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Doug Kouma, Editorial Content Director, Meredith Core Media: “Bringing Existing Brands To Print” At The ACT 7 Experience…Linda Ruth Reporting…

May 4, 2017

After a warm welcome from Jeffrey Vitter, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, who spoke of the transformative role of the university; the third day of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 7 launched with the inside scoop on Meredith Core Media. Doug Kouma, Meredith’s Editorial Content Director, spoke on how Meredith is bringing existing brands to print.

Meredith Core Media grew out of the Meredith Special Interest Media group, with a mission to bring third-party brands to print through leveraging Meredith’s scale in production, printing and distribution. Products, which diversify Meredith’s portfolio and add new revenue streams, include Beekman 1802 Almanac, Forks over Knives, Eat This Not That, and Scam Alert.

The breakout success of the year is The Magnolia Journal, which, at a 70% newsstand sale, was a huge success from the start, requiring the publisher to go back to press on the first issue, not once, but twice. The Magnolia Journal’s launch timeline was from idea to on sale – five months. The magazine of Chip and Joanna Gaines, TV personalities and creators of the brand, Magnolia is located in Waco, Texas, where Meredith’s special-interest team headed to immerse themselves in the publishers’ aesthetic.

While Meredith first approached Magnolia as a home renovation brand, it soon became apparent that the publication provided a platform for food, gardening, entertaining, family, and design content. Even with such a short timeline, Chip and Joanna were involved on every level, curating every aspect of the publication as carefully as they curate their businesses and their lives. From their end, Meredith was able to tap into existing photography that tied into the aesthetic, and supplement with new shoots featuring the Gaines family.

The first issue came out in October, and retailers began requesting more copies the day after the on sale. Barnes and Noble stores were selling out within days.

Meredith learned that when the partner has the ability to mobilize their followers, it is an important part of building viable, solid new publications. At this point, based on the success of the publication, The Magnolia Journal is ready to move out of the test lab of Meredith Core Media and become a solid part of the Meredith line of titles. At the same time, it remains a project of the launch publishers. “We’re not there to tell our partners what their brand is,” Kouma said..”We’re there to give them guidance and help them match their vision to the realities of magazine publishing.”

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