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Family Handyman Magazine At 70. Nick Grzechowiak, Chief Content Officer, to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “We Are Not Letting Our Foot Up On The Gas When It Comes To Ink On Paper.” The Mr. Magazine™ Video Cast…

November 22, 2020

“I believe the days of anonymous content are coming to an end. We have seen this uprising of content that was written by some voice in the sky that was telling people what to do; cook this for dinner tonight because the Internet told me to. People are looking to voices and brands that they trust, because I can go to YouTube and I can spend an hour looking at how to solve my problem and get five different answers for how to fix a running toilet. Family Handyman is an established brand that’s been telling people how to do things the right way for 70 years.” Nick Grzechowiak…

For almost 70 years, Family Handyman has guided generations of homeowners through DIY projects, from fixing things up to making their own way through renovations or repairs. Family Handyman launched in 1951, so 2021 marks its 70th anniversary. I spoke with Nick Grzechowiak recently, chief content officer of the brand, and we talked about this milestone celebration that is coming up. Nick is excited and very optimistic about the brand’s continued success in both print and online. Family Handyman strives to be the reader’s go-to destination for projects, renovations, and all things DIY for the home. 

So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ video cast with Nick Grzechowiak, chief content officer, Family Handyman. 

Nick Grzechowiak, Chief Content Officer, Family Handyman magazine.

But first here are the sound-bites: 

On the magazine’s early statement that if someone lived in a house, they needed the magazine and whether or not 70 years later that was still true: Absolutely, I believe it is still true. For a lot of people their home is their largest investment. And I think what we’ve seen over the last eight months during this pandemic is that whether people have lost investments in the stock market or it’s a spouse losing a job or income, people are really looking back at their home as something they need to take care of and improve. And as a way to gain potential wealth.

On how he decides what content goes in the ink on paper magazine and what goes online: As a brand, Family Handyman really strives to meet our consumers wherever they are. Some people love picking up that tactile experience of the ink on paper. When we think about the lineups for the magazine, we really do a combination of what’s happening in the world; what are people seeing; what’s happening at new home showcases? Also, what are those tried and true things that people need to either update their skills on or learn that new skill? When I think about the website, the user on the website is such a different journey than the magazine. We’re delivering  you the information in your mailbox or the newsstand, whereas on the website it’s really “in the moment.” When I think about the website content, you really have to think about that path people would follow.

Recreating the Letter From The Editor from the first issue of the magazine.

On the content from a 1953 edition of the magazine and whether those articles are timeless: One of the beauties of our magazine that started in the 1950s is that I really believe mid-century modern design is have its heyday. It has come back. People still like that look and feel. We still get requests for projects that we published back then, people who want that look again.

On what differentiates Family Handyman from Google or YouTube when it comes to finding out how to do something: I believe the days of anonymous content are coming to an end. We have seen this uprising of content that was written by some voice in the sky that was telling people what to do; cook this for dinner tonight because the Internet told me to. People are looking to voices and brands that they trust, because I can go to YouTube and I can spend an hour looking at how to solve my problem and get five different answers for how to fix a running toilet. Family Handyman is an established brand that’s been telling people how to do things the right way for 70 years. And in these days of anonymous content, a voice that is authoritative, trustworthy and comes to you with a mentoring tone as opposed to an almighty voice that’s telling you “this is what you need to do to your house” is really where I believe Family Handyman stands apart from what I call that anonymous content. 

On what he would hope to tell someone he had accomplished when the brand’s 75th anniversary rolls around: One thing that is really important for us to keep our eyes on is to continue to evolve with what I’ll call the “modern homeowner.” To really make sure that we understand them, their relationships with their homes and what they want. I think it’s a fool’s mission to just go on autopilot and assume that what homeowners want today is the same thing they’d want in five years. And I think that’s what has really kept Family Handy man relevant is that we do research, we talk to homeowners and we are homeowners. We realize that what I wanted 10 years ago is different than what I want today.

On many magazines having the word “the” in their titles and why “The” Family Handyman became “Family Handyman” and dropped the word the: I think it’s a little bit more contemporary. As we have evolved our voice, I strive to have my editors take a mentoring tone. We’re not “The” only thing in the world. We realize that people aren’t living in a bubble, they’re consuming other things. And just to be more contemporary and to be that partner that can join them on that journey as opposed to being the almighty “The.”

On whether he can envision a day when there won’t be an ink on paper Family Handyman and it will be strictly digital: The magazine is an incredibly important part of our business today, as it was 70 years ago. We’re not letting our foot up on the gas when it comes to ink on paper. The nuance there is really with the consumer and making sure that we can meet them wherever they choose to consume.

On who the “Family Handyman” is today: That family handyman has evolved over time. If you look at our website numbers in the last six months, we’ve seen females outnumber their male counterparts visiting our website. Fifty-one percent of the traffic to our site is women, which is amazing. We’ve also seen it get younger. Millennials have grown over the last year visiting our site and as well readers of our magazine. We’ve seen an increase of millennials and females to our readership. 

On how the pandemic has changed Family Handyman’s publishing operation: The biggest challenge for me personally was in the routing of pages of the magazine. I love getting my hands on the paper that has everyone else’s markups on them and passing it off to the next person; I love that process. I believe that’s one of the only things that has changed. We have a really strong culture at Family Handyman. We have a really collaborative and creative environment. We’ve been using technology like this to be able to communicate daily, sometimes hourly with what’s happening. We still do pinups. We still do magazine lineups where we have all the right people in the room. We still do the routing, it’s a little bit different, different putting a virtual Post-it on a PDF, but it’s still happening. 

On anything he’d like to add: This idea of empowering and mentoring homeowners is going to continue to gain us an invitation into their homes. And going to continue to gain us that strength as a brand as the go-to resource for home improvement. 

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at his home: First, you’d have to get past the dogs because they wouldn’t let you sneak up to the house. (Laughs) So that would be the first thing. After a long day at work, what you’re going to find me doing is, I enjoy reading and I enjoy music. One of my favorite things has been, I’ve hooked up a 1970 record player in the living room and have it connected to my home sound system. I’ve got two younger kids and we sit and listen to albums, which is a really fun way, very similar to print, where you can be there in the moment with something you can touch. That’s probably what you’d catch me doing.

On what keeps him up at night: Making sure that we can stay ahead of what’s next. That we don’t put on the cruise control or the autopilot and assume that what people wanted yesterday is what they’re going to want tomorrow. 

On what makes him tick and click: I love cooking outdoors and we’ve brought that back into Family Handyman. It was always a part of it, grilling. It’s one of my favorite hobbies, cooking. Whether it’s over a smoker or a grill or whatever, I love that. 

And now, without any further delay, enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ video cast with Nick Grzechowiak, chief content officer, Family Handyman. 

One comment

  1. […] the days of anonymous content are coming to an end,” he tells Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni in a recent interview. “We have seen this uprising of content that was written by some voice in the sky that was […]



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