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Hola! Made In USA Magazine: The Passion & The Legacy Continues Through The Third Generation – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Eduardo Sánchez Pérez, Editor-In-Chief, ¡Hola! and Hello Magazines. An Encore Presentation

August 15, 2016

Hola! Made In USA magazine just hit the newsstands in the United States and in honor of this new edition to the wonderful world of print, here is an encore  Mr. Magazine™ interview from February, 2016 with ¡Hola!’s Editor In Chief, Eduardo Sánchez Pérez. 

August 2016 issue of ¡Hola! that hit U.S. newsstands.

August 2016 issue of ¡Hola! that hit U.S. newsstands.

“I don’t envision a day when we will have no print editions. I don’t know if ¡Hola! will be forever, but a magazine with beautiful pictures and positive stories will always be there. You cannot give the same product in digital. With a print magazine, you can buy it, collect it, and share it with someone. And you have that ownership feeling that this magazine is yours. Also the flow of the content into the magazine is important. We always start with beautiful houses or beautiful people at home; this is a product that needs some physical connection, it’s real and tangible, so paper is the best way to present it.” Eduardo Sánchez Pérez

From Spain with love…

HOLA-2 A magazine born from a beautiful love story that’s all about family, tradition and legacy; ¡Hola! was founded in Barcelona in 1944 by Antonio Sánchez Gómez and his wife, Mercedes Junco Calderón. The two had a dream of creating a small magazine that could entertain readers and show them the beauty of life through great stories and breathtaking photographs.

As the magazine grew over the years, their son Eduardo Sánchez Junco, joined the family business, along with his wife, Mamen Pérez Villota and the values of family, respect and honor were woven deeply into the ¡Hola! brand.

Today, ¡Hola! and Hello magazines are still family owned and ran by the children of Eduardo Sánchez Junco and Mamen Pérez Villota, along with Eduardo’s 95-year-old mother, who still does layouts and works for the magazine.

Their youngest child, Eduardo Sánchez Pérez is Editor-In-Chief of ¡Hola! and Hello and oversees, along with his sisters, the “small” magazine that has grown into a readership of 20 million according to Eduardo, and is translated into 11 different languages.

Hello III-15 I spoke with Eduardo on a recent trip to Spain and we talked about the special ingredients that have made both magazines so successful. As Eduardo’s father called it: the “Espuma de la vida” or the froth of life that both ¡Hola! and Hello are committed to bringing their readers each week. We also talked about all of the expansions and growth the brand has seen over the years and its possible print birth in the United States. It was a moving and inspiring conversation with a man who appreciates the traditions of his family’s past, while keeping his eyes firmly on the future.

So, I hope you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with Eduardo Sánchez Pérez, Editor-In-Chief, ¡Hola! and Hello magazines as he shows us that the family who publishes together definitely stays together through many generations.

But first the sound-bites:

EIC On the legacy of ¡Hola! and Hello: If you ask someone in Spain about ¡Hola!, people who know the business, they would say that ¡Hola! is Eduardo Sánchez Junco, my father. They would say my father. My father had three children and I am the youngest of the three. I have two sisters; Mamen is the oldest; and my other sister is called Mercedes. Although Mamen, the oldest, is the one that is more involved with me in the magazine and she’s the editor of the Mexican edition, while Mercedes is more involved in different parts of the business.

On how the company has managed to maintain its familial structure over the years and not become traded and have shares and shareholders: That’s probably because we’re a third generation and what we’ve seen over the years. My father was the only son of my grandparents. My grandfather was very much focused on journalism; he worked at a newspaper first and then he had the idea to create ¡Hola! in 1944 in Barcelona. So then my father continued the tradition in the 1980s doing all of the same things my grandfather had done and continuing the secret of this business, which is what he described as “being in the kitchen.” We have the restaurant and so we have to do the cooking, so we put together the ingredients.

On the ingredients that go into ¡Hola! to make it different from all the other celebrity magazines out there: (Laughs) It’s difficult to know exactly, but probably every cook would say a lot of love and a lot of charm. (Laughs again) It’s true that we have to do things thinking in the long-term. We never make any editorial decision based on the short-term, so it’s focusing very much on what ¡Hola! or Hello means. I sometimes feel like I’m just continuing a heritage that I received. And I will one day pass it to my children. At least, we hope someone from the family continues it. We follow what my grandfather called “Espuma de la vida” which is our brand name. We call it “Espuma de la vida,” a froth of life, but basically we do content that is normally positive, more than negative.

On the fact that his father was able to buy pictures of Lady Diana topless and then buried them in the archives so they would never be published: Yes, that was really exceptional. But my father was very exceptional. He had this intuition to move quickly when making decisions. And that’s probably one reason he was so successful. It never took him very long to make any decision about anything of great importance such as that, or any important piece of news. He always said that was an advantage, that he was the owner and the editor, which put him in another position when it came to important decisions about the company. But yes, he made the quick decision to buy and destroy the pictures. Nowadays, it would seem difficult that this could be repeated. And also Lady Diana was someone our readers loved and sometimes there is that special relationship between readers and personalities. And we consider our readers as part of our family. And of course, my family was shocked when Lady Diana died.

cover after fundraisingfamily with royal familyOn the decision to launch Hello magazine in the U.K.: My sisters were staying in London in the 80s and we went a couple of times to visit them, I think in the summertime. And my father always told me wherever I went for holiday or in the summer, I was in this business, so if there was a kiosk nearby, go and see what was out there. My father and I went to Harrod’s and there was a kiosk there and we looked for ¡Hola! and it was there buried in the same place as all of the other magazines and newspapers. Then we saw two English ladies come into Harrod’s for tea and they bought ¡Hola! magazine in Spanish, sat down in the restaurant and began chatting with the magazine in their hands, without speaking Spanish. Suddenly, my father realized that there wasn’t anything in the market with Lady Diana on the cover the way ¡Hola! had; we had her on the cover all of the time.

On the expansion of ¡Hola! or Hello almost globally: The expansion of ¡Hola! magazine probably started with ¡Hola! Spain in the 60s by going to Latin America. Well, actually, it probably started with my grandfather. Latin America has always liked ¡Hola! very much. There’s always been, and there still is, this connection between Latin America and Spain. We feel very much that we are united; we’re connected by the language and also by our way of life and we just have many things in common. ¡Hola! has always been very welcomed in all of the American countries, including the Hispanic speaking Americas.

On how he decides which country gets which magazine: ¡Hola! or Hello and how decisions such as those are made: We try to analyze a country and its market. That’s why it’s so important to have local partnerships, local people who can understand everything better. We’re publishing in 11 or 12 different languages right now. We reach more than 20 million readers. It’s quite a challenge, of course, but the principles are the same; we’re deeply respectful of the personalities and the local traditions and also the readers who are going to buy it.

On whether his grandmother, who started the magazine with her husband and who is 95 now, ever expect the magazine to be worldwide: (Laughs) No, of course not. In the beginning they had the idea to launch this small magazine. In a country like Spain in the 40s, it was after the War, their expectations were to create a small business for maybe 10 years or so. That’s why my grandfather asked my father to go to university to study something else other than journalism. Not because he didn’t love journalism, but because he thought ¡Hola! magazine would only last several years. No one ever thought it would grow as big as it is right now.

On his mother and father returning to school and his dad getting a degree in journalism after a law was passed in Spain requiring one to be an editor of a magazine: Yes, I remember when I was younger going with my mother and father to the university to see if they passed their exams. He went for four or five years to the university at the same time that he was editing the magazine. I know he enjoyed it and he liked it very much. It was probably a good thing because you always learn when you go to the university. So, that’s true. My mother and my father went.

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: I feel very lucky because it’s always different every week. And it’s very exciting every week. Every week you have to find the right story for the cover and find the right people to talk with. Every week you find interesting people and their stories that you can share with your readers. And sometimes you receive a story so beautiful that the feeling is it’s the right content and it’s an exciting thing. And we have the satisfaction of knowing that we’re making a product that our readers like. There are some weeks better than others, of course, but then another week comes and it’s great. With the weekly, I have a little time to relax and make decisions with my small team, along with my main family members.

On whether he can ever envision a day when ¡Hola! and Hello are digital only: No, I don’t envision a day when we will have no print editions. I don’t know if ¡Hola! will be forever, but a magazine with beautiful pictures and positive stories will always be there. You cannot give the same product in digital. With a print magazine, you can buy it, collect it, and share it with someone. And you have that ownership feeling that this magazine is yours. Also the flow of the content into the magazine is important. We always start with beautiful houses or beautiful people at home; this is a product that needs some physical connection, it’s real and tangible, so paper is the best way to present it.

On whether the magazine is coming to the United States soon: We are starting with the website right now, hola.com-usa. We will have a team that will be working with both the website and then the magazine too. For example, on two occasions we have published a big scoop on hola.com-usa first, such as Paulina Rubio being pregnant. The scoop was to be in all of our magazines, but we decided to put it on our American website first. So the American print edition is an absolute priority.

On anything else he’d like to add: People have to feel it’s their magazine; it’s not international. It’s the magazine of their country. It doesn’t matter the ownership, because the spirit of the magazine is done for British people by British people.

On what keeps him up at night: What’s probably most difficult is, one of the brand values of ¡Hola! and Hello is when we publish a story or any piece of news, we’re very sure about the content. We’re very sure that we’re not wrong. You have to be very sure about the content. To be correct every week and not to fail in any small thing and continue to be the magazine that’s reliable and truthful; that’s probably my main worry.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Eduardo Sánchez Pérez, Editor-In-Chief, ¡Hola! and Hello.

With Eduardo Sánchez Pérez at the magazine's offices in Madrid.

With Eduardo Sánchez Pérez at the magazine’s offices in Madrid.

Samir Husni: In this world of corporate ownership it’s rare to see a grandson continuing the traditions of his grandfather and also his dad. Your grandfather started the magazine in Barcelona, moved it to Madrid, and now it’s almost worldwide. Everywhere you go there’s an ¡Hola! or Hello magazine, and it’s still in the family.

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: If you ask someone in Spain about ¡Hola!, people who know the business, they would say that ¡Hola! is Eduardo Sánchez Junco, my father. They would say my father. My father had three children and I am the youngest of the three. I have two sisters; Mamen is the oldest; and my other sister is called Mercedes. Although Mamen, the oldest, is the one that is more involved with me in the magazine and she’s the editor of the Mexican edition, while Mercedes is more involved in different parts of the business.

Samir Husni: No one thinks of ¡Hola! as a family business because it’s worldwide. Everywhere you go; the Middle East, Canada, the Philippines, Thailand; just everywhere there is either an ¡Hola! or a Hello. How have you been able to maintain that family ownership and not become Wall Street traded or another company-traded with shares and shareholders?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: That’s probably because we’re a third generation and what we’ve seen over the years. My father was the only son of my grandparents. My grandfather was very much focused on journalism; he worked at a newspaper first and then he had the idea to create ¡Hola! in 1944 in Barcelona.

So then my father continued the tradition in the 1980s doing all of the same things my grandfather had done and continuing the secret of this business, which is what he described as “being in the kitchen.” We have the restaurant and so we have to do the cooking, so we put together the ingredients. And we do the meal every day. (Laughs) Well, every week in this case. And we serve it as if we were the owners of a restaurant. We feel the contact with our readers and our audience and our clients as strongly as if they were a part of our house or our family. We’ve always believed that that is the differentiation and the value of all of our business We’ve always been in control of the editorial line of the magazines and the little touch of the ¡Hola! family point of view. We always want that touch to be behind the product. And as the third generation, we are very much involved in this right now.

active at 95 I’m the editor of ¡Hola!, the magazine of Spain, and editor-in-chief of Hello magazine and trying to oversee all of the operations, my sister is co-editor of ¡Hola! and also editor in Mexico and we also have some other members of the family like my aunt; my uncle (General Manager of ¡Hola, Javier Junco Aguado) and my mother and my grandmother who is still around and a part of things. My grandmother, Mercedes Junco Calderon, is 95-years-old, but she still continues to do one magazine, this one. She is the founder and she makes the selections and deals with all of the productions of these different articles and different photo shoots. So this DNA; this business, is a big part of our family. We believe if we lose this family contact with the business, it would not be the same.

That’s one reason when we started being more international, our partners have to always think like and see that the original family owners are still involved when making decisions. So, when we go to a country, sometimes we own it; we buy the operation from the family. Sometimes we license the brand, but we always sustain control of the editorial line of the ¡Hola! family in Spain.

And we hope the spirit continues like this. And it’s not that we control every page of every magazine in the world, but we try, with everyone doing ¡Hola! magazine from every part of the world, to think what the ¡Hola! family would do in each case. And if there’s any doubt, they ask me; they ask Madrid and we share opinions about other experiences and we make sure to put the brand in the hands of some of our favorite partners in every country. Plus, the feeling that our partners have that they’re in good hands when we share this kind of market is very important to us.

Samir Husni: Let me go with you to the kitchen; what are the ingredients of that recipe that you serve every week and how is it different than all of the other celebrity magazines; all of the other weeklies that are out there? What’s your grandfather’s secret recipe that you continue using?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: (Laughs) It’s difficult to know exactly, but probably every cook would say a lot of love and a lot of charm. (Laughs again) It’s true that we have to do things thinking in the long-term. We never make any editorial decision based on the short-term, so it’s focusing very much on what ¡Hola! or Hello means.

illustradted issue I sometimes feel like I’m just continuing a heritage that I received. And I will one day pass it to my children. At least, we hope someone from the family continues it. We follow what my grandfather called “Espuma de la vida” which is our brand name. We call it “Espuma de la vida,” a froth of life, but basically we do content that is normally positive, more than negative. It’s glamorous and it’s happiness; it celebrates life. When you open the magazine, you forget about your worries and you know that you are in a comfortable environment. You’re not going to find anything inside the magazine that is going to increase your daily worries.

I would say that that’s the main part. There’s nothing in the short-term that’s worth changing the editorial line of the magazine that we’ve had for all of these years. But basically the ingredients are to get exclusive content of the personal life or the human interest of famous people. And not only celebrities, but personalities. We normally don’t call it celebrities; we prefer to say personalities or relevant people.

As another ingredient; it’s never-before-seen pictures of a certain event, or exclusive pictures of an event. So, when you have all of these things, you have our main menu. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: One of the examples I heard that reflects that menu or those ingredients was that your father was able to buy the pictures of Lady Diana topless and he buried them in the archives so that they would never be published. Do you think that you could find a publisher today or an editor today who would go to that extreme to buy a scoop and bury it, rather than publishing it? And did that happen after the launch of the magazine in the U.K.? And I’d like for you to tell me the story again of how Lady Diana was influential through her pictures of publishing the magazine in the U.K.

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: Yes, that was really exceptional. But my father was very exceptional. He had this intuition to move quickly when making decisions. And that’s probably one reason he was so successful. It never took him very long to make any decision about anything of great importance such as that, or any important piece of news. He always said that was an advantage, that he was the owner and the editor, which put him in another position when it came to important decisions about the company.

I wasn’t involved really in the decision, but he always said that he had the opportunity to protect someone who was the main reason we were launching in the U.K. from bad pictures. And the main reason that we were so successful in the U.K. Lady Diana had given us hundreds of covers. And the fact that he had this opportunity was the unusual thing. Normally, these photographers prefer to do bigger business by spreading that content all over the world.

But he had the opportunity at that moment and he made the decision quickly and of course it was very personal to him. And the decision was based only on his appreciation of the image of someone who had done so much for him, without her knowing that she had done anything at all. But Hello could express its gratitude by doing this. It was preferable that those pictures were never published.

But yes, he made the quick decision to buy and destroy the pictures. Nowadays, it would seem difficult that this could be repeated. And also Lady Diana was someone our readers loved and sometimes there is that special relationship between readers and personalities. And we consider our readers as part of our family. And of course, my family was shocked when Lady Diana died.
People really get involved in this business, as you know; you’re passionate about it. And our readers feel these personalities are a part of their lives and that’s how we want to produce the product; with respect to these personalities and respect to the readers. We want to respect personalities because they deserve respect, but also because we put ourselves as readers too, as buyers even. And they deserve the respect and the attention, so we want to make every page of the magazine special. And maybe that’s one of the reasons we have these special relationships with the stories that we approach.

Samir Husni: Going back to Lady Diana; you told me the story of how the decision was made to launch the British edition of Hello. Can you recall that story?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: My sisters were staying in London in the 80s and we went a couple of times to visit them, I think in the summertime. And my father always told me wherever I went for holiday or in the summer, I was in this business, so if there was a kiosk nearby, go and see what was out there. My father and I went to Harrod’s and there was a kiosk there and we looked for ¡Hola! and it was there buried in the same place as all of the other magazines and newspapers. Then we saw two English ladies come into Harrod’s for tea and they bought ¡Hola! magazine in Spanish, sat down in the restaurant and began chatting with the magazine in their hands, without speaking Spanish.

Suddenly, my father realized that there wasn’t anything in the market with Lady Diana on the cover the way ¡Hola! had; we had her on the cover all of the time. Whenever we had a doubt about ¡Hola!’s cover, we would put Lady Diana or Caroline of Monaco on the cover. As far as what we had been told, the English press was in a big crisis in the 80s. In general, the U.K. was in an economic crisis.

So, the market was a bit stagnant, not many new magazines were being launched. So it was another great decision of my father’s after studying the market somewhat, that even though the environment wasn’t very good to launch a magazine, he was certain that he could bring something new to the market as ¡Hola! and Hello magazine had done with our different approach to the news and beautiful pictures.

Samir Husni: And the rest of the story is history. ¡Hola! or Hello are almost everywhere.

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: The expansion of ¡Hola! magazine probably started with ¡Hola! Spain in the 60s by going to Latin America. Well, actually, it probably started with my grandfather. Latin America has always liked ¡Hola! very much. There’s always been, and there still is, this connection between Latin America and Spain. We feel very much that we are united; we’re connected by the language and also by our way of life and we just have many things in common.

¡Hola! has always been very welcomed in all of the American countries, including the Hispanic speaking Americas. So, the magazine has always put a lot of attention on international stories. Spain in the 60s; we used to put a lot of American stars on the covers. For example, I remember when the three astronauts went to the moon; we covered that so ¡Hola! has always had the idea of being a very international magazine. We believe it doesn’t always matter who, but what or how.

I remember my father, who didn’t speak English, when he started Hello in the U.K. and began working with the British team and was trying to explain what Hello was all about. And it was probably one of the biggest success stories of the British press for a magazine. And it was just by sharing stories more than names. It’s the human interest stories basically and putting all of the ingredients together which has given the magazine such success.

International stories have always been a part of our magazine, so after the success of the British edition, we went to Mexico, where we’re quite successful right now. Then we started finding certain partners in other countries. And in the beginning it was more of an adventure, an unknown field.
For example, what would happen if we started a magazine in a certain county? Russia and Turkey were the first two countries where we went into a partnership with another country and the result was fantastic and we found great people who understood the essence of the brand and how to take care of it. We found out that the Hello and ¡Hola! brand was more flexible than we believed at the beginning. And now we are in 35 different countries.

Of course, you need to find the right partner and you need the right team; a team that you can explain the way you want the product to be done and they instinctively know.

Samir Husni: I’ve heard a lot of stories, such as when you launched Hello in Thailand, with the Royal Family on the cover. You had an issue with where to put the logo because you can’t put anything above the Royal Family. And I saw one of the copies in the hallway when I first came into the building and it had the logo on the bottom of the page. How sensitive do you have to be to all of the cultural issues with Hello in the Middle East or Thailand or the Philippines? And also, how do you decide which country gets Hello as the name or ¡Hola!? I noticed the Philippine edition is ¡Hola!, although it’s in English. How do you make those decisions?

Thai coverEduardo Sánchez Pérez: We try to analyze a country and its market. That’s why it’s so important to have local partnerships, local people who can understand everything better. We’re publishing in 11 or 12 different languages right now. We reach more than 20 million readers. It’s quite a challenge, of course, but the principles are the same; we’re deeply respectful of the personalities and the local traditions and also the readers who are going to buy it.

It’s true that royal families are very important to us. Royalties, in our opinion, are an asset for a country and that joins the different values and makes royal families try and be good examples for society. They are our ambassadors and are the essence of traditions of the countries they are born to and also people who are working for the benefits of the society.

And being the first family, they have to attend to guests when they come to the country, so they show others much hospitality. They’re a mixture of glamour, high society and aristocracy, which is something that people like to read about. ¡Hola! and Hello take the reader to places they don’t normally have access to. So it’s important that we show how it is to be a part of the glitz and glamour and the parties. So, the royal families are an important part of our magazine and our product.

Yet, this was something that we didn’t really know about when we started in Thailand. That was something that the local editor of the magazine was very clear about, that nothing goes above the Royal Family, such as a logo, and there was no problem then. We were honored by the princess of Thailand, who was the first cover of the magazine. It was a very important thing for us and we are very grateful to the Royal Family that they would give us this consideration.

Actually, the first cover of Hello magazine was Princess Anne; it was an exclusive interview with Princess Anne inside the royal palace.

Samir Husni: Did you ever have a discussion with your grandmother, who is 95 now; did she ever expect that this little magazine that she and her husband created would grow to such magnitude? And it’s my understanding that he was the journalist and she was the designer?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: Yes, that’s right.

Samir Husni: Did she, in her wildest dreams, ever expect ¡Hola! and Hello to be this worldwide publication?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: (Laughs) No, of course not. In the beginning they had the idea to launch this small magazine. In a country like Spain in the 40s, it was after the War, their expectations were to create a small business for maybe 10 years or so. That’s why my grandfather asked my father to go to university to study something else other than journalism. Not because he didn’t love journalism, but because he thought ¡Hola! magazine would only last several years. No one ever thought it would grow as big as it is right now.

It’s a very beautiful story. My grandmother said she became a journalist for love; she was in love with my grandfather and she wanted to spend more time with him. And he thought it was a great idea. So he left his job at the newspaper and they began to work together from their home. And that’s how it all began. They worked at a very small table in a small room. They were a couple in love and making a magazine that they believed would entertain people. The magazine was created to entertain and to take readers to places they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. And to take the best of life and put it into a magazine and into pictures.

frist pic coverAn interesting anecdote is, those first five covers of the magazine have illustrations, because at that time prestigious magazines had illustrations on the covers and not pictures. The magazine was more or less about the society of Spain, but also you’ll read about Hollywood actors and some very interesting stories. But the cover was always a glamourous illustration, done by a very well-known illustrator, and of glamourous events. The first cover is the seaside in Barcelona; another cover was about going to the theatre; another one is horseracing at a country club; and it was done weekly. We’ve always been weekly since 1944. We have always been ready for our readers every week.

So, after five covers, they had to cut to reduce costs and my grandfather was very concerned about losing the illustration, they were very expensive. He thought there was nothing else to cut, he had analyzed everything and he would have to stop doing the illustrations and put a picture on the cover instead. So he went to the cinemas, because the cinemas were the first clients of ¡Hola! and also he had a good relationship with the owners of the cinemas in Barcelona. So he went to see his friends and asked what the next film they were showing would be. And it was a Clark Gable film, so he put a picture of Clark Gable on the cover. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: And he discovered by accident, all because he wanted to reduce costs, what people really liked; to have pictures of celebrities on the covers. Why did he choose Hollywood actors; well first, because he had always wanted to include film reviews and talk about Hollywood celebrities in the magazine. But also because the only way you can have access to good quality pictures was to ask the cinemas to give you pictures they received from Hollywood. They would receive the films plus pictures to promote the film. It was an easy way to find high resolution pictures of Hollywood actors.

It’s interesting, my grandfather wrote a little bit about the story of the magazine when we published issue 2,000. And he talked about the phrase “Espuma de la vida,” which is what’s at the top of the glass of say, champagne, for example. The froth of life is at the top of the glass of champagne, which he related with happiness, with a glamorous life. He said business and economics; these things were heavy and made people think too much. That kind of heavy news goes to the bottom of the glass; what’s at the top? That’s ours; our news.

That’s why we don’t talk about politics or economics or anything like that. That’s why ¡Hola! and Hello are read by a large number of different kinds of people. And we hope that they all find something inside to help them forget about their problems and something that makes them feel better. And at the same time, they can talk and share the magazine with others and maybe find solutions to their own problems by reading how others have done it. Reading about family sagas, such as Lady Diana and now seeing Prince William; people have that feeling of involvement or of a relationship with the family.

Samir Husni: As fate would have it, your dad studied engineering and then there was a law in Spain that you have to have a degree in journalism to be an editor of a magazine. So, it’s my understanding that he went back with your mother to school to study journalism.

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: Yes, I remember when I was younger going with my mother and father to the university to see if they passed their exams. He went for four or five years to the university at the same time that he was editing the magazine. I know he enjoyed it and he liked it very much. It was probably a good thing because you always learn when you go to the university. So, that’s true. My mother and my father went. A little bit more of their love story. My young parents doing what they needed to do. And my mother saying of course she would go, she could spend more time with her husband. My mother was originally involved in the magazine, so she went because she wanted to help my father.

Samir Husni: And did they advise you and say don’t go to school for journalism, there’s no future in it; go for something else? Or did you go to school for journalism too?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: I went to the Journalism University here in Madrid. I have two degrees basically, journalism and business and administration. So, I have a little bit of both. My father always said to me he would trade his degree to speak English. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: English or another language. He spoke French, but he felt very bad that he couldn’t communicate his thoughts to the English-speaking people. Fortunately, he always had a good team of people who spoke both Spanish and English around him.

We live in the house where my grandparents lived when they left Barcelona and came to Madrid. They bought two floors of a house, the basement and the first floor where they put the office and they lived on the second floor.

Another example, my father said we were like farmers; they have a house underneath their house. (Laughs) It’s more or less the same. We live on the second floor and the cow is in the basement.
I don’t think it’s still there, but my grandfather had a small connection from the house to the office, a way to go in without going through the main entrance, because many times my grandfather and father would go to work in pajamas. (Laughs) And I remember my father would receive visitors anytime. The office was so small that he didn’t have a proper meeting room, so where I used to study and watch TV was his meeting room. So, I’d come home from school and go to watch TV and there might be someone famous standing there with him.

And that carried over to the magazine; you’re in my house, you’re part of my family. We used to say that ¡Hola! magazine should be something that you could leave on the table and not be afraid for your children to read. It’s a family magazine. You won’t find anything inside that would be bad for them, family-friendly, but very interesting.

a letter and KingAnd it’s not always positive, sometimes it’s a sad story, but what you get at the end, even if it’s sad, is a positive message. And the pictures are always beautiful. And it was a family unit, my grandparent and my parents would discuss why they did this or that in the magazine. And you learned a lot from these conversations. We’re bigger now, but we’re still in the same building and we still have lunch with my grandmother almost every day. And now we explain to her why we’ve done this or that. We all still try to share opinions. We feel more like journalists and publishers than businesspeople.

And also designers in a way; the design of ¡Hola! is another secret or another ingredient, which is big pictures and finding those big pictures from the right selection of pictures and giving them the right space and the right number of pages. We never begin a story thinking about how many pages we want to use. We just let our imagination flow. But if we have to cut, we always do more first and then cut. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Through osmosis or something, magazines are in you. You’ve seen it from your grandfather; your father; your grandmother; your mother; what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Is it tradition, because your entire family has done it all of your life or there is something that excites you every morning and causes you to look forward to going to the office?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: I feel very lucky because it’s always different every week. And it’s very exciting every week. Every week you have to find the right story for the cover and find the right people to talk with. Every week you find interesting people and their stories that you can share with your readers. And sometimes you receive a story so beautiful that the feeling is it’s the right content and it’s an exciting thing. And we have the satisfaction of knowing that we’re making a product that our readers like. There are some weeks better than others, of course, but then another week comes and it’s great. With the weekly, I have a little time to relax and make decisions with my small team, along with my main family members.

As we’re improving and increasing the size, it’s very important that we keep professionalism a top priority. To have a professional team is very important. That’s something that we’ve been building on in the last years. Knowing that our business must have an important technology element, art, and we actually have more people working on the website now than in the magazines. So, there are many changes that we know we have to face and we’ll face them in a very professional way, while trying to continue with the family ownership. And keeping the family in on the editorial line and in every piece of print that we publish; I believe that we’re building a very professional team. And internationally we are competitive.

Samir Husni: Can you ever envision a day when there is no print component to ¡Hola! or Hello?

Hello Arabia II-10Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: No, I don’t envision a day when we will have no print editions. I don’t know if ¡Hola! will be forever, but a magazine with beautiful pictures and positive stories will always be there. You cannot give the same product in digital. With a print magazine, you can buy it, collect it, and share it with someone. And you have that ownership feeling that this magazine is yours. Also the flow of the content into the magazine is important. We always start with beautiful houses or beautiful people at home; this is a product that needs some physical connection, it’s real and tangible, so paper is the best way to present it.

Of course, there are technological advances that are really interesting and can be really beautiful. We were awarded by Apple the best newsstand application. We’re doing videos and we’re also including QR codes for watching videos. There is a lot of interaction that you can have with your readers by using the telephone and the magazine at the same time.

And I’m completely sure that magazines like ¡Hola! are necessary for a society. A healthy society will always have an ¡Hola! or Hello magazine.

Samir Husni: Are you bringing the magazine to the United States soon?

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: We are starting with the website right now, hola.com-usa. We will have a team that will be working with both the website and then the magazine too. For example, on two occasions we have published a big scoop on hola.com-usa first, such as Paulina Rubio being pregnant. The scoop was to be in all of our magazines, but we decided to put it on our American website first. So the American print edition is an absolute priority. We don’t have a partner there, we’re going by ourselves. We already have some readership in the U.S. with ¡Hola! Spain in California. And at the same time we’re building a beautiful website with reliable information. Thankfully, we have learned a lot about digital from our Spanish readers and in the summertime we hope to establish the magazine. But for now we’re starting with the website.

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

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: People have to feel it’s their magazine; it’s not international. It’s the magazine of their country. It doesn’t matter the ownership, because the spirit of the magazine is done for British people by British people. It’s a British product. Everywhere we go; the product is about the people and their stories.

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

Eduardo Sánchez Pérez: What’s probably most difficult is, one of the brand values of ¡Hola! and Hello is when we publish a story or any piece of news, we’re very sure about the content. We’re very sure that we’re not wrong. You have to be very sure about the content. To be correct every week and not to fail in any small thing and continue to be the magazine that’s reliable and truthful; that’s probably my main worry.

Plus, of course, to continue to have this relationship with our readers; the relationship of community and knowledge of what they like.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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