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EatingWell Magazine: Celebrating 30 + Years Of Health & Wellness Excellence That Includes Far More Than Just The Delicious Recipes – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jessie Price, Editor In Chief, & Tiffany Ehasz, Publisher…

April 13, 2021

“For our readers, the print magazine is going to continue to be relevant and important. It’s a totally different experience than how they get the brand on digital. I think for print it’s all about that serendipitous sit-back, relax and enjoy having content brought to you that you might not have expected. Our readers open the magazine and they know they’re going to get recipes, but it’s all that stuff around the recipes that surprises and delights them.” Jessie Price…

“Most of our successful integrations are rooted with the print content, where we can bring it to life across EatingWell.com and our social channels, which are performing tremendously right now. Advertisers are looking for those connections across all of our channels and so far they have been proven successful.” Tiffany Ehasz…

Launched in 1990, EatingWell is a brand that is stretching its food wings into far more than just delicious recipes. Although, there are plenty of those as well. With an avid focus on health and wellness, covering everything from food to kitchens to appliances, EatingWell has proven what its capable of, even during a pandemic.

I spoke with Jessie Price, editor in chief and Tiffany Ehasz, publisher, and we talked about the brand’s track record during 2020. Jessie said that the brand’s digital audience has grown year over year, 49 percent in January and in February, 48 percent, year over year, with direct-to-publisher subscriptions up 15 percent from 2019 to 2020. And with this happening during a pandemic, Jessie said it’s a testament to how relevant the brand’s content is across all its platforms.

Tiffany agreed whole-heartedly and said that while there were some challenges, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, they overcame those by digging deep into other categories and utilizing what Jessie had created for them in the book, which was more categories to go outside their food advertisers.

It was an informative and delightful interview with two women who are passionate about what they do and have the same end goal, to win against any challenges and make sure that their readers and advertisers are winning as well. So please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jessie Price, editor in chief and Tiffany Ehasz, publisher, EatingWell.

But first the sound-bites:

On how they adjusted to operating during a pandemic (Tiffany Ehasz): Prior to the pandemic, it was a lot of client-facing meetings, a lot of dining out as you probably know. But right now it’s really about lots of Zoom calls with partners trying to use their time wisely with impactful, smart and meaningful conversations and ideas as we know their time is limited. So making that impact has been a bit of a difference-maker for us, but we have been successful in doing that and in bringing EatingWell to the forefront.

Tiffany Ehasz, publisher, Eating Well magazine.  Photo credit: Jeff Hornstein

On how the brand EatingWell can help advertisers and readers navigate out of the pandemic (Jessie Price): From the editorial side, I would say we’re at that perfect intersection between health and wellness and sustainability. We were relevant before the pandemic; we’ve become even more relevant and we plan to stay focused on that same area. We’re all about helping people and we’re going to remain focused on that.

Jessie Price, editor in chief, Eating Well magazine. Photo credit Oliver Parini

On the role the printed magazine plays in the cross-channel communication with the readers and the advertisers (Jessie Price): For our readers, the print magazine is going to continue to be relevant and important. It’s a totally different experience than how they get the brand on digital. I think for print it’s all about that serendipitous sit-back, relax and enjoy having content brought to you that you might not have expected. Our readers open the magazine and they know they’re going to get recipes, but it’s all that stuff around the recipes that surprises and delights them. 

On the sales pitch for the printed product to advertisers (Tiffany Ehasz): Honestly, my sales pitch is the fact that not only has our content grown tremendously beyond food, but our readers are very much engrossed in that content from cover to cover. And when we’re thinking about these amazing ideas, we know that it’s working because the numbers are up and all of our advertiser executions are performing very well from a research perspective.

On whether there have been any challenges during the pandemic (Jessie Price): For our business, on the consumer side, it’s been amazing. Our digital audience has grown year over year, 49 percent in January, year over year. In February, 48 percent, year over year. It is enormous. Our direct-to-publisher subscriptions from 2019 to 2020 are up 15 percent. And they are staying at that increased 15 percent up level and we think that’s just the new normal. So, it’s been great.

On any challenges on the business/publisher side (Tiffany Ehasz): There were some challenges, especially in the beginning of the pandemic. A lot of our food advertisers had their own challenges, supply issues or holding back some money just in case. We didn’t know what the future would hold. How we overcame that was by digging deep into other categories and utilizing what Jessie has created for us in the book, which is really more categories to go outside those food advertisers.

On how they see the magazine among the competitive set that’s out there, as an epicurean magazine or as a lifestyle magazine (Tiffany Ehasz): We are absolutely rooted in food, but we do have a focus on wellness and sustainability. And they’ve always been key to this brand and it truly sets us apart. The brand is currently so relevant and the continued evolution and expansion of the content to address our audience’s complete lifestyle, which is really at the intersection of health, well-being and food, is a really sweet spot to be in and we are completely capitalizing on it. 

On the power and education of the EatingWell brand when it comes to health and wellness (Jessie Price): The brand EatingWell, in terms of education about health and wellness has always been about having a balanced and sensible approach that’s based in science. We have never been about crazy diets. We have never been about restriction or deprivation. It’s really about eating balanced in a way that you can sustain for your whole life.

On what they hope to have accomplished in one year with the brand (Tiffany Ehasz):  We have come so far and as Jessie mentioned, our growth has been astronomical this year consumer-wise. More people now know about EatingWell and we anticipate the momentum and the growth to continue. 

On anything either of them would like to add (Jessie Price): We did a story on income and equality and its connection to health outcomes. It was an 8-page feature and a heavy read, but it was basically looking at all the data that shows that there’s a real connection between the less income you make, then the less healthy you are. And I got a number of letters from readers about that story. No surprise there. One of the letters included a personal check for $50 and a note saying, Dear Jessie, thank you so much for this story. It’s so important and I’m so glad you’re covering this topic, please give this $50 check to the subject who was the lead in the story. 

On what makes them tick and click (Jessie Price): We knew this was one of your regular questions and Tiff and I were thinking about what makes us tick and click as a team together. We both love food and love to eat; we both love to laugh and have great senses of humor; and we’re both super-competitive. So I would say for both of us it’s that we love the subject and we just want to win and we want to do better all the time.

On how they unwind at the end of the day (Tiffany Ehasz): I sit back with an issue of EatingWell and I have my glass of wine.

On what keeps them up at night (Jessie Price): For me it’s always about how can I make a story better or how can something be more creative. It’s just always about making the magazine better. When I’m up at 3:00 a.m., that’s what I’m thinking about. Or if I get a new idea. 

On what keeps them up at night (Tiffany Ehasz): For me it’s really about on the business side, how can we become smarter and create these partnerships to almost establish more tent poles. I see the future with bigger partnerships as it relates to EatingWell and certain big companies out there. And my goal is to marry those partnerships to create something beyond the print publication, social and digital. To really take ourselves to the next level. And I think we’re ready to do that sooner than later.

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jessie Price, editor in chief, and Tiffany Ehasz, publisher, EatingWell magazine.

Samir Husni: How did you adjust to operating during a pandemic?

Tiffany Ehasz: Prior to the pandemic, it was a lot of client-facing meetings, a lot of dining out as you probably know. But right now it’s really about lots of Zoom calls with partners trying to use their time wisely with impactful, smart and meaningful conversations and ideas as we know their time is limited. So making that impact has been a bit of a difference-maker for us, but we have been successful in doing that and in bringing EatingWell to the forefront. 

Jessie Price: From an editorial perspective, there were a lot of technical changes in how we produce the magazine, because making a magazine is such a collaborative process. And we’re so used to being together as a team, talking all day long. So, at the very basic level it was finding new ways of communication for the team.

The second part of it is we had to adjust our content. And for a food magazine, that was things like changing the number of servings a recipe would make for the holidays, for example. Maybe people wouldn’t be needing 12 servings of a recipe, six servings made more sense. We also took into account people’s reasonable concerns about being safe when they were eating together. So that meant things like individual portion recipes or we had page where instead of making dips that served a whole lot of people where everyone would be dipping into the bowl, each person got a little individual dip with their own dippers to go into it. 

And the other thing that was huge because of the pandemic was immunity-related content. We saw that skyrocket in popularity near the beginning of the pandemic and continues to stay important and relevant now. 

For us, we were really in the right place, in terms of being interesting and providing content for our readers for what was going on with them during this whole thing, because they were at home. They needed to cook for themselves and they were worried about their health, so we were providing both the food and the wellness content that was what they needed during this time.

Samir Husni: As we hopefully move into a post-pandemic time, how can EatingWell as a brand help both your partners, the advertisers, and your audience, the readers, navigate out of this pandemic?

Jessie Price, From the editorial side, I would say we’re at that perfect intersection between health and wellness and sustainability. We were relevant before the pandemic; we’ve become even more relevant and we plan to stay focused on that same area. We’re all about helping people and we’re going to remain focused on that.

The other thing is we have found that there is so much more than just recipes that is important to our audience. We’ve been able to expand our content beyond just food to cover all sorts of different aspects of that wellness lifestyle, such as kitchens, appliances, fitness; we’ve been interviewing celebrities because so many of them are interested in food and wellness. So it’s really broadening what we’ve been able to cover, but still have that focus of wellness and sustainability. 

Tiffany Ehasz: From a business perspective, we are just so proud of what’s been going on with our advertisers this past year. It’s super encouraging that we are close to flat versus last year. We’re holding our own with the competitive set; we did suffer some attrition, but we’ve had amazing category wins with categories such as telecom, hospitality, beauty and retail. 

And clients are really asking for bigger ways and custom ideas to get in front of our readers with an increased investment. Partners like Green Giant, National Honey Board and Kraft Mac and Cheese captured our readers’ attention this year with impactful executions that we can prove worked. So we’re very proud of that.

Samir Husni: What role do you see the printed edition of EatingWell playing in the cross-channel communication with the readers and the advertisers?

Jessie Price: For our readers, the print magazine is going to continue to be relevant and important. It’s a totally different experience than how they get the brand on digital. I think for print it’s all about that serendipitous sit-back, relax and enjoy having content brought to you that you might not have expected. Our readers open the magazine and they know they’re going to get recipes, but it’s all that stuff around the recipes that surprises and delights them. 

For my team, it’s really all about remembering that we have to constantly be layering in all sorts of different content that will surprise and delight them, because that’s what the print experience is about. 

In terms of the other platforms, we’re going to continue to push out on all fronts because the brand is resonating with audiences across platforms, just in different ways. But print is not going away.  

Tiffany Ehasz: And same for me, tacking onto what Jessie just said. Most of our successful integrations are rooted with the print content, where we can bring it to life across EatingWell.com and our social channels, which are performing tremendously right now. Advertisers are looking for those connections across all of our channels and so far they have been proven successful. 

Samir Husni: What’s your sales pitch to advertisers about the necessity of the printed product? 

Tiffany Ehasz: Honestly, my sales pitch is the fact that not only has our content grown tremendously beyond food, but our readers are very much engrossed in that content from cover to cover. And when we’re thinking about these amazing ideas, we know that it’s working because the numbers are up and all of our advertiser executions are performing very well from a research perspective. 

So, my sales pitch really is print subs are up, social is up, digital traffic has skyrocketed in the past year. And together it’s very meaningful. And the numbers are there to prove if we can execute something like this for you cross-channel, rooted in some really relevant content that our readers are interested in, we do that and they get very excited. 

Samir Husni: So, have there been any challenges for you along the way or has it been a walk in a rose garden for you during the pandemic?

Jessie Price: For our business, on the consumer side, it’s been amazing. Our digital audience has grown year over year, 49 percent in January, year over year. In February, 48 percent, year over year. It is enormous. Our direct-to-publisher subscriptions from 2019 to 2020 are up 15 percent. And they are staying at that increased 15 percent up level and we think that’s just the new normal. So, it’s been great. 

Samir Husni: On the business/publisher side, what were some of the challenges that you’ve had to face?

Tiffany Ehasz: There were some challenges, especially in the beginning of the pandemic. A lot of our food advertisers had their own challenges, supply issues or holding back some money just in case. We didn’t know what the future would hold. How we overcame that was by digging deep into other categories and utilizing what Jessie has created for us in the book, which is really more categories to go outside those food advertisers. 

As I mentioned before, the investments that some of the partners we have who want to invest more, who are doing well and can keep up with the demand, has been incredibly successful for us. So essentially, digging deep into other areas and bringing smart ideas has helped us. We did suffer some attrition, but we were able to make it up and hold our own versus the competitive set. 

Samir Husni: When you’re selling the magazine to the advertiser or to the readers, how do you see yourself among the competitive set that’s out there? As an epicurean magazine or as a lifestyle magazine?

Tiffany Ehasz: We are absolutely rooted in food, but we do have a focus on wellness and sustainability. And they’ve always been key to this brand and it truly sets us apart. The brand is currently so relevant and the continued evolution and expansion of the content to address our audience’s complete lifestyle, which is really at the intersection of health, well-being and food, is a really sweet spot to be in and we are completely capitalizing on it. 

Samir Husni: And from an editorial point of view, how do you see the magazine among the competitive set that’s out there?

Jessie Price: At our core, we are absolutely a food magazine. But especially because wellness and sustainability are so integral to this brand, it has allowed us to expand our content and integrate a lot more of that lifestyle content into the pages of the magazine. And we have been delighted to see how our readers are reacting to it. They are loving the interviews with celebrities; they’ve even enjoyed our beauty pages, which was actually very surprising to me. I was happy to see it. It has been a really nice growth and evolution for the brand. 

Samir Husni: Yet, with all this evolution you have a bagel on the cover. (Laughs)

Jessie Price: What do you think? (Laughs too) It’s actually called a flagel, which is a flat bagel and a little lower calorie than a regular bagel. But it’s also packed with lots of healthy stuff. It has Omega 3; it has beets and cucumbers; it has an egg; yes, it has cream cheese also. It’s healthy and it tastes great too. That is eating well; that is that perfect marriage.

Samir Husni: Tell me about the power and the education of the brand EatingWell when it comes to health and wellness.

Jessie Price: The brand EatingWell, in terms of education about health and wellness has always been about having a balanced and sensible approach that’s based in science. We have never been about crazy diets. We have never been about restriction or deprivation. It’s really about eating balanced in a way that you can sustain for your whole life. 

And we know our readers love to cook and eat and so it has to be delicious. To me delicious actually comes before health within the whole equation, because if it’s not delicious it’s not going to be sustainable for someone’s entire life. And that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t think of when they think of healthy food, is being delicious. But it really is the first part of getting anyone to a healthy and sustainable life’s diet.

Samir Husni: And from a business point of view, when it comes to the power and education of the brand on health and wellness.

Tiffany Ehasz: What we love are our new partners that are coming here from this and how being rooted in food 30 years ago, we’ve just completely changed the game content-wise, which our advertisers are absolutely loving. 

They understand that and they understand how far this trend has come, that EatingWell potentially started that conversation 30 years ago and that it has completely transformed into something different and delicious and sustainable. And they want to partner with that message. They’re embracing this lifestyle personally and so are their clients and advertisers who are surrounding themselves with that messaging. 

Plus the fact that we are trending with consumers. It doesn’t matter for some of our partners, be it certain indulgent categories, they want to be part of the conversation and they know where readers are coming to get their content and information. And it’s at EatingWell. 

Samir Husni: If we’re having this conversation a year from now and the pandemic is behind us, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with EatingWell during that year?

Jessie Price: With our growth we’ve reached new audiences and I think that’s really exciting. Whether they wanted to or not, a lot of people have become cooks and will hopefully become lifelong EatingWell fans.

Tiffany Ehasz: I agree with, Jessie. We have come so far and as Jessie mentioned, our growth has been astronomical this year consumer-wise. More people now know about EatingWell and we anticipate the momentum and the growth to continue. 

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

Jessie Price: I wanted to tell you one little anecdote, because I think you’ll like this. A lot of the feature stories that we do are about sustainability or heavier issues. We did a story on income and equality and its connection to health outcomes. It was an 8-page feature and a heavy read, but it was basically looking at all the data that shows that there’s a real connection between the less income you make, then the less healthy you are. 

And I got a number of letters from readers about that story. No surprise there. One of the letters included a personal check for $50 and a note saying, Dear Jessie, thank you so much for this story. It’s so important and I’m so glad you’re covering this topic, please give this $50 check to the subject who was the lead in the story. Please forward it to her. 

I thought that was pretty amazing. It was the first check I ever got with a letter to the editor and it really demonstrated to me the power of print, the power of magazines, and the importance of telling those kinds of stories about how food impacts the world around you. 

And I’d like to say we are very rooted in Vermont and feel extremely thankful that Meredith chose to keep us here because this is such a great place to be producing a magazine that is very interested and focused on food origins and where your food comes from and producing it responsibly. It’s a part of our DNA and I’m glad we’re here. 

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click and motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Jessie Price: We knew this was one of your regular questions and Tiff and I were thinking about what makes us tick and click as a team together. We both love food and love to eat; we both love to laugh and have great senses of humor; and we’re both super-competitive. So I would say for both of us it’s that we love the subject and we just want to win and we want to do better all the time.

Tiffany Ehasz: 100 percent. That’s exactly it. We both want to win and make sure that our readers and our advertisers are winning a well. 

Samir Husni: How do you unwind at the end of the day?

Tiffany Ehasz: I sit back with an issue of EatingWell and I have my glass of wine. 

Jessie Price: I cook; I love to cook and I drink wine while I cook. (Laughs)

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

Jessie Price: For me it’s always about how can I make a story better or how can something be more creative. It’s just always about making the magazine better. When I’m up at 3:00 a.m., that’s what I’m thinking about. Or if I get a new idea. 

Tiffany Ehasz: For me it’s really about on the business side, how can we become smarter and create these partnerships to almost establish more tent poles. I see the future with bigger partnerships as it relates to EatingWell and certain big companies out there. And my goal is to marry those partnerships to create something beyond the print publication, social and digital. To really take ourselves to the next level. And I think we’re ready to do that sooner than later. 

Samir Husni: Thank you both. 

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