Archive for March, 2018

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Entertainment Weekly: Proving Weekly Magazine Brands Can Stand Strong On All Platforms & Print Covers Are Still A Force To Be Reckoned With – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Henry Goldblatt, Editor In Chief & Tim Leong, Executive Editor, Entertainment Weekly…

March 29, 2018

“I don’t just consider myself editor in chief of a weekly magazine, but of an entire content organization. I became editor in chief a little over three years ago, and I remember when I was growing up, I felt that Entertainment Weekly set the agenda for that particular week’s conversation, like this is what we need to be psyched about in entertainment. So, I really tried to move that thought process into the 21st century. And I really want to give readers something on the cover of this magazine and inside the magazine that they can’t get on the Internet, that they can’t find on anyone’s social media feed, because of what our access allows.” Henry Goldblatt…

“In trying to make it spunky and something that fans would appreciate, and doing something in print that we can’t do online or in any other version of the brand, that and doing 15 covers and a big 40-page package inside, it really set it apart from digital content and made the print version special.” Tim Leong (on the landmark 15 commemorative Avengers covers EW did and 40-page inside Marvel package)…

For 28 years, Entertainment Weekly has been the go-to source for entertainment media news, reviews, and in depth articles about Hollywood behind-the-scenes, and for those fans who want a more inclusive and exclusive look at their favorite movies and TV shows.

Fandom is vitally important to the brand, such as the recent issue of Entertainment Weekly; it is one for the books. To honor Avengers: Infinity War, the latest and nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, EW published 15 commemorative covers featuring 22 superheroes and one bad guy. This is a big first for EW as it’s the most covers dedicated to an issue in the brand’s 28-year history and largely unprecedented in media.

To get the scoop on this fascinating landmark issue, I recently spoke to Henry Goldblatt, editor in chief and Tim Leong, newly promoted executive editor, about the amazing 15 covers and the equally amazing 40-page, exhaustive love letter to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Tim conceived. It was a lively, fun and informational conversation, much like the EW brand itself.

We also talked about the recent pack-up and move to the West Coast the brand undertook and the new Meredith ownership that has everyone excited about the future, laying to rest any of those rumored fears about Meredith selling EW and dampening bright horizons.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with a weekly brand that is strong on all of its many platforms, with two gentlemen at the helm who believe in its continued success fully and are always looking forward to the next week and the next issue, Henry Goldblatt, editor in chief, and Tim Leong, executive editor, Entertainment Weekly.

But first the sound-bites:

On Entertainment Weekly’s new ownership, new location, and all of the changes that are happening (Henry Goldblatt): I’m really excited because we’re a 28-year-old brand and it really feels like a startup. We were really able to reinvent ourselves with this move. And it was as simple as me putting together a business plan with the thought being that if we were starting this brand from scratch today, we would start it in L.A. And of course, when this brand was started back in the day it was started in New York City, because that’s where all publishing was and technology wasn’t good enough to put out a magazine across country when all of the hub was in New York. And that’s obviously changed.

On the role of print in a digital age (Henry Goldblatt): That’s a really good question. I don’t just consider myself editor in chief of a weekly magazine, but of an entire content organization. I became editor in chief a little over three years ago, and I remember when I was growing up, I felt that Entertainment Weekly set the agenda for that particular week’s conversation, like this is what we need to be psyched about in entertainment. So, I really tried to move that thought process into the 21st century. And I really want to give readers something on the cover of this magazine and inside the magazine that they can’t get on the Internet, that they can’t find on anyone’s social media feed, because of what our access allows.

On the role of Entertainment Weekly’s cover today (Henry Goldblatt): My job is to set the entertainment agenda and conversation each week, and luckily I’ve done a lot of stunts in order to do this. The 15 Avengers covers are the perfect example of this. If I had just published one Avengers cover, people would have thought that was nice, whatever, but it really takes effective stunts like the Dawson’s Creek reunion or an Avengers 15 covers stunt in order to grab readers’ attention in a crowded media landscape. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it.

On how Executive Editor Tim Leong conceived the 15 Avengers covers and his 40-page love letter to Marvel Cinematic Universe fans (Tim Leong): The process started almost a year ago. It began when we were trying to figure out how we would put all of these people on a cover, there are 20-something characters in this movie, so we were trying to figure out the logistics of even doing it. In trying to make it spunky and something that fans would appreciate, and doing something in print that we can’t do online or in any other version of the brand, that and doing 15 covers and a big 40-page package inside, it really set it apart from digital content and made the print version special.

On the execution of those 15 covers and whether the art director and design team were in shock (Tim Leong): The idea sounds a little crazy, right? It’s a little complicated, because I was the creative director at the time, when we first started the process. But by the time it published, I was no longer the creative director, so some of the wheels are already in motion, in terms of the planning and production of it, but the design of it all goes to Keir Novesky, our design director, who did that cover.

But it was a long back and forth. It started with a sketch that we did in-house and it’s pretty crazy, the final cover looks close to the original sketch, for sure. We definitely moved a lot of characters around and swapped some in and out, but it all started with a sketch.

On the secret to keeping their audience clicking and ticking and captivated (Tim Leong): We just did this great fandom study and the real heart of it shows that the fans really want to engage on multiple platforms, not only in print, but online and other avenues as well, social and live events. I think what Henry has done a great job at is directing this brand in a way that it is truly multiplatform. And I think part of that is having a consistent tone and voice across all of our platforms, making sure that we go to the places that our readers want to go, and bringing EW to all of the platforms where our readers live. And the study definitely backs that up.

On whether they’re making print more interactive (Henry Goldblatt): Yes. I mean, print is always going to be more of a lean-back experience, but I want to make sure that with this Avengers cover or with Dawson’s Creek or the Oscars, our entire staff sends out what we call a “rollout” for every issue. There’s a social point around every issue, there’s what articles are we publishing on ew.com; is there is a social campaign around that issue, is there a People TV special that we’re doing, what’s our video strategy? So, we’re asking ourselves all of those questions. If the issue covers the event in the tent pole, then we’re asking those questions around all of the ancillary things that come out of it.

On whether there is any time to do actual editing with all of the duties and responsibilities that today’s editor has (Henry Goldblatt): That’s a really good question. And I am going to give you a very honest answer. With the move to L.A., as I said, it does feel more like a startup. I’m doing a little more actual editing than I have been recently, but you’re absolutely right, a title of editor in chief can be a misnomer sometimes, because I may be working on a thousand things that have nothing to do with editing.

On Tim Leong being promoted from creative director to executive editor and is he happy using both talents (Tim Leong): The job goal is very similar, just the execution is different. Before you’re dreaming up how we’re going to treat this story from a design perspective, and now it’s how are we going to treat this story from an editorial perspective. And it’s still a ton of fun. I’m hugely excited about this opportunity and I’m eternally grateful to Henry for even considering me for this type of role. I find it to be incredibly fun and part of it is we have a wonderful stable of writers to work with. And they’re incredibly creative and that’s been one of the nicer joys of it.

On any truth to the rumors that Meredith might sell Entertainment Weekly (Henry Goldblatt): We read the same reports that you did. I was really heartened to hear the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Bruce Gersh was taking over as president of People and Entertainment Weekly and EVP of the company. He’s a great supporter of the brand and I don’t think they would have made such a fanfare announcement around that and put Entertainment Weekly in its purview just to sell us. I feel very confident about our future and I’m psyched to be a part of the Meredith family.

On anything either would like to add (Henry Goldblatt): I think the one thing that I’ve really tried to do at Entertainment Weekly is make sure that each of the print covers that are an event can feed our traffic, and the events themselves, can feed our traffic and our video streams and the rest of the brand in a very organic and cohesive way.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Henry Goldblatt): I’m on the floor playing with my dog and watching TV, most likely Scandal.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home (Tim Leong): If you came right this second, you’d see a mountain of boxes being unloaded. (Laughs) But I think one of the nice things about moving to the West Coast is an amplified family life. And you’d probably find me at home playing with my baby.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Henry Goldblatt): This is going to make me sound like a company man, but when I took over Entertainment Weekly three years ago, the motto that I’ve used and would want everyone to engrave and tattoo on their foreheads is: Smart, Funny, First, those are the three qualities that every piece of Entertainment Weekly content should embody. A good piece embodies two of those qualities and a great piece embodies all three. I’ve been imparting this on the staff for years now and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tattoo it on my own forehead.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him (Tim Leong): I’ve heard a lot of people say this, but I think it’s just so true and it’s what we really try to embody to the staff is work hard and be nice to people.

On what keeps him up at night (Henry Goldblatt): To be perfectly honest, what keeps me up at night is I’ve asked 25 to 30 people to uproot their lives and move to L.A. and have faith in me and in this brand, and I just want to come through for them and I don’t want to disappoint them.

On what keeps him up at night (Tim Leong): This job is a big responsibility and yes, we’re talking about entertainment, but even though it’s entertainment, it’s something that we take very seriously. And it’s something that I definitely want to be sure we do well, and I’m just trying to think about ways we can do it better. And even better for the future.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Henry Goldblatt, editor in chief, & Tim Leong, executive editor, Entertainment Weekly.

Samir Husni: Before we talk about Entertainment Weekly going to “Infinity War and Beyond,” Entertainment Weekly is going to the West Coast and beyond. What’s the status with Entertainment Weekly now, with the new ownership, the new location, with everything that’s taking place?

Henry Goldblatt: I’m really excited because we’re a 28-year-old brand and it really feels like a startup. We were really able to reinvent ourselves with this move. And it was as simple as me putting together a business plan with the thought being that if we were starting this brand from scratch today, we would start it in L.A. And of course, when this brand was started back in the day it was started in New York City, because that’s where all publishing was and technology wasn’t good enough to put out a magazine across country when all of the hub was in New York. And that’s obviously changed.

So, it’s really exciting to be in the backyard of the people and the projects that we cover and I think that it’s going to result in better access for us and more entertaining and better content for our readers.

Samir Husni: There is a lot of talk that in this day and age that there’s no room for print weeklies, and things are changing and moving so fast. Yet, last week I interviewed the chief revenue officer at Us Weekly and she said that they’re still doing two million copies. What do you think is the role of print in this digital age?

Henry Goldblatt: That’s a really good question. I don’t just consider myself editor in chief of a weekly magazine, but of an entire content organization. I became editor in chief a little over three years ago, and I remember when I was growing up, I felt that Entertainment Weekly set the agenda for that particular week’s conversation, like this is what we need to be psyched about in entertainment. So, I really tried to move that thought process into the 21st century. And I really want to give readers something on the cover of this magazine and inside the magazine that they can’t get on the Internet, that they can’t find on anyone’s social media feed, because of what our access allows.

We’re very lucky that movie studios and TV networks still vie to be on the cover of this magazine and that they realize it sells movie tickets and moves ratings for their TV shows. And so, we’re able to use that leverage in order to get some really wonderful, exclusive content.

Our next cover is going to be a reunion to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dawson’s Creek. The cast has never been back together before, and this is something that we’ve been negotiating for months and months and months. And we’re super-excited about it and we think it’s going to do very well for us. When the cast was coming together, they would never do this for a random website, they wanted the prestige of Entertainment Weekly and we have a history with this show and being very good to them, so they were very excited about coming back together.

So, they will be on the cover of the magazine, there will be a special reunion TV show on People TV, and we have all sorts of videos and quizzes and all sorts of ancillary products and content that goes along with it that we’re super-excited about. Again, it’s the cover of this magazine that drew them to us and propels the best of the brand.

Samir Husni: I was in France once with Matt Bean when Matt was the editor and he mentioned then the fact that he never received a phone call from any celebrity to be on the website, they all wanted to be on the cover of the magazine. What do you believe is the role of the cover of Entertainment Weekly today?

Henry Goldblatt: I have to tip my hat to Matt, that’s a very good point. I’ve never received a call like that either. (Laughs) My job is to set the entertainment agenda and conversation each week, and luckily I’ve done a lot of stunts in order to do this. The 15 Avengers covers are the perfect example of this. If I had just published one Avengers cover, people would have thought that was nice, whatever, but it really takes effective stunts like the Dawson’s Creek reunion or an Avengers 15 covers stunt in order to grab readers’ attention in a crowded media landscape. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job of it.

Samir Husni: Tim, since you were behind the 40-page love letter to the fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tell me how did you take the ideas and conceive those 15 covers?

Tim Leong: The process started almost a year ago. It began when we were trying to figure out how we would put all of these people on a cover, there are 20-something characters in this movie, so we were trying to figure out the logistics of even doing it.

One thing that really inspired the creation of this cover was comic book trading cards that I collected when I was a youth. When you collected them all and put them in the right order, sometimes they would make this 3×3 collecting card montage image. And I thought that was a really cool inspiration and loved it and wanted to try and replicate that. I hadn’t really seen it in magazines at this scale, certainly not one that included 15 covers. I always like a good challenge and trying to outdo ourselves every single time, so that was the inspiration. But it took that long, as we had to negotiate and produce this whole thing.

And to Henry’s point, in trying to make it spunky and something that fans would appreciate, and doing something in print that we can’t do online or in any other version of the brand, that and doing 15 covers and a big 40-page package inside, it really set it apart from digital content and made the print version special.

Henry Goldblatt: We sell all of the art issues in a back issue store, ew.com/backissue, and this one, so far, we’ve sold over 10,000 Avengers issues from the back issue store because people are collecting them all, which has been pretty awesome. And it’s important to note that EW is primarily a subscriber brand.

Samir Husni: Tell me a little about the execution of those 15 covers. How do you work with your art director, with the cover design? When Tim said let’s do this stunt cover, 15 covers, did the art director freak out, the design team? Did they say this is a weekly, what do you mean 15 covers? (Laughs)

Tim Leong: (Laughs too) The idea sounds a little crazy, right? It’s a little complicated, because I was the creative director at the time, when we first started the process. But by the time it published, I was no longer the creative director, so some of the wheels are already in motion, in terms of the planning and production of it, but the design of it all goes to Keir Novesky, our design director, who did that cover.

But it was a long back and forth. It started with a sketch that we did in-house and it’s pretty crazy, the final cover looks close to the original sketch, for sure. We definitely moved a lot of characters around and swapped some in and out, but it all started with a sketch.

It’s really interesting too, talking about these fans who have gone crazy for them. This happens quite a bit with some of our other covers, but there’s such fan passion for these characters and these franchises that a lot of fans start to make their own versions of the covers. Sometimes they feel slighted because their favorite character wasn’t on it or they really want someone else to be on the cover with someone else and they start making all of their fan versions of the cover, which is really cool to see.

Henry Goldblatt: I just wanted to add one thing to what Tim was saying. Tim is being super-modest, because of ideas like these I promoted him to executive editor because he was doing so much more than being the creative director. He really has both the outside of his brain and an editorial side of his brain that’s amazing, so it was ideas like this that got him that promotion.

Samir Husni: If I put all of these 15 covers together, would I get some kind of a poster of the Avengers?

Tim Leong: They all connect to make one big image. The background connects.

Henry Goldblatt: If you look at page one of our Avengers issue, you’ll see how they all connect.

Samir Husni: You’re also adding to the print by the entire website and brand. As you mentioned Henry, you’re no longer just doing a magazine, you have a brand. How are you going to ensure that the content in this brand and all of these exclusives from this cover that you can buy at the back issues store, to the Dawson’s Creek cover that’s coming up, how can you ensure that connectivity with an audience? I remember the former CEO of Time Inc. telling me that there is only an eight second attention span, do you have to do one stunt after another to keep their attention? What’s the secret to keeping your audience clicking and ticking?

Henry Goldblatt: I’m very fortunate; I have an enormous depth of research on the types of projects that our audience likes, and I’m actually going to let Tim speak to this, because he was involved in the study.

Tim Leong: We just did this great fandom study and the real heart of it shows that the fans really want to engage on multiple platforms, not only in print, but online and other avenues as well, social and live events. I think what Henry has done a great job at is directing this brand in a way that it is truly multiplatform. And I think part of that is having a consistent tone and voice across all of our platforms, making sure that we go to the places that our readers want to go, and bringing EW to all of the platforms where our readers live. And the study definitely backs that up.

But the study was really interesting and that was a really key takeaway for us. Fandom is a real mainstay for us, because you might just think of Avengers, that’s fandom, but that also applies to Outlander, which has been a massive success for us.

Henry Goldblatt: Yes, it’s not just fandom and you automatically think of the Comic-Con crowd, that’s not the case at all. We have fandoms such as Outlander, which is a very female skewing fandom that does every bit as well for us, both digitally and in print, as Avengers does. Shondaland is another big fandom, between Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, that skews more female and does very well for us too. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones; there are all of these pockets that our readers are passionate about.

And you may be a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly and you may not like every single subject that’s on the cover, but I guarantee you that throughout the year I’m going to appeal to you more often than I won’t.

Tim Leong: I just think one of the things that EW does better than other brands is really over delivering and going all in on those different fandoms. Like this Avengers one, for instance, giving you 40 pages, there are little fun things throughout. We hid 10 little Ant-Man characters throughout the issue just so you can find them. We just really kind of over deliver on the things that our readers love in a way that no one else can.

Henry Goldblatt: On the flip side to Avengers, about three weeks ago, we did a 90th anniversary tribute to the Oscars that was 40 or 50 pages and we called it “Hollywood’s Greatest Untold Stories – The Oscars Edition,” and we took a deep dive into the things you may not know about Oscar-winning movies; the things you could never see on TV. We worked with the Academy and got a whole bunch of pictures that they had never released before that were exclusive to Entertainment Weekly for this issue. So, an Oscars fan may be different from an Avengers fan, they may be the same, but we try and cover the entire pop culture landscape.

Samir Husni: Are you telling me that you’re making print interactive?

Henry Goldblatt: Yes. I mean, print is always going to be more of a lean-back experience, but I want to make sure that with this Avengers cover or with Dawson’s Creek or the Oscars, our entire staff sends out what we call a “rollout” for every issue. There’s a social point around every issue, there’s what articles are we publishing on ew.com; is there is a social campaign around that issue, is there a People TV special that we’re doing, what’s our video strategy? So, we’re asking ourselves all of those questions. If the issue covers the event in the tent pole, then we’re asking those questions around all of the ancillary things that come out of it.

Samir Husni: I have to ask you the questions; with the new ownership, with the move, with everything taking place, with the enhanced responsibilities, is the job of a magazine editor today a walk in a rose garden or was it ever a walk in a rose garden and do you have time to do any editing?

Henry Goldblatt: (Laughs) That’s a really good question. And I am going to give you a very honest answer. With the move to L.A., as I said, it does feel more like a startup. I’m doing a little more actual editing than I have been recently, but you’re absolutely right, a title of editor in chief can be a misnomer sometimes, because I may be working on a thousand things that have nothing to do with editing.

One of my favorite things that I get to do every week is a radio show for EW Radio and Sirius XM. And I never grew up with a broadcast background or any type of radio background, and this is a brand extension that I’m super proud of and we’re very invested in and it’s making us a lot of money. Sure, I never thought I’d be a radio broadcaster, but here I am and I’m enjoying it.

I work a lot with our publisher and our business side on initiatives, and again, that’s not what I was trained to do, but I’m enjoying it as well. So, having been in journalism for a long time, it’s nice to be able to stumble onto these new things and stretch my brain a bit.

Samir Husni: Tim, you moved from being creative director to the executive editor; what comes with that move? Are you happier using both talents? Do you have one foot in each place now?

Tim Leong: The job goal is very similar, just the execution is different. Before you’re dreaming up how we’re going to treat this story from a design perspective, and now it’s how are we going to treat this story from an editorial perspective. And it’s still a ton of fun. I’m hugely excited about this opportunity and I’m eternally grateful to Henry for even considering me for this type of role. I find it to be incredibly fun and part of it is we have a wonderful stable of writers to work with. And they’re incredibly creative and that’s been one of the nicer joys of it.

And not to go back to the Avengers, but so much of it is planning fun, cool stuff to do. And in the creative director role, that’s doing cool designs and illustrations and that type of cool stuff, but here it could be, for instance, with the cover story that’s coming out this week is “Ready Player One.” And I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book and the movie that’s coming out, directed by Steven Spielberg, but in that cover story our writer, Anthony Breznican, talks about how Steven Spielberg, his crew kept trying to put references to Steven Spielberg’s movie into Ready Player One, and he kept trying to take them out.

So, one thing that we did in the text was highlight or kind of write in titles of Steven Spielberg’s movies in the text and design them with the logos of those movie titles. It’s more of an editorial thing and about making it fun and interactive, and something special that you can only do in print and doesn’t quite work as well online. So, a lot of the goals are the same, the execution is just a little bit different between those two jobs.

Samir Husni: And I have to ask you about the rumors that Meredith may be selling the magazine, any truth to that?

Henry Goldblatt: We read the same reports that you did. I was really heartened to hear the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Bruce Gersh was taking over as president of People and Entertainment Weekly and EVP of the company. He’s a great supporter of the brand and I don’t think they would have made such a fanfare announcement around that and put Entertainment Weekly in its purview just to sell us. I feel very confident about our future and I’m psyched to be a part of the Meredith family.

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

Henry Goldblatt: I think the one thing that I’ve really tried to do at Entertainment Weekly is make sure that each of the print covers that are an event can feed our traffic, and the events themselves, can feed our traffic and our video streams and the rest of the brand in a very organic and cohesive way.

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?

Henry Goldblatt: I’m on the floor playing with my dog and watching TV, most likely Scandal.

Tim Leong: If you came right this second, you’d see a mountain of boxes being unloaded. (Laughs) But I think one of the nice things about moving to the West Coast is an amplified family life. And you’d probably find me at home playing with my baby.

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

Henry Goldblatt: This is going to make me sound like a company man, but when I took over Entertainment Weekly three years ago, the motto that I’ve used and would want everyone to engrave and tattoo on their foreheads is: Smart, Funny, First, those are the three qualities that every piece of Entertainment Weekly content should embody. A good piece embodies two of those qualities and a great piece embodies all three. I’ve been imparting this on the staff for years now and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t tattoo it on my own forehead.

Tim Leong: I’ve heard a lot of people say this, but I think it’s just so true and it’s what we really try to embody to the staff is work hard and be nice to people.

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

Henry Goldblatt: To be perfectly honest, what keeps me up at night is I’ve asked 25 to 30 people to uproot their lives and move to L.A. and have faith in me and in this brand, and I just want to come through for them and I don’t want to disappoint them.

Tim Leong: This job is a big responsibility and yes, we’re talking about entertainment, but even though it’s entertainment, it’s something that we take very seriously. And it’s something that I definitely want to be sure we do well, and I’m just trying to think about ways we can do it better. And even better for the future.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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W Magazine: Putting The Magic Back In Magazines – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Stefano Tonchi, Editor In Chief, W Magazine…

March 26, 2018

“I think for the generation before our parents, receiving magazines was a joy. People could not wait to get it, to have it, to read it; to own it.” Stefano Tonchi…

“There was joy because it was their way of knowing what was going on. And it was this fantastic, magic object. So, let’s put back the magic in magazines.” Stefano Tonchi…

“Digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed.” Stefano Tonchi…

There is no denying that W magazine is a magical thing. The photography is brilliant and the typography and oversized format draws it into that world of collectibles as easily as a Fabergé egg would entice a collector of Romanov family history. But with the latest redesign and new presentation efforts propelled forward by the magazine’s editor in chief, Stefano Tonchi, the publication has become fine art, with each issue its own unique thematic piece.

I spoke with Stefano recently for a charming conversation about all of the changes that have been implemented at W to give the magazine an even more “keep it forever” flavor. Stefano is a man as passionate about his brand as anyone I have ever talked to. From the collector’s box that was designed to hold all of 2018’s issues, to the iconic broadsheet print format that he resurrected for special moments throughout the year, such as the “Best Performances” edition that was distributed during Golden Globes week, W magazine is on the cutting edge of what print today needs to be to stay innovative, relevant and addictive in this digital age we live in.

And as Stefano said himself, “Digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed.”

Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t have said it better himself.

And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how W is making print printier: For print, we said let’s slow down and really go deeply into the idea of collectible. Making print collectible. So, we got a better paper stock, we went to 150 grams, which is quite an investment. And we changed the cover stock, I added this glossy finishing for the logo and part of the covers. And we redesigned the magazine completely, so you saw the two issues; they’re really like thematic. We call them volumes because we don’t want to be tied to the article calendar, because there is no reason anymore for that. I felt that when you do print, you don’t need any more to be monthly or bimonthly, or whatever is the frequency, you have to be out when you have an interesting point of view. And also you need an interesting size, because you don’t want to see this magazine as like a little pamphlet. (Laughs) It’s kind of like motivating the audience. You want something that is substantial. So, we went to this new schedule of eight volumes, so we’re trying, as I said, to act instead of react, so I didn’t look at it as a reduction in the frequency, but really as a change of strategy.

On commissioning a collector’s box for the volumes: The idea was finding out how we could make people understand that they should keep the magazine and collect it. So, we decided we should create a box, and every year we would create a different box with a different artist.

On the collector’s box being sold out: We only created so many in quantity and they went very fast. You know, I think print has not changed in so long that we really need to rethink print. What is a print product? What should it look like? And how do we deliver it to people? If we declare that we’re a premium, luxury product; it has to look like a luxury product. It has to be on nice paper, wrapped and presented in a certain way.

On W’s three D philosophy: discovery, diversity and disruption: Discovery is part of the DNA of the brand. We keep discovering new talent; we put the best and most talented people on our covers and give them their first exposure. Greta Gerwig was one of our first covers and she was so thankful that she collaborated with us doing the kind of movie-stills project we did. And diversity, again, that is something that we have pursued. Something W was doing even before my time here. I think I added maybe some layers to it. And also diversity has become such an important part of today’s conversation.

On a luxury product such as W magazine having diversity as one of its cornerstones: I think it’s a responsibility. You said luxury; I think luxury products more and more need to have an added value. You buy something because it means something, it’s not just an object. You’re buying also what that company stands for. And because your customers are educated, they do understand that. They like, say buying from a company that is behind a museum or a political statement or will spend that kind of money in promoting causes. It becomes part of really the idea of luxury, that sense of responsibility.

On the third D – disruption: Disruption is doing things like the collector’s box, the print; changing the frequency completely or the ideal frequency, I would call that disruption. (Laughs) And to kind of surprise and be very unconventional. Look at the way we’ve been treating the movie industry in our Golden Globe coverage. Last year, we had two women kissing, two guys embracing; we created all of these ideas of couples and it was all about embracing diversity, and they were more than just pretty pictures. There was always a bit of an agenda or some kind of disruption in celebrity photography or celebrity coverage, in a certain way I think.

On bringing back the broadsheet to W magazine: That was another idea, to go against the current, to take something that is so old and kind of forgotten and say the broadsheet, that’s how the magazine was how W actually started. Between 1971 and 1992, it was just a broadsheet, a supplement to WWD, the lifestyle premium of WWD. So, we felt like again, let’s do something that’s totally different and goes against the current. People are doing so much digital that we said let’s take this content and print it on a broadsheet, the oldest thing possible.

On whether all of the changes have been a walk in a rose garden for W: I think we are living in a very difficult time of transition. All publishing companies are suffering so much. And for some, change has come very fast and late. But I think everybody is going through what people used to call “growing pains,” but are now “changing pains,” because we know we need to change, but nobody knows exactly how.

On whether this is the best of times for him: This has been an interesting New Year, because I’m very proud of what W is now. When I arrived six years ago, maybe there were too many people and too much waste, but today we are really small, and it’s nice to work with a small group of people who really feel and love the product. I think we all feel like we love doing the W that we’re putting out. We’re proud of it and we feel like it is what we want it to be. We feel very lucky that we can put out a magazine that still represents our vision.

On anything he’d like to add: What I wish is that we will be able to really find a new way to distribute print magazines. I think we need to, altogether as an industry, understand that the world has changed, there are no more newsstands; a lot of the things cannot be measured the way that they used to be. At the same time, digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed.

On what keeps him up at night: I sleep very good. I have had some difficult moments, because business is not easy, but I’m not worried about how to do the magazine; I’m more concerned with what to put in the magazine. How to find this new way to present the idea of magazines? I think it’s more of what is a magazine today; that’s the question we have to answer.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Stefano Tonchi, editor in chief, W magazine.

Samir Husni: First of all, congratulations on winning an Ellie award.

Stefano Tonchi: Thank you, that was a nice surprise.

Samir Husni: You and I have talked in the past about how W magazine is making print “printier.”

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, and what we talked about one year ago is what we are delivering. Last summer, I really thought a lot about how to make things happen, and the company really wanted a specific plan. And the plan became to act and not just react. So, with digital, we have to be faster, and we went with social first, and we’re doing so much with our Instagram. Instagram is really the language that W uses the most, because out of all the social media it is the one that’s most visual. And we’re a visual magazine and I think about Instagram as sort of our daily magazine.

We just put out something that’s very fun that I would love for you to look at; it’s like a horoscope. There are 12 of them, but very sophisticated. It’s a way to show fashion and beauty in a different way for a generation who gets their magazines basically straight from the phone.

We’re also launching something new called “Instazine” that is almost like an extension of Instagram stories, so it’s more about storytelling; more like creating content from the images, because what I find very shortcoming and frustrating, coming from print and making magazines, is that on digital you use and you leave images without the content around them. There is very little storytelling in a certain way. And that’s what we do with magazines, we tell stories and we put a story next to another story and that’s how you build your identity as a publication. A lot of what is on digital gets used as a single item and sometimes you don’t even know where it comes from or who paid for it.

So, with digital, it’s fast, fast, fast. And for print, we said let’s slow down and really go deeply into the idea of collectible. Making print collectible. So, we got a better paper stock, we went to 150 grams, which is quite an investment. And we changed the cover stock, I added this glossy finishing for the logo and part of the covers.

And we redesigned the magazine completely, so you saw the two issues; they’re really like thematic. We call them volumes because we don’t want to be tied to the article calendar, because there is no reason anymore for that. We are all kind of daily magazines, through Instagram, through the social media and the website. You are producing news every day. That’s what I think every magazine brand is today, a daily.

So, I felt that when you do print, you don’t need any more to be monthly or bimonthly, or whatever is the frequency, you have to be out when you have an interesting point of view. And also you need an interesting size, because you don’t want to see this magazine as like a little pamphlet. (Laughs) It’s kind of like motivating the audience. You want something that is substantial. So, we went to this new schedule of eight volumes, so we’re trying, as I said, to act instead of react, so I didn’t look at it as a reduction in the frequency, but really as a change of strategy.

Samir Husni: And you believe in this strategy so much that you’ve commissioned a collector’s box.

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, because the idea was finding out how we could make people understand that they should keep the magazine and collect it. So, we decided we should create a box, and every year we would create a different box with a different artist. The first person who came to mind was Barbara Kruger and she didn’t have time then, but she will do it later, because I love Barbara. She did my first cover here at W, one of the first covers, the one with Kim Kardashian; the all about “me” cover, before the selfie. She was ahead of the times.

So, when Barbara couldn’t do it, we asked Ugo Rondinone and he did this beautiful box, and we’re trying to make the same eight stripes of his target painting.

Samir Husni: But the box is sold out, I understand.

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, because we only created so many in quantity and they went very fast. You know, I think print has not changed in so long that we really need to rethink print. What is a print product? What should it look like? And how do we deliver it to people? If we declare that we’re a premium, luxury product; it has to look like a luxury product. It has to be on nice paper, wrapped and presented in a certain way.

What would you think if you got home and on your doorstep there was this skinny, cheap-papered, in a plastic bag magazine? How could you call that a luxury product? I think magazines should become more expensive when you want them and also be delivered the way they do with the Net-A-Porter product. I think for the generation before our parents, receiving magazines was a joy. People could not wait to get it, to have it, to read it; to own it.

Samir Husni: You’ve built your entire W philosophy now around the three D’s: discovery, diversity and disruption.

Stefano Tonchi: Exactly.

Samir Husni: Can we talk about those three D’s?

Stefano Tonchi: Sure. Discovery is part of the DNA of the brand. We keep discovering new talent; we put the best and most talented people on our covers and give them their first exposure. Greta Gerwig was one of our first covers and she was so thankful that she collaborated with us doing the kind of movie-stills project we did.

We also discover talented photographers. We have an issue, Volume Three, that is, basically, cover to cover, all about discovery. A lot of new photographers; Ethan James Green, we were the first time that he shot covers, he did a man and a woman for the cover, just a lot of new people. And really discovering stories, that’s part of what we do.

And I’m lucky enough that the magazine can take many more risks than other publications, because it is our audience who expects to be surprised somehow. And they can deal with surprises; they come to W for discoveries. I think if you’re more of a mainstream publication, it’s more difficult.

And diversity, again, that is something that we have pursued. Something W was doing even before my time here. I think I added maybe some layers to it. And also diversity has become such an important part of today’s conversation. And the next issue, Volume Three, it’s all about it, because it’s our dual-gender issue. This year in particular, it’s all about life gender fluidity and bringing this new idea of gender without stereotypes to the forefront, that’s what it is. It’s not even about sexual orientation; it’s really about taking down stereotypes.

Samir Husni: When people hear the word luxury, it’s rare that the word diversity comes next. It’s intriguing enough that a luxury magazine such as W has diversity as one of its cornerstones.

Stefano Tonchi: I think it’s a responsibility. You said luxury; I think luxury products more and more need to have an added value. You buy something because it means something, it’s not just an object. You’re buying also what that company stands for. And because your customers are educated, they do understand that. They like, say buying from a company that is behind a museum or a political statement or will spend that kind of money in promoting causes. It becomes part of really the idea of luxury, that sense of responsibility.

And the customers look for that and they notice it. When you’re there and you’re trying to decide whether to buy this bag or that bag and both are luxury products, I think people take into consideration whether the company is actively responsible or not, or goes along with their principals about a subject, such as sustainability. Or their principals on gender equality or the company has been investing so much in women’s rights. Or the company is behind great artistic commitments, in terms of what they’re associated with. So, then what you buy is associated with those causes. With a magazine, you kind of have to take a position, because your readers want to associate with the causes that you’re behind.

Samir Husni: And you’re third D, disruption?

Stefano Tonchi: Disruption is doing things like the collector’s box, the print; changing the frequency completely or the ideal frequency, I would call that disruption. (Laughs) And to kind of surprise and be very unconventional. Look at the way we’ve been treating the movie industry in our Golden Globe coverage. Last year, we had two women kissing, two guys embracing; we created all of these ideas of couples and it was all about embracing diversity, and they were more than just pretty pictures. There was always a bit of an agenda or some kind of disruption in celebrity photography or celebrity coverage, in a certain way I think.

When you call in some film director to work with, to create some fashion portfolios, it’s innovation; it is rapture, I think. When you ask an artist to do a cover or to collaborate with a celebrity to make something special. To me, that’s disruption, because it breaks the way things have been done so far.

Samir Husni: Also, part of that disruption, this year at the Golden Globes, you brought back the broadsheet W.

Stefano Tonchi: That was another idea, to go against the current, to take something that is so old and kind of forgotten and say the broadsheet, that’s how the magazine was how W actually started. Between 1971 and 1992, it was just a broadsheet, a supplement to WWD, the lifestyle premium of WWD. So, we felt like again, let’s do something that’s totally different and goes against the current. People are doing so much digital that we said let’s take this content and print it on a broadsheet, the oldest thing possible.

Samir Husni: Has all of this been a walk in a rose garden for you? Everything you’re telling me, I can tell you are very passionate about.

Stefano Tonchi: I think we are living in a very difficult time of transition. All publishing companies are suffering so much. And for some, change has come very fast and late. But I think everybody is going through what people used to call “growing pains,” but are now “changing pains,” because we know we need to change, but nobody knows exactly how.

I have gotten a lot of support from the executives here at Condé Nast, like Bob (Sauerberg), and Anna (Wintour) have been very supportive. I think they were very impressed because we try and deliver what we talk about. We deliver it financially, that’s important, but we also deliver it as a product. Each issue should have some reason to be collected, every issue so far has its own specific graphic and photography identity, and there’s a common idea that runs through the issue. So, they’re unique products in that sense. And that’s what makes them collectible.

The first issue was about the movie industry in a certain way and about fashion. And there was also this idea of handcraft, all of the typography in the well was handwritten. So, there was this real touchy and feely aspect. Like the touch of a human hand, it was really a message that I wanted to put in that issue.

The second issue had this idea of collaboration, where we were inspired by movie posters and the three covers became like three movie posters. Every single story had an opening that was a movie poster.

Volume Three is about identity and we were inspired very much by ID cards, but the design and the graphic design of the issue is about the idea of ID tags. Almost like stickers that you wear to say who you are, because it is about gender identity.

We think about the issues almost like books, in a certain way. And we try to tell stories that have a little bit more of a reason to be preserved and told. They don’t have an expiration date.

Samir Husni: Between the Instazine and W, Instagram and all of your travels, is this the best of times for Stefano?

Stefano Tonchi: This has been an interesting New Year, because I’m very proud of what W is now. When I arrived six years ago, maybe there were too many people and too much waste, but today we are really small, and it’s nice to work with a small group of people who really feel and love the product. I think we all feel like we love doing the W that we’re putting out. We’re proud of it and we feel like it is what we want it to be. We feel very lucky that we can put out a magazine that still represents our vision.

Samir Husni: And it’s well-executed and gorgeous.

Stefano Tonchi: Thank you. I know you see a lot of them. And you read a lot of them. We don’t pretend to be The New Yorker or anything else, but I think we do well with our own mission.

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

Stefano Tonchi: What I wish is that we will be able to really find a new way to distribute print magazines. I think we need to, altogether as an industry, understand that the world has changed, there are no more newsstands; a lot of the things cannot be measured the way that they used to be. At the same time, digital is not everything. Digital is not going to kill or be a substitute for magazines. But magazines have to find a different way to be perceived and distributed. And we have to help. The box is kind of a way to say, let’s produce things that can go into the box. Let’s produce things that you want to keep. That’s the idea.

Samir Husni: And as you said earlier, when our parents would receive magazines in the mail, it was a joy and there was value.

Stefano Tonchi: Yes, there was joy because it was their way of knowing what was going on. And it was this fantastic, magic object. So, let’s put back the magic in magazines.

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

Stefano Tonchi: I sleep very good. I have had some difficult moments, because business is not easy, but I’m not worried about how to do the magazine; I’m more concerned with what to put in the magazine. How to find this new way to present the idea of magazines? I think it’s more of what is a magazine today; that’s the question we have to answer.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Making Money In Magazines And Magazine Media – Day Three Of The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience Is Seeing $$$ Signs!

March 23, 2018

ACT 8 Experience Day Three
Thursday, April 19, 2018 beginning at 8:15 a.m.

Bonnie Kintzer

Daren Mazzucca

John French

Bonnie Kintzer, President & CEO, Trusted Media Brands, opens the morning with a keynote speech that will have you energized and mesmerized and ready to move forward into a more prosperous future as we all learn how “Making Money in Magazines and Magazine Media” is done. Daren Mazzucca, Vice President/Publisher, Martha Stewart Living, Meredith, follows Bonnie’s opening discussion with a motivating presentation of his own, then John French, Co-Founder, French LLC, rounds out the first part of the morning’s engaging conversations about bringing in the revenue.

We start the late morning with a panel discussion following the same “green” vein: making money. Jim Elliott, Founder & President, James G. Elliott Co., moderates the prestigious panel of guests including: John French, Co-Founder, French LLC, Bonnie Kintzer, President & CEO, Trusted Media Brands, Daren Mazzucca, Vice President/Publisher, Martha Stewart Living, Meredith, and Kevin Novak, CEO, Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at 2040 Digital. The ideas will be flowing as well as the fountain of conversation. Don’t miss it.

After lunch, the illustrious Bo Sacks, President, Precision Media Group, will get us ready for another Print Proud Digital Smart moment, and we’ll round out the afternoon’s presentations with Mark Potts, Managing Editor, Alta The Journal of Alta California, and an informative discussion about the Mississippi Delta with one of its own sons, Scott Coopwood, Publisher, Delta Magazine, and Thomas Whitney, President, Democrat Printing & Lithographing.

As we end the conversations, letting the last discussion about the rich cultural heritage of the Delta calm our media excitement and fervor of the day, we take a long, slow breath, imagining BBQ, Blues & rolling flatlands, until we realize that we don’t need our imaginations in this case, since we’re about to board the buses for our own Magazines & Music Mississippi Delta Tour!

Then we’re off! Visiting the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, touring the colorful and exciting city itself, having dinner at Ground Zero Blues Club and listening to some of the best Blues in town, with maybe a surprise drop-in from co-owners themselves, Morgan Freeman and former Mayor Bill Luckett (no promises there, but you never know), and then it’s back to Oxford as we wrap up another magazine and magazine media-rich ACT Experience. And after a little shuteye for Mr. Magazine™ and his team, they’re already planning ACT 9, gearing up for another smashingly successful foray into the minds of some of the magazine and magazine media world’s greatest leaders.

So, we urge you to register here today, so that you can be an integral part of all of the excitement. And then click here to view the agenda for yourself. You’ll be amazed and champing at the bit to get to Oxford, Miss. April 17-19 for two and a half days of magazine bliss!

See you at ACT 8!!

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Your Brain On Print/Your Brain On Digital – Day Two Of The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience Promises To Be Extraordinary!

March 21, 2018

ACT 8 Experience Day Two
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 beginning at 8:15 a.m.

The Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience’s theme this year is Print Proud Digital Smart, and we invite you to register today and discover how appropriate that theme is to both our ACT 8 Experience and in our media world today. Contemporary success in magazines and magazine media and in communications in general is dependent upon both the printed word and the online pixel. In the 21st century, there is no excuse for any member of any audience having to choose. And our guests on Day Two will exemplify that fact.

Daniel Dejan

Liz Vaccariello


From Liz Vaccariello, Editorial Director, Parents Network, Meredith, to Daniel Dejan, ETC Print Creative Manager, Sappi, North America, you will hear how the two technologies go together like simpatico in motion.

Joe Hyrkin

Joe Hyrkin, CEO of the digital publishing platform, issuu, a medium that enables anyone — from independent creators to global brands — to distribute, measure and monetize their digital content, will also share his expertise.

Mona Hidayet, Executive Director, Clients & Products, Advantage CS, invites you to “Be Scholarly, Think Like a Shoemaker” with her presentation; Deborah Corn, Principal, Chief Blogger, and Intergalactic Ambassador to The PrinterverseTM – Print Media Centr, will give a lively discussion; and Erik van Erp, Founder and Editor, Print Media News, The Netherlands, follows with an internaitonal perspective on media.

On a Print Proud Digital Smart discussion panel happening right before lunch, Joseph Ballarini, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Tail Fly Fishing magazine; Tony Frost, Senior Vice President, TVGM LLC, TV Guide; Mark Potts, Managing Editor, Alta The Journal of Alta California; Jen Ripple, Founder and Editor in Chief, DUN magazine; and John Thames, Founder & Publisher, Covey Rise Magazine, will come together to showcase how each brand’s print component is enriched and enhanced by its digital counterpart. The panel will be moderated by Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant, Joseph Berger Associates. You don’t want to miss this dynamic discussion.

And later that day Tony Silber, magazine-media expert, founder of M10 Magazine and president of Long Hill Media, will lead a panel discussion on Magazines at Retail with industry leaders: Jerry Lynch, President, Magazine And Books, Retail Association; William Michalopoulos, Vice President, Retail, Sales & Marketing, PubWorX; Sebastian Raatz, Publisher/Co-founder, Centennial Media: Ray Shaw, Executive Vice President/Managing Director, MagNet; Dave Forsman, EVP of Sales, TNG. The discussion should be provocative and informative, so Day Two will certainly be memorable.

Then we’ll have a “View from Abroad” with panelists: Zenebe Likyeleh Beyene, Instructional Assistant Professor of Journalism Instruction and Director of International Programs, Meek School of Journalism & New Media; Natashia Gregoire, Reputation Manager, Editor, Access magazine, Fed Ex; Abdulsalam Haykal, Founder and Publisher, Harvard Business Review Arabic, United Arab Emirates; Monique de Ruiter, Former Editor Diversity magazine and VTWonen, The Netherlands; and Franska Stuy, Founder & Editor, Franska.NL, The Netherlands. This internationally flavored conversation will be followed by an informative presentation entitled “Millennials and Media Today: Research Findings” by Marisa Davis, Associate Director, Product Marketing – MNI Targeted Media.

Newell Turner

Then the University of Mississippi will present its Silver Em Award to the very deserving Newell Turner, Editorial Director, Hearst Design Group. So, it’s a day and an evening that you do not want to miss!

See you at the ACT 8 Experience! Space is very limited, so click here to register and ensure your place at those two and half days of magazine and magazine media bliss and click here to view the agenda.

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Are You Ready? Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience Is Almost Here! Linda Thomas Brooks, James Hewes & Tom Quinlan, Kick Off Two And A Half Days Of Magazine Excitement!

March 20, 2018

ACT 8 Experience Opening Gala & Event Kickoff
Tuesday Evening, April 17, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.

What does MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, FIPP: The Network for Global Media, and LSC Communications have in common, other than the common thread of media, of course? Well, for one thing, each one of these great organizations will have their leaders present and accounted for at the opening evening of the ACT 8 Experience. An opportunity to get up close and personal with three people who each have their own expertise in the world of media, magazines and communications.

On a spring evening in April, the 17th to be exact, the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media on the campus of the University of Mississippi will welcome Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO of MPA, James Hewes, President and CEO of FIPP, and Tom Quinlan, Chairman and CEO of LSC Communications to its campus.

We at the Magazine Innovation Center are honored and excited to extend an invitation for you to register today to be a part of this extremely compelling event. Nowhere else on earth will you find this magnitude of leadership, knowledge and vision under one roof as you will at the ACT 8 Experience. And this is only the opening gala! There are two more informative days of think-and-do and a fun filled trip to the Mississippi Delta in store for you if you join us.

Opening Night Keynote Speakers:

Linda Thomas Brooks was named president and chief executive officer of MPA—The Association of Magazine Media in January 2016. Before joining MPA, Thomas Brooks came from the other side of the media desk. She was Executive VP and Managing Director of GM Mediaworks in Detroit, President of Ingenuity Media at the Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia, and Executive Director of Media & Marketing at Trilogy, a privately-held business technology company. She was also the co-founder and president of GearDigital, a data-driven integrated agency and a subsidiary of Wilson RMS. She is passionate about viewing the media landscape through the lens of the consumer and is an ardent believer in the power of strong media brands to change the world.

James Hewes has been a director of the FIPP Management Board since October 2015 and has been involved with FIPP since 2004 when he was working in the international publishing industry for BBC Worldwide. He was appointed FIPP CEO in 2017. FIPP: the network for global media, represents content-rich companies or individuals involved in the creation, publishing or sharing of quality content to audiences of interest. FIPP exists to help its members develop better strategies and build better businesses by identifying and communicating emerging trends, sharing knowledge, and improving skills, worldwide.

Tom Quinlan is Chairman and CEO of LSC Communications, a global leader in traditional and digital print, print-related services and office products that serves the needs of publishers,
merchandisers and retailers, with over 20,000 employees, annual revenues of over $3.5 billion with operations in Europe, Canada and Mexico. Formerly, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, the largest provider of printing and communication business services in the world, with over 65,000 employees, annual revenues of over $10 billion, and more than 600 locations around the globe from March 2007 to September 2016.

So, if you’re interested in the world of magazines and magazine media, marketing and communications, or you’ve just always had the desire to head south; do it! Join us for ACT 8 and see what all the excitement is about! And if you’re already here among the magnolias, great food and awesome music, come join us for more of the same, plus some really great journalism too!

See you at the ACT 8 Experience! Space is very limited, so click here to register and ensure a place at those two and half days of magazine and magazine media bliss and click here to view the agenda.

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Headmaster Magazine –Why Print Is Still The Best Medium For Its Concept – A Mr. Magazine™ Update With Matthew Lawrence & Jason Tranchida, Editors…

March 19, 2018

Headmaster editors Matthew Lawrence, left, and Jason Tranchida. Photo by Nelson Villarreal.

“We were very committed from the get-go to do a print publication. And for the artwork in it and the concept for the issue, print freezes something in time and it juxtaposes projects next to each other that we want next to each other for whatever reason. And I think doing something online with that wouldn’t work” Jason Tranchida…

“And we are talking about doing the gallery thing at some point down the road, but the difference is a gallery show comes and goes, it’s up in a month or two, or whenever, but the print is there forever. Our first issue came out in 2010 and we still have that to look at and refer back to and to show people.” Matthew Lawrence…

A Mr. Magazine™ Update…

On May 23, 2015, I published a Mr. Magazine™ interview with Matthew Lawrence and Jason Tranchida about Headmaster magazine. At that time Matthew described Headmaster as “a magazine with original projects and the concept behind it is that we find artists and writers that we like and we give them assignments to do those original projects for the magazine. So, everything between the pages is made for Headmaster.”

The self-described art magazine for man-lovers was born in 2010 by the original four “headmasters,” but over the years the four became two, Jason and Matthew. And then almost three years ago, the magazine stopped production. But today it’s back, in a refreshed and exciting way.

I recently spoke to Matthew and Jason again about the rebirth and this is a Mr. Magazine™ update on where Headmaster is today.

Samir Husni: So, almost three years later, you’ve brought Headmaster back. What happened in the meantime?

Jason Tranchida: Well, a bunch of things happened. We never consciously said we were going to stop doing it; we just had a lot going on. Matthew had started a different full-time job, and then once he settled in, my work got crazy, so we had some of these sits and stops in getting the new issue out. And we knew that we wanted to do some other bigger changes, this was sort of a concept issue. We added pages to it; we changed the paper; did some design rethinking, things like that. It just kind of happened.

And then finally we got enough momentum going, told ourselves we had three months to finish this bad boy and we were going to go to print. We committed to a launch in Chicago at a new art book fair there and so we’re back.

Samir Husni: Why do you believe in print? Why do you believe that for Headmaster to exist, it better be in print?

Jason Tranchida: We were very committed from the get-go to do a print publication. And for the artwork in it and the concept for the issue, print freezes something in time and it juxtaposes projects next to each other that we want next to each other for whatever reason. And I think doing something online with that wouldn’t work. The only other medium that I think might work for what we’re trying to do is if we did actual gallery shows, where we did almost the same assignment and then did an art show around it, which is kind of what we’re doing now. We curate each issue; we’re careful about who’s in the issue; when we’re choosing who we want to work with, there are certain people who we wouldn’t put in the same issue.

Matthew Lawrence: And we are talking about doing the gallery thing at some point down the road, but the difference is a gallery show comes and goes, it’s up in a month or two, or whenever, but the print is there forever. Our first issue came out in 2010 and we still have that to look at and refer back to and to show people. Although that one is sold out, so we don’t really show it to people anymore. (Laughs)

Jason Tranchida: But it is interesting, along the line of freezing in time, some of the projects and assignments were given pre-election and some were given post-election, so we had the projects for a long time before we actually went to print. And then a couple of the artists were of the mind that they might have done some things differently because the whole landscape had changed, and they wondered would there be a chance to revisit the project, or put a disclaimer on it. But we basically said no because that’s where we were and they were as an artist at that time. And we do put the date of the assignment in each issue, so it does have that context. But it really makes the “freezing in the moment of time” hit home.

And the fact that the issue did take a while to come out, there’s a breath of something going on that’s different from other issues that were maybe done in a more condensed time.

Samir Husni: When can we expect to see an issue nine? Will it take another almost three years before we see the next issue of Headmaster?

Jason Tranchida: I hope not. (Laughs)

Matthew Lawrence: I would say within the next year. We released number eight in November 2017. And I would not release an annual magazine in November again; it’s just really hard with the stores and holiday stuff, and art fairs. I think the timing needs to be early fall or early winter after the New Year.

Jason Tranchida: Yes, I would like to ideally have all of our work in by the end of the year for the next issue. And then, once we have all of the work it usually takes us about two months from final design to getting it printed and back to us.

Samir Husni: And the best way for people to get the current issue?

Matthew Lawrence: You can order it on our website and we’re in about two dozen stores, mostly in the U.S.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Us Weekly: A Lot Can Happen In A Week! Us Weekly’s VP/Chief Revenue Officer, Vicci Rose to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “The Fact Remains, Whether It’s Us Weekly Or Some Of Our Key Competitors, We Are Able To Provide A Tremendous Amount Of Paid Circulated Copies Every Single Week.” The Mr. Magazine™ interview…

March 14, 2018

“I’m a great fan of digital and I’m a big supporter. Us Weekly has a very sizeable print footprint with just under two million copies, 1,968,000 per week is our most recent AAM (Alliance For Audited Media) statement for the six months ending December 2017, so of course, we’re big believers in print. And I am incredulous with the number of conversations that I have with agencies and clients in acknowledging that their own research with media-mix modeling, etc. will point to a strong ROI, but it’s not in fashion, so the industry is often plagued with people who are concerned for their jobs because they’re not forward-thinking enough.” Vicci Rose…

“I do feel we just have to temper the industry’s excitement. And there are certain advertisers that rushed into the digital world, and so because we could measure it, thought that it would have the measurement that they wanted. But if we continue to see that click-through rates are a fraction of a percent, there isn’t an advertiser out there that could believe that is a success metric, where at the same time any of the more traditional quantitative research in print, Starch for example, shows tremendous awareness, tremendous activity levels, as a result of engaging with the ads. And that continues, even in the face of such tremendous, widespread access to digital.” Vicci Rose…

A lot can happen in a week, indeed. What former Us Weekly owner, Jann Wenner, said to Vicci Rose years ago, when describing the difference between Us Weekly and its prime competitor at the time, still remains valid to the VP/CRO today: you know, a lot can happen in a week. Since before the Internet and during Jann Wenner’s ownership of the magazine, Vicci Rose has been publisher of Us Weekly. And when it comes to celebrities and entertainment, her knowledge is vast and her opinion strong on both the category and the frequency of her brand: “The fact remains, whether it’s Us Weekly or some of our key competitors, we are able to provide a tremendous amount of paid circulated copies every single week.”

And indeed she is right, with her quoted amount of paid copies sold per week: just under two million copies, and her intense belief that all that is needed in the world of advertisement and magazines is for the two to come to an understanding about the continued value of print and the continued synchronization of digital with the legacy platform. It’s really as simple as that and as complex, as some advertisers are still seeking that pot of gold at the end of the digital rainbow. But being Print Proud Digital Smart has never been more important to her and her brand.

I spoke with Vicci recently and we talked about all of the above, and about the transition of ownership of the brand to American Media, Inc., and how her role as publisher, now chief revenue officer, has evolved over her many years in the business. While the core objective has remained the same, forming those strong bonds with agencies and clients, Vicci said today her job is always effected by the rapid changes within the industry. But if anybody can roll with the punches, it’s Vicci Rose. She is strong, dedicated and committed 100 percent to the continued success of Us Weekly.

So, I hope that you enjoy this delightful conversation with an equally delightful woman who believes that as long as Us Weekly remains current and relevant in the world of celebrities and entertainment, the brand’s present and future success is safe, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicci Rose, VP/chief revenue officer, Us Weekly.

But first the sound-bites:

On how her role as chief revenue officer, publisher, has changed since the dawn of the digital age: Some of the evolution in my role is imposed by the rapid change in the industry. And another very important part of it is Us being more introspective to determine how we can keep pace with the rapidly changing world first and foremost, if we are truthfully driven by our audiences, which in turn then we promote and engage with our advertisers. So, I think in the initial stages of the role of publisher, and it was very much publisher, focused on the audience, the circulation, the advertisers’ interest in that audience to affect their objectives and strategies, etc. That’s always at the heart of what we do.

On why she thinks advertisers are so enamored by digital advertising in light of recent media reports on Bots and fake ads: I do feel we just have to temper the industry’s excitement. And there are certain advertisers that rushed into the digital world, and so because we could measure it, thought that it would have the measurement that they wanted. But if we continue to see that click-through rates are a fraction of a percent, there isn’t an advertiser out there that could believe that is a success metric, where at the same time any of the more traditional quantitative research in print, Starch for example, shows tremendous awareness, tremendous activity levels, as a result of engaging with the ads. And that continues, even in the face of such tremendous, widespread access to digital.

On finding new ways or creating new ways to engage with the advertisers and serve the customers and readers at the same time: It began first with positioning ads in relevant editorial. And that evolution of the positioning of the ads in relevant editorial became enhanced promotional pages and what we used to call advertorial pages. And today it’s a much more sophisticated translation of that original objective, which is branded and custom content as well as sponsored content. We are pursuing all of the avenues to allow our clients a better connection, a stronger connection, which includes social media components, but the translation of that has been a particularly productive avenue for Us Weekly over the years.

On her response when people say the entire celebrity genre and the weekly genre has no future in print: I totally disagree. The fact remains, whether it’s Us Weekly or some of our key competitors, we are able to provide a tremendous amount of paid circulated copies every single week. You just have to look at Us Weekly and People magazine. Again, the landscape has changed, where today not as much of our sales are at retail as they were before, but our average customer is paying roughly $70, that’s the actual price paid, for our subscription; for 52 weeks a year. And we’re able to sustain the circulation and in fact, the advertising, for 52 copies per year. And almost all of our weekly competitors in the entertainment and celebrity space are able to do that as well.

On why she feels there are less success stories, such as Us Weekly’s, in the media today and more doom and gloom magazine predictions: The proliferation of new products, new digital products, new software; the average CMO (chief marketing officer) today would be bombarded by not just six or seven entertainment magazines and 10 fashion and beauty magazines and the Seven Sisters. I mean, they are bombarded with thousands of alternatives today. So, I think in many cases, the decisions and the interaction with the publishing community has really been largely deferred to the advertising agencies. And they too have taken on such tremendous responsibility, as well as seeking new revenue streams.

On the analogy that digital was the seductive mistress when it burst upon the scene and print was always the steadfast spouse: (Laughs) Well, it’s interesting, there’s no question that digital, when it’s done right and with integrity…I always think, how did we end up here? The publishers have always had these tremendously solid relationships with our agencies and with our clients. And so, how did we lose so badly? You’re anecdote here is a perfect one for this because here we were, loyal, supportive; all of the editorial mentions that the editor is independent of commercial investment. And the support we’ve given over the years, yet, there was this shiny new object, the one that was thought to be the more exciting of the two.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: If you came to my house, you would probably find me somehow connected with my work. While I’m probably not proud to say it, other than my family and my twins, who are turning 21 soon, I am really totally immersed in what I do. But luckily that immersion does include a very significant and substantial immersion in pop culture and entertainment. I see a tremendous amount of movies; I watch a tremendous amount of television across the full spectrum: broadcast, cable, streaming.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I think I’d like to have people think of me as their partner, a real consultative, professional who is dedicated and enthusiastic about what I do 12 and 14 hours per day. And that they can trust me to be a really committed and productive partner. I think that’s true with my dedication and my commitment in everything I do. I’d like that to be my legacy.

On what keeps her up at night: Two things, I have to be honest. One is, as we said earlier, how do we get the market to see the true value of print, which is there for them to see, it’s just a question of breaking through. And the other side of the equation, which is something that does plague all of us in the business, not only on the print side but also on the pure play digital, how do we accelerate the adoption of audiences to pay for the content they are consuming? Some are doing it well, others are doing it even more brilliantly, but as an industry we have not yet after 20 years or more, we have not as an industry solved this challenge.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicci Rose, VP/chief revenue officer, Us Weekly.

Samir Husni: You’ve seen it all in this industry. As a brand that has its cornerstone in print as Us Weekly does, how would you describe the change in your role as a chief revenue officer, as a publisher, from the dawn of the digital age until now?

Vicci Rose: Some of the evolution in my role is imposed by the rapid change in the industry. And another very important part of it is Us being more introspective to determine how we can keep pace with the rapidly changing world first and foremost, if we are truthfully driven by our audiences, which in turn then we promote and engage with our advertisers. So, I think in the initial stages of the role of publisher, and it was very much publisher, focused on the audience, the circulation, the advertisers’ interest in that audience to affect their objectives and strategies, etc. That’s always at the heart of what we do.

I can honestly say today that core objective is at the heart of the role of chief revenue officer. I do feel there is a difference in perspective, however, because growing up in our industry and our business, making the transition from the media side, media planning, at Benton & Bowles, where I worked with leading advertisers like Procter & Gamble, at the time it was called General Foods, the role of ad sales and publisher or management was very much about connecting the advertiser to the audience, in a very pure connection in that way.

Over the last decade or so more, it’s really about that consultative sales part of that equation. We could be far more creative over the last decade or two than ever before. We were engaged in a much more significant relationship, in terms of having a better understanding of what that client wanted to achieve. And through that process we built more comprehensive programs, again, using the media or the various components of our brand.

Us Weekly, as an example, went into the mobile space back in 2002 because it really didn’t require a significant investment, and I at the time as publisher had to determine how much of our resources could go into a forward-thinking medium. So, as I sit here today as chief revenue officer, that core objective is at the heart of what I do, but I do have to be so much more aware of a much broader platform. I have to be knowledgeable with not just my audience and how they engage, but where they engage. And where, as you just said, will we be engaging them in the next week or in the next month? (Laughs)

And I would honestly say tactically, we used to look at three and five-year plans regularly; today I hardly ever look at a five-year plan because I have to be really concerned with the three-month plan and the six-month plan and the 12-month plan. My role is that much more urgent and immediate, in terms of everything we do. We have to be far more concerned with the actual performance metric, that has been a very dramatic change in our responsibility to our clients.

And we’re under tremendous pressure to prove daily the power of print and the importance of print. In fact, I have a presentation coming up to one of the major agencies and one of the top ten clients in the industry to prove the power of print using many of the components from the very productive presentation that the MPA has designed, that magazines tell and sell. And then we adopt some of that information and translate it for our clients and how their product categories and their particular products have actually seen increases in consumption in magazine audiences.

My responsibility today is not just to connect clients and audiences, but really to prove that there is a powerful and productive connection and ultimately to help set up the ROI that they will achieve. In a long-winded way, my role has changed a lot, but there are still some core things that drive me every day in my role.

Samir Husni: Recently, I interviewed the president of Meredith Magazines, Doug Olson, and he was amazed and surprised that with all the data and with everything that print can offer, and with the stories that have been in the news lately about fake ads and all the Bots looking at the digital ads, he was amazed that some advertisers still have this strong belief in digital? Do you think the industry will ever overcome that newness of digital and see the return of the tangible ROI in the magazine business?

Vicci Rose: I’m a great fan of digital and I’m a big supporter. Us Weekly has a very sizeable print footprint with just under two million copies, 1,968,000 per week is our most recent AAM (Alliance For Audited Media) statement for the six months ending December 2017, so of course, we’re big believers in print. And I am incredulous with the number of conversations that I have with agencies and clients in acknowledging that their own research with media-mix modeling, etc. will point to a strong ROI, but it’s not in fashion, so the industry is often plagued with people who are concerned for their jobs because they’re not forward-thinking enough.

So, I would agree with Mr. Olson, yes. I am constantly surprised, especially in light of the fact that print for most of our clients works and has been proven to work. But at the same time I do feel that the digital component, and when I say digital, I mean the whole spectrum of digital, digital video, social media, mobile; all of those platforms add such a tremendous conduit to audiences, both our existing audiences, but more importantly to new audiences.

I do feel we just have to temper the industry’s excitement. And there are certain advertisers that rushed into the digital world, and so because we could measure it, thought that it would have the measurement that they wanted. But if we continue to see that click-through rates are a fraction of a percent, there isn’t an advertiser out there that could believe that is a success metric, where at the same time any of the more traditional quantitative research in print, Starch for example, shows tremendous awareness, tremendous activity levels, as a result of engaging with the ads. And that continues, even in the face of such tremendous, widespread access to digital.

So, I would agree with him. I do feel though that in the last year, year and a half, since many of our industry leaders on the client side are expressing concern again, not a wholesale withdrawal, but a concern. I do think there is a tempering of that willingness to try anything new at all costs and take on tremendous risk. And I have seen, in fact, in our presentation, that there are about 30 advertisers out there that have actually pulled away from print, then came back to print in a significant way and are actually growing their print. And there are many new research tools that will help us. In fact, thinking about Meredith, they were among the first companies to go into the Nielsen Catalina study and be able to, through some complexity, but be able to show their advertisers that there is significant ROI in print-based programs.

Samir Husni: You’ve been very creative in dealing with your clients and with advertisers. Can you talk a little bit about the new ways of getting revenue and advertising, rather than the traditional: we’ll sell you a page here or we’ll send you something on digital? What are you doing in terms of finding new ways or creating new ways to engage with the advertisers and to serve your customers and readers at the same time?

Vicci Rose: We actually started this back, I would probably say, at Mademoiselle magazine when there was first this opportunity to better engage our audience with some creative projects. And then pulling together the marketing team and really working with the clients to try to recognize more of the context and the relevance of the messaging. At first it began clearly with just positioning. It wasn’t just, let’s call it the Campbell’s Soup position that it used to be called in the women’s service area, the left-hand page opening the main editorial well and it didn’t really matter what the context of that adjacency was.

So, it began first with positioning ads in relevant editorial. And that evolution of the positioning of the ads in relevant editorial became enhanced promotional pages and what we used to call advertorial pages. And today it’s a much more sophisticated translation of that original objective, which is branded and custom content as well as sponsored content. We are pursuing all of the avenues to allow our clients a better connection, a stronger connection, which includes social media components, but the translation of that has been a particularly productive avenue for Us Weekly over the years.

And I think the reason why we’ve been able to see this as a very particularly productive channel for us, meaning the branded or custom content channel, is because we are able to work with the clients, really better understand what their objectives are. At times, because we’re dealing with celebrity and entertainment, we have to remind the client of what those objectives are and make sure that they adhere to what they originally thought was the objective and not get all caught up in the excitement of working with entertainment and celebrity.

But again, the importance of that I think has never been clearer than it is today with the new audiences. As you mentioned, that younger customer coming into media with very different expectations, with a very different landscape, and a very different appraisal of advertising and how they react to advertising. How they feel about companies and their promise, typically made in a classic ad.

So, we have this fantastic opportunity to work with our clients to really understand where their objectives converge with the interest of an audience. It takes it to a much purer level for me as a chief revenue officer, and still at heart a publisher. That’s the most exciting part of our business and what keeps so many of us active. It’s the creativity, but always knowing that it’s only creative if it satisfies that client’s objective.

So, yes, Us Weekly has had a very, very big stake in sponsored content and branded and custom content. In fact, the articles that you may be reading had recognized some of the programs that we triggered recently, first with the paper and packaging board, with the GRAMMY’s and being able to include them in a big GRAMMY-based initiative; Music’s Biggest Night, it was not formerly working with the GRAMMY’s, but again, being able to recognize and have some contextual relevance to awards programming.

And then most recently, with the completion now of the Olympics, we were able to align our client Nutrish with Olympics programming. So, context and relevance, as classically done by ad-placement in magazines, is now on steroids. (Laughs)

And we created a custom video with Kelli Stack, who was an Olympian, and she rescued some dogs from Sochi, when she was last participating in the Winter Olympics there. And we were able to sit down with her and understand how these wonderful animals helped her and her training, her relaxation, and her motivation. And it was a win-win with tremendous results. In fact, the contest, it was a user-generated contest where you provided pictures of your Olym-pet, and the votes were just under 900.000 in two weeks. It was very exciting.

Samir Husni: You mentioned the celebrity environment of Us Weekly has almost two million copies every week. What’s your response when people say the entire celebrity genre and the weekly genre has no future in print?

Vicci Rose: I totally disagree. The fact remains, whether it’s Us Weekly or some of our key competitors, we are able to provide a tremendous amount of paid circulated copies every single week. You just have to look at Us Weekly and People magazine. Again, the landscape has changed, where today not as much of our sales are at retail as they were before, but our average customer is paying roughly $70, that’s the actual price paid, for our subscription; for 52 weeks a year. And we’re able to sustain the circulation and in fact, the advertising, for 52 copies per year. And almost all of our weekly competitors in the entertainment and celebrity space are able to do that as well.

We do have a number of competitors that have double issues and so have lowered their frequency, but it’s still in the mid to high 40s, forty copies going out there. In fact, and this is fact not fiction, there is an audience out there buying hundreds of thousands of copies a week in our space, when the suggestion is that they could be getting much of this content online for free. So, there’s clearly a perspective, a point of view, a treatment, a community of celebrities that we include; how we approach them and frankly, how each one of these properties addresses this audience, is different.

To the untrained eye it may not be apparent, but our duplication among the magazines, let’s say, each one of us has a different statistic, but it’s between 15 and 18 percent on average, which in the scheme of things is very, very low in terms of duplication. If you look at some of the fashion/beauty books, some of those duplications can be in the 30 percentiles or women’s service books, again between 20 and 30 percent duplication.

So, the fact remains that our category is still quite vibrant and able to sustain this number of magazines every week. And I would tell you that Us Weekly, I do believe and continue to believe, that Us Weekly’s continued success, which originated with Jann Wenner’s initial vision for Us Weekly, remains today, 18 years later. We launched as a weekly 18 years ago in March, it’s hard to believe.

But today what drives us weekly and one of Jann’s initial comments to me, in terms of how he saw Us Weekly differing from our prime competitor at that time and even today, People magazine, is that he said, you know, a lot can happen in a week. And if we continue to focus our editorial perspective and objective on that kind of currency, in things that happen here and now, we will continue to win. And that has been a driving piece of our brand equity even today.

If you come on Us Weekly’s site on The Stylish channel, one of our strongest portfolios is called About Last Night, and it is a photo gallery of celebrities and what they looked like, fashion and beauty, in real time, updated every day. Or if it’s in the pages of Us Weekly, most of that editorial content happened in the last five to seven days. And if there is a rare occasion where a story isn’t yet fully baked or we decided that there’s something else that needed to go in its place, we rarely post that story only to run it the following week, because it won’t have the same sense of currency and urgency that it needs to have.

And that’s how Us Weekly continues to stay relevant to our audience. And integrity also drives that, or transitioning overtime, integrity, credibility, those are the demands of our audience. And as long as we continue to provide true news in an era of fake news, I think we will continue to thrive as we are today.

Samir Husni: Why are there less of your success stories out there in the media, in the general magazine media environment, than all of the doom and gloom stories that we hear about magazines and magazine media?

Vicci Rose: The proliferation of new products, new digital products, new software; the average CMO (chief marketing officer) today would be bombarded by not just six or seven entertainment magazines and 10 fashion and beauty magazines and the Seven Sisters. I mean, they are bombarded with thousands of alternatives today. So, I think in many cases, the decisions and the interaction with the publishing community has really been largely deferred to the advertising agencies. And they too have taken on such tremendous responsibility, as well as seeking new revenue streams.

And so I think the combination of the proliferation of alternatives, squeezing the dollars allocated to marketing, and again, we have a lot of clients that now within their marketing channel have so many objectives, high funnel, low funnel, where they’re judged, how they’re judged, how the executives themselves are compensated.

I think you’re very right, and frankly, this is what keeps me up at night. My greatest concern is how do I break through? How do we as an industry break through? How do we gain the attention of the ultimate decision makers for the funds? Thankfully we have a very strong leader in Linda Thomas Brooks at the MPA, and she has tremendous client-side perspective, agency-side perspective, and I think she’s doing an incredible job at breaking through that gauntlet.

But we’re not there yet. And I think we need very resilient and tenacious leaders in our industry who understand and will make this effort daily. And with no change in our resolve. Working with Linda and seeing her new presentation has given me personally the resolve and my team the resolve.

And as I mentioned to you, we have now adapted our presentation to include many of the facts and the findings that the MPA has given us. And I would tell you that in the last couple of weeks, since we decided to redirect a portion of our efforts to the “why print” equation, it’s always been implicit in what we’re selling, but now it’s “why print” as part of the larger picture. We have had tremendous response on both the strategy side of the agencies and certain key clients. We’re very, very excited about what we’re seeing now.

And it may be good timing. As you said earlier, there are many clients that are scratching their heads and saying, oh my gosh, we rushed into digital and now we have to think about where that true balance should be. And we may be coming in at just the right time to help them see that the balance is the prudent course.

Samir Husni: I tell my students that when digital exploded onto the scene in 2008, she became the mistress that no one could resist, while print was that faithful and steadfast spouse. People began spending all of that money on the mistress, digital, meanwhile there was the spouse, print, asking the question: what is she giving you for your money?

Vicci Rose: (Laughs) Well, it’s interesting, there’s no question that digital, when it’s done right and with integrity…I always think, how did we end up here? The publishers have always had these tremendously solid relationships with our agencies and with our clients. And so, how did we lose so badly? You’re anecdote here is a perfect one for this because here we were, loyal, supportive; all of the editorial mentions that the editor is independent of commercial investment. And the support we’ve given over the years, yet, there was this shiny new object, the one that was thought to be the more exciting of the two.

But I do feel that there is tremendous value. Us Weekly alone, for example, our own Google Analytics are roughly 30-35 million unique visitors a month that come to Us Weekly. But they go 350-400 million pages deep in our site. In fact, we are thrilled, we’ve worked really hard to develop the kind of relationship in the digital platform that would allow this audience, not only to come to usmagazine.com, but to come daily, multiple times per day.

But we do believe that there is a different experience, that the reader or the visitor has very different expectations when they come digitally. There are so many pages, there are so many galleries and videos. And when they come to the pages of the magazine, they have a much more curated view. Tina Brown once said that when she starts at the front of the magazine and she ends at the end of Us Weekly, she knows everything that she needs to know about those 20 to 30 people that everyone is talking about right now. It was many years ago that she stated that, but that’s still true today.

So, there is a different promise in the pages of the magazine than there is in digital, which allows us to really update the information minute-by-minute. And our content leadership, Dylan Howard, Jen Peros, our Style and Beauty director, Gwen Flamberg; they’ve done a tremendous job at really delivering on that expectation on the part of our audience. Far surpassing my expectations in a relatively short period of time since we transitioned to AMI’s ownership.

And while it was a challenging transition just in moving from one corporate culture to another, the commitment was very clear from the get-go. David (Pecker) understood the difference in our property; he understood how important the relationship with our digital audience was and continued to allow us to invest time, energy and resources in delivering. And I’m very excited to say that February, while the comScore for February isn’t out yet, it should be one of our largest comScore audiences in the last five years.

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?

Vicci Rose: I think all of the above. (Laughs) If you came to my house, you would probably find me somehow connected with my work. While I’m probably not proud to say it, other than my family and my twins, who are turning 21 soon, I am really totally immersed in what I do. But luckily that immersion does include a very significant and substantial immersion in pop culture and entertainment. I see a tremendous amount of movies; I watch a tremendous amount of television across the full spectrum: broadcast, cable, streaming.

I do have my projects that I’m absolutely obsessed with and I look forward to them and I support that through some of the social media that I see. I am also obsessed with cooking and that landscape, both digitally and in print. And if I go to bed at night, even if I may turn off the lights between midnight and 2:00 a.m., I’m always reading a book, if albeit only a very few pages before I go to sleep.

So, I would tell you that is where I find my personal enjoyment, and the boring of the lines between work and relaxation are just fine with me.

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

Vicci Rose: I think I’d like to have people think of me as their partner, a real consultative, professional who is dedicated and enthusiastic about what I do 12 and 14 hours per day. And that they can trust me to be a really committed and productive partner. I think that’s true with my dedication and my commitment in everything I do. I’d like that to be my legacy.

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

Vicci Rose: Two things, I have to be honest. One is, as we said earlier, how do we get the market to see the true value of print, which is there for them to see, it’s just a question of breaking through. And the other side of the equation, which is something that does plague all of us in the business, not only on the print side but also on the pure play digital, how do we accelerate the adoption of audiences to pay for the content they are consuming? Some are doing it well, others are doing it even more brilliantly, but as an industry we have not yet after 20 years or more, we have not as an industry solved this challenge.

So, that is another one that keeps me up at night as I watch more and more of my audience, and I’m thrilled to see the growth in those audiences, but the burden on advertising is just too great to sustain it for the next 20 or 30 years.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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