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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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