Archive for the ‘A Mr. Magazine™ Musing’ Category

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After 64 Years Between The Covers – Hugh Hefner Makes It To The Playboy Cover

October 31, 2017

A Mr. Magazine Musing…

For the first time ever a man is on the cover of Playboy without a model accompanying him – and it’s the founder himself, Hugh Hefner. And Mr. Magazine™ wonders what Hef would think about that. After 64 years between the covers (no pun intended) he makes the cover, and a few extra dollars to boot.

And what would he think about those few extra dollars, considering the cover price is almost $15 (minus one penny) for the special “collector’s edition” that bears his likeness? Possibly, that he’s no different than the rest of us, worth monetarily more in death than in life.

When Cooper Hefner returned the nudity to the magazine and changed the frequency to six times per year instead of 12 and doubled the cover price to $12.99, which was the same price for a one year subscription; it seemed to be an effort to bolster a somewhat sagging framework. Plus, correct the major error Cooper thought his father had made when he did away with the nudity in the magazine.

And now with the collector’s edition, which has Hefner in profile on the cover, they’ve added the label “collector’s edition” and a few extra pages, and are charging $2 more. For the man who enjoyed being on the inside of the magazine, I contemplate what he would really think about being on the cover? And what he would think about the fairly blatant attempt to not only honor him, but also make money?

Maybe a nod of approval – after all, he always said:

“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.”

Until next time…
See you at the newsstands…

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Between Birth And Death: There Is Always Time To Celebrate… A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

October 11, 2017

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, founder and director, Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/
Ole Miss Communications

The recent death of my brother-in-law brought something to mind, the fact that everyone and everything has a life cycle, people, pets, plants, and even magazines. As the Good Book reminds us:

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

And if I may add, there are many events, changes, birthdays, and anniversaries that make up the hyphen in between that time to be born and that time to die. And just because a baby is born or a person dies, does not mean the entire species hinges upon those two events. With one birth, does not come an entire creation of people, it’s a continuation; just as with one death does not come the end of the human race, it is the continuity of the life cycle. And so it is for magazines as well. When one title dies, it doesn’t mean the entire magazine industry has bitten the dust. When one editor resigns, one publisher dies, or just get fired, it is not the end of the magazine or the brand. It is just part of the life cycle.

That being said let us light some candles and celebrate the hyphen in between those dates for the titles listed here. Maybe the 70s group, Little River Band, said it best “Happy Anniversary, Baby,” but Mr. Magazine™ is saying it to these magazine brands as sincerely and affectionately as I know how.

Happy Anniversary to each and every title on this list, and I certainly have each one of you on my mind as I firmly say there is no better reflector of society in this country, or the world, for that matter, than magazines. And each one mentioned here has a reason to celebrate, in the often uncertain and precarious marketplace that exists in the world of magazines; not one is celebrating anything less than a 20th anniversary, and one is observing a sesquicentennial. Congratulations to one and all, and rest assured you are never far from the mind of Mr. Magazine™.

So without further ado here are magazines celebrating anniversaries this time around:

150th Anniversary

60th Anniversary

50th Anniversary

50th Anniversary

45th Anniversary

40th Anniversary

20th Anniversary

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Looking Past The Headlines… Or Seeking The Truth In Journalism And Media Reporting…

October 2, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, founder and director, Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. Photo by Robert Jordan/
Ole Miss Communications

September has been a month to remember in the world of magazines and magazine media. Editors resigning, media reporters quick to editorialize on the demise of magazines and publishing as a whole, marketing experts questioning the effectiveness of digital advertising, and magazine industry leaders taking a stand to separate fact from fiction. Just take a look at some of the recent headlines and quotes from various media outlets in no specific order:

“The reality is that in 2017, the bloom came off the rose for digital media,” said (Marc) Pritchard. “The reason: substantial waste in what has become a murky supply chain. As little as 25 per cent of the money we spend in digital media actually makes it to the consumer. With $200bn in spending, it’s frankly time to stop giving digital a pass, and ask it to grow up.” Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer, P&G

“People use social media to share things about their lives with each other. And let’s face it, ads are annoying in that context.” Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer, P&G speaking at Dmexco, Sept. 13

The Not-So-Glossy Future of Magazines
Magazines still line classic newsstands like this one in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. But the publishing industry has faded.
By SYDNEY EMBER and MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
The New York Times’ story headline and caption… Sept. 23, 2017

“Here’s a headline for you: Print is alive and well with consumers everywhere. I know it’s different than the headlines you’ve been seeing lately, but it happens to be a fact.” Michael Clinton, President Marketing & Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines, Monday Sept. 25

Digital advertising revenues are fleeting; far from the antidote to print declines they were — pardon me — advertised to be; according to some estimates, at least one-third of all digital ad impressions are fraudulent. What’s more, brands are growing increasingly skittish about the potential for their messaging to wind up in brand-unsafe environs, and transparency and trust have never been at such a premium. Ad Opts IQ, from Folio Sept. 29

“Consumers and women still love the printed format to turn to for inspiration and for more of that lean-back experience. And what we look for more with digital is as a utility to help them to do something in the short-term. So, inspiration versus utility, as I like to say.” Tom Harty, president and COO, Meredith, Monday Sept. 25

So, did the publishing industry really fade as The New York Times would like us to think? And are digital ads really fleeting as reported in Folio:’s Ad Opts IQ? And those digital ads; are they really annoying people on social media as Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P & G, said? Is print really alive and well with consumers everywhere, as Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director, Hearst magazines, wrote in a recent article? Are “consumers and women still loving the printed format to turn to for inspiration and for more of that lean-back experience,” as Tom Harty, president and COO of Meredith, stated?

So what’s one to do in the midst of the conflicting and sometimes fake headlines? How can one tell the difference between fact and fiction? Needless to say, unless one looks past the headlines and goes back to the truth of journalism, the answers will be hard to come by, unless…

To be continued… stay tuned.

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Print Proud, Digital Smart…

July 21, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
“Imagine” John Lennon…

Perhaps John Lennon said it best. But when it comes to print, Mr. Magazine™ has also perhaps been a dreamer his entire life. Print has always been a part of my DNA since as far back as a small boy growing up in Tripoli, Lebanon. And for anyone who knows me, this isn’t breaking news.

However, CEOs and presidents of major publishing companies cannot afford to be entirely dreamers. I’m not implying that these men and women do not have visionary outlooks about their companies’ futures, but they also have a very shrewd and knowledgeable view of the business side of publishing. And when it comes to their bottom lines, they aren’t going to risk adding value to those simply to realize a childhood dream.

That being said, in the past few weeks I have interviewed any number of CEOs and presidents from some of the biggest publishing companies in the world, and they’ve all had one thing in common: their strong belief in being print proud and digital smart. Which as it turns out happens to be my theme for the upcoming Magazine Innovation Center’s 2018 ACT 8 Experience: Print Proud, Digital Smart. (Save the dates April 17 to 20, 2018). No apologies from Mr. Magazine™ for being in tune with some of the industry’s most intelligent and perceptive leaders. These men and women have a strong belief that print is their core product and THEY make no apologies for that, while acknowledging that digital is equally important in its own space.

It began with Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director, Hearst Magazines. Hearst has seen amazing success with titles such as “The Pioneer Woman,” HGTV Magazine,and “Food Network Magazine,” both print publications having been born from equally successful partnerships with these multiplatform brands. Perhaps Michael said it best in Hearst’s case:

“I think that we continue to have a very strong point of view about our business. Obviously, we believe in our core product—which is print. Why do we believe so strongly? It’s because the consumer believes so strongly in it.”

“Great ideas do get funded. You know, create and sell. Great ideas get funded. Oftentimes, what I would tell our team when they would say, “Well, they don’t have a print budget.” I would say, “Let me ask you a question: do they have a budget?” Because every brand has a marketing budget, right? And, if you bring them a great idea, a great idea will get funding. And so we have many, many, many examples of business that has been created with no budget. The idea creates the budget. So, my mantra is “Great ideas do get funded” when you have the great, innovative idea.”



I spoke with Doug Kouma next, editorial content director, Meredith Core Media. Meredith has also found success in outside brand partnerships, having teamed up with Joanna and Chip Gaines from the highly popular HGTV series: “Fixer Upper,” to launch “The Magnolia Journal,” a magazine that was met by a huge success that it was moved from Meredith Core Media to the core Meredith magazines group. Perhaps Doug said it best in Meredith’s case:

“I actually think the tangible magazine you can hold in your hands is a feather in the cap for a digital-first brand. It’s what says, “We’ve made it. We’re here to stay. We’re legitimate.” And, almost counterintuitively, I suspect a lot of that is being driven by millennials. For as digitally savvy, and as digital-first a generation as millennials and Gen Z’s are, there’s also this yearning for authenticity and for something real. Again, I think it’s based on the type of content. I think with that generation in particular. It’s not fair at all to say millennials aren’t magazine readers. They’re magazine readers, but they want different types of magazines and want to consume information in different ways.”

From Doug Kouma, I spoke with Rich Battista, president and CEO, Time Inc. It’s hard to argue with anything one of the largest publishing companies in the world does. For generations, Time Inc. has been an innovator, going multiplatform even from the days of Henry Luce, with the launching of the “March of Time.” Perhaps Rich said it best in Time Inc.’s case:

“In a company that the DNA is incredible content and brands, I think we must find ways to leverage those brands and exploit them in as many platforms as possible, build new revenue streams, and grow old revenue streams. The print business is in a secular decline; I don’t think any of us can deny that. But, our print business is still number one in publishing , which is still a huge part of our revenue base. There are lots of advantages to what we can do with our print platform that helps us in many other ways.”

Andy Clurman, president and CEO from Active Interest Media was up next. Andy believes that for magazine media people, the transition to digital was not necessarily a natural progression. And why would it be? Perhaps Andy said it best in AIM’s case:

“I think fundamentally digital businesses are not the same as the magazine media business. We all have social media and you could say a magazine audience might be, from a community standpoint, like the original social media, but Facebook’s business model and Google’s business model are pretty radically different than the traditional magazine business model. So, it wasn’t a natural progression that if you’re in the magazine media business, you should have, would have figured all of that out.”

Former CEO, Penton and former CEO, Cygnus Business Media, and now co-founder of French LLC, John French emphatically believes the future for print is bright, if you do it right. Perhaps John said it best in his case:

“I think the future is bright and I think it’s bright in print. Fifteen years ago people were saying that publishers were going to be losing their jobs and print would be dead. You’re still hearing some of that today. Not as verbose and not as much, but you can still hear it. And I don’t believe it. Again, I think the audience is saying that if you do it right; if you customize it to what their area of interests are; if you make it look pretty, and you make it an experience that the audience can be proud of; make it theirs and something they can take ownership of, then they will read our print.”

And last, but certainly not least in this elite group of industry leaders, I spoke with Bonnie Kintzer, president and CEO of Trusted Media Brands. Bonnie’s print titles come from a legacy of being consumer-first publications. From Reader’s Digest to the Roy Reiman titles it acquired, such as Taste of Home, TMB and its leader thinks that putting customer first is the secret to their continued core success. And make no mistake, Bonnie believes that print is their core foundation, but also expects major growth from their digital side. Perhaps Bonnie said it best in Trusted Media Brands’ case:

“Why do people feel this need to beat up on print, in particular people in the industry? We closed our fiscal year June 30; we were up on advertising for both Reader’s Digest and Taste of Home year over year. Print is strong for us. We have a great respect for print and we have a great respect for the print reader. Of course, we expect greater growth to come from digital advertising, but one does not preclude the other.”

And Mr. Magazine™ is in complete agreement with each and every one of these savvy industry leaders. And is waiting on the day when all of the print naysayers and the pundits who shout that print is on its way out realize that in the 21st century those of us who love print for its experience, its power, its engaging and interactive relationship with the audience, let alone the money that it can bring a media company, does not mean that we do not also relish the convenience and scope of digital. We can and we should have both. To each has its power and reach. We don’t have to choose. Perhaps someday they’ll realize that.

Perhaps…

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

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Learning From The Past When It Comes To Launching A New Magazine – Sometimes The Vintage Ways Work The Best. Plus Time Inc. Multi Media Ventures Circ. 1930s…

June 16, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

I often hear the question: how do you launch a magazine in today’s digital age? And what role does digital play in today’s magazine media market place? Now, those are loaded queries if I’ve ever heard one, simply because there is no definitive answer. You need passion, innovation, a really good idea, stick-to-itiveness, which is a non-word that will become your mantra, and of course, financial backing. So what better answers to get from searching our past as we chart the present and the future.

A new launch and the role of digital in today’s magazine world can always use a leg-up as well; an edge, if you will. That’s why this Mr. Magazine™ Musing was written, because I discovered a golden nugget from the past that still rings very true today. Going that extra mile or offering that little oomph that maybe some other magazine isn’t, could quite possible be someone’s “leg-up” or “edge” when it comes to launching a new magazine today. There really is nothing new under the sun; if you thought of it, so has someone else. Even Time Inc. in the 1930s opted to go beyond print to spread its content. So here are some pearls of wisdom from the past that people fail to look for; just because the oyster’s shell is old, doesn’t mean there isn’t a treasure inside.

I was perusing the treasures inside the Mr. Magazine™ Classic Vault recently, (my own personal oyster shell pile) when I stumbled upon an amazing find. Beneath the bounty of exquisite classic titles, in a corner all its own, lay the oversized (14 x 17 inches) preview issue of Cinema Arts magazine, launched in September, 1936 . The cover showcases the striking features of the inimitable actress Jean Arthur, who in 1936, with the release of the Frank Capra film, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” was celebrating her first featured role.

Now, what is so significant and important to note with this preview issue, not that the beautiful Jean Arthur was anything to sneeze at, is that this particular sneak peek at the magazine was meant entirely for private circulation and not for public sale.

The magazine has an announcement at the very front of the book which proclaims that, “it should be stated that none of these advertisements were paid for and advertisers in no way endorse Cinema Arts. Our purpose in publishing this preview issue is to acquaint national advertisers, agencies and motion picture executives with the type of publication they may expect.” The announcement goes on to list the advertisers, agencies, and they also thank people in the motion picture industry.

However, what really grabbed my attention and impressed me was the magazine, in this private issue, introduced itself to the public, the industry and the advertisers. It didn’t just show up in someone’s mailbox or on their doorstep. The publisher actually took the time to explain the magazine’s mission statement and its goal to each of the publication’s three different customers that it would be serving.

There is an introduction for each one in the beginning of the book and this is a fantastic lesson for new magazines today to learn from. You have to cater to your customers who count, instead of trying to count all of John Q. Public as your customers. And in the case of Cinema Arts those customers were the film industry, as a whole, the public and the advertisers. So, in the Cinema Arts Presents introduction, each individual consumer is addressed singularly.

Another amazing thing about the magazine is the quality of the printing and the size of the preview issue. It’s an experience unto itself, before you even start to read it. Just touching the paper that they used for some of the pages gives you such a sensory perception of the passionate offering the magazine put out there.

Time Inc. Multi Media Ventures

In addition to the way the magazine was introduced, there were unbelievably interesting and informative articles within its pages. One that really caught my attention was written by Ralph Rolan, who was vice president of radio’s, “MARCH OF TIME,” and was also circulation manager of TIME before he became the producer of “MARCH OF TIME.”

In the article he talks about how in 1931, Henry Luce, “After establishing two great magazines in the publishing field, “TIME” and “FORTUNE,” turned to radio and introduced on Friday nights, the “MARCH OF TIME,” presenting the significant news of the week dramatized by able actors and pointed with TIME’s own style of editorial writing. For five years the “MARCH OF TIME” on the air has won most of the polls and awards offered for dramatic programs.”

The article continues with more enlightening content: “Most talked of factor of TIME, FORTUNE and the MARCH OF TIME on the air has been the frankness and keenness with which its editors have discussed the world’s news. So it was with considerable trepidation on the part of motion picture theater operators that they learned the MARCH OF TIME was to be made into a motion picture. They wondered, under the censorship regulations of almost every state, if such a strong fare could get by and, if passed, how the audiences, who were used to the happy endings of fictional romances and drama, would receive the strong, stark happenings of real events.”

“The MARCH OF TIME on the screen made its appearance February 1st, 1935 in 417 theaters scattered throughout the United States. Today it shows in more than 6,000 theaters in the United States, has spread over a thousand in the British Empire, hundreds in the Spanish speaking nations and some 300 more theaters scattered throughout the United States possessions and miscellaneous English speaking colonies throughout the world – an excellent answer to all skeptics.”

So, this magazine, Cinema Arts, had the vision of reaching its three audiences, and producing some very informative articles, such as the one that caught my attention about Time Inc. and its role in multimedia from the company’s inception. The importance of what Rolan was talking about in his article shows the depth and value of good content. Something that still holds true today.

For those of us willing to open our minds and see the possibilities that history presents us and the very real publishing lessons that we can learn, there’s no telling what “new” information we might reintroduce to the world of magazines.

Until next time…

See you at the newsstands…

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Magazines Always Deliver… Whether Numbers Are Up Or Down – Magazines Never Disappoint

June 12, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing Comparing The First Five Months Of 2017 To 2016

As I surveyed the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor for the first five months of 2017, I couldn’t ignore that the musing I am about to write comes to you with a slight bittersweet positivity. An odd description, you might think, but the reason for the oxymoronic tinge of phrasing is because, unfortunately, as happens occasionally, the numbers being compared for the first five months of 2017 show a slight downward trend, in both frequency and specials. However, on the flip side, that positive flow that always propels ink on paper is still supremely prevalent. No matter the “numbers,” magazines always deliver the goods. Always. Just as Mr. Magazine™ himself feels the random slowdown, so does the stream of magazines rolling off the presses. It doesn’t mean that I or they are down for the count, it merely signifies an “off” day, so to speak.

From January through May, 2017, the numbers are as follows:

• Total Frequency Titles – 47
• Total Special Titles (including bookazines & annuals) – 205

From January through May, 2016, the numbers are as follows:

• Total Frequency Titles – 86
• Total Special Titles (including bookazines & annuals) – 252

As I’m sure you can do the math yourself, I won’t waste your time showing you the actual numerical difference. Suffice it to say, major publishers and companies haven’t let the thought of a “slowdown” curtail them in the least. This year alone, we’ve seen past magazines reborn, leading companies creating new ones, and entrepreneurs stepping out onto that visionary limb to go for their dreams. From the rebirths of Paste, Brio, and Zink magazine to the premiere issue of Airbnb Mag, the successful company’s new travel magazine published with partnership with Hearst Magazines, to the February, 2017 magazine launch, Rova (about millennials who love to roam the open roads in their RV’s) that any entrepreneur would be proud to call their offspring, new launches are still being catapulted into that stratosphere called the magazine market. Slowdown means nothing to the medium that knew what it was like to stand against the forces of darkness a few years ago, namely the naysayers who were determined that the last nail in the magazine coffin belonged to them.

Of course the launch of The Pioneer Woman (this month, and also published in partnership with Hearst Magazines) is not included in this musing, neither the one million new circulation numbers for The Magnolia Journal (published in partnership with Meredith)… just keep in mind we are comparing the first five months of 2017 to that of 2016.

But have no fear magazine lovers everywhere: the printed word is going nowhere. Except maybe onto the page of the next new magazine launch, which I’m sure will be out any day now.

Until we meet at the newsstands…

The chart below compares the first five months of 2017 to that of 2016 and is followed by the month to month breakdown of the numbers:

• January 2017:

• Frequency – 5
• Specials – 32

• January 2016:

• Frequency – 21
• Specials – 56

• February 2017:

• Frequency – 4
• Specials – 33

• February 2016:

• Frequency – 12
• Specials – 57

• March 2017:

• Frequency – 6
• Specials – 62

• March 2016:

• Frequency – 7
• Specials – 46

• April 2017:

• Frequency – 12
• Specials – 30

• April 2016:

• Frequency – 21
• Specials – 50

• May 2017:

• Frequency – 20
• Specials – 48

• May 2016:

• Frequency – 25
• Specials – 43

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WIN Magazine: The Day Magazines Paid For “User-Generated Content”… A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past.

April 7, 2017

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Magazines have been valuing their readers and their ideas for years, even before This Old House magazine became “Your Old House” for an issue a few years ago, allowing its readers to have free rein with the content. Also before many cooking magazines, such as titles from Southern Progress Corp., were asking its readers to share favorite recipes; and even before Roy Reiman built an empire based on a business model that worked successfully for him, where his readers wrote around 80 percent of the content of his magazines.

Today, it’s called “User-Generated Content” or UGC and there are all kinds of articles and inspirations out there to help one learn how to best utilize and collect this important – and you would think – newly discovered strategy. However, it’s far from new, as you read from the previous examples, and it’s certainly not unique to those prestigious entities either.

I opened up my Mr. Magazine™ Classic Vault recently and dug around inside, coming up with a beautiful title from 1939 called “WIN.” And it would appear this over 75-year-old magazine’s contents were entirely reader-written, wait – that’s the same as user-generated, correct?

The tagline for the first issue of WIN dated March 1939 reads: ‘The Magazine Written By The People – Photos – Stories – Gags – Poems – etc. And not only did this magazine accept content written by its readers, it paid them for it by utilizing the received material in a contest format. Somebody had on his or her thinking cap in 1939, that’s for sure. In fact, inside the magazine, next to its Table of Contents, there is this reminder: Don’t forget, $5,000 every issue.

It’s a very good execution of what many in the media business are trying to do today. And it’s a forerunner of that brand new catchphrase: user-generated. But just remember, there is nothing new under the sun; if we’ve done it today, guaranteed it’s a long shadow and being cast from someone many decades before.

Until the next Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

See you at the newsstand…