Archive for the ‘Innovation in print’ Category

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Seeing Science As An ‘Engine Of Human Prosperity,’ Scientific American’s Editor-In-Chief & Senior Vice President, Mariette DiChristina, Marches Boldly Into The Future – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…

March 26, 2015

“Now that digital media are around, print hasn’t disappeared, but it has changed. And it’ll continue to change and I would expect it to. It would probably be very boring living on this planet if things didn’t change.” Mariette DiChristina

sa0415Cvr_Lo Propelling science into the 21st century might seem like an odd statement, but that’s exactly what Mariette DiChristina, Editor-in-Chief and Senior Vice President of Scientific American magazine has done. Mariette has been inspired and challenged by her career at Scientific American since she began in 2001. And she and the magazine have both benefited from those stimulating revelations.

From a challenging idea posed by Scientific American President, Steven Inchcoombe some years ago: wouldn’t it be wonderful if the magazine could become a major player in the digital field; Mariette proceeded to make that dream a reality. Bringing her print and digital staffs together on equal footing, the two previously separated groups became one team and the website went from 1.3 million unique monthly visitors in 2010 to 7.24 million uniques in January 2015.

Mariette is a firm believer in using every tool available to meet her audience on their own turf, their platform of choice, be it print, laptop, tablet or mobile. I spoke with her recently and discovered that she’s a woman who is passionate about science and about her brand. And that being versatile with every platform possible to engage with her audience is her prime focus and goal. We talked about the past, the present and the future of Scientific American and its diversity when it comes to communicating with readers.

The fascination and love she has for the subject matter of her brand is revealed in every sentence she speaks. Mariette was a science journalist for more than 20 years and her acumen on the topic is irrefutable. She is the eighth person and first female to assume the top post in Scientific American’s 170-year history. Under her leadership, the magazine received a 2011 National Magazine Award for General Excellence and many other awards.

So, I hope you enjoy this interesting and thought-provoking conversation with a woman who believes science is “an engine of human prosperity,” the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Mariette DiChristina, Editor-in-Chief and Senior Vice President, Scientific American magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

Mariette_DiChristina On the secret that has kept Scientific American going all of these years: I guess one answer to your question, at least from my perspective, and of course, I’m partial; although the magazine will be 170 years old this year, it’s really new every day, thanks to a lot of our digital platforms.

On how she is manifesting the brand digitally: We have a website, apps, digital products such as e-books; we have digital products such as PDF collections of our archive material; we call those ‘Classics.’ For instance, if you’re a student and you want to write a story about the history of aviation; we can tell you about it before the Wright Brothers; we have an archive compilation, a ‘Classic’ on that topic, that’s one digital product that we offer.

On whether she can imagine the Scientific American brand without a print component: Well, I think I can imagine anything; I have a pretty good imagination. (Laughs) But a counter point to that, I always think is, what the customers want is what we’ll provide. And as long as there are people who would like to consume in print, Scientific American will provide them with a print product.

On her expectations from new journalists she might hire: What I expect now is what I’ve always expected, which is, first and foremost; you’re an excellent reporter and storyteller, but the tools have changed and as the tools have changed, we’ve changed the way in which we produce that storytelling.

On a major stumbling block she’s had to face over the years and how she overcame it: A challenge that I faced happened in 2011; it was really the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. I got a couple of, again, inspiring, challenges from management and one of them was from Steven, who said, it would be great if we could, in a few years’ time, say in five years, get to be a large digital player. And there was a specific number he said to that, which was, he would love it if we could get to 8 to 10 million unique visitors.

On how she thinks the job of editor has changed over the years: My whole team has responsibilities in both directions (print and digital). If you’re an associate editor with not as much experience maybe as a senior editor, then your print work might be editing a column and you might spend more of your time writing. You’ll get some editing experience too, so that eventually you’ll learn how to manage entire packages of content like a special report

On anything she’d like to add: I’d just like to mention a couple of other different platforms to you and these are conventional platforms; they’re kind of ancillary in a way. Scientific American has a book in print with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. So online, we might have short stories or longer stories that are really a fast turnaround. In print, we have longer feature articles that are providing analysis and then we have book-length.

On what keeps her up at night: That’s a great question. I sleep really well actually; I think that’s an executive skill. (Laughs) What keeps me up at night? Well, it’s not that it keeps me up at night, but I think anybody who runs a publication likes to solve problems and likes to solve puzzles, so I’ll think about, what we should consider trying to delight our audiences. I’m always thinking about the audience as people we’re having a conversation with.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Mariette DiChristina, Editor-in-Chief, Senior Vice President, Scientific American magazine…

sa0315Cvr_Lo Samir Husni: Looking at the history of science magazines since their inception; Scientific American is, of course, one of the oldest, if not the oldest, continuously-published magazine in the country; what’s the secret that has kept Scientific American going all of these years?

Mariette DiChristina: First of all, let me confirm for you, as far as our records show, we are the oldest, continuously-published magazine in the United States, not the oldest continuously-published science magazine, but the oldest continuously-published magazine with no gaps of any sort.

And I guess one answer to your question, at least from my perspective, and of course, I’m partial; although the magazine will be 170 years old this year, it’s really new every day, thanks to a lot of our digital platforms. You know once upon a time, Scientific American was even weekly, which was very frequent in those days, but now we have multiple ways of reaching our audiences and for each of those audiences, we have a unique way of expressing what is Scientific American.

Samir Husni: And with that expression; what do you think that you’ve done differently? I remember when I first came to the United States in the late 1970s, there were an amazing number of new science magazines that came to the market and then disappeared.

Mariette DiChristina: You’re referring to the 1980s, aren’t you?

Samir Husni: Yes.

Mariette DiChristina: I remember that and it was a very fun time in traditional print magazines around science. Like you, I was very excited as well.

Samir Husni: I remember Gerald Piel coming to speak to our class. And I asked him that same question and he said, well, at least now we have competition, which means it’ll keep us on our toes and give us the incentive to be better.

Mariette DiChristina: I have to agree with Mr. Piel on that. I’ve always liked the idea of competition, and I guess for all of us who produce magazines, especially in the science area, by that metric, we have more competition than ever. In fact, by many metrics I think people can agree, there is more science communication being consumed today than ever before.

The fact that there aren’t as many that are traditional brands and magazines like Scientific American, well, in some ways I’m sorry about that because I’m a traditional, old-time journalist, but in other ways I would never turn the clock back from people’s active engagement with science across lots of media. I find it all very exciting, actually.

Samir Husni: And how are you translating that? I know you have the monthly print magazine; you have all the SIP’s, the line extensions; how are you manifesting the brand now in the digital world?

Mariette DiChristina: We have a website, apps, digital products such as e-books; we have digital products such as PDF collections of our archive material; we call those ‘Classics.’ For instance, if you’re a student and you want to write a story about the history of aviation; we can tell you about it before the Wright Brothers; we have an archive compilation, a ‘Classic’ on that topic, that’s one digital product that we offer.

We also have digital subscription products that are at different frequencies than Scientific American digital, the main magazine, because the magazine itself, as a print and digital component, digital replica, is monthly, although it’s new every day with news on the site. We also have a weekly product that collects research summaries together called ‘Briefings.’

So, we have a variety of ways to reach out, and let me add to that; like everyone else in the modern era; we have videos and podcasts and we have infographic and interactive images that we put on our website as well.

Samir Husni: Can you imagine all of those different digital platforms existing without a print component?

Mariette DiChristina: Well, I think I can imagine anything; I have a pretty good imagination. (Laughs) But a counter point to that, I always think is, what the customers want is what we’ll provide. And as long as there are people who would like to consume in print, Scientific American will provide them with a print product.

I think one of the things that we’re seeing is, as new media have come on, our consumption patterns have changed. This shouldn’t be surprising. Magazines are organic creatures, like anything else that lives on earth. When TV came along and radio was around, radio didn’t disappear, but it did change.

And now that digital media are around, print hasn’t disappeared, but it has changed. And it’ll continue to change and I would expect it to. It would probably be very boring living on this planet if things didn’t change.

sa0215Cvr_lo Samir Husni: As an editor and someone who’s responsible for the hiring and firing of personnel; what are your expectations now from a new team of journalists that you hire or that come onboard the magazine?

Mariette DiChristina: That’s a great question. I’ve been editor-in-chief here for five years, December was my fifth anniversary, and I can tell you how it was and things we did by way of answering your question.

What I expect now is what I’ve always expected, which is, first and foremost; you’re an excellent reporter and storyteller, but the tools have changed and as the tools have changed, we’ve changed the way in which we produce that storytelling.

When I was first acting editor-in-chief in 2009, I got, at the time, a new boss, his name is Steven Inchcoombe, he’s the president of Scientific American, and he came up to me and he asked, Mariette, what’s your vision? What should Scientific American be? What do you want it to be if you were the editor-in-chief? And I have to tell you; Steven’s questions were probably some of the most inspiring ones I’ve ever had in my career, because I did what you just asked me, Samir; I asked myself, what does it need to be and how do we make it be that?

So, I thought, let’s start with the core; science, I think, is an engine of human prosperity. I really think that everything you care about and I care about, when we read the headlines every day; the phones we’re using to talk on now; the computers that we compose our work on; all these things were developed through basic research and then applied and improved our lives over time.

Knowing that science is an engine of human prosperity, and that Scientific American has played quite a role in that for the past century and a half, I started to think about the things that people need from it and who are those people. And how do they consume their media, because everything has to start with who you’re talking to. If you’re talking to a child, you speak on way; if you’re talking to an adult, you speak another way. So, who are we talking to now and what are their needs?

So, we did a lot of basic reader research at that time, and we do it ongoing, everybody does it ongoing, but I’m just talking about when I first started thinking about where Scientific American needed to go and how we needed to accomplish that.

And I thought about the people who depend on science, which is all of us, but we depend on it in two, rather unique ways. One is people who depend on it because they just love it; they believe science for its own sake is a wonderful thing, that humans are curious creatures and we are inspired to learn about everything around us and science is an amazing evidence-based tool to do that with. I call those people, ‘Mr. Core,’ they’re our core audience.

Then there are people around ‘Mr. Core’ who really appreciate science if only they understand how it connects to something they value. Maybe they need science because they’re policy leaders and they have to make decisions that are going to be good for the populace they’re supporting or serving. Maybe they need to understand science because they’re a business leader and they want to know where to invest or what innovations are the ones that they need to invest in. Maybe they’re scientists and they want to know about other fields; maybe they’re educators or students who have their unique perspectives and needs. So, I thought about all of these customers and then I thought about what do the customers use.

Once upon a time, Samir, you and I as magazine people only had one way to talk to our audiences; we had this print product. We would tell our stories, maybe get some letters back in the mail and occasionally a phone call. But today, it occurred to me one day like a bolt of lightning that was easy then, we had the idea that we were speaking to this mass audience, but I started to look at the way the audience behaved differently in different places. On the iPad, they downloaded certain things; on the website, they did others. Then I really began to realize in a visceral way, and you’ll know this too, because every magazine editor has kind of a character that we have in our heads that we’re writing to or who their particular readers are, or examples of reader personas.

But it occurred to me that they differed not just demographically, but also by temperament, depending on the media they chose to consume. After I had a better understanding of different ways people like to consume the content that Scientific American produces; I could then find the staff to produce that, and when I say ‘I,’ of course I mean, getting training or university training to support our team, so that they had the right digital media skills to do it.

So, the short answer to your question is, we know we need to deliver on a lot of different types of media; the storytelling is and remains the core and then we have specialists who support the editorial team in producing a story and video or producing a podcast or any of the other media that we use.

Samir Husni: You assumed your position as permanent editor-in-chief in December 2009 right after the economy crashed and digital really came onto the scene; what was the major stumbling block that you had to face then and how did you overcome it?

Mariette DiChristina: There are editorial stumbling blocks and business ones, and I’m going to put the business ones to the side, because I think everyone saw the same challenges with advertising, starting around 2009, and the industry has experienced that. And all of us have seen similar challenges, I would say, in newsstand distribution shake-ups and in thinking about last year.

But editorially, let me tell you the biggest challenge. I told you a little bit about 2009 and how I started to, with Steven Inchcoombe’s support, think about a vision for Scientific American that really served the public and would inspire them about science as an engine of human prosperity, which by the way, was not a new invention on my part. Scientific American has always supported innovation in the United States ever since it was founded. In my case, I wanted it to apply to the modern era.

A challenge that I faced happened in 2011; it was really the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. I got a couple of, again, inspiring, challenges from management and one of them was from Steven, who said, it would be great if we could, in a few years’ time, say in five years, get to be a large digital player. And there was a specific number he said to that, which was, he would love it if we could get to 8 to 10 million unique visitors. We’d had similar challenges for other areas of the business.

Remember when I was telling you earlier about all of the different products that we produce? Also in 2010, we were producing around 20 digital issues. We had 12 of Scientific American, 6 of Scientific American Mind, which is the sister publication that I started in 2004 about behavioral and neuro sciences; I launched that here in the U.S. And then we did a couple of newsstand anthologies per year. So, let’s call it 20 issues of for-sale content, not counting all the things we put online that’s open-access and supported by advertising, but just counting the paid packages.

We wanted to go from 20 one year to 120-plus the following year as a business. And you might ask: what was the 120-plus? Well, it was the e-books that I mentioned; the ‘Classics,’ which are PDF packages; the series of ‘Briefings’ that I mentioned to you also, and we were going to launch our iPad issue app. We had done iPad tests, but we were a little later than some on the issue app.

And if you add all those things together, knowing that an iPad issue app, which we were using the Adobe DPS platform, requires an issue in adding multimedia content; I called that in my head another 100 issues of content per year basically. Not all original, a lot of it repackaged, but it was a volume question.

So, I looked at my goal; and I also had a personal goal at the same time of wanting to make this a great place to work for the editorial team, because I love to be challenged and I think all editorial people are very curious people who love to tell great stories. So, how could I make it fun, while we’re at it, and make it a good growth experience?

It occurred to me, just like it occurred to me about different platforms and how the audiences were different; it occurred to me that my team was optimized really for content creation, but not yet for content curation.

So, that was the challenge. How was I going to take a team of journalists and make them efficient I curation and still able to continue to deliver inspiring, award-winning editorial content and get to those volumes? That was my biggest challenge.

I took a series of initiatives. First of all; nobody was telling me that I had to do anything in particular, but it occurred to me that we weren’t structured in a way that people could succeed.

So, I got the management group together and I told them, here are our challenges; we’re trying to get to these numbers; we have only a certain amount of staff and we want this to be a great place to work; we don’t want to give up on getting national magazine award nominations or anything like that.

We did what a lot of people do, which is, first of all, we looked for ways we weren’t being efficient. And one of the biggest ways was, like everybody else; our online team was separate from our print team. Everybody was doing that; online was a small thing and it grew over time. And it seemed to me they were similar to silos; at the time, and this was 2011, online team were rather newer in their careers and all they did was churn copy really fast, and a lot of the other people that focused on print were more experienced, dutiful journalists, but not necessarily, because of that, as well connected to the news of the day.

I decided to eliminate the barriers and what I did was remove separate meetings, where everyone met together, paired up the then-called online reporters with the then-called print editors, so they could talk about together how we should cover something. They could think about what was our daily coverage and then what was our longer-term coverage. We had to work out some of the workflows around that too, but the result was startling traffic growth, really startling.

And also startling volume output change of my senior team, because once they were looking more at their colleagues working online, and looking more at the news cycle, they started to write about it more. In one year, there were on the order of about 300 additional articles out of not a very big editorial team. It was just due to opening up some time for them, bringing them together and the act of simply supporting each other.

We went from, in 2010, an average of 1.3 million unique visitors each month to January 2015, we hit 7.24 million unique visitors and I would argue to you that that’s faster than organic growth, because I haven’t added headcount. The reason is because it’s a more digitally adept and a more digitally comfortable team supplying the content behind the science that matters to the public.

Samir Husni: When you were editor of Scientific American Mind, which you launched in 2004; how has the job of an editor changed in those years?

Mariette DiChristina: Let me clarify something to you also. I came to Scientific American in 2001 as its executive editor. And while I was Scientific American’s executive editor, I launched Scientific American Mind. So, I’ve been at Scientific American this whole time. I’ve been the editor-in-chief since 2009. I just wanted you to know that I wasn’t at Mind and then came to Scientific American after. I was at Scientific American and then started Mind.

In 2004, the online team, as I just said, was separate from the print team. So, if you were an online writer, you wrote stories for online and if you were a print editor, you produced content for print.

But now my whole team has responsibilities in both directions. If you’re an associate editor with not as much experience maybe as a senior editor, then your print work might be editing a column and you might spend more of your time writing. You’ll get some editing experience too, so that eventually you’ll learn how to manage entire packages of content like a special report. We’re always trying to make sure that people can grow their skills.

If you’re a senior editor, you’re handling large packages like a 300 to 500 word story, a special report, or maybe a whole single topic issue, but you also write online, and you also take a turn twice a month editing all the copy online. We have kind of a rotating city editor workflow, which lets the senior editors get a break of just editing content that’s running through the website; it puts them in direct touch with the website and it gives the team who are writing every day different editors to work with so it hones their skills as well.

Samir Husni: So surrounded by all these platforms, all these devices and teams that work with you; what makes you eager to get out of bed each morning and say, wow, I’m going to work?

Mariette DiChristina: (Laughs) What doesn’t make me say wow, I’m going to work? I think I have one of the world’s greatest jobs; I can’t imagine anything more inspiring and important than sharing news about science with our audiences.

Samir Husni: Anything else that you’d like to add?

Mariette DiChristina: I’d just like to mention a couple of other different platforms to you and these are conventional platforms; they’re kind of ancillary in a way. Scientific American has a book in print with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. So online, we might have short stories or longer stories that are really a fast turnaround. In print, we have longer feature articles that are providing analysis and then we have book-length.

Also, with Macmillan Education, we have a textbook for non-majors that Scientific American branded. There’s There is one on biology; one on earth science and there is one on psychology.

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

Mariette DiChristina: That’s a great question. I sleep really well actually; I think that’s an executive skill. (Laughs) What keeps me up at night? Well, it’s not that it keeps me up at night, but I think anybody who runs a publication likes to solve problems and likes to solve puzzles, so I’ll think about, what we should consider trying to delight our audiences. I’m always thinking about the audience as people we’re having a conversation with.

Or think of it like you’re a host of a dinner party and at the dinner party you’re expecting your friends to come by and see you. And you hope you have everything that they like. And if you notice that one friend likes watermelon and another likes bananas, then next time, you make sure you have enough of those things for those people.

Running a magazine, and when I say a magazine, I really mean running a brand with all the platforms, is a lot like that dinner party. What are the things that they like and how can you make sure that you have them so that they’ll visit you again? I think magazine editing is a grand conversation.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Norman Pearlstine to Samir Husni: There Has Never Been A More Exciting Time To Be In Journalism. The Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive Interview With Norman Pearlstine, Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, Time Inc.

March 23, 2015

When Norman Pearlstine Talks, Editors And Publishers Listen.

“We may change the (publishing) model in different ways; we may become more sophisticated about printing and delivering content by zip code or by ways in which our readers define themselves, but I think that there’s still a robust market for print having had such a long tradition of creating content.” Norman Pearlstine

“I do believe there will continue to be an audience for a printed product who will be willing to pay for that delivery system.” Norman Pearlstine

“Having to figure out how to make a story a compelling one, but where a desire for fairness really forces you to understand what people do; why they do it, and to really seek out that kind of balance, I think doesn’t come automatically. And that’s one of the things that I always worry about.” Norman Pearlstine

Sometimes practicality and greatness go hand in hand. Toss in almost 50 years of experience and you have a recipe for editorial distinction that can’t be argued or compared. So, when Norman Pearlstine talks, editors and publishers listen.

Norman Pearlstine is the executive vice president and chief content officer for Time Inc. He is a man who has worked at some of the most prestigious and stalwart publishing and financial venues that have ever existed. From The Wall Street Journal to Bloomberg, Norman has been in the business of magazines and newspapers for a long time and has seen the changes that technology has brought to the forefront, and also, how those changes have affected publishing overall. And while the years of experience he has in the industry may have molded his acumen to perfection, his mind is open to 21st century innovation and the excitement of the future.

Recently I spoke with Norman and heard the down-to-earth rationale of a man who knew how to hold the editorial reins of a company like Time Inc., I listened to each and every word he said. His spot-on answers were tight and succinct and his goal clear: keeping Time Inc. engaged with its audience and propelling it forward into a technological position of strength and vitality.

I hope you enjoy this inspiring and exclusive 40-minute-conversation with the “Dean” of editors; a man who knows more about the business than most have forgotten; the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Norman Pearlstine.

But first the sound-bites:

Norm-Pearlstine18198RETOn how he believes the role of editor has changed over the years: First, I think that we have to acknowledge the changes that technology has imposed on us. From Gutenberg until this century, we had a one-to-many model, as everyone has written endlessly, and now we have a model in which increasingly, it’s an interactive one where producers of content and recipients of content engage in a conversation, often digital or video.

On whether having more than 392 million in gross audience across all of Time’s platforms puts enough pressure on him to keep him awake at night: In terms of the business of media, and as we as a company that was just spun off from Time Warner last June feel this; the economic pressure on revenues from print is great and is likely to continue. At the same time, I think it’s never been a more exciting time to be in journalism as we try to sort out all of these new technologies and new ways of interacting with our customers.

On whether he believes a journalist could start a magazine in the 21st century the way Luce and Hadden did, as opposed to a businessperson: I think there are probably three categories, if you will: there are journalists; there are managers or executives, and there are also the technologists. And we should not ignore the people who can introduce a technology without necessarily understanding the implications of it for information or content. I do think that it is certainly possible for a journalist to begin an enterprise today, and in some cases, it’s never been easier because you don’t need a lot of capital to start a blog or something like that.

On the major stumbling block that he’s had to face over the years: I’ve come to appreciate over the years that our best stories have heroes and villains, but more often than not, the situation is more gray than black or white. Having to figure out how to make a story a compelling one, but where a desire for fairness really forces you to understand what people do; why they do it, and to really seek out that kind of balance, I think doesn’t come automatically. And that’s one of the things that I always worry about.

On whether he can ever envision a period where Time Inc. would have no print publications: I believe print will continue to be an important part of Time Inc. for the foreseeable future. Never is a long time. I do think that it is very possible that advertising support for print will continue to be under pressure, but I do believe there will continue to be an audience for a printed product who will be willing to pay for that delivery system.

On why he believes print media reporters are determined to write the industry’s demise, despite the reality: I think the media has always been obsessed with covering itself; it’s a fact that’s not all that new. If you close a news bureau, it’s likely to get much more attention than say, layoffs in the auto industry would. And that’s kind of natural, that on one hand we’re serving an audience, trying to give a worldview, and on the other hand, what happens to us becomes newsworthy and we have that platform.

On creativity and innovation across the platforms: One thing I will say; I believe mobile has come farther and faster and is more significant than certainly any of us thought, say, around 2007 or 2008, when we were thinking about the future of our business. To me, mobile is going to be increasingly a video experience.

On whether he believes we’ll find an audience that’s willing to pay for digital: I think that there will be people who have desires for specialized information they’ll pay for. That B to B may actually have a renaissance for a period on smart phones. I care about college football and I want to know about the May 1st Declaration Day, when every high school athlete in the country makes a decision about where they’re going to school; a service that would shoot me emails on that would probably be something I’d pay for.

On what keeps his momentum up and what keeps him in a positive state of mind: As a chief content officer, I am just exhilarated by the speed with which this business is changing, by the challenges we have, and by the uncertainties, but by an absolute belief that we will continue to create great products that tell stories that address the needs of passionate audiences.

On what keeps him up at night: Just emails from Jill (Jill S. Davison, VP, Corporate Communications) telling me that I have an interview with Samir at noon and I better be prepared for it. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Norman Pearlstine, Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer, Time Inc.

Samir Husni: You’ve been in the business of journalism and editing for almost 50 years, from The Philadelphia Inquirer to The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal to Time Inc.; how do you think the role of editor has changed over the years?
Norman Pearlstine: First, I think that we have to acknowledge the changes that technology has imposed on us. And I do show my age that when I was a copyboy at The New York Times, I nearly caused a walkout in the pressroom above the newsroom when I touched a piece of hot type and a linotypist informed me that only linotypists were allowed to touch hot type. That was in 1967.

As late as 1985, when I was managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, we were still using Royal manual typewriters, ten-ply carbon paper and sending stories by six-level teletype to Chicopee, Massachusetts. And you realize that Netscape went public in 1994, Google was founded in 1998, Twitter and Facebook are only a decade old and the Apple introduction of the tablet was in 2010, only five years ago. As an editor, I think you first have to confront the ways that these technological changes have affected journalism and in some respects very beneficially, in terms of ability to quickly research a story, to get information; if I want to know your address and phone number, I don’t have to spend half a day researching that, so it’s a great time to be a reporter in terms of access to information.

At the same time, from Gutenberg until this century, we had a one-to-many model, as everyone has written endlessly, and now we have a model in which increasingly, it’s an interactive one where producers of content and recipients of content engage in a conversation, often digital or video.

Samir Husni: And does that change the role of the editor? At one stage of your career, I remember reading that 16 of the top magazine editors in the country worked for you at one time or another.

Norman Pearlstine: There was a time, and I think that Jim Friedlich said that once in an introduction to a speech I gave, in 2012 when that was probably correct. First of all, we’re still doing great long-form journalism that requires all the skill sets that we’ve always wanted to have from our editors.

And that hasn’t changed. Nancy Gibbs (managing editor, TIME magazine) does a cover on the threat of ISIS and works with David Von Drehle, who writes the piece, and that process is very similar to the kind of work that Time has been doing for decades. The big difference is that sitting 30 feet away from her desk is Edward Felsenthal (managing editor time.com) with the Time.com staff and next to him is Callie Schweitzer, who’s in charge of social audience development and social media, trying to make sure that we are getting our content to as many people as possible and in as many forms as possible. When we do a cover story like, say the year-end Person of the Year on the Ebola Fighters, the editor also has to think about what the digital package will be, the video presentation, and how are we going to get as much audience for this as possible.

The editor’s job now involves not only all of the skill sets that were once important, but then this whole new set of ways of interacting with audience. And I’d say probably along with that come pain points; we all want to generate content from users that enriches experience for other consumers of information, but at the same time you have to have some kind of a correcting mechanism for things that don’t work and that puts a lot of pressure on people.

Samir Husni: Speaking of pressure; Time Inc. is the largest magazine company worldwide and now you have the largest gross audience. You have more than 392 million in gross audience across all the platforms. Does this put more pressure on you and keep you awake at night?

Screen shot 2015-03-22 at 11.57.09 PM Norman Pearlstine: In terms of the business of media, and as we as a company that was just spun off from Time Warner last June feel this; the economic pressure on revenues from print is great and is likely to continue. And those of us who are now stewards of the brands of Time Inc., begin with this recognition, that while we finished 2014 with 23 magazines producing 33 million print subscriptions and those 23 totals were all profitable; we know that if we don’t move quickly to become multiplatform and multimedia, we’ll be in real trouble. So, the headwinds and the pressures on the core business are there and we just have to acknowledge that.

At the same time, I think it’s never been a more exciting time to be in journalism as we try to sort out all of these new technologies and new ways of interacting with our customers.

Samir Husni: Do you have any fears from the new technologies, from the internet for example? Joe Ripp (CEO of Time Inc.) told me in an interview that the internet can be a force for good as much as a force for evil. What is your fear from the internet or digital?
Norman Pearlstine: With anything as new as the digital age or the internet, there’s a fear of the unknown and there are certainly examples that cause concern, whether it’s the anonymity that allows for bullying on some sites to aggregating content from sources that are unreliable and incorrect. We just have to remind ourselves these are early days.

When I left The Wall Street Journal in 1992 there was no browser, no real search that allowed for personalization. So, when you think about a relatively short period of time, there are certainly concerns and risks that come with embracing a lot of these new technologies.

I do think that one of the things shown is the way in which community corrects itself. Wikipedia, when it first came out, everybody said it would never be as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and you wouldn’t be able to trust anything in it, and while it’s certainly not foolproof or flawless, but to a remarkable degree the community of people who care about that content corrects things pretty quickly. If anything, if you make a mistake today, you’re much more likely to be found out and exposed.

It’s a balancing act. There’s no doubt that there are areas of risk and danger when you think about the global internet. You think about the sophisticated videos that are being produced by ISIS as a recruiting tool; this is something that society has to learn to deal with. I don’t want to paint a picture that is just all optimism, but I am optimistic that society will figure out ways to correct these abuses.

Samir Husni: At the turn of the 20th century, we had people like Henry Luce, DeWitt Wallace and Briton Hadden who were journalists first, rather than businesspeople. Do you think in this day and age that a journalist instead of a businessperson can start a magazine or a website and gain the same footing that Time has gained?

Norman Pearlstine: I think there are probably three categories, if you will: there are journalists; there are managers or executives, and there are also the technologists. And we should not ignore the people who can introduce a technology without necessarily understanding the implications of it for information or content, but who become very important players.

When Facebook first started, it’s hard to imagine that it would be everything that it is today. When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he saw it as a way to sell books. Some of these technologists are every bit the visionaries that a Turner or a Luce was. And Turner didn’t start as a journalist, and in fact it was Brit Hadden who was the editor and Luce was the publisher when Time started. It was only after Hadden’s death that Luce took on the editorial role with great energy and enthusiasm.

I do think that it is certainly possible for a journalist to begin an enterprise today, and in some cases, it’s never been easier because you don’t need a lot of capital to start a blog or something like that. I know Andrew Sullivan just walked away from his experiment, but there was an example of someone who had a pretty good following of people who were supporting something that was purely journalistic. And there are other examples like that.

But as I said, these are really early days. As difficult as it may be to start an effective information journalism blog or something in a community; on the other hand, when I think about the ways in which global distribution will allow long-form to find its audience, I think that there are great opportunities for journalists that will be coming and will continue to be around.

Samir Husni: If you were asked to deliver a journalism graduation speech; what would be your challenge to the recent graduates?
Norman Pearlstine: For many years I was kind of dubious about journalism schools, if only because I thought you could get such good training just working at a newspaper or something. But with the decline in the number of jobs for journalist’s right out of school, I’ve come to think that actually journalism schools are places where you can, first of all, learn basic principles of journalism and learn the importance of fairness and accuracy and all those things that have always been taught.

But in addition, without wanting to make it sound like too much of a trade rather than a profession, learning how to code or to use a Smartphone to take video; those kinds of skill sets I think can now be taught in a way that makes you much more versatile when you come out of school than might have once been the case.

I would encourage people to try and understand the technology as much as possible, recognizing too how quickly it is moving.

Samir Husni: If we look back on your masterful career of being an editor and a chief content officer; what was the major stumbling block that faced you and how did you overcome it?
Norman Pearlstine: Well, first of all, I had to get really serious about my work. I started as a summer intern in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and the first day I was assigned an obituary of a Mrs. Druckenmiller and I spelled it ‘Drunkenmiller’ with an ‘n’ and learned rather quickly the importance of accuracy. To this day I’m always afraid that even after I’ve edited something that I’ve written and spellchecked it, that I’ll make another dumb mistake like that. And that was one early lesson.

I’ve come to appreciate over the years that our best stories have heroes and villains, but more often than not, the situation is more gray than black or white. Having to figure out how to make a story a compelling one, but where a desire for fairness really forces you to understand what people do; why they do it, and to really seek out that kind of balance, I think doesn’t come automatically. And that’s one of the things that I always worry about.

For example, if we’re going to print a long, investigative piece, I try to project what the six-page, single-spaced letter I’m going to receive from the person we’re writing about saying what we didn’t understand or what we misconstrued or what we failed to report, will be. And I always worry about that. I continue to think that the use and misuse of anonymous sources is one of the biggest challenges for credibility and trust for journalists.

We live in a world in which, whether it’s Hollywood or Wall Street or Washington, there are spin doctors and managers who insist on anonymity and I’m enough of a realist to understand that it is a part of our profession. But I do worry about ascribing credibility to people who really want to remain anonymous when giving quotes to journalists.

Samir Husni: Is that the lawyer in you, or did you completely give up that law degree that you have when you went into journalism?
Norman Pearlstine: Well, I never practiced. But the law degree was, in many ways, a kind of graduate course of logic. I think the lawyer in me would say just don’t print anonymous sources, but the journalist in me says that’s a disservice to readers. I believe it’s the editor in me that says every time we use an anonymous source, we are taking our brand that the reader trusts and, if you will, asking to extend that to a source that we’re not identifying. I think it’s inevitable and we have to do it, but I also think we have to exert much more care than we do in the use of anonymous sources.

Samir Husni: With all the audience growth for Time Inc. publications across the board, from People to Sports Illustrated; do you ever envision a Time Inc. company with no print publications?
Norm-Pearlstine18198RET Norman Pearlstine: I believe print will continue to be an important part of Time Inc. for the foreseeable future. Never is a long time. I do think that it is very possible that advertising support for print will continue to be under pressure, but I do believe there will continue to be an audience for a printed product who will be willing to pay for that delivery system. And what we’re really talking about in print is a delivery system which in some respects you can understand how technology has created real challenges for.

If the internet had come first and we had electronic distribution of content and I came to you with a business model that said we’ll chop down some trees, get some paper, get a big press and we’ll print on it; we’ll hire drivers to deliver it to your home and we’ll call it a newspaper or a magazine, then we’ll flood the post office with it; you’d probably be a reluctant investor in that product. But having started first with print, we have hundreds of millions of people around the world who still rely on it and appreciate its affordability; who actually like having an editor make determinations of what’s important or what’s entertaining and who are willing to pay a fair price for that content.

So, we may change the model in different ways; we may become more sophisticated about printing and delivering content by zip code or by ways in which our readers define themselves, but I think that there’s still a robust market for print having had such a long tradition of creating content. One of our magazines, The Field (in the United Kingdom), is, I think, over 160 years old. So, we’ve been putting words on paper for a long time and I think the audience for print, the people who are willing to subscribe and pay for content on the printed page, is probably more loyal at this point than the advertisers, who are very much in love with the metrics and measurements that are being promised. It’s not clear to me yet how accurate those metrics are, but there’s certainly affection for them.

Samir Husni: There have been a few controversies taking place in our industry like native advertising or even when you permitted that tiny line for Verizon on the label of the cover and some media people were up in arms. (Laughs)
Norman Pearlstine: Yes, five days of coverage in Ad Age, I think.

Samir Husni: And you had to hunt and find where that ad was. Why do you think the media people are more determined to write our obituary than the actual reality of the situation is? We changed from “print is dead” five years ago, to “print is declining” now, and no one reports on that more than our own media.
Norman Pearlstine: I think the media has always been obsessed with covering itself; it’s a fact that’s not all that new. If you close a news bureau, it’s likely to get much more attention than say, layoffs in the auto industry would. And that’s kind of natural, that on one hand we’re serving an audience, trying to give a worldview, and on the other hand, what happens to us becomes newsworthy and we have that platform.

I do think that there are extraordinary changes that we have to acknowledge. There are now more mobile phones on earth than there are people. And if you live a life where, for instance, you spend a lot of time in airports waiting to get on planes, you don’t find a lot of people reading a newspaper, maybe a few more looking at a magazine, but an awful lot of people are just exchanging emails with friends or telling their kids to do their homework, or using a Smartphone as a form of entertainment that’s very different from what was true before. There are a number of people I know who would bring on a briefcase full of newspapers and magazines for a long flight, and now with a choice of 30 movies and Wi-Fi, we have to share that audience, if you will, with new ways of communication. I think if you’re in the business and every day you’re feeling that pressure, it’s easy to be pessimistic.

I have to look at our own business and say that we finished this year with revenues of $3.3 billion dollars and our operating margin was 16%, and with 33 million print subscriptions per month being delivered to our customers and all of our titles profitable; I have to remind myself that this is still a great business. It may be less than a decade ago when revenues at Time Inc. were $5 billion dollars, we’ve sold off some magazines, but it’s still a very healthy business. Having said that, what’s so wonderful about being spun off from Time Warner is we are able to embrace new technology and create new products for new markets and new consumers. And that’s exciting to me.

I’m not negative on print, but I absolutely believe that some of these new products that we’re creating are really quite exciting. I think you’ve heard about MIMI (mimichatter.com), for example, which is this new product that’s going to focus on fashion and beauty coming out of the InStyle Group. That’s a kind of product that maybe 20 years ago we would have started a small spinoff magazine for millennials, but now we’re excited about the opportunity to be able to reach them using whatever devices that are important to them to take in information.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on MIMI. I read about it and I guess that’s a part of Time Inc.’s future, it’s not, as you said, like a spinoff, but rather thinking about something more innovative and creative to meet the digital age.
Norman Pearlstine: One thing I will say; I believe mobile has come farther and faster and is more significant than certainly any of us thought, say, around 2007 or 2008, when we were thinking about the future of our business. To me, mobile is going to be increasingly a video experience. I’m not saying people won’t read long-form on their Smartphones, but I think video is going to be important.

I think it’s incumbent on every one of our titles to really be creating great, inspiring storytelling through video and print for the mobile audience. So far, of course, there is more Smartphones than tablets, but I’m actually quite optimistic about both.

Samir Husni: We live in a digital age; even a print junkie like me can’t deny that.
Norman Pearlstine: Right. But I also think that if there is an audience that’s willing to pay for print, we’ll continue to produce it and I would say that all of our evidence to date shows that actually our subscription circulation has held up pretty well.

Samir Husni: My question to you then is; are we going to find an audience that is willing to pay for digital? Or have we created a welfare information society?
Norman Pearlstine: When I started watching television it was free and advertiser-supported. It was only with cable that people started paying for it. Outside of Philadelphia, where I grew up, we had three networks and we didn’t pay anything for them. So, there has been a tradition of free information for a while. Your question is a very important one, because, especially on a Smartphone, things like banner ads and pre-roll don’t seem to resonate at this point.

The question of how you get revenue for the products that you’re producing for Smartphones is one that we have to focus on. My guess is that it’ll be a combination of some advertising, some paid products and then a fair amount of linking to commerce. If you’re looking at the latest newsletter from InStyle on your cell phone, your ability to click on that pair of shoes and find out how to buy them within three miles of where you’re located will create some business opportunities. I think that there will be people who have desires for specialized information they’ll pay for.

That B to B may actually have a renaissance for a period on Smart phones. I care about college football and I want to know about the May 1st Declaration Day, when every high school athlete in the country makes a decision about where they’re going to school; a service that would shoot me emails on that would probably be something I’d pay for. If I’m going to pay $1.99 for Angry Birds, chances are there will be some kind of content that we’ll create for a paying audience.

Samir Husni: Why do you think people in the magazine and newspaper industries failed to follow the cable model? I came to the United States in 1978 and everybody was saying, nobody will ever pay for television; why would they pay $10 for cable when television is free? And now, of course, the average American family is paying around $70 or $80 per month to get cable. Why do you think the magazine and newspaper business failed to follow that cable model?
Norman Pearlstine: First of all, until quite recently our margins were so good we didn’t feel any need for change. I do think that Next Issue Media, which Time Inc. has been very supportive of; Joe (Ripp) was very involved in its latest management and Lynne Biggar is now chairman of Next Issue Media, who is our head of consumer marketing. Next Issue Media has a 14.95 per month price tag, which allows you to subscribe to 140 magazines, so we’re beginning to discover some of this.

Meanwhile, of course, HBO just did a deal with Apple recently, which, if you will, sort of walks a little bit away from its subscription model. So, everything is up for grabs.

Samir Husni: What makes Norman get up each morning and say it’s going to be another great day?
Norman Pearlstine: As a chief content officer, I am just exhilarated by the speed with which this business is changing, by the challenges we have, and by the uncertainties, but by an absolute belief that we will continue to create great products that tell stories that address the needs of passionate audiences. To me, to be able to continue to be a journalist, to create new products, to continue to try and serve our audiences the way that we do is a blessing. I feel lucky every day I go to work.

Samir Husni: When you go home in the evening; would we catch you with a magazine in your hand, an iPad or a Smartphone, while you’re sitting and relaxing with a glass of wine?
Norman Pearlstine: I’ve tried that. I do a lot of my reading at night and I still try to read a number of our publications prior to our going to press. I’ll read all of Time or Fortune, Entertainment Weekly or People or Sports Illustrated. That has been my night and weekend activities. And to get paid to be able to read great stories is a wonderful life.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Norman Pearlstine: Just emails from Jill (Jill S. Davison, VP, Corporate Communications) telling me that I have an interview with Samir at noon and I better be prepared for it. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs) Thank you.

h1

Nifty At Fifty: The Never-Aging, Always-Rocking Cosmopolitan Magazine. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Donna Kalajian Lagani, Senior Vice President, Publishing Director & Chief Revenue Officer, Cosmopolitan…

March 5, 2015

“The whole idea of this one-to-one; she (Helen Gurley Brown) used to say that she wanted to have a one-to-one conversation with millions of women at the same time. So that whole idea of community, which is now what everyone is talking about, that’s something that Cosmo has always had. We’ve always said that we were the first interactive medium. Before there was an internet, there was Cosmo.” Donna Kalajian Lagani

Cosmo April '14 Cover Addictive content, beautiful models that articulate style and fashion to readers, and a core concept created by the woman who started it all – Helen Gurley Brown – that is based on relationships and the ability to openly discuss every aspect of the male-female, family-to-family connection. That is the definition of success; that is Cosmopolitan.

Recently, I was in New York and had the chance to speak with Donna Kalajian Lagani, Senior Vice President, Publishing Director and Chief Revenue Officer of Cosmopolitan. Donna is an open, friendly and totally animated person who welcomed me in her office on the 38th floor of the Hearst Tower. She shared her thoughts on Cosmo’s upcoming 50th birthday and its past and, more importantly, the brand’s future.

We talked about what it takes to keep a magazine fresh and successful with its readers after 50 years on the newsstands and how the brand is pivotal in its presentation, in terms of its digital/print relationship. The conversation was lively, fun, and totally a joy to participate in. I hope you have as much enjoyment reading it as I did visiting with the inimitable Ms. Lagani. Cosmopolitan is a world filled with beauty, fashion and advice that you might not necessarily get from your mother, but you’d definitely get from your best friend.

But first the sound-bites…

Sound-bites:

donna1 On the secret ingredient that continues to make Cosmopolitan click, tick and stick with its audience: I think it’s that we understand in this country and all around the world, one of the most important things to women is to talk about their relationships. Relationships with their family, boyfriends and their girlfriends; and if you look at any pop culture today, any television shows or movies; it all comes back to the relationships.

On Cosmopolitan’s sense of community that has been going strong for 50 years: You brought up something great when you talked about Helen; the whole idea of this one-to-one; she used to say that she wanted to have a one-to-one conversation with millions of women at the same time. So that whole idea of community, which is now what everyone is talking about, that’s something that Cosmo has always had. We’ve always said that we were the first interactive medium. Before there was an internet, there was Cosmo.

On whether the brand would exist without the print component: Sure, I think the community would exist. Of course it would. It would be a different community and certainly shaped differently. But the magazine isn’t going anywhere. I like to say when the earth is over there will be cockroaches and there will be Cosmo. We are an enduring brand through thick and thin.

On the major stumbling block the magazine faces today and how she plans to overcome it: What we often hear from advertisers is digital, digital, digital. I think one of the stumbling blocks is that younger marketers coming up in the business are being brought up by digital media. That’s what they know the best and that’s what they’re the most comfortable with. And we just need to be sure that we continue to educate them and have them understand that when someone crawls into bed at night or boards a plane or goes to the beach, and they’re reading a magazine, there is something very close and intimate about that.

On why she believes Hearst never stopped investing or believing in their print product: It’s that the consumer demand was and is still there. As long as we have 17 million women every month who are reading Cosmo; that’s really powerful. So, why shouldn’t we invest in something that consumers are showing incredible demand for? And innovation is just part of what we always do.

On how she combats the stereotype of sex-only that the magazine seems to have cultivated: I think that stereotype comes from people who don’t read the magazine; that may be their perception and we know that perceptions are very difficult to overcome. But what we have to do is to show people what we’re actually doing.

On her most pleasant moment over the last 20 years at Cosmo: Maybe because it has just happened, but I would have to say standing up on the stage in Times Square and looking 360° around and seeing Cosmo everywhere put a shiver up my spine and tears in my eyes.

On what keeps her up at night: Just thinking about all the fun and exciting new things that we can continue to do with the brand. What’s next and what’s new?

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Donna Kalajian Lagani, Senior Vice President, Publishing Director and Chief Revenue Officer of Cosmopolitan.

Samir Husni: You have a brand that’s 50 years old, yet it’s still going as strong as ever. What’s the secret ingredient that makes Cosmopolitan continue to click, tick and stick with its audience?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: I think it’s that we understand in this country and all around the world, one of the most important things to women is to talk about their relationships. Relationships with their family, boyfriends and their girlfriends; and if you look at any pop culture today, any television shows or movies; it all comes back to the relationships. And that’s what differentiates Cosmo from any other women’s media brand that’s out there. We really understand that relationships are the heart and core of everything.

If you’ve been around for 50 years that also means that you have had to adapt, change and stay very modern. And I would say Helen Gurley Brown, of course, who was the founder of our brand and the long-time, four-decade editor set the standard. Three years ago when Joanna Coles, our editor-in-chief, came over, she elevated everything about the brand. She kept the heart and the core and the DNA of Cosmopolitan the same as Helen had it, which was important. And remember when Helen launched our magazine, she was at the beginning of the women’s movement, the beginning of the sexual revolution and believed that women could have it all, believed that our mission as a brand was to empower women to have whatever they wanted.

Joanna comes onboard three years ago; she dusts off the original mission and brings back the original DNA of our brand to be all about empowerment. And she’s brought smarter voices into the magazine; she’s just elevated everything. So, on one hand, we’re 50 years old and on the other, we change every moment. The photographers, models and the stylists; everything has been elevated in the magazine and that has kept us really fresh.

And it’s not just about the magazine. It’s about the community of Cosmo, which is so much bigger than just the magazine. On our website; we’re up to 30 million unique visitors a month, that’s huge, and 9 million social followers.

Samir Husni: I remember a quote from Helen Gurley Brown where she was telling her husband after she published the book, Sex and the Single Girl, that she was getting all these letters and having to spend a lot of time answering them, and he asked her why she just didn’t do a magazine so that she could respond to everyone at the same time.

Donna Kalajian Lagani: That’s exactly right.

Samir Husni: So this sense of community has been going strong for 50 years. And Cosmo is still, by far, the leading selling magazine on college campuses; the second or third largest-selling monthly on the newsstands; yet you hear people in ad agencies and other places saying young women don’t read anymore. We don’t have anyone coming to us to advertise in print any longer. Why do you think there is this stereotype that’s as far from reality as you can get? Do you face those problems when you call on advertisers, telling you that young women no longer read print anymore?

donnaandsamir Donna Kalajian Lagani: We face it, but it can also be just a negotiation ploy. They’re using that as a way to negotiate with us, perhaps. But you brought up something great when you talked about Helen; the whole idea of this one-to-one; she used to say that she wanted to have a one-to-one conversation with millions of women at the same time. So that whole idea of community, which is now what everyone is talking about, that’s something that Cosmo has always had. We’ve always said that we were the first interactive medium. Before there was an internet, there was Cosmo.

So, are women reading magazines? Of course they are. We’re selling 3 million copies a month; we’re reaching 17 million women every month. But we have to do more than that; we have to be everywhere that 18 to 34-year-old is; we have to make sure that we’re intersecting with her. So when she wakes up in the morning and rolls out of bed, reaches for her phone; the first thing she wants to see is cosmo.com.

And what we’re doing now with Snapchat is very cool. We’re not supposed to be telling numbers, but I can tell you this; we guarantee 700,000 views per day and we’re over-delivering above that, 700,000 views per day of Cosmo on Snapchat. That tells us that our community has a thirst for this information, not only monthly with the magazine, but daily online and certainly daily on Snapchat.

Samir Husni: Do you think that community would exist without the print magazine?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: That’s a great question. Sure, I think the community would exist. Of course it would. It would be a different community and certainly shaped differently. But the magazine isn’t going anywhere. I like to say when the earth is over there will be cockroaches and there will be Cosmo. We are an enduring brand through thick and thin. You said it: we’re the number one best-sold magazine on college campuses and yes, we still are the best-sold magazine on the newsstands.

Samir Husni: What is the major stumbling block that you’re facing today and how do you plan on overcoming it?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: I would say what you said, what we often hear from advertisers is digital, digital, digital. I think one of the stumbling blocks is that younger marketers coming up in the business are being brought up by digital media. That’s what they know the best and that’s what they’re the most comfortable with. And we just need to be sure that we continue to educate them and have them understand that when someone crawls into bed at night or boards a plane or goes to the beach, and they’re reading a magazine, there is something very close and intimate about that, especially for beauty and fashion advertisers where it’s all about the color and seeing and touching and being able to rip out; I don’t think that’s ever going to go away, that whole tactile experience. Do you think that’ll ever go away?

Samir Husni: Oh, I agree, it never will. In fact, I’m known in the industry as the one who defines a magazine as: if it’s not ink on paper, then it’s not a magazine. I even trademarked that phrase.

Donna Kalajian Lagani: There you go; I love that. I think what we have to keep doing is showing marketers all the innovative things that can be done in our magazine that does break through.

TSq15-Horizontal-ScrnSize Two things: it’s our 50th birthday, so we thought OK, we knew it was coming; it wasn’t a surprise. We planned on it and said, OK – let’s celebrate our 50th and we are Cosmo; we only know how to do things in a very big way; what could we do that would make a very big brand statement? Do you know what we did on New Year’s Eve? We went to Times Square on New Year’s Eve and we had 30,000 pink hats and balloons, we had two musical stages; everywhere you looked that night was Cosmopolitan. And every single person that I have spoken to since saw what we did on New Year’s Eve, because it was live-streamed on Cosmo.com everywhere around the world. So, that was sort of a big, big brand way to say: here we are, this is Cosmo, and we’re powerful. And everyone got that.

Then every single month this year, and there are such cool things that you can do with print; we’ve done special sections or units every month in the magazine. We did this in partnership with Cover Girl. And what we did is took their Colorlicious brand, which is their new line of lipsticks that have four different shades, we took the colors to make it really native, you’ve heard of native advertising for digital, we did native advertising for print, and we took the background of the colors of the magazine and made it into the same color family as the lipstick.

And we just did a cover peel-off where with the subscriber covers we actually take the ad and put it on the front cover of the magazine with the Cosmo logo. It’s very intrusive and it really stands out. And that’s the kind of thing that can really be done only in print.

For the March issue we did a multiple cover with Lancome. In April, and it’s not out yet; with Unilever, we developed a big section on hair. So their ad: Cosmo cover hair secrets inside, which tells the consumer to open up the magazine, and then becomes what we call a nested booklet; it’s 24 pages of content, all with advertising from Unilever brand. Then it can be removed and held onto.

Samir Husni: Why are Hearst Magazines in general and Cosmo specifically, doing a lot of this innovation in print? If you look at the paper quality of your magazines and the size; Hearst did not ignore print while running after digital. Hearst invested in print, and went after digital, providing the customer with both. Why?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: It’s that the consumer demand was and is still there. As long as we have 17 million women every month who are reading Cosmo; that’s really powerful. That’s bigger than the top-ten network television shows, in terms of a GRP. If Cosmo were a rating point in magazine brand alone; we’d be bigger than the top-ten TV shows. So, why shouldn’t we invest in something that consumers are showing incredible demand for? And innovation is just part of what we always do. That’s what makes me wake up in the morning; what am I going to do today that’s different from yesterday? And that’s what makes my job so much fun. I have so much fun at my job, if you can’t tell. (Laughs) I love my job. And part of what is so much fun about it is that I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never had the same job two years in a row. Every year we’re doing something different; every year we’re recreating something. And that’s what a media brand is and does; we’re this living, breathing thing that we have to keep nurturing and coming up with new things to do to keep the audience and the advertisers delighted.

Samir Husni: Give me a synopsis on a day-in-the-life of Donna.

Donna Kalajian Lagani: I wake up in the morning and roll out of bed; I look at Cosmo.com, download what I’m going to read for the day onto my tablet; I make breakfast every morning for my 17-year-old son, when he’ll let me. (Laughs) And then the day gets really busy; I spend a lot of time out of the office and with clients. I spend a lot of time ideating about all of the cool new things we could be doing with the brand and I’m out on the streets all the time with our salespeople. And that’s why I have fun.

Samir Husni: Does your 17-year-old son read Cosmo? Just so he can know the mind of the opposite sex, maybe?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: He does sometimes. But his 17-year-old girlfriend does. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: How do you feel about the fact that when most people think about Cosmo, they think about sex, when we know that there is much more to Cosmo than just sex. How do you combat such a stereotype?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: I think that when Joanna Coles came onboard and pivoted the editorial, it made that objection pretty much go away. We are reporting on Washington; we’re reporting on politics; we’re reporting on women’s health issues; we just won an ASME award last year for the excellent piece we did on contraception.

I think that stereotype comes from people who don’t read the magazine; that may be their perception and we know that perceptions are very difficult to overcome. But what we have to do is to show people what we’re actually doing. I’ve always said, and I don’t know whose quote this is, but I’ve stolen it and it’s a good one; you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. And the facts are that of course we cover relationships; sex is an important part of what we do at the magazine; it’s an important part of what all girls are about today, but the amount of beauty, fashion and journalism and health that we do exceeds that. So, those are the facts.

Samir Husni: In 2008 we were hit by a double whammy: the economy crashed and technology really came onto the scene. Do you recall how life was before 2008 and then right after?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: Oh, yes, definitely. (Laughs) Before 2008 people were marketers who spent more in advertising-to-sales in overall advertising. I think after that everyone really tightened on the amount they were doing as an advertising-to-percentage-of-sales ratio. And the internet was there, but it didn’t come up in every conversation.

But that doesn’t bother me because it’s such an important part of our brand. We love the internet; I love mobile and I love the tablet and what we’re doing on Snapchat; it’s just part of who our community is. And what’s fascinating about it is the duplication is practically nothing. The duplication between our magazine brand and our digital brand is only 3 or 4%, so that says to me that the community of Cosmo is only getting larger. And isn’t that a good thing for us at the Hearst Corporation and isn’t it a great thing for marketers too?

Samir Husni: I know that the duplication of content is very little.

Donna Kalajian Lagani: Very little.

Samir Husni: Is their audience duplication, or do you know?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: That’s what I’m saying; 3 to 4% duplication is it. So that’s why the footprint is just getting larger.

Samir Husni: Five years from now, you and I are sitting and talking about Cosmo at 55; what will you tell me?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: That it’s as beautiful and young as ever. We will continue to have a very large print footprint and probably an even larger mobile footprint.

Samir Husni: Many publishers had put a lot of odds and wagers on the iPad; on the tablet, and then five years later nothing really came from it. Now are we moving our wagers from the tablet to mobile?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: Well, I wouldn’t count the tablet out. We still have about 200,000 subscriptions that are sold – paid for. And I would suppose as the tablet increases in just the percentage of Americans who own one, that that number will probably continue to grow. Mobile is a big play. Right now, 65% of all of our traffic comes from mobile. So, girls that are reading Cosmo.com; they’re all doing it either on their mobile phone or on their tablet. It’s very important today and will probably be more important five years from now.

Samir Husni: You’ve been at Cosmo for 20 years; what has been the most pleasant moment for you? An experience that you can remember thinking: Wow!

Donna Kalajian Lagani: Maybe because it has just happened, but I would have to say standing up on the stage in Times Square and looking 360° around and seeing Cosmo everywhere put a shiver up my spine and tears in my eyes. I was literally teary-eyed thinking, oh my goodness, Helen, you’re up there in the universe looking at this great brand. It was a very proud moment for our brand. (See Times Square picture above).

Samir Husni: Anything else you’d like to add?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: We’re doing a lot of really fun stuff to celebrate 50 years; we touched on Unilever and next month in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest, for the first time, is doing something called South by Style, which is sort of the convergence of technology and fashion and Cosmopolitan is the their media partner. We have a 1,000 sq. foot space where we’ll be having incredible speakers come in and talk and it’ll be a place where women can come and listen to those great speakers and at the same time get their hair touched up and get their nails redone; just a place to unwind a little. And our sponsors for that are Intel and Cover Girl.

And in May, we’re doing two big birthday issues; why have one birthday per year, when you can have two? In that May issue we have an iconic cover; I can’t tell you who it is. But for that same issue we have a spectacular opening that’s done by L’Oreal Paris; they’re doing a butterfly gate of advertising, adjacent to a very interesting, cool cover model.

In November is our other big issue for the year and we’re going to celebrate with a heck of a party; I hope you’re in New York; you can come and hang out with us.

Samir Husni: Just send me an invite and I’ll be here. Now, my typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Donna Kalajian Lagani: Just thinking about all the fun and exciting new things that we can continue to do with the brand. What’s next and what’s new? What’s going to delight the reader and the advertiser?

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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On Audience First & The Characteristics Of A Successful Magazine… An Interview With Mr. Magazine™

February 23, 2015

“We definitely live in a digital age, there is no escaping that. And as I wrote recently in my Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto for 2015, there is no media company today that can exist without being platform agnostic. However, our audience is not necessarily platform agnostic. Some of our audience still want a printed magazine, some want online only and some want a printed newspaper.” Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni

Recently I was interviewed by one of my colleagues, Debora Wenger, a 17-year broadcast news veteran, and associate professor of journalism and director of the undergraduate program at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She conducted the interview for the benefit of her Journalism 101 students and discussed some of the content of a new book she and I and another colleague have written called Managing Today’s News Media: Audience First. (FYI, the book will be published this summer by CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.”

Within the interview we discuss what it takes to be a successful print magazine in the digital age that we live in today in comparison to the way things used to be in publishing days gone by. The information may surprise you…

So sit back and enjoy the flipside of this Mr. Magazine™ interview as the man usually asking the questions, this time around provides the answers.

You can either click on the video below and watch the interview, or you can read the sound-bites and the complete transcribed interview below.

Now for the sound-bites:

On his passion for magazines: It started as a hobby before it turned into my education and my profession. I was probably nine or ten years old when I bought my very first copy of Superman in Arabic when it first came to Lebanon, my home country. And I fell in love with the art of storytelling; fell in love with holding something in my hands that I could read on my own and at my own pace and didn’t have to depend on my father or my grandfather to tell me about.

On how he believes digital technology has affected magazines:
This is going to be very important in how we apply the usage of technology to print because for one thing the technological advances that we have now makes it possible to print the magazine a few hours before it is available to the general public on the newsstands or by mail. So, those deadlines that used to be like two or three weeks ahead of time; now Time magazine can change their cover on Tuesday night before they print on Wednesday and have the magazine on the stands the next day.

On whether all successful magazines need to have a relationship with their readers: When you hear about people falling in love with Time or falling in love with Cosmopolitan or Woman’s World; they’re not necessarily falling in love with the ink on paper, but with the content. Somebody once said that successful magazines are those that are purveyors of meaning. Add to that, say the meaning of life; ‘what is in it for me?’

On whether he believes a magazine provides information that you can’t get anywhere else:
Not necessarily that it provides you with information that you can’t get any other place, but rather explains the information in a way that you can’t get any other place, because in this day and age it is so easy for anyone to tell you what’s going on.

On whether magazines have adapted to the social changes of today:
Definitely. And we have to remember when television came onto the scene; television became part of the American household in the late 1950s and early 1960s, television fundamentally changed the mission of magazines.

On his opinion of provocative, powerful covers and whether they spark public discussion about important topics:
Magazines today are finding themselves playing the role of initiator and a lot of good magazine covers are those that ignite the discussion. Not only start it, but ignite it.

On the role advertising plays in the success of today’s new magazines: The majority of the big established magazines are still making at least 80% of their revenue from advertising, but it’s just the opposite with the new magazines, where they make 80% of their revenue from their customers who buy the magazines.

On why he believes journalism and marketing/communications students should be as passionate as he is about magazines:
One simple reason: I tell students all the time that there are three F’s in journalism that all marketing or communications people need to pay attention to, as long as they’re not part of your grades: fun, fame and fortune.

Professor Debora Wenger asks and Mr. Magazine™ answers...

Professor Debora Wenger asks and Mr. Magazine™ answers…


And now the lightly edited transcription of the Mr. Magazine™ interview conducted by Professor Debora Wenger…


Debora Wenger: Tell me a little about your passion for magazines. I know it’s been a part of your life for many, many years.

Samir Husni: It started as a hobby before it turned into my education and my profession. I was probably nine or ten years old when I bought my very first copy of Superman in Arabic when it first came to Lebanon, my home country. And I fell in love with the art of storytelling; fell in love with holding something in my hands that I could read on my own and at my own pace and didn’t have to depend on my father or my grandfather to tell me about. I could use my own tone of voice, flip the pages myself, and it was as though somehow the ink transferred into my blood. And since that day my heart began to pump ink instead of blood. (Laughs)

Debora Wenger: Obviously, you and I talk a lot about the future of journalism in particular, and you’re very passionate about the future of magazines. We live in a digital world right now and obviously digital technology has had an impact on all forms of communication; could you talk a little about how you see digital technology affecting magazines.

Samir Husni: Well, we definitely live in a digital age, there is no escaping that. And as I wrote recently in my Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto for 2015, there is no media company today that can exist without being platform agnostic. However, our audience is not necessarily platform agnostic. Some of our audience still wants a printed magazine, some want online only and some want a printed newspaper; we have to be careful before we make a decision on what we’re going to do to identify our audience. That’s why you and I and another colleague have written the book: Audience First.

This is going to be very important in how we apply the usage of technology to print because for one thing the technological advances that we have now makes it possible to print the magazine a few hours before it is available to the general public on the newsstands or by mail. So, those deadlines that used to be like two or three weeks ahead of time; now Time magazine can change their cover on Tuesday night before they print on Wednesday and have the magazine on the stands the next day.

Technology has helped a lot in terms of the speed of printing. The cost of printing, because of technology, has become so cheap that anybody and their neighbor can now launch a new magazine. The cost of entry into our business has become so small and that’s one reason that we are seeing more magazines being published now more than ever before.

Debora Wenger: In fact, we make the point that you’re talking about in the text book: despite the doom and gloom that you hear about print, the magazine industry is very robust now and has been for many, many years. In the text we talk about a number of characteristics of successful magazines and I’d like to walk through them with you one by one and get your take on whether you believe that these are in fact legitimate characteristics or if there is anything that you would add or take away from this list.

The first one is the relationship between magazines and readers and that all successful magazines actually have a relationship with their readers; what’s your response to that?

Samir Husni: If we go back in history, magazines in the United States and the rest of the world were the very first national medium; they were the very first mass medium worldwide which connected people virtually in California, in Mississippi, in New York; so when you received a copy of your Life magazine or Look or Saturday Evening Post, there was this virtual community, you knew that people in California were reading the exact same thing as here. You have to remember radio was local, newspapers were local; so the only thing that was a national marketing tool was the magazines.

That virtual community continues to exist into today. When you hear about people falling in love with Time or falling in love with Cosmopolitan or Woman’s World; they’re not necessarily falling in love with the ink on paper, but with the content. Somebody once said that successful magazines are those that are purveyors of meaning. Add to that, say the meaning of life; ‘what is in it for me?’ When I pick up a magazine, it’s like an older sister giving me advice, a younger brother terrorizing me or a friend coming to visit; so in fact it’s that sense of virtual community that has helped magazines succeed.

If I look at a magazine as a human being, then I’m spending time with a friend; I’m spending time with a consultant, or a doctor, without actually having to go any other place.

One very successful example that people always give is Cosmopolitan. When Helen Gurley Brown wrote her book about Sex and the Single Girl, she started receiving letters at home and her husband, who was a psychiatrist, asked her: why don’t you do a magazine and answer all these questions? And that’s how Cosmopolitan came about. With the magazine, she began answering the virtual community, instead of each one individually. And of course Cosmopolitan, which will celebrate 50 years in 2015, has become one of the most successful women’s magazines in the United States.

Debora Wenger: And that leads us into what is considered the second characteristic of a successful magazine; that it provides you information you can’t get anywhere else. Do you see that as a fundamental characteristic of successful publications?

Samir Husni: Not necessarily that it provides you with information that you can’t get any other place, but rather explains the information in a way that you can’t get any other place, because in this day and age it is so easy for anyone to tell you what’s going on. What we used to call our friends of journalism: the five W’s and the H; the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, are easily accessible now via online and social media.

But the ‘what is in it for me’ and specifically for me; the more that I can make the magazine content give me the answer to that simple question, what’s in it for me, the more my relationship with the magazine is going to be successful, because I truly believe in the magazine business, just like in any other successful business, we have to be in the business of addiction. We have to get people addicted to the advice, addicted to the way of explaining how life goes on; how you can lose weight in this way or that way; how you can get to know your husband or wife better; how you can meet your boyfriend or girlfriend and what you can do. The more we create this habitual repetition of the information and the explanation of the information, the more we are creating that relationship that when the magazine comes to your mailbox and you open it up and see the magazine in there, you say: wow, she’s back; she’s here, rather than: oh no, here she comes again.

Debora Wenger: (Laughs) I think you have already referenced this to some extent with the story about Cosmopolitan, but the next characteristic that’s mentioned is magazines that are successful have adapted to social change. Certainly, there was a societal shift about the time that Cosmo came out with the statement: it’s OK to talk about sex, and have that topic be a feature in every single magazine. Do you agree that magazines that are successful have adapted to social changes?

Samir Husni: Definitely. And we have to remember when television came onto the scene; television became part of the American household in the late 1950s and early 1960s, television fundamentally changed the mission of magazines. Magazines until that era were the only national medium and the only connectors of that virtual community. So, when television came there was no need for the magazines to be that national, virtual community. When you sat down and watched TV back then, one-third of the country was watching the same thing you were watching.

Connectivity shifted from the virtual printed medium in your hand to the screen of the television in your den. We saw the beginnings of a social movement and a change in the role of American magazines, starting with magazines like Rolling Stone, MS, Playboy, Cosmopolitan and The Advocate; all these magazines had a specialty, a goal in mind that they wanted to relate to a specific community.

We started serving clusters of communities and when social media came onto the scene, where every person and their brother can be their own publisher and have their own blog; magazines starting playing a different role; one that said: OK, I know you have a community, but you need a voice for that community that can reach more people who think like you. And that’s why we’re seeing the power of that social impact. When we put the Boston Bomber on the cover of Rolling Stone; all of a sudden all hell broke loose. Everybody in the country was talking about it. When Time magazine put the mom nursing her three-year-old child on its cover, the whole country was talking about it. Magazines still impact culture, especially with the power of the printed cover. You don’t go looking for it; you’ll see it when you walk inside the grocery store or at the airports; it’s in your face.

Magazines are adapting and editors are getting cleverer in the use of things that they know will ignite social media.

Debora Wenger: Which leads to another one of the characteristics which is they define the major issues of society. They are leaders in setting the agenda for public discourse and they take sometimes controversial and important topics and put them in the public spotlight. And it sounds like that you definitely agree that with a provocative, powerful cover; you can actually spark public discussion about important topics.

Samir Husni: When I wrote my dissertation in 1983 about what makes magazines survive and fail; I wrote that magazines have two roles: they have a commercial role like any other business, if you’re not making money, you’re not going to stay in business, but they also have a social role. Magazines have been the best reflectors of society. They initiate some things, such as when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated or Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Esquire magazine took the lead trying to ban gun advertising and trying to have all the magazines unite in the ban. When the September 11th catastrophe took place, magazines initiated putting the American flag on every cover of the magazines during their October issues.

The role of reflecting society and initiating issues is shifting a little bit; we are becoming more of the initiators because social media is now the bigger reflector of society. Anybody these days now has access to tell you what’s taking place in their lives; that they’re waking up and having a cup of coffee or they are coming to class sleepy.

Magazines today are finding themselves playing the role of initiator and a lot of good magazine covers are those that ignite the discussion. Not only start it, but ignite it. Social media can then pour as much gasoline as it wants onto the fire or they can pour water onto it.

Debora Wenger: So you touched on what is the last characteristic that’s mentioned in the text as being indicators of a successful magazine and that’s the idea that they are adjusting to current economic conditions and limitations; although advertising still plays a significant role, but there’s more than just being funded by advertisers for magazines. What would you say about that?

Samir Husni: That’s a definite. When you look at the magazines that were published, let’s say, in the 1980s, the average cover price of a magazine then was $2.50. The average cover price of a new magazine today is more than $8.00. So, we’re shifting the business model, where it used to be that a big chunk of our money came from advertisers, now we are seeing the customer, the reader is carrying some of that burden.

But the majority of the big established magazines are still making at least 80% of their revenue from advertising, but it’s just the opposite with the new magazines, where they make 80% of their revenue from their customers who buy the magazines.

That’s why you’re also seeing a new shift taking place. Where we used to have a lot of magazines published on a regular frequency, weeklies like TV Guide selling 80 million copies every week, those magazines don’t exist anymore. Now you’d need 100 magazines, if not more, to sell 80 million copies in one week.

What we are seeing is that magazines are becoming more of a coffee table item, glossier and more like what we call book-a-zines. And with very high cover prices: $14.99 is becoming more the norm and they’re published less frequently. You have a lot of new magazines coming to the marketplace now published four to six times per year. In fact, in 2014, I saw more titles being published four times per year than any other frequency.

Nobody can compete with the speed of technology or social media. Any magazine that’s trying to compete with the delivery the same way social media delivers, is going to have the same fate the magazines of 1960s did when they tried to compete with television. No matter how many copies Life magazine increased their circulation by, 7 million or 8 million, or Look, or the Saturday Evening Post; they were never able to reach the 70 million a television channel could reach.

We’ve learned our lesson and we’ve learned that the best way to survive is to create a product, create content that the readers are not only willing to pay for, but can also afford to pay for. That remains the number one cornerstone for survival.

Debora Wenger: Before we wrap up, how about a few words to students about why they should be as passionate about magazines as you are.

Samir Husni: One simple reason: I tell students all the time that there are three F’s in journalism that all marketing or communications people need to pay attention to, as long as they’re not part of your grades: fun, fame and fortune.

Debora Wenger: Thank you.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Picture 40

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The Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2015: Audience First…

January 6, 2015

The Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2015

The Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2015

We live in a digital age. It’s a fact that no one can argue. However, during the dawn of this digital age a few other articulations are also true.

So, for the 2015 Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto, I opted to remind folks of some other thoughts to consider.

1. Audience first. That was, and will continue to be the first mantra of media, magazines in particular. Audience, rather than platform, should always be first.

2. Audience is not always right. Audience first is not audience right. We need to be reminded with what service guru and restaurateur Danny Meyer says, “Forget ‘the customer is always right’ …The customer must always feel heard.”

3. Platform agnostic. Although publishers should be platform agnostic, your audience is not. Readers have their preferred platforms and they are attached to them. So don’t fall in love with the platforms; rather, fall in love with the audience. Make each and every platform content complete.

4. Technology does not kill print. It’s neither technology nor its digital components that threatens the survival of printed magazines. The perpetrators are the people behind print, its content and the investment or lack thereof. Remember the old adage, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

5. Advertisers are not departing print. Some magazines in 2014 published their largest issues since their inception. More ad pages mean bigger magazines than ever. When you hear some ad agency folks declaring that “we have no customers walking into our office and asking to place their ads in print,” ask them who their clients are and what about those pages and pages of ads in print? Are they representing the wrong clients?

The Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2015 as it appeared in min:media industry newsletter Jan. 5, 2015

The Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2015 as it appeared in min:media industry newsletter Jan. 5, 2015

6. New printed magazines are thriving. Since the dawn of the digital age (desktop publishing) in 1984, more print magazines have started. Did you know that some of the most successful magazines in the country are less than 30-years old? Men’s Health, InStyle, Marie Claire, Food Network magazine, O The Oprah Magazine and ESPN are just a few.

7. Without new magazines, the industry is dead. Any industry that fails to introduce new products is a dying industry. We should pay more attention to the business of new print launches and cherish and celebrate their arrivals. The industry must also focus on the fact that these infants always give us hope and a reason to believe in the future.

8. Learn from digital. More digital and online companies have discovered print in the last few years. From Web MD to Cnet, they’ve all have opted to produce print magazines in addition to their digital presence. Those digital companies are in the business of “no customer left behind.” A good mantra to follow.

9. Rediscover print and its power. If digital is discovering print and its power, the magazine industry should do the same. Rediscovering print means investing, on both the physical and content side. Leave speed and disposability to digital and create and produce a product with lasting collectability. Ensure that your content is right and your paper is great.

10. Statistics lie, numbers don’t. When you hear the statistics and percentages of increases or decreases in a particular publishing area, please do me a favor. Ask for numbers, real numbers. One percent of a billion-dollar industry is larger than fifty percent of a thousand-dollar industry.

Last but not least, it gives me great pleasure to mention that the same people who promoted and used the phrase the death of print from 2009 to 2014 have revised their phrase and predictions. Their new slogan is now the decline of print. Give them five more years and they will swallow their pride, admit they were wrong not once, but twice, and their new phrase will be the power of print.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Screen shot 2015-01-04 at 2.21.28 PMEditor’s Note: The Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto 2015 was first published in the Jan. 5 issue of min: media industry newsletter: The authoritative media/marketing newsletter since 1947. In the Dec. 22 of min, the editor in chief Steve Cohn wrote, “This issue, min’s last for 2014, extends our 28-year tradition of magazine launch reviews with Dr. Samir Husni. When we return on January 5, 2015, Husni will present his fifth Mr. Magazine Manifesto of New Year’s resolutions. He knows which titles have been naughty or nice.” For more about min newsletter click here.

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Joe Ripp, David Carey, and Samir Husni in This Week’s Edition of Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning

December 15, 2014

Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 9.59.04 AMThe Dec. 15 edition of Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is out. This week’s issue includes interviews with Joe Ripp, CEO of Time Inc., David Carey, President of Hearst Magazines and a profile story on yours truly written by Angela Rogalski, a free-lance journalist and the administrative assistant at the Magazine Innovation Center. Angela is also a former student of mine. The weekly e-mail Mr. Magazine™ Monday Morning is free of charge. You can read this week’s issue here and you can have your own subscription here.
Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 10.14.05 AM

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Innovation in Print: Country Life’s Advent Calendar Cover

December 9, 2014

25 windows to open on this cover.

25 windows to open on this cover.


Country Life, Time Inc.’s weekly publication in the United Kingdom, offers one of the best examples of innovation in print.

The November 26 issue, which looks and feels like a monthly, has an Advent Calender Cover with 25 windows to open every day in December. The magazine asks readers to find “What’s behind the windows?”

The cover illustration was done by Fred van Deelen.

I have opened my first nine windows as the cover image to the right shows… This is a keeper.

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