Archive for January, 2016

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SpainMedia: The Name That Personifies The Man Who Is Media In Spain – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Andrés Rodríguez, President & Editor-In-Chief, SpainMedia

January 26, 2016

“As humans, we have five senses and print touches each of those. With the iPad, the electrification touches eyes and ears, but not the nose. Smell is important, the smell of food; the smell of a woman or of a man. The hands are also important. The hands experience touch, touch of the skin; touch of many things. And paper has this quality, especially if you invest in it. Before you read any single word, you touch the paper and the impression is made immediately; either you like it or you don’t.” Andrés Rodríguez

“The magazine business will never die; it will never die because a magazine is the voice of a community. And you need that community to be so big that it gives you advertising to make the magazine. And you need to identify new communities. Magazines will never die.” Andrés Rodríguez

From Spain with love…

Andrés Rodríguez and Samir Husni at the lobby of the NH Collection, Prado Plaza, Madrid, Spain

Andrés Rodríguez and Samir Husni at the lobby of the NH Collection, Prado Plaza, Madrid, Spain


SpainMedia is a company built by a man with a vision, a vision to produce high quality magazines that touch every sense with their tactile and exquisite natures. It’s a forum for the anthem of print from a man who is a very firm believer in the medium and a major contender in the world of publishing in Spain. Andrés Rodríguez is the man who had the vision nine years ago to bring the biggest titles out there to his country. He is president and editor-in-chief of SpainMedia, which publishes Esquire, Forbes, The Robb Report, Tapas, and L’Officiel in Spain.

Andrés is a one-man machine who loves the feeling of falling asleep with a magazine in his hands. He has gone where few have dared, double- mortgaging his home twice, once to launch Esquire and the other to launch Harper’s Bazaar, which he did for five years before Hearst acquired Lagardère and wanted to bring HB in with Elle.

Andrés is every magazine maker’s dream. He was the editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone in Spain when he saw the opportunity to launch Esquire and he jumped on it and now he has created a company that’s the personification of magazines in Spain. Acquiring the licenses to some of the biggest titles around, he used his passion for magazines to attain his dream and bring the beauty and the entertainment quality of magazines to his country.

I spoke with Andrés recently on my recent trip to Spain and we talked about his endeavors with SpainMedia and the success he has seen with the company and the print product. And we talked about his own first-born creation, Tapas magazine, which brings lifestyle and food together in a way that is both unique and satisfying. Andrés is optimistic about his newest baby’s future; after all, he’s known uncertainty with many of his ventures, only to taste the sweet sustenance of success in the end.

So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a very nice man who knows how to publish the best if the best in magazine media; Andrés Rodríguez, President & Editor-In-Chief, SpainMedia.

But first the sound-bites:

Esquire-5On the genesis of SpainMedia: I founded the company nine years ago. I started as a journalist 30 years ago. I am 50-years-old now and made my first salary at 19. But just nine years ago I became a publisher. I discussed the instincts I had about the business and my point of view with investors and when I talked with them about how I thought the magazine should be and the new trends that were out there and how we should proceed with the advertising; I wasn’t sure if they would agree. Sometimes investors have their own ideas about how things like this should go. So, I founded the company nine years ago with my own money. I put a lot at risk; I double-mortgaged my house with the bank. And I asked Hearst to give me the license to Esquire because I felt with an international magazine more people would trust me.

On whether anyone ever asked if he was he out of his mind to invest in print in this digital age: Everybody said that to me. Everybody said it, because the big difference is I prefer to polish and edit high quality magazines, with long stories to read, like the classic magazines from the 1960s or 1970s. I’m really not too interested in circulation. And you might ask why? It’s because I feel in the 21st century, the quality of the product is more important than its circulation. Of course, circulation is important. I prefer to print one million copies of one of my magazines, but I don’t want to print one million copies of a magazine that I know when I go to sleep is not a good magazine. I need to try and sleep well. When I push the print button on that printing machine, I try to do the best magazine that I can.

Tapas4-18 On whether Tapas (his first self-created venture) feels like his first born or all of the magazines feel like his own children: Parents say all of the kids are the same, but I know all of the fathers are lying, in my opinion. Fathers do have preferences. I needed to launch my own magazine because I know that I’m a good journalist and a good businessman because I’m making money with this. I’m one of the best at trying to interpret big titles into my country, because Esquire is one of the big titles of the world; Forbes is a big, big title and I changed things with Forbes in Spain; I know this, but I needed to change things in the opposite way, which was to create my own brand.

On why he decided to launch Tapas in Spanish and in English: It’s worldwide with a multi-circulation. I did both editions because when I thought about the magazine that would be my very first creation, I knew it would be a lifestyle and cooking title. And I looked and found some other titles that were interesting, but having both languages was more for me. Two was more. I thought two was more in line with the big mainstream magazines.

On whether he ever doubted the future of print: No. I trusted my instincts. I always follow my heart. I used to explain it like this; of course, I have my iPad and my iPhone and I’m absolutely connected to the world just like everybody else. But when I’m reading a magazine it’s usually in particular places: on a plane, on my sofa, or in my bed. And in these kinds of places I’m relaxed; with a magazine I’m relaxed. My body is in the relaxed position.

On why it took magazine media five or six years to discover the fact that print is not dead: Very simple. Audience and circulation are the two things that all of the companies are fighting for. And in my opinion, this is the second step. The first step is product. The companies need to be more invested in product than circulation because they cannot invest in circulation if they don’t have the money. But the bigger companies are more worried about audience because they identify audience as people and money. They think that if they lose one point in audience, they lose a lot.

L'Officiel 3-11 On anything else that he’d like to add: It’s not true that we live in a very mature market; and it’s also not true that nothing is possible in our market; anything is possible in our Spanish market. The audience is smarter than we are; the readers are smarter than us; they’re faster than we are and they definitely know more than us. And the clients need us, the clients, our advertisers, need good magazines. But we need to be able to explain to them how we can be useful to them, because when clients launch a new product, they hire the best people in the world to launch their product; they hire the best design teams to showcase their products, and they need good magazines to put these products inside of.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly at his house one evening: You would find just music playing; you would see a mountain of international magazines sitting around that I don’t have time to read, including magazines that I’m really not interested in, but I check them anyway, and a glass of wine, of course. And I do cut pages out of other magazines. And you would also see pages of the latest issues of my magazines around too, printed and edited with my pen, because I correct all of the pages.

On what keeps him up at night: The budget of the magazines. I’m always thinking about how I’m going to find more money to make these magazines stronger and also to find more free time to come up with new ideas.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine interview with Andrés Rodríguez, President & Editor-In-Chief, SpainMedia.

Samir Husni: You’re a different breed publisher/editor-in-chief.

IMG_1302 Andrés Rodríguez: Yes.

Samir Husni: You started your own company; you followed both of your passions, being a journalist and being a businessman. Tell me the story of Spain Media.

Andrés Rodríguez: I founded the company nine years ago. I started as a journalist 30 years ago. I am 50-years-old now and made my first salary at 19. But just nine years ago I became a publisher. I discussed the instincts I had about the business and my point of view with investors and when I talked with them about how I thought the magazine should be and the new trends that were out there and how we should proceed with the advertising; I wasn’t sure if they would agree. Sometimes investors have their own ideas about how things like this should go.

For example, sometimes a financial person might try to reduce the quality of the paper to make a better P&L, hence a better bonus. Me, I prefer to spend more money on the quality of the paper because I’m convinced that I’ll find a new audience if my magazine has good quality.

Forbes-3 So, I founded the company nine years ago with my own money. I put a lot at risk; I double-mortgaged my house with the bank. And I asked Hearst to give me the license to Esquire because I felt with an international magazine more people would trust me. I had a few doubts about my businessman’s side; I had never founded a company before and I was afraid that I wouldn’t know where to manage the cash flow or how to talk to the banks about the magazine, or how to make the discounts for the advertisers or the annual discounts for the central media. So, I was nervous about this.

I thought that Hearst, or George Green (former Executive Vice President and Chairman of Hearst Magazines International) would say to me, no, you don’t have the assets to buy the Esquire license and you have no prior experience. But I was the editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone in Spain; I convinced Jann Wenner to give me the license for Rolling Stone for Grupo Prisa, the company that I worked for then.

But I think that this idea helped me with George because Rolling Stone was a big brand and nine years later, I talked with George Green about it and said thank you many times, but I think he gave me the magazine because he knew that he wouldn’t lose anything, because no one wanted to publish Esquire in Spain. He had already talked with all the major companies in Spain about Esquire and everyone had told him no, because they were looking at the numbers and thought that they would need to invest three or four million Euros to launch Esquire, and that’s something they don’t believe in doing. I think George said OK to me so that he could give it a try. It wasn’t Harper’s Bazaar or a big magazine where if he lost Spain it would cost him more.

I remember always the advice that he gave me in one of the meetings I had with him. I said, hey George, I’ll give you issue # 0, the mockup of what my Esquire will look like. And he said to me, no, I don’t want to look at the mockup; do you have a very nice party planned for the launching? And I said, yes, absolutely George. And he asked who paid for the party? You don’t pay for the party; don’t spend a single Euro on the party. I said, OK; don’t worry about that, just have a look at my magazine. He said, no, I’m not interested in your magazine; just don’t spend money on a party. And I thought, wow, this guy isn’t very interested in journalism.

Robb Report-8 Nine years later, he’s trying to tell me your weakness is the money; try to protect the money and I trust you on the magazine side. And in just two years with Esquire we broke even and the second step we took was more on the business side because I didn’t want to put all of the expenses; all of the overhead, the rental of the office, my salary, the secretary’s salary and all the other expenses, in front of just one magazine; I thought that if I shared the overhead with more magazines I would be doing things better; like a family who has more than one child.

And I told George that I wasn’t losing money with Esquire and asked him would he please give me Bazaar, because if I could break even with a men’s magazine, it might be even easier with a women’s title because the market is bigger. And he said to me, no, it’s too soon. I don’t want to give you Bazaar, try to consolidate Esquire, because your country will be destroyed by the International Economy Crisis. And I said, but George, we are a big country and growing, in fact, we grow more than Italy. Then he said to me, be prepared; this crisis will destroy the Spanish economy. So, I didn’t do the other magazines, just Esquire.

I have my own point of view and I offer to CurtCo Media to do Robb Report and they were in love with the idea because it was their first Spanish edition worldwide. I launched the Robb Report quarterly. Year number five with Esquire, we’re making money, and the Robb Report is also making money, and George Green retired and Duncan Edwards took over. Duncan is a great guy and I asked him to give me Bazaar and he gave it to me. It was the first license that he gave in America from the International. And he said to me, all the figures; the entire International picture and all of the information that I have for your country is negative. This is a crazy idea, but I’m going to give you Bazaar.

He gave me Bazaar and I launched six years ago, and I managed the magazine for five years. In the meantime, during those five years, Forbes called me. And Forbes called me because they were looking to be in Spain. They had asked all the major companies and no one wanted to invest in Forbes, due to our country’s economy. The Forbes people asked the Hearst people who was crazy in Spain, and Hearst told them about me. (Laughs) They told Forbes that I paid royalties and I paid every year and that I do good magazines.

When Forbes first called me, I said no, because there was no money. The entire country was being careful due to the economic situation. And all of the economic magazines and newspapers were losing money. And this was in 2011. Forbes responded to me with this answer, when a country has economic problems like Spain; the people are more interested in the economy than ever. And I told them they were absolutely right. And that was a good argument. And they added that my country in the future would recover; we may not know when or how, but of course, Spain would recover. And I knew they were right.

So, I started publishing Forbes three years ago and we’re making money. In the meantime, Hearst bought Lagardère and I thought that was an incredible idea, but not for me. But one day Duncan invited me for lunch and he told me that Hearst had bought Lagardère and said that he believed Bazaar being close to Elle would make more money, because they were going to sell the advertising through the big companies with both, and I agreed he was right. He would make more money than I was making. He asked me to give back Bazaar to Hearst Spain and I quickly received the proposal to launch L’Officiel from the Jalou family. I accepted, because I had been working in the women’s market for five years and I didn’t want to lose the women’s sector. And that’s the big picture.

Samir Husni: Did anybody come to you and ask you if you were out of your mind to put all of this money into print? And not only are you publishing print magazines, but you’re using high quality paper, gorgeous design and basically just investing in print, while the entire media industry is saying the future is in digital. Did any of the advertisers or anyone come to you and ask you were you out of your mind to do this?

L'Officiel-4 Andrés Rodríguez: Everybody said that to me. Everybody said it, because the big difference is I prefer to polish and edit high quality magazines, with long stories to read, like the classic magazines from the 1960s or 1970s. I’m really not too interested in circulation. And you might ask why? It’s because I feel in the 21st century, the quality of the product is more important than its circulation. Of course, circulation is important. I prefer to print one million copies of one of my magazines, but I don’t want to print one million copies of a magazine that I know when I go to sleep is not a good magazine. I need to try and sleep well. When I push the print button on that printing machine, I try to do the best magazine that I can.

And the second thing that I try to do then is get the biggest circulation that I can, so I can offer it to the advertisers as a good platform for their products. But in my opinion, it’s not the most important thing.

I used to say that influence is more important to me than audience, because when you have a big audience you have such a wide variety of people, so many different people. Audience is like when Hollywood launches a big blockbuster and you’re going to see it with family. And when the movie ends, nobody is 100% happy. It was good, but not everyone was happy. And I think this is how audience works.

And with influence, you try to make the magazine more influential for the target and it makes the target bigger. Tapas is a good example. It is my own first-owned title; I identified that lifestyle and food globally is a trend. I haven’t found any international lifestyle and food title; I find recipe titles, but not lifestyle and food. And I created the magazine. And now, I need to convince the advertiser, because the clients are more conservative than the readers; I need to convince the advertisers that this is a good platform to invest in, like Monocle, for example.
I am a great fan of Tyler (Tyler Brûlé – Monocle founder) and I think he has the nose to identify new trends and he convinced the clients that it was a new trend; it’s a global, international, traveler citizen.

Samir Husni: Tapas is your first venture as your own. Do you feel like Tapas is your first born and all of the others are more like adopted children? Or do you treat all of them the same now?

TapasII-14 Andrés Rodríguez: Parents say all of the kids are the same, but I know all of the fathers are lying, in my opinion. Fathers do have preferences. I needed to launch my own magazine because I know that I’m a good journalist and a good businessman because I’m making money with this. I’m one of the best at trying to interpret big titles into my country, because Esquire is one of the big titles of the world; Forbes is a big, big title and I changed things with Forbes in Spain; I know this, but I needed to change things in the opposite way, which was to create my own brand.

And this is what I’m enjoying with Tapas. And I don’t want to license Tapas because it has just begun; we’ve been publishing for nine months now. And I think we’ll be a great business. We’re already breaking even in this short time, but I’m not interested in licensing the magazine for some fee here or some fee there. I’m interested in furthering the brand.

Samir Husni: Why did you decide to not only launch Tapas in Spanish, but also in an English edition? I saw it in the United States and it’s probably in the U.K. as well.

Andrés Rodríguez: Yes, it’s worldwide with a multi-circulation. I did both editions because when I thought about the magazine that would be my very first creation, I knew it would be a lifestyle and cooking title. And I looked and found some other titles that were interesting, but having both languages was more for me. Two was more. I thought two was more in line with the big mainstream magazines.

Tapas 3-17 I knew lifestyle and food was what I wanted, because chefs are the new rock and roll stars. Michelin stars are like the new Oscars. And I asked myself, what other magazine is talking about those things; none. There are magazines out there talking about a cheesecake recipe and that’s great. But with the big chefs, we don’t talk about the recipes; we talk about their tattoos or their hair. And we talk about the experience; let’s go to this country and drive to this chef’s incredible, marvelous restaurant and have an adventure.

After the idea, I knew I needed to find a word; a brand, for the magazine. I happened to be in New York working once and I was riding in a taxi and the word Tapas came to me and I thought this is an incredible brand name and it’s a Spanish word which means basically that we share the food with others, because it’s more important to talk than actually to eat the food.

So, I knew I had the word. Next, I knew we had to publish in English, because if not, if I just published in Spanish…I thought to myself, what would Tyler do with this? (Laughs) I said, OK, Spanish is great because Spanish is the second language in the world, but I also think in English, so we need English too, so that’s why it happened.

Samir Husni: Have you ever doubted yourself with any of the titles; did you ever think that maybe some people were right and print had no future? Yet, here you’re telling me that you’re making money; you’re breaking even on Tapas already; and all of the other titles are doing great. Did you ever doubt print’s future?

L'Officiel Voyage-6 Andrés Rodríguez: No. I trusted my instincts. I always follow my heart. I used to explain it like this; of course, I have my iPad and my iPhone and I’m absolutely connected to the world just like everybody else. But when I’m reading a magazine it’s usually in particular places: on a plane, on my sofa, or in my bed. And in these kinds of places I’m relaxed; with a magazine I’m relaxed. My body is in the relaxed position. When I’m connected with the iPad; I’m electrified by the constant connection with everything. And that’s great; being electrified isn’t worse than being relaxed, but it’s different. It’s like apples and oranges.

Somedays I want to be electrified, but somedays I need to relax and print personifies relaxing. And when you put something in print; it’s like a golden letter. And when you put the same thing on digital, it’s like nothing. I used to use this example: if your wife came to you and asked if you read something on the iPad about the neighbors talking badly about us, and then the same situation, only she asks did you read it in the newspaper; it becomes much more serious when it’s in the print platform. We don’t think about how many copies of the printed version are out there, versus maybe millions of digital readers who just saw those terrible words said about the family, but the printed edition is something that we would shop for. This is what’s marvelous about print.

The other thing is, as humans, we have five senses and print touches each of those. With the iPad, the electrification touches eyes and ears, but not the nose. Smell is important, the smell of food; the smell of a woman or of a man. The hands are also important. The hands experience touch, touch of the skin; touch of many things. And paper has this quality, especially if you invest in it. Before you read any single word, you touch the paper and the impression is made immediately; either you like it or you don’t.

But I need to convince advertisers of this fact, for me it’s obvious, and I know it’s the same for you, but when you talk to the advertisers, sometimes they follow trends rather than sensory feelings.

Samir Husni: If we are to accept the fact that people who work in magazine media are more of the smart and creative types; why did it take us five or six years to discover that print is not dead?

Andrés Rodríguez: Very simple. Audience and circulation are the two things that all of the companies are fighting for. And in my opinion, this is the second step. The first step is product. The companies need to be more invested in product than circulation because they cannot invest in circulation if they don’t have the money. But the bigger companies are more worried about audience because they identify audience as people and money. They think that if they lose one point in audience, they lose a lot.

Esquire II-16 We, all of the people who love magazines the way they were done in the 1960s or 1970s and the life of the magazines then; we realize that type of magazine either has good or bad circulation. When we put all of the covers of Esquire on the wall and look at them; there isn’t a single word spoken about the circulation. There isn’t a single word spoken about how much money one particular cover is going to make. Will it be profitable or a big disaster? Of course, I need to make money in order to continue my magazines, but the first question is product, not circulation.

During the last five years, digital has offered us more audience than we know what to do with; audience and more audience, and those audiences scrambling for more free content. If you have the brand, digital will give you the followers. But many of the followers who clamor after the digital brands aren’t interested in the magazine experience. The experience is what it’s all about with the magazine.

And newspapers have the same problem. They lose the experience when they focus on the exclusivity of the news. The exclusivity of news is not for the newspapers any longer. The newspaper cannot give us news; it must give us the experience.

Samir Husni: That’s one of the things that I tell other journalists and all my clients; the day we end up being just content providers is the day that we’re dead. We have to be experience makers.

Andrés Rodríguez: Content providers are easily available; why not, big companies have the money. They will hire 100 journalists and say give me content; I’ll put it on TV, and it could be journalists on TV, why not? But the experience is the thing.

The magazine business will never die; it will never die because a magazine is the voice of a community. And you need that community to be so big that it gives you advertising to make the magazine. And you need to identify new communities. Magazines will never die.

I think in the present and in the future, we will need to publish the best magazines that we can. I used to say that I liked to publish magazines that made people feel sad when they tossed them in the rubbish. And that’s the magazines that I want to publish, and of course, I need to make money every month too. If not, I will be out of business. (Laughs)

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

IMG_1300 Andrés Rodríguez: It’s not true that we live in a very mature market; and it’s also not true that nothing is possible in our market; anything is possible in our Spanish market. The audience is smarter than we are; the readers are smarter than us; they’re faster than we are and they definitely know more than us. And the clients need us, the clients, our advertisers, need good magazines. But we need to be able to explain to them how we can be useful to them, because when clients launch a new product, they hire the best people in the world to launch their product; they hire the best design teams to showcase their products, and they need good magazines to put these products inside of.

We don’t need to be worried about audience; we need to be worried about talent. And I’m absolutely optimistic, even though I suffer every month and every year with my budgets. I want my company to increase and grow and I am very optimistic.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your house one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing? Would you be reading your iPad, or reading a magazine; watching TV?

Andrés Rodríguez: You would find just music playing; you would see a mountain of international magazines sitting around that I don’t have time to read, including magazines that I’m really not interested in, but I check them anyway, and a glass of wine, of course. And I do cut pages out of other magazines. And you would also see pages of the latest issues of my magazines around too, printed and edited with my pen, because I correct all of the pages. Then with my phone I send the corrected pages to my people.

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

Andrés Rodríguez: The budget of the magazines. I’m always thinking about how I’m going to find more money to make these magazines stronger and also to find more free time to come up with new ideas.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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MG Magazine: Connecting Cannabis Professionals With Buyers & Brand Leaders – The B To B Magazine That’s Doing It Consumer-Style – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Tom Hymes, Editor-In-Chief

January 22, 2016

“I’ve answered the question is print dead for so many years now; it’s just become ludicrous. Print is not dead; it’s not going to die. People love magazines; they love the tactile nature of them, just like I do and I always have. It’s like books, picking up a book and having it in your hand. And I think that will survive, even through millennials and whatever generations follow.” Tom Hymes

MG Cover-2 The cannabis industry and the publications that cover it, from growing to marketing, are finding their niche on the nation’s newsstands. No longer just B to B trade publications, some of them are moving into the book stores and retailer shops where controversy and compliance go hand-in-hand. MG magazine is one such B to B that could now be described more accurately as a B to C publication with its debut in Barnes & Noble this January.

Tom Hymes is the editor-in-chief of MG and is no stranger to controversy himself. Before he jumped onboard the cannabis express, for many, many years Tom was a driving team member of Adult Video News (AVN) and knows a thing or two about topics of interest that are prone to cause dissention among the ranks.

I spoke with Tom recently about his new endeavor at MG and about his long affiliation with AVN, and how he seemed to thrive in polemic environments, of which he happily agreed with. It was a most entertaining and informative discussion and brought the public’s interest and the magazine industry’s pursuit of the cannabis movement many miles forward.

With Tom’s experience and proclivity for activism in controversial matters and his true concern for human rights across all topics, he would appear to be the man for the job when it comes to leading MG into its proper spot in the marketplace.

So, I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tom Hymes, Editor-In-Chief, MG magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

20160109_205254 On that moment of conception for the magazine and the driving factors behind its creation: In point of fact, I was brought into this project by my former employer, a man by the name of Darren Roberts, who is the publisher and the CEO of CANN Media Group, and previously was the CEO of AVN, which is Adult Video News. He approached me and said he was going to start an integrated media company with a focus on the cannabis industry, which was something that I had been looking at for a couple of years and was thinking about maybe starting for my own magazine. The original conception of what this company was going to be, specifically the publication; was very interesting to me.

On whether there’s a difference when it comes to editing for online versus editing for print and are they the same audience or entirely different: Increasingly, you’re servicing the same people. I feel that I have an advantage in that I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. I’m an older person. I was raised reading books; I was a full-on adult before there was ever an Internet and I was around at the advent of it and I took to it right away. But I’m equally comfortable in both spheres and very able to write long articles. But for many years now I’ve been working in a digital environment and in the same way that I’m bicoastal, I’m steeped in both digital and print. I appreciate both.

On whether working on controversial magazines is what makes him tick and click: Yes, in fact, it does. It does turn me on. I’m an activist type anyway; in between my editorial duties, I was the communications director for the Free Speech Coalition, which is the Trade Association for the adult entertainment industry and I loved that job because I have a true activist bent. And I was on their board of directors, but after a while, unfortunately it interfered with my writing, because I couldn’t write about anything that was happening in those meetings and I’m a writer and a journalist first. It all depends, because the activist part of me believes in our constitution and I don’t believe in running away from things and if it’s something I really believe in, I’ll stand and fight within the parameters of the law. That’s just me. And maybe it’s a similar sort of bent in proclivity that leads me to be interested in these types of industries.

On what keeps him up at night: What keeps me up at night is probably what keeps any other editor up. Even though I don’t panic, being constantly at deadline makes me wary or perhaps it’s the unknown.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Tom Hymes, Editor-In-Chief, MG magazine.

Samir Husni: We’re seeing this entire new genre of magazines aimed at cannabis growers and they’re beautifully done, but they’re not what you think of when it comes to a B to B magazine. And you’re also now moving into the B to C area by having the magazine at Barnes & Noble and other locations. So tell me about that moment of conception and the driving factors behind the creation of the magazine.

Tom Hymes: In point of fact, I was brought into this project by my former employer, a man by the name of Darren Roberts, who is the publisher and the CEO of CANN Media Group, and previously served as the CEO of AVN for 17 years, which is Adult Video News. He and his partner Paul Fishbein ran the company and all of its associated properties for several years. Paul founded the company in the 1980s and remained a part of the business until it was sold in 2010.

My wife and I are theatre people and one of the actresses in my theatre company was also working at AVN and she offered me a job writing and that’s how I made my way into the adult entertainment sphere, which I really knew nothing about. And I wound up writing and then becoming the editor-in-chief of a magazine called AVN Online, which covered the adult online industry and I was absolutely fascinated, so I did that for many years.

While AVN was a huge company and due to some unforeseen circumstances both Paul and Darren ended up selling AVN in 2010. Paul went on to forming Plausible Films and Darren took a break from publishing for a few years and then one day last April he called me and wanted to have lunch to talk about this new project he was beginning.

I started at AVN as a writer in 1999 and then I left and worked for the trade association and I also worked for a competitor and then I went back to AVN in 2009, where I was writing just really online, doing daily news from 2009 to 2015. For six years I was writing some features for the magazine, but the staff at that time was really minimal, so I was really covering the entire adult online industry for them. I was writing lots of stories, they were just flowing through me, but I wasn’t very happy.

So, he approached me and said he was going to start a similar type of enterprise, beginning with a print publication, for the cannabis industry, which was something that I had been looking at for a couple of years. I jumped at the opportunity.

20160109_205142 For the original conception of what this publication was; the idea was brought to me. And it’s a tried and true business model. And really the B to C component, in Darren’s mind, is very, very minor. And even though I had argued for many years that even AVN magazine was a consumer magazine masquerading as a business magazine, in the sense that there were very few Bona fide business articles in it, there was a lot of content that was geared for the consumer, like with Hollywood Reporter and other so-called trades, and was read by and almost written for people who are interested in entertainment. And the adult entertainment industry is an entertainment industry just like the other Hollywood across the hill.
And also most of the traffic that went to AVN.com was consumer traffic. That was my take on it. But the business model is purely B to B. It is written for, in this case, mainly medical marijuana dispensaries around the country and then also we’ve expanded that to hydroponic shops and other professionals in the industry. It’s a traditional controlled requested circulation publication. Having overseen controlled circ products before we took all precautions to insure that the right people were receiving MG.

However, that model depends on a mature marketplace. And if there’s anything that’s not mature yet, it is the cannabis marketplace. The relationship between vendors and retailers is still extremely wild, wild west. Much of it is still gray market, some of it is in black market and obviously there are many obstacles to that. One is the fact that it’s still a Schedule I draw and if there is anything that touches the plant, you can’t sell or market across state lines. You often cannot advertise; you can’t do banking, even your professional services are problematic; people are still going to jail, so it’s a big problem.

So, the establishment of those really solid vendor and retailer relationships on a level that supports a very sophisticated B to B magazine is happening as we speak in stops and starts. We recognize that this is an emerging market and that the business model needs to be changes constantly along the way.
Now, Barnes & Noble came to us; they approached us and wanted to carry the magazine, which is, to my understanding, extremely rare, if not unheard of. And even though I was not in on those conversations, my assumption is that they did that because other similar interest publications were selling. This is a lifestyle business and MG needs to serve many needs.

We’re a business magazine and all of our articles need to be tied back to business, but there are elements in it that are very consumer-friendly. And Rob (Rob Hill) and I are very well aware of that. I’m more of a B to B guy; I come out of that world. Rob Hill, the executive editor, as you know, is a B to C guy. I’ve helped him with his conversion to B to B and he’s taken to it very well. We’ve found that balance and we’re really comfortable with it.

Barnes & Noble is only the beginning of our newsstand roll-out and you can expect to see us taper up as the market continues to grow.

Samir Husni: Tom, you’ve had both experiences. You’ve worked online and in print; is there a difference as an editor in the actual job of editing something online versus editing something in print? And are you serving the same readers or are you dealing with two different audiences when it comes to online and print?

Tom Hymes: Increasingly, you’re servicing the same people. I feel that I have an advantage in that I’ve thought about this a lot over the years. I’m an older person. I was raised reading books; I was a full-on adult before there was ever an Internet and I was around at the advent of it and I took to it right away.

But I’m equally comfortable in both spheres and very able to write long articles. I’m a New Yorker-type-magazine guy; Rob and I talk about this all of the time. We cannot conceive of writing a feature article that’s really less than 3,000 words. And our word count has been cut down below that now, which is like cutting off limbs for us. But for many years now I’ve been working in a digital environment and in the same way that I’m bicoastal, I’m steeped in both digital and print. I appreciate both.

And as far as editing something, in the same way that I don’t ever write down to an audience or a reader; I don’t edit for anything really but length. Now online I don’t even think about it. If I’m editing something and it’s going online; it’s simply for clarity. There’s a proper length it should be and I’m in to editing; if it’s not necessary I cut it out. I’m not married to anything, so I’m constantly going back to things online and revising them so they’re what I think of as perfect.

I want everything to be a little gem, so for me it’s like chasing a story or idea and shaving it until it’s perfect. And that could go in any direction, depending on the day. And I’ve become facile over the years, especially writing at AVN, at posting five or six stories every day and now when I go back and remember; I remember looking at them and seeing original material and government reports, Wall Street reports, legal documents and I’d read them all really quickly, turning them around fast. The world of digital media demands that type of speed and you have to be really fast. Likewise, I’m able, like Rob, to sit down and craft a very long piece and have it flow that way.

Handling a 100-page magazine is far different that was I was doing at AVN, at one point AVN was over 400 pages monthly and AVN Online averaged 250 pages and just had a wealth of content in them every month, when I sit down and interview someone I really take my time with them and then I go and transcribe it and often I’ll have 10,000 words and then I sit and relive it and I carve that into a story. And the question is always; what do I leave out? And I’m always leaving gold on the floor.

At AVN I would take all of those long interviews and put them online. The people who were interested in reading all of the other wonderful stuff that didn’t make it into the publication would go online and read that. And those got a lot of traffic and were greatly appreciated and to me it’s the best of both worlds.

I’ve answered the question is print dead for so many years now; it’s just become ludicrous. Print is not dead; it’s not going to die. People love magazines; they love the tactile nature of them, just like I do and I always have. It’s like books, picking up a book and having it in your hand. And I think that will survive, even through millennials and whatever generations follow.

But digital media is so absolutely necessary; it’s an absolute requirement now. For every aspect of this project that we’re doing, there isn’t a person who doesn’t come to us and ask where the article is online. Or can they get the photos online. People need that immediacy and I agree with it. Also, I’m a breaking news guy. I want to cover this industry, so if I get something, I want to break it right away. You can’t do that in a magazine. A magazine is about taking issues and topics and finding larger stories and rendering them with care, but it’s not for breaking stories.

So, I love it all and I think that there’s a place for all of it and I believe that print and online are two masters that serve similar but different needs and work together in harmony. I absolutely believe that and I think both of them are wonderful. A lot of the online stuff will never go away, but I’m not just a fast food person. I do think that people get tired of fast food and they crave sustenance. And sustenance can be found online too.

That’s the irony of all of this, that often you’re going to find more sustenance online, because you can put more of everything online, longer pieces. And you can go off on digressions and longer sidebars and more pieces of information. This is what I appreciate about The New York Times’ digital environment. It’s so rich. I think they set a standard by whatever they’re covering, they expand it and it becomes almost like an encyclopedia of current life.

We are closely following our roll-out strategy and I very much look forward to launching our digital products later this year. This industry is rich with stories and people and just everything. It’s absolutely astonishing. And every day I’m learning new things.

And with the cannabis industry, everything is happening so quickly and the stakes are so high, and then add into that the people and the passions, and not just in one particular state, it’s throughout the country. It’s really a goldmine for journalists.

Samir Husni: As a journalist, and based on your work at AVN and at MG, do you thrive on working on controversial issues; controversial magazines? On the hand, you’ve been worked in the adult video industry and now it’s the marijuana industry; is that what makes you tick and click?

Tom Hymes: Yes, in fact, it does. It does turn me on. I’m an activist type anyway; in between my editorial duties, I was the communications director for the Free Speech Coalition, which is the Trade Association for the adult entertainment industry and I loved that job because I have a true activist bent. And I was on their board of directors, but after a while, unfortunately it interfered with my writing, because I couldn’t write about anything that was happening in those meetings and I’m a writer and a journalist first.

It all depends, because the activist part of me believes in our constitution and I don’t believe in running away from things and if it’s something I really believe in, I’ll stand and fight within the parameters of the law. That’s just me.

And maybe it’s a similar sort of bent in proclivity that leads me to be interested in these types of industries. Obviously, I’ve thought about that a lot too. I’m very comfortable about it. I go perhaps where others fear to tread and take on issues that I think are extremely important. And I have to say when it comes to adult entertainment; yes, there’s just the porn business, but there’s also civil rights issues.

And there are clearly very important, not just civil rights issues, but human issues that run throughout the cannabis industry. It’s not just stoners and people getting high. The issues are extremely serious and go to the core of a lot of what’s going on in this country and has for many years.

And I’m drawn to those and I want to do things that are really important. Of course, there are many other issues out there that I could deal with editorially or I could involve myself with an institution or an organization. But it’s true, there is something about these industries that are more controversial and also highly regulated, where the law comes into play and people are going to jail. It’s very serious stuff. But very few people are going to jail for obscenity prosecutions anymore, they used to. I was very involved with all the legal and political stuff then and it still really speaks to me. All the lawyers know me, just as they will in this industry as well.

I could have become a lawyer myself, but I didn’t want to be a lawyer; I don’t want to be constrained by that. Someone has to get in there and write about the issues in an unbiased way. And sort of a side thing is these are trade magazines, they aren’t really consumer magazines.

The other thing that’s really difficult is to keep your nose clean, because there’s always someone who wants to buy you. There are very few real journalists that are writing the real truthful stories. People used to say that I was the last journalist in adult entertainment. And I would laugh because I’m gone. There is no one at AVN that’s writing the types of stories that I did.

And there were constraints from above about places that I could go and certain stories would get killed, and I was always fighting against that because the fact of the matter is that the mainstream is often unable to really write about industries with a real deep understanding of what’s going on. They’re kind of on the outside looking in. And it’s really up to trade publications to help their industries by writing about the stories that need to be told. And that’s extremely difficult to do sometimes, because there are just a myriad number of forces that are working against you doing that. Sometimes it’s just economics, but often they’re very political.

I’ve never really had a mentor and I didn’t go to journalism school, I just sort of took this on and made my way through it over the years. But I would find myself coming to forks in the road and places where my professional and personal integrity was at stake. Did I go this way or that way? And these things were real; I was confronted by those types of decisions all of the time.

Those things are going to happen, and are happening, in this industry as well. And one thing that I know about myself is that no one could buy me and no one ever will now. But all of these challenges, which are sometimes purely editorial, but sometimes they go for morality and ethics, they’re all of interest to me. And they’re all extremely exciting to me. And they happen in these particular industries. And I think I’m drawn to it. It’s very exciting and challenging and I’m not sure why that is when it comes to me. Nevertheless, it’s true.

Cannabis is a highly regulated industry and it’s full of individuals who are not your typical type of business people. Sometimes they don’t want to be told what to do; they’re not Wall Street types, though there are more of those coming in. In fact, that is where a lot of the tension in this industry resides, there are a lot more mainstream types of people who are now coming into this industry and there are fisher points between them and the old guard.

Adult entertainment was not anything that I was a real consumer of, there was really no reason for me to have stayed there for 15 years. But it was the issues and the subject matter and the people that was an endless source of really interesting possibilities for stories. Just tons and tons of interesting and important, I believed, stories that were impacting, not just the people in the industry, but regular people as well.

And that’s true here as well and will increasingly be so.

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

Tom Hymes: There’s a certain satisfaction of seeing all of the hard work we do come together in this magazine, and the fact that it resonates with people; I’m not sure how to describe that feeling. It’s not financial; it’s a level of satisfaction that goes beyond any of that.

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

Tom Hymes: What keeps me up at night is probably what keeps any other editor up. Even though I don’t panic, being constantly at deadline makes me wary or perhaps it’s the unknown.

I’ll get up at 3:00 a.m. because there will be a train of thought in my brain; maybe something was left unresolved or some work still needs to be done. Maybe I forgot to send an email; it’s just never-ending.
Another thing that keeps me up is doing justice to the people and the things that I’m writing about. And that’s what really drives me. My responsibility is not only to provide value to our readers, but also to do justice to the subjects that we write about and to tell their stories as fully as we can. And it’s powerful.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

AARP The Magazine: America’s Largest Consumer Magazine – Fighting The Good Fight To Disrupt The Idea Of Aging In America – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Bob Love, Editor-In-Chief of AARP The Magazine

January 19, 2016

“In my business, I’ve been around a long time, 20 years at Rolling Stone, and then the next 15 at a variety of publications. All I know is that the alarmists are almost never correct. Print is far from dead and it’s a great time still to be a journalist.” Bob Love

“I believe it’s (print) far from dead. There are people who think that we’re in the buggy-whip business, but when you deliver 1.3 million new readers to your publication in the last year, I would say that’s not quite true.” Bob Love

aarp6 When media people and those in the advertising side of the business think of audience engagement or reaching core customers and entrancing new ones into the fold, their minds are usually on that sector of individuals dubbed millennials. Fair? No, far from it. True nonetheless. And while millennials are a very important part of the industry’s life’s blood, there is another extremely large group of people, in fact, 100 million strong, who are being overlooked and slighted when it comes to cultivating their readership. That group is the 50+ audience.

Bob Love is out to change that one-sided practice and perception. Bob is editor-in-chief of the largest circulation magazine in the country: AARP The Magazine. And at AARP The Magazine, the 50+ opinion is the only one that matters. According to the magazine’s research, 50+ Americans will soon control more than 70 percent of the disposable income in this country. They buy two-thirds of all the new cars, half of all the computers and a third of all movie tickets. They spend $7 billion a year shopping online. And travel? More than 80 percent of all the premium-travel dollars flow from their credit cards.

So why then do magazines and magazine media and advertisers think this group of readers is not a viable investment? Bob’s answer for that is one simple word: ageism. And he should know since he worked at Rolling Stone magazine for 20 years and saw every assignment and every move the magazine made through, as he called it “the lens of youth.” And now he sees through a much more mature lens that is entirely in focus on the needs of his readers.

Having worked with some of the greats like Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe and P.J. O’Rourke, he also knows good writing when he reads it and brings that skill and others he has gained throughout his life’s work to AARP The Magazine to make it a force to be reckoned with in the world of magazines. Through respect for his reader and stories, design and photography that engages as well as informs, Bob is making the statement that 50+ is now the age to be and to attract if you want a readership that can spend money, share their free time and have a love for print that no other audience has right now in this country.

So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with the inimitable Bob Love, Editor-In-Chief, AARP The Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

Eli Meir Kaplan for AARP The Magazine Portrait of AARP The Magazine editor-in-chief Robert Love on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at AARP in Washington, DC.

Eli Meir Kaplan for AARP The Magazine Portrait of AARP The Magazine editor-in-chief Robert Love on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at AARP in Washington, DC.

On why he thinks the advertising and media worlds today are only interested in what millennials have to say instead of including baby boomers in the conversation as well: First of all, I think there’s ageism in our society. And at AARP we are in kind of a constant battle to counter the pernicious effects of ageism, that thinking that people can be dismissed or counted out because of how many years they’ve lived on earth. I think that advertising and the media itself has fairly ageist persuasions. And I believe that’s the problem.

On the magazine’s readership growth over recent years:
Our readership from the fall of 2003, when we were first measured by MRI, has grown by 11.669 million readers, which is more than the total population of Greece. The growth of the magazine is bigger than 88% of all the MRI measured magazines. That’s why I think this is the great story that’s underneath the noses of all of the media reporters, and you were the only one smart enough to come back to me and say let’s do this interview. This is a very rare success story in publishing in the 21st century.

On the fact that baby boomers have more money to spend and more free time that millennials and yet they remain almost invisible to marketers: It’s a gigantic wave of baby boomers that are still purchasing and still making decisions about what they want to do. They travel more than anybody else and it’s kind of a mystery. That’s why I said you asked me the hardest question first, because I don’t know why the advertising community; why media in general thinks that it’s OK to slag off people over 50.

On how his role of editor has changed since his years at Rolling Stone:
The short answer is we saw everything through the lens of youth and now I see everything through the lens of the fifty-plus American who has dreams and deserves to live a dignified life and to be treated with respect in society.

On how he has utilized his skills to change AARP The Magazine:
I’ve been at AARP The Magazine for 2½ years now and I’ve taken my skills of a lifetime in publishing, a combination of Rolling Stone, which was a mass market dual audience magazine, and my time at Rodale magazines, where service is preeminent; Playboy and Reader’s Digest, which each had their own sort of secret sauce, and I sort of combined them together, but the truth is AARP The Magazine is a dual audience, general interest magazine with a mass audience and a mass reach. We had a chance to do Bob Dylan on the cover in February 2015, and that proved to be kind of a shot-heard-round-the-world, in terms of the impact. People kind of had an “aha” moment: oh my gosh, AARP The Magazine has Bob Dylan on the cover. And Bob Dylan chose us to be on the cover and take his message to Americans who are 50 and over.

On whether he used his Rolling Stone connections more than AARP’s connections to get the Dylan cover:
I have to say in all humility that Bob Dylan chose AARP to take his message out. He could have had the entire arts and leisure section of The New York Times if he’d wanted. But he chose our team and I did know his PR guys and his manager from phone calls at Rolling Stone, but the truth is he made that decision. We just took the ball and ran with it as much as we could.

On when he thinks he’ll feel like he’s accomplished that “it” moment with the magazine:
I don‘t ever feel like this is it; with a magazine you’re constantly tweaking the design, the editorial approach and it pretty much is what I love to do. I hadn’t really been in charge of a magazine since Rolling Stone and it’s great fun. I don’t think there’s any stopping it. We poll our readers online every issue because we’re not sold on the newsstand. We do a great deal of internal research and so we find out the things that they want in their magazine and the things that they consider must-reads.

On whether he can ever envision AARP The Magazine without a print component:
Can I see a day when we don’t have a print component? I can see a day maybe into the future, but older readers tend to be the people who are reading magazines. If you look anywhere around you, young people are reading their phones. It’s older people who are actually reading magazines still. So, we’ll be one of the last ones probably to go over because print is still so necessary to reach our readers. And I believe it’s far from dead. There are people who think that we’re in the buggy-whip business, but when you deliver 1.3 million new readers to your publication in the last year, I would say that’s not quite true.

On working with people such as P.J. O’Rourke, Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson:
(Laughs) The thing is, I survived; there are editors who did not quite survive their contact with Hunter. First of all, I loved Hunter and I loved working with him. And I was grateful for the privilege of working with him. I wrote a piece about him in the Columbia Journalism Review and if you read it you’ll see that it was quite a journey to work with Hunter.

aarp2 On whether he believes journalism today is more lower-case or upper-case:
I don’t think I would venture an opinion on that because there’s so much more journalism now. When I grew up there were three television stations; there were a few very good national newspapers, and now with the Internet, there are so many more people making journalism and there are so many more outlets, that it would be wrong of me to make a judgement whether or not it’s lower-case journalism.

On the secret sauce of AARP The Magazine:
That’s a good question. I think it’s treating its readers with respect, not talking down to them, giving them as much variety and depth in the pages of an every two month magazine as we can fit. And keeping it modern and up-to-date, not pandering, and using the best talent in photography and design and journalism that you can afford.

On audience engagement with the magazine: I think it’s not taking their interest for granted. We’re an association magazine with all of the joys and exigencies that come with that. People get so much mail that they could throw it away. And AARP generates a lot of mail, but we happen to know from our own surveys, in addition to the independent surveys like MRI, that somewhere between six or seven out of ten readers really read all four issues.

On whether his colleagues and friends thought he was crazy to consider the job as editor-in-chief of AARP The Magazine:
(Laughs) I’m the only one out of all of my contemporaries and colleagues who has a full time job. Everybody else is putting together the freelance life and trying to keep body and soul together job to job. People on the inside who have to make a living practicing the art of journalism know that a general interest magazine that serves 36 million readers is nothing to laugh at.

On the biggest challenge he’s had to face since taking the job with AARP The Magazine: That’s another great question and I know the answer and I’ll be very succinct. The greatest challenge in making an interesting AARP The Magazine is the lack of pages. And because our printing and postage costs are so phenomenally high there is a great deal of energy in getting the number of pages that we do down. Like any magazine, it’s the calculus of how many pages of advertising you have versus how many pages of editorial you can afford to put out to 22 million homes. It is the biggest problem because there is so much more that we could do, that I personally would love to do with the magazine.

On anything else he’d like to add:
We’re fighting the good fight at AARP The Magazine to disrupt the idea of aging in America. And that’s an important notion and that’s what we see as the role of the publication. And by the way, I’m also the editor of the AARP Bulletin, which similarly goes out to 22 million homes, 10 times per year.

On what someone would find him doing at home in the evenings if they showed up unexpectedly on his doorstep:
Typically, I watch the cable news shows in the early evening around dinnertime, one liberal and one conservative, so I can understand the mood of the country. (Laughs) And then if I read at home, I probably tend to read newspapers and magazines on my tablet. I have the paper magazines at work so this just keeps the clutter down in my home.

On what keeps him up at night:
I think I’m concerned about the political discourse in this country. Every time I think I’m shocked by it, by how the backbenchers have grown into a chorus of haters, with their own biosphere of radio, television and print, something else happens. I fear for the nation and I fear for an emerging generation of millennials who will, I also fear, not have as rich a life as we’ve had, because it’ll be harder for them to have higher wages to buy homes and other things that have always been associated with the American Dream.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Bob Love, Editor-In-Chief, AARP The Magazine.

Samir Husni: When you were working at Rolling Stone and at almost any other job that you’ve had, people were constantly clamoring to get your views and ideas on everything, and the magazines’ views and ideas that you were working on at the time. And now that you’re working at the largest circulation magazine that we have in the country and serving almost one-third of the Baby Boomers out of the 72 million, everyone only wants to talk about the millennials. Why do you think that’s the case?

Bob Love: Did you have to ask me the hardest question first? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Bob Love: First of all, I think there’s ageism in our society. And at AARP we are in kind of a constant battle to counter the pernicious effects of ageism, that thinking that people can be dismissed or counted out because of how many years they’ve lived on earth. I think that advertising and the media itself has fairly ageist persuasions. And I believe that’s the problem.

If you want to get it on record here about who we are at AARP Publications, we are the largest consumer magazine in the nation. We have 22 million subscribers and 35.95 million readers according to the fall MRI.

Samir Husni: You’ve shown a very healthy growth from years past, where you had something like .75 percent readership per copy and now you’ve increased that readership quite a bit.

aarp4 Bob Love: Our readership from the fall of 2003, when we were first measured by MRI, has grown by 11.669 million readers, which is more than the total population of Greece. The growth of the magazine is bigger than 88% of all the MRI measured magazines. That’s why I think this is the great story that’s underneath the noses of all of the media reporters, and you were the only one smart enough to come back to me and say let’s do this interview. This is a very rare success story in publishing in the 21st century.

Samir Husni: As an editor who has quite a few years under your belt, whether it be at Rolling Stone or editor-at-large at Playboy or as an adjunct professor at Columbia University; what can you do to change the stereotype? I tell my students all of the time; we have as many baby boomers as we have millennials in this country.

Bob Love: That’s right.

Samir Husni: Who has more money to spend; who has more free time: the millennials or the baby boomers?

Bob Love: (Laughs) This is certainly true. We know, because we pay attention to these things. People over the age of 50 are 100 million strong. We will soon control more than 70 percent of the disposable income in this country. We buy two-thirds of all the new cars, half of all the computers and a third of all movie tickets. We spend $7 billion a year shopping online. More than 80 percent of all the premium-travel dollars flow from our credit cards. Add it all up, as my AARP colleague Jody Holtzman did last year, and U.S. adults who are over 50 ka-ching as the third largest economy in the world, trailing only the gross national product of the United States and China!

And still, older Americans are virtually ignored by marketers mired in last century’s obsession with youth. In fact, only 5 percent of advertising is directed at older consumers, according to Nielsen, which has been tracking Americans’ habits for decades. It’s insulting.

As veteran ad man Bob Hoffman put it recently, “Almost everyone you see in a car commercial is between the ages of 18 and 24. And yet, people 75 to dead buy five times as many new cars as people 18 to 24.” Nielsen calls people 50 and up “the most valuable generation in the history of marketing.”

It’s a gigantic wave of baby boomers that are still purchasing and still making decisions about what they want to do. They travel more than anybody else and it’s kind of a mystery. That’s why I said you asked me the hardest question first, because I don’t know why the advertising community; why media in general thinks that it’s OK to slag off people over 50.

I think it’s a reflection of ageism in our society and now that I’m in the middle of this revolution about what it means to be middle-aged and older in our society, I find it very, very interesting.

Samir Husni: You have over 35 years of experience under your belt as a journalist; if you were to compare your role as managing editor at Rolling Stone and your role now as editor of AARP Magazine; how has your role as editor changed since your years with Rolling Stone?

Bob Love: That’s an excellent question and I’ve thought about it. At Rolling Stone we saw everything through the lens of youth; the crime stories were about youth; the political stories were often ones that interested youth, college loans, etc. Jann (Wenner) wanted himself and his readers to have a seat at the table of public discourse, and Rolling Stone was kind of the first on the scene to do that.

So, the short answer is we saw everything through the lens of youth and now I see everything through the lens of the fifty-plus American who has dreams and deserves to live a dignified life and to be treated with respect in society.

Samir Husni: How have you utilized those skills that you have to, maybe not change people’s perceptions of the fifty-plus American, but in reality to change the magazine?

aarp1 Bob Love: I’ve been at AARP The Magazine for 2½ years now and I’ve taken my skills of a lifetime in publishing, a combination of Rolling Stone, which was a mass market dual audience magazine, and my time at Rodale magazines, where service is preeminent; Playboy and Reader’s Digest, which each had their own sort of secret sauce, and I sort of combined them together, but the truth is AARP The Magazine is a dual audience, general interest magazine with a mass audience and a mass reach.

And so it basically comes natural to me to think that what I’m interested in and what I know my friends are interested in, and the people whose opinions count, will be of interest to many of the millions of readers who get the magazine.

We had a chance to do Bob Dylan on the cover in February 2015, and that proved to be kind of a shot-heard-round-the-world, in terms of the impact. People kind of had an “aha” moment: oh my gosh, AARP The Magazine has Bob Dylan on the cover. And Bob Dylan chose us to be on the cover and take his message to Americans who are 50 and over.

Samir Husni: It’s my understanding that you used your connections more than the AARP connections to get that Dylan cover and also to get the CD that went to very specific, lucky subscribers.

Bob Love: I have to say in all humility that Bob Dylan chose AARP to take his message out. He could have had the entire arts and leisure section of The New York Times if he’d wanted. But he chose our team and I did know his PR guys and his manager from phone calls at Rolling Stone, but the truth is he made that decision. We just took the ball and ran with it as much as we could.

And we got to deliver the new CD to thousands of our readers and also a discount to millions of our readers if they wanted to buy it.

That’s one of the things that I love about my job here, the access I am granted. I got to interview Bob Dylan, President Obama, Robin Roberts, Bill O’Reilly and Michael Douglas, all in the space of about 14 months. And I get to work with one of the grand dames of women’s publishing, Myrna Blyth, who dispenses great magazine ideas as easily as breathing.

Samir Husni: When will you feel like this is that “it” moment with the magazine?

Bob Love: I don‘t ever feel like this is it; with a magazine you’re constantly tweaking the design, the editorial approach and it pretty much is what I love to do. I hadn’t really been in charge of a magazine since Rolling Stone and it’s great fun.

I don’t think there’s any stopping it. We poll our readers online every issue because we’re not sold on the newsstand. We do a great deal of internal research and so we find out the things that they want in their magazine and the things that they consider must-reads.

So it’s my job to reinvent service for the fifty-plus readership; it’s my job to bring them something surprising in each issue if we have the pages to do it. And I don’t think that’s a job that’s ever done. I feel like you just keep doing it every day. And surround yourself with people who love to do the same job.

Samir Husni: If I heard you correctly, you said you poll the people online; I thought us older folks didn’t use online. We’re ink on paper people, right?

Bob Love: (Laughs) That’s far from true.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Bob Love: We know that our readers do a lot of online reading. And we get to them for the most important thing, which are our reader engagement surveys, and we do that online.

By the way, one of the things that MRI turned up for us in the fall is that we continue to have the highest reader engagement metrics in the business bar none. Actually, 66% read four out of four of the last issues, compared to the other top ten total reach magazines, which are at least 20 or 30 points behind that.

So, this is a magazine that people really take quite seriously and they love it. They spend 45 minutes with it every time they get it and it’s quite successful when it comes to engaging its readers.

Samir Husni: I know we live in a digital age, but can you ever envision AARP The Magazine without the ink on paper component and everything will be digital-only?

aarp3 Bob Love: That is the great issue of our time. How do we cross over that divide between paper and digital? We have an active online site for the organization; we put our magazines out on tablet and I’m negotiating with Texture right now to get us onto that platform.

Can I see a day when we don’t have a print component? I can see a day maybe into the future, but older readers tend to be the people who are reading magazines. If you look anywhere around you, young people are reading their phones. It’s older people who are actually reading magazines still. So, we’ll be one of the last ones probably to go over because print is still so necessary to reach our readers.

And I believe it’s far from dead. There are people who think that we’re in the buggy-whip business, but when you deliver 1.3 million new readers to your publication in the last year, I would say that’s not quite true.

Samir Husni: Not too many journalists can say they’ve worked with and edited people like Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe and P. J. O’Rourke. One of my colleagues here at the University of Mississippi is Curtis Wilkie, who was a very good friend of Hunter S. Thompson’s. So, just the mere fact that you worked with Hunter S. Thompson should have left some kind of an impact on you.

Bob Love: (Laughs) The thing is, I survived; there are editors who did not quite survive their contact with Hunter. First of all, I loved Hunter and I loved working with him. And I was grateful for the privilege of working with him. I wrote a piece about him in the Columbia Journalism Review and if you read it you’ll see that it was quite a journey to work with Hunter.

But the guy had such a distinct voice and was so very generous as a writer and as a seer in our society that it left me thinking that there are possibilities with voices in journalism that are out there. But you have to be careful, for every Hunter there are a thousand Hunter imitators. For every Tom Wolfe…it’s the same story, you know?

But to seek out the voices, the truly unique voices working in journalism, that was something that Jann Wenner did very well and I’ll always take my lessons from him and be grateful to him for all of the things that he taught me. And one of them was, believing in people who have an idiosyncratic view and supporting them. It was a long haul with Hunter; it was a long haul with Tom Wolfe’s book, which was serialized in the magazine. I enjoyed working with Tom too, very much; he’s such a great talent and a gentleman to work with. And P.J. O’Rourke; I even brought him into AARP The Magazine to do something on the baby boomers last year.

Does it change you to work with great writers? Yes it does. It shows you possibilities; it shows you the unique power of voices in journalism, which is a subset of what we do.

Samir Husni: Do you think today’s journalism compared to the journalism of the pre-digital age is more of a lower-case journalism or more of an upper-case journalism?

Bob Love: I don’t think I would venture an opinion on that because there’s so much more journalism now. When I grew up there were three television stations; there were a few very good national newspapers, and now with the Internet, there are so many more people making journalism and there are so many more outlets, that it would be wrong of me to make a judgement whether or not it’s lower-case journalism. I would think that some of the stuff we’re seeing now is of the highest quality. It’s much harder to break through to readers in this environment where we are saturated with information.

Samir Husni: When you referred to Reader’s Digest and Playboy as having their own secret sauce; what is the secret sauce for AARP The Magazine?

aarp5 Bob Love: That’s a good question. I think it’s treating its readers with respect, not talking down to them, giving them as much variety and depth in the pages of an every two month magazine as we can fit. And keeping it modern and up-to-date, not pandering, and using the best talent in photography and design and journalism that you can afford.

Basically, it’s all of the ingredients that I learned at the other publications. Reader’s Digest is a mass market magazine that is much smarter than young people might give it credit for. It’s a very smart magazine. At Rodale, they reinvented service and brought young men into the tent that hadn’t been in, and they basically have done so much work in making service relevant and to have its voice speak to young men and young women.

Samir Husni: Not to put down any former editors of the magazine, but somehow you’ve used your magic journalism skills to actually give me, and I am that audience, something to engage with when I sit down to read.

Bob Love: Do you read it?

Samir Husni: Yes, I do. I am an active member. (Laughs)

Bob Love: I think it’s not taking their interest for granted. We’re an association magazine with all of the joys and exigencies that come with that. People get so much mail that they could throw it away. And AARP generates a lot of mail, but we happen to know from our own surveys, in addition to the independent surveys like MRI, that somewhere between six or seven out of ten readers really read all four issues.

So, we pay attention. I think maybe that’s the best way to shorthand what an editor can do to serve his or her readers and that’s to just pay attention and to give them what they want, and also to lead and to give them something surprising in each issue. In the last issue we had a piece on aging gangsters, who of course do not get social security, do not have 401K plans and most of the time do not live to get very aged. But today’s gangsters are living quite long, so it was sort of a surprise curve ball piece to appear in the magazine.

Samir Husni: When you told people you were offered the job as editor-in-chief of AARP The Magazine; did they think you’d lost your mind to even consider it or did they say wow and congratulate you?

Bob Love: (Laughs) I’m the only one out of all of my contemporaries and colleagues who has a full time job.

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

aarp covers Bob Love: Everybody else is putting together the freelance life and trying to keep body and soul together job to job. People on the inside who have to make a living practicing the art of journalism know that a general interest magazine that serves 36 million readers is nothing to laugh at.

Again, it comes back to the inherent ageism in our society. It seems to be OK to make fun of older people, and to make fun of AARP because it represents those older people. We used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons, but we’ve dropped that because maybe 40% of our members work part time or full time now. It’s a different population of people 50 and up, as you well know.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve had to face since taking the job and how did you overcome it?

Bob Love: That’s another great question and I know the answer and I’ll be very succinct. The greatest challenge in making an interesting AARP The Magazine is the lack of pages. And because our printing and postage costs are so phenomenally high there is a great deal of energy in getting the number of pages that we do down. Like any magazine, it’s the calculus of how many pages of advertising you have versus how many pages of editorial you can afford to put out to 22 million homes. It is the biggest problem because there is so much more that we could do, that I personally would love to do with the magazine.

We should have a column for men because women are more natural magazine readers than men and I’d like to appeal to men more. I’d like to use my experience at Best Life and Men’s Health to figure out how to speak more directly to men and bring men into the fold. We know that we’re slightly more women than men in terms of readers, but we also know, and you know too, that women are the great readers of service. They are always looking for ways to improve their lives, their families’ lives, their homes, and men are not that. Men gravitate toward other things.

I would do that and I would expand the feature well. We have this really great little section in the back of the book called “Personal Best.” And these are all photo-driven stories about people 50 and older who are doing really cool and interesting things. That’s a section that I would expand too. Or I would move some of it up front. I’m literally held back by the number of pages in which we have, which is somewhere around 52-53, six times per year.

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

Bob Love: We’re fighting the good fight at AARP The Magazine to disrupt the idea of aging in America. And that’s an important notion and that’s what we see as the role of the publication. And by the way, I’m also the editor of the AARP Bulletin, which similarly goes out to 22 million homes, 10 times per year. The magazine is the glossy paper with the color photos, which is a bit more accessible. People remember they’re getting it in the mail. It’s kind of our flagship method of communication with our readers.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly one evening at your home, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching TV or simply relaxing with a glass of wine?

Bob Love: Typically, I watch the cable news shows in the early evening around dinnertime, one liberal and one conservative, so I can understand the mood of the country. (Laughs) And then if I read at home, I probably tend to read newspapers and magazines on my tablet. I have the paper magazines at work so this just keeps the clutter down in my home.

And then later on in the evening I go to a book or Netflix or something like that. So, if you arrive unannounced, it depends on what part of the evening you arrive.

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

Bob Love: I think I’m concerned about the political discourse in this country. Every time I think I’m shocked by it, by how the backbenchers have grown into a chorus of haters, with their own biosphere of radio, television and print, something else happens. I fear for the nation and I fear for an emerging generation of millennials who will, I also fear, not have as rich a life as we’ve had, because it’ll be harder for them to have higher wages to buy homes and other things that have always been associated with the American Dream.

And I’m not just being facetious; those are the things that keep me up. In my business, I’ve been around a long time, 20 years at Rolling Stone, and then the next 15 at a variety of publications. All I know is that the alarmists are almost never correct. Print is far from dead and it’s a great time still to be a journalist.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Good Housekeeping: 130 Years Old & Still Necessary, Relevant & Sufficient In This Digital Age – The Mr. Magazine Interview With Jane Francisco, Editor-In-Chief, Good Housekeeping.

January 15, 2016

“Personally, I’m very passionate about print. I love magazines and I love working on magazines. I love the fact that magazines actually are finite. There’s something about that that’s really special. So, I personally have a passion for print.” Jane Francisco

“In terms of how important print is to our business, more than half of our audience is in print. It requires finer attention, shall we say, because of the fact that it can’t be changed once it’s printed. That’s one of the things about print; people keep it longer. I still think it’s a hugely important part of our business and certainly right now, it’s where our audience is, with nearly 20 million readers every single month, that’s a big deal. And when we sort of carve that audience up and look at it and we look at how many women in our audience are in a certain age and stage in life or are of a group, for instance, people who are very interested in beauty or some other category; we still speak to more women in those niches than a lot of the verticals do.” Jane Francisco

GHFeb As Hearst Magazines celebrates several milestones; Good Housekeeping is 130 years strong; Town & Country is 170, House Beautiful is 120 and Harper’s Bazaar is nearly 150, and these are not typos as David Carey wrote in his recent end of the year letter to the global magazine company; one might ask how do legacy brands such as these inimitable titles stay necessary, relevant and sufficient in this digital age?

With Good Housekeeping, Editor-In-Chief Jane Francisco says it has to do with retaining all of the magazine’s strengths and values that it has stood for through the generations, while simultaneously making sure they stay aligned with the lifestyle of each subsequent generation. And at Good Housekeeping the proof is in the pudding or the Good Housekeeping Institute anyway.

I spoke with Jane recently and we talked about her two-year anniversary with Good Housekeeping after a successful tenure as editor in chief of Chatelaine, the leading women’s lifestyle media brand in Canada. We also discussed the multifaceted extensions that the brand is showcasing in this new year of 2016, such as the inaugural Best New Car Awards for 2016 that GH teamed up with Car and Driver magazine to introduce, the celebration of The Year of the Connected Woman, which they have deemed 2016 to be, and the special themed issue in September tied to the year of The Connected Woman.

All in all, 2016 is lining up to be the magazine’s best year yet. And according to its editor-in-chief, it will only get better and stronger in every area, with each successive year to come.

Jane has settled in at Good Housekeeping and is prepared to steer her massive brand-ship into exciting new waters as the New Year unfolds and Mr. Magazine™ is very anxious to board the GH ship. So without any further ado, here is Mr. Magazine’s™ interview with Jane Francisco, Editor-In-Chief, Good Housekeeping.

But first the sound-bites:

 

Jane Francisco Headshot-Credit Sian Richards On whether her first two years at Good Housekeeping has been all smooth sailing: The first six months was a lot of absorbing. The magazine that I worked on previously was quite similar, in terms of mix of content, audience, marketing, etc. So that part was a fairly easy transition, but working with a new team and then having the Good Housekeeping Institute also be a part of that, was really an exciting new element for me and sort of a steeper learning curve. Understanding the processes and the methodology of all of the testing and research that’s done there and then working with the team to look at how we could develop more content from that testing and research.

On how it feels in this digital age to edit a legacy brand that’s 130 years old:
First and foremost I feel a huge responsibility to the company that owns the brand and to the audience and their expectations that come with them. It’s a huge challenge because as you go from generation to generation, you have to make sure that this brand continues to be as relevant to the next generation as it was to the previous one. And that’s the challenge.

On whether as an editor she ever feels overwhelmed as the role constantly evolves:
We certainly do have a lot of pots on the stove. A couple of different things about that; one, I would say as someone who has worked on general lifestyle magazines like Good Housekeeping and Chatelaine, the one I worked on previously, and I’ve also worked on verticals, so I’ve worked on shelter publications; I’ve worked on a health and beauty magazine and a fashion magazine. It’s a very different challenge to focus on all of those various areas at one time to a very large audience, than it is to try and deliver depth and expertise in just one area. So, Good Housekeeping presents that challenge on its own, just the magazine because of needing to deliver relevant content for every life stage in health, beauty, fashion and real-life stories; that’s big.

On how important the print edition is to Good Housekeeping in this day and age:
Personally, I’m very passionate about print. I love magazines and I love working on magazines. I love the fact that magazines actually are finite. There’s something about that that’s really special. So, I personally have a passion for it. In terms of how important it is to our business, more than half of our audience is in print. It requires finer attention, shall we say, because of the fact that it can’t be changed once it’s printed. That’s one of the things about print; people keep it longer. I still think it’s a hugely important part of our business and certainly right now, it’s where our audience is, with nearly 20 million readers every single month, that’s a big deal.

On whether her print audience is the same as her digital audience:
Our research is showing that there’s not a huge amount of overlap. Of course, we do have a lot of different audiences within digital as well. There’s online, but then we have Facebook, which is online, but our Facebook audience is really important and that’s fairly sizable as well. And then all of the other social components: Twitter, Instagram, etc.

On her reaction when she was made the offer to become editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping:
I got the offer for the job through several months of very deep conversations and proposals. So by the time that happened I was pretty engaged in the process, so it wasn’t surprising in the sense that it wasn’t like someone just called me up and said, hey, let me give you this job. (Laughs) But of course, I was thrilled and at that point I had made a decision that it was something that I wanted to do.

On the major stumbling block that she’s had to face:
Well, this may tell you more about me than the job, which is kind of sad. (Laughs) I think the biggest stumbling block for me was probably the same stumbling block that I had on my previous job when I started, and that was making assumptions, thinking that because you had done a job similar to this one before that it was going to be smooth and easy. Not saying necessarily that it wasn’t smooth and easy; it’s just that you kind of come in with an assumption that the learning experience you had before you’ll be able to apply directly and of course you can, but it’s more to the point to say that you apply it more indirectly.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning:
I feel like every day there are too many new things to do. Not too many in a bad way; it’s just every day I feel like I can’t wait to get there. I want to get there early so I can get a jump on the day and the things that I need to do.

On whether service journalism is the core of the print edition or the entire Good Housekeeping brand:
I would say that service journalism is really the core of the brand. In the digital space, the highest traffic drivers are often stories that really draw you in. So, I would say that while the site itself may have a lot of service journalism, a lot of the stories that draw people onto the site is the real-life stories.

On anything else she’d like to add:
This year we are celebrating The Year of the Connected Woman, which is something new and exciting for us at Good Housekeeping. Technology has become such a huge part of women’s everyday lives. And not technology for technology’s sake, but it’s a part of how we connect with one another, with our family and friends and the community.

On what’s in store for Good Housekeeping in 2016:
That’s our big focus, celebrating The Year of the Connected Woman. And we’ll have a special themed issue in September tied to the year of The Connected Woman. Women who are making a difference; women who are connected with their communities, and then we’ll also be looking at how we connect.

On what someone might find her doing in the evening if they showed up unexpectedly at her home:
A typical work night, I would either be watching something on my iPad or, depending on what part of the month we’re in, I would have a stack of pages of the magazine in my lap. I would be flipping back and forth and thinking: I should really do my work now or maybe I’ll do it in the morning; I’ll just finish watching this show or movie first. That’s pretty typical for me once my son is asleep.

On what keeps her up at night:
I may have half-answered this before, but what keeps me up at night usually is all of the balls that we have up in the air. I’m actually a pretty good sleeper, but if I was thinking about work, which I pretty much think about work when I fall asleep, and when I wake up I’m usually thinking: how are we going to get done; who’s going to get it done; and how can we move any number of whatever the projects are forward; and is it moving forward.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jane Francisco, Editor-In-Chief, Good Housekeeping.

Samir Husni: You’ve now been at Good Housekeeping for two years; tell me about those two years. Has it been smooth sailing the entire time or have you encountered some choppy waters? How easy has it been to adjust as editor-in-chief of one of the largest women’s magazines in the country?

GHJan Jane Francisco: The first six months was a lot of absorbing. The magazine that I worked on previously was quite similar, in terms of mix of content, audience, marketing, etc. So that part was a fairly easy transition, but working with a new team and then having the Good Housekeeping Institute also be a part of that, was really an exciting new element for me and sort of a steeper learning curve. Understanding the processes and the methodology of all of the testing and research that’s done there and then working with the team to look at how we could develop more content from that testing and research.

So that was the first thing and at that point we were really focusing on the redesign and a lot of that had to do with creating more content around the testing and the Institute, bringing forward some of our experts a little bit more into the pages and developing the lifestyle content in a stronger way.

At that point, we were 129 years old, so the heritage of this brand is really important. We have a very large, loyal reader base that we wanted to keep happy and excited about the brand. So, I would say that was kind of the whole first year of my initial experience.

I would say the last year has been more like measuring how it’s going and continuing to evolve all of the pieces.

Samir Husni: David Carey in his letter to the company and the media mentioned that Town & Country is 170 years old and Good Housekeeping is 130 years old and he followed that directly by saying this was not a typo. How does it feel today in this digital age to edit a magazine that’s 130 years old? And how is that different than editing the other magazine that you were working on?

Jane Francisco: The other magazine that I was at immediately prior to Good Housekeeping was the Canadian magazine, Chatelaine. In my last year there we celebrated 85 years, which is not 130, but once you get multigenerational and you’re enough generations along that there’s no one living who was around when it started, you’re essentially then dealing with the same type magazine.

But in answer to your question; first and foremost I feel a huge responsibility to the company that owns the brand and to the audience and their expectations that come with them. It’s a huge challenge because as you go from generation to generation, you have to make sure that this brand continues to be as relevant to the next generation as it was to the previous one. And that’s the challenge.

So, how do you retain all of the strengths and values that we’ve stood for over the years and at the same time make sure that it’s aligned to the lifestyles of the next generation? So that when the next generation starts to build their homes and start to think about their families, the offering that Good Housekeeping is providing is completely relevant, useful, compelling and exciting to them.

Samir Husni: Do you ever feel overwhelmed because of all of your responsibilities? You teamed up with Car and Driver to do the Best New Car Awards for 2016; you’re taking what the Institute has done with the Miracle Mop and linking it to the movie, and editing the magazine while trying to reach a new generation; that’s quite a plate-full. As the role of editor evolves; do you feel like you have too many pots on the stove?

Jane Francisco: We certainly do have a lot of pots on the stove. A couple of different things about that; one, I would say as someone who has worked on general lifestyle magazines like Good Housekeeping and Chatelaine, the one I worked on previously, and I’ve also worked on verticals, so I’ve worked on shelter publications; I’ve worked on a health and beauty magazine and a fashion magazine.

It’s a very different challenge to focus on all of those various areas at one time to a very large audience, than it is to try and deliver depth and expertise in just one area. So, Good Housekeeping presents that challenge on its own, just the magazine because of needing to deliver relevant content for every life stage in health, beauty, fashion and real-life stories; that’s big. But we have a great team and that’s the expertise that they bring, and as far as that goes, I’m like the conductor or the orchestra leader. I rely heavily on that team.

And then when we look at the business as a whole, there are a number of different things. You mentioned the Car and Driver awards, the Good Housekeeping Car and Driver awards that we launched this year with Car and Driver magazine. So, that’s really exciting and brand new in a way, but also in a way, we have been testing cars with Car and Driver for a number of years. It’s not new for our engineers. The process is not new and obviously testing products is not new for us, our engineers have been doing that for decades.

This year what was new was in how we packaged it and the fact that we decided to craft it in such a way that we were really focusing on the top cars in each category. So that’s the case for a lot of the different stuff that we’re doing.

You mentioned Joy (Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano) and the launch of the movie, and of course her products; she celebrates 20 years since she first got the Good Housekeeping Seal on her products. And that’s really exciting for us.

The Good Housekeeping Seal is the perfect example of the look back and the look forward. It’s something that’s a part of our history and a part of our heritage and very important to the brand.

Joy and her products have been an important part over the last couple of decades. And now here is something that’s really interesting and compelling that’s happening in the popular culture sphere with her and her products and for us to be able to celebrate that and really tell her story and get her personal with her, because of course, those really personal stories are a part of what really drives us at Good Housekeeping and is a big part of the connection with our audience. That was a really wonderful moment for us, to do that and bring all of those pieces together.

So yes, it’s very challenging, but I have fabulous teams and support from Hearst as well. And it is true that our jobs as editors are evolving; beyond the page is more of our job than on the page a lot of the time.

Samir Husni: Mentioning the page; how important is the print edition to Good Housekeeping in this day and age?

Jane Francisco: Personally, I’m very passionate about print. I love magazines and I love working on magazines. I love the fact that magazines actually are finite. There’s something about that that’s really special. So, I personally have a passion for print.

In terms of how important print is to our business, more than half of our audience is in print. It requires finer attention, shall we say, because of the fact that it can’t be changed once it’s printed. That’s one of the things about print; people keep it longer. I still think it’s a hugely important part of our business and certainly right now, it’s where our audience is, with nearly 20 million readers every single month, that’s a big deal. And when we sort of carve that audience up and look at it and we look at how many women in our audience are in a certain age and stage in life or are of a group, for instance, people who are very interested in beauty or some other category; we still speak to more women in those niches than a lot of the verticals do. I feel like we have a huge responsibility to these women.

We speak to more women who are classified MRI as big beauty spenders, than a vertical like Allure. To us our beauty coverage and our beauty lab and the work that we do in there and the information that we give about the products, is really important because we’re speaking to a huge audience of very engaged readers in that category alone.

And on top of that, you add in all of the women who may not be big beauty spenders, but when they do spend money in the category they want to make sure they’re spending it on the right item. What we do is really important.

The growth obviously in the last couple of years, our big growth, has been in the digital space and the big opportunity is how can we expand our audience through the digital space and have a more interactive relationship?

Samir Husni: Those 20 million print readers; are they also your digital audience, or do you have a different audience on the digital side? What’s the percentage of duplication?

Jane Francisco: Our research is showing that there’s not a huge amount of overlap. Of course, we do have a lot of different audiences within digital as well. There’s online, but then we have Facebook, which is online, but our Facebook audience is really important and that’s fairly sizable as well. And then all of the other social components: Twitter, Instagram, etc.

A lot of the online traffic now is being driven from Facebook, so we’re still “search first” and then Facebook. But again, the research is showing that a lot of the audience that we’re getting in the digital space is new audience and when you look at the audience as a whole in digital, the median age is younger. So it is a place where we’re addressing the next generation in terms of growth. And with print, we’re really looking at that as an important element as well.

Samir Husni: Do you remember your reaction when you received the offer to become editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping?

Jane Francisco: I got the offer for the job through several months of very deep conversations and proposals. So by the time that happened I was pretty engaged in the process, so it wasn’t surprising in the sense that it wasn’t like someone just called me up and said, hey, let me give you this job. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Jane Francisco: I was pretty highly vested in it by that time. But of course, I was thrilled and at that point I had made a decision that it was something that I wanted to do. I will be honest with you, when I was first approached about it, I was very surprised and not 100% certain, because it was such a big move for me personally. I was working on a brand that I was really excited about and proud of; I’d been there for almost five years and so I felt like we were getting some real traction. We’d had significant growth, both on newsstand and in readership in the last couple years I was there. And I felt like we were starting to build a momentum.

And so when you’re in that situation, you feel like everything is working and it’s good and quality of life is happening for you, and then the next opportunity comes up and sometimes it’s hard to know. And at the same time going into it, I knew it was going to be rigorous and they weren’t just going to say here’s the job, take it. So going into it I wasn’t 100% sure.

But I sort of said, OK; let’s explore this together because certainly as an opportunity, I grew up in a household where Good Housekeeping came into our house every single month, so I was very, very familiar with it and it was really connected to me and my life and my mom and grandmother’s lives. It was my grandmother’s favorite magazine.

My ambiguity around it was not because I didn’t think it was an amazing opportunity; it was almost because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on that level of commitment. But once I got engaged in the process and the more I learned about the business and the more I explored the possibility with David Carey and Ellen Levine and Michael Clinton, and eventually Pat, who’s the publisher here, I became more and more excited about the possibilities. So when the actual job offer happened, I was very excited and then of course, you sort of click into the, oh no, now what’s; and how do you move your family. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block that you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

Jane Francisco: Well, this may tell you more about me than the job, which is kind of sad. (Laughs) I think the biggest stumbling block for me was probably the same stumbling block that I had on my previous job when I started, and that was making assumptions, thinking that because you had done a job similar to this one before that it was going to be smooth and easy. Not saying necessarily that it wasn’t smooth and easy; it’s just that you kind of come in with an assumption that the learning experience you had before you’ll be able to apply directly and of course you can, but it’s more to the point to say that you apply it more indirectly.

I’m not sure that’s a stumbling block, it’s more of a hindsight thing maybe, because now I feel comfortable in my job and at home with the brand and at home here in this building, with this team and this company and brand.

I guess with every new organization, you have to learn things layer by layer and that can be complicated. And coming into the U.S. market; I’m actually very familiar with it and there’s a huge amount of spillover, but that was new as well because from a human resource perspective, being in the same market you sort of take things for granted. You get to know people; you work with them, whether it’s freelancers or editors; you know of them and of their work indirectly. So coming in here was challenging. It took a little longer to get to know people and to get to know talent.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and think, wow; I can’t wait to reach the Hearst Tower?

Jane Francisco: I feel like every day there are too many new things to do. Not too many in a bad way; it’s just every day I feel like I can’t wait to get there. I want to get there early so I can get a jump on the day and the things that I need to do.

My day is pretty much filled with meetings, back-to-back. And in almost every single meeting there is a new idea or a new partnership or a new program that I get excited about and that my team can get excited about.

I feel like the industry over the last couple of years feels like it’s speeding up, it’s pretty relentless. And as a result, you have to seize your thinking. And there are more and more opportunities being presented and the biggest challenge is figuring out which opportunity you’re going to follow up on and which ones you can execute well. So, every day I wake up and I can’t wait to get to the office and get started. Although, this morning, honestly, what woke me up was my sick son. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Is service journalism still the core of the print edition or is it the core for everything that’s Good Housekeeping?

Jane Francisco: I would say that service journalism is really the core of the brand. In the digital space, the highest traffic drivers are often stories that really draw you in. So, I would say that while the site itself may have a lot of service journalism, a lot of the stories that draw people onto the site is the real-life stories. And at the same time, the Top-10 type of products and services that we’re testing for all of the time also are there.

Samir Husni: Is there anything that you would like to add?

Jane Francisco: This year we are celebrating The Year of the Connected Woman, which is something new and exciting for us at Good Housekeeping. Technology has become such a huge part of women’s everyday lives. And not technology for technology’s sake, but it’s a part of how we connect with one another, with our family and friends and the community.

So, as we look at this year, starting with Joy and our car awards and moving into looking at the kitchen of the future, and really melding what Good Housekeeping is best at, which is what is new and the authority that comes from the Institute, along with our relationship with real women in real time and how they’re living their lives. That’s what we’re thinking about right now and planning for and building.

Samir Husni: What’s in store for Good Housekeeping in 2016?

Jane Francisco: That’s our big focus, celebrating The Year of the Connected Woman. And we’ll have a special themed issue in September tied to the year of The Connected Woman. Women who are making a difference; women who are connected with their communities, and then we’ll also be looking at how we connect. How these changes that are happening all around us are going to impact us and how we can determine which ones we want to use and when we want to shut it down.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening, what would I find you doing; reading your iPad; reading a magazine; or watching television? It’s your own personal “me time” what would you be doing?

Jane Francisco: A typical work night, I would either be watching something on my iPad or, depending on what part of the month we’re in, I would have a stack of pages of the magazine in my lap. I would be flipping back and forth and thinking: I should really do my work now or maybe I’ll do it in the morning; I’ll just finish watching this show or movie first. That’s pretty typical for me once my son is asleep.

I find that reading; real reading, unless I’m reading for work, like excerpting from a book or something; real reading is something that I do mostly on weekends and on vacation, because so much of what we do all day is reading-oriented and I find by the time my son’s in bed, I’m pretty much ready to just wind down. Occasionally, I might have a glass of wine at that time, if my husband and I are hanging out and then I wouldn’t be watching anything.

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

Jane Francisco: I may have half-answered this before, but what keeps me up at night usually is all of the balls that we have up in the air. I’m actually a pretty good sleeper, but if I was thinking about work, which I pretty much think about work when I fall asleep, and when I wake up I’m usually thinking: how are we going to get done; who’s going to get it done; and how can we move any number of whatever the projects are forward; and is it moving forward. So I think the fact that we have so many things on the go is what keeps me up at night. And that’s in a good way.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Thoughtfully Magazine: Living Passionately, Beautifully & Thoughtfully Every Day – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Brandie Gilliam, Founding Editor & Creative Director, Thoughtfully Magazine

January 13, 2016

“When I look at print and digital; for me, digital is something that you go to when you need something fast. You’re looking up information, which is typically how most people are engaging with digital. It’s very much something on the go. When you look at digital, the underbelly is much different; it’s not for this kind of meaningful, thoughtful connection and I think that’s what print brings. They’re different mediums and I think it all comes to life. That’s what I’ll say print does; print brings a project to life.” Brandie Gilliam

“They’re hungry and I think with print it’s not so much that print is dead; I think the way we’ve been doing print is dead. And it’s very important for those who are doing print to understand that. Readers, especially in this digital age, are much more informed than ever. They are much savvier than they’ve ever been and the power is really in their hands, not in our hands. No longer can we just feed this level of information and expect people to just accept it.” Brandie Gilliam

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story

image1 Creative curators and inspiration enthusiasts, this is how the magazine Thoughtfully describes itself. It is a passionate statement made through the pages of an exceptionally stunning magazine that encourages its readers to live passionately, beautifully and thoughtfully every day of their lives. And the driving force behind this creatively-done publication is a woman who personifies those elements of the “Thoughtfully” lifestyle herself.

Brandie Gilliam comes from the corporate world and knows how to wield understanding and marketing strategies to really comprehend what the customer wants and needs when it comes to a product. According to Brandie, Thoughtfully was born from a consumer need to understand what print was and could be in this digital age, and a desire that women had to see themselves in a more definitively positive way.

I spoke with Brandie recently about the genesis of Thoughtfully and the fact that she felt this consumer need was better served in print and digital, rather than a pixels-only publication that couldn’t be physically held and touched.

We talked about the fact that Thoughtfully is not only an engaging magazine, but also a community and a movement; a lifestyle that the brand is encouraging their readers to delve into. Living passionately, beautifully and thoughtfully is not only the magazine’s tagline, but also its underlying reason for existing. And through every word printed, Brandie strives to convey that message.

So, I hope you enjoy this most “thoughtful” interview with a woman who knows how to help us all live a better life in a very creative way.

And now, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brandie Gilliam, Founding Editor & Creative Director, Thoughtfully Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

image1 On whether “Thoughtfully” began first on the web and then moved into print: No, we actually started in print. It’s available in a digital version that you can download to your iPad or digital reader. We wanted to give that option to readers, even though we do ship internationally.

On that moment of conception with the magazine and why she decided to go with print in this digital age: I think there’s always been this recognition that there was something needed on the newsstands; we would hear it over and over in different conversations, whether it was in forums or on social or Vine, but women were really longing for a better connection with what’s happening in print today. They wanted something that was more representative of them, something they could read and feel good about doing so. They wanted to read something that assured them that they were good enough.

On her own personal background: My background is in corporate. I have a Bachelor’s of Science from Liberty University in Management Information Systems, with a dual minor in Psychology and French. So, marketing and branding has been my labor of love over the years in both the print and digital space. And I’ve also been in a couple of Fortune 500 companies. That’s really what I’ve been doing over the years.

On the fact that she’s not just founding editor and creative director of the magazine, she also writes quite a bit herself: Yes, there’s a lot that I touch at Thoughtfully, so it’s really a labor of love for me. The entire process, from laying out what our content is to the different contributors; it’s all very much hand-selected through a thought process. Everything is intentional. Everybody who touches the pages of Thoughtfully is carefully selected. Even the content that I may get involved with; obviously, I’m not going to set out to write an entire magazine, nor do I think anyone wants to read a complete magazine with one, solo writer. Plus, I think it makes it great when you hear different perspectives, different stories from different viewpoints.

On whether friends and colleagues asked her if she was out of her mind to launch a print magazine today: (Laughs) I don’t think anyone asked me that because it happened so fast. Maybe if I had done the typical planning, which usually I would do. I come from years of being in a corporate environment where there’s a lot of market research and product development goes into it and it’s one or two years in the making before you even hit to market. This was not the story for Thoughtfully.

On what she thinks print can deliver today that digital cannot: You hear so many people say all of the time; when I just want to lie on the beach and read a good book or have a good magazine with me or the times when I just want to cozy up on my couch and feel something between my fingertips and have an experience, I want print. It’s a bit different and much more connective since it’s tangible and something you can actually feel when you touch the pages between your fingertips. You’re able to see print come to life and it’s a much different experience.

On what she has learned between issue one and issue four: (Laughs) Oh, I have learned a lot. Some of the big differences obviously, coming from a corporate background; you’re used to a big, big budget. And Thoughtfully, of course, doesn’t have that luxury. When you’re starting new, you don’t always have it, especially when you’re doing it and it’s not backed by some type of corporation. So doing more with less has been a big lesson that I’ve learned.

On the major stumbling block that she’s had to face: We are based out of Destin, Fla. and literally most of our team members are spread throughout the United States and I even have some contributors internationally based. My background in corporate has served me well up to this point, in terms of being used to working with great talent. Sometimes you find that working with great talent means that they may not be sitting in your backyard and so you have to get really good at communicating over the phone and via emails.

On whether a year later she is more determined than ever to continue on this journey: Yes, more than ever I’m encouraged by our readers and the feedback we’ve been getting when people discover us. They call us a breath of fresh air and say that we’re exactly the magazine that they’ve been waiting their entire lives for. And to see it really resonate with people, that for me really is exciting because it’s much more than a magazine. We call ourselves a community and a movement, but I really look at Thoughtfully as being this kind of aide with helping people live their best lives.

On whom her reader actually is: Our reader is primarily female, between the ages of 25-40. She has a hunger and a desire for more. She eats relatively healthy or wants to eat healthy; she enjoys traveling and exploring; she enjoys wanting to be the best version of herself, and she may be vegan or she may want to go organic. Or maybe she’s just more thoughtful in her approach to her eating habits. And she loves the outdoors and being connected to nature as well as those around her.

On why she wants to slow her very active reader down and make her think: That is what we’re literally doing. So, how do you, with all you’re encountering and doing, get this kind of moment where you can stop and really be thoughtful and intentional in how you’re living day to day? We’re all in this kind of rat race, this journey where we’re chasing life. We just did an article about that in issue four. And so, how do you provide these types of pauses and touchpoints to get this woman to dig a little deeper? And it’s up to her as to how deep she wants to dig, but what we want to do is be able to provide that.

On anything else she’d like to add: For us, just adding what Thoughtfully is really doing to this space and why I think people are gravitating toward it. They’re hungry and I think with print it’s not so much that print is dead; I think the way we’ve been doing print is dead. And it’s very important for those who are doing print to understand that.

On what she would be doing if someone showed up unexpectedly to her home: It would be a combination. You’d definitely find me curled up with my husband and our dog. We have a small dog; she’s a Lhasa Apso named Angel. So you would see me curled up with them and I will probably have a magazine by my side. I will have an iPad in hand and I’ll probably have my iPhone next to me. And a book of some sort as well.

On what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning: The desire to create at a high level. That’s what gets me out of bed, the desire to do it better than I did it the day before.

On what keeps her up at night: How to do it better. And when I say do it better; with Thoughtfully I’m constantly thinking what are the conversations that are happening? What do our readers need to know right now? What is top of mind in their lives and how do I get to know that and how can I do that better? How do I tell the story better visually and in our writing?

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Brandie Gilliam, Founding Editor & Creative Director, Thoughtfully Magazine.

Samir Husni: My first question to you is, did “Thoughtfully” start out on the web and then move to print?

image2 Brandie Gilliam: No, we actually started in print. It’s available in a digital version that you can download to your iPad or digital reader. We wanted to give that option to readers, even though we do ship internationally. There is just an element of our readers and customers that do want that ease of a digital format. And we made sure to provide that.

Samir Husni: Tell me about that moment of conception for the magazine, when you had the idea to live “Passionately, Beautifully and Thoughtfully” every day. How did you come up with the idea and why did you decide to go with print in this digital age?

Brandie Gilliam: That’s a great question. I’ll start by saying that our story is a bit different than most. It was really one of those things where you see a need that’s been there for a while and then one day you decide to fill it. And I think anytime an idea forms, there’s usually this buildup, these conversations in our lives and then everything just sort of escalates to this moment in time where suddenly you say: I need to do this. Or it comes to mind that now is the time.

But I think there’s always been this recognition that there was something needed on the newsstands; we would hear it over and over in different conversations, whether it was in forums or on social or Vine, but women were really longing for a better connection with what’s happening in print today. They wanted something that was more representative of them, something they could read and feel good about doing so. They wanted to read something that assured them that they were good enough.

Also the sort of green beauty or that organic space; really finding something that from a beauty perspective had products in there that did not contain toxic chemicals or fashion that was actually ethical as far as where it was produced. When you see the main pockets of thoughtful living, you usually see it in health and fitness and some gardening things. But really food and fitness are what dominate it.

So literally, it was this idea that happened; we saw the need and in a matter of three months, from the idea to the content, Thoughtfully was born. And within a month of our first issue being born we were on newsstands nationwide starting with Whole Foods Markets.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little about yourself, Brandie.

Brandie Gilliam: My background is in corporate. I have a Bachelor’s of Science from Liberty University in Management Information Systems, with a dual minor in Psychology and French. So, marketing and branding has been my labor of love over the years in both the print and digital space. And I’ve also been in a couple of Fortune 500 companies. That’s really what I’ve been doing over the years.

I do not come from the world of journalism or magazines. I attended Fashion Institute of Technology for my graduate level work in New York City and had the opportunity to intern for Essence magazine, and that’s about as close to the magazine world as I’ve been. But I’m an avid reader. And being a marketer and a brander, a good one, you learn the skill of listening. What I believe a good marketer does is not just solely push a message or a product on someone; you really understand how that end-user would be relating with your product or service and you’re getting to know what they want.

With Thoughtfully, it was really listening to the conversation and saying, you know what, there’s a big need for this, let’s produce something with the expertise that I bring to the table. Knowing how to bring creators and different creatives together and being able to spearhead and execute a project from start to finish, knowing the level of detail and project management, resource management; all the things that are involved with it. And I had to transfer that skillset into this world of constant producing.

I kept it at a quarterly because I knew that was something that would be doable and I certainly wasn’t going to bite off more than I could chew. And it’s really been a great story since we’ve launched our first issue.

Samir Husni: I noticed after reading through Thoughtfully that you’ve written a lot yourself in the magazine, so you’re not just acting as a founding editor and creative director, you’re also a writer for the magazine.

Brandie Gilliam: Yes, there’s a lot that I touch at Thoughtfully, so it’s really a labor of love for me. The entire process, from laying out what our content is to the different contributors; it’s all very much hand-selected through a thought process. Everything is intentional. Everybody who touches the pages of Thoughtfully is carefully selected. Even the content that I may get involved with; obviously, I’m not going to set out to write an entire magazine, nor do I think anyone wants to read a complete magazine with one, solo writer. Plus, I think it makes it great when you hear different perspectives, different stories from different viewpoints.

But yes, I do play a role in everything from start to finish; I’m not just the publisher. We try to make sure at Thoughtfully that we have a nice group of different creatives, from photographers, other writers, illustrators, artists that get to play a part, because that’s important. To me there are so many talented people out there and how do we provide this platform for them and do it in a way where we get to really share those gifts with the rest of the world.

Samir Husni: When you discussed the idea with friends and colleagues at work; did people ask you if you were out of your mind to launch a print magazine today?

Brandie Gilliam: (Laughs) I don’t think anyone asked me that because it happened so fast. Maybe if I had done the typical planning, which usually I would do. I come from years of being in a corporate environment where there’s a lot of market research and product development goes into it and it’s one or two years in the making before you even hit to market. This was not the story for Thoughtfully.

That being said, because it all happened so quickly, no I didn’t. I didn’t really have time to stop and think and ask that. It was one of those things that happened fast, but we did it in a way that was worth the risk. I’m very conservative in my thought processes and approach, but obviously starting a print publication you can definitely tell I’m a risk-taker. But I take risks that whatever the outcome, I’m willing to live with.

With Thoughtfully we said let’s produce an issue that we’re literally willing to live with and if it doesn’t work, great; if it does, great. So either way for me it was a win/win outcome, even if it turned out to be solely something that just allowed me to create a really meaningful product like I had done for so many other people over the years that would be fine too. But only this time I was doing it for myself, which was a completely different ballgame. If that was only going to be it, then so be it.

So because of that and the moving so fast, again, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for other input, just simply getting people to buy into the idea, in terms of if they wanted to be a part of it. And through that process and through the formulation of issue one, we did not encounter a single person who didn’t want to be part of it or who wasn’t excited about it. And that for me was a confirmation that we were really headed in the right direction.

I’m a big believer that print is not dead. And I think that because I have that underlying ideal within me, this endeavor was worth doing. And again, we did it in such a way where it was well thought-out, because that’s where I see a lot of publications going wrong. They sometimes bite off more than they can chew and they don’t think about all of the aspects that are involved with going to print and making sure that you’re doing something again, that’s really well thought-out.

Samir Husni: What do you think that print can deliver today that digital cannot?

Brandie Gilliam: When I look at print and digital; for me, digital is something that you go to when you need something fast. You’re looking up information, which is typically how most people are engaging with digital. It’s very much something on the go. When you look at digital, the underbelly is much different; it’s not for this kind of meaningful, thoughtful connection and I think that’s what print brings.

You hear so many people say all of the time; when I just want to lie on the beach and read a good book or have a good magazine with me or the times when I just want to cozy up on my couch and feel something between my fingertips and have an experience, I want print. It’s a bit different and much more connective since it’s tangible and something you can actually feel when you touch the pages between your fingertips. You’re able to see print come to life and it’s a much different experience.

Even with Thoughtfully; from reading our digital to seeing it on print, and we hear this over and over again; it’s a completely different experience. And that to me really sums up the experience between digital and print. They’re different mediums and I think it all comes to life. That’s what I’ll say print does; print brings a project to life. That’s really what it does.

Samir Husni: What have you learned between issue one and issue four, over this one year span?

Brandie Gilliam: (Laughs) Oh, I have learned a lot. Some of the big differences obviously, coming from a corporate background; you’re used to a big, big budget. And Thoughtfully, of course, doesn’t have that luxury. When you’re starting new, you don’t always have it, especially when you’re doing it and it’s not backed by some type of corporation. So doing more with less has been a big lesson that I’ve learned.

Another lesson has really been to pace myself. If you’ll notice the differences between issue one and issue four, you can see a clear evolution and a clear transformation visually, as well as our content and that was very intentional. When you’re doing something with a smaller budget on a smaller scale, you have to give yourself room, meaning, I know what we’re capable of doing if we had a much larger budget, but unfortunately that’s not the case. You really have to start where you are, use what you have, to do what you can. And that’s really been the motto. And that’s really some of the things that I’ve learned to a greater level with Thoughtfully.

I’ve always been well-researched with everything and of course you become even more so when you’re running a ship of this scale from start to finish. Previous roles; yes, you play a part when you’re working for an organization or for someone, but I think when you’re actually doing it for yourself and doing it of this magnitude and people are depending on you, you go to an even greater level of personal ownership and accountability.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?

image3 Brandie Gilliam: We are based out of Destin, Fla. and literally most of our team members are spread throughout the United States and I even have some contributors internationally based. My background in corporate has served me well up to this point, in terms of being used to working with great talent. Sometimes you find that working with great talent means that they may not be sitting in your backyard and so you have to get really good at communicating over the phone and via emails. When you don’t have access to them readily by phone, you have to constantly be able to convey your message through email, because with Thoughtfully it’s very hands-on; it’s not simply passing it off to some third party and letting them create the magazine and then it just shows up on our doorstep.

It’s really working with everyone and making sure that vision comes to life and really reading the stories through and through. There may be a certain point or idea that we want to expound on, so we push it back to the writer and pull that out of them. Or working with one of our artists or photographers who are starting to scratch the surface, but it’s not quite there; how do you keep pushing back to get to that depth product?

That’s our motto at Thoughtfully; we don’t go for good or average, the whole goal is that everything we’re doing has to be great. We don’t have time to waste or energy to expend for just the sake of expending energy. We want to output our best at that time and place. And that has been something to really learn and get good at; how to communicate with people who aren’t sitting beside you every day. And to bring out the best in everyone that you’re working with.

Samir Husni: And a year later, are you more determined than ever to continue on this journey?

Brandie Gilliam: Yes, I am. We’ve gotten really great feedback thus far in our first year and we’ll continue on with all of our same outlets that we’re currently being sold at. And of course direct to customer through our website.

So yes, more than ever I’m encouraged by our readers and the feedback we’ve been getting when people discover us. They call us a breath of fresh air and say that we’re exactly the magazine that they’ve been waiting their entire lives for. And to see it really resonate with people, that for me really is exciting because it’s much more than a magazine. We call ourselves a community and a movement, but I really look at Thoughtfully as being this kind of aide with helping people live their best lives.

And how we do that in a really creative and innovative way is in how we approach design and content. It’s in everything that we’re doing and I believe our readers feel that authenticity when they touch our pages and get a chance to read us from start to finish.

Samir Husni: Who’s your reader?

Brandie Gilliam: Our reader is primarily female, between the ages of 25-40. She has a hunger and a desire for more. She eats relatively healthy or wants to eat healthy; she enjoys traveling and exploring; she enjoys wanting to be the best version of herself, and she may be vegan or she may want to go organic. Or maybe she’s just more thoughtful in her approach to her eating habits. And she loves the outdoors and being connected to nature as well as those around her.

Samir Husni: Technically speaking then, this woman is very active, living in the speed lane; why do you want to slow her down and make her think?

Brandie Gilliam: Yes, that is what we’re literally doing. So, how do you, with all you’re encountering and doing, get this kind of moment where you can stop and really be thoughtful and intentional in how you’re living day to day? We’re all in this kind of rat race, this journey where we’re chasing life. We just did an article about that in issue four.

And so, how do you provide these types of pauses and touchpoints to get this woman to dig a little deeper? And it’s up to her as to how deep she wants to dig, but what we want to do is be able to provide that. It’s not up to us to tell someone how thoughtful they should be living. You’ll have a number of readers, as I mentioned before; some of them are Vegans; some are not. It’s not up to us to tell them how to eat.

I will say that, obviously, we are huge components of being cruelty-free; we are completely against animal cruelty. We want to get them to understand where their food comes from and if that causes them to be Vegan or to choose a different action, then so be it.

We want them to really understand. Do you know where your clothes are being made and produced? Do you understand the affects, when you continue to support that fashion; what that’s doing to those people on the other end and their livelihoods in different parts of the world? And not just that, but how it’s affecting the environment where those factories are.

It’s not this idea that it’s overwhelming or a worry or a fear about things, but really getting people to give a little bit more thought. And if that starts with just five minutes a day, and then through your journey maybe it increases to 15 minutes, an hour, and then before you know it; it’s infiltrated your entire life.

But again, it’s that idea of starting where you are, with what you have. And then how do you become thoughtful starting with just a few minutes each day?

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

Brandie Gilliam: For us, just adding what Thoughtfully is really doing to this space and why I think people are gravitating toward it. They’re hungry and I think with print it’s not so much that print is dead; I think the way we’ve been doing print is dead. And it’s very important for those who are doing print to understand that.

Readers, especially in this digital age, are much more informed than ever. They are much savvier than they’ve ever been and the power is really in their hands, not in our hands. No longer can we just feed this level of information and expect people to just accept it. Now they question it. They know; they can tell things that are authentic versus what isn’t. They can tell when you’re just trying to sell them something.

Even in print, folks are longing for ad-free; they don’t want to be bombarded with a whole bunch of ads. And their digital experiences are being customized. Now we see digital wanting to go over to the print perspective.

So I think it’s really important for those of us who are in print to learn that. I know that’s one of the things that we do here at Thoughtfully, and again, really producing something that lasts. Each issue is meant to keep and to have. Each issue is something that’s timeless, but still belongs to the now-season. But it’s also something that you can go back to and reference. And that’s very important with us.

We want to empower and inspire those who touch our pages, who live passionately, beautifully and thoughtfully every day.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home, what would I find you doing? Would you be reading a magazine, or your iPad; watching television or what?

Brandie Gilliam: It would be a combination. You’d definitely find me curled up with my husband and our dog. We have a small dog; she’s a Lhasa Apso named Angel. So you would see me curled up with them and I will probably have a magazine by my side. I will have an iPad in hand and I’ll probably have my iPhone next to me. And a book of some sort as well.

My husband and I will be chatting and discussing the day’s events or a certain topic that’s caught our interest, while maybe we’re preparing to watch a show on Netflix or pull it from an app.

It would definitely be a combination. That’s typically what you’ll find me doing on any given evening.

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

Brandie Gilliam: The desire to create at a high level. That’s what gets me out of bed, the desire to do it better than I did it the day before. And to be better than I was the day before and in turn, to make others better than they were the day before.

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

Brandie Gilliam: How to do it better. And when I say do it better; with Thoughtfully I’m constantly thinking what are the conversations that are happening? What do our readers need to know right now? What is top of mind in their lives and how do I get to know that and how can I do that better? How do I tell the story better visually and in our writing?

But it ultimately leads back to the readers and how can I provide a better experience for them with Thoughtfully each issue?

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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There Is Hope: Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni’s 2016 Manifesto. Published In min: Media Industry Newsletter 1/11/2016 Issue.

January 10, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 4.19.34 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-09 at 4.19.52 PMThere is a sign that has hung over my office for many, many years. Its message is simple and straightforward: There is hope.

And if you have a modicum of positivity beating within your chest at all, you’ll agree that there is always hope in every situation.

Unless you’re just absolutely convinced that the world and everything in it, including yourself, is irrefutably lost, there is always hope.

And even in that particular case, if you dig deep enough and reach beyond your negativity to that inner light that was placed inside you the moment you took your first breath, you’ll find that tiny “thumbs-up” that always promises a better day ahead.

When it comes to magazines and magazine media, never in my 30-plus years of experience has that statement ringed more true.
Why, you might ask? There are many reasons, and in my 2016 Manifesto, I am giving my “top 10.”

1. Hope springs eternal. After every naysayer from every corner of the globe cried from the mountaintops that print was dead and that digital was the new print, they’re swallowing these words as print has been rediscovered lately by everybody from the smallest independent publisher to the game-changers in the industry.

2. Print also springs eternal. Since Moses came down from Mount Sinai with those two stone tablets (the original print platform), print–in one shape or another–has been delivering information that helps and benefits our lives.

3. What goes around eventually comes back around. As it has with Tablet magazine, which was born on the Web. Tablet rediscovered its “original roots” in 2015, as did a plethora of digital entities.

4. Every print entity has a life cycle, but not the entire medium. Print has a time to draw its first breath and a time to take its last, but certainly not as an entire platform. When a television program is cancelled or a movie’s title is removed from the marquis, that doesn’t mean that we all need to set a huge bonfire and burn our TV sets or never go to a movie theater again because they ceased to exist

5. Magazines’ 2015 birth rate was much higher than the death rate. And 2015 is not alone. For the past 30 years, more magazine launches were announced than closures. Remember: If it’s not ink on paper, it’s not a magazine.

That definition and reaffirmation of it by the resurgence of print make it officially time for us to find a new name for the digital entities that exist on the Web as online “magazines.” After television became widespread in the 1950s, few referred to the medium as “radio with pictures,” so we should immediately cease calling websites with content and pictures “magazines.”

6. Magazines must offer their audience an experience. Magazines in 2016 have to be more than content and pictures: they have to be experiences, and magazine-makers have to morph into experience makers. That is the only way they can survive in today’s infinite environment.

When you travel anywhere in the world with the swipe of your finger or the click of a mouse, ink on paper has to offer something more lasting and collectible than instantaneous satisfaction. That collectability factor has to be predominant without any trace of dispensability. And to personify that collectability factor, magazine makers must create, curate and make that content credible.

7. Magazines need more editors and publishers. We need more editors and publishers than we need chief content officers and chief revenue officers, and that’s a truth that can’t be ignored. Creation and curation require more editors and publishers who are hands-on, and certainly the credibility factor has to be one that is predominately practiced through the eyes of people who deeply care.

8. Print is the new, “new media.” One statement is true as we begin 2016: Print is the new, “new media.” And I must say that it feels good to be vindicated after all these years in that belief and faith in print, especially considering that Columbia Journalism Review used that headline in a recent article.

9. Rejected simplicity. I won’t. Instead, I will just bring the term “rejected simplicity” to top of mind. This simple, easy, beautiful and wonderful technology called print has been rejected over the past few years because of its simplicity. We tend to think that if you don’t have to connect 20 million dots with 40 million lines, the end result won’t be spectacular. And that’s simply not true.

10. Common sense. So it is with that thought in mind, I say that we must use common sense when it comes to the rule of thumb regarding print. Create, curate, and make that content credible and collectible. In the time that we live in, there is absolutely no reason that it has to be “either/or.” It’s just a ridiculously small-minded scenario.

And let’s bury that phrase “print is dead” once and for all.

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The Power and Future of PRINT…Part IX As told by Magazine and Magazine Media Makers…

January 9, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ “Quotable” Retrospective…

Celebrate Magazines Celebrate Print. The theme for ACT 6 Experience that takes place April 20 to 22, 2016.  Painting by and © Laura McCrory. For information about the ACT 6 Experience email me at samir.husni@gmail.com

Celebrate Magazines Celebrate Print. The theme for ACT 6 Experience that takes place April 20 to 22, 2016. Painting by and © Laura McCrory.
For information about the ACT 6 Experience email me at samir.husni@gmail.com

I have been a firm believer in print and its power even when many doubted its future and even its role in today’s media world. I have been quoted as saying, “As long as we have human beings, we will have print.” And that quote stands firm and true as we enter into a brand New Year.

Of course, I’m not oblivious to the fact that we live in a digital age…just check the many devices you and I are using on a daily basis, even the platform that you’re reading this on now as we connect. Yet that did not deter my belief in the role and future of print. Nor, will it ever.

However, as an academic and a professor of journalism, I’d rather share with you what others from the field say about the future and the role of print in today’s media world and tomorrow’s; that way it isn’t just my word you’re hearing and reading. Never would I yearn to be lumped in with others who pontificate to high heaven with their opinions and speculations for the condition of magazines and magazine media; be it print or digital or any other platform that may arise before I can finish writing this. The blah-blah-blah disease spreads pretty fast on its own, without any help from Mr. Magazine™

And so without any further ado, here is the ninth installment of the 136 quotes (in random order) that Mr. Magazine™ has accumulated over the last two years through the wonderfully informative conversations I have had with the game changers and the passionate entrepreneurs in the magazine industry.

129. “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.” (on the advantage of having a printed magazine in this digital age) Ron King, Publisher, Southern Living.

130. “I think magazines are different; there’s a different creative concept; a different mix of text and graphics. Something that makes one plus one equal more than two and that’s something that maybe magazines can’t do as fast as electronic media can do, but there are things that magazines can do that aren’t just replicated online. And then there’s the more basic answer; you get better writing.” Jack Kliger, Publisher, Tablet magazine.

131. “I think that print has been wildly underestimated. The Internet came along and people imagined that it was a tool to be used for every single thing in their lives. But it’s not a tool for everything in their lives; it’s a tool for some very important things in our lives like news or information, information that we need for our daily lives, but I don’t necessarily know that the Internet is the right medium for deeper reads.” Alana Newhouse, Editor-In-Chief, Tablet magazine.

132. “And how not to burn out at it, if you’re small, just one or two people, how do you keep it fresh? I think that is one of the big challenges with digital media. It reminds me of going to a sushi place, where they have these little rivers and they do their California rolls and put them on floating plates and you sort of grab the little bites as they go by; to me digital media often feels like that. It’s just not sustaining from a reader’s standpoint. And that was a lot of the impetus for wanting to do print, because the relationship between the reader and the words is different. It feels like it sates you and fills you up better.” Steve Casimiro, Founder, Adventure Journal Quarterly.

133. “I am a big believer that there is this turning point now or in the very near future where people are being reminded of the luxury of reading offline. I know that myself, because when I’m online I have this low level of anxiety that comes with reading online because I feel like I can never get to the end of what’s ahead. There’s just endless information and I’m forever bookmarking things and saying I’ll come back to that later. And I do think there is this return to print and what that brings is you’ve invested some money, say $15, it’s not cheap, you’ve invested the money so you’re going to stop and make some time.” Rick Bannister, Co-Founder, Pallet magazine.

134. “We’re also not interested in objects that are just throwaways. We’ve spent so much time in this content and so much of ourselves; the idea of putting that in a magazine that people would toss and not keep around for a long time as something that they cherished just didn’t sit right.” (on why they wanted the magazine’s production values of the highest quality) Nadia Saccardo, Co-Founder, Pallet magazine.

135. “We see the website as just growing into a community for the people who believe in the magazine and in craft beer and who want to find each other. And that’s why I love the fact that the website isn’t just regurgitated content that we expect people to be holding in their hands; it’s something complementary to that content.” (on the magazine’s content and the website’s content being totally different) Sam Calagione, Founder & President Dogfish Head Brewery & Pallet Executive Editor.

136. “I think they both (print and digital) have their own advantages, but with print you feel more relaxed and I have to tell you the truth; I only read news digitally, but I really don’t have the time to read long stories onscreen. It’s nice, but I don’t have the time; it’s tiresome. But in print, I love to read the longer stories. And I think that’s the advantage of print; you just relax. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. I’m more relaxed when I have a hard copy; it’s so tactile.” Fermin Albert, Founder, Sabor magazine.

These 136 quotes are from some of the most notable leaders in the industry, who lead some of the most prestigious publishing companies around today. There are also quotes from up and coming leaders whose talent and passion for magazines (ink on paper, of course) knows no boundaries. And that’s why their vision is so important to the industry’s future. Supporting them and the print platform is an obligation that’s paramount to those of us who love the medium.

Until next time – Happy 2016 and remember to Celebrate the Power of PRINT …

All the best,
Mr. Magazine™

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