support is there so I’m going to keep nurturing it.

Samir Husni: And what advice would you give to someone who came to you and said: Meridith, you do three magazines; you’ve been an advocate for print in this digital age; you do a lot of events; I have an idea for a magazine? What would you say to them?

Meridith May: I would tell them that they better have some backup money to get it, not only off the ground, but to even know who your audience is. To make sure you continue to get that support, because having a niche publication is one thing, but having a consumer magazine where you’re depending on anything from watches to car money; I mean, good luck. The competition is fierce out there, so you really need to have somebody in place that can get money for you.

Samir Husni: Are there any other magazine ideas in the hopper?

Meridith May: No, but if somebody called and really could support it and wanted to do a shoe magazine (Laughs), I could give free samples. No seriously, I’m done. I’m pretty sure I’m done. We also create catalogs for Southern Wine & Spirits, which is a major distributor in the U.S. for California and soon Illinois. So, these catalogs are my coffee table books. That’s really our other company is the custom publishing.

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

Meridith May: No, I just appreciate in advance that you use your magic for magazines, because I do get your emails and I do enjoy reading them and everything that you write about. I hope that you do your magic with The Clever Root and get the word out.

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

Meridith May: Worrying about feeding my employees and making payroll, of course. It’s always about being responsible to the people around me and never letting anyone down. That would hurt me the most; letting my team down.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Glamour: A Legacy Brand That Celebrates The Beauty & Power of Print And The Innovation Of Digital With A Captain-At-The-Helm Who Knows How To Navigate From Its Past To Its Future – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor-In-Chief, Cindi Leive

December 7, 2015

“I think that print has the ability to commemorate a moment. I think it was a top executive at ESPN Magazine years ago who was talking about being at Tiger Woods’ house and he went down into his basement and there alongside all of his major trophies, he had framed his first cover of ESPN Magazine. And his first cover of Sports Illustrated. And that’s something that magazines can do; they can commemorate a moment in time and they do convey, when done right, a sort of importance.” Cindi Leive

January 2016 cover of Glamour. Photo by Steven Pan.

January 2016 cover of Glamour. Photo by Steven Pan.

From the “Glamour Woman of the Year Awards” to the latest in fashion, style, beauty and trends; Glamour has been one of the leading authorities in women’s general interest magazines for over 70 years. Legacy and longevity, with no signs of slowing down; the magazine is just as relevant and important today to the social and personal highlights of women’s lives as it was all those years ago when it was first introduced to readers.

Cindi Leive has been editor-in-chief of Glamour for the last 15 years and knows the intricacies of her brand better than most. She is a confident and stalwart believer in the magazine’s content-driven purpose and its readership. From her very first beginnings with Glamour to her stay at Self Magazine and then her ultimate return to Glamour as its editor-in-chief, Cindi revels in the magazine’s broad view of women’s lives, giving her the opportunity to connect with her readers on many levels of interest.

I spoke with Cindi recently and we talked about the magazine’s balance when it comes to age demographics and her ability to maintain that even keel with established readers and the new set that’s coming onboard every day. And how her role as editor-in-chief has changed over the years and what that means to the overall environment of the magazine and its team.

And I must confess, I also had to find out what keeps her up at night, since I interviewed her colleague and dear friend, Jill Herzig, (Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Oz The Good Life) the previous week and Jill answered the question: what kept her up at night with the answer – Cindi Leive. Well, of course, curiosity had to be satisfied. I’ll let you read Cindi’s response for yourself.

But despite my own ulterior motives, it was a most interesting and dynamic discussion with a woman who owns both of those adjectives herself completely. And one that I think defines the celebration of the printed word and its attributes with a beautifully-done magazine that has stood the test of time and is still going strong today.

I invite you to take a moment, sit down and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Cindi Leive, Editor-In-Chief, Glamour Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Cindi Leive  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Glamour)

Cindi Leive (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Glamour)


On how her role as editor-in-chief has changed over the last 15 years with Glamour:
I think the most interesting thing is that constant change is the new norm. When digital first became a part of all of our lives, as former print editors, I think there was this idea that we were going from print to digital and all you had to do was build a bridge to the other side and then you’d be over there and everything would be fine.

On whether she believes in today’s magazine media world someone could graduate with an English degree and still work at a magazine: No, I think someone could do that. Honestly, I loved my Liberal Arts education, but I definitely felt like the most hands-on training I got was with working at magazines during the summers. And obviously, the skills are different now. I just hired a new assistant and I looked at not just her writing skills, but also her digital skills, her social skills and her deftness with video. Those are new things, but you’ve always had to get practical work experience alongside your college education.

On leaving Glamour and going to Self and then coming back to glamour as editor-in-chief: In some ways it was like coming home, but it was so much of a bigger job than the one I had had before that nothing felt comfortable or easy about it. I do remember that when I was editing Self, the focus was very much on getting down to brass tacks; this is a magazine about fitness, health, nutrition and the body. But people were constantly pitching us stories about other aspects of women’s lives: relationships, politics and their family lives. And they were very interesting stories, but I’d have to say we’re definitely not going to publish that, and I’d have to tell them to pitch it to Glamour. So, it was fun after that to be able to move to Glamour and have a much broader view of a woman’s life: fashion and beauty, in addition to their social and personal lives.

On how she manages that audience balance of college-aged women and an older demographic with Glamour: If you think about that college reader and then think about a woman who might be twenty years older than her; first of all, women share a lot of things now. For example, fashion tastes are not, if you look at what a college student is wearing, very different. It’s often quite similar to what a woman 20 years her senior might wear. A woman who’s 40 no longer has the same kind of ridiculously old-fashioned parameters around what she should or shouldn’t wear or do beauty-wise or anything else, as she might have had 10 or 20 years ago. And I do think that many more things are shared now than they used to be.

On how she’s managed to guide a ship the size of Glamour through the transitions of today without upsetting established readers, while simultaneously adhering to new trends to attract new readers as well: Some of it you do by trial and error; some of it is I think that I genuinely like our broad readership. I grew up in Virginia and while I love New York and love living here, I do make it a point to get out of the New York bubble whenever I can. We’re very careful to make sure that our editors come from a variety of different backgrounds and really mirror our readership.

On whether her job today is easier or tougher than it used to be: I wouldn’t say that my job has gotten easier. I think anyone in the magazine industry who has told you that might be indulging in mind-altering substances. (Laughs again) I definitely think it’s a tougher business than it was five or ten years ago. You’d have to have your brain turned off not to say that. But it is a lot more fun. I learn something new every single day. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve been in the industry for two decades; I feel like I started a year ago and I’m kind of the new girl because that’s how all of this change makes you feel.

On how she deals with controversy, such as the backlash about Caitlyn Jenner being chosen as one of Glamour’s Women of the Year, in this digital age where responses can be immediate: First of all, there’s a controversy every day, so you can’t get too rattled by it. Whatever the epic thunderstorm is that’s happening around you right now, tomorrow it’ll be around somebody else, so I don’t think that you can edit well if you’re constantly paying attention to that. Obviously, you need to know what people are talking about, especially if they’re in your audience and then you can decide whether to respond. But you can’t get rattled to your core. The news cycle now is so incredibly and sometimes, horrifically short. For better or worse, everybody will be onto something else in a matter of minutes.

On any words of wisdom, as a former ASME president, she would offer her colleagues about magazines and the magazine industry: I do think the magazines that will survive will be the ones with strong points of view, whether it’s stated political points of view or points of view meaning particular journalistic values that they endorse. Or you’re a magazine that really cares about and celebrates incredible photography, one that really champions and gives great real estate to beautiful writing or do you have a really strong point of view.

On what role she thinks print plays in this digital age: I think that print has the ability to commemorate a moment. I think it was a top executive at ESPN Magazine years ago who was talking about being at Tiger Woods’ house and he went down into his basement and there alongside all of his major trophies, he had framed his first cover of ESPN Magazine. And his first cover of Sports Illustrated. And that’s something that magazines can do; they can commemorate a moment in time and they do convey, when done right, a sort of importance. I just think that no magazine editor can rest on their laurels about that.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly at her house: It depends. It definitely could be a magazine. Usually for me it’s not my iPad, unless I’m reading a book or watching a movie. It is quite often though my phone. My phone is the thing that I am most frequently not without and that’s true for our readers as well. We’ve had incredible audience growth on Glamour.com and in all of our social platforms the bulk of that now is on mobile.

On anything else that she’d like to add: With our digital platforms, video has been growing nicely for us. We have 18 million video views per month now. I’m proud that it’s been a really strong year for us. We’ve taken from franchises that have been around for a while at Glamour, and about which we are very proud, and we reinvented them for what our audience wants now. We grew the social media footprint of Glamour Women of the Year in a really remarkable way so that we have a 30% increase in media impressions this year over last year.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning: There’s that moment when you get to see something go out into the world; something that your team has created and worked on and then you get the audience feedback, which I still get a rush from. In the old days, as my staff could tell you as they roll their eyes, I used to delight in reading reader’s letters and emails aloud to the team because that’s why we’re all doing this, to connect with that reader, whether she’s in L.A. or Des Moines or wherever she’s reading the magazine.

On what keeps her up at night: Everything. I am a total insomniac. (Laughs) One of the things that keep me up a lot at night is talent. I think we’re constantly redefining what talent is and so I’m constantly thinking about how we can make sure that we’re making Glamour the place to work for the best and brightest people across all of these different platforms.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Cindi Leive, Editor-In-Chief, Glamour Magazine.

Samir Husni: You are approaching your 15th year as editor-in-chief at Glamour and a lot has changed when it comes to the role of an editor-in-chief, and with the industry as a whole. Can you briefly describe those changes that you’ve experienced as editor-in-chief of a major magazine over the years?

Cindi Leive: I think the most interesting thing is that constant change is the new norm. When digital first became a part of all of our lives, as former print editors, I think there was this idea that we were going from print to digital and all you had to do was build a bridge to the other side and then you’d be over there and everything would be fine.

But what’s happened is it’s a much more fundamental shift than that. It’s a shift that’s not from print to digital, but from status quo to constant change. At first it was about how do we get our websites up to par and how do we grow our audiences there, but wait a second, we shouldn’t just be doing that, we should also be developing great content on all of these social platforms and we should be doing video.

We should also be doing apps; I just saw a presentation this morning about how people now largely ignore most of the apps they have and the new way that you’re really going to reach them is through notifications on their notification screens, so you should think about the content that you’re actually delivering through those notifications. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Cindi Leive: The old way of thinking, it wasn’t that it was just print; it was that this was an industry that had kind of existed one way for a really long time, maybe too long. And now we’re in a period where it’s not that you just needed to learn one new set of skills and then you could put your feet up on your desk and everything would be fine. It’s now that you’re constantly learning new skills and the second you master whatever the platform du jour is, a new one comes along.

And that means not only do you need the people on your team, who have the right skills to get you onto those platforms, thinking this new way, it also means that you need a totally different way of thinking about what you do too. So, whatever you’re doing right now, you’re going to be doing it fairly differently in a year or two.

Samir Husni: Do you think somebody today could actually major in English and minor in Religion and after graduation work as an assistant editor at a magazine, or has that level of skills changed as well?

Cindi Leive: No, I think someone could do that. Honestly, I loved my Liberal Arts education, but I definitely felt like the most hands-on training I got was with working at magazines during the summers. And obviously, the skills are different now. I just hired a new assistant and I looked at not just her writing skills, but also her digital skills, her social skills and her deftness with video. Those are new things, but you’ve always had to get practical work experience alongside your college education.

I do think that the great original thought and terrific writing are, if anything, more important, contrary to popular wisdom, which is that we’re turning into a bunch of knuckle-dragging droolers who don’t read. Actually, people read quite a bit. And it may be that some of the things they’re reading are very short, from a headline to a Tweet; long-form has its own aficionados and some people say it’s also growing online, but whatever it is, writing skills are crucially important.

And that’s true, by the way, in all parts of business. A lot of business used to get conducted by people talking on the phone, now most everything is written and if you can’t nail your point in good, clear, crisp, concise writing with a voice, you’re in trouble. And that’s true whether you want to go into media or medicine.

Samir Husni: I tell my students constantly, and I took it from an editor in the U.K. where she wrote: typing is the new talking. It’s exactly as you’re saying.

Cindi Leive: Yes.

Samir Husni: You started at Glamour and then you left and went to Self and then you came back to Glamour as editor-in-chief. Can you go back to 2001 when you were offered the job of editor-in-chief and tell me, was it like coming home? Or what was your feeling moving from Self back to Glamour since Glamour was your first paying job?

Cindi Leive: In some ways it was like coming home, but it was so much of a bigger job than the one I had had before that nothing felt comfortable or easy about it. I do remember that when I was editing Self, the focus was very much on getting down to brass tacks; this is a magazine about fitness, health, nutrition and the body. If I’m a woman buying this magazine, I want to know that it’s going to make my abs better, and didn’t mean to be a general interest magazine.

But people were constantly pitching us stories about other aspects of women’s lives: relationships, politics and their family lives. And they were very interesting stories, but I’d have to say we’re definitely not going to publish that, and I’d have to tell them to pitch it to Glamour. So, it was fun after that to be able to move to Glamour and have a much broader view of a woman’s life: fashion and beauty, in addition to their social and personal lives. It was really a 360 degree view, so that was definitely gratifying.

I did feel like I knew on a gut-level what the brand needed to be and should be and I had an appreciation of who the readers were, so that made parts of the job easier. I don’t think I was stressed about what the content should be, but at the same time I was running a much bigger team than I had before and with a much bigger budget. And my boss liked to tell me every time I ran into him in the hall: as Glamour goes, so goes the company. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Cindi Leive: So, that was new. In some ways, it was like coming home, but it certainly wasn’t cushy.

Samir Husni: Glamour has managed to keep its connectivity to college-aged women and at the same time grow up with that college-aged woman. It’s not like once you graduate from college you leave Glamour. How did you manage that balance and have Glamour graduate with your reader, yet remain with the university-aged female as well?

Cindi Leive: I think it’s a couple of things. If you think about that college reader and then think about a woman who might be twenty years older than her; first of all, women share a lot of things now. For example, fashion tastes are not, if you look at what a college student is wearing, very different. It’s often quite similar to what a woman 20 years her senior might wear. A woman who’s 40 no longer has the same kind of ridiculously old-fashioned parameters around what she should or shouldn’t wear or do beauty-wise or anything else, as she might have had 10 or 20 years ago. And I do think that many more things are shared now than they used to be.

And other than that, I think that Glamour has benefited from a lot of big social phenomenon like this whole phenomenon we’re seeing now with college-aged women; women in their twenties, being incredibly close to their mothers. They share everything and they’re much more likely to talk on the phone every day, rather than the way a woman in her 40s might have grown up, separating herself from her mother. Her mother wasn’t as likely to have worked or had a career; even if you loved your mother dearly, you didn’t necessarily want to model your life after hers.

And I think a lot of what we are seeing now is that a lot of young women feel that they’re mothers are their role models. So, there is this generational closeness that exists psychologically that allows a magazine to talk to women of a lot of different ages.

And on a very practical level, we’re very careful, if you look at the print magazine or the website or our video content, to make sure that there are things that speak to women at a lot of different life stages. The thing that is the absolute favorite video series or favorite column of a 21-year-old might not be the same as a 40-year-old. But I do think we’ve sort of benefited from this social phenomenon of compression between ages.

A lot of women in their late 30s are addicted to Snapchat and they got on it because their 13-year-old daughters were on it and so you see this phenomenon of pop culture obsessions, media habits, fashion trends and beauty practices being spread and shared among women of different ages.

Samir Husni: And how easy was that phenomenon transition for you? You’re not an editor of a magazine with a hundred thousand in circulation or a half million; it’s a big, mass general interest magazine, with over two million plus. How were you able to maneuver that ship without scaring the established readers as you set a course to attract a new readership as well?

Cindi Leive: Some of it you do by trial and error; some of it is I think that I genuinely like our broad readership. I grew up in Virginia and while I love New York and love living here, I do make it a point to get out of the New York bubble whenever I can. We’re very careful to make sure that our editors come from a variety of different backgrounds and really mirror our readership.

And if you’re going to be a great editor at Glamour, you’re not just interested in talking to the chattering classes; you’re really interested in talking to American women of all different types, all political parties, and all viewpoints in cities and in small towns.

The good news is that so much of our culture is shared now that I think there’s a real sophistication among all women. There aren’t really any small towns anymore.

Samir Husni: Has your job today become easier or tougher?

Cindi Leive: (Laughs) I wouldn’t say that my job has gotten easier. I think anyone in the magazine industry who has told you that might be indulging in mind-altering substances. (Laughs again) I definitely think it’s a tougher business than it was five or ten years ago. You’d have to have your brain turned off not to say that.

But it is a lot more fun. I learn something new every single day. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve been in the industry for two decades; I feel like I started a year ago and I’m kind of the new girl because that’s how all of this change makes you feel. I do think it’s incredibly exciting to be someplace where some dilemma or challenge or interesting problem or phenomenon is landing on your desk every day that you could not have imagined a year ago. And I think that’s the fun of it.

Some things do get easier, like it is an incredible pleasure now that you don’t have to wonder how your readership or your audience feels about different issues. You have the ability to post something or try something and get immediate feedback. The ramp-up to trying anything new in print was so glacially slow and epically long; you’d have to do templates, prototypes for print magazines and then any mistake you made was going to be preserved forever and now it’s just much easier to try things. Like if you want to have someone do a column for the magazine, you can try it online and see what people think.

It doesn’t mean that we aren’t incredibly careful and that we don’t preserve quality, but it is just so much easier to experiment and so much easier to talk to your readership all of the time.

One of the things that’s allowed us to build a strong social presence is that Glamour has always been very much by definition an inclusive brand; it was never the magazine that just existed behind glass to celebrate somebody else’s perfect way. It was always a magazine that intended to reach a hand out to the reader and say that we’re in this together and your voice is important too.

And now we can do that in a very real way all of the time via social media. We can write about how we made certain decisions and if somebody has a question about why we made a certain decision, they can write me a letter or post on my Instagram and I’ll respond to them and explain our thinking and I think that keeps us honest and it also helps us know what readers really think and believe and who they really are.

Samir Husni: Recently, during the 25th anniversary of Glamour’s Women of the Year, you had the controversy concerning Caitlyn Jenner being chosen as one of the Women of the Year and some people not approving. But you stuck to your guns and said that she was one of your choices and would remain so. In this day and age how does an editor deal with a controversial issue such as that, where you will definitely hear from people, positively or negatively, immediately?

Glamour December Cover. Photo Credit: Tom Munro.

Glamour December Cover. Photo by Tom Munro.

Cindi Leive: First of all, there’s a controversy every day, so you can’t get too rattled by it. Whatever the epic thunderstorm is that’s happening around you right now, tomorrow it’ll be around somebody else, so I don’t think that you can edit well if you’re constantly paying attention to that.

Obviously, you need to know what people are talking about, especially if they’re in your audience and then you can decide whether to respond. But you can’t get rattled to your core. The news cycle now is so incredibly and sometimes, horrifically short. For better or worse, everybody will be onto something else in a matter of minutes.

And I think it’s important in moments like that to think about how you really do feel about your decision. I’ve been in positions before where the magazine has received criticism over things that I thought were valid and I tried to be forthright and respond the other way, by telling them they had a point and I’d listened to the criticisms and here’s what I planned on doing about it.

In this particular case, I didn’t consider there to be anything especially controversial about naming Caitlyn Jenner a Woman of the Year. We’ve had 397 Women of the Year over the last 25 years and two of them have been transgender and that was a choice that I felt confident the majority of our readers, most of whom are women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, would support the rights of transgender people. I understand that these changes don’t happen overnight, some people are going to feel rattled by it, and most of them were not in our readership and were encouraged by special interest groups. You just can’t let yourself get rattled by it. To quote Tony Kushner, who I had quoted in a blog post I read about this: “The world only spins forward.” And our ideas about how people live and who is afforded the right of basic dignity change over time. And that’s a good thing.

I did not feel the least bit fundamentally concerned about it. I felt this was a decision that we believed in and we supported the rights of transgender Americans to be themselves and live their lives and that was that.

Samir Husni: You’re a former ASME president; what words of wisdom or encouragement do you give to your colleagues nationwide in terms of sticking to their guns, continuing to be creators and curators with credibility, as reflectors of our society, because I’m one of those people who believe that magazines are the best reflectors of our society?

Cindi Leive: I do think the magazines that will survive will be the ones with strong points of view, whether it’s stated political points of view or points of view meaning particular journalistic values that they endorse. Or you’re a magazine that really cares about and celebrates incredible photography, one that really champions and gives great real estate to beautiful writing or do you have a really strong point of view.

We’re very strongly pro-woman and I think that’s not accidental; it’s how we are. You have to stand for something these days because information itself is ubiquitous. I used to race home from junior high school on the days that I thought my Seventeen Magazine was going to be in my mailbox because it was my only window growing up in Virginia. It was my only window on what girls were thinking and doing and to me, most importantly, where around the country and in fact the world, they were doing it.

That’s not true anymore. Our readers have a million options, a million different ways she can get any information on the planet at any time and I think what’s going to make her loyal to a particular magazine is its lens on the world. What is the point of view? Is it energetic? Is it personal? Does it speak to her with a voice that’s different from what she’s getting everywhere else?

So, I do think that point of view is important and there are lots of different ways that you can have a point of view. But having some point of view is more important than it used to be.

Samir Husni: With all of the talk about the Vanity Fair cover with Caitlyn Jenner; nobody remembers that she appeared on ABC with Andrea Mitchell; the pixels on the screen disappeared in a few hours or a few days later. But with those magazine issues, people are still talking about the Vanity Fair covers; people are still talking about the Woman of the Year. In this digital age, what role do you think print still plays?

Cindi Leive: I don’t particularly consider myself a print editor anymore. If you looked at my calendar, I easily spend as much time every day on digital and video and online experiences; all of that. And in all of those areas, we try to think what we can do there that we can’t do anywhere else.

But I think that print has the ability to commemorate a moment. I think it was a top executive at ESPN Magazine years ago who was talking about being at Tiger Woods’ house and he went down into his basement and there alongside all of his major trophies, he had framed his first cover of ESPN Magazine. And his first cover of Sports Illustrated.

And that’s something that magazines can do; they can commemorate a moment in time and they do convey, when done right, a sort of importance. I just think that no magazine editor can rest on their laurels about that. Anybody who believes that just because they’re doing something in print, it’s more important, that’s an outdated way of thinking.

Samir Husni: If I show up at your house unexpectedly; what would I find you doing? Reading an iPad? Reading a magazine? Watching television?

Cindi Leive: It depends. It definitely could be a magazine. Usually for me it’s not my iPad, unless I’m reading a book or watching a movie. It is quite often though my phone. My phone is the thing that I am most frequently not without and that’s true for our readers as well. We’ve had incredible audience growth on Glamour.com and in all of our social platforms the bulk of that now is on mobile.

Our readers are most likely looking at our site and our content on their phone and I live my life the same way. Much to the chagrin of my husband; I can be sitting there during family time reading something on my phone. (Laughs)

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

Cindi Leive: With our digital platforms, video has been growing nicely for us. We have 18 million video views per month now. I’m proud that it’s been a really strong year for us. We’ve taken from franchises that have been around for a while at Glamour, and about which we are very proud, and we reinvented them for what our audience wants now. We grew the social media footprint of Glamour Women of the Year in a really remarkable way so that we have a 30% increase in media impressions this year over last year.

We’ve been the trending topic on Twitter on multiple occasions over the course of the year with things that we’ve done. And I know it sort of easy to roll your eyes at these things and say that’s so superficial or shallow, but I’m as proud of those moments, which show that we’re connecting with our readers in new places, as I am of our National Magazine Awards. So, I think you need both. It’s and, not either/or, now.

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

Cindi Leive: There’s that moment when you get to see something go out into the world; something that your team has created and worked on and then you get the audience feedback, which I still get a rush from. In the old days, as my staff could tell you as they roll their eyes, I used to delight in reading reader’s letters and emails aloud to the team because that’s why we’re all doing this, to connect with that reader, whether she’s in L.A. or Des Moines or wherever she’s reading the magazine.

And now we get that to the nth degree. We released our January issue recently and I’ve always wanted to do a cover of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler together and so we finally engineered it and being able to see it go out there and see our audience tagging one another over and over again in the comments, which you know is shorthand for how great they thought it was. That’s exactly what you want and that’s incredibly satisfying. Being able to see a story that one of our editors has worked on go out there and connect with readers is also exciting.

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

Cindi Leive: Everything. I am a total insomniac. (Laughs) One of the things that keep me up a lot at night is talent. I think we’re constantly redefining what talent is and so I’m constantly thinking about how we can make sure that we’re making Glamour the place to work for the best and brightest people across all of these different platforms. And how we can continue to attract editors and designers and developers here who can push us, because I think, in answer to your earlier question about how I take this huge brand, this kind of cruise ship in its own right, and do something disruptive with it. The places where we’ve been able to do that successfully have come from bringing editors and other staffers in who are going to push themselves. So, I think about that.

Samir Husni: I don’t know if you realize this or not, but you keep one of your colleagues up at night.

Cindi Leive: Uh-oh.

Samir Husni: Yes, because she’s thinking all of the time about running with you. She runs with you in the mornings. Jill Herzig?

Cindi Leive: Oh, yes.

Samir Husni: I interviewed Jill last week and I asked her what kept her up at night and she said thinking about running in the mornings with you.

Cindi Leive: (Laughs) Yes, and when we run, we end up talking about things like this. We never talk about our love lives or what happened the night before; it’s always something like: what’s your Snapchat strategy. (Laughs again) She’s a really dear friend.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Thank you.

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Dr. Oz The Good Life: A Magazine That Lives Up To Its Namesakes’ Robust Reputation & The Woman Who Makes Sure That It Does – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Editor-In-Chief Jill Herzig

December 4, 2015

“Print is never going to go away. We already have a very, very healthy newsstand base and subscriber base. We’re over delivering on our audience, our advertisers, and we’ve broken into the Top 10 bestselling magazines on American newsstands. So, it’s clear that there’s a strong desire to see Dr. Oz’s brand represented in print. And that people like the version that we’re doing right now.” Jill Herzig

Picture 14 Wellness, recipes, fitness and beauty; Dr. Oz The Good Life is a magazine that was and is inspired by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon, author and television personality who really needs no introduction anywhere in the country. He is a dynamic and charismatic individual who has become a mainstay favorite among audiences everywhere and in every medium, from television to magazines, by genuinely living and promoting his take on wellness and good health.

Jill Herzig is editor-in-chief of the magazine and brings her own style of zest and energy to the brand, complementing the living, breathing magazine progeny perfectly. Former editor-in-chief of Redbook since 2010, Jill joined Dr. Oz on his quest for nationwide good health and wellness in 2014, and hasn’t regretted it for a moment as she feels connected to his mission as she has no other throughout her magazine media career.

I spoke with Jill recently and we talked about her kindred spirit with the Oz’s, both Dr. and Mrs. and we discussed the future of the brand and the seemingly meant-to-be presence of the magazine among Dr. Oz’s many brand extensions.

It was an entertaining and informative conversation with a woman who truly believes in her brand’s calling and feels a passionate commission to further the cause.

So, I hope that you enjoy this meaningful look at a brand and a magazine that offers a wellness lifestyle experience that Mr. Magazine™ finds unique and extremely relevant to our health-conscious world of today. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jill Herzig, Editor-In-Chief, Dr. Oz The Good Life.

But first, the sound-bites:


RBK080113_010 On the difference between editing a magazine with a celebrity affiliation versus one that doesn’t have that attachment:
The day-to-day is not terribly different, but Dr. Oz isn’t an ordinary celebrity. He’s a cardiothoracic surgeon and he’s been doing that for decades, long before anyone knew his name. He’s a mission-driven guy and it seems as though he works 24 hours a day trying to educate the public about their health and that’s what inspires all parts of this brand.

On the fact that the magazine cover at Dr. Oz The Good Life is not something she has to ponder over:
Well, I guess that is another obvious difference; I do know who is going to be on my cover every issue. (Laughs) But he’s not alone in December’s issue; we have him on with another celebrity, Giada de Laurentiis and we’ll be doing that again going forward.

On what her first reaction was when she was offered the job of editor-in-chief of Dr. Oz The Good Life:
I have to say, it was an instinctual yes for me. I knew basically the second the words came out of David Carey’s mouth; I knew that I wanted to take this job, which doesn’t do much for one’s negotiating powers. (Laughs) No, I was really excited and I loved the idea of the launch and I loved the idea of working with Dr. Oz.

On her relationship with Dr. Oz and his wife, Lisa:
Well, the relationship is a very easy one. In fact, it’s possible that the single easiest thing about this job is handling my relationship with the Oz’s. Lisa Oz is a great conduit to Dr. Oz and their family life, which is very important to him and to her as well. She’s a fantastic cook and very knowledgeable in her own right. And I just really like her as a person. We get along fantastically well.

On a major stumbling block that she’s had to face:
I can’t say that there has been a major stumbling block, other than simply having come onboard at the launch phase and putting together a staff from hardly anyone. I’m sure that our publisher Kristine Welker would tell you the same thing. It can be difficult to take over a legacy brand like Redbook, but you come in and the groundwork has already been laid, there’s a rich, deep history. When I came in here it was a pack of fabulous freelancers and some were arriving, some were leaving; it was a very tiny team and a high-pressure moment. But I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block. It was a big challenge.

On whether she feels a higher responsibility to the brand since there is a living, breathing progeny:
Oh, yes. I feel that responsibility and I think about it all the time. I’ve joked to Kristine that there’s no Dr. Marie Claire or no Dr. Harper’s Bazaar, but there is a Dr. Mehmet Oz. And he has dedicated his life to improving public health. It’s of the utmost importance to me that we protect his reputation, that we live up to his standards and that our reporting is deep and always quadruple-checked.

On how she plans the magazine issue to issue:
Honestly, the problem is that my mind is so crowded with ideas and my team brings a whole bucketful to every meeting. It’s about figuring out what’s the latest thing, yet it has to be based on completely solid science, and winding it down to the perfect match. The ideas come from everywhere. They come from all of our real lives and many of them come from Dr. Oz himself. Many of them come from Lisa and her experiences with her life. Even her mother-in-law, who apparently is a wizard at home remedies. We’re doing a piece right now on favorite family home remedies that are used in the Oz household all of the time.

Picture 13 On what’s next for the magazine and the brand as a whole and print’s place in that equation:
Digital and social have been growing at a really fast pace and we’re only two months into them. The numbers are still small, but the rate of growth is very impressive. I know that’s going to continue and will be more and more important to Dr. Oz The Good Life. The print is never going to go away. We already have a very, very healthy newsstand base and subscriber base. We’re over delivering on our audience, our advertisers, and we’ve broken into the Top 10 bestselling magazines on American newsstands. So, it’s clear that there’s a strong desire to see Dr. Oz’s brand represented in print. And that people like the version that we’re doing right now.

On what it is about Dr. Oz that makes him so successful for magazine covers:
I think that you can go back to his early appearances on The Oprah Show because that’s where it all began for him. He was uniquely able to explain to people how their bodies work. It’s a very rare doctor who has that communication skill. Sure, he’s charismatic and dynamic, but he’s an unbelievably gifted communicator and I think that’s really what differentiates him and makes him a star.

On whether she thinks specialty magazines are the future of print or there’s still room for mass appeal titles like Dr. Oz The Good Life:
I believe there’s lots of room for different kinds of print magazines, but certainly this concept brand of a healthy lifestyle has really hit home with the audience. They’ve been waiting for this and they love it.

On anything else she’d like to add:
I’m just feeling very optimistic when I look at our numbers and when I read the emails we get from the audience. They are so excited about this magazine. They are so smart and so engaged; I’ve really never worked for readers who display this level of intelligence and know-how. We have a whole page devoted to their smart ideas. I have the utmost respect for our audience and I’m so excited that they’re engaging on the level that they are.

On what keeps her up at night:
This is a personal thing, but I barely slept last night because Cindi Leive (editor-in-chief, Glamour) and I still go running just about every week and I was meeting her at 5:40 in the morning. (Laughs) Sometimes meeting Cindi for a jog will keep me up part of the night. And it certainly gets me out of bed in the mornings.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jill Herzig, Editor-In-Chief, Dr. Oz The Good Life.

Samir Husni: What’s the difference between editing a magazine like Redbook and editing a magazine that has a celebrity’s name in the title, such as Dr. Oz The Good Life? Is your job now the same as it was at Redbook?

Picture 12 Jill Herzig: Yes, it’s very much the same job. The day-to-day is not terribly different, but Dr. Oz isn’t an ordinary celebrity. He’s a cardiothoracic surgeon and he’s been doing that for decades, long before anyone knew his name. He’s a mission-driven guy and it seems as though he works 24 hours a day trying to educate the public about their health and that’s what inspires all parts of this brand. And it’s certainly what inspires the magazine.

Sure, the magazine that I worked at before had many reasons for being and it had a great and vibrant relationship with its readers, but the mission feels quite different. It’s personified by Dr. Oz, but now the whole staff has really absorbed the mission; we’re all dedicated to this concept that we’re creating a fun magazine, an inviting magazine, but above all, a life-saving magazine potentially.

Samir Husni: With Redbook, you had the hard job of selecting the cover subject every issue. But with Dr. Oz The Good Life, that’s pretty much done for you.

Jill Herzig: Well, I guess that is another obvious difference; I do know who is going to be on my cover every issue. (Laughs) But he’s not alone in December’s issue; we have him on with another celebrity, Giada de Laurentiis and we’ll be doing that again going forward, so you won’t always see Dr. Oz all by himself. But he’s a no-brainer for us as a cover star.

Samir Husni: Do you miss writing your “Letter from the Editor?”

Jill Herzig: A little; I do. But I think probably as our digital side grows, and it’s growing very quickly, there will be more opportunities for me to reach out and have a more direct contact with the reader.

Samir Husni: When you were first offered this job; can you recall the emotional reaction that you had? Did you take time and think it over or did you immediately say yes? What was your reaction?

Jill Herzig: I have to say, it was an instinctual yes for me. I knew basically the second the words came out of David Carey’s mouth; I knew that I wanted to take this job, which doesn’t do much for one’s negotiating powers. (Laughs) No, I was really excited and I loved the idea of the launch and I loved the idea of working with Dr. Oz. I immediately had thoughts about what we could do with the magazine. I was just totally onboard.

Samir Husni: Can you describe the relationship that you have with Dr. Oz and his wife?

Jill Herzig: Well, the relationship is a very easy one. In fact, it’s possible that the single easiest thing about this job is handling my relationship with the Oz’s. Lisa Oz is a great conduit to Dr. Oz and their family life, which is very important to him and to her as well. She’s a fantastic cook and very knowledgeable in her own right. And I just really like her as a person. We get along fantastically well.

And Dr. Oz, you’ve already heard me say, is a super-inspiring guy. You definitely feel his dedication and his intensity every minute that you’re with him. He pushes himself incredibly hard, but I will say that he pushes other people solely by inspiring them. You just want to live up to his example.

Both of them are such appreciative people. They really love the magazine and they work very hard when we need them to. And yet, they’re happy to give us independence so that we can do what we know how to do. So, I really can’t say enough about them for how joyful this collaboration has been.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block for you since becoming editor-in-chief of the magazine?

Jill Herzig: I can’t say that there has been a major stumbling block, other than simply having come onboard at the launch phase and putting together a staff from hardly anyone. I’m sure that our publisher Kristine Welker would tell you the same thing. It can be difficult to take over a legacy brand like Redbook, but you come in and the groundwork has already been laid, there’s a rich, deep history. You can push away from that history or you can incorporate it; you have a lot of different choices. The history is there like a foundation. And at Redbook, there was also a staff when I came in.

When I came in here it was a pack of fabulous freelancers and some were arriving, some were leaving; it was a very tiny team and a high-pressure moment. But I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block. It was a big challenge. It made for a less restful than usual summer. (Laughs) But we got through it and I love the team now. I love the group that we have. They’re different from any team I’ve ever worked with. They are people who are called to this magazine.

Samir Husni: Kristine told me that she had sold over 60 pages of ads for the first issue without even knowing the name of the magazine; just because it was a Dr. Oz magazine. Do you feel that responsibility? That you’re not only handling an ink on paper and pixels on a screen brand, but an actual living, breathing brand?

Jill Herzig: Oh, yes. I feel that responsibility and I think about it all the time. I’ve joked to Kristine that there’s no Dr. Marie Claire or no Dr. Harper’s Bazaar, but there is a Dr. Mehmet Oz. And he has dedicated his life to improving public health. It’s of the utmost importance to me that we protect his reputation, that we live up to his standards and that our reporting is deep and always quadruple-checked. And that we further his goals.

Samir Husni: I asked the editor of Rachael Ray Everyday what her biggest fear was and she said that she always wants Rachael to look both ways before she crosses the street. (Laughs)

Jill Herzig: (Laughs too). That’s funny.

Samir Husni: (Laughs again) Do you have similar feelings?

Picture 11 Jill Herzig: I’m very happy that our figurehead is possibly the healthiest human on the planet. It gives me some peace of mind every time I get together with him to see how fit and healthy he is.

Samir Husni: How often do your meetings with Dr. Oz take place? How often is Dr. Oz at the Hearst Tower and involved in those meetings?

Jill Herzig: He drops by really frequently. And I would say that sometimes I see him three times a week and then sometimes I’ll go a couple of weeks without seeing him, but hardly a day goes by that we don’t email.

Samir Husni: If I wanted to go inside your mind as a magazine maker; how do you plan the magazine issue to issue and how do you select what topics you’re going to cover this month or next month or the month after?

Jill Herzig: Honestly, the problem is that my mind is so crowded with ideas and my team brings a whole bucketful to every meeting. It’s about figuring out what’s the latest thing, yet it has to be based on completely solid science, and winding it down to the perfect match.

The ideas come from everywhere. They come from all of our real lives and many of them come from Dr. Oz himself. Many of them come from Lisa and her experiences with her life. Even her mother-in-law, who apparently is a wizard at home remedies. We’re doing a piece right now on favorite family home remedies that are used in the Oz household all of the time.

When I first took over the job I have to say that I had a wicked case of insomnia because I could not go to sleep for all of the ideas that were milling about in my head. I kept a little booklet next to my bed and I’d wake up and turn on the light or just pick up my phone and use that light so I wouldn’t wake up my husband, and I’d scribble something in the booklet. And then I’d go back to sleep and something else would pop into my head. Initially, I’d actually pick up the notebook at a certain point and put it downstairs in my bag in order to go to sleep, because I was just filled with ideas all of the time.

And now we’re in a flow. We have our columns pretty set and we have our features and the pasting of the book is pretty set, so it’s a little more orderly. And I do sleep a whole lot better.

But we’re constantly changing it as well. I’m really over the concept of doing a redesign every few years. As every issue evolves there are changes. We drop columns, we don’t worry about dropping those columns; we add columns and we don’t worry if we only keep them for a short while. We just go with it a little more loosely than I have before. And I think part of that comes from having grown this baby from a launch and knowing it from the beginning and that energy is so exciting that you don’t want to lose it. And we’re still doing that.

Samir Husni: As you continue to do that and evolve the magazine; I’ve heard some reports that Dr. Oz is also a firm believer in print and that print is part of the equation of his brand. So, as you move forward and add to the digital and grow your pixels on the screen; what role do you think that print will continue to play in this brand? He’s on TV; he’s everywhere, even in competitor’s magazines, he’s on the covers. What’s next for the magazine and for the brand as a whole?

Jill Herzig: Digital and social have been growing at a really fast pace and we’re only two months into them. The numbers are still small, but the rate of growth is very impressive. I know that’s going to continue and will be more and more important to Dr. Oz The Good Life.

The print is never going to go away. We already have a very, very healthy newsstand base and subscriber base. We’re over delivering on our audience, our advertisers, and we’ve broken into the Top 10 bestselling magazines on American newsstands. So, it’s clear that there’s a strong desire to see Dr. Oz’s brand represented in print. And that people like the version that we’re doing right now.

I do think that our creative content, a healthy lifestyle magazine, really lends itself to print. And because of that our print edition has a robust, nice, long lifespan to it. This is really important information and we make it luscious and beautiful and we make it fun and acceptable and we make it very, very clear. But we’re also presenting information that is not uncomplicated. It’s important stuff that people need to understand. And in certain cases, it has life-saving implications for our readers.

We’re giving them information that they’re going to take time to absorb and they do take time to absorb it. They’re going to want to keep these issues around because they know that it could help them or a loved one at some point down the road. They’re going to want to make these recipes for years to come. When you’re talking about a healthy lifestyle magazine it’s really meaningful for people to have this information. We’re not talking about celebrities; we’re not talking about fashion and beauty trends, those are delightful when they arrive in your mailbox or you pick them up at the newsstand, but they have a built-in expiration date, so you’re going to recycle that magazine when those trends have faded or that celebrity has been forgotten for a moment. Our magazine is a keeper.

Samir Husni: I have struggled for a comparison to the magazine’s namesake and all I can come up with is something one of my professors once said: if you put Robert Redford on the cover of any women’s magazine, it will sell. Today it’s Dr. Oz. What do you think made him the celebrity he is on magazine covers? Why does he sell so well?

Jill Herzig: I think that you can go back to his early appearances on The Oprah Show because that’s where it all began for him. He was uniquely able to explain to people how their bodies work. It’s a very rare doctor who has that communication skill. Sure, he’s charismatic and dynamic, but he’s an unbelievably gifted communicator and I think that’s really what differentiates him and makes him a star.

When he did the initial Oprah shows, he actually did an autopsy, harvested organs and put them in a cooler, got on a plane, flew to the Oprah show and used actual human organs to explain to that audience and to millions of viewers how their bodies work and why it was so important to keep those inner workings healthy. And the viewers went crazy for that. No one had ever taken the time or chosen that very visual way to communicate with them about their bodies. And he’s still doing that in the magazine. We’re still doing that.

Samir Husni: As an editor who’s very well-versed with the industry as a whole; do you see that degree of specialization (wellness and food in a magazine), do you think this is our future in print? Or do you think there’s still room for a mass appeal magazine, such as The Good Life, which is not a specialty, tiny magazine?

Jill Herzig: The wellness and healthy lifestyle area has been very niche for a long time. But I think what we’re bringing to the table has really grown up in the category. And we’re doing something very different with it.

And I believe there’s lots of room for different kinds of print magazines, but certainly this concept brand of a healthy lifestyle has really hit home with the audience. They’ve been waiting for this and they love it.

I’ve never seen a time when people are more concerned with health and wellness than they are right now. It is top of mind for every age category, every demographic, every socio-economic group. And I’m so grateful that shift has happened because in our country we’re seeing some serious health issues. Diabetes is raging out of control; obesity is a huge problem and we haven’t managed to make an appreciative dent in it, the average American woman now weighs what the average American man weighed in 1960. So, we’ve got issues. And I’m really happy to see such broad interest in health and wellness.

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

Picture 10 Jill Herzig: I’m just feeling very optimistic when I look at our numbers and when I read the emails we get from the audience. They are so excited about this magazine. They are so smart and so engaged; I’ve really never worked for readers who display this level of intelligence and know-how. We have a whole page devoted to their smart ideas. I have the utmost respect for our audience and I’m so excited that they’re engaging on the level that they are.

In our most recent reader feedback survey, the scores were off the chart for this magazine, but the top-rated piece of content in the entire magazine was a six-page report that we did on inflammation in the body. It is not an uncomplicated topic. We made it as clear as we could; we reported the heck out of it. But this is a topic that readers really had to pull up a chair and sharpen a pencil and concentrate on it to understand. And 75% of them said that it was extremely interesting to them.

So, the notion that people don’t have the attention span and don’t have the intelligence and can’t stick with a long piece in print; I am not seeing that. I’m seeing readers who are thrilled to get deep interest, as long as we’re bringing them vital information about their health. So, we’re doing that in our magazine.

Samir Husni: That’s one thing that I told Ellen Levine; if we’re just content providers, then we would have been dead a long time ago. We’re experience makers. Today, if a magazine is not an experience, it’s going to be in trouble. And that’s why today you’re seeing a higher level when it comes to the attention span of the average American adult, which is now eight seconds, according to the latest research, one second more than a goldfish. (Laughs)

Jill Herzig: (Laughs too) I have to say that our readers do not have that ADD.

Samir Husni: That’s because you are creating a very good experience for them.

Jill Herzig: Well, thank you.

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

Jill Herzig: This is a personal thing, but I barely slept last night because Cindi Leive (editor-in-chief, Glamour) and I still go running just about every week and I was meeting her at 5:40 in the morning. (Laughs) Sometimes meeting Cindi for a jog will keep me up part of the night. And it certainly gets me out of bed in the mornings.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Simple Grace Is Mr. Magazine’s™ Launch Of The Year. Organic Life Is Mr. Magazine’s™ Re-Launch Of The Year.

December 3, 2015

Simple Grace: Launch of the Year 2015

Simple Grace-3 (2) In my office hangs a sign that reads: there’s always hope, a simple phrase that holds a wealth of meaning. And in 2015 Bauer Media Group U.S. launched its own message of hope in the form of Simple Grace magazine.

Simple Grace magazine is a groundbreaker—a faith-based magazine from a secular publisher who saw an opportunity in the marketplace. It’s an “Audience First” approach to publishing, an approach that Bauer has mastered with all their publications. However, this time, with a completely new concept.

Simple Grace was the brainchild of Editor-in-Chief Carol Brooks and in a Mr. Magazine™ interview earlier in the year she defined it as “your daily dose of hope,” which I think we can all agree is something that is extremely needed in the world that we live in today.

But Bauer didn’t just use emotional facts for their reasoning behind the introduction of a daily devotional magazine into their repertoire of titles. Between readers’ response from First for Women (a magazine that Carol has directed as editor-in-chief for the last 13 years), and the intense research on the market of what was and was not out there, Simple Grace was born from their reader’s desires to include God more as a part of their daily lives. Audience first is not only a Mr. Magazine™ mantra, but Bauer’s as well.

The magazine is a monthly devotional with daily inspirational Bible quotes and content that is geared toward the love, kindness and support of God and stands out as the first digest-sized, devotional magazine, targeting a mass audience on newsstands in the US.

Being first and going somewhere no one else dares to go, is something Bauer firmly believes in when they believe in the product. And Simple Grace is something that is near and dear to their heart and has the company’s full support.

And it is Mr. Magazine’s™ choice for the Hottest Launch of 2015.

Organic Life: Relaunch of the Year 2015

Organic Life-18 (2) Rodale’s Organic Life is a magazine that celebrates the idea of living healthier by empowering its readers, whether they are die-hard, fully immersed people in the world of organic, or just discovering it for the first time. It welcomes everybody to the table with a beautiful, immersive print magazine that responds to the reader’s desire to live a healthier life by offering a whole new approach to how we look at food and our bodies. It’s recipes and stories and tips that can show you the organic way might be the best way for you to live your life.

Organic Life is a relaunch of the company’s flagship brand Organic Gardening and a stylish guide to living naturally in the modern world. By rebranding Organic Gardening into Organic Life, Rodale has taken a concept that its founder, J.I. Rodale, believed in so strongly when he started the company all those years ago, and brought it up-to-date for the 21st century, making it a tremendous tool for the organic movement that is sweeping our country today.

Under the watchful eye of Editor-in-chief James (Jim) Oseland, the first issue of the magazine delivered 158 hefty pages, from which 54 pages were advertising. From the moment of conception, to the hour of delivery, this is the story of a perfect magazine relaunch in 2015. It’s a relaunch, but it’s so much more than that. J.I. Rodale founded Rodale in 1930. His granddaughter, Maria Rodale, delivered on the dream that her grandfather envisioned 85 years ago. That vision is encapsulated between the covers of Rodale’s Organic Life magazine.

It’s the culmination of a dream and the continuation of a legacy and it’s Mr. Magazine’s™ Relaunch of 2015.

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November Brought Us A Bounty Of New Titles To Be Thankful For…79 Total & 23 With Promised Frequency…

December 2, 2015

The month of November saw a cornucopia of new titles hit the marketplace, 23 of them promising frequency, including two arriving at the newsstands for the first time, and 56 specials and bookazines; all getting us ready to settle down for a long winter’s read. Our specials ran the gamut from holiday recipes to trains, planes and Frank Sinatra. And our frequencies were chock full of the artful and beautiful coloring books for adults that offer relaxation and a meditative spirit for those busy Christmas shopping days ahead. There was something for everyone in the month set aside for giving thanks for our many blessings. And Mr. Magazine™ is certainly thankful for magazines and all the joy they bring to everyone…

And here are the charts comparing Nov. 2015 to Nov. 2014.
Nov 2015 vs 2014 pie graphs

Nov 2015 v 2014 top categories bar graph

Until next month…

Up first our Frequency titles:

A Green Beauty-15 Art Therapy for Seniors-11 Baseball History & Art-13 Casual Game Insider-7 Color Magazine-14 Distiller-16 Ever After High-10 Flying Colors-20 Inspiring Color Designs-22 Jacobin-1 Just Go-5 Mind Body Zen Coloring-19 Pallet-4 Sabor-3 Splash of Color-21 Star Wars-6 The Art of Mandala-17 The Creeps-18 The Crown-9 The Sewing Box-12 Uncrate-2 Wallpaper-23 Women's Golf-8

And now our Specials:

Albert Einstein-18 American Inventors-3 Are we alone-19 Best of amazing animals-7 Best-Ever Recipes-21 Better Homes & Gardens Our Holiday Recipes-14 Big Foot-3 Bob Marley-4 Bon Apetite Holiday-24 Cakes & Pies-36 Color Me Delicious-12 Color Me-20 Coloring Book Creations-20 Cosmo Best Advice Ever-14 Design Life-5 Disney Frozen More Magical Moments-35 Food Network Easy Baking-23 Frozen-9 Gluten Free & Easy-11 Gone With the Wind-1 Holiday Home-10 How To Solder Jewelry-31 Indivisible-29 LIFE Bond-8 Mad Spoofs Sci Fi-16 Men's Health EAT-22 Miracles of Faith-13 More Trains of the 1950s-7 Mother Earth News A Guide to Saving-1 National Geographic Your Brain-9 Newsweek The Year in Review-25 People Celebrates Days of Our Lives-4 People Style Watch-22 People The Hunger Games-15 Rock & Gem Gold-30 Rolling Stone Bob Dylan-17 Serial Killers-16 Sinatra at 100-15 Smithsonian 100 Greatest Adventures-6 Springsteen-32 Star Wars 100 Defining Moments-34 Star Wars Heroes and Villains-33 Star Wars-6 Suippressor-5 Taylor Swift-17 The 100 greatest vinyl of all time-12 The Best of Grit-10 The Best of Vanity Fair-21 The Story of Santa-2 Thomas & Friends-11 Tiger Beat-18 Ultimate Book of space-2 Ultimate Finisher Guide-13 USA Today Thanksgiving in America-19 Watch Time Design-8Who is Jesus-28

 

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