Archive for April, 2018

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“Putting The Consumer First” With Bonnie Kintzer, President & CEO, Trusted Media Brands – Mr. Magazine™ Presents Highlights From The ACT 8 Experience

April 30, 2018

Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO, Trusted Media Brands, speaking at the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience, April 19, 2018.

“Adapting and adopting,” a phrase that Bonnie Kintzer, president and CEO of Trusted Media Brands, believes in strongly for the success of a company. When Bonnie came back to Trusted Media brands four years ago, after having been gone for seven years, the company was burdened by debt and had just emerged from its second bankruptcy. The overall mood then was one of despair and dejectedness. Not a great model for success. Hence, the phrase “adapt and adopt” was born.

But Bonnie was determined to see the company come back to growth again. As the Reader’s Digest Association, it had not weathered the times of change and disruption well, but the content of its brands was still trusted and strong.

And today through adapting and adoption of innovation and the taking advantage of new platforms and products that drive today’s magazine consumer, Trusted Media Brands is strong and growing. According to the latest data from comScore, the Trusted Media Brands Digital Network now reaches 63 million consumers a month and is among the top 30 out of 2,000 digital lifestyle networks. The brand teams create around 2,000 pieces of high quality written and video content a month. In fact, Bonnie pointed out in her presentation, based on the most recent data from the MPA: The Association of Magazine Media, Taste of Home and Family Handyman brands are now the top two magazine media brands on Pinterest, outperforming such well-known brands as Allrecipes, House Beautiful, Cooking Light and Bon Appetit. Adapting and adopting, indeed.

On day three of the ACT 8 Experience, Bonnie took the stage that morning of April 19 and talked about “putting the consumer first” and it was a mesmerizing conversation. Her wit, charm and engaging presentation was surmounted only by the truth and wisdom of her words. She opened the final morning of ACT 8 brilliantly.

And to hear Bonnie Kintzer’s entire presentation, please click the link below.

To watch the entire ACT 8 Experience presentations please go to http://www.mrmagazine.me and search for ACT 8 Experience.

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Liz Vaccariello & Her 11 New Rules for Making Magazines. Mr. Magazine™ Presents Highlights From The ACT 8 Experience

April 27, 2018

Liz Vaccariello, Editorial Director, Parents Magazine Network, Meredith, speaking at the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience, April 18, 2018.

If the phrase “energetic enthusiasm” was defined in the dictionary, you’d find Liz Vaccariello’s name written categorically beside it. The editor in chief of the Meredith Parents Network has an exuberance for her brand and the industry in general that is contagious.

Liz was our opening keynote speaker for the first full day of the ACT 8 Experience on Wednesday morning, April 18. While the air in the room was expectant when she took the stage to give her presentation, by the time she accepted the resounding applause and descended the stairs to once again take her seat, it was electric.

Several beautiful covers of Parents magazine began the story she told showing mothers and their real-life children together in varying poses, and progressing into the stories within the magazine’s pages that brings the lives of different people, such as celebrities, Jenny Mollen and Jason Biggs, along with their two sons, onto a level that we all understand, that of simply being parents. Liz’s belief is that Parents magazine, and ALL magazines, can have an emotional connection with readers, and that the cover is the best and most important place to start.

But the meat of Liz’s talk was about her 11 New Rules for Making Magazines, which you will find below. And along with each one she presented, we were as engaged as new students on the first day of class, learning these rules as though they were the difference between an A and an F in the class, and for all intents and purposes, when it comes to a successful magazine, they are.

1. Understand your audience
2. Diversity matters
3. Don’t be too cool for school
4. Go for “Wow” instead of “Ugh”
5. Know that digital natives skim print differently
6. Let your audiences tell stories too
7. Welcome advertisers as partners and collaborators
8. Art is your story’s best friend
9. Display copy is crucial for voice
10. More is not necessarily better
11. Use humor to break through

And to see these rules presented as only Liz can click on the video below.

To watch the entire ACT 8 Experience presentations please go to mr.magazine.me and search for ACT 8 Experience.

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House Beautiful Magazine: Bringing The Concept Of Wellness and Better Living Through Design To Its Printed Pages & Its Multiplatform Audiences – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Sophie Donelson, Editor In Chief…

April 23, 2018

“I do think that the way readers engage with the magazine versus digital or social platforms, for example, it is a little bit different. We still have a halo or a level of importance, in a way, with the fact that something has been printed. We had to go through all of these steps, we had to make it in the flesh. There is something that still resonates with readers about print. That’s why you see, for example, in higher-ticket items, there is more of a trustworthiness that readers report when they read about something in print versus digitally. There’s a little bit of integrity, importance and trustworthiness that the medium itself delivers.” Sophie Donelson…

Bold moves and the execution of bold things, two enterprising concepts that House Beautiful is bringing to its multiplatform brand. For 121 years, House Beautiful has been there for its audiences of the past and the present, always with an eye on the future. It’s a legacy brand that has stayed relevant through evolvement, innovation and a journalistic competence that instills trust and integrity with every word and picture published, be that in print or on its digital and social media platforms.

Recently, House Beautiful announced “The Whole Home Project Concept House,” the magazine’s first-ever custom-built show house devoted to wellness and better living. “The Whole Home Project Concept House” will be brought to life in the Brookhaven neighborhood of Atlanta, Ga., breaking ground in October 2018. Built by Michael Ladisic, of Ladisic Fine Homes and designed by architect Linda D’Orazio MacArthur, of Linda MacArthur Architects, this new home will showcase better living through design—from a kitchen designed to make you healthier, to an entryway and garage organized to eliminate clutter and promote calmness, to every space around and in between.

I spoke to Editor in Chief Sophie Donelson recently and we talked about this idea that a person’s physical and mental wellbeing can be impacted by the homes we live in. It is certainly food for thought and definitely an intriguing topic of conversation. And that is exactly what Sophie is passionate about, engaging in an intimate conversation with her audience.

In a recent press release, House Beautiful magazine announced that “The Whole Home Project Concept House will show readers how strategic design choices can deliver more than a pretty space—they can help you live a smarter, happier and healthier life. It’s our core belief at House Beautiful that happiness begins at home—and with this project, that the wellbeing of your WHOLE self, from health to energy to your outlook are informed by our homes.”

As a trusted authority on home design, with an audience of more than eight million (MPA June 2017), the brand and its master at the helm are excited about the future and ready to engage with its mass audience in a conversation about a more holistic view of home and hearth to reach the whole person, body, mind and spirit.

And now, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sophie Donelson, editor in chief, House Beautiful magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On Marshall McLuhan’s belief that the medium is the message and whether now the “house” is the message for House Beautiful: (Laughs) I love a good Marshall McLuhan paraphrase. Yes, it’s certainly one of the mediums, absolutely. I’m thinking why not; why not build a house on top of doing the coverage that’s already quite ambitious? I thought that the project already felt like a big undertaking and then we’re in a meeting discussing it, and suddenly it’s happening. I’m so excited about it and it’s fun and interesting, and I think it’s a time for taking bold moves, doing bold things.

On the brand’s core belief that “Happiness Begins at Home” and “The Whole Home Project Concept House”: For House Beautiful, the idea that happiness starts at home, home being yes, a physical place, but also obviously a mindset and something that looms very large for all of us. People who aren’t interested in decoration are still acutely interested in what’s happening at their home and what home means to them. And when things aren’t going well at home, things aren’t going well in life. And when things are happy at home, it’s a lot easier to build from there and to be a happy person and to go out and do great things in the world. So, the way we think about success and happiness has really shifted to be more inclusive of the whole person. And that’s where the name “The Whole Home Project” came about. It wasn’t about kicking off every single room, but actually about a home that could address the whole person.

On how House Beautiful, a legacy title with 121 years under its belt, is manifesting itself to today’s many-platform audiences: What’s fun for me today is how much outreach we do with marketing and events. And then also, of course, digital and social media have surfaced these communities of people out in a way where they talk and meet more readily. And that to me seems just really exciting because it’s not just us talking to them, it’s them talking amongst each other, and bonding over a story or idea. I see that all of the time as I travel throughout this country. So, that’s one thing that I feel is very impactful. I feel our readers are more quickly able to find each other.

On how her role as editor of House Beautiful has changed over the last five years or so: What’s really fun for me is the ability to deliver it to the reader on multiple platforms; to be able to meet them in real life; to be able to talk to advertisers about what their needs are and they’re often the same needs as ours. We have very similar goals, so we think of advertisers as partners that can help you get what you want. We think of readers who are talking to us and telling us what they’re interested in and what they respond to. It’s just a little bit more holistic, but the fun part is there’s just more platforms, channels and levers to work with. It’s not just us and the printed page. Those are all, yes, busy-making, but they’re also just opportunities.

On whether the job met her expectations: I knew some of the challenges, but I did not know how much fun it would be, I’ll be very honest. That was the big difference. I didn’t know how much passion everybody would bring to it and how so much of what I do during the day is just so interesting. That’s an amazing part of this job. It is absolutely a 24-hour per day job, in the way that you’re never not thinking about opportunities and what’s next, following what other people are doing and spending a lot of time listening. I love all of that.

On whether she feels one can show rigorous journalistic trustworthiness better in print or that both print and digital can have unfailing integrity: All of the above. I think journalism takes many, many forms. You can write a journalistic caption to an Instagram, and I often do. My favorite people to follow on Instagram are some of these young architects and architecture enthusiasts who will snap a picture of a home in their neighborhood and then give you the quick postage stamp-sized story of the former owner or how it was built or some architectural detail, and I think that’s service, that’s incredible. And it’s also catching you where you were just wasting time or looking for trust and they serve you something substantial. And I think that’s unbelievable. It makes me so happy to surprise people with integrity. That is one of the great joys of my job.

On the biggest stumbling block she’s had to face: I think learning to engage the team together, to create something bigger than just you and a couple of ideas, I constantly have to stop myself from overindulging with an idea myself. I would love to write a lot of the feature stories, and my managing editor will give me eyes and it’s like, no, you will not be writing that, you do not have time. Please don’t. Or I’ll find a book section that I just love and I’m being really picky about who gets the assignment, and I have to remind myself to step back and make sure that I’m leaving lots and lots of room for other people to bring their ideas forward. That mine are certainly not the best or most important.

On how she would summarize a day in her life: I sometimes describe it to somebody as doing 700 small things, and together they do add up to important things, but a lot of my day is very quick-moving. There’s a lot of decisions and just being decisive and feeling good about it. And also just making connections, such as saying I don’t know the answer to something, but I trust “this” person to do that, deputizing. Keeping things moving. The worst thing I can do is delay. Delay is death in magazines. You cannot sit on something.

On anything she’d like to add: I’d have to say that I am excited to be at a magazine that is able to talk to such a big readership about the importance of home. It’s not lost on me, the rare opportunity to talk about something so intimate with a mass audience. I think that we underestimate how big a role the physical space and the mental perception we have of our homes, what a role that plays in every single facet of our lives.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: I wrote about it for the first time, and it wasn’t something I had thought about until literally last month, I cook, I put things together. I’m fairly competent in the kitchen. There’s something about the ritual of using my hands. I use my brain all day, but the chopping and the prepping and the washing, I used to think it was so tedious, but it is a zone that I get into.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: The highest compliment that I ever get is that I have a nice spirit or energy to me. So, I think it would be something in that vein. I’d like to be somebody that you’re in a room with and you feel better after just being around. That would be a nice legacy to leave.

On what keeps her up at night: Not too much, I’m a pretty good sleeper. But I like A-1 news stories, honestly, like under resourced, underprivileged people, the saddest stories. The New York Times refers to it as the neediest. I remember the neediest.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Sophie Donelson, editor in chief, House Beautiful magazine.

Samir Husni: To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, who used to say the medium is the message, in your case, is the “house” now the message?

Sophie Donelson: (Laughs) I love a good Marshall McLuhan paraphrase. Yes, it’s certainly one of the mediums, absolutely. I’m thinking why not; why not build a house on top of doing the coverage that’s already quite ambitious? I thought that the project already felt like a big undertaking and then we’re in a meeting discussing it, and suddenly it’s happening. I’m so excited about it and it’s fun and interesting, and I think it’s a time for taking bold moves, doing bold things.

Samir Husni: In one of the quotes that I’ve read – “Happiness Begins at Home,” you define the word home as much more than just the home, it’s the home project, the concept house that you’re building in Atlanta. Tell me a little bit more about it.

Sophie Donelson: For House Beautiful, the idea that happiness starts at home, home being yes, a physical place, but also obviously a mindset and something that looms very large for all of us. People who aren’t interested in decoration are still acutely interested in what’s happening at their home and what home means to them. And when things aren’t going well at home, things aren’t going well in life. And when things are happy at home, it’s a lot easier to build from there and to be a happy person and to go out and do great things in the world.

I like talking about this for House Beautiful and in broader strokes because we have a population of readers who are just obsessed with their homes, they love decorating and they love shopping. But there’s a much larger body of people who are interested in the power that having a great home can kind of give them.

So, I start from that mindset. And the color and the warm personality and the way that we take our pictures and write our stories, there’s an effervescence and joy in how House Beautiful covers home and an inclusiveness, I would say, that long precedes me and has been a part of this magazine for its 121-year history and right up through today. This is a magazine that you go to when you want to feel good about your home and to feel good about yourself.

And when I started to think about the parallels between the national conversation about, not just happiness, which was about 10 years ago when the “Happiness Project” came out by Gretchen Rubin, and a number of other authors were addressing happiness as a topic, I suppose, much in the way House Beautiful addressed color for the first time as an actual topic and not just as something happening out there, something loose and tangential. This national conversation in the last couple of years has really shifted toward health, mental wellbeing, positivity, not just happiness and not just being physically fit, but being mentally sound and feeling good.

We all started to really acutely understand that it’s all connected. It’s not just a positive mood or a good day, but potentially the way we eat and the way we fuel our bodies has an impact on our minds. How we sleep at night; I mean, how many conversations involve “sleeping your way to the top,” what do all the amazing executives and creatives have in common: they take time to sleep and to have downtime.

So, the way we think about success and happiness has really shifted to be more inclusive of the whole person. And that’s where the name “The Whole Home Project” came about. It wasn’t about kicking off every single room, but actually about a home that could address the whole person. Again, not just that a color might make you happy, but eventually your kitchen could be designed in a way that could help you be healthy. That your organization goals and executing them could make you feel calm and put together and capable. All of this made us feel that there were opportunities at home that our design decisions could radically impact our wellness and happiness. And that’s how it came about.

So people like my mother-in-law now would know words like Breathwork, and I’m asking, when did that happen? That mediation is not woo and it’s sort of an amazing time, there’s almost a national reckoning and welcoming of whatever someone needs to make them feel good. And I love that and there’s like an analogous part of it, and every single room of the house has the opportunity to seize on this idea.

Samir Husni: As an editor of a legacy title, how do you feel that the DNA of the magazine has evolved from pure ink on paper to manifest itself in Concept House, digital, and its many other platforms? How do you feel the DNA of House Beautiful today is manifesting itself to the multitude of audiences out there?

Sophie Donelson: I have January through June 1927 on my desk right now, because we’re working on the Small Spaces issue, and I’m being very careful since it’s a bound book. I was trying to find the first time that we talked about small spaces, and it’s in the June issue. It reads: it’s furnishing the small room, schemes for the living room in House Beautiful, home #16. Of course, House Beautiful, like many shelter titles had house plans and architect plans and elevations and that kind of thing. And there were five small-roomed schemes, which of course, I’m doing a version of today. So, we see this legacy every single day and it’s so much fun.

But the first thing that comes to mind is community. And what’s really fascinating to me is that magazine readers and subscribers still have very strong opinions of who they identify with, such as “I’m a House Beautiful person,” or “I’m more of a this or more of a that person.” We have brands that we identify with and that has sort of always happened.

But what’s fun for me today is how much outreach we do with marketing and events. And then also, of course, digital and social media have surfaced these communities of people out in a way where they talk and meet more readily. And that to me seems just really exciting because it’s not just us talking to them, it’s them talking amongst each other, and bonding over a story or idea. I see that all of the time as I travel throughout this country. So, that’s one thing that I feel is very impactful. I feel our readers are more quickly able to find each other.

Samir Husni: Years ago, editors used to just have a print magazine, a deadline, and just had to meet that deadline, but today even the definition of editor has changed. How has your role as editor of House Beautiful changed over the last five years or so?

Sophie Donelson: Oh my gosh, does wearing pink more often than I’d like to count? (Laughs) I really was representing the magazine at something recently and I picked out an outfit and I thought, no, that’s not who they want today. They want the joyful, happy, warm House Beautiful editor, so I changed my outfit.

I take the journalism aspect and the editing aspect of my job very seriously. Those are things that drew me to this industry and what I still take so much pleasure in doing. What we think of as an editor, whether it’s a pink pen and not a red one, doing edits, and thinking of concepts within the vision of the magazine.

But what’s really fun for me is the ability to deliver it to the reader on multiple platforms; to be able to meet them in real life; to be able to talk to advertisers about what their needs are and they’re often the same needs as ours. We have very similar goals, so we think of advertisers as partners that can help you get what you want. We think of readers who are talking to us and telling us what they’re interested in and what they respond to. It’s just a little bit more holistic, but the fun part is there’s just more platforms, channels and levers to work with. It’s not just us and the printed page. Those are all, yes, busy-making, but they’re also just opportunities.

Eliot Kaplan and Newell Turner, Newell primarily, but of course Eliot, the longtime Hearst recruiter, who recently retired, these are the guys who got me to Hearst. I remember taking meetings when I briefly left publishing for a couple of years to work in e-commerce, digital and marketing, and they would ask me what would I do at Hearst and I told them that I wanted a job where I could do special projects and work in marketing. I wanted to be a part of the print magazine, but also wanted to know what was happening online. I wanted to know about the revenue streams; I wanted to touch all of these different parts because so many of them interested me. And at the time, I think I thought I was kidding with them, that job didn’t exist. But ‘lo and behold it does exist. (Laughs) And it’s editor in chief, and it’s so cool. It’s so much more of an interesting job to me than I think a narrower land would have been maybe 20 or 30 years ago.

Samir Husni: Did the job meet your expectations?

Sophie Donelson: I knew some of the challenges, but I did not know how much fun it would be, I’ll be very honest. That was the big difference. I didn’t know how much passion everybody would bring to it and how so much of what I do during the day is just so interesting. That’s an amazing part of this job. It is absolutely a 24-hour per day job, in the way that you’re never not thinking about opportunities and what’s next, following what other people are doing and spending a lot of time listening. I love all of that. And of course, how can you not take it home with you, it’s a home magazine.

Samir Husni: You mentioned that you’re still a believer in the journalism, editing and trustworthiness of the job, do you feel that you can show those aspects more in print or can you show the same rigorous journalism criteria in the digital platform?

Sophie Donelson: All of the above. I think journalism takes many, many forms. You can write a journalistic caption to an Instagram, and I often do. My favorite people to follow on Instagram are some of these young architects and architecture enthusiasts who will snap a picture of a home in their neighborhood and then give you the quick postage stamp-sized story of the former owner or how it was built or some architectural detail, and I think that’s service, that’s incredible. And it’s also catching you where you were just wasting time or looking for trust and they serve you something substantial. And I think that’s unbelievable. It makes me so happy to surprise people with integrity. That is one of the great joys of my job.

Many people love this magazine, they love the way it looks, they like pretty things, and then to surprise them with something where it actually makes them feel an emotion, from a personal essay standpoint or just a really human connection like there’s something great there. Or again, a little bit of mystery or insight into how something works together. There are so many options and places to make that happen.

I do think that the way readers, back to Marshall McLuhan, the way that they engage with the magazine versus digital or social platforms, for example, it is a little bit different. We still have a halo or a level of importance, in a way, with the fact that something has been printed. We had to go through all of these steps, we had to make it in the flesh. There is something that still resonates with readers about print. That’s why you see, for example, in higher-ticket items, there is more of a trustworthiness that readers report when they read about something in print versus digitally. There’s a little bit of integrity, importance and trustworthiness that the medium itself delivers. It’s our job, obviously, as editors and journalists to make sure that is the case.

And as I see the generation kind of grow and shift, that sentiment may evolve, I would expect it to evolve, I would hope it would evolve. But for right now, I do think that people take rather seriously what are in the pages of a magazine, for sure.

Samir Husni: You seemed surprised when I asked you did the job meet your expectations, and you talked about the fun and the passion. What has been the biggest stumbling block and how did you overcome it? Or have there been any stumbling blocks or has it been a nice walk in a rose garden?

Sophie Donelson: The idea that I have expectations of this job is laughable, this job has expectations of me. The part that I always want to grow, as we say in career coaching, development opportunities, not challenges, just opportunities, such as inspiring my team, working together as unique, individual, creative people. The job is the people. They’re the best part; they’re what makes the days so fun.

When I talk to my five-year-old and he asks me about someone and I say, oh, it’s my friend at work. They are absolutely a colleague, they may report to me, but I naturally refer to them all of the time as a friend, especially when talking to a five-year-old, it’s the shortest way of saying this is a person who I talk with and laugh with every single day. So, that’s a friend, right?

But I think learning to engage the team together, to create something bigger than just you and a couple of ideas, I constantly have to stop myself from overindulging with an idea myself. I would love to write a lot of the feature stories, and my managing editor will give me eyes and it’s like, no, you will not be writing that, you do not have time. Please don’t. Or I’ll find a book section that I just love and I’m being really picky about who gets the assignment, and I have to remind myself to step back and make sure that I’m leaving lots and lots of room for other people to bring their ideas forward. That mine are certainly not the best or most important.

Samir Husni: If you were to summarize a day in the life of Sophie, how would you put it together? Do you go with the flow or are you an organized person?

Sophie Donelson: I sometimes describe it to somebody as doing 700 small things, and together they do add up to important things, but a lot of my day is very quick-moving. There’s a lot of decisions and just being decisive and feeling good about it. And also just making connections, such as saying I don’t know the answer to something, but I trust “this” person to do that, deputizing. Keeping things moving. The worst thing I can do is delay. Delay is death in magazines. You cannot sit on something.

It’s just a lot of small tasks and actions, and this is why editors put so much effort into their editor’s letter. It’s probably the most concentrated energy that any of us put into anything all week, which is just funny to me because we’re all writers. We all know how to do this, it’s a muscle that we use often. But that in terms of like concentrated time is a real rarity, to think about something over a month, which I do, and then to just sit for a couple of hours and actually write something and not just a headline.

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

Sophie Donelson: I’d have to say that I am excited to be at a magazine that is able to talk to such a big readership about the importance of home. It’s not lost on me, the rare opportunity to talk about something so intimate with a mass audience. I think that we underestimate how big a role the physical space and the mental perception we have of our homes, what a role that plays in every single facet of our lives.

In a really turbulent news cycle and with a technology default, where we might find ourselves busier or crankier or prone to ups and downs about how many Instagram likes something gets or some sour commenter, there is a panacea for all of this. Sometimes it’s just cheap, fresh flowers or a nice scent in your home, like cooking cinnamon buns or something, or tucking in early for the night, preferably with print so you’re not having that screen in your face.

I think these are really important times to talk about self-care through home and this is a really great magazine to go to. It’s a magazine that people naturally trust and don’t feel intimidated by, so we’re able to have richer conversations because people aren’t expecting to look at something and say, I want that, but I’ll never have it. This is a really uplifting magazine, where people can say, I want that and I think I might just go for it. It’s a privilege to sit here during this moment, in which I think we could all use to go home early.

Samir Husni: Since you’re going home early, 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?

Sophie Donelson: (Laughs) I wrote about it for the first time, and it wasn’t something I had thought about until literally last month, I cook, I put things together. I’m fairly competent in the kitchen. There’s something about the ritual of using my hands. I use my brain all day, but the chopping and the prepping and the washing, I used to think it was so tedious, but it is a zone that I get into.

And I cook for my family. I would absolutely eat a boiled egg or peanut butter on a rice cake standing up in the kitchen, if left to my own devices, while probably having a glass of wine. But if my husband is home, I’ll make a nice healthy dinner. I’ll describe it as feeding my body; I’m usually listening to a podcast and feeding my mind. I’m working with my hands, and so it’s very immersive. That, to me, gives me peace. Aldo, if my hands are busy in the kitchen, I don’t have to take care of the children, that becomes his job, so it’s a little bit of an escape as well. And that’s what you’ll find me doing on the weeknights when I’m not traveling or out for industry stuff, which I try to keep evenly split, half and half.

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

Sophie Donelson: The highest compliment that I ever get is that I have a nice spirit or energy to me. So, I think it would be something in that vein. I’d like to be somebody that you’re in a room with and you feel better after just being around. That would be a nice legacy to leave.

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

Sophie Donelson: Not too much, I’m a pretty good sleeper. But I like A-1 news stories, honestly, like under resourced, underprivileged people, the saddest stories. The New York Times refers to it as the neediest. I remember the neediest.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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ACT 8 Experience: Exporting Your Brand. Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO, Haykal Group, United Arab Emirates

April 22, 2018

Abdulsalam Haykal, CEO of Haykal Group in the United Arab Emirates, addresses the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience attendees via video. For reasons beyond his control, Mr. Haykal could not make it in person to the ACT 8 Experience, but he did answer Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni’s questions on what it takes to export a brand overseas and what are some of the pitfalls of taking titles from one culture to another… Here are his answers in two videos…

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ACT 8 Experience: Print Proud Digital Smart. Day 3 Recap…

April 22, 2018

This is the last installment from the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience:Print Proud Digital Smart. Today is ACT 8 Day 3. April 19, 2018.

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 1
Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO, Trusted Media Brands

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 2
Daren Mazzucca, Vice President/Publisher, Martha Stewart Living, Meredith

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 3
Mona Hidayet, Executive Director, Clients & Products, Advantage CS Be Scholarly, Think Like a Shoemaker

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 4
Making Money in Magazines and Magazine Media: A Panel Discussion Moderated by Jim Elliott, Founder and President, James G. Elliott, Panelists:
Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO, Trusted Media Brands
Daren Mazzucca, Vice President/Publisher, Martha Stewart Living
Kevin Novak, CEO, Founder and Chief Digital Strategist, 2040 Digital
John Thomas, Publisher, Psychology Today

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 5
Marisa Davis, Associate Director, Product Marketing, MNI Targeted Media Generation Z: Research Findings

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 6
Bo Sacks,President, Precision Media Group

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 7
Mark Potts, Managing Editor, Alta The Journal of Alta California Print Proud Digital Smart

ACT 8 Experience, Day 3, Part 8
Scott Coopwood, Publisher, Delta Magazine

Until next year, stay tuned to information and dates of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 9 Experience in 2019.

To check the entire agenda for ACT 8 Experience click here.

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ACT 8 Experience: Print Proud Digital Smart. Day 2 Recap.

April 21, 2018

As I mentioned yesterday I will be posting the videos from the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 8 Experience:Print Proud Digital Smart. Today is ACT 8 Day 2. April 18, 2018.

ACT 8 Experience, Day 2, Part 1
Liz Vaccariello, Editorial Director, Parents Magazine Network, Meredith

ACT 8 Experience, Day 2, Part 2
Daniel Dejan, ETC Print Creative Manager, Sappi North America

ACT 8 Experience, Day 2, Part 3
Joe Hyrkin, CEO, issuu

ACT 8 Experience, Day 2, Part 4
Print Proud Digital Smart, Panel Moderated by Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing Sales Consultant, Joseph Berger Associates
Panelists:Joseph Ballarini, Founder and Editor in Chief, Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, Tony Frost, Senior Vice President, TVGM LLC, TV Guide, and Mark Potts, Managing Editor, Alta The Journal of Alta California.

ACT 8 Experience, Day 2, Part 5
Magazines at Retail: The View from Publisher, Distributor, Retailer & More. Moderated by Tony Silber, Magazine-Media Expert, Founder of M10 Magazine, President Long Hill Media
Panelists:Dave Forsman, EVP of Sales, TNG, Jerry Lynch, President, Magazine and Books, Retail Association, William Michalopoulos, Vice President, Retail, Sales & Marketing,PubWorX,Sebastian Raatz, Publisher/Co-Founder, Centennial Media, and Ray Shaw, Executive Vice President/Managing Director, MagNet.

End of Day 2. To check the entire agenda of the ACT 8 Experience click here.

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ACT 8 Experience: Print Proud Digital Smart Day 1 Recap…

April 20, 2018

Starting today I will be posting the videos from the ACT 8 Experience:Print Proud Digital Smart. Today is ACT 8 Day 1. April 17, 2018.

ACT 8, Day 1, Part 1
Samir Husni, Founder and Director of the Magazine Innovation Center
Charlie Mitchell, Associate Dean of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media
Noel Wilkin, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, The University of Mississippi
Susan Russ, Senior VP, Communications, MPA: The Association of Magazine Media
Amy Lyles Wilson, Author, Writer and Magazine Alumni

ACT 8, Day 1, Part 2
Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO, MPA: The Association of Magazine Media

ACT 8, Day 1, Part 3
James Hewes, President and CEO, FIPP: The Network for Global Media, United Kingdom

ACT 8, Day 2, Part 4

Tom Quinlan, Chairman and CEO, LSC Communications, Inc.

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Getting In Shape (The Magazine): An Evolution That Began By Asking The Question Of The 37-Year-Old Brand: If Shape Was Launching Today, What Would It Look Like? The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, Editor In Chief, Shape Magazine…

April 12, 2018

“I felt like we could add more real women and their experiences. I really wanted to make it a more well-rounded experience. And the tagline we’re using is “Living the well-lived life,” something that’s a little more holistic and well-rounded, because we know that our audience is really engaged in this healthy, active lifestyle. And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so, we wanted to give a more well-rounded mix and really get a sense of the experiences that women are having living this lifestyle. We wanted to kind of bubble that up in the magazine some more.” Elizabeth Goodman-Artis…

“I think the print magazine is the place where you can sit back, lean-in, and get excited about the content. And in the digital iterations, whether you’re desktop or mobile, however you’re interacting, that becomes more transactional, and I mean that in a good way. It’s very specific information, like guidance. And I think it appeals to different parts of your brain and different needs in the moment.” Elizabeth Goodman-Artis…

Shape Magazine has been a staple in the health and fitness magazine realm for 37 years. It has been the go-to source for women who lead an active lifestyle, focusing on the magazine’s five pillars of coverage, which according to Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, editor in chief of the brand is: beauty, fitness, health, style and nutrition.

With the May issue, the legacy brand has undergone what Elizabeth calls an evolution, rather than a reimagining. She said there has been a massive cultural shift that is redefining
what healthy living means to women today. And in her May editor’s letter, she shares with her readers the mission of this evolution. Here’s an excerpt:

“My mission for Shape is to reflect this shift—really reflect it. What you’ll see in the pages of this issue is the result of a pivotal moment in our evolution, one that started when I asked myself this question: If Shape was launching today, what would it look like? To start, it would have more voices and viewpoints from inspiring people who are living this well-lived life—distinctive women from diverse backgrounds, all with unique stories to tell and a dedication to living with authentic, health-focused style. The innovations don’t stop there.”

The legacy brand has expanded and evolved with a mix of content, as well as an elevated design aesthetic. Elizabeth adds that the redesign also offers a shift in tonality and features more diverse voices, including influencer and real women. Overall, the new Shape focuses on content for the holistic, healthy lifestyle of today’s woman: beauty and style advice that adapts to her busy life; ways to discover the joys of healthy and delicious eating; relatable tips for health and relationships; and innovative ways to keep her body strong and fit.

And Mr. Magazine is very happy with the evolution. Shape is as “shapely” as ever, with a few new curves added. So, join Mr. Magazine™ as we get into Shape with Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, editor in chief.

But first the sound-bites:

On Shape magazine’s redesign/reinvention after 37 years: I wouldn’t say that we reinvented it at all. I would say that we’ve evolved it. Honestly, what really precipitated this was I got a new, amazing creative director, he started in August, and he wanted to put his stamp on it and we felt like it was time for a design upgrade. So, it started with that. And I also felt that there were things that we were missing. We could add more voices; I felt like we could add more real women and their experiences. I really wanted to make it a more well-rounded experience. And the tagline we’re using is “Living the well-lived life,” something that’s a little more holistic and well-rounded, because we know that our audience is really engaged in this healthy, active lifestyle.

On whether the more holistic and healthy focus of the new redesign puts Shape in a different competitive set: It’s the same, absolutely the same. Again, it’s an evolution, I wouldn’t say that we’ve really changed the DNA of the brand at all. One of the things that I wanted to do was change the voice and the tonality a little bit, just to make it feel more modern. I think a good example is the way the magazine was packaged, like the actual names of the sections before, things like, Eat Right, Get Fit. They’re clear, they say it, they make sense, they’re direct, but I feel like they’re a little bit of a command to perform. And I wanted to change that tonality a little bit, and when you go through the May issue you’ll see that the sections all start with the verb “to be.” And that was very deliberate, because I wanted to invite the readers “to be” in the moment, to experience the content, and really make it their own.

On whether she thinks the audience has changed or evolved in that the way they interact with a print magazine is different today than maybe 10 years ago: Sure, absolutely. I think a print magazine is more of a lean-back and engaged experience, rather than a servicey, transactional experience. A good example is the way we’re doing fitness content now. One of the things that we’ve seen, in terms of digital, is that over one million readers have joined our video challenges in the last year. Our visitors to shape.com workout content has risen exponentially. And that’s your very functional fitness, your very transactional fitness, here’s exactly how you do this workout. And I think that’s the way audiences are engaging with that kind of content. They’re doing it on their phones. So, I felt like with the fitness content in the magazine, it was really important to create content that was more about experience and the science of exercise and the storytelling. You can lean back into it and get inspired and get excited about this kind of content.

On how her job as editor in chief has changed over the years: In terms of actual day-to-day workflow, I think we’re more efficient than we used to be. We have to be. Obviously, the industry is changing, the media world is changing; we all know what’s going on and I think there’s a level of focus that’s required today. Thinking back to 25 years ago, or whenever I started at Glamour magazine, it was 1993, there were a lot more people and we just don’t have those kinds of staff anymore, because it’s not efficient nor cost-effective. So, I think we have to be just really focused.

On what content means to her today: (Laughs) What a good question. I could go into a lot of different rabbit-holes. I think content is changing all of the time. It’s impossible to immediately summarize that. I think it depends on who you are, what you want and what you’re looking for. An audience who’s interested in healthy, active living wants information, but they also want connectivity and motivation. And they’ll get that with all of the new voices and points of view that we’re adding. I think that’s really important. Whatever your goals are, and those are personal to you, it takes a lot of mental strength and courage to live this lifestyle. So, I think that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen and one I wanted to bring to the magazine, more of that emotion, into everything that we do.

On if that’s the reason for the more holistic approach Shape is now taking: Sure, that’s one. There were many reasons. Honestly, what was great about what we did with Shape, the magazine before was great, and this is just an evolution. And there wasn’t pressure to do it. It was just that we felt and I felt it was time for it, for many different reasons. And as I said, I really wanted to equalize the content distribution.

On how she can make the content of the magazine more of an emotional experience: I’ll give you an example. Our new fitness section is called “Be Strong and Fit,” and we’re actually debuting a new column that we just didn’t have room for in the May issue because it was so packed with amazing new content, and also not for nothing, it was content that we thought was really working well, so we morphed some columns. The DNA is still Shape Magazine, it’s really about an evolution. It’s not a reimagining at all. But we’re adding a new column that I’m excited about called “Everyday Athletes.” What I wanted to do with this was really showcase real women who have gone out and they’ve accomplished something physical across the spectrum.

On how she sees the future mix of print and digital for Shape: Well, it’s what I’ve said already, that I think the print magazine is the place where you can sit back, lean-in, and get excited about the content. And in the digital iterations, whether you’re desktop or mobile, however you’re interacting, that becomes more transactional, and I mean that in a good way. It’s very specific information, like guidance. And I think it appeals to different parts of your brain and different needs in the moment.

On whether she expects editors to practice what they preach: I can’t speak for other editors. This is how I run the magazine and it’s my point of view. I am very practical. (Laughs) I think about the brand as a whole and work closely with our amazing digital director, Amanda Wolfe. And it’s really collaborative and I’m brainstorming with my really talented staff about what all of this means today. Getting into the media is the message kind of thing, which shows my journalism school experience studying Marshall McLuhan. (Laughs) I think it’s just being clear and focused about it. Like, how do magazines make sense in people’s lives today? And how are they using the print magazine iteration as opposed to the digital arms? It’s kind of being logical.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: She just wants to help.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: Right now you’d find me very unhappy because I’m living in a rental apartment while my house is being renovated. And it’s dragging on and I’m really sick of the apartment, but once I’m back in my house and happier, you’d probably find me cooking. I love to cook. I find it really relaxing and I’m really into trying new recipes. And I’m very excited about the new kitchen I will hopefully have in the next few months. So, chopping, and focusing on cooking gets me out of the day and it focuses my attention. So, you’d find me doing that and hanging out with my husband and my cats. I don’t have kids, I have cats. That’s how I unwind.

On what keeps her up at night: Honestly, I’m not somebody who wakes up a lot and tosses and turns and worries too much, because there is nothing you can do about anything in life in the middle of the night. I do have some pretty good techniques. Usually breathing techniques or meditative techniques to help me go back to sleep. But what keeps me up at night is what keeps anybody up, the unknown. It’s very general; I wouldn’t say there is anything specific. And nothing specific about media and state of things, because I feel like we’re all just kind of watching the evolution and I want to be along for the ride. I’m somebody who is very flexible and I try to pivot and go with the flow.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Elizabeth Goodman-Artis, editor in chief, Shape magazine.

Samir Husni: Shape is going to be bold, I hear.

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Yes, we’re going to be bold.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the timing of this redesign. After 37 years, why now and why did you decide to reinvent Shape magazine?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: I wouldn’t say that we reinvented it at all. I would say that we’ve evolved it. Honestly, what really precipitated this was I got a new, amazing creative director, he started in August, and he wanted to put his stamp on it and we felt like it was time for a design upgrade. So, it started with that.

But honestly, I felt like it was time to redistribute our content in the sense that we weren’t giving the main five pillars of the things that we always cover, which is beauty, fitness, health, style and nutrition, we weren’t giving them all equal weight. There was too much emphasis in some places and not enough in the others. And I really wanted to just try and equalize the content in the magazine.

And I also felt that there were things that we were missing. We could add more voices; I felt like we could add more real women and their experiences. I really wanted to make it a more well-rounded experience. And the tagline we’re using is “Living the well-lived life,” something that’s a little more holistic and well-rounded, because we know that our audience is really engaged in this healthy, active lifestyle. And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And so, we wanted to give a more well-rounded mix and really get a sense of the experiences that women are having living this lifestyle. We wanted to kind of bubble that up in the magazine some more.

Samir Husni: That combination of the holistic and healthy lifestyle, does it put you in a different competitive set or it’s the same?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: It’s the same, absolutely the same. Again, it’s an evolution, I wouldn’t say that we’ve really changed the DNA of the brand at all. One of the things that I wanted to do was change the voice and the tonality a little bit, just to make it feel more modern. I think a good example is the way the magazine was packaged, like the actual names of the sections before, things like, Eat Right, Get Fit. They’re clear, they say it, they make sense, they’re direct, but I feel like they’re a little bit of a command to perform.

And I wanted to change that tonality a little bit, and when you go through the May issue you’ll see that the sections all start with the verb “to be.” And that was very deliberate, because I wanted to invite the readers “to be” in the moment, to experience the content, and really make it their own. I don’t want to dictate to our audience, but I want to give them the tools and ideas and information they need to craft their own well-lived life.

Samir Husni: You’ve started all the sections with “to be,” to be healthy, to be food-curious, to be fit, etc. Do you think the audience has changed or evolved in that the way they interact with a print magazine is different today than maybe 10 years ago?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Sure, absolutely. I think a print magazine is more of a lean-back and engaged experience, rather than a servicey, transactional experience. A good example is the way we’re doing fitness content now. One of the things that we’ve seen, in terms of digital, is that over one million readers have joined our video challenges in the last year. Our visitors to shape.com workout content has risen exponentially. And that’s your very functional fitness, your very transactional fitness, here’s exactly how you do this workout. And I think that’s the way audiences are engaging with that kind of content. They’re doing it on their phones.

So, I felt like with the fitness content in the magazine, it was really important to create content that was more about experience and the science of exercise and the storytelling. You can lean back into it and get inspired and get excited about this kind of content. And then you can go to shape.com and get your nuts and bolts. I think it’s really about engaging with this content that’s all about healthy living, and getting excited about it. And really leaning into it, and then you can go to shape.com and get more specific, functional workouts and content.

Samir Husni: You’ve been in the magazine media business for 20 years, give or take. How do you feel things have changed over the years? Is life easier for you now as an editor in chief or is it more complicated? Tell me about the changes based on your experience.

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: In terms of actual day-to-day workflow, I think we’re more efficient than we used to be. We have to be. Obviously, the industry is changing, the media world is changing; we all know what’s going on and I think there’s a level of focus that’s required today. Thinking back to 25 years ago, or whenever I started at Glamour magazine, it was 1993, there were a lot more people and we just don’t have those kinds of staff anymore, because it’s not efficient nor cost-effective. So, I think we have to be just really focused.

There isn’t quite the time to spend days and weeks on one story, you have to move at a faster pace. Everybody is doing that, so I think that’s the biggest change. As an editor in chief, I would say that I owe it to my staff to make quick decisions and to have a clear vision for what I want, because we don’t have the time and the luxury to throw a lot of things at the wall and see what sticks.

I think with this evolution, I had a very clear vision, along with my creative director and my executive editor, of what we wanted this to look like. And then we gave the staff the blueprint and they were really excited about it. So, it was a very efficient, very focused process.

This summer we decided, when Noah (Dreier) came on, my creative director, we talked a lot about what we wanted to do with the brand and what we wanted it to look like. He came with so many great ideas. And speaking of my staff, I think you’ll see that we sort of beefed up our style content and that’s because we added a new fashion director, Brooke Ely Danielson, and she also came with so many great ideas and just a fresh approach to what style means today. And I was excited to get their ideas in the brand, so that was a big part of it.

Samir Husni: You’ve added the section “What Style Means Today.” My question to you is what does content mean today?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: (Laughs) What a good question. I could go into a lot of different rabbit-holes. I think content is changing all of the time. It’s impossible to immediately summarize that. I think it depends on who you are, what you want and what you’re looking for. An audience who’s interested in healthy, active living wants information, but they also want connectivity and motivation. And they’ll get that with all of the new voices and points of view that we’re adding. I think that’s really important.

Honestly, a good way to talk about the change, in terms of active, healthy living content, is I think it has gone from, in the last 10 or so years, just transactional and informative to more emotional. That’s the biggest sort of change that I’ve seen and wanted to incorporate into Shape now was the sense of emotion of this lifestyle, because it’s a very emotional experience. Whatever your goals are, and those are personal to you, it takes a lot of mental strength and courage to live this lifestyle. So, I think that’s one of the biggest changes I’ve seen and one I wanted to bring to the magazine, more of that emotion, into everything that we do.

Samir Husni: Is that the reason for the holistic approach?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Sure, that’s one. There were many reasons. Honestly, what was great about what we did with Shape, the magazine before was great, and this is just an evolution. And there wasn’t pressure to do it. It was just that we felt and I felt it was time for it, for many different reasons. And as I said, I really wanted to equalize the content distribution.

A good example is our health section. I felt it was a little marginalized and that we could do more with it. Our audience is really interested in health beyond the numbers they get at their yearly doctor’s visit. This audience is really engaged with making sure of their health and I wanted to give that section a little more love. So, it was really about distributing our efforts equally among our five content pillars.

Samir Husni: As you move forward into the new evolution, and of course, you created the video series and the Shape Challenge that really brought a lot of audience experiences, I’m very intrigued by what you said about focusing on the more emotional link with the content. How can you make the content of the magazine more of an emotional experience, rather than the functional experience?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: I’ll give you an example. Our new fitness section is called “Be Strong and Fit,” and we’re actually debuting a new column that we just didn’t have room for in the May issue because it was so packed with amazing new content, and also not for nothing, it was content that we thought was really working well, so we morphed some columns. The DNA is still Shape Magazine, it’s really about an evolution. It’s not a reimagining at all.

But we’re adding a new column that I’m excited about called “Everyday Athletes.” What I wanted to do with this was really showcase real women who have gone out and they’ve accomplished something physical across the spectrum. So, the example I use is, I go to a gym called CrossFit South Brooklyn, I do CrossFit. And CrossFit is very, very hard. (Laughs) But what I love about it, the terminology that they use is, you can scale it. So, if you can’t do 50 pushups, do two. If you can’t do two, hold a plank for thirty seconds. At any skill level, you can do this kind of exercise.

One of the most inspiring things I’ve seen is, one of the trainers that I work with frequently, her name is Jess Fox, and one of her goals was to do a muscle-up, and that’s a very, very hard move. It’s like gymnastics, it requires hanging onto some rings, pulling yourself up and pushing upward until your arms are straight, so it requires a lot of strength. This was a goal she had for a long time and she worked at it in a myriad of ways. And now she can do it. I want to hear her story. So, in 200 words, what that felt like and kind of get inside her journey.

Likewise, I’d like to hear from a woman who tried her very first hot yoga class. Or her very first Pilates class, or her very first walking marathon, or triathlon. Athletic feats across the spectrum, but I want to get inside what that felt like. What the motivation, what they did, and how it felt on the other side. That’s what I mean by “Everyday Athletes.” Women across the spectrum of skill levels, abilities, and what motivated them and what it felt like. So, I think that’s a really good example of how, instead of telling you how to do a muscle-up, certainly it’s a very hard move and I wouldn’t recommend it to many people (Laughs), but if that’s your goal, that’s great. There are certainly a series of steps that you can take to learn how to do this move. You can break it down into the technical components of it, fine, that’s one way to approach it. But I also want to know what it feels like inside to have accomplished that. So, that’s a column that I’m really excited about. And it’s coming out in the June issue. I think that nicely encompasses what I mean by emotion and motivation, and the difference between that and the transactional experience.

Samir Husni: As you look into the future, and at the fact that publishers are making their print components “printier” and their brands “brandier,” and everyone is becoming Print Proud and Digital Smart, how do you see that combination of print and digital? People don’t talk anymore about Shape magazine, they talk about Shape the brand.

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Yes, and it is a brand.

Samir Husni: So, how do you see that future mix?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Well, it’s what I’ve said already, that I think the print magazine is the place where you can sit back, lean-in, and get excited about the content. And in the digital iterations, whether you’re desktop or mobile, however you’re interacting, that becomes more transactional, and I mean that in a good way. It’s very specific information, like guidance. And I think it appeals to different parts of your brain and different needs in the moment.

In terms of fitness content, and I don’t think anybody would argue with me, that I just don’t think looking at a magazine and getting directions on how to do a specific move, nobody is taking magazines to the gym to do that anymore. They’re using their phones. If they want to know exactly how to a 10-minute AMRAP workout, which means as many rounds as possible, or an ab challenge, it doesn’t make sense to waste pages in a magazine detailing line by line exactly how to do that. You’re going to get that online. So, that’s the big difference I see, especially with this brand.

Samir Husni: You’re practicing what you preach and you’re speaking from experience. Do you expect editors nowadays to practice what they preach or just sometimes?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: I can’t speak for other editors. This is how I run the magazine and it’s my point of view. I am very practical. (Laughs) I think about the brand as a whole and work closely with our amazing digital director, Amanda Wolfe. And it’s really collaborative and I’m brainstorming with my really talented staff about what all of this means today. Getting into the media is the message kind of thing, which shows my journalism school experience studying Marshall McLuhan. (Laughs) I think it’s just being clear and focused about it. Like, how do magazines make sense in people’s lives today? And how are they using the print magazine iteration as opposed to the digital arms? It’s kind of being logical.

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

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: She just wants to help.

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?

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Right now you’d find me very unhappy because I’m living in a rental apartment while my house is being renovated. And it’s dragging on and I’m really sick of the apartment, but once I’m back in my house and happier, you’d probably find me cooking. I love to cook. I find it really relaxing and I’m really into trying new recipes. And I’m very excited about the new kitchen I will hopefully have in the next few months. So, chopping, and focusing on cooking gets me out of the day and it focuses my attention. So, you’d find me doing that and hanging out with my husband and my cats. I don’t have kids, I have cats. That’s how I unwind.

Usually we pick one Netflix show to watch a night. I don’t like watching endless hours of TV, and flipping around. I like to have a plan for the night and I try to get to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s not that exciting. (Laughs)

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

Elizabeth Goodman-Artis: Honestly, I’m not somebody who wakes up a lot and tosses and turns and worries too much, because there is nothing you can do about anything in life in the middle of the night. I do have some pretty good techniques. Usually breathing techniques or meditative techniques to help me go back to sleep. But what keeps me up at night is what keeps anybody up, the unknown. It’s very general; I wouldn’t say there is anything specific. And nothing specific about media and state of things, because I feel like we’re all just kind of watching the evolution and I want to be along for the ride. I’m somebody who is very flexible and I try to pivot and go with the flow.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Maison Moderne: From Print Magazines To Events To Digital Dailies, A Company That Believes Magazines Are The Credibility Of The Brand And Digital Is The Power Of Its Reach – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Mike Koedinger, Founder & President Of The Board Of Directors, Maison Moderne, Luxembourg…

April 9, 2018

“People really cared about digital, they were thinking that would be the end (of print). And we were saying, no, let’s not panic. There might be reasons why print has a great future and now, 11 years later, I think it’s proven, digital was actually helping the print medium a lot. And of course, some of them lost quite a bit, many lost money, but I think maybe that was just cleaning up the industry, maybe weak media brands in print, they would just go out of business. But then in this great place for new brands, digital helps a lot to promote brands and to create communities. And I think digital can bring value to a media brand, so in the end digital would help printed media, in my opinion. If they’re worth it; if they’re worth the attention that readers can give them.” Mike Koedinger (on his opinion of what has happened since 2007)…

“There are plenty of reasons. One is we need a break from digital. Digital is there your entire day and night. So, we need breaks. Print also means there’s a moment when we choose to do something, there is no addiction. We happily choose to sit down, open a paper, and read it and spend time with it.” Mike Koedinger (on why he thinks print is still important and magical)…

Maison Moderne is Luxembourg’s leading independent media company. Founded in 1994 by Mike Koedinger, one of the company’s mission points is to offer an independent voice in the Luxembourg media landscape with an inclusive approach, publishing mainly in the first two vehicular languages of the country: French and English.

The one thing that stands out about Mike Koedinger and his company is the Print Proud Digital Smart take he has on his business and media in general. Maison Moderne’s flagship brand, Paperjam, has a powerful and unique ecosystem, and the roles of print and digital in its intense diversification strategy works (according to Mike) like this:

• The magazine is the credibility of the brand
• The digital is the power (of continuous reach)
• The club is the monetization (memberships and sponsoring)
• The data creates the value (we know our community)
• The B2B solutions respond to the needs of companies and decision makers

It’s an interesting and apparently successful business model that combines print and digital to each medium’s greatest potential, as Mike said that Paperjam’s readership in print has increased since 2006, during a period where daily and weekly press were losing its audiences. And Mr. Magazine™ is all for a strategy that brings print and digital together to work as a successful team.

Indeed. Enough said.

And now without further ado, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mike Koedinger, founder and president of the Board of Directors, Maison Moderne.

But first the sound-bites:

On what has been happening since he wrote the book “We Love Magazines” in 2007: People really cared about digital, they were thinking that would be the end (of print). And we were saying, no, let’s not panic. There might be reasons why print has a great future and now, 11 years later, I think it’s proven, digital was actually helping the print medium a lot. And of course, some of them lost quite a bit, many lost money, but I think maybe that was just cleaning up the industry, maybe weak media brands in print, they would just go out of business. But then in this great place for new brands, digital helps a lot to promote brands and to create communities. And I think digital can bring value to a media brand, so in the end digital would help printed media, in my opinion. If they’re worth it; if they’re worth the attention that readers can give them.

On what the company is doing now in Luxembourg with its multiple publications: What happened was, back at that time we were publishing monthly magazines and those magazines also had a website. Nowadays, we publish digital daily and twice a day a newsletter goes out to a big number of people. So, we became a digital daily player that also publishes a monthly magazine. I have a business club and all of the features around it, so we’re used to the credibility of print media to get a media power to a digital and to get also a system of organizations to a very strong business club. So, at the end, for us it meant not a fight between digital and print, it’s actually both helping each other and we add the life element to that equation, what you call an ecosystem. So, we believe strongly that print, digital and life, the three of them work really well together. But the basic is the print.

On how he defines content today: For people coming from print, the main thing happening was that journalists and editors had to think more like regular people, TV people, because they had to be journalists non-stop. You couldn’t say, hey, that’s a great thing happening and we’ll have a story in two weeks. No, the thing became, what are you going to do in 15 minutes or later on today about that same story? And what are you doing at the end of the week? So, everything had to shift in the mindset of journalists. Some like and of course, some hate it, because it’s a different thing.

On the three things he would tell someone wanting to start a print magazine in today’s digital world: The first thing you must know is be sure about what you have to say. Is there a reason to produce a magazine, whether it be print or digital, so there always has to be a reason to do something. That would be the first thing I pointed out. And the second one would be do you know your audience; do you have a target? Is it a group you have identified; a group you have listed, a customer base or whatever? And that would be my second point, understanding the audience. Do you have an audience? And the third one would be the tone of voice for it. And the tone of voice includes the channels, the print magazine would be the channel if you know what to say and why. Do you know to whom your speaking? And is the printed medium the right thing?

On why he thinks the magic of print still works today: There are plenty of reasons. One is we need a break from digital. Digital is there your entire day and night. So, we need breaks. Print also means there’s a moment when we choose to do something, there is no addiction. We happily choose to sit down, open a paper, and read it and spend time with it.

On whether he thinks the future of print is in the small, independent boutique titles or there is still a market for both, boutique and mass: Mainstream media, they have the journalists, they have 500 journalists or a thousand journalists, with senior people doing great editing jobs, and they have all of the sources. So, 10 years ago, at that time, we thought that independents would be the future, they would provide inspiration and ideas, and it was easy for them to do it. But then on the other hand, if we have serious mainstream media companies we trust, and that have good content, they can do it, they have to get the resources to do it. So, I think the future will also be among them if they understand they might need a few years to establish their credibility within a community. And you have to be strict with your rules, you can’t say A and then do B.

On why it took 10 years for the magazine industry to realize that there was room for both print and digital, no one had to choose: Many people speak about numbers when they talk about market, it’s the media numbers. Strong players will do really well in digital growth. We have a strong digital growth, but in the meantime we also have that growth in print on the same media brand, which means the brand grows much faster.

On any areas in magazine media that gives him hope and that also stresses him out: I think the change in attitudes happened with many businesspeople in media first. The good and the bad thing with digital is that you have to keep on changing, so you become more alert, you’re open to change. Maybe years ago, you thought your business model and your media brand, everything, was going well, and that you would do a relaunch every five years and that will make life fantastic. That is over. And I think that’s good news, because we can and we love to adapt now. We also know that everything that’s true in digital today might not be true in six months. We don’t know what’s going to happen with new applications, new business models. The good thing is while that could be a danger for some people, it could also be a great opportunity, of course.

On other publications he has looked at and thought he might like to do something like that: It happens all of the time actually. I think the interesting point is that weekly supplements of daily papers are becoming really exciting. I think that’s a big trend. Many years ago it was proven with the weekly supplement that became a brand on its own. Today, you have L’Echo, which is a business paper and they have a fantastic weekend edition, really nicely produced, great design, great stock, just everything is quite great. I think that’s one type of inspiration, all of those really well-produced weekend supplements. We’re lucky in Luxembourg to speak German, French and English, so we can choose different markets, we can mix them up.

On whether there will be another Colophon: We’re thinking about it. Recently, I met up with Jeremy Leslie and we talked about it. We missed our 10 year anniversary, but we discussed that it would be a good thing to do again, but the event would have to be different than it was 10 years ago. At that time we were celebrating independent magazines and pointing out that there are some underdogs and people have to look at them. And that’s different from today. But today I would say that we are talking very seriously about it, but we want to take time on it, look out for what would be the best way to produce it in 2020 or maybe 2021. And mixing it up with mainstream and independent, I think that’s an important thing.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: Independent.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: I quit TV over 25 years ago, so there’s no TV in any of my places. But a number of years ago, I’m back into visual content with Netflix, which is a fantastic tool. It added another element. So, I might be doing something which I wouldn’t have done five years ago, but I’m doing it now.

On what keeps him up at night: I sleep very well. (Laughs) What actually keeps me up at night, to get back to your question, is to see if we can get Paperjam up and running as a franchise system in a few regions in Europe within the next three years. We believe strongly in our ecosystem, which we consider powerful and unique in Europe.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mike Koedinger, founder and president of the board of directors, Maison Moderne.

Samir Husni: The last time you and I met in person was in 2007, and you dedicated your love for magazines in the book, “We Love Magazines.” What has been going on with you in those last 11 years? Give me an update. In 2007, we celebrated magazines; in 2009, digital burst upon the scene; what happened next?

Mike Koedinger: People really cared about digital, they were thinking that would be the end (of print). And we were saying, no, let’s not panic. There might be reasons why print has a great future and now, 11 years later, I think it’s proven, digital was actually helping the print medium a lot. And of course, some of them lost quite a bit, many lost money, but I think maybe that was just cleaning up the industry, maybe weak media brands in print, they would just go out of business. But then in this great place for new brands, digital helps a lot to promote brands and to create communities. And I think digital can bring value to a media brand, so in the end digital would help printed media, in my opinion. If they’re worth it; if they’re worth the attention that readers can give them.

Samir Husni: Did your organization in Luxembourg expand its print footprint, reduce its print footprint; what are you doing now with the multiple publications?

Mike Koedinger: What happened was, back at that time we were publishing monthly magazines and those magazines also had a website. Nowadays, we publish digital daily and twice a day a newsletter goes out to a big number of people. So, we became a digital daily player that also publishes a monthly magazine. I have a business club and all of the features around it, so we’re used to the credibility of print media to get a media power to a digital and to get also a system of organizations to a very strong business club. So, at the end, for us it meant not a fight between digital and print, it’s actually both helping each other and we add the life element to that equation, what you call an ecosystem. So, we believe strongly that print, digital and life, the three of them work really well together. But the basic is the print.

Samir Husni: As a journalist, as a designer, as an artist; how do you define content today and how is it different than what content used to be 10 or 20 years ago?

Mike Koedinger: For people coming from print, the main thing happening was that journalists and editors had to think more like regular people, TV people, because they had to be journalists non-stop. You couldn’t say, hey, that’s a great thing happening and we’ll have a story in two weeks. No, the thing became, what are you going to do in 15 minutes or later on today about that same story? And what are you doing at the end of the week? So, everything had to shift in the mindset of journalists. Some like and of course, some hate it, because it’s a different thing.

It’s trying times for journalists. The younger generation really love it, they’re really fast. Two, three years ago, we started having Facebook Live transmissions from press conferences. You can’t be faster than real time. While there was no added value, the timing was right, and then it took you two or three hours to ring out a great story on the topic. So, journalists were doing many things at the same time, but they were live-streaming unedited information and then they were writing a story. And that’s a big change, and people had to be ready for it. Some of them had difficulties, obviously. The thing is, it’s a great moment for journalism, because people have never been so strongly interested in news. And that’s really great.

Samir Husni: If somebody came to you today and said, Mike, I want to start a print magazine in this digital age. What are the one, two, threes that you would tell them? Before you do that, here is what you must know…

Mike Koedinger: The first thing you must know is be sure about what you have to say. Is there a reason to produce a magazine, whether it be print or digital, so there always has to be a reason to do something. That would be the first thing I pointed out. And the second one would be do you know your audience; do you have a target? Is it a group you have identified; a group you have listed, a customer base or whatever? And that would be my second point, understanding the audience. Do you have an audience? And the third one would be the tone of voice for it. And the tone of voice includes the channels, the print magazine would be the channel if you know what to say and why. Do you know to whom your speaking? And is the printed medium the right thing?

In most cases, I think it is. I’m not sure I would recommend going 100 percent print only. Maybe. It can be quite oppressive to be print only. If it’s for a specific reader group like educated readers with contact every three months, maybe that would be perfect. But otherwise, I would imagine a combination would be best, where they get little alerts from time to time and then press releases and things in the mail every three months or so.

We still do many magazines for clients. We have an art/digital team, but in the end, many companies and institutions come to us to produce print magazines. And it’s always working, if you have a great print magazine and you send it out, it works.

Samir Husni: Why do you think that print magic still works today?

Mike Koedinger: There are plenty of reasons. One is we need a break from digital. Digital is there your entire day and night. So, we need breaks. Print also means there’s a moment when we choose to do something, there is no addiction. We happily choose to sit down, open a paper, and read it and spend time with it.

The thing I really love with print is whatever the number of pages are, you have the media brand telling that you for the last 24 hours or the last week, or month, whatever it is, these are the most relevant topics we chose for you, on any given team that the brand is on. And that’s a great guarantee, otherwise it means you have these non-stop feeds that come at all hours. It’s non-stop ad can be really crazy. With some papers, you don’t have many pages, maybe 30, and those are the most relevant things: culture, politics, culinary, so it’s a great service. They did the work for you. It’s what newspapers are all about. Nowadays, you have to look at feeds, it’s like this addiction. So, I think for people who appreciate their time management, print is really great.

Samir Husni: You’ve started so many boutique magazines. In fact, between you and Jeremy (Leslie) and Andrew (Losowsky), you’ve coined the phrase “boutique magazines,” and with the Colophon One and Two, we had more boutique magazines than actually mass. Do you think the future of print is in those small, independent boutique titles? Or do you still feel there’s a market for both?

Mike Koedinger: For the daily printed press, the market would be very tough, that’s for sure. More and more strong media brands are going international, you have German brands that have English editions now, so they’re very strong in important domestic markets, while going international. So there would be a big fight within the super media brands: The New York Times, The Guardian. And I think that fight would be difficult. So, for the daily press, mainly in print, there will not be much left over in 10 or 15 years. But we said that before, years ago, so we’ll see. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Mike Koedinger: But definitely there will be another fight for weekend publications, weekend supplements of daily papers or monthly magazines. It’s a fantastic break from the stressful week, when you have the weekend edition from quality magazines which you can read. Those are done both by niche players and by independent publishers.

But on the other hand, mainstream media, they have the journalists, they have 500 journalists or a thousand journalists, with senior people doing great editing jobs, and they have all of the sources. So, 10 years ago, at that time, we thought that independents would be the future, they would provide inspiration and ideas, and it was easy for them to do it. But then on the other hand, if we have serious mainstream media companies we trust, and that have good content, they can do it, they have to get the resources to do it. So, I think the future will also be among them if they understand they might need a few years to establish their credibility within a community. And you have to be strict with your rules, you can’t say A and then do B.

The independents are doing it out of a very personal passion. The mainstream media groups, while they need to have a strong team that has been with them a number of years and who have strong convictions, they can do it. If they have the freedom within their structure, they can do it.

Samir Husni: As a publisher, journalist, designer; you combine all of the entities of magazine making, why did it take 10 years for the industry to recognize that print is not going anywhere and digital is not going anywhere? Why didn’t the magazine industry have the same conversations it’s having now 10 years ago, that print and digital are both going to be around?

Mike Koedinger: Many people speak about numbers when they talk about market, it’s the media numbers. Strong players will do really well in digital growth. We have a strong digital growth, but in the meantime we also have that growth in print on the same media brand, which means the brand grows much faster.

Over a number of years, Paperjam grew by 20 percent globally in print, but enormously in digital. So, in the end, the numbers prove concepts. In the beginning, everyone was saying the future is digital, which meant readers would like to consume on digital channels, but now we can see that digital also means, depending on your market and your product, you can make money from digital, which is a new thing. At that time it was more about the readers are going to ask for it, but how do we make money? Nowadays, you can make money, but people also leave a brand quite fast. Newcomers like BuzzFeed, they come and they go. It’s like when they arrive, that’s the future. That would be the future that people would like to have for media consumption.

Today, there is more maturity; more people have Internet, even in Europe. It’s over 10 years of strong business. I think people have reconsidered how to do it; new ideas are still very strong. I remember Flipboard arriving and I thought that would be the future, forget the media brands. In the end, after three months, maybe you stop using it, you get bored by it, because somehow you lose what the media brand is about. About the editing and the selection of the information. I think it’s difficult to speak about world markets, territorial-wise, than mainstream, the niche, the daily press, the vertical press. Is it more the B to B titles, is it whatever, so it can be very difficult.

On our side, what we learned during that period is that somehow out of an initial conviction, we always focus on AB readers, highly-educated readers with high incomes, not being luxury or elite publications, but it was for us a more natural way to address people. We can’t do the mainstream publicist thing, we’re not good at that. We’re good at other stuff. And we noticed that it’s possible in a super-small market like Luxembourg, it’s difficult to understand for people out of Europe that we’re speaking of a market of 700,000 people, including babies and retired people.

Samir Husni: (Laughs).

Mike Koedinger: Also including 200,000 people who are commuting every day from neighboring countries, so it’s a super-small market. And in that small market we managed to prove that the system can work. And if it can work in this small market, it can work anywhere.

Samir Husni: As you look from that small market through the global vision of print and digital, and the future of magazine media, are there some areas that give you hope and other areas that stress you?

Mike Koedinger: Yes, I think the change in attitudes happened with many businesspeople in media first. The good and the bad thing with digital is that you have to keep on changing, so you become more alert, you’re open to change. Maybe years ago, you thought your business model and your media brand, everything, was going well, and that you would do a relaunch every five years and that will make life fantastic. That is over. And I think that’s good news, because we can and we love to adapt now. We also know that everything that’s true in digital today might not be true in six months. We don’t know what’s going to happen with new applications, new business models. The good thing is while that could be a danger for some people, it could also be a great opportunity, of course.

It could mean that you might be smaller today in print, but you could be larger in digital tomorrow. So, I think it’s a great opportunity for publishers, and it’s great for the talents of professionals, editors and journalists, because they will have to adapt, only a few brands can remain very classical in their journalism, others, we have to adapt. So, I think it’s a good thing that’s happening. People have become much more alert and ready to accept change. The market has also been a bit shaken up, which is a good thing.

The bad thing is that it’s difficult for planning; it’s difficult to invest money. If you invest money, it means you can’t invest for 10 years, you invest for two or three years, depending on your resources. We invest in a schedule of three to five years, because you never know. But we’re very confident that every change brings opportunity to us. As we are an agile company, we just react, even with a hundred people we try to behave like a startup, be fast, no external channel, nobody pressuring us on making more profit or not risking. So, for our size of company, it’s a great moment. We have resources, but we also have flexibility.

Samir Husni: If you were to choose one publication, what would be the last one you looked at and said, “Wow, I want to do something similar to that?”

Mike Koedinger: It happens all of the time actually. I think the interesting point is that weekly supplements of daily papers are becoming really exciting. I think that’s a big trend. Many years ago it was proven with the weekly supplement that became a brand on its own. Today, you have L’Echo, which is a business paper and they have a fantastic weekend edition, really nicely produced, great design, great stock, just everything is quite great. I think that’s one type of inspiration, all of those really well-produced weekend supplements. We’re lucky in Luxembourg to speak German, French and English, so we can choose different markets, we can mix them up.

On the other side, there are so many really funny and well-produced independent magazines, there are so many to even name, they’re popping up all of the time. And I think now, with all the people you have access to, it’s really easy to produce. The strength of them is that they are really honest. If they want to do something, they just do it. And I think that’s always inspirational. It’s not about one specific title, it’s likely more about their attitude, they can be really into doing something, maybe it’s been thought about for a couple of years, then it just pops up.

Samir Husni: Are we going to see another Colophon?

Mike Koedinger: We’re thinking about it. Recently, I met up with Jeremy Leslie and we talked about it. We missed our 10 year anniversary, but we discussed that it would be a good thing to do again, but the event would have to be different than it was 10 years ago. At that time we were celebrating independent magazines and pointing out that there are some underdogs and people have to look at them. And that’s different from today.

But today I would say that we are talking very seriously about it, but we want to take time on it, look out for what would be the best way to produce it in 2020 or maybe 2021. And mixing it up with mainstream and independent, I think that’s an important thing. Ten years ago there was no discussion about the business models, it was mainly about the design and independency. That was the big thing. But I think today, some of them that we celebrated at that time are still there, such as Fantastic Man, some have really established themselves as being big challengers.

But I think today it’s more about everything you need to do as a media brand: the business model, understanding the reader. There are so many tools for measuring all things now, you can’t just be about how it looks. I think that time is over. And the good thing is the established media companies, they really need those young talents, because they will grow up and maybe go to work for them. So, it’s also part of the system.

So, I think Colophon, if we bring it back, it will have to evolve and consider this new context. There are still events happening, coming and going about media. Jeremy (Leslie) is having his Modern Magazine conference annually now and very soon also in New York. So, there are things happening in independency and I think if Colophon comes back, the future should definitely include mainstream publishers and larger media companies, and what everyone can learn from each other. I think bringing those two worlds together would be a great thing to do.

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

Mike Koedinger: Independent.

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?

Mike Koedinger: I quit TV over 25 years ago, so there’s no TV in any of my places. But a number of years ago, I’m back into visual content with Netflix, which is a fantastic tool. It added another element. So, I might be doing something which I wouldn’t have done five years ago, but I’m doing it now.

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

Mike Koedinger: I sleep very well. (Laughs) What actually keeps me up at night, to get back to your question, is to see if we can get Paperjam up and running as a franchise system in a few regions in Europe within the next three years. We believe strongly in our ecosystem, which we consider powerful and unique in Europe.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Bella Grace New Generation Magazine: Inspiring A “New Generation” Of Print With A Different Kind Of Teen Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Christen Hammons, Director of Publishing/Editor In Chief, Bella Grace New Generation…

April 5, 2018

“Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something.” Christen Hammons…

“I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.” Christen Hammons (on print’s role in a digital age)…

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

Stampington & Company have been producing niche, enthusiast magazines for almost a quarter of a century. When it comes to arts and crafts, no one knows the space better than Stampington. But almost four years ago, the company stepped out of its comfort zone and launched a beautiful lifestyle magazine for women called Bella Grace. The first issue was filled with photographs and beautifully-penned stories that touched the heart and soul of the reader.

And now Bella Grace has given birth to a daughter, New Generation, a new teen magazine from Stampington geared toward 12-19 year old girls. Christen Hammons is director of publishing and editor in chief at Stampington & Company and is excited to send out birth announcements for the latest infant of the Bella Grace brand, a teen magazine that is proud to be different and offers girls places within its pages to journal, doodle, or just be themselves. A unique magazine for the individual teen with a need to find and share her voice, something New Generation encourages as over half of the magazine’s content is teen-contributed, with an ultimate goal of much more to come.

I spoke with Christen recently and we talked about the firm print foothold that the company still believes in so strongly, something that is obvious with every new title launched. But she and the company also believe in the digital presence of a brand too and definitely feel there is room for both, as she mentions in our conversation. Print Proud is an obvious fact with Stampington, but Digital Smart is also a part of its DNA, however, never a follower, Stampington & Company does digital its own way.

So, I hope that you enjoy this fascinating conversation with a woman who isn’t afraid to step out of the box and explore new frontiers, just as the company she works for isn’t, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Hammons, director of publishing/editor in chief, Bella Grace New Generation.

But first the sound-bites:

On whether Stampington and Company is out of its mind for starting a print publication for teenagers in this digital age: I really don’t think so. Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something. It sounds a little scary, but we thought it was worth a shot. There’s really nothing out there for that age group, especially the type of magazine that we’ve put out, where it is not focused on beauty or celebrities or anything like that.

On New Generation being a spinoff of Bella Grace, only for the younger Bella’s: Exactly. That’s exactly what the hope was. We call it, not even a sister publication, we’re almost calling it the mother publication because we had quite a bit of teenagers, although they were in the upper age range of what we’re featuring in New Generation, but we were having 18 and 19 year olds writing in to Bella Grace, submitting some really amazing stories. And we realized that we had a market already there, so it just seemed logical to do this.

On the non-political tone of the magazine: We’re trying to keep it a little bit on the lighter side. We are trying to keep it to where it will appeal to a variety of people. For example, I know Teen Vogue has taken a very strong political stance, but we want to make sure that there’s a place where they can take a break from all that’s going on in the world, because every day it’s something new for them to deal with, so it’s nice to have something that is all about them.

On the smaller size of New Generation: We’re trying to keep Bella Grace as the mother publication and the gold standard, where it has the book jacket cover, a very heavy cover and it’s a large magazine. This one is a little fun and whimsical and we made it a little bit smaller so you can throw it into your purse or in your bag or your backpack. We just think it’s fun to do things a little bit different and that not a lot of people do.

On what role she thinks print plays in a digital age: I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.

On the high cover price: What we’re doing is creating an experience. We’ve always been known for having higher-end magazines. We use the best paper we can find; we use really thick paper. And on all of our magazines, we keep a limit on outside advertising that we include. We’re really committed to making sure our magazines across the board, even some of our art magazines, are more of an experience, not just stories and articles, but we’re trying to make them more interactive and things that you can’t find online or digitally.

On Facebook’s CEO buying ads in print newspapers to make his public apology about the recent data breach: We’ve been seeing an uptick in some of our advertising sales. I mean, we do limit that, we have a set number of pages that we allow, but we’re starting to see a little bit of a revitalization of some print advertising, which is hard to do because so much of advertising has changed now to product placement online or sponsorships and affiliate programs. But it’s been nice seeing a little bit of a revival of print advertising, because making magazines is very expensive, so it does help support the cost of producing them.

On how she plans on ensuring that the Stampington & Company brand grows and becomes even “brandier”: What we’re trying to do with our brand is stay true to just putting out what’s fresh and really trying to make sure that we aren’t holding onto titles that are maybe a little boring or dated, so we’re trying to stay with what we’ve become known for, which is putting out new stuff all of the time. And that’s hard to find at times too, because sometimes you think you can’t come up with a new idea, but we’ve managed to. We have some more titles coming out in the next year that will really show how we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to what a magazine can be.

On the lifecycle of a magazine and how nothing is supposed to live forever: That’s been hard for us. We just looked at some of the titles that we’ve had for a long time and realized they’re not selling as well anymore. What could we put out there that people will want to buy? It’s hard, but because we have worked on these magazines for a long time, they can get a little tedious, they’re fun, but over time, anything can get a little boring to work on, so it’s been fun to revitalize the company and everyone is excited about new stuff when we put it out. Then the readers also get excited, and you have to keep your readers interested in what you’re doing. And keep it fresh for the readers, because obviously, that’s who we make these for.

On the Bella Grace brand being such a shift in focus for the company and how that journey has been: It was very nerve-wracking. We’ve been known so long for just primarily being arts and crafts magazines, so to put something out there that’s more of a lifestyle was very scary, but it’s been so well-received. We’ve had so many people to thank us for launching it, because there’s nothing like it out there. So many women’s magazines seem to all focus on the same thing that we thought, we have amazing writers that we work with, we’re all about supporting women, so it’s just been so well-received.

On whether there might be a “son” of Bella Grace in the future instead of just being a women’s magazine: We’ve thought about that. We’re definitely always open to the idea of that. It’s just for now we feel like it’s such a good time to empower and support women. We have had occasional male contributors, but we haven’t really dove in to see if there’s an interest on the male side of things.

On the major stumbling block facing New Generation: I think it’s the matter of getting it into their hands. Whether it be a parent; our hope is that the original Bella Grace reader will see that we have something for the younger crowd and they get excited and pick it up. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, but we have ideas for reaching out to schools and English teachers to see if we can get them copies, maybe even wholesale copies, just to get it into their hands. That’s the first thing.

On the Audrey Hepburn quote in the first issue of New Generation and whether she thinks teens will relate: I think it’s just the message that it conveys and we know how popular beautifully-designed quotes are. If you spend any time on Pinterest, that’s what the majority of people are sharing on there, these types of quotes. And I think the one we used of Audrey Hepburn’s is a timeless quote.

On how she is integrating the print New Generation magazine with a digital presence: Our model has been, for the most part, to wait on producing anything digitally from our titles until the print version has sold out. So, once it has sold out we make it available digitally, so we do not have to do a reprint and a rerun of the magazines. What we’re trying to do is create a nice community online for the readers. With our Bella Grace Instagram, we really try to make an effort. We use Instagram quite a bit, as well as Facebook, of course, but it seems a lot of people are spending large amounts of time on Instagram now, and it’s really great to see the community that’s emerging from our readers. They’ll have conversations back and forth.

On what she would hope to tell someone about the magazine and its journey one year from now: I hope if we talk a year from now to tell you that the demand has been so great that we were able to increase the magazine’s frequency to as frequent as Bella Grace’s, which is quarterly. And we’re hoping by that time, I would love to have 90 percent of the contributors be within the age range that we’re reaching out to for New Generation. Right now, we have a little over half of the girls are within that age range. I would love to have almost the entire magazine made up of that, because we say on the back of the magazine that we believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell, and we really want to help them tell their stories.

On whether she feels they are more experience makers or journalists at Stampington & Company: I would say that we’re more makers than anything. We don’t report on news; I feel like we’re makers in this company and we’re trying to showcase the work of our peers at the end of the day, whether they’re writers, photographers. I think we’re makers because we’re putting out a product that we’re truly proud of, with a lot of content and a lot of just emotion.

On whether the last issue produced is always her favorite magazine: I’d like to think that each one is better and it’s my favorite, but it’s hard because I’m already looking at the next one. I finish one and my mind is already on the next one. It’s a good reminder to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished, because by the time we get our print copies back, I’m already knee-deep in the next issue and I have maybe a few minutes to flip through it and appreciate what we’ve done.

On anything she’d like to add: This is one of those magazines that we’re so passionate about and that’s not to say that we don’t connect with the artwork that we publish in our other magazines, but there’s really an emotional tie from myself, from our publisher, from our designers, when we work on Bella Grace, that it’s just something we’re so passionate about doing and we’re so proud of it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that we get from working on these titles over our art magazines.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: I would hope that they would think of authenticity and honesty.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: At the end of the day you’ll likely find me watching hockey; I’m a huge hockey fan; I have season tickets, so my husband and I are huge hockey fans. We’re a little obsessive and it’s just a great way to unwind. If you’re watching a game, you have no choice but to focus on the game, your mind doesn’t wander whatsoever. But I am also a veracious reader, I think last year I read 55 books. I’m a little more than a book a week, so those are my two passions. Watching hockey, but also reading. I love reading and I like stepping away from the computer at the end of the day.

On what keeps her up at night: (Laughs) Just having so many ideas and not having the time to execute things. Sometimes I have these ideas that I’d love to do and I just look at my daily schedule and it’s sometimes not feasible.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christen Hammons, director of publishing & editor in chief, Bella Grace’s New Generation magazine.

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind starting a print publication for ages 12-19 in this digital age?

Christen Hammons: I really don’t think so. Based off of sales reports and things that we’ve been looking at in general about what teenagers are doing, they’re buying books at the bookstores. The Young Adult section has just exploded in the past few years. So, we think there are a large quantity of teenagers who do like print and do like having a physical copy of something. It sounds a little scary, but we thought it was worth a shot. There’s really nothing out there for that age group, especially the type of magazine that we’ve put out, where it is not focused on beauty or celebrities or anything like that.

It’s hard for teenagers sometimes, going through life, and we wanted to put something out there that really helped reaffirm who they are. And we think by combining it with the worksheet style, it provides something that was definitely worth picking up in print, because no other magazine has the worksheets and prompts for the kids to write in their book. So, we thought that was a key component for making sure that the print edition was worthwhile.

Samir Husni: Stampington, as a company, has been grounded in publishing all kinds of journals, from crafts to your latest, Bella Grace. And New Generation is a spinoff of Bella Grace, for the younger Bella’s.

Christen Hammons: Exactly. That’s exactly what the hope was. We call it, not even a sister publication, we’re almost calling it the mother publication because we had quite a bit of teenagers, although they were in the upper age range of what we’re featuring in New Generation, but we were having 18 and 19 year olds writing in to Bella Grace, submitting some really amazing stories. And we realized that we had a market already there, so it just seemed logical to do this.

Our hope is that the mothers will pick up this book for their daughters. Or grandmothers or aunts will pick this up for the younger girls in their lives and show them that there is something completely different out there for them. And hopefully it will reaffirm who they are during this really tough transition in their lives.

Growing up is not the same as it used to be. (Laughs) At least, when I did it. I just can’t imagine being a teenager these days. I think back to when I was a teenager and at the core, I think everyone struggles with the same issues and is looking for the same sort of validation in their lives. I would have loved something like this when I was growing up.

I was the girl who stayed home and wanted to read Jane Austen, instead of going out with friends. I was a homebody; I was a reader. I was a little bookish, so we’ve tried to open this up to all types of teenagers who have a wide variety of interests. I think sometimes that generation is underestimated, they get a lot of unfair criticism at times. They are a generation of substance and they’re smart. And we’re just hoping that by having their moms pick it up and putting it in their hands, that they’ll fall in love with it the way we have as we worked on it.

What’s really interesting too is that we’ve seen a couple of teen magazines launch recently, but this is one where at least half of the content is written by girls that are ages 12-19, which is really unique. There are some really incredible, talented children out there, teenagers out there, and I think that really sets it apart. They’re writing these stories for their classmates and their friends, and their own generation, so that’s what’s been fun, getting these incredible stories from these girls. I think our youngest contributor is 12 in this issue and it just gives them a voice. I think all anyone really wants is to be heard. So, we’ve been really proud to be able to provide them with their own voice.

Samir Husni: I’ve noticed that you have avoided any political aspects in the magazine?

Christen Hammons: We’re trying to keep it a little bit on the lighter side. We are trying to keep it to where it will appeal to a variety of people. For example, I know Teen Vogue has taken a very strong political stance, but we want to make sure that there’s a place where they can take a break from all that’s going on in the world, because every day it’s something new for them to deal with, so it’s nice to have something that is all about them. And something that just supports who they are and hopefully helps to give them a little more confidence, or lets them know that there’s other girls out there just like them that are committed to the same things in life.

Samir Husni: You’ve also managed to create a new size for the magazine, different than the rest of your titles. Tell me more about the idea of having a compact size print magazine.

Christen Hammons: In August 2017, we actually launched the first spinoff of Bella Grace, and that was our Field Guide, which is a whole workbook, full of prompts to write in and all of that. And we thought it would be fun to set it apart by making it a smaller size. So, it’s even smaller than New Generation, but we just thought it was a good size to tuck into your bag. It’s a nice distinction from Bella Grace.

We’re trying to keep Bella Grace as the mother publication and the gold standard, where it has the book jacket cover, a very heavy cover and it’s a large magazine. This one is a little fun and whimsical and we made it a little bit smaller so you can throw it into your purse or in your bag or your backpack. We just think it’s fun to do things a little bit different and that not a lot of people do.

Samir Husni: In your opinion, what role does print play in a digital age?

Christen Hammons: I think there’s room for both. I’m an avid reader and I go back and forth between my Kindle and my paper books constantly. I have a huge paper book collection and love the feel of those. There are people who want to unplug from time to time and I think it’s nice to be able to have the feel of paper. But they can work alongside each other. I do believe some people get tired of technology occasionally and it’s a good break to be able to pick up a paper magazine. There are just certain things you can’t do digitally that you can with paper and that’s what we have really enjoyed. The act of going to the bookstore and picking up your magazine and flipping through it.

We have a couple of coloring pages in New Generation. We’ve got over 16 worksheets that give girls a little fun prompt to write, and it encourages them to either write or doodle, things like that. And you can’t do that with digital. And we think that’s what’s really fun about it. But I do think there’s a place for both.

Samir Husni: For the price of one issue of New Generation, you can subscribe to an entire year of some other magazines.

Christen Hammons: What we’re doing is creating an experience. We’ve always been known for having higher-end magazines. We use the best paper we can find; we use really thick paper. And on all of our magazines, we keep a limit on outside advertising that we include. We’re really committed to making sure our magazines across the board, even some of our art magazines, are more of an experience, not just stories and articles, but we’re trying to make them more interactive and things that you can’t find online or digitally.

Samir Husni: Recently, a friend of mine reminded me that when Facebook’s CEO apologized for the data breach, he didn’t use Facebook or any digital device, he actually bought ads in print newspapers.

Christen Hammons: We’ve been seeing an uptick in some of our advertising sales. I mean, we do limit that, we have a set number of pages that we allow, but we’re starting to see a little bit of a revitalization of some print advertising, which is hard to do because so much of advertising has changed now to product placement online or sponsorships and affiliate programs. But it’s been nice seeing a little bit of a revival of print advertising, because making magazines is very expensive, so it does help support the cost of producing them.

Samir Husni: You’ve been making magazines for some time now and you’ve created your own niche in the marketplace, where even if your name is not on the magazine as Stampington & Company, people directly know that it’s a Stampington & Company magazine. How are you ensuring that your brand will continue to grow and that it becomes actually “brandier” as print has become “printier?”

Christen Hammons: What we’re trying to do with our brand is stay true to just putting out what’s fresh and really trying to make sure that we aren’t holding onto titles that are maybe a little boring or dated, so we’re trying to stay with what we’ve become known for, which is putting out new stuff all of the time. And that’s hard to find at times too, because sometimes you think you can’t come up with a new idea, but we’ve managed to. We have some more titles coming out in the next year that will really show how we’re always trying to push the envelope when it comes to what a magazine can be.

And what’s been fun with Bella Grace is that we’ve really embraced that as a brand. We’ve embraced it as a lifestyle, by having Bella Grace and then having the sister publications coming off of that and the daughter publications, it’s really strengthening our brand and becoming really well known. We’re hoping to maybe look into maybe product lines that support it, that really fit within the Bella Grace feel.

We’ve really just become committed to keeping our brand fresh and exciting and launching things off of that to really enforce what our brand is, because we have a couple of other special publications that will be coming from the Bella Grace name. So, we’ll keep playing with ways to keep that brand exciting, but at the same time we still have our Stampington brand as well, which we have another handful of stuff coming out in the next year in place of titles that aren’t working so well anymore. Sometimes people have seen enough copies of something and it’s time to maybe either reduce the frequency or just to shift focus onto something else that maybe people haven’t seen so much of.

Samir Husni: You’re actually living the lifecycle of magazines. This is one of the things that I tell people; when a magazine dies or a magazine is born, that’s the natural lifecycle. Nobody is supposed to live forever.

Christen Hammons: Right, and that’s been hard for us. We just looked at some of the titles that we’ve had for a long time and realized they’re not selling as well anymore. What could we put out there that people will want to buy? It’s hard, but because we have worked on these magazines for a long time, they can get a little tedious, they’re fun, but over time, anything can get a little boring to work on, so it’s been fun to revitalize the company and everyone is excited about new stuff when we put it out. Then the readers also get excited, and you have to keep your readers interested in what you’re doing. And keep it fresh for the readers, because obviously, that’s who we make these for. But it has been hard to say goodbye to a few titles though.

Samir Husni: The last time we spoke, it was when you launched Bella Grace and it was a major shift from the titles that you had. When we spoke then, you were testing the waters with something very different. How has that journey been for the company?

Christen Hammons: It was very nerve-wracking. We’ve been known so long for just primarily being arts and crafts magazines, so to put something out there that’s more of a lifestyle was very scary, but it’s been so well-received. We’ve had so many people to thank us for launching it, because there’s nothing like it out there. So many women’s magazines seem to all focus on the same thing that we thought, we have amazing writers that we work with, we’re all about supporting women, so it’s just been so well-received. I’m glad we were nervous, because it made it exciting. Being that excited should make you nervous, but it really has been well-received.

Samir Husni: Any thoughts about having any “sons” of Bella Grace instead of daughters, or you’re going to just be a women’s lifestyle magazine?

Christen Hammons: We’ve thought about that. We’re definitely always open to the idea of that. It’s just for now we feel like it’s such a good time to empower and support women. We have had occasional male contributors, but we haven’t really dove in to see if there’s an interest on the male side of things.

Samir Husni: What do you think will be the major stumbling block facing New Generation?

Christen Hammons: I think it’s the matter of getting it into their hands. Whether it be a parent; our hope is that the original Bella Grace reader will see that we have something for the younger crowd and they get excited and pick it up. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, but we have ideas for reaching out to schools and English teachers to see if we can get them copies, maybe even wholesale copies, just to get it into their hands. That’s the first thing.

Samir Husni: On the last page of the magazine, there’s a quote from Audrey Hepburn. One of my students, who is a senior and graduating this May, her magazine idea is a magazine called Hepburn, after Audrey Hepburn. And she is a reader of Bella Grace. And she knew that New Generation was coming out before I did, I guess. Do you think this generation will relate or why Audrey Hepburn for these 12-19 year olds?

Christen Hammons: I think it’s just the message that it conveys and we know how popular beautifully-designed quotes are. If you spend any time on Pinterest, that’s what the majority of people are sharing on there, these types of quotes. And I think the one we used of Audrey Hepburn’s is a timeless quote. I thought it would be a challenge coming up with quotes.

A large part of Bella Grace and New Generation are these quotes that are laid out on photography. And I thought it would be challenging to find quotes that would relate to the age group for New Generation. But it was actually really easy, because the themes are universal, I think, for the most part. And so we really tried to keep in mind that having these quotes in there; maybe the girls would rip them out of the magazine and put them on their walls.

We were just looking for something that would appeal to the wide range of girls that are in this. And that’s a very well-known quote from Audrey Hepburn. And at the end of the day, these girls may not know who Audrey Hepburn is, but they’ll like the message she’s sharing.

Samir Husni: As we look at this “New Generation” of print, and recently my new book came out, Print Proud Digital Smart, you said earlier that we have to have both today, print and digital. How are you integrating this proud print product with the digital presence?

Christen Hammons: Our model has been, for the most part, to wait on producing anything digitally from our titles until the print version has sold out. So, once it has sold out we make it available digitally, so we do not have to do a reprint and a rerun of the magazines. What we’re trying to do is create a nice community online for the readers. With our Bella Grace Instagram, we really try to make an effort. We use Instagram quite a bit, as well as Facebook, of course, but it seems a lot of people are spending large amounts of time on Instagram now, and it’s really great to see the community that’s emerging from our readers. They’ll have conversations back and forth.

And we’ve heard from people that they’ve made friends with the people that they have interacted with on Instagram, just through our account. So, we’re just trying to build an online community that’s apart from the magazine, but is still a digital presence online.

Samir Husni: As you look toward the future, if you and I are chatting a year from now, what would you hope to tell me about New Generation?

Christen Hammons: I hope if we talk a year from now to tell you that the demand has been so great that we were able to increase the magazine’s frequency to as frequent as Bella Grace’s, which is quarterly. And we’re hoping by that time, I would love to have 90 percent of the contributors be within the age range that we’re reaching out to for New Generation. Right now, we have a little over half of the girls are within that age range. I would love to have almost the entire magazine made up of that, because we say on the back of the magazine that we believe everyone has a voice and a story to tell, and we really want to help them tell their stories.

Samir Husni: Do you consider yourself more of an experience maker or a journalist?

Christen Hammons: I would say that we’re more makers than anything. We don’t report on news; I feel like we’re makers in this company and we’re trying to showcase the work of our peers at the end of the day, whether they’re writers, photographers. I think we’re makers because we’re putting out a product that we’re truly proud of, with a lot of content and a lot of just emotion.

Samir Husni: And is the last issue always your favorite magazine you produce from any magazine?

Christen Hammons: I have favorites. That’s funny because when you work on a magazine, each one has its backstory, and maybe this one was more difficult for whatever reason. We’ve had some things just happen within the company that has almost been laughable, where we’re right on track and then something happens and we’re totally thrown off and then we’re behind. So, sometimes you have those personal ties to the magazines that you’ll associate with that particular magazine.

I’d like to think that each one is better and it’s my favorite, but it’s hard because I’m already looking at the next one. I finish one and my mind is already on the next one. It’s a good reminder to step back and look at what you’ve accomplished, because by the time we get our print copies back, I’m already knee-deep in the next issue and I have maybe a few minutes to flip through it and appreciate what we’ve done.

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

Christen Hammons: This is one of those magazines that we’re so passionate about and that’s not to say that we don’t connect with the artwork that we publish in our other magazines, but there’s really an emotional tie from myself, from our publisher, from our designers, when we work on Bella Grace, that it’s just something we’re so passionate about doing and we’re so proud of it. It’s a different kind of fulfillment that we get from working on these titles over our art magazines.

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

Christen Hammons: I would hope that they would think of authenticity and honesty.

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?

Christen Hammons: At the end of the day you’ll likely find me watching hockey; I’m a huge hockey fan; I have season tickets, so my husband and I are huge hockey fans. We’re a little obsessive and it’s just a great way to unwind. If you’re watching a game, you have no choice but to focus on the game, your mind doesn’t wander whatsoever. But I am also a veracious reader, I think last year I read 55 books. I’m a little more than a book a week, so those are my two passions. Watching hockey, but also reading. I love reading and I like stepping away from the computer at the end of the day.

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

Christen Hammons: (Laughs) Just having so many ideas and not having the time to execute things. Sometimes I have these ideas that I’d love to do and I just look at my daily schedule and it’s sometimes not feasible.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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