Archive for February, 2018

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Jez Magazine: Fashion, Beauty, Culture & Entertainment, With A Special Focus On Philanthropy – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Ezequiel De La Rosa, Founder & Editor In Chief…

February 28, 2018

“I think it’s still the romance of it; the romance of holding something. And seeing it, as opposed to just looking at your computer. I work at the computer 24/7 when I’m not shooting, things like that, and I don’t want to sit down and look at a magazine on the computer.” Ezequiel De La Rosa (On why he thinks print is still important in this digital age)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

From photographer to editor in chief, philanthropist to entrepreneur, Ezequiel De La Rosa is a man with a passion and its name is Jez. The new quarterly magazine, which highlights what’s new and best in fashion, beauty, culture and entertainment and has a special focus on philanthropy, is Ezequiel’s labor of love, something his editor’s letter in the premier issue states comes from his heart and reflects who he truly is.

Recently, I spoke to Ezequiel, or EZ as he is known to some, and we talked about his latest endeavor, Jez. About its title, which he said comes from his faith and simply means “Christ before me,” and about his life and the many hats he’s worn throughout and continuing forward. He’s been a designer, store owner, makeup artist, photographer (which he still is, photographing many of the images between the covers of the magazine) and now magazine creator. The man is a talent unto himself and one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with.

His idea to honor and showcase the “Supermodel” is obvious as the beautiful Carol Alt graces one side of the first issue’s cover, while the handsome actor and activist, Ian Bohen, is on the second cover. It’s a beautifully done premier and one that Mr. Magazine™ is looking forward to seeing again.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a man who made the conversation “EZ” and entertaining, Ezequiel De La Rosa, founder and editor in chief, Jez magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether he thinks it’s crazy that he started a print magazine in this day and age: It’s been a passion of love and I’m trying to create a sort of different magazine, because I want a magazine that will do things. And I started it in reverse, because everybody starts somewhere like Instagram and on social media. And I did not. I am starting in reverse now. So, I have to step it up and I’m learning every day. My thing is I also wanted to bring back the supermodels because right now we have so many Instant-Famous, which is fine, it’s the new way of the world and we all have to basically adapt and change our model. But there’s something about experience that is amazing. I find nowadays that we have interchangeable models and things like that. Before we had models that commanded the stage. So, of course, I glorify that. And then also put the new models in as well.

On his premier issue being devoted to “Good People”: It’s always going to be devoted to good people, because I believe in philanthropy. And I’m trying to create, now that I’m working on the web, I’m trying to create a way of awareness and also of revenue, of creating revenue to different organizations that are doing good. Right now my focus is on Together1heart and they are going to be doing an event on May 7. And I’m working on creating things that will generate money for the event and also for the future. And from there, I will pick another foundation that are doing good and that I can associate myself with, so that I’m always highlighting a good organization that’s doing something.

On whether he considers himself a photographer, an editor, a publisher, or all of the above: Right now I have to consider myself everything. (Laughs) Creating a magazine in this day and age is not the easiest thing. I’m trying to create a magazine in a world where magazines are closing right now. So, I have to be very wise on how I create everything and how I do it. And it’s a lot of hard work, because it’s not like you can create and have 20 million in staff nowadays. I don’t think that’s the way that things are going now. I don’t think there’s enough revenue to go around at the moment.

On what he thinks is the number one ingredient for his magazine’s success: I think by the grace of God. I can’t guarantee anything. I am trying to do my best to create something that people will love, sales will tell. I am happy that in my first edition that I was able to cover everything through ads. I think that itself is an achievement. So now, I have to start meeting with ad sales people, because basically I did everything myself.

On where he came up with the name Jez for the magazine: Jez is because of my faith. I’m not a religious person, but I am a believer. I’m a Christian, non-denominational, and basically Jez means “Christ before me.” And it’s as simple as that. I was trying to come up with a name and that came to mind with a friend of mine, and I said well, that’s what I’m going to call it. And it’s also sort of like saying “yes” in a different way, with an accent, you know? Hopefully, it’ll open up doors. I’m very happy that I’m in Barnes & Noble, and I’m hoping that it sells out. That would be amazing. We’ll see. But it’s also about learning and seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

On what he thinks will be his biggest stumbling block in getting the magazine to succeed: I’ve gotten some great feedback, people really love it. So, it’s about trying to get people to invest, to do advertising in the magazine, because there are a lot of magazines and they all want money. And then also getting people involved with a good cause. This was a real stumbling block, as far as me getting pneumonia. (Laughs) I have never had pneumonia before and then being put in the hospital, but I guess it was God’s way of telling me I needed to take things a little bit slower, and really plan and organize.

On the days when the same models would appear over and over again on the covers of magazines: Well, because at that time there was a different way of measuring the success of a girl. At that time, whether it was an editorial or catalogs, they had a system, they would do it on sales. For example, like a Niki Taylor, who’s modeling again, if she wears something, she’ll sell it out. And it’s a proven fact. Like Carol Alt, who I have on the cover of my first edition. Also, it’s such a pleasure when you work with them because they know what they’re doing. I’m not saying that the girls today don’t, because there are a lot of amazing models.

On the magazine not being limited to female models: No, not at all. It’s all genres. I live my life as a very open person, and I love people. And I love featuring people. I always say it’s 80 percent women and 20 percent men. And I also like the celebrity aspect, which I think will help sell the magazine. And I’m working that angle quite well.

On if there is one article or picture in the first issue that he is most proud of and would like readers to go to first: I’m very proud of the magazine. Is it perfect? No. But I would love them to see everything, and I would love them to give me comments. One thing that I would ask a reader is what are their favorites, because the only way that you learn and can fix something is if you listen to people and ask them what was appealing to them, because I’ve already put out what I like. So, now it’s about listening so that I can better myself and better the magazine.

On the plan of being a quarterly magazine and currently working on the website: Yes, we’re working on the website and the app right now. And quite honestly, they told me that I have to take it easy for six weeks. So, I’m trying to figure out how much work that I’m going to be able to do.

On if he thinks it’s still important to have a printed publication in this digital age: I think it’s still the romance of it; the romance of holding something. And seeing it, as opposed to just looking at your computer. I work at the computer 24/7 when I’m not shooting, things like that, and I don’t want to sit down and look at a magazine on the computer. It’s nice to have. Does everybody feel that way? No. Now listen, am I going to be printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the magazine? I don’t think so. I think I’ll get it to a certain number and then the rest will be online, because I know the power that the online has. But there’s a romance about having a printed issue.

On being a photographer for the magazine and whether he prints out the images or simply uses the digital ones: I love seeing them printed. It’s funny, because what I do is I print two or three full copies in New York before I send them out because I want to double and triple check everything. And it is such a feeling when you get it back and you see it, and it looks really good. When the colors match, it’s just something that’s incredible.

On anything he’d like to add: The important thing is it’s a magazine that wants to reach a multitude of people and wants to help put. I think that’s the most important thing, but I don’t want to have a magazine just to have a magazine. I want to have a magazine that’s going to do something that helps new designers and have them help different organizations.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: That I’m a good person.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: It depends on the day, but I would say you would find me cooking and having people over for dinner. I love to cook and I have a great kitchen. And that’s something I like doing.

On what keeps him up at night: I would say, making sure that I do right.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Ezequiel De La Rosa, founder & editor in chief, Jez magazine.

Samir Husni: As I understand it, you were in the hospital, you came out, and as an epiphany of sorts, you decided to launch a magazine.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind starting a print magazine in this day and age?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I actually went into the hospital after the magazine was already published. (Laughs) I missed my own launch party. I ended up getting pneumonia, which is rather crazy, and had surgery. But it’s been a passion of love and I’m trying to create a sort of different magazine, because I want a magazine that will do things. And I started it in reverse, because everybody starts somewhere like Instagram and on social media. And I did not. I am starting in reverse now. So, I have to step it up and I’m learning every day.

My thing is I also wanted to bring back the supermodels because right now we have so many Instant-Famous, which is fine, it’s the new way of the world and we all have to basically adapt and change our model. But there’s something about experience that is amazing. I find nowadays that we have interchangeable models and things like that. Before we had models that commanded the stage. So, of course, I glorify that. And then also put the new models in as well.

My logic is mending the two together, because I was very surprised to learn that before, the fashion business was very private; it was very elitist and things like that. You didn’t see people posting things because they wanted to keep everything hush-hush. And now it’s like your posting 24/7, because the more followers you have, the bigger it is. And I was shocked at seeing some of the supermodels that I know have followers that amounted to nothing compared to a little girl who’s posting at home that hasn’t done anything, yet has millions of followers.

Samir Husni: You decided to start with print and your first issue is devoted to “Good People.”

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Yes, and it’s always going to be devoted to good people, because I believe in philanthropy. And I’m trying to create, now that I’m working on the web, I’m trying to create a way of awareness and also of revenue, of creating revenue to different organizations that are doing good. Right now my focus is on Together1heart and they are going to be doing an event on May 7. And I’m working on creating things that will generate money for the event and also for the future. And from there, I will pick another foundation that are doing good and that I can associate myself with, so that I’m always highlighting a good organization that’s doing something.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little bit about you. Do you consider yourself a photographer, an editor, a publisher, or all of the above?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Right now I have to consider myself everything. (Laughs) Creating a magazine in this day and age is not the easiest thing. I’m trying to create a magazine in a world where magazines are closing right now. So, I have to be very wise on how I create everything and how I do it. And it’s a lot of hard work, because it’s not like you can create and have 20 million in staff nowadays. I don’t think that’s the way that things are going now. I don’t think there’s enough revenue to go around at the moment.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be the number one ingredient that will ensure that your magazine will succeed?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I think by the grace of God. I can’t guarantee anything. I am trying to do my best to create something that people will love, sales will tell. I am happy that in my first edition that I was able to cover everything through ads. I think that itself is an achievement. So now, I have to start meeting with ad sales people, because basically I did everything myself.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the name of the magazine. Does Jez stand for the “Journal of Ezequiel” or what does Jez mean?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Jez is because of my faith. I’m not a religious person, but I am a believer. I’m a Christian, non-denominational, and basically Jez means “Christ before me.” And it’s as simple as that. I was trying to come up with a name and that came to mind with a friend of mine, and I said well, that’s what I’m going to call it. And it’s also sort of like saying “yes” in a different way, with an accent, you know? Hopefully, it’ll open up doors. I’m very happy that I’m in Barnes & Noble, and I’m hoping that it sells out. That would be amazing. We’ll see. But it’s also about learning and seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be your biggest stumbling block and how will you overcome it?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I’ve gotten some great feedback, people really love it. So, it’s about trying to get people to invest, to do advertising in the magazine, because there are a lot of magazines and they all want money. And then also getting people involved with a good cause. This was a real stumbling block, as far as me getting pneumonia. (Laughs) I have never had pneumonia before and then being put in the hospital, but I guess it was God’s way of telling me I needed to take things a little bit slower, and really plan and organize.

And that’s what I’m actually doing, organizing and planning and taking some time to listen. And really getting the web component working, working on the Instagram, and trying to get all of these pieces together.

Samir Husni: You mentioned how everybody can be a model now. And you and I probably both remember the days where you could count the models out there on one or two hands, and it was guaranteed that those would be the models appearing on this magazine or that one, over and over again, from Gisele to Cindy Crawford. People used to count how many times they would appear on the cover of magazines.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Well, because at that time there was a different way of measuring the success of a girl. At that time, whether it was an editorial or catalogs, they had a system, they would do it on sales. For example, like a Niki Taylor, who’s modeling again, if she wears something, she’ll sell it out. And it’s a proven fact. Like Carol Alt, who I have on the cover of my first edition. Also, it’s such a pleasure when you work with them because they know what they’re doing. I’m not saying that the girls today don’t, because there are a lot of amazing models.

But the fact of Instagram, they’re people who are commanding more money than a gorgeous girl, a girl who is simply striking. But they’re more interested in the followers. It’s hard today. Girls have to have a following. And some may have to do sexier pictures to get more followers. It’s sort of working in that manner.

Samir Husni: I see the magazine isn’t limited to female models.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: No, not at all. It’s all genres. I live my life as a very open person, and I love people. And I love featuring people. I always say it’s 80 percent women and 20 percent men. And I also like the celebrity aspect, which I think will help sell the magazine. And I’m working that angle quite well. And it’s really a pity, because when I was sick I missed several shows that I could have gone to and taken pictures with celebrities. Recently, was the first time that I could go to some shows and mingle. Although I’m still not myself. I still have to give myself time to mend.

Samir Husni: Is there one article or picture in the first issue that you are most proud of and would love for the reader to start with?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I’m very proud of the magazine. Is it perfect? No. But I would love them to see everything, and I would love them to give me comments. One thing that I would ask a reader is what are their favorites, because the only way that you learn and can fix something is if you listen to people and ask them what was appealing to them, because I’ve already put out what I like. So, now it’s about listening so that I can better myself and better the magazine.

Samir Husni: The plan now is that you’re publishing the magazine quarterly, four times per year and you’re working on the website.

Ezequiel De La Rosa: Yes, we’re working on the website and the app right now. And quite honestly, they told me that I have to take it easy for six weeks. So, I’m trying to figure out how much work that I’m going to be able to do. I can’t fly for about five more weeks now, so I have to wait on all of that before I can really start.

Samir Husni: With everything that’s happening today in magazines and magazine media, do you think it’s still important to have a printed publication in this digital age?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I think it’s still the romance of it; the romance of holding something. And seeing it, as opposed to just looking at your computer. I work at the computer 24/7 when I’m not shooting, things like that, and I don’t want to sit down and look at a magazine on the computer. It’s nice to have. Does everybody feel that way? No. Now listen, am I going to be printing hundreds of thousands of copies of the magazine? I don’t think so. I think I’ll get it to a certain number and then the rest will be online, because I know the power that the online has. But there’s a romance about having a printed issue.

Even though the magazine is in Barnes & Noble, I have had people to email me and ask for a couple of copies. So, people still care about the printed magazine.

Samir Husni: As a photographer, and I’ve noticed your byline in a lot of the images in the magazine, do you still print the pictures out and hold them in your hand and think, wow? Or do you simply use the digital images?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I love seeing them printed. It’s funny, because what I do is I print two or three full copies in New York before I send them out because I want to double and triple check everything. And it is such a feeling when you get it back and you see it, and it looks really good. When the colors match, it’s just something that’s incredible.

In my background, I’ve worn many hats throughout my career. From the early ages, I used to design womenswear. And when I’m talking early ages, I’m talking from 14-years-old and on. Then I had a store at an early age; I did some modeling and someone asked me could I apply makeup to men and women and I asked how much did it pay, and that’s how I became a hair and makeup guy. And I did that for many years and worked and traveled all over the world. I got covers of Vogue, Harper’s, Cosmo, you name it.

And then I became a photographer and I didn’t even want to be a photographer, then I ended up falling in love with it. And one of the biggest thrills was going to the lab and of course, you’re going to do a test clip and then you say, just run it normal. And people would ask me why I was doing a test clip, because I was just going to run it normal. I just always had to. I went into digital later and the reason I went into digital was because of my rental studios. A company was doing an event and they rented one of my spaces and they sent some equipment over and I started using it. Then suddenly, a digital photography magazine wanted to run it on the cover and then I found myself in the digital world. And that’s how I basically got into digital.

And I got into late, but if you know the fundamentals, and the fundamentals are so important to know how film and lighting works, the it doesn’t matter. It’s awful nowadays that you have some people who don’t know much and they ruin the business because they’re more of a painter than they are a photographer. The photo is retouched more than anything, it’s like a painting. And that’s something I don’t agree on.

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

Ezequiel De La Rosa: The important thing is it’s a magazine that wants to reach a multitude of people and wants to help put. I think that’s the most important thing, but I don’t want to have a magazine just to have a magazine. I want to have a magazine that’s going to do something that helps new designers and have them help different organizations.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: That I’m a good person.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Ezequiel De La Rosa: It depends on the day, but I would say you would find me cooking and having people over for dinner. I love to cook and I have a great kitchen. And that’s something I like doing.

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

Ezequiel De La Rosa: I would say, making sure that I do right.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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“Two If By Sea” – L’Officiel Joins America’s Newsstands

February 26, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Yesterday, I visited one of my most favorite places in the world – the newsstand. As I stood there marveling at the latest new arrivals, I spotted a European title that I of course recognized, but was not expecting to see on this side of the Great Pond especially with three very prominent letters after its title: USA. The magazine in question L’Officiel.

L’Officiel is owned by Jalou Media Group, which is a family-owned media group based in Paris. With 27 international editions, L’Officiel has a presence across over 80 countries— the USA being the most recent addition to the family.

What Mr. Magazine™ found extremely fascinating about this beautiful magazine, other than its exquisite covers (yes, I said covers plural) is that as this print title came across the sea, it hit America’s shores in two different iterations. We have the same magazine, but with two different titles, something Mr. Magazine™ is quite sure has never happened before. We have L’Officiel Hommes, for the gentlemen, and L’Officiel without any designated gender for the ladies. But both magazines have the exact same content, only two different titles.

And in typical European style, this first issue is being sold at the ridiculously low introductory price of $1. So, of course, Mr. Magazine™ had to have both copies, but truthfully, I would have had to have both regardless of the price.


In Joseph Akel’s editor’s letter, he addresses the obvious question: Why launch a magazine, especially in this day and age, given the state of publishing? The resounding response in part was: the need for a voice that is informed, inclusive, and open to creative expression is needed, perhaps now more than ever.

Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t agree more…welcome to America, L’Officiel!

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Traditional Home’s Publisher, Beth McDonough to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “I Have Seen More Of An Evolution, In That Myself And My Team Aren’t Selling Just Print, We’re Really Selling Integrated Solutions To Our Advertising Partners.” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

February 26, 2018

“A lot of our readers are planning renovations and so for them it goes back to the old-school, tear sheeting as they flip through and see spaces with ideas or colors or patterns that resonate. Something that they may want to consider for their upcoming decorating project or renovation project in the case of a kitchen or bath; it really enables them to either tear sheet or dog-ear the page and bring it to their kitchen designer or interior designer to share what they really love and may want to consider for their own home. And I think print allows them to do that.” Beth McDonough…

“From a team perspective, I’m looking from a marketing side and hiring members of the team who have an understanding of how all of the pieces work together and can really bolster one another, because we would never advocate that somebody shouldn’t be doing digital or shouldn’t be doing social. But what we look to do is figure out how we can come up with a program where the print and the digital and the video and the experiential can all combine together to be successful and to support the various aspects of the overall program.” Beth McDonough…

Traditional Home magazine has been connecting home décor and affluent consumers for almost three decades. The brand today reinterprets classic elegance, but in contemporary and cutting-edge style. So, what began as a special interest title for Meredith has grown into a legacy of beautiful design and a shoppable resource for its readers.

Publisher Beth McDonough comes from the marketing side of the business, so transitioning into the role of publisher seemed like a natural next step for her. I spoke with Beth recently and we talked about the ink on paper magazine and how important that facet was to the brand, while also combining those integrated solutions, digital, video and experiential, to be successful and support the various aspects of the overall program. It was a Print Proud Digital Smart conversation that uplifted all parts of marketing and sales, to not only benefit the brand, but the advertising and consumer customer as well.

So, I hope that you enjoy this conversation with a publisher who believes in keeping the “Traditional” side-by-side with the “Digital,” enabling her brand to move confidently forward into the next 30 years, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Beth McDonough, publisher, Traditional Home magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how she would define the word “traditional” in this day and age: That’s a great question. In the research that we’ve done, when we ask 10 readers or 10 designers what traditional design is, we kind of get 10 different answers, but we do see certain adjectives come to the top all of the time. And we hear things like authenticity, craftsmanship and high quality. Those are all things that editorially have always been incredibly important, but I think to define traditional for us is really looking at design that’s rooted in great classic design, but reinvented or reimagined for the way that consumers live today.

On what she attributes the longevity of Traditional Home to and why the print magazine and the brand keeps clicking with readers: We are a millennial; we’re about 28-years-old, as I like to joke. (Laughs) I think the longevity of Traditional Home can be attributed to our editorial point of view in that our readership, when we look at the geographic diversity, we really touch the home enthusiast from coast-to-coast. So, we see a very strong following for our readers in affluent suburbs, places like Grosse Pointe, Michigan and Lake Forest, Illinois. And I think our editors do a very good job and this is a conscious effort on their part to ensure that the homes and the design talent that they’re featuring in the magazine also represents that geographic diversity. They understand that there’s amazing design in Oklahoma and Colorado, and that it’s not just New York and L.A. that are the epicenters of great design.

On whether her job today selling the magazine to advertisers is easier, the same, or harder: Good question. Well, I guess it depends upon who I’m talking to in the advertising community, obviously. (Laughs) If it’s somebody in New York who thinks that the sun rises and sets on the Big Apple, it’s harder to get them to understand a Midwest or a Southern mindset potentially, but I think the numbers help us paint the picture of how popular Traditional Home is and continues to be. We recently met with our circ team to look at the latest AAM (Alliance for Audited Media) publisher’s statement; we’ve seen a six percent growth year over year, looking at December 2017 versus 2016.

On why she thinks people still want a Traditional Home in print: It’s twofold. One I think is the category. We hear from our readers that they love to sit and look at the full bleed images of these gorgeous interiors. A little bit of it is escapism, like any magazine reader, it’s a moment of relaxation for them. It’s a little bit of a luxury for some to have that quiet time for themselves to really enjoy the journey of going through these other people’s homes and understanding the story behind each one of them.

On whether Meredith’s many “Home” titles have helped to nourish Traditional Home or created competition within the company: Honestly, within Meredith I think Traditional Home really does have a unique position. Certainly, there is healthy competition for certain accounts with our brands like Better Homes & Gardens, but if you use the comparison between those two brands, Better Homes & Gardens is just so much bigger, and I think so much more of a reach vehicle, that an advertiser looking to go into Better Homes & Gardens, even in the home category, may have different goals and objectives than somebody coming into Traditional Home, where among the upscale shelter category we are still the largest circulation.

On whether she thinks the acquisition of Time Inc. by Meredith will open new doors for the Traditional Home brand: That’s a great question, but I think it’s too soon to tell. We’re hopeful from a Traditional Home brand perspective that joining our brethren in what I would call the affluent group of Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure could potentially introduce us to some new brands in the affluent category that would be non-endemic to us. Those affiliated products like wine or wonderful travel destinations, because we know entertaining is such a core passion point and we know travel is a passion point.

On how her job as publisher has changed over the last few years: I don’t know if you’re aware, but this is my first role as publisher. I have been in the industry for over 20 years, but I have always come up through the marketing side of things, so I am an imposter in the sales role. It will be three years in April that I have served as publisher of Traditional Home. I think that in this role I have seen more of an evolution, in that myself and my team aren’t selling just print, we’re really selling integrated solutions to our advertising partners. For me, it’s not just getting somebody in the magazine so we can hit our numbers on the next issue. It’s really about working with them as a partner to hopefully develop a long-term relationship that can evolve and grow as their business challenges and needs change. And that we can be a trusted and dedicated partner with integrated solutions that help them achieve their goals.

On whether she’s hiring different types of people to help with those “integrated solutions” when it comes to marketing and sales: From a team perspective, I’m looking from a marketing side and hiring members of the team who have an understanding of how all of the pieces work together and can really bolster one another, because we would never advocate that somebody shouldn’t be doing digital or shouldn’t be doing social. But what we look to do is figure out how we can come up with a program where the print and the digital and the video and the experiential can all combine together to be successful and to support the various aspects of the overall program.

On what she would hope to tell someone that she’d accomplished one year from now: That’s a great question. I would like to still see us as something that’s valued in print, but that we’d been able to embrace new technologies. First, to always continue to experiment, I think that’s what’s really fun about this ever-evolving marketplace. All of these new digital technologies give us the opportunity to see how we can take our amazing content from the print product and push it out to attract new audiences.

On any stumbling blocks she’s had to face in her role as publisher: I’d have to say that it’s been a pretty smooth transition. And again, I think because before I made the transition into my new role, marketing and sales are so intertwined, and prior to me sitting in this specific seat I was always involved in conversations with clients in understanding what they were looking for in a partner before we put ideas and proposals and presentations together for them. So overall, it’s been a pretty seamless transition.

On anything she’d like to add: The only thing I might add is that our new editor in chief, Jill Waage, is doing an amazing job. She’s been in her role close to 10 months now and she has accomplished so much with her team. She’s a great collaborator, she’s not somebody to come in and tell everybody how it’s to be done. She has done a good job listening to not only her team, but to the challenges of sales and marketing, meeting designers and clients; it’s just been an absolute pleasure working with her.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I think being calm, because this is always an industry where challenges will come up along the way. And individuals who know me, know that I’m a thoughtful person who is always looking to find a solution that works for all parties involved. So, I think if I were to leave something, that would be it; to stay calm and to find a positive solution.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Honestly, it would be cooking. My husband and I finally just redid our kitchen. We bought the “money pit” 11 years ago, and we have slowly been lovingly restoring an old Victorian; it’s about 110-years-old. So, last year we tackled the kitchen and I have to say it’s the one room that we spend the most time in when we’re not sleeping and we kind of treated ourselves to a really lovely space. So, ever since we finished our kitchen, I would say we cook in it non-stop.

On what keeps her up at night: Other than my children? (Laughs) I would say how to keep my team energized and curious, because everybody is so busy with the daily demands of life and the job. What keeps me up at night is how do I give them the motivation and the time to read about new things, to get out of the daily grind so they can be inspired? And to learn about new things that potentially we could incorporate into our business model and continue to keep the brand healthy and growing.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Beth McDonough, publisher, Traditional Home magazine.

Samir Husni: Being the publisher of Traditional Home in this new day and age, how would you define the word “traditional” in the 21st century?

Beth McDonough: That’s a great question. In the research that we’ve done, when we ask 10 readers or 10 designers what traditional design is, we kind of get 10 different answers, but we do see certain adjectives come to the top all of the time. And we hear things like authenticity, craftsmanship and high quality. Those are all things that editorially have always been incredibly important, but I think to define traditional for us is really looking at design that’s rooted in great classic design, but reinvented or reimagined for the way that consumers live today.

And I think you see that with so many heritage brands, not only in the home design space, but also in fashion, where they’re legacy brands, they’ve been around for decades; a lot of them have been founded as family businesses and many of them are still family-run.

We’ve talked to different textile companies where some of their bestsellers today were literally introduced 50 years ago. Their designers have gone back in and either recolored those patterns or maybe played with the scale of the patterns just to give them a little more of a modern-day edge or feel. And again, it’s looking to the past and reimagining for today.

Samir Husni: Mentioning the past, what do you attribute the longevity of Traditional Home to and the reason it keeps on ticking and clicking after all of these years as a print magazine and as a brand?

Beth McDonough: We are a millennial; we’re about 28-years-old, as I like to joke. (Laughs) I think the longevity of Traditional Home can be attributed to our editorial point of view in that our readership, when we look at the geographic diversity, we really touch the home enthusiast from coast-to-coast. So, we see a very strong following for our readers in affluent suburbs, places like Grosse Pointe, Michigan and Lake Forest, Illinois. And I think our editors do a very good job and this is a conscious effort on their part to ensure that the homes and the design talent that they’re featuring in the magazine also represents that geographic diversity. They understand that there’s amazing design in Oklahoma and Colorado, and that it’s not just New York and L.A. that are the epicenters of great design.

Our readership resonates when they see projects in their regions because while there are always design trends every year that make the headlines, I think there are always geographic variations from a design perspective. And so, I think our longevity can be attributed to the fact that what the editors are putting out, either in print or on our social and digital channels, really resonates with our readers across the country.

Samir Husni: Do you think your job today selling the magazine to advertisers is easier, the same, or harder?

Beth McDonough: Good question. Well, I guess it depends upon who I’m talking to in the advertising community, obviously. (Laughs) If it’s somebody in New York who thinks that the sun rises and sets on the Big Apple, it’s harder to get them to understand a Midwest or a Southern mindset potentially, but I think the numbers help us paint the picture of how popular Traditional Home is and continues to be. We recently met with our circ team to look at the latest AAM (Alliance for Audited Media) publisher’s statement; we’ve seen a six percent growth year over year, looking at December 2017 versus 2016. We have a six percent growth in our paid subscriber base and I think that speaks volumes in this day and age as to the popularity and the wanted-ness of our brand among affluent design lovers.

Samir Husni: You’ve had a six percent increase in paid circulation, so why do you think people still want a print magazine today?

Beth McDonough: It’s twofold. One I think is the category. We hear from our readers that they love to sit and look at the full bleed images of these gorgeous interiors. A little bit of it is escapism, like any magazine reader, it’s a moment of relaxation for them. It’s a little bit of a luxury for some to have that quiet time for themselves to really enjoy the journey of going through these other people’s homes and understanding the story behind each one of them.

The other piece of that is a lot of our readers are planning renovations and so for them it goes back to the old-school, tear sheeting as they flip through and see spaces with ideas or colors or patterns that resonate. Something that they may want to consider for their upcoming decorating project or renovation project in the case of a kitchen or bath; it really enables them to either tear sheet or dog-ear the page and bring it to their kitchen designer or interior designer to share what they really love and may want to consider for their own home. And I think print allows them to do that.

Samir Husni: Traditional Home is one of the titles that Meredith started as a special interest publication, as a bookazine before the term was ever used. Then it became a frequency magazine, in line with what Meredith has done over the years. Today, Meredith is one the largest magazine publishing companies around. Do you think that environment of Better Homes & Gardens and all of the other “Home” magazines have helped nourish Traditional Home or created a set of competitors within the company?

Beth McDonough: Honestly, within Meredith I think Traditional Home really does have a unique position. Certainly, there is healthy competition for certain accounts with our brands like Better Homes & Gardens, but if you use the comparison between those two brands, Better Homes & Gardens is just so much bigger, and I think so much more of a reach vehicle, that an advertiser looking to go into Better Homes & Gardens, even in the home category, may have different goals and objectives than somebody coming into Traditional Home, where among the upscale shelter category we are still the largest circulation. We have the largest rate base at 850,000 when you look at us against the Hearst Design Group titles and Architectural Digest.

So, within our upscale shelter category we’re still the largest, but I think that an advertiser coming to us is maybe looking for a slightly more affluent consumer who most likely is working with a professional designer. We carry a lot of the “To The Trade” accounts where you can only access those products through a design professional.

Samir Husni: Do you feel that the acquisition of Time Inc. by Meredith is going to open new doors for you?

Beth McDonough: That’s a great question, but I think it’s too soon to tell. We’re hopeful from a Traditional Home brand perspective that joining our brethren in what I would call the affluent group of Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure could potentially introduce us to some new brands in the affluent category that would be non-endemic to us. Those affiliated products like wine or wonderful travel destinations, because we know entertaining is such a core passion point and we know travel is a passion point.

We hear stories about how our readers go to Europe or Asia and come back with beautiful pieces from their travels that they then present in their home and it gives them the opportunity to tell the story of where they found them or the artists they met. And then having that storytelling aspect incorporated into their home.

So, back to your question, it would be great if we could potentially put some programs together that would help us in those categories, but I think time will tell as to whether that will be possible.

Samir Husni: How has your job as publisher in the last few years changed? Are you still doing the same thing you did three years ago or has the whole job of publisher changed dramatically like the role of an editor has?

Beth McDonough: I was thinking about this question and I don’t know if you’re aware, but this is my first role as publisher. I have been in the industry for over 20 years, but I have always come up through the marketing side of things, so I am an imposter in the sales role. It will be three years in April that I have served as publisher of Traditional Home. Prior to that I have always been in a dedicated marketing role, obviously working closely with the sales team and the publisher.

So, to answer your question, I think that in this role I have seen more of an evolution, in that myself and my team aren’t selling just print, we’re really selling integrated solutions to our advertising partners. For me, it’s not just getting somebody in the magazine so we can hit our numbers on the next issue. It’s really about working with them as a partner to hopefully develop a long-term relationship that can evolve and grow as their business challenges and needs change. And that we can be a trusted and dedicated partner with integrated solutions that help them achieve their goals.

Samir Husni: Well, as a very good imposter who has done a great job…

Beth McDonough: Thank you.

Samir Husni: …are you hiring different types of people to help you with the marketing and sales? You said that you are no longer just selling print, you’re selling integrated solutions. Does that need a different type of people than just salespeople?

Beth McDonough: From a team perspective, I’m looking from a marketing side and hiring members of the team who have an understanding of how all of the pieces work together and can really bolster one another, because we would never advocate that somebody shouldn’t be doing digital or shouldn’t be doing social. But what we look to do is figure out how we can come up with a program where the print and the digital and the video and the experiential can all combine together to be successful and to support the various aspects of the overall program.

So, from a marketing perspective I do look to individuals who may have come up through print, but who have had experience on the digital and social side and still have that holistic view and understanding of how each serves its own particular role within an integrated program.

And it’s the same for the sales side. I love working with seasoned professionals and I would say the majority of them have spent most of their years in print, but some of them have done stints on a more digital-centric property. So again, I think I really look to individuals who still have a passion for print, because that’s where our brand is rooted first and foremost, but understand how all of the pieces can work together to create a successful integrated approach.

Samir Husni: If you and I are talking one year from now, what would you hope to tell me that you’d accomplished in 2018?

Beth McDonough: That my home looks a lot nicer. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Beth McDonough: That’s a great question. I would like to still see us as something that’s valued in print, but that we’d been able to embrace new technologies. First, to always continue to experiment, I think that’s what’s really fun about this ever-evolving marketplace. All of these new digital technologies give us the opportunity to see how we can take our amazing content from the print product and push it out to attract new audiences.

So, I think if we were to look to the future I would like to say that we’d grown our audience even more and that we’d demonstrated to these new generations that beautiful design is still something that is attainable. But also at the end of the day is something that’s very personal and meant to create a wonderful environment for your family where hopefully you can make memories and have wonderful moments.

Samir Husni: Having come from the marketing side of things, has your role as publisher been like a walk in a rose garden for you, where you said to yourself, wow, I love this, or have there been a few stumbling blocks here and there?

Beth McDonough: I’d have to say that it’s been a pretty smooth transition. And again, I think because before I made the transition into my new role, marketing and sales are so intertwined, and prior to me sitting in this specific seat I was always involved in conversations with clients in understanding what they were looking for in a partner before we put ideas and proposals and presentations together for them. So overall, it’s been a pretty seamless transition.

I will say with some of the Excel grids on the financial side; I have gotten glasses (Laughs), so we’re spending more time with Excel grids. But overall, knock on wood, it’s been pretty smooth sailing overall. And I love the challenge. I think it’s been a really nice next step for me professionally to move into this new role and to continually challenge myself, personally and professionally.

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

Beth McDonough: The only thing I might add is that our new editor in chief, Jill Waage, is doing an amazing job. She’s been in her role close to 10 months now and she has accomplished so much with her team. She’s a great collaborator, she’s not somebody to come in and tell everybody how it’s to be done. She has done a good job listening to not only her team, but to the challenges of sales and marketing, meeting designers and clients; it’s just been an absolute pleasure working with her.

So, she too, should be credited with putting a lot of wind into the sails of the brand. I love having her as a partner in crime and I really look forward to what the future holds for the brand under her leadership.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Beth McDonough: I think being calm, because this is always an industry where challenges will come up along the way. And individuals who know me, know that I’m a thoughtful person who is always looking to find a solution that works for all parties involved. So, I think if I were to leave something, that would be it; to stay calm and to find a positive solution.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Beth McDonough: Honestly, it would be cooking. My husband and I finally just redid our kitchen. We bought the “money pit” 11 years ago, and we have slowly been lovingly restoring an old Victorian; it’s about 110-years-old. So, last year we tackled the kitchen and I have to say it’s the one room that we spend the most time in when we’re not sleeping and we kind of treated ourselves to a really lovely space. So, ever since we finished our kitchen, I would say we cook in it non-stop.

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

Beth McDonough: Other than my children? (Laughs) I would say how to keep my team energized and curious, because everybody is so busy with the daily demands of life and the job. What keeps me up at night is how do I give them the motivation and the time to read about new things, to get out of the daily grind so they can be inspired? And to learn about new things that potentially we could incorporate into our business model and continue to keep the brand healthy and growing.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Brides Magazine: Making The “I Do’s” More Real & The Magazine More Human With Its Recent Re-Imagination – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Lisa Gooder, Executive Director, Editorial, Brides Magazine…

February 22, 2018

“This is such a moment for brides and they’re spending a lot of money and really kind of obsessed with this project. So, I think print for Brides is incredibly important. Digital for us is also very strong. They’re checking our website all of the time and reading our newsletters, engaging with us on social media, but I still think that the big, beautiful, aspirational photos and the fantasy of a wedding is something that print can deliver.” Lisa Gooder…

“I think content is whatever audiences respond to. We’re creating content all over the place. We’re creating video content; we’re creating content especially for Instagram stories; we’re creating content in the magazine that is in the form of well stories, as well as a back page that’s become a very different thing than it has been in the past.” Lisa Gooder…

In a move toward a more contemporary, realistic and authentic approach to showcasing weddings and all that the event can entail, Brides magazine has undergone a re-imagination of the brand. Instead of models and choreographed weddings, the Condé Nast title is featuring real weddings with real photos of actual brides and grooms, be they celebrity, such as the magazine’s first revamped issue with Serena Williams on the cover, or people less in the public eye. It’s a bold move, but one that Executive Director of Editorial, Lisa Gooder, feels sure will make a major difference with brides-to-be.

I spoke with Lisa on a recent trip to New York and we talked about the new direction the brand is taking, in both the print and digital platforms. Lisa’s background is in digital, as she was Digital Content Director for the Brides brand for many years, but print has always been something that she also believes in, especially when it comes to a brand surrounded by the imagery of beautiful dresses and weddings. Being Print Proud Digital Smart is second-nature to Lisa. Something Mr. Magazine™ can certainly say “I Do” too as well.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ look into the world of modern weddings, with more destinations, more diverse couples, and many more beautiful joining’s of love and affection, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lisa Gooder, executive director, editorial, Brides magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On why she thinks there is still a need for a printed Brides magazine in this day and age: This is such a moment for brides and they’re spending a lot of money and really kind of obsessed with this project. So, I think print for Brides is incredibly important. Digital for us is also very strong. They’re checking our website all of the time and reading our newsletters, engaging with us on social media, but I still think that the big, beautiful, aspirational photos and the fantasy of a wedding is something that print can deliver.

On what drove her to reengineer the magazine: I have been the digital director here for the last five years and I’ve worked in weddings for some time; I spent 10 years at another wedding publication. I really feel like our audience, this millennial audience, is so interested in the authenticity and the emotional side of getting married. It felt like to do fashion shoots with models was pretending with a wedding, when in fact there are so many beautiful wedding images out there that show so much emotion. We can’t fabricate the look on a woman’s face as she walks back down the aisle after having said “I do.” So, we just decided that we would turn to photos that were taken in the moment, in a very spontaneous and authentic way. And then create service around those, which is, here’s how you can get the look and here are dresses inspired by this wedding or cakes and flowers, things like that.

On the changes that seem to humanize the magazine more and how she thinks that will work: You know, I think it was very inspired. Our social media channels are very successful and have really high engagement, and a lot of it has been inspired by what we’re seeing the audience respond to. Some of those photos, particularly the last page, which we call “The Moment” is very inspired by Instagram and the moments that are real and being inside them.

On coming from a digital background and suddenly having both print and digital to direct and whether there were any adjustments she had to make: One of the lucky things for me at a place like Condé Nast is that there are people here who are so experienced in print, who have so much knowledge and years behind them, who’ve been able to help me. So, this is really a partnership with our creative director, Yolanda Edwards, she is also the creative director for Condé Nast Traveler. The creative team and many of our editors are very skilled, in terms of creating print.

On whether she has an “a-ha” moment when she sees or hears an idea that helps her decide what content goes print and what content goes digital: As I said, there have been some stories that have been inspired by what we’ve seen in digital. We have a ring story that’s coming out in our next issue that is about rings that are inspired by the Royal Wedding. It was such a big thing for us, so all of the rings were inspired by the members of the Royal Family, and that’s not something that we would do online, but something that we loved to do and that we knew our readers would like. So, it’s been fun to have another platform for that.

On having to reinvent her audience after every wedding that takes place: This is an audience that’s turning all of the time and I think it’s a mindset that we’re used to. I’ve worked in weddings for a long time, so I think of that every year. We have the new crop of brides who come to us; many of them get engaged around the holidays and through Valentine’s Day. And that’s our time when we are refilling the coffers and focusing on the planning of the events and all of that. We hope that we do a wonderful job with them and that they refer us to their friends. The one nice thing, the one easier thing, about the churn is that most people who are getting married have friends who are also getting married next. So, those people turn to their sisters or cousins or whomever and ask, okay, what do I do? And if they’re engaged with your brand, they’re very likely to pass it on.

On how they decide on a cover that will jump from the newsstands: In this past issue we chose to feature Serena Williams’ wedding and we really felt like Serena was for our audience. For this new redesign, we felt that she was a statement of being a strong, powerful, independent woman, and I think that’s important to our audience. That this girl hasn’t pined to be a bride her whole life, she’s joining in an equal partnership and is strong and empowered.

On how she defines content today: I think content is whatever audiences respond to. We’re creating content all over the place. We’re creating video content; we’re creating content especially for Instagram stories; we’re creating content in the magazine that is in the form of well stories, as well as a back page that’s become a very different thing than it has been in the past. In fact, the photo on the back page of our next issue is one of our most engaged-with Instagram photos.

On whether she ever envisions the print edition of Brides going away: I don’t know; we’ll have to see what the future brings. As I said, I think our audience, this specific audience, is a very motivated audience. It’s not “should I pick up a magazine this month or not.” She has a task to do and she’s pretty focused. Just like she’s going to book a honeymoon and she’s going to buy a dress, she needs the research and the information. And she’s spending a tremendous amount of money. So, I think for a while, we currently have her audience. And our advertisers continue to be pretty committed, because a lot of them have dollars that are earmarked toward this specific market.

On whether she feels her job now is more of a curator than a creator: I think we are curators, and with weddings, probably always have been. This is to bring our bride the best of the best of inspiration, images and ideas that are out there. And I think that’s what she wants to see. She maybe sees herself reflected in many of these weddings. My biggest gauge of success with a piece of content is if someone wants to rip a page out or take a picture with their cellphone and say this is an element that I want; I’d like to do that too. So, we’re trying to bring the audience a lot of ideas and a lot of inspiration. But for sure, we are curating.

On whether, as an editor, she likes it or hates it when she hears some readers say they only buy Brides magazine for the ads: (Laughs) I actually love it. I’m not a traditional editor, I love it. And I understand the business of what we do, but I also think that this woman is looking for as much information as possible. As you said, some of those issues can be quite thick because they have 100 pages of wedding dress ads in them, and for me, I think that’s great. We’re giving her resources, both editorially while we’re telling the story, and providing our trend report for the fashion. And there’s also tons of information for her to use for her own shopping and planning.

On whether she thinks the Brides brand offers credibility through its advertising pages: I do; I do. And I think that our new positioning, our new strategic outlook, is very much based in credibility. I mean, these are real people. These weddings happened this way and they’re being reported the way they happened, which is a bit different that our sort of staging weddings, as we may have done in the past. I’m looking forward to doing some more interesting things with integrating some of our advertisers in certain ways, but we’re pretty careful in how we disclose that and let people know.

On any stumbling blocks she faced during the reengineering of the magazine or was it a walk in a rose garden for everyone: No, not a walk in a rose garden. (Laughs) Our biggest stumbling block was, we shipped the first issue of the magazine on a Friday in November. And Serena was married on Thursday night, the night before we shipped. So, we had about 12 hours; the photos were being taken at 6:00 p.m. that night, during the wedding, and being edited overnight. We had editor on the ground; they were being edited overnight and sent to us while we were quickly laying out those last few pages.

On why they had two covers with the tight deadline of that first re-imagined issue: We had two covers because we felt like her fashion choices were pretty important, and Serena wore two dresses. One she wore during the ceremony and one she wore during the party. And so we wanted to highlight both of them.

On whether there will ever be a cover line that refers to a bride at any age: Possibly. That’s interesting. We’ve been talking, certainly recently, about some celebrities who are a bit older. Because we only have one issue out in the magazine, we haven’t done that yet, but on digital we have shown a lot of weddings of various couples with grown children and different ages. But sure, absolutely.

On why she thinks magazines about the “second” wedding didn’t last: I think these days if people are going to actually have a wedding, as opposed to just going and getting married, I think they’re excited and view the wedding like they did the first one. I don’t think that people distinguish anymore. We’re seeing as many brides wearing long-way dresses and having large weddings and things like that, for the second time. So, to speak to them in a way that says this is a wedding again, that’s probably not what they’re looking for. They are celebrating this relationship and this beginning.

On anything she’d like to add: Just that our redesign isn’t only about the magazine. It’s about the brand at large. The way we position ourselves to be a more modern spot for somebody who is planning weddings is pretty important. These days, and we talk about this a lot, the first thing that I did, in terms of taking over this role, was to think about why people get married in 2018. All of the reasons that people used to get married for, you don’t need to be married to do any of those things anymore, whether it’s to live together, have children, have financial support, or even societal expectations. So, we really wanted to get to the bottom of what drives somebody to get married.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Probably helping someone with homework. (Laughs) I have an eight and twelve-year-old and a husband. Yes, having a glass of wine, but probably simultaneously making sure someone has finished their homework. I do get sucked into social media on my phone sometimes, which is great. We live in Manhattan, so some nights we’re out. But I usually try to go home in between and see my children before that.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: This is what I remember: remember why you started, every day. To be as excited about it as I was once, when I first began. And that I love what I do.

On what keeps her up at night: Juggling it all.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lisa Gooder, executive director, editorial, Brides.

Samir Husni: Why is there still a need for a printed Brides magazine in this day and age?

Lisa Gooder: This is such a moment for brides and they’re spending a lot of money and really kind of obsessed with this project. So, I think print for Brides is incredibly important. Digital for us is also very strong. They’re checking our website all of the time and reading our newsletters, engaging with us on social media, but I still think that the big, beautiful, aspirational photos and the fantasy of a wedding is something that print can deliver.

Samir Husni: Since you became editor in chief of Brides, what drove you to reengineer the magazine?

Lisa Gooder: I have been the digital director here for the last five years and I’ve worked in weddings for some time; I spent 10 years at another wedding publication. I really feel like our audience, this millennial audience, is so interested in the authenticity and the emotional side of getting married. It felt like to do fashion shoots with models was pretending with a wedding, when in fact there are so many beautiful wedding images out there that show so much emotion. We can’t fabricate the look on a woman’s face as she walks back down the aisle after having said “I do.” So, we just decided that we would turn to photos that were taken in the moment, in a very spontaneous and authentic way. And then create service around those, which is, here’s how you can get the look and here are dresses inspired by this wedding or cakes and flowers, things like that.

And as well, I think it was important to me to bring the brand into a modern sensibility that really depicts the way women are getting married today. We’re showing all different types if weddings. In the February/March issue, there is a wedding in Marfa, Texas with teepees and a trailer, like an Airbnb and really fun and different. And also a wedding in a chateau. Couples are getting married in many different types of ways and we’re showing them all. As well as different cultures and different ethnicities. We’re showing more same sex in some future issues and many other type weddings.

Samir Husni: When I flipped through the pages of the Feb./March issue, it felt like you had humanized the magazine.

Lisa Gooder: Thank you.

Samir Husni: How do you think humanizing print in this day and age will work? I remember the old Brides from years ago. I have one issue that came with a heavy lifting belt because the magazine was so very thick. The role of print has changed, so when you have this human touch, how does that work?

Lisa Gooder: You know, I think it was very inspired. Our social media channels are very successful and have really high engagement, and a lot of it has been inspired by what we’re seeing the audience respond to. Some of those photos, particularly the last page, which we call “The Moment” is very inspired by Instagram and the moments that are real and being inside them.

And then also some of our stories, for instance, our honeymoon story, we’re looking at what’s performing well online and creating a print version of that. That was a story about where to honeymoon for each month, because that’s how people should plan, right? Is there a hurricane here; is there snow there? Where should I go in June versus October? And that is one of our top performing stories that we decided to expand the research on and design it for print.

Samir Husni: I’m having our ACT 8 Experience here at the University of Mississippi in April and the theme this year is Print Proud Digital Smart. You came from a digital background; were there any adjustments that you had to make when you suddenly had both print and digital to direct? Was it like you should wear your print hat here and your digital hat there?

Lisa Gooder: (Laughs) One of the lucky things for me at a place like Condé Nast is that there are people here who are so experienced in print, who have so much knowledge and years behind them, who’ve been able to help me. So, this is really a partnership with our creative director, Yolanda Edwards, she is also the creative director for Condé Nast Traveler. The creative team and many of our editors are very skilled, in terms of creating print.

One of the things that we’ve done on the editorial side is make many of our editors be across platforms. So, they’re helping on social media and they’re creating blog posts online, and they’re editing a section in the magazine, just so that it feels very cohesive. So, for me, there’s the catching up with that, but there’s also many people here who, obviously, are experts in that area as well. I’ve spent five years here in this office running the website and so I’ve been very much around the pages routing and things like that.

Samir Husni: Is there an “a-ha” moment for you when you see or hear a story idea that helps you decide what content goes where, such as this story would be good for the print edition, this one for digital?

Lisa Gooder: As I said, there have been some stories that have been inspired by what we’ve seen in digital. We have a ring story that’s coming out in our next issue that is about rings that are inspired by the Royal Wedding. It was such a big thing for us, so all of the rings were inspired by the members of the Royal Family, and that’s not something that we would do online, but something that we loved to do and that we knew our readers would like. So, it’s been fun to have another platform for that.

Samir Husni: Many people pick up every bridal magazine out there when they’re planning a wedding, yet once they get married you have to reinvent that audience. How do you do that?

Lisa Gooder: This is an audience that’s turning all of the time and I think it’s a mindset that we’re used to. I’ve worked in weddings for a long time, so I think of that every year. We have the new crop of brides who come to us; many of them get engaged around the holidays and through Valentine’s Day. And that’s our time when we are refilling the coffers and focusing on the planning of the events and all of that.

We hope that we do a wonderful job with them and that they refer us to their friends. The one nice thing, the one easier thing, about the churn is that most people who are getting married have friends who are also getting married next. So, those people turn to their sisters or cousins or whomever and ask, okay, what do I do? And if they’re engaged with your brand, they’re very likely to pass it on. So, it’s just the nature of the beast and we’re used to it.

And also we’ve been incorporating into the new issue a lot more lifestyle content. Some content about entertaining; we have a new feature that you’ll see in the rest of the issues that we’re introducing this month called “Marry Your Style,” which is about how to blend your lives in décor, entertaining and things like that. So, I think there’s going to be more for people post-wedding, and digitally for sure, there will be a lot of that type of content.

Samir Husni: But the bread and butter of the magazine is still single-copy sales?

Lisa Gooder: Absolutely.

Samir Husni: But as we know the newsstands have not been the best of the best of late. When you meet with your creative director and say let’s create a cover that will jump from the newsstands, that the bride will see from a distance, how do you do that?

Lisa Gooder: In this past issue we chose to feature Serena Williams’ wedding and we really felt like Serena was for our audience. For this new redesign, we felt that she was a statement of being a strong, powerful, independent woman, and I think that’s important to our audience. That this girl hasn’t pined to be a bride her whole life, she’s joining in an equal partnership and is strong and empowered. And I think there are interesting stories behind the weddings that people respond to.

Samir Husni: How do you define content today?

Lisa Gooder: I think content is whatever audiences respond to. We’re creating content all over the place. We’re creating video content; we’re creating content especially for Instagram stories; we’re creating content in the magazine that is in the form of well stories, as well as a back page that’s become a very different thing than it has been in the past.

In fact, the photo on the back page of our next issue is one of our most engaged-with Instagram photos. And we thought, let’s put this in the magazine, because this is something in the dress issue and it’s very heavily engaged with, and we’re going to dig deeper and interview the woman who took the photo and tell her story, which is something that we didn’t do on another platform. So, I think content takes many forms.

Samir Husni: Magazines have a life cycle, as we all know, just like everything else in life. There’s a time to be born and a time to die. Condé Nast launched Goop last year, and yet they folded the print edition of Teen Vogue and Self. Do you ever see the print edition of Brides going away?

Lisa Gooder: I don’t know; we’ll have to see what the future brings. As I said, I think our audience, this specific audience, is a very motivated audience. It’s not “should I pick up a magazine this month or not.” She has a task to do and she’s pretty focused. Just like she’s going to book a honeymoon and she’s going to buy a dress, she needs the research and the information. And she’s spending a tremendous amount of money. So, I think for a while, we currently have her audience. And our advertisers continue to be pretty committed, because a lot of them have dollars that are earmarked toward this specific market.

Samir Husni: Do you feel as though your job now is more of a curator than a creator?

Lisa Gooder: I think we are curators, and with weddings, probably always have been. This is to bring our bride the best of the best of inspiration, images and ideas that are out there. And I think that’s what she wants to see. She maybe sees herself reflected in many of these weddings. My biggest gauge of success with a piece of content is if someone wants to rip a page out or take a picture with their cellphone and say this is an element that I want; I’d like to do that too. So, we’re trying to bring the audience a lot of ideas and a lot of inspiration. But for sure, we are curating.

Samir Husni: As an editor, do you like it or hate it when some of the readers say they buy the magazine for the ads? Or they buy Brides simply to look at the wedding dresses?

Lisa Gooder: (Laughs) I actually love it. I’m not a traditional editor, I love it. And I understand the business of what we do, but I also think that this woman is looking for as much information as possible. As you said, some of those issues can be quite thick because they have 100 pages of wedding dress ads in them, and for me, I think that’s great. We’re giving her resources, both editorially while we’re telling the story, and providing our trend report for the fashion. And there’s also tons of information for her to use for her own shopping and planning.

Samir Husni: With the Brides brand, it offers credibility within its editorial pages, but do you think it also offers that through the advertising pages?

Lisa Gooder: I do; I do. And I think that our new positioning, our new strategic outlook, is very much based in credibility. I mean, these are real people. These weddings happened this way and they’re being reported the way they happened, which is a bit different that our sort of staging weddings, as we may have done in the past. I’m looking forward to doing some more interesting things with integrating some of our advertisers in certain ways, but we’re pretty careful in how we disclose that and let people know.

Samir Husni: As you were reengineering the magazine, were there any stumbling blocks that you had to overcome, or was it just a walk in a rose garden for everyone?

Lisa Gooder: No, not a walk in a rose garden. (Laughs) Our biggest stumbling block was, we shipped the first issue of the magazine on a Friday in November. And Serena was married on Thursday night, the night before we shipped. So, we had about 12 hours; the photos were being taken at 6:00 p.m. that night, during the wedding, and being edited overnight. We had editor on the ground; they were being edited overnight and sent to us while we were quickly laying out those last few pages.

And then Anna Wintour, who’s been very involved in the re-imagination of the brand, was also on hand to take a look at them. So, we shipped the issue at 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, hoping that everything would work out. And it did. It was definitely not the easiest first issue we could have done. (Laughs) But it was worth it in the end.

Samir Husni: But even in that rush to meet the deadline, you had two covers. Why?

Lisa Gooder: We had two covers because we felt like her fashion choices were pretty important, and Serena wore two dresses. One she wore during the ceremony and one she wore during the party. And so we wanted to highlight both of them.

Samir Husni: Will we ever see a cover line that reads: A Bride At 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, like a cover line on Vogue?

Lisa Gooder: In terms of ages?

Samir Husni: Yes.

Lisa Gooder: Possibly. That’s interesting. We’ve been talking, certainly recently, about some celebrities who are a bit older. Because we only have one issue out in the magazine, we haven’t done that yet, but on digital we have shown a lot of weddings of various couples with grown children and different ages. But sure, absolutely.

Samir Husni: Sometimes we forget that there are just as many baby boomers as there are millennials.

Lisa Gooder: That’s true. And it’s not always a one-time thing for people. (Laughs) There are certainly people who do it later in life, but there are also people who do it more than once. And I think we’re here to talk to them all.

Samir Husni: Why do you think all of the Brides-again magazines that have come and gone never lasted? The ones about the second wedding or the divorced couple; why do you think those magazines didn’t last?

Lisa Gooder: I think these days if people are going to actually have a wedding, as opposed to just going and getting married, I think they’re excited and view the wedding like they did the first one. I don’t think that people distinguish anymore. We’re seeing as many brides wearing long-way dresses and having large weddings and things like that, for the second time. So, to speak to them in a way that says this is a wedding again, that’s probably not what they’re looking for. They are celebrating this relationship and this beginning.

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

Lisa Gooder: Just that our redesign isn’t only about the magazine. It’s about the brand at large. The way we position ourselves to be a more modern spot for somebody who is planning weddings is pretty important. These days, and we talk about this a lot, the first thing that I did, in terms of taking over this role, was to think about why people get married in 2018. All of the reasons that people used to get married for, you don’t need to be married to do any of those things anymore, whether it’s to live together, have children, have financial support, or even societal expectations. So, we really wanted to get to the bottom of what drives somebody to get married.

I think in many ways to this millennial audience that a wedding is even a bigger deal and more important than it was years ago. And they really want to use this to express who they are and their love for each other. So, that was the driving force on much of this and made us go back to a more authentic and emotional thing. It’s really important to me that this brand feel very celebratory and joyous. It’s a happy, exciting time and I want to make sure that comes through in all of the imagery and the copy that we’re using.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Lisa Gooder: Probably helping someone with homework. (Laughs) I have an eight and twelve-year-old and a husband. Yes, having a glass of wine, but probably simultaneously making sure someone has finished their homework. I do get sucked into social media on my phone sometimes, which is great. We live in Manhattan, so some nights we’re out. But I usually try to go home in between and see my children before that.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Lisa Gooder: This is what I remember: remember why you started, every day. To be as excited about it as I was once, when I first began. And that I love what I do.

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

Lisa Gooder: Juggling it all.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Adam Moss On Magazine Covers, Long-Form Journalism, Change, Print, Digital, And More Great Words Of Wisdom From The Longest Serving Editor-in-Chief Of New York Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

February 19, 2018

“The cover is no longer really to sell magazines on newsstand. As newsstands have become so much less important to all of us, the cover has a different function. It is basically the brand statement of what we make. It declares what we think is important or interesting; it declares our voice. Also, it’s an amazing document for the purposes of social media. Social media takes your cover and distributes it all over the place and it becomes an advertisement for the magazine that’s actually more important than it was originally meant to be when it was to stimulate newsstand sales.” Adam Moss…

“Before anyone was in this business at all, the New York Metro website was attracting a lot of people and it was attracting the sort of people who, if you were also an advertiser for a high-end luxury product, that was the only way you could reach them. So, from the very beginning, New York Magazine’s website was profitable, which was really unheard of. And what that meant was when the Wasserstein’s bought the magazine, and when I got here, the web wasn’t looked at as dangerous. The web wasn’t looked at as something that was going to steal business, the web was looked at as actually a way to build business. So, the logic of investing into the web, making our site a news site, was kind of obvious.” Adam Moss…

Being Print Proud Digital Smart isn’t just a mantra for showcasing a certain way of thinking when it comes to magazines and magazine media today. The phrase is much more than four words strung together in a random order that makes sense. It’s a vibrantly healthy way of doing business in today’s rapidly changing world of media publishing. New York Magazine and its very humble, and hard-working editor, Adam Moss, has a firm grip on this prescription for success. And why wouldn’t they? They have been looking at the web as a way to build business and not steal it from print years before anyone else had even heard of the word paywall, let alone knew what it meant.
 
And while the magazine’s editor in chief would never admit that he had a definitive hand in all of the success he and New York Magazine have seen, him earning Editor of the Year for Guiding the magazine’s election coverage in 2016 and the magazine winning the overall Magazine of the Year Award when ASME gave out the Ellie’s, it’s obvious to the naked eye that the two of them were made for each other. 
 
I spoke with Adam recently and we talked about many things, one of which was his celebrated abilities as an editor, yet his very un-celebrity type style when it comes to him presenting himself to the rest of the world. His response, and I paraphrase, he would rather his work speak for itself. And as the awards mount up and the magazine continues to buck the odds by making more revenue digitally than with its print component, Mr. Magazine™ would have to say his work definitely speaks for itself.  As does the Print Proud Digital Smart nature of the brand.
 
So, I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Adam Moss, a magazine editor that I have followed and observed since 1988 when he launched 7 Days magazine in New York City. It was a delight to talk with Adam, and I am delighted to bring you this most engaging conversation.

But first the sound-bites:

On why he is a “celebrated” editor but not a “celebrity” editor: I think the reason I’m not a celebrity editor is that a ‘celebrity” editor is a somewhat different thing than an editor. And I’ve just never been comfortable doing celebrity-like things. I do my job and I hope I do it well. The more performance aspects of being an editor were never something that I was especially well-suited for.

On his concept of editing and creating a magazine: Well, of course, it’s changed over the years. Early in my career, I was very lucky to have worked at Esquire when Phillip Moffitt was the editor. He was fairly new to editing, certainly brand new to editing when it came to a magazine the scale of Esquire. So, to help him he brought in all of these legendary magazine editors from the ‘60s and ‘70s. And I was a junior editor at the time, and as he was being taught by this group of veterans, so was I.

On how he balances being Print Proud Digital Smart: By hiring good people who know things that you don’t know. And then you learn from them and try to help them think about things in a certain way, but essentially you let them do their jobs. As everything gets more complicated, the role of an editor is to hire specialists and let them do their thing.

On whether he feels more like a manager today rather than an editor: I certainly enjoy editing much more than I enjoy managing. (Laughs) But yes, inevitably, as the organizations that we run, in order to put out magazines and other content, get bigger, you have more and more the job of management, which is a necessary evil.

On his belief that an editor’s job is to know that great magazines are steeped in point of view, voice, and tone: Your main job is to understand what the point of view ought to be and to constantly evangelize it within your own organization, and try to coerce the organization to adapt and speak in that point of view. That’s an essential job.

On deciding what content goes where when it comes to the print and digital platforms: Well, you ask yourself where the audience is for an individual story. And the answer is usually obvious. But often, very often, you publish it in more than one place. Certainly, anything that is in the print magazine is then published on “Vulture” on “The Cut” or “Daily Intelligencer.” And often, something published on Daily Intelligencer also runs on The Cut because it’s of interest to The Cut reader; it’s of interest to the more politically-obsessed Daily Intelligencer reader. You just have this huge canvas now. And you use it in the most creative way that you can think of to reach the maximum audience that story might get.

On whether he thinks we are reaching a danger spot today, in terms of long-form journalism and storytelling in journalism: I think there are lots of threats to what we do, but I don’t believe long-form itself is in danger. In fact, because you can reach so many people through digital distribution, you can find readers for almost anything. And there’s a big, big audience out there for our longer stuff. Our longer stuff tends to do way better than the shorter stuff. It’s a good business to be in to make longer-form journalism. People really like stories and they like storytelling.

On the print platform now being biweekly, but the brand itself being by the hour or by the minute: By the minute, exactly. (Laughs too) When we went biweekly, the point that we were trying to make was that we were trying to adjust to the way in which people now read. They want an instant response to what is happening in the world and we provide that. And then they also want a deeper, more meditative content, not necessarily on a weekly schedule, which made us comfortable with having our stuff read on a biweekly basis.

On whether he thinks there is somehow a halo around a printed magazine cover that does not exist in digital: Probably. The cover is no longer really to sell magazines on newsstand. As newsstands have become so much less important to all of us, the cover has a different function. It is basically the brand statement of what we make. It declares what we think is important or interesting; it declares our voice. Also, it’s an amazing document for the purposes of social media. Social media takes your cover and distributes it all over the place and it becomes an advertisement for the magazine that’s actually more important than it was originally meant to be when it was to stimulate newsstand sales.

On whether he thinks this new idea of magazine covers is good or bad: I try not to think in those terms, because everything is both. Things change; there’s no fighting the things that change. And you just have to adjust to them and think of them as opportunities and not as problems. And I think basically most of the changes have been, not all, but most, have been for the better.

On being one of the few magazines that makes more money from digital than print: We’ve been at it for a very long time. We’ve been at it way longer than most, if not all, magazines. The story of New York and its digital incarnations have preceded me being here. It was kind of coincidence that the previous owners of this magazine went into a joint partnership with Cablevision in order to do their website. There was a website called New York Metro, and New York Metro had the magazine on it and it also had listings and that sort of thing. It was ahead of its time in that way, but it had one other thing that was crucially important, which is the reason that Cablevision wanted the partnership because they wanted to promote a fashion show that they had called “Full Frontal Fashion,” I believe. And what that meant was the promotional device was to run the runway pictures on the website. This was before any fashion designer had his/her own website. So, we were the only place you could get runway pictures, which meant that we got a lot of traffic from the very beginning.

On why he thinks magazine media created a welfare information society at the beginning of the digital age and offered for free the only product they created: It was similar to what almost all content fields did. The music business was famously very confused by the beginning of the digital age. People needed and wanted to get information for free and from the music side, it was easy to steal music. Everybody has been confused about how to make money off of digital habits. And I think the magazine business has been confused too. And it’s only now beginning to reckon with that in a serious way. That’s why you’re seeing paywalls and e-commerce, which we do here, actually very successfully. But also, our experience was that you could actually make advertising money off of the digital content. And so, we did that too.

On whether he feels the brand is a projection of himself: It’s a projection of a group think, and it’s the editor’s job to get the right group together to have that group think. So, it’s not because of me exactly, but it is a projection of a worldview that I’ve helped shape here. And it’s the product of a lot of people thinking. I can’t say that I’ve done anything particularly on purpose. The reason that I’m not out there giving parties and that sort of thing is because I can’t. (Laughs) Not because I willfully decided that was a bad tactic. I actually think it’s a good tactic. I think it’s often very helpful for places to have magazine editors with a higher profile. But for me, that’s just not the way that I work. For me, what it’s about is the work, and that’s what interests me.

On whether he is the longest-serving editor of New York Magazine so far: Yes, that is now true. It happened about two years ago that I passed Ed Kosner, who previously held that honor. I’ve been here almost twice as long as Clay Felker himself was here. I’ve been here forever.

On what we can expect in the next seven years from him and the magazine: I can’t even tell you what to expect tomorrow. (Laughs) This business changes so fast. And it’s a race to catch up to the changes in the business and also, of course, the changes in the world and what we cover.

On what piece of advice he would give upcoming editors or future industry leaders: Listen and watch. Don’t get too entrenched in your ways. Adapt. I think that, right now, is the most important thing an editor has to do, because the changes are so constant and profound. That said, at the same time, know who you are and know what your magazine or brand, if you will, is, and make sure that as things change, you’re true to the essence of what you’re making.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: He tried. (Laughs)

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: Lately, I’ve gotten into drawing. (Laughs) So, I’m drawing madly when I go home. I watch TV and eat. I hang out with my friends and I also do work.

On what keeps him up at night: Everything, I can’t sleep.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Adam Moss, editor in chief, New York Magazine.

Samir Husni: Since 1988 when you launched 7 Days Magazine, I have followed your career, and 7 Days was a great magazine while it lasted, but you have continued the greatness. I was Googling your name, as I do with everyone I interview, and I was stunned that under your name on Google the only title you have is American editor. You are one of the most celebrated editors out there; were, in fact, named Editor of the Year, yet you aren’t a celebrity editor. Why is that?

Adam Moss: Why am I not a celebrity editor? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Yes, you are a “celebrated” editor, but you’re not a “celebrity” editor.

Adam Moss: Yes, I think the reason I’m not a celebrity editor is that a ‘celebrity” editor is a somewhat different thing than an editor. And I’ve just never been comfortable doing celebrity-like things. I do my job and I hope I do it well. The more performance aspects of being an editor were never something that I was especially well-suited for.

Samir Husni: You mentioned in your 50th anniversary issue of New York Magazine that you fell in love with the magazine’s cover, where the picture and the headline were in unison, and you never looked back. You knew you were going to be the editor of the magazine you fell in love with. Can you tell me a little bit about your concept of editing and creating a magazine?

Adam Moss: Well, of course, it’s changed over the years. Early in my career, I was very lucky to have worked at Esquire when Phillip Moffitt was the editor. He was fairly new to editing, certainly brand new to editing when it came to a magazine the scale of Esquire. So, to help him he brought in all of these legendary magazine editors from the ‘60s and ‘70s. And I was a junior editor at the time, and as he was being taught by this group of veterans, so was I.

So, my original concept of being a magazine editor was being an editor of the type that proliferated, and what I still think of as the Golden Age of Magazines. That was a terrific learning experience. I have tried to bring those old values of magazines as a kind of theatre, really, to the work I’ve done in other later eras.

Now, being a magazine editor is something else entirely, because you’re not only dealing with the printed page, you’re dealing with material that gets read, consumed, viewed in all sorts of other ways. It’s a much more expansive role. And I’ve learned as I’ve gone along, as I think all editors have. I’ve learned how to adapt the original values of storytelling, and of interesting and sometimes exciting an audience into the modern era with material consumed in video and digitally, interactive digital and all of the other tools that are available right now.

Samir Husni: Needless to say, you ended up being an excellent student of all of these changes.

Adam Moss: (Laughs) Well, thank you.

Samir Husni: New York Magazine won the overall Magazine of the Year when ASME gave the Ellie Awards, in terms of both the digital and print. Your print magazine is now biweekly and yet, you create covers that people talk about. You give the feeling that you’re Print Proud Digital Smart. How do you balance that?

Adam Moss: By hiring good people who know things that you don’t know. And then you learn from them and try to help them think about things in a certain way, but essentially you let them do their jobs. As everything gets more complicated, the role of an editor is to hire specialists and let them do their thing.

Samir Husni: Do you feel that you’re now more of a manager, rather than an editor?

Adam Moss: I certainly enjoy editing much more than I enjoy managing. (Laughs) But yes, inevitably, as the organizations that we run, in order to put out magazines and other content, get bigger, you have more and more the job of management, which is a necessary evil.

Samir Husni: Yet, you as an editor, believes that great magazines are steeped in point of view, voice, and tone.

Adam Moss: Yes, and that’s your main job. Your main job is to understand what the point of view ought to be and to constantly evangelize it within your own organization, and try to coerce the organization to adapt and speak in that point of view. That’s an essential job.

Samir Husni: However, you’re no longer just ink on paper, you’re all over the platforms. How do you decide what content goes where? This is a great story for print and that is a great story for the web? Do you struggle with those types of decisions when you read a story? Or do you never ask yourself those kinds of questions?

Adam Moss: Well, you ask yourself where the audience is for an individual story. And the answer is usually obvious. But often, very often, you publish it in more than one place. Certainly, anything that is in the print magazine is then published on “Vulture” on “The Cut” or “Daily Intelligencer.” And often, something published on Daily Intelligencer also runs on The Cut because it’s of interest to The Cut reader; it’s of interest to the more politically-obsessed Daily Intelligencer reader. You just have this huge canvas now. And you use it in the most creative way that you can think of to reach the maximum audience that story might get.

One of the great things about magazines these days and their distribution digitally and the way that the magazine business has changed is that with any individual story or piece of content, you are reaching so many more people than you could ever have reached when magazines were just print.

Samir Husni: One of the more famous, or maybe infamous would be a better description, writers of our time by the name of Michael Wolff, wrote a profile about you in 1999. He wrote that when you started at The New York Times Magazine you were an anti-Times sort of figure in the middle of the Times, because you were more into storytelling. As we look at long-form journalism today, do you have any fears that between digital, social media, and a president who believes media is the enemy; are we reaching a danger spot, in terms of long-form journalism and storytelling in journalism?

Adam Moss: I think there are lots of threats to what we do, but I don’t believe long-form itself is in danger. In fact, because you can reach so many people through digital distribution, you can find readers for almost anything. And there’s a big, big audience out there for our longer stuff. Our longer stuff tends to do way better than the shorter stuff. It’s a good business to be in to make longer-form journalism. People really like stories and they like storytelling.

And so, we publish a lot of long-form and we publish way more long-form than we did when I first got here 14 years ago. We also publish a lot of shorter stuff definitely, but we publish a lot more material period. We’re publishing about 140 things per day, so that’s a big difference from when I first got here when we were publishing maybe 30 articles per week.

Samir Husni: So, while the printed platform is biweekly, the brand itself is now by the hour, by the minute, by the second…(Laughs)

Adam Moss: By the minute, exactly. (Laughs too) When we went biweekly, the point that we were trying to make was that we were trying to adjust to the way in which people now read. They want an instant response to what is happening in the world and we provide that. And then they also want a deeper, more meditative content, not necessarily on a weekly schedule, which made us comfortable with having our stuff read on a biweekly basis.

Samir Husni: During these 14 years that you’ve been at New York Magazine, you have laid the groundwork for so many imitators. Your cover designs, what you’ve done to the covers of New York have been imitated worldwide. Wherever I travel overseas, people are always referring to the covers of New York Magazine.

Adam Moss; That’s good to hear.

Samir Husni: Do you still feel that the cover of a printed magazine today makes an impact? Is there somehow a halo around a printed magazine cover that does not exist in digital?

Adam Moss: Probably. The cover is no longer really to sell magazines on newsstand. As newsstands have become so much less important to all of us, the cover has a different function. It is basically the brand statement of what we make. It declares what we think is important or interesting; it declares our voice. Also, it’s an amazing document for the purposes of social media. Social media takes your cover and distributes it all over the place and it becomes an advertisement for the magazine that’s actually more important than it was originally meant to be when it was to stimulate newsstand sales.

Samir Husni: And do you think that is a good thing or a bad thing?

Adam Moss: I try not to think in those terms, because everything is both. Things change; there’s no fighting the things that change. And you just have to adjust to them and think of them as opportunities and not as problems. And I think basically most of the changes have been, not all, but most, have been for the better.

Samir Husni: I heard your CEO last week in New York when she was talking about the revenue from digital; you’re one of the few magazines that is making more money from digital than print.

Adam Moss: Yes, we’ve been at it for a very long time. We’ve been at it way longer than most, if not all, magazines. The story of New York and its digital incarnations have preceded me being here. It was kind of coincidence that the previous owners of this magazine went into a joint partnership with Cablevision in order to do their website. There was a website called New York Metro, and New York Metro had the magazine on it and it also had listings and that sort of thing. It was ahead of its time in that way, but it had one other thing that was crucially important, which is the reason that Cablevision wanted the partnership because they wanted to promote a fashion show that they had called “Full Frontal Fashion,” I believe. And what that meant was the promotional device was to run the runway pictures on the website. This was before any fashion designer had his/her own website. So, we were the only place you could get runway pictures, which meant that we got a lot of traffic from the very beginning.

Before anyone was in this business at all, The New York Metro website was attracting a lot of people and it was attracting the sort of people who, if you were also an advertiser for a high-end luxury product, that was the only way you could reach them. So, from the very beginning, New York Magazine’s website was profitable, which was really unheard of.

And what that meant was when the Wasserstein’s bought the magazine, and when I got here, the web wasn’t looked at as dangerous. The web wasn’t looked at as something that was going to steal business, the web was looked at as actually a way to build business. So, the logic of investing into the web, making our site a news site, was kind of obvious. And so, we did that very early. It was successful and the way we were doing it was successful and was a sort of model, which we did it first with food and then entertainment, etc. That model was easy to just keep replicating. And we’ve built the modern digital New York Magazine from a position of strength.

Samir Husni: And now, you’ve been imitated on both sides. Sports Illustrated just moved to a biweekly schedule in their print edition. Wired is starting a paywall for their digital content; why do you think the majority of some of the “smartest people on the face of the Earth,” magazine editors and publishers, created this welfare information society and gave away the only thing that they actually create?

Adam Moss: It was similar to what almost all content fields did. The music business was famously very confused by the beginning of the digital age. People needed and wanted to get information for free and from the music side, it was easy to steal music. Everybody has been confused about how to make money off of digital habits. And I think the magazine business has been confused too. And it’s only now beginning to reckon with that in a serious way. That’s why you’re seeing paywalls and e-commerce, which we do here, actually very successfully. But also, our experience was that you could actually make advertising money off of the digital content. And so, we did that too.

It’s very confusing. I mean, the smartest people on earth, as you put it, (Laughs) have a lot of reason to be confused. And have had a lot of reason to be confused, because it’s confusing.

Samir Husni: Everyone I’ve talked to, once they found out I was interviewing you, had nothing but compliments to say about you, such as the most humble editor, a hardworking editor. And these words were from people who don’t pay compliments easily. So, you have this halo around you, yet as I stated in the beginning of this conversation, you’re not a “celebrity” editor. Do you thrive on letting your work become the celebrity, such as the cover of New York Magazine with the Bill Cosby accusers on it? Do you feel the brand is a projection of Adam Moss?

Adam Moss: It’s a projection of a group think, and it’s the editor’s job to get the right group together to have that group think. So, it’s not because of me exactly, but it is a projection of a worldview that I’ve helped shape here. And it’s the product of a lot of people thinking. I can’t say that I’ve done anything particularly on purpose. The reason that I’m not out there giving parties and that sort of thing is because I can’t. (Laughs) Not because I willfully decided that was a bad tactic. I actually think it’s a good tactic. I think it’s often very helpful for places to have magazine editors with a higher profile. But for me, that’s just not the way that I work. For me, what it’s about is the work, and that’s what interests me.

Samir Husni: And correct me if I’m mistaken, but aren’t you the longest-serving editor of New York Magazine so far?

Adam Moss: Yes, that is now true. It happened about two years ago that I passed Ed Kosner, who previously held that honor. I’ve been here almost twice as long as Clay Felker himself was here. I’ve been here forever.

Samir Husni: What can we expect in the next seven years, since we’re going in multiples of seven, you’ve been there 14 years now?

Adam Moss: I can’t even tell you what to expect tomorrow. (Laughs) This business changes so fast. And it’s a race to catch up to the changes in the business and also, of course, the changes in the world and what we cover.

Samir Husni: What piece of advice would you give upcoming magazine editors, future industry leaders? From somebody who has been there and done that, adapted to all of the changes; what piece of advice would you give them?

Adam Moss: Listen and watch. Don’t get too entrenched in your ways. Adapt. I think that, right now, is the most important thing an editor has to do, because the changes are so constant and profound. That said, at the same time, know who you are and know what your magazine or brand, if you will, is, and make sure that as things change, you’re true to the essence of what you’re making.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Adam Moss: He tried. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Adam Moss: Lately, I’ve gotten into drawing. (Laughs) So, I’m drawing madly when I go home. I watch TV and eat. I hang out with my friends and I also do work.

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

Adam Moss: Everything, I can’t sleep.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Rachael Ray Every Day: A New Logo That Puts Rachael Up Front & More Changes To Come That Give The Magazine A Fresh Outlook On The Future – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Lauren Iannotti, Editor In Chief/Content Director…

February 15, 2018

“We’re off newsstand as of the March issue. It’s going to be at Barnes & Noble, but nowhere else. And we’ll be a subscriber-based model, which is something we’re all kind of ready for, for the most part. The newsstand business was no longer financially viable for us, but our readership is steady.” Lauren Iannotti…

“Our print is doing great and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback on the changes that we’ve made. Actually, we’ve instituted more changes. For the March issue our logo has been redesigned. We have played up the Rachael Ray because she’s the recognizable part of our brand, really, more than the “Every Day.” What we wanted to do was make sure that we were really trumpeting that Rachael is what this magazine is.” Lauren Iannotti…

Rachael Ray Every Day has been giving its readers great real-life recipes since its launch in 2005, along with home décor, travel tips and the latest beauty and fashion trends. The magazine has a strong existing brand behind its print and digital entities, that being Rachael Ray herself. I spoke with Lauren Iannotti in October 2017, when she had just come onboard as editor in chief/content director of the brand. Her goal at that time was to get the numbers up across all platforms, digital and print.

I spoke with Lauren recently and she told me that while the magazine had a steady readership, the decision to pull it from newsstand was one that most everyone at Rachael Ray was ready for. The magazine will now have a subscription-based model and will be available at Barnes & Noble only. And while this might cast a pall over some people, the only thing I heard in Lauren’s voice was excitement and optimism about the new logo and other changes that are taking place with the Rachael Ray brand. It seemed as though a fresh outlook on the brand’s future and on its print and digital platforms had borne a new excitement and vision for the Meredith title.

Lauren was adamant that the beloved Rachael Ray would always have an audience, and judging from the upcoming March issue that she talks about, Mr. Magazine™ would be inclined to agree with her. The cover showcases some of the best women chefs in the country and the story inside tackles the many problems women face in the food industry. And while Lauren assured me that Rachael Ray Every Day wasn’t becoming an advocacy journalism title, she was proud the magazine was celebrating women in food and covering the issues that many face.

So, enjoy reading the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lauren Iannotti and rest assured, Rachael Ray Every Day may not be on newsstand anymore, but the brand will be around to tantalize us with deliciousness for a long, long time.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether all of the numbers are up as she had hoped for when she first took over the role as editor in chief/content director in October 2017: That’s a good question. I actually don’t have data back yet from then until now, but we’re no longer on newsstand. And this is news. We’re off newsstand as of the March issue. It’s going to be at Barnes & Noble, but nowhere else. And we’ll be a subscriber-based model, which is something we’re all kind of ready for, for the most part. The newsstand business was no longer financially viable for us, but our readership is steady. We redesigned our logo, with full support from Rachael, she loves it. Part of the new direction for the magazine is to have more lifestyle, so we have a group of chefs on our cover this issue. We decided that we wanted to celebrate women in food, it was over one year ago when we started planning it. None of the “me-too” movement had happened yet, none of the sexual harassment in kitchens: I mean, it was already there, but none of it had started coming out yet. It just so happened that we timed our celebration of women and food at a pretty auspicious moment.

On whether Rachael Ray Every Day is moving toward a more advocacy type of journalism rather than its core service journalism: Never. Our primary goal will always be to be a resource to our readers. We’re a lifestyle book with food at the core. We wanted to make sure that we were hitting the ethos. We should be ambitious in trying things. I think people want from these legacy brands, they want and expect great big ambitious ideas. And so we wanted to compete in that realm in ways that we haven’t done in a while.

On the biggest surprise to her as a reader about the female food chefs’ issue: I come from a lifestyle background; I worked at Glamour, Marie Claire and O The Oprah Magazine, so I’m always amazed at the lack of representation for women in the top, top echelons, in any industry. Women of color, in particular. As we were starting to do the research, we wanted to do this anyway because we wanted to celebrate women in food, but seeing the numbers line up and realizing that there’s a real argument to do stuff like this, because it needs to be focused on and highlighted. And the more light we shine on it, hopefully the unfortunate ratio will fade and we can try to achieve parity.

On recapping whether the only way to get Rachael Ray Every Day is at Barnes & Noble or subscribing: Right. But we’re also redesigning our website. We’re kind of playing with that. I hired my executive editor, Geraldine Campbell, and she comes from The Kitchn, which is a digital food site, and she has all kinds of ideas for how to make our site feel better and more dynamic. So, we’re putting some attention there. And obviously, social. They can seek us out. I’m trying to improve on all fronts. So, I hope people will seek us out, digitally as well, in ways that maybe they haven’t in the past.

On whether the magazine is Print Proud Digital Smart: Yes, but I think we’re no longer trying to be everything to everybody, which is nice. We’re trying to be what our audience needs, where they need it. But print is still the driver; it’s still the thing that we love very much. It’s the cornerstone, but it’s not the only thing. We have all of these different cool arms of the brand that are happening.

On anything she’d like to add: We’re also doing a Facebook Live panel. It’s going to be on our Rachael Ray Magazine Facebook account on March 1 at 4:00 p.m. We’ll have Rachael and a bunch of her awesome chef friends talking to us about the particular challenges of women in the industry. And career advice and sexual harassment and all of the issues that surround women in the food industry.

And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lauren Iannotti, editor in chief/content director, Rachael Ray Every Day.

Samir Husni: Last time we chatted in October 2017, you were hoping for all of the numbers to be up with everything, print and digital; just everything. Are you moving in that direction?

Lauren Iannotti: That’s a good question. I actually don’t have data back yet from then until now, but we’re no longer on newsstand. And this is news. We’re off newsstand as of the March issue. It’s going to be at Barnes & Noble, but nowhere else. And we’ll be a subscriber-based model, which is something we’re all kind of ready for, for the most part. The newsstand business was no longer financially viable for us, but our readership is steady.

Our print is doing great and we’re getting a lot of positive feedback on the changes that we’ve made. Actually, we’ve instituted more changes. For the March issue our logo has been redesigned. We have played up the Rachael Ray because she’s the recognizable part of our brand, really, more than the “Every Day.” What we wanted to do was make sure that we were really trumpeting that Rachael is what this magazine is.

We redesigned our logo, with full support from Rachael, she loves it. Part of the new direction for the magazine is to have more lifestyle, so we have a group of chefs on our cover this issue. We decided that we wanted to celebrate women in food, it was over one year ago when we started planning it.

None of the “me-too” movement had happened yet, none of the sexual harassment in kitchens: I mean, it was already there, but none of it had started coming out yet. It just so happened that we timed our celebration of women and food at a pretty auspicious moment, and what we wound up with and what I’m psyched to be going out with is, what I think of, as this great celebration of women who have excelled and scaled the heights in this still quite bro’-ey food industry, whether it’s by launching an extremely successful restaurant or opening their own company, the founder of Simple Mills is a 26-year-old woman. It’s women who have scaled the heights at Campbell’s and are now running multi-national food interests.

It’s just a big mishmash of all of these women who are doing great things all over the food industry, because that’s what Rachael is. She’s one of the original female entrepreneurs and totally self-made. She just went out and did it, surrounded by “dude chefs” or “chef gods” as they are referred to, so I think we’re the perfect place to be doing this. We really wanted to own it, so we kind of blew it out and did a great big package.

We did a contributor’s page that was all women. We’ve got career advice from women; we have a timeline of women in food; we’ve got this awesome thing called “Women-Wide Web,” I think, that shows how women mentor each other and it kind of scales out because then those women mentor other women, so it’s this cool, tangled web of awesome female chefs. And we’re particularly proud of that. And we had contributions from everybody, from Alice Waters to Angie Mar from The Beatrice Inn, to Angela Dimayuga. You have your super-cool New York City folk; you’ve got Vivian Howard and Nancy Silverton; all of the biggest names in fine dining and in food companies. They’re all there. They were all enthusiastic participants. It was pretty amazing to see the response we got.

Samir Husni: There has always been a fine line between service journalism and advocacy journalism. Are we going to see more of Rachael Ray Every Day in an advocacy journalism position, rather than service journalism?

Lauren Iannotti: Never. Our primary goal will always be to be a resource to our readers. We’re a lifestyle book with food at the core. We wanted to make sure that we were hitting the ethos. We should be ambitious in trying things. I think people want from these legacy brands, they want and expect great big ambitious ideas. And so we wanted to compete in that realm in ways that we haven’t done in a while.

I don’t know if it’s advocacy. I don’t think it’s a particularly controversial stand to celebrate women. Our readers are women. We admire so many women in our industry. I think it’s more just some great, cool stories. We are learning our readers that yes, the industry is still slanted; we do not have parity, there is still a pay-gap. But it’s more of just a celebration of women worth admiring and worth hearing from.

In my mind, it’s really an entertainment for our readers as much as it’s informing them and making them think about this issue. In Rachael’s editor’s letter she said, “This issue has food for thought and food for your belly.” And I think that sums up what we’re trying to do.

Samir Husni: As you were looking at the history of female food pioneers, female food CEO’s; what was the biggest surprise to you as a reader?

Lauren Iannotti: I come from a lifestyle background; I worked at Glamour, Marie Claire and O The Oprah Magazine, so I’m always amazed at the lack of representation for women in the top, top echelons, in any industry. Women of color, in particular. As we were starting to do the research, we wanted to do this anyway because we wanted to celebrate women in food, but seeing the numbers line up and realizing that there’s a real argument to do stuff like this, because it needs to be focused on and highlighted. And the more light we shine on it, hopefully the unfortunate ratio will fade and we can try to achieve parity.

I’m always surprised anew anytime I take a look at pictures of Congress, for example, and I see the lack of representation. I never get inured to that, which is probably a good thing. But that surprised me.

And also just that I do feel like I was humbled and amazed at the participation. People we reached out to wanted to be a part of it and they were psyched about it. The chefs on our cover include Missy Robbins, who has Lilia in Williamsburg, which is one of the hot places in town, and Rita Sodi and Jody Williams, who have Via Carota, which is another hot place. These are hardcore, awesome legit people who love Rachael and were so psyched to appear on this cover.

And the cover shoot was the best cover shoot I’ve ever been on. It was such an awesome vibe, such great energy. Peggy Sirota, a superstar photographer, shot it here in the City and the energy on the set was so lovely. It was so warm and supportive. They’re all kind of competitive, but there were incredibly collegial with each other and welcoming to each other. Some different aspects, like Anne Burrell, who is a Food Network person, then we had these elevated, high-cuisine chefs, and they were all immediately goofing off and laughing with each other and to me that was really lovely to see.

There really is a bond among women who make it in food. It’s a very tough industry; it’s hard on your body and it’s hard on your soul. It’s a wonderful industry to work in, but it’s tough. A lot of it is night work. And just to see these women, they all seem to be in it together. And that’s what the whole package is about. It’s about how you see other women who could use your advice or your mentoring and you reach out and you do it for them. And they’re going to do it for others. So, that was a pretty neat aspect of it.

Samir Husni: And to recap; the only way you can get Rachael Ray Every Day is at Barnes & Noble or you have to subscribe, right?

Lauren Iannotti: Right. But we’re also redesigning our website. We’re kind of playing with that. I hired my executive editor, Geraldine Campbell, and she comes from The Kitchn, which is a digital food site, and she has all kinds of ideas for how to make our site feel better and more dynamic. So, we’re putting some attention there. And obviously, social. They can seek us out. I’m trying to improve on all fronts. So, I hope people will seek us out, digitally as well, in ways that maybe they haven’t in the past.

Rachael Ray will have an audience, she is a beloved TV personality, but I would love to give them something they really hunger for, if you will. And really seek out on all platforms and make it worth their time and worth their discretionary dollars of they’re buying print. And worth their attention. We have great recipes and great content surrounding those recipes that is very Rachael and very real-life and very fun and entertaining, and at a place that you want to be.

Samir Husni: Do you continue to be Print Proud Digital Smart?

Lauren Iannotti: Yes, but I think we’re no longer trying to be everything to everybody, which is nice. We’re trying to be what our audience needs, where they need it. But print is still the driver; it’s still the thing that we love very much. It’s the cornerstone, but it’s not the only thing. We have all of these different cool arms of the brand that are happening.

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

Lauren Iannotti: We’re also doing a Facebook Live panel. It’s going to be on our Rachael Ray Magazine Facebook account on March 1 at 4:00 p.m. We’ll have Rachael and a bunch of her awesome chef friends talking to us about the particular challenges of women in the industry. And career advice and sexual harassment and all of the issues that surround women in the food industry. We have done Facebook Live before with Rachael, but this will be a little more of a production, so we’re excited about it.

And I would be remiss not to say a lot of this happened thanks in part to help from our sponsors, the South Carolina Tourism Board, who are actually doing a parallel program. They did a chef and a master program and this year all of their chefs and masters were women. They were really trying to highlight women in the food industry in South Carolina, while we were trying to highlight women in the food industry across the country. So, we kind of joined forces and they have been a great partner and supportive throughout producing this program.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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GQ: A Brand That Takes Being Print Proud And Digital Smart Very Seriously & Has The Robust Content On All Platforms To Prove It – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jon Wilde, Executive Digital Director, & Rob Dechiaro, General Manager…

February 15, 2018

“In GQ, the one thing I go back to print for is not only are you speaking to a particular type of person, who might actually be different than someone who’s looking at us online, but also it’s a space where people still find glory in. People want their cover. It’s a moment. And when you have something like that, that still has cultural weight and is something that people gravitate to, both as a reader and as somebody in it, you’re not going to give that up ever, if you don’t have to.” Jon Wilde…

“Each individual brand’s task is to take a look at what is that business model; what is that business plan; and how do you create ancillary revenue streams around what the core is. And if it’s Vogue, what do you build around that to help some of the challenges that you’re seeing in print. But it’s not to go away from print, it’s to fortify it.” Rob Dechiaro…

GQ has been the go-to source for men’s style and fashion for over 60 years. The brand’s voice has been clear and strong throughout that time span, from its print roots to today’s multiplatform existence. While its print format remains robust and a vital part of the equation, the digital aspect of the brand has never been more innovative and creative. And it has never been in better hands.

Jon Wilde is the executive digital director and Rob Dechiaro is the general manager. The two together are determined to make GQ’s footprint in the world of digital engagement Sasquatch-sized as they move toward discovering new revenue streams and new ways to delight and surprise their audience.

I spoke to both Jon and Rob on a recent trip to New York and we discussed the new innovations and new ways they’re trying, to monetize the brand’s digital platforms. From the success of their editorially-driven “Best Stuff Box,” to their latest endeavor to utilize the brand’s expertise when it comes to helping guys dress, a product recommendation site they’ve added to their e-commerce called “GQ Recommends,” the brand is moving forward confidently in its plans to monetize its digital platforms in more ways than just a paywall. In an effort to get closer with its readers and grow revenue, the new commerce site promises a positive way to cultivate that deep bond with the audience that GQ has always been about and bolster revenues in the process. And it proves that being Print Proud Digital Smart, very digital smart, I might add, is the way a legacy brand commands its spot in the 21st century.

So, button up your shirt and straighten your tie, you’re about to enter the classiness that is GQ and meet two of its digital best, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jon Wilde, executive digital director, and Rob Dechiaro, general manager.

But first the sound-bites:

Jon Wilde, GQ’s Executive Digital Director.

On how they differentiate between the print content and the digital content (Jon Wilde): I worked on the magazine for five years before I came over and took over the site editorially. And one thing I can say is we don’t think of something as being one place or the other. What we think of is what’s the execution across a variety of platforms. So, it isn’t that one thing exists here and one thing exists there, it’s how does something that we’re really excited about exist everywhere, but in a time and space and way that is particular to that platform.

On whether coordinating the content between the many platforms makes his job as executive digital director easier or harder (Jon Wilde): It’s more complex, for sure. There are more people in those rooms. When you settle on doing something; when you think about doing something; you’re not thinking just will it make a good cover and a good story, you’re thinking will it resonate online? Will it hit the audience? How do we get it to the audience that we know we want to get it to? Is it going to say the right thing that we want to say, because a magazine can be a closed space, but the Internet, as we all know, has its’ own conversations and fluctuates in moments. You’ve got to really be aware of how something is going to land, and whether you’re moving it in that space or not.

Rob DeChiaro, GQ’s General Manager.

On whether coordinating the content between the many platforms makes his job as executive digital director easier or harder (Rob Dechiaro): I think the reality is a testament to Jim (Jim Nelson, editor in chief) and to Jon and the entire editorial staff. The content is strong enough to resonate across all platforms. I think it’s our job to make sure that it connects with that audience in the most natural way, based on that platform, because the content is just that good and it should be able to span all of those audiences to anybody who cares about GQ.

On whether each Condé Nast brand has its own business formula, some going digital-only like Self and some launching new print like GQ Style, or whether one day all of the brands will adopt the same business plan (Jon Wilde): Anybody who can prognosticate the future of print in media, please come on over and tell us what that looks like. (Laughs) We’d love to see into your crystal ball. You can’t treat brands as if they’re all one in the same. The New Yorker; the print version of that defines the thing. It’s carrying it around with you; it’s getting the tote bag; it’s sitting it on your coffee table. That’s a reading experience that I don’t think anyone plans on giving up anytime soon. When you talk about Self, what they do maybe is a more digital native thing. The crowd that they’re talking to; the audience that they have; where they live and what they’re looking for in that information, they made a decision which made a lot of sense for them. It’s intriguing watching them really push into Snapchat.

On whether each Condé Nast brand has its own business formula, some going digital-only like Self and some launching new print like GQ Style, or whether one day all of the brands will adopt the same business plan (Rob Dechiaro): I think what you’re hearing from Jon is clear as to what we’re seeing at Condé Nast as a whole. Each individual brand’s task is to take a look at what is that business model; what is that business plan; and how do you create ancillary revenue streams around what the core is. And if it’s Vogue, what do you build around that to help some of the challenges that you’re seeing in print. But it’s not to go away from print, it’s to fortify it.

On whether any celebrity would ask to be featured on just the website (Jon Wilde): It depends on who you’re talking about. Yes, JAY-Z is probably not going to come and just do a quick Q & A, but just this past month we did a major digital-only photo shoot with Taylor Kitsch, pretty big deal. There are definitely a group of people who exist largely on our website. They come through in moments where we do our own photo shoots with them. We’re doing a lot of that kind of thing now. We’re doing our own videos with them. The cast of “The Good Place” is a really good example; people are loving it. We shot four of the main cast members, not including Ted Danson, and we’ve done our own photo shoots with them; we’ve done these large Q & A’s. And they’ve resonated hugely, traffic and time spent, in terms of those things; they’ve all shared them happily. It’s a different moment.

On how they can monetize these digital-only content moments (Rob Dechiaro): At the end of the day, monetization across all digital platforms; there’s not going to be a silver bullet. There’s going to be a lot of things that we have to build in different ways based off all of the platforms that we have to go to. That’s when we talk about footprint; that’s when we talk about engagement. Those are two things that we’re continuously talking about. If you look at our audience, where are they consuming content and how do we find them and engage them, then we can talk about monetization. We have to make sure that we’re delivering that content, and that experience of GQ, in all of those places, on all of those platforms. Then we can determine the best way to monetize.

On why they believe Snapchat’s Discover platform has succeeded where other platforms have failed (Rob Dechiaro): I think part of it is the fact that they caught wildfire with the younger audience. And that’s a big aspect of it. They took the idea of messaging, which a lot of that younger audience uses Snapchat for. If you watch the young audience use Snapchat, they’re using it to message their friends, they’re not text messaging. And that becomes a platform where all of that audience is there on Snapchat. So, they had “Discover” play into that.

On why they believe Snapchat’s Discover platform has succeeded where other platforms have failed (Jon Wilde): From an editorial side, Snapchat’s “Discover” is really fascinating for us. It’s this really interesting way to reach a crowd that we might not normally reach. We’re a magazine; I don’t know how many 13-18 year-olds are spending $20 of their hard-earned cash on a magazine being sent to them. But I can tell you that demographic is a much larger percentage of our audience on Snapchat Discover. So suddenly we’re reaching them; we’re seeing what they’re responding to.

On whether they think there will come a day where, like Wired, GQ will start putting digital content behind a paywall (Rob Dechiaro): I think there’s going to be an analysis and conversations around any sort of paying experience across all Condé brands and I think across all magazine brands. I believe that’s the next iteration of the web as we see it, especially with the amount of information and what’s going on around us in culture. For GQ in particular, I think it’s going to come down to really looking and analyzing what truly engages our audience at an in depth level.

On whether they think there will come a day where, like Wired, GQ will start putting digital content behind a paywall (Jon Wilde): The interesting thing about the paywall is that it’s often talked about as if it exists in only one way, and I think what Rob really wisely alluded to is that there are a wide variety of ways you can put in a paywall. It could be just to get to the content or just to get to our expertise, which I know Golf Digest does. It could be to get to a variety of newsletters that brings something to you and deliver it daily to your inbox.

On how they define content in this day and age (Jon Wilde): What is content? (Laughs) We’re contenting right now. That’s a tough thing, especially with a brand like GQ. As Rob mentioned, we can cover anything. We’re not in one space. We do entertainment and we do style; we do some tech and we do dating and relationships; we do grooming, but we also do politics, travel and food. If there’s a thing that a guy is interested in, and at this point that should be just about everything, we’re probably going to have a moment with it. So, what isn’t content for us? Probably nothing.

On how they differentiate, as they plan to monetize their digital audiences, between the engaged audience and those that are considered out of range, that “trash audience” that exists online in places that cannot possibly affect their revenue streams one way or another (Rob Dechiaro): I think Jon alluded to it just a moment ago with the idea of engagement. And the idea of the one-and-done traffic; you need to take that with a grain of salt. And I think that’s what we’re going to start doing. We want to find the audience that’s coming back two, three, four times a month and really focus on what they’re doing onsite.

On how they differentiate, as they plan to monetize their digital audiences, between the engaged audience and those that are considered out of range, that “trash audience” that exists online in places that cannot possibly affect their revenue streams one way or another (Jon Wilde): As we track people as they move through our spaces, there are two things we look for. There’s engagement, which is the time they spend with us. We don’t want somebody who just kind of pops in for 10 seconds. I mean, it would be nice for them to pop in for 10 seconds, we’d love to get them in the door, and hopefully we can show them some other things that will keep them around. But we’ve also starting talking, obviously, about footprint, which is really interesting for us because coming into 2017 our social footprint was right around 7.4 million. By the end of the year we moved that up to 9.2 million. And it’s still steadily growing. So, that’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.

On why they think print hasn’t been able to reach those large-scale circulation numbers like 9 or 10 million the way digital can (Jon Wilde): To me, the really basic thing is the Internet is now with you at all times and you’re going to it. And you’re going to go there for a million reasons, but it’s always there. It’s a lot more, in some ways, passive. You’re there and if something flows through your timeline, you’re going to spend some time with it hopefully, if it’s good. Whereas, with magazines, you had to actively reach out. You had to send a card in and hope that in a month and a half they sent you the issue, and hope you didn’t have to follow up on it. Maybe you had to send a check because nobody was doing credit card payments that well. Or they sent you a bill and you missed it. It was tough. You had to really want a magazine then.

On what they’ve done to keep their digital audience “sticking” around (Jon Wilde): What did we do to make people stick? We make good stuff. The tough thing is, obviously there’s a lot of stuff you can do on the product side, particularly with a website, to help people move around more. You can have better recirculation; you can have a nicer design; you can have moments that are really sticky, like video and deeper stories. When it comes down to it, what GQ does amazingly well; what every Condé Nast brand does really well; what every brand that is worth a damn does in this word really well is, deliver good, enticing, intriguing, unexpected stuff. It is paramount.

On anything either of them would like to add (Jon Wilde): One thing that we haven’t talked about, which is interesting to us, is the e-commerce movement. It’s amazing for us to step into there, because we’ve been doing a version of it for 60 years. It will be 61 this year. We’ve been helping guys figure out what to wear, whether it’s to buy their first good-fitting pair of khakis or their 17th amazing Gucci jacket. We’ve been there to help say we have our eye on you and we know what’s going to work and maybe what won’t. And now we’re in a space where we can feed that beast we’ve created. We did a survey last year that told us somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of our readers wanted more product recommendations. So, we’ve gone really hard at that with everything from “Best Stuff,” which I talked about and is editorially-driven to find the best stuff in the category. And on up to this new thing we’ve launched, this new product called “Recommends.”

On anything either of them would like to add (Rob Dechiaro): I think the way Jon describes it summarizes a lot of the questions that you were asking. Just going through that process where Jim talks about really understanding what your audience is doing. We got those results back from the survey, about 30-40 percent, and then we dug in and asked what is the experience that we can build for them, to simply give them more to do with the site? From an engagement perspective that meant changing the product, changing the design.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Jon Wilde): I’m not impervious to the same things everybody is in this business, in this world. I’m probably on some combination of my phone and my laptop. I’ve probably got something on Netflix going and a half-eaten something on a plate in front of me, because I received a text or an email that I need to get to. The wide world of me just never stops. It just doesn’t. We’ve got weekend editors that are running full-time; we have things that we have to get prepped for. But none of us would be here if we didn’t really enjoy this process.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Rob Dechiaro): I completely agree with Jon. It’s going to be somehow tied to work. And I think that’s why we got into this media business. It is definitely addictive. When you get home, when I get home, it’s about surveying everything that’s happening around us, maybe not that’s directly tied to GQ, so that we can find those instances where we need to extend again to connect our audience, where we know technology is giving us the opportunity to have all of those platforms.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Jon Wilde): He did the best with baldness as he could. (Laughs)

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Rob Dechiaro): I think we all just kind of hit it on the head when we were talking about the idea of getting into the media business and I think we all did that for a particular set of reasons that are to ourselves, but for me it’s that we enjoy the ride. I enjoy the ride of experiencing all of the things that are happening in tech and media and the world around us, because media plays in all of it. And if I want to be remembered for anything, it’s that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously and we enjoyed the ride.

On what keeps them up at night (Jon Wilde): Trying to make people want more. And figuring out what exactly that is in a world that is flooded with “more.” It used to be pretty easy when you made a magazine. You went up against some other magazines, but now everybody makes content. You’re trying to horn in.

On what keeps them up at night (Rob Dechiaro): Echoing what I said earlier about enjoying what we do, but it’s also being able to enjoy what you do and make a difference. Given everything that’s happening in the world around us; how do we do what we do, but make a difference to people in a positive way? And I think that should be the goal of all of us. We have to impact people in a positive way.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jon Wilde, executive digital director, and Rob Dechiaro, general manager, GQ.

Samir Husni: No one is talking about print versus digital anymore. You have to be in it all. H

At the GQ offices at One World Trade Center in NYC, (l to r), Rob Dechiaro, Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni & Jon Wilde.

ow do you differentiate in your thinking when it comes to what content belongs to print and what content belongs to digital?

Jon Wilde: I worked on the magazine for five years before I came over and took over the site editorially. And one thing I can say is we don’t think of something as being one place or the other. What we think of is what’s the execution across a variety of platforms.

So, let’s take an easy example; a cover story, right? We’ve got Colin Kaepernick sitting right in front of us on the table here, so we’ll go with that one. A big, huge moment for us last year, naming him our Citizen of the Year in the December issue. We knew that needed to be a big visual moment for print; that it needed to be something that stood out on the newsstand and said something loud and clear. And we got that obviously with the cover.

Our rollout online was interesting because the story we did inside was a compilation of 10 people who were close to him that were speaking about what he was trying to do on the activism front, how he made that movement from player to social activist. We took those, where in-book they were a compilation, online they all got broken up. All of those voices became individual voices that spoke to Colin, but also had their own. So, Ava DuVernay could speak to what Colin was doing, but also a little about what she was hoping to achieve. It became bigger in scope online.

We knew on Twitter that those photos were going to be a driver, we’ve seen our covers like this, especially in the social activism space, just really resonate. So, we had a different plan for seeding those out there, and for using Instagram, our biggest social platform, as a place to gather those. It became our most-liked Instagram photo ever.

In those ways, as we’re pulling these things together, we’re thinking that we know what the story is going to be; we know what the images might be; let’s figure out what the video is; what’s the plan for Instagram where we have four million people; what’s that Instagram story. Maybe we’re taking some of those extended-cut quotes and matching them up with beautiful behind-the-scenes video that we shot up in Harlem, such as we did when we recreated that iconic Muhammad Ali photo session.

So, it isn’t that one thing exists here and one thing exists there, it’s how does something that we’re really excited about exist everywhere, but in a time and space and way that is particular to that platform.

Samir Husni: And does coordinating that content between the many platforms make your job easier or harder? You’ve been there before, pre-digital.

Jon Wilde: It’s more complex, for sure. There are more people in those rooms. When you settle on doing something; when you think about doing something; you’re not thinking just will it make a good cover and a good story, you’re thinking will it resonate online? Will it hit the audience? How do we get it to the audience that we know we want to get it to? Is it going to say the right thing that we want to say, because a magazine can be a closed space, but the Internet, as we all know, has its’ own conversations and fluctuates in moments. You’ve got to really be aware of how something is going to land, and whether you’re moving it in that space or not.

We’re constantly having those conversations. When we’re just talking about covers, maybe before it would have been five or six print editors, now it’s myself and our editorial director, and Carly (Carly Holden, executive director of Communications) is in that room, and our head of Social is going to be in that room; our video guys are going to factor into that too. All of us come together to create these moments; you have to have everybody in there. It’s a little bit more complex, but also it leads to a bigger, richer story all of the time.

Rob Dechiaro: I think the reality is a testament to Jim (Jim Nelson, editor in chief) and to Jon and the entire editorial staff. The content is strong enough to resonate across all platforms. I think it’s our job to make sure that it connects with that audience in the most natural way, based on that platform, because the content is just that good and it should be able to span all of those audiences to anybody who cares about GQ.

Samir Husni: Last year you published GQ Style, so you’re not leaving print by the wayside. Yet, there are some other Condé Nast brands like Teen Vogue and Self that you decided to stop the print versions. Does each brand at Condé Nast have its own business plan or business formula? Or will we eventually see a trickle-down formula that will apply to all brands?

Jon Wilde: Anybody who can prognosticate the future of print in media, please come on over and tell us what that looks like. (Laughs) We’d love to see into your crystal ball. But yes, you can’t treat brands as if they’re all one in the same. The New Yorker; the print version of that defines the thing. It’s carrying it around with you; it’s getting the tote bag; it’s sitting it on your coffee table. That’s a reading experience that I don’t think anyone plans on giving up anytime soon.

When you talk about Self, what they do maybe is a more digital native thing. The crowd that they’re talking to; the audience that they have; where they live and what they’re looking for in that information, they made a decision which made a lot of sense for them. It’s intriguing watching them really push into Snapchat. And I think their Snapchat audience is bigger now than their website audience, which is amazing. They’ve managed to find the place where their people are. And at all times, that’s what we’re looking at. The New Yorker’s people are print folks, that will never go away. You see W becoming fewer issues, but more of a coffee table moment, almost a coffee table book. GQ Style is like that.

In GQ, the one thing I go back to print for is not only are you speaking to a particular type of person, who might actually be different than someone who’s looking at us online, but also it’s a space where people still find glory in. People want their cover. It’s a moment. And when you have something like that, that still has cultural weight and is something that people gravitate to, both as a reader and as somebody in it, you’re not going to give that up ever, if you don’t have to.

Rob Dechiaro: I think what you’re hearing from Jon is clear as to what we’re seeing at Condé Nast as a whole. Each individual brand’s task is to take a look at what is that business model; what is that business plan; and how do you create ancillary revenue streams around what the core is. And if it’s Vogue, what do you build around that to help some of the challenges that you’re seeing in print. But it’s not to go away from print, it’s to fortify it.

It’s to make sure that you have a lot of things going on to hit the multiple touchpoints that we were just talking about, when you think about digital and print working together. That’s how we look at it. It’s just about how do you build around that and around the audiences that we have in print to do different things within digital.

Jon Wilde: And the talk of engagement and how that’s become a bigger metric, certainly digitally. But I don’t know if you have any bigger engagement than somebody picking up a magazine actively and deciding to flip through it. And we still largely see some of our biggest stories in those moments where people gravitate to GQ, moments that have resonance, that cause ripple effects on through the Internet, they originated there. And it’s because it comes with a weight and a care and something that’s tangible, even if it’s on your screen.

Samir Husni: Correct me if I’m wrong, but no celebrity will ever ask to be featured on your website; they want to be on the cover of the magazine, if they can.

Jon Wilde: I’m going to disagree with that. It depends on who you’re talking about. Yes, JAY-Z is probably not going to come and just do a quick Q & A, but just this past month we did a major digital-only photo shoot with Taylor Kitsch, pretty big deal. There are definitely a group of people who exist largely on our website. They come through in moments where we do our own photo shoots with them. We’re doing a lot of that kind of thing now. We’re doing our own videos with them.

The cast of “The Good Place” is a really good example; people are loving it. We shot four of the main cast members, not including Ted Danson, and we’ve done our own photo shoots with them; we’ve done these large Q & A’s. And they’ve resonated hugely, traffic and time spent, in terms of those things; they’ve all shared them happily. It’s a different moment.

And in some ways, especially when you get into a younger actor, who’s at an ascendant moment in their career; what they can get out of a digital-only piece is not just eyes. When we put your great photo on our timeline, people don’t say that’s a digital-only piece. A great cover looks as good as a great shoot that we did just for the website. You’re still getting part of that GQ elevation.

Samir Husni: And how are you going to monetize that?

Rob Dechiaro: At the end of the day, monetization across all digital platforms; there’s not going to be a silver bullet. There’s going to be a lot of things that we have to build in different ways based off all of the platforms that we have to go to. That’s when we talk about footprint; that’s when we talk about engagement. Those are two things that we’re continuously talking about. If you look at our audience, where are they consuming content and how do we find them and engage them, then we can talk about monetization. We have to make sure that we’re delivering that content, and that experience of GQ, in all of those places, on all of those platforms. Then we can determine the best way to monetize.

We can’t sit here and think that we’re just going to monetize on site anymore. We’re going to have to monetize through partnerships with Twitter; with Instagram; with Snapchat. If you look at what we’ve done with Snapchat, there was a conversation at a Condé Nast level about whether we should be on the Snapchat platform. We were identified as a brand. Now we’re creating franchises in content that matches what we do in book, matches what we do on GQ.com, but now we can monetize it on Snapchat through a partnership with Snapchat.

I think it’s just examples from that. We have to make sure that when we find those areas that we know we can engage our audience with, it’s going to feel as if it’s one-off revenue models, but that’s the reality of the digital experience right now. And I think that’s what we have to focus on.

Samir Husni: Why do you think Snapchat’s “Discover” has succeeded where so many other platforms have failed?

Rob Dechiaro: I think part of it is the fact that they caught wildfire with the younger audience. And that’s a big aspect of it. They took the idea of messaging, which a lot of that younger audience uses Snapchat for. If you watch the young audience use Snapchat, they’re using it to message their friends, they’re not text messaging. And that becomes a platform where all of that audience is there on Snapchat. So, they had “Discover” play into that.

And I think they’re still trying to figure exactly how that works out and where they do that in the Snapchat experience, but it’s taken the partnership that Snapchat has created with all of these brands to create content specific for that platform, which makes it feel to the audience as if you’re publishing specifically for that platform. Now, we know that we’re creating the content; we’re expanding our content that we’re already creating, and that somebody who maybe just goes onto Snapchat, for them it feels very native. And I think that’s of the utmost importance.

Jon Wilde: From an editorial side, Snapchat’s “Discover” is really fascinating for us. It’s this really interesting way to reach a crowd that we might not normally reach. We’re a magazine; I don’t know how many 13-18 year-olds are spending $20 of their hard-earned cash on a magazine being sent to them. But I can tell you that demographic is a much larger percentage of our audience on Snapchat Discover. So suddenly we’re reaching them; we’re seeing what they’re responding to.

A lot of times we’re taking content that we’ve already made, but we’re redesigning it, recrafting it, repurposing it and figuring out a different angle. We’ve also had some times where we’ve actually created wholesale new shoots, new videos, that are only living on Snapchat. And what that has let us do is reach out to maybe the next generation of GQ readers, maybe introduce ourselves to them. Let them know that we’re still the place to go to figure out how to grow up and be an adult man. How to maybe get a little bit more stylish after your mom has been buying your clothes for you at the mall for the last five years. (Laughs)

But we’ve also been able to take a little bit back from that and ask what are the new waves where people are moving; what are the things that people are grabbing? Everything from time spent on there to the number of times they actually screen-grab something, we find ourselves higher than benchmarks. And so, we’re really heartened to be able to kind of walk into that space and reach a new set of eyeballs. And take something away while giving them something they seem to be really enthusiastic about.

Samir Husni: Wired is experimenting with the paywall. Now, after putting the audiences on a Welfare Information Society, giving them everything for free, the industry is seeing the futility of that. Do you think there will be a time at GQ where you will start putting content behind a paywall?

Rob Dechiaro: I think there’s going to be an analysis and conversations around any sort of paying experience across all Condé brands and I think across all magazine brands. I believe that’s the next iteration of the web as we see it, especially with the amount of information and what’s going on around us in culture. For GQ in particular, I think it’s going to come down to really looking and analyzing what truly engages our audience at an in depth level.

If you look at the way The New Yorker or Wired are doing it, they’re doing a paywall based off a metered experience and based off an audience that’s coming back multiple times. For GQ, we cover a lot of categories. We cover a lot of things and that’s something that GQ does extremely well and we’ve done for a lot of years. And we’ve earned the right to do that.

I think the step for GQ on where we go to a paid experience, a paywall, a service; something that gives the audience a reason to have to pay, to want to pay, we’re going to have to look at what aspects of our coverage deserve to be behind that experience.

Jon Wilde: The interesting thing about the paywall is that it’s often talked about as if it exists in only one way, and I think what Rob really wisely alluded to is that there are a wide variety of ways you can put in a paywall. It could be just to get to the content or just to get to our expertise, which I know Golf Digest does. It could be to get to a variety of newsletters that brings something to you and deliver it daily to your inbox.

You might consider it a minor paywall in that we have a “Best Stuff Box” now that we’re selling, which the Best Stuff is our kind of branding for us going out and rigorously testing something and finding the things that we really love, particularly menswear, but also in things like tech, grooming, and products that we know guys are really eager to find the best in. We’ve bundled some of that in a box and we’ve started selling subscriptions to it. We’ve had a mind-blowing take rate in the fact that it was really only soft-launched up until a couple of weeks ago when it became super-available online.

And the interesting thing is people are looking at that and when they subscribe to it, it’s $150 to subscribe for a year, they’re also oftentimes taking a subscription to the magazine. And you’re seeing this kind of back and forth between wanting to pull from our expertise, which is we’ve found something cool and we’ll send it to you, and also the fact that they would like to get a little closer to the content and the things that we do. So, I think that we’re really in an amazing place to figure out a paywall or paywalls could be in other places.

Samir Husni: How do you define content in this day and age?

Jon Wilde: What is content? (Laughs) We’re contenting right now. That’s a tough thing, especially with a brand like GQ. As Rob mentioned, we can cover anything. We’re not in one space. We do entertainment and we do style; we do some tech and we do dating and relationships; we do grooming, but we also do politics, travel and food. If there’s a thing that a guy is interested in, and at this point that should be just about everything, we’re probably going to have a moment with it. So, what isn’t content for us? Probably nothing.

That said, you’re always aware of your resources and your bandwidth. We’re also always asking the question, what do we want to achieve? As we switch from the raw, impressionistic news views, we need to just get uniques, uniques, uniques in the door. And when you do that, we’ve all seen what that leads to. It leads to scale, certainly, but not a very fun scale. You kind of race to the bottom and you’re chasing whatever is trending. Whereas now, as we move into engagements and little bit more of the notion of having a footprint growth, which is bringing people in who really want to be around all of our stuff, you start to care a lot about what the thing is that you pull off and write about. And it has to be something that’s meaningful and that means something on the platform that you’re putting it on.

And when you go back to that idea of what’s digital and what’s print, it all goes back to whether it’s a good story for GQ. Do we have something valid to say and is it going to resonate in the place and with the people that we’re speaking to? And that math generally points you in the right direction on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes you try a thing out and it doesn’t work, and you say okay, lesson learned. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: I interviewed Bob Garfield, who’s supposedly considered the “Marketing Guru” media writer. And he said with all of this digital growth, there’s also a lot of “trash audience” in those numbers. People reading the website or watching the videos in China, Hong Kong, or Lebanon. How do you differentiate, as you plan to monetize these digital platforms, between the trash audience and the engaged audience?

Rob Dechiaro: I think Jon alluded to it just a moment ago with the idea of engagement. And the idea of the one-and-done traffic; you need to take that with a grain of salt. And I think that’s what we’re going to start doing. We want to find the audience that’s coming back two, three, four times a month and really focus on what they’re doing onsite.

Now, we’re going to have to have a serious conversation with our friends and marketers on the advertising side and our other partners to determine what does scale look like versus what does an engaged audience look like. And how do you change your models at which you’re measuring your advertising, which we all know that we need to have in a conversation.

But to me, from an audience perspective, you just have to determine who is coming back and who is in love with your brand. And who is coming back multiple times per month, I think it has to be on a monthly basis, and you have to make sure it’s the people who are reading and scrolling through the content that are the true and genuine eyeballs. It just has to be taken with a grain of salt from scale perspective until we have the technology and everything built out from a measurement perspective that we can easily filter that out. It’s all about engagement.

Jon Wilde: As we track people as they move through our spaces, there are two things we look for. There’s engagement, which is the time they spend with us. We don’t want somebody who just kind of pops in for 10 seconds. I mean, it would be nice for them to pop in for 10 seconds, we’d love to get them in the door, and hopefully we can show them some other things that will keep them around. But we’ve also starting talking, obviously, about footprint, which is really interesting for us because coming into 2017 our social footprint was right around 7.4 million. By the end of the year we moved that up to 9.2 million. And it’s still steadily growing. So, that’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.

The intriguing thing about that is while you’re not running at scale, because you’re not just trying to collect every eyeball that flows through the timeline on Facebook, what you are trying to get is people who want to stay with the brand. They want to click follow and they want to click subscribe, and they want to see the next thing that comes out even though they don’t know what it is. And so that’s what we’re really focused on right now.

You’ve got engagement, once they’ve been brought in and you see if they can move through your space really well; can you get them to like a photo and maybe drive them to see a video that maybe gets them intrigued enough to come to your website. They may see a few pieces and buy a Box from us. But also you want to keep growing those spaces where what you’re putting out there is special enough for them to say they want to subscribe. Not just to the magazine, but to Instagram and then everything kind of reaches them. And then we can make those cool things that make Colin Kaepernick, who looks great on the cover, look amazing on Instagram. And then that brings another great round of feedback.

Samir Husni: Why do you think in print no one has been able to reach that scale of nine million or 10 million? The largest magazine circulation will hit one million and then it stops. What is the difference between the engagement of your audience on digital and the engagement of the print audience?

Jon Wilde: Two things. To me, the really basic thing is the Internet is now with you at all times and you’re going to it. And you’re going to go there for a million reasons, but it’s always there. It’s a lot more, in some ways, passive. You’re there and if something flows through your timeline, you’re going to spend some time with it hopefully, if it’s good. Whereas with magazines, you had to actively reach out. You had to send a card in and hope that in a month and a half they sent you the issue, and hope you didn’t have to follow up on it. Maybe you had to send a check because nobody was doing credit card payments that well. Or they sent you a bill and you missed it. It was tough. You had to really want a magazine then.

And that’s a thing nowadays; it’s heartening when you still have people like that, because they’re the kind of diehard readers that you want to keep close and deliver the really cool stuff to.

But we’ve got a big distribution platform now, where everything kind of flows by their eyes. And that’s where you get into the scale, making good content engagement space, where you know it’s probably going to cross in front of them at some point, but what’s going to make a grab and stick, entice and intrigue, and want to stay with them? When we now talk about subscribing, it’s tapping a button really quickly.

And interestingly, I think the same thought processes are still there, that it was with the magazine. Am I willing to give over something of myself to it? In this case, a lot of time. It’s time nowadays, right? Am I willing to give over entre to my newsletter? Am I willing to give over my timeline that I curated really nicely? You’re still weighing something, but it’s a lot easier to get there.

Also, like you said, we gave a lot of stuff away for free for a long time. Free gets a lot of people in the door, and now you have to figure out how you monetize what was free for so long.

Samir Husni: One of the things that I always tell the students is, on the web, same as in print, you have to learn how to make somebody click, tick and stick. The clicking and ticking is always there, it’s the sticking that is sometimes difficult. What did you do to make people stick?

Jon Wilde: What did we do to make people stick? We make good stuff. The tough thing is, obviously there’s a lot of stuff you can do on the product side, particularly with a website, to help people move around more. You can have better recirculation; you can have a nicer design; you can have moments that are really sticky, like video and deeper stories. When it comes down to it, what GQ does amazingly well; what every Condé Nast brand does really well; what every brand that is worth a damn does in this word really well is, deliver good, enticing, intriguing, unexpected stuff. It is paramount.

It is why you can blow up and grow to scale, and ultimately it would be kind of empty. Whereas, we may never reach those kind of BuzzFeed-ian, hundred-million-esque heights, but what we did have was great stuff. Amazing stuff. Stuff that you couldn’t deny was good. When you have that, you can always build something around it.

We’re also blessed because our reader could conceivably be anybody. We know we’re aimed at guys; we know demographically where that kind of sweet spot is, but our readership in a lot of places is 25 percent or more female. You put out a great story like Colin Kaepernick, that doesn’t just stay in one space. That’s always been the driving force from Jim Nelson on down.

Samir Husni: And that cover story made the rounds, from Fox News to CNBC, so you covered the entire gamut. Some folks loved you and some folks didn’t. (Laughs)

Jon Wilde: Right. (Laughs too) I don’t know that Fox News was in love with it, but when you can put something out there and people care enough to talk about it, you’ve done your job, I think. We have at least.

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

Jon Wilde: One thing that we haven’t talked about, which is interesting to us, is the e-commerce movement. It’s amazing for us to step into there, because we’ve been doing a version of it for 60 years. It will be 61 this year. We’ve been helping guys figure out what to wear, whether it’s to buy their first good-fitting pair of khakis or their 17th amazing Gucci jacket. We’ve been there to help say we have our eye on you and we know what’s going to work and maybe what won’t.

And now we’re in a space where we can feed that beast we’ve created. We did a survey last year that told us somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of our readers wanted more product recommendations. They wanted us to tell them more specifically what to buy. They wished that there was an easier process to find those things on our site.

So, we’ve gone really hard at that with everything from “Best Stuff,” which I talked about and is editorially-driven to find the best stuff in the category. And on up to this new thing we’ve launched, this new product called “Recommends.” It’s kind of a store within GQ, but it’s still editorially-driven and it turns over often throughout the week as we recommend more products, pull ones out that maybe have gotten old or have gone off sale.

And it’s this great warehouse where a guy can walk in and say that he needs a new shirt and then ask what GQ thinks he should get. He doesn’t have to search; he doesn’t have to go to Google and type in GQ shirts and hope that the first thing that pops up is the most recent one. He can walk in there and see the 40 shirts that GQ thinks he should buy that day.

And it’s been great. We’ve seen an amazing response to it. It’s already driving 11 percent of our affiliate revenue on GQ.com, and we’re really pushing hard on affiliate, in both GQ and across Condé. We’re seeing a huge click-thru rate on that as well, which is interesting because we pair it with editorial stories, kind of going back to the stickiness and engagement.

They come to us because they want to figure out what shirt or what suit they should buy, what pair of shoes, but then they also click on a piece because there’s a reason they came to GQ. It’s because our voice and our point of view is as much what they want as just the clothes themselves. So, that’s been really heartening to see our e-commerce click with our reader.

Rob Dechiaro: I think the way Jon describes it summarizes a lot of the questions that you were asking. Just going through that process where Jim talks about really understanding what your audience is doing. We got those results back from the survey, about 30-40 percent, and then we dug in and asked what is the experience that we can build for them, to simply give them more to do with the site? From an engagement perspective that meant changing the product, changing the design.

But then we figured out a different revenue stream to tie to that, so that it’s not something new and big to replace print, that’s not the plan of this. This is something we didn’t run at; this is something we’ve been doing for a very long time. We just used technology and the platforms that were engaging our audience to make it easier, and to better engage them on that platform. And I think that really summarizes what we do from a commerce perspective. But honestly, the way we started that, the way we used that process, should be the way we evolve GQ as a brand throughout the next several years.

To Jon’s point about the data that we’re gleaning, in that it’s both editorial and commerce, 40 percent of the people who are on that commerce experience, that we built specifically for making it easier to go buy those products, 40 percent of those people are then clicking on an article of content to go read. That’s how you build the stickiness. But that comes from an understanding of what our audience desires. And just tying all of that together.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else?

Jon Wilde: I’m not impervious to the same things everybody is in this business, in this world. I’m probably on some combination of my phone and my laptop. I’ve probably got something on Netflix going and a half-eaten something on a plate in front of me, because I received a text or an email that I need to get to.

The wide world of me just never stops. It just doesn’t. We’ve got weekend editors that are running full-time; we have things that we have to get prepped for. But none of us would be here if we didn’t really enjoy this process. Some of us get a little tired of it; some of us walk out and take two-week vacations and think about not coming back. (Laughs) Ultimately, there’s a little bit of a drug in it, whether for good or for bad. But you’re probably going to find me doing some work.

Rob Dechiaro: I completely agree with Jon. It’s going to be somehow tied to work. And I think that’s why we got into this media business. It is definitely addictive. When you get home, when I get home, it’s about surveying everything that’s happening around us, maybe not that’s directly tied to GQ, so that we can find those instances where we need to extend again to connect our audience, where we know technology is giving us the opportunity to have all of those platforms.

So, to me, the downtime away from just GQ is really about understanding what are the new platforms? Netflix; what if something happens with Netflix where it would make sense for GQ to get involved? And just taking all of those things that are happening around us and really making sure that we’re constantly thinking about how our audience could possibly want to find GQ there. And that’s something that we can’t forget and should be our downtime.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Jon Wilde: He did the best with baldness as he could. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Rob Dechiaro: I think we all just kind of hit it on the head when we were talking about the idea of getting into the media business and I think we all did that for a particular set of reasons that are to ourselves, but for me it’s that we enjoy the ride. I enjoy the ride of experiencing all of the things that are happening in tech and media and the world around us, because media plays in all of it. And if I want to be remembered for anything, it’s that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously and we enjoyed the ride.

Jon Wilde; Yes, I think it’s that we made people want more. When we do our job well, we make people want more. It’s the thing that we’re always on the hunt for; it’s why we don’t mind being up until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. on our phones. If the things that I put out into the world make people want more, then I’ll feel pretty good about my time spent.

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

Jon Wilde: Trying to make people want more. And figuring out what exactly that is in a world that is flooded with “more.” It used to be pretty easy when you made a magazine. You went up against some other magazines, but now everybody makes content. You’re trying to horn in.

Literally on Instagram, we have four million followers, which is a lot, but also think about, we have to squeeze in between your best friend who just went on vacation, or your cousin who just had a baby. To that, everything is content, but the bar got higher. The bar shot up. Which is weird, because we talk about the bar lowering, but really for the bar to make it through the noise and to hit, it skyrocketed. And in some ways that’s tough. But in a lot of ways you step up your game. And stepping up your game is never easy, but it means you always feel like you’re working as damned hard as you possibly can to do something good.

Rob Dechiaro: Echoing what I said earlier about enjoying what we do, but it’s also being able to enjoy what you do and make a difference. Given everything that’s happening in the world around us; how do we do what we do, but make a difference to people in a positive way? And I think that should be the goal of all of us. We have to impact people in a positive way.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t walk in here and the team around me makes me better and I hope I make them better. And I think we need to do that for our audience, and our audience needs to do that for us. So, what would keep me up at night would be how do we continue to make that impact? How do we continue to make a positive difference in the world?

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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