Archive for the ‘Innovation in print’ Category

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Dedicated To Print – Headmaster Inspires Creativity & Conceptualism Through Its Visionary Content – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Matthew Lawrence & Jason Tranchida, Editors

May 23, 2015

“My background is as a writer and Jason’s is as a graphic designer. And we got to a point where we were both doing a lot of work online and we wanted to make something that we would be able to actually pick up and hand to somebody and say that this is what we’re doing.” Matthew Lawrence

“This is our creative outlet as well as a business, so it’s sort of like: this is our project and we can do whatever we want. (Laughs) I’m excited because there are so many parts of it now that have a structure; we know roughly how many pages there are going to be; we know its distribution and we’ve got the concept down, so now we can really have fun with it.” Jason Tranchida

headmaster2-2 Headmaster is a biannual magazine that is for the man-lover. It’s sophisticated, sexy and extremely thought-provoking. Artists, writers and photographers are given assignments and through their own vision are allowed to create projects that become content for the magazine. It’s an interesting concept with two very savvy and smart captains at its helm: Matthew Lawrence and Jason Tranchida.

I spoke with both gentlemen recently about the magazine’s past, present and future. It was a no holds barred conversation; from the sexual preference of the magazine’s contributors to whether it was easier or harder to produce a gay magazine today than 25 years ago. It was an enlightening discussion that was reminiscent of the magazine itself.

So, I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Matthew and Jason, two men who are definitely ‘Headmasters’ of their creative future.

But first, the sound-bites:


Headmaseter_Press_Photo On the story behind Headmaster magazine:
(Matthew Lawrence) Primarily it’s a magazine with original projects and the concept behind it is that we find artists and writers that we like and we give them assignments to do those original projects for the magazine. So, everything between the pages is made for Headmaster.

On the early days of the magazine:
(Jason Tranchida) Originally, there were four Headmasters, actually, who started it off and conceptualized it. We all came from diverse backgrounds and we were all magazine and book lovers. We really wanted to do some sort of print publication.

On why they chose a print product:
(Matthew Lawrence) My background is as a writer and Jason’s is as a graphic designer. And we got to a point where we were both doing a lot of work online and we wanted to make something that we would be able to actually pick up and hand to somebody and say that this is what we’re doing.

On a major stumbling block they had to face: (Jason Tranchida) I think the stumbling block probably, because it is a physical thing; one of the stumbling blocks was distribution. And obviously, we say that we’re a print magazine, but we couldn’t survive also without digital media, of course, in terms of communication and that type of thing.

On the most pleasant moment: (Matthew Lawrence) The most pleasant moment for me actually is when we get to meet our artists. Each issue has about nine artists and writers in it and we try to maintain that relationship with them by staying up-to-date on their careers and what they’re doing and sort of bring them back into the Headmaster family.

On the description ‘curators’ when it comes to their main role with the magazine:
(Matthew Lawrence) I think you’re right as far as thinking it’s a curatorial process, because we do have generally nine, sometimes ten, artists per issue and we try to strike a balance of photographers and writers.

On whether all the contributors of the magazine are from the LGBT community:
(Jason Tranchida) Mostly, but not all. But it’s not a prerequisite to being a contributor for Headmaster. It’s a balance.

On their main source of revenue:
(Jason Tranchida) It’s selling the magazine, a bit of advertising, and we started something recently, which goes back to what we said about maintaining a relationship with our artists; on our website we have what we call the Alumni Shoppe, and it’s all work done by our contributors that’s done outside of the magazine.

On where they see the magazine a year from now:
(Jason Tranchida) It’s the 8th issue and obviously, we’re very proud of the 7th issue, the current one, but we’re also excited about the next one too. I feel like it’s going to be something very special.

On what keeps them motivated to get out of bed each morning:
(Jason Tranchida) Coffee. (Laughs)

On anything they’d like to add:
(Matthew Lawrence) We live in Providence, Rhode Island, which is where the magazine is based. It’s an extremely creative city, but also small. Which for us is a bit of a plus and a minus, but I think that being able to live in a city where you can do things creatively, projects like Headmaster, and be able to afford the luxury of doing that, is probably what keeps me getting up in the mornings.

On what keeps them up at night:
(Matthew Lawrence) Coffee. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Matthew Lawrence and Jason Tranchida, Editors, Headmaster.

Samir Husni: Matthew, can you tell me the story behind Headmaster magazine?

Matthew Lawrence: Primarily it’s a magazine with original projects and the concept behind it is that we find artists and writers that we like and we give them assignments to do those original projects for the magazine. So, everything between the pages is made for Headmaster.

Samir Husni: Jason, I see that you’ve been there since the very beginning of the magazine, back in 2010; one of the Headmaster’s.

Jason Tranchida: (Laughs) Yes, Exactly.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too)

Jason Tranchida: Part of us did stay behind. Originally, there were four Headmasters, actually, who started it off and conceptualized it. We all came from diverse backgrounds and we were all magazine and book lovers. We really wanted to do some sort of print publication.

The backstory of how it all started is we all got together every week and had some beer and wine and enjoyed some of our favorite books and magazines and tried to come up with a concept for a magazine.

We kind of knew what we wanted; a digital arts magazine, but we got to a point where we wondered how we were going to get content for it. So, we started actually giving assignments to each other and doing some work ourselves to get things flowing. But the name hadn’t come along yet. Eventually though it all just started coming together.

I think a lot of artists really like getting assignments and most people that we’ve worked with have been really excited by the challenge and the focus of having to do a project that we conceptualize for them.

Each assignment is actually written specifically with that person in mind, so no two people get the same assignment. Different types of artists shouldn’t have the same assignments as some, so we fit the assignment to the particular artist.

That’s how it all started and then over the years it just became Matthew and I, because the other two have other obligations and realized it was a ridiculous amount of work that you have to put into a magazine like this. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) I hear the phrase ‘we live in a digital age’ from people all of the time and my typical answer is always the same: yes, I know. Why did you decide to create Headmaster in print rather than a digital entity on the many different and personal platforms out there?

Matthew Lawrence: There were a couple of different reasons. My background is as a writer and Jason’s is as a graphic designer. And we got to a point where we were both doing a lot of work online and we wanted to make something that we would be able to actually pick up and hand to somebody and say that this is what we’re doing.

At the same time, we still liked a lot of print magazines and there seemed to be a huge influx of print magazines that we liked right around the time that we started, so we were never really interested at all in having Headmaster be a digital project.

Samir Husni: When the magazine was launched in 2010 and even until today, we are seeing more and more of the upscale, expensive print magazines aimed at specific communities. Over the years what was the major stumbling block that you had to face and overcome, besides losing two of your Headmasters?

Jason Tranchida: Well, we solved some complications and then made some others. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too)

Jason Tranchida: I think the stumbling block probably, because it is a physical thing; one of the stumbling blocks was distribution. And obviously, we say that we’re a print magazine, but we couldn’t survive also without digital media, of course, in terms of communication and that type of thing.

Distribution was something that we both had to learn. Matthew had a little more experience with that because he’d once worked in a bookstore and knew the ins and outs a bit more about distribution than I did. I had designed a lot of books for clients; I never had anything to do with the distribution. So, that was a big stumbling block.

We’ve learned a lot about that though, going to book fairs and things like that. We’ve also learned that there are plenty of people out there who want to hold the magazine in their hand.

Samir Husni: And what has been your most pleasant moment since the first issue came out?

Matthew Lawrence: The most pleasant moment for me actually is when we get to meet our artists. Each issue has about nine artists and writers in it and we try to maintain that relationship with them by staying up-to-date on their careers and what they’re doing and sort of bring them back into the Headmaster family.

Our contributors are from all over the world, so there is a large amount that we never get to meet. But we do have those great moments when we’ll go to a city and run into someone we’ve worked with. For example, we were in Miami last December and the very first person from Seattle that we ever gave an assignment to, who we’d never met, actually showed up there for an event we had. It was really nice that five years later, we finally got to meet in person someone we’ve maintained a relationship with. So, those are some of the most satisfying parts of my job.

Samir Husni: Do you feel like you and Jason are curators? That each issue is like a museum and you’re inviting people in for the tour? I noticed that each issue has a theme; Issue 7 is The Field Trip Issue.

Matthew Lawrence: We did the first three issues without a theme for each one. Issue 4 we had women contributors entirely and Issue 6, rather than give our writers written assignments, we gave them other assignment prompts; we sent somebody a score of music and we sent somebody else a bottle of Vodka. Theming the issues is sort of a way for us to keep it interesting for ourselves.

And I think you’re right as far as thinking it’s a curatorial process, because we do have generally nine, sometimes ten, artists per issue and we try to strike a balance of photographers and writers. More and more we’re working with artists who are into interdisciplinary things, where we might not even know what we’re getting.

Samir Husni: Are all the artists in the magazine that you select; are they all from the LGBT community or do have a diverse group?

Jason Tranchida: Mostly, but not all. But it’s not a prerequisite to being a contributor for Headmaster. It’s a balance. For example, in the second issue the person who did the photo shoot of the Rugby outfit was a wife with two kids. The work just had so much masculinity in it that she just sort of fit into the issue as well. Some might say all the work has to fit into the queer cannon, but that just opens up a huge debate on what is queer, which can mean a million different things, so the artists themselves don’t have to be a member of the LGBT community.

Samir Husni: In reality, the content is what makes a magazine, so as long as the artists have the same vision of what the magazine is all about; it makes no difference whether they’re gay or straight or anything else.

Headmaster1-1 Jason Tranchida: Exactly. And that’s kind of like our magazine’s tagline: the biannual art magazine for man-lovers and the man-lovers reference is just a convenient way to be specific and completely non-specific at the same time. It may seem silly, but I think it gets the point across. Who’s a man-lover? Anyone can be a man-lover. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) We’ve come a long way since Out Magazine was first published and before that it was The Advocate, but really I consider Out to be the first mainstream gay magazine that was available everywhere. Do you think it’s easier today to publish a gay/lesbian magazine than in, let’s say, 1990? Is the industry more accepting now or not? I mean, I looked to see how many ad pages you have in the magazine and I didn’t find very many. Although, we know a lot of businesses and companies that are owned by gay people are still advertising only in mainstream magazines. Do you feel there is a conflict of interest here somewhere?

Matthew Lawrence: That’s a complicated question.

Samir Husni: (Laughs) Give me a simple answer.

Matthew Lawrence: (Laughs too) I think that in some ways it’s probably easier now to make a magazine like this, because I can only think of one instance where we picked up a new store and sent them however many copies they ordered and they called us immediately to return them because they weren’t OK with the content, where 20 years ago I don’t know if it would have been just one store that would have reacted that way.

As far as advertising goes, that’s something we’re always trying to figure out. We’re a pretty small publication; we only print 1,000 copies of each issue. A lot of people aren’t interested in advertising with that small of a market to begin with.

Jason Tranchida: I would say that it would be kind of hard to differentiate. I don’t feel like when we approach advertisers, for example, that it’s so much an issue of the content; we try to get the physical magazine into their hands and they realize the quality of the publication itself. I would say our problem in getting advertisers is the fact that it’s a niche market and we’re a pretty low-run, limited edition type item. After five years, it’s still a major piece that we’re trying to figure out.

Samir Husni: So, circulation and selling is your major source of revenue?

Jason Tranchida: Yes, it’s selling the magazine, a bit of advertising, and we started something recently, which goes back to what we said about maintaining a relationship with our artists; on our website we have what we call the Alumni Shoppe, and it’s all work done by our contributors that’s done outside of the magazine. So, that adds content to our website and we sell items that would speak to the Headmaster audience, whether it’s limited edition prints or T-shirts or bathing suits, which our artists have made. And that’s become another source of revenue for us. We launched that about a year ago. We were brainstorming on how we could expand the brand a little bit and increase our sources of revenue and we came up with this idea.

Samir Husni: If I’m speaking with you both a year from now, where would you like Headmaster to be at that time?

Matthew Lawrence: We’ll have our 8th issue out by then, which we’re not really talking about yet, but it’s going to be the most conceptual concept issue that we’ve done yet. That’s funny, I feel like we should have a more definitive answer. (Laughs) Some sort of big plans or something. But I don’t think we actually do. (Laughs again)

Jason Tranchida: It’s the 8th issue and obviously, we’re very proud of the 7th issue, the current one, but we’re also excited about the next one too. I feel like it’s going to be something very special.

Samir Husni: Maybe something like: only in print, a special issue where you can only read that particular issue in print. (Laughs)

Jason Tranchida: (Laughs too) Exactly. As for any long-term future plans, we might just take this to the 10th issue and then do a book-type publication, where we put the artists’ work from the last nine issues together. That’s something I’m really excited about because there are projects in Issue 1 that I want to see next to a project in Issue 6, just because I think that they speak to each other in a special way, content-wise.

And I also think that Issue 10 will be where we evaluate and see where we want to go from there. I think that we’ll always do some sort of project called Headmaster, whether it’s the magazine or that sort of launches into something else. I think that will be a good time to reflect on what we’ve done and see which direction we want to take it.

This is our creative outlet as well as a business, so it’s sort of like: this is our project and we can do whatever we want. (Laughs) I’m excited because there are so many parts of it now that have a structure; we know roughly how many pages there are going to be; we know its distribution and we’ve got the concept down, so now we can really have fun with it.

Samir Husni: I love your quote that this more of a creative outlet, and a business, but it’s a passion. That’s what I tell people about my job; it was my hobby when I was nine-years-old and reading and collecting magazines, now people pay me for it. (Laughs)

Jason Tranchida: (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: What motivates Matthew to get out of bed in the mornings and get excited about his day? And what motivates Jason to do the same?

Jason Tranchida: Coffee. (Laughs)

Matthew Lawrence: I also like coffee quite a bit. (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: (Laughs) Is there anything else either of you would like to add?

Matthew Lawrence: We live in Providence, Rhode Island, which is where the magazine is based. It’s an extremely creative city, but also small. Which for us is a bit of a plus and a minus, but I think that being able to live in a city where you can do things creatively, projects like Headmaster, and be able to afford the luxury of doing that, is probably what keeps me getting up in the mornings.

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

Matthew Lawrence: Coffee. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Also Laughs) You both are starting to sound like me. I fall asleep drinking my cup of coffee and if I don’t finish it, I wake up later and finish the rest of the cup. (Laughs)

Jason Tranchida: (Laughs too) Matthew often falls asleep with coffee next to the bed.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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An Ounce Of ‘Prevention’ Is Worth A Pound Of Print Plus Digital To Propel It Forward Into A Healthy Future…The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Lori Burgess, Publisher & Bruce Kelley, Editor-In-Chief, Prevention Magazine.

May 19, 2015

“We will not pull the plug on the print edition. It does too well with advertisers; it does too well with people who like print, and not just people of a certain age, but across a whole stretch. So, I can’t foresee it.” Bruce Kelley

“The number two media channel that the entire pharmaceutical industry spends in is print. Consumers are hungry for this information and they want to make great choices.” Lori Burgess

The 65th anniversary issue of Prevention magazine.

The 65th anniversary issue of Prevention magazine.

For 65 years and counting, Rodale’s Prevention magazine has been the leading authority on health and wellness for the nation. Started in 1950, the magazine has spanned the gamut with information on food, nutrition, workouts, beauty, and cooking. Its dedication to a heathier lifestyle and how to get you there is irrefutable.

The captains of today’s Prevention vessel, Lori Burgess, publisher and Bruce Kelley, editor-in-chief, are as enthusiastically committed to the magazine’s mission as the content on the pages themselves. It’s a perfect fit.

Recently, I was in New York with a group of my students, future industry leaders in the world of magazine media, and I had an opportunity to speak with Lori and Bruce about Prevention’s ability to revitalize and change with the seasons, much like a chameleon, without losing its original DNA, of which the magazine is known for.

Print plus digital, events, books, even a Rodale U where consumers can take E-courses on health and wellness dominated our conversation and proved that these two helmsmen weren’t afraid of innovation or the future at all.

IMG_6525 I hope you enjoy this informative conversation between Mr. Magazine™ and two people who believe in the value of their brand and how it can benefit their audience with an unbridled passion that is definitely contagious. I see clean-eating in my future. Enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Lori Burgess, Publisher and Bruce Kelley, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

On the ‘new’ Prevention and plans for its future: (Bruce Kelley) Prevention is in the perfect place at the perfect time, that’s my view of it. I came on 15 months ago and it just strikes me that with the millennials being more interested in health than any other younger generation before them, with the Gen X the same, and the Boomers entering a stage where they have to care about their health; Prevention is in this perfect place where health dominates the Zeitgeist in ways that it probably hasn’t maybe in our lifetimes.

On whether after 65 years, Prevention is now the perfect brand: (Lori Burgess) The really interesting factor, to answer your question, is that we did take stock and dissected this brand a few years ago to really ascertain what tomorrow’s Prevention should be. And what we learned was that we didn’t want to change the target focus; we very much wanted it to be for somebody who is really committed to their health and wellness.

On translating the common sense of Prevention into its editorial content: (Bruce Kelley) The way we’re doing it is adopting a digital-first strategy and by that I mean; how do you know somebody is obsessed or really interested in a topic these days? You put up stories on the web and you see which ones they click.

On knowing both the print and digital audience, with a digital-first strategy, and how they are alike or different: (Bruce Kelley) I believe a digital-first strategy is an audience-first strategy, because the health audience in this world today is coming to health content through digital. If you added up all the impulses that people have to search out health content; I don’t have the actual numbers, but it would be an extraordinary, exponentially larger number coming at it through digital strands.

On the numbers of the rate of duplication between the print and digital audience: (Lori Burgess) Our numbers are low too; they’re not quite that low, but they’re very low. To be straight-up with you, the median age of the print is 59. It fluctuates every month digitally, but the new numbers for April just came out and the median age for our website was 33.

On how they’ve been able to monetize their digital and get consumers to pay for web content: (Lori Burgess) Yes, we’re having great success admittedly in both print and digital. I would say to you that we did return Prevention to its roots. Our DNA has always been about breakthrough content and information.

On a major stumbling block they’ve had to face: (Bruce Kelley) I haven’t really encountered a stumbling block. I hate to sound Pollyannaish. The things that people say should be stumbling blocks; I actually think are strengths, the size, for example. Eighty percent of our readers, the people who are drawn to this, and I guess our newsstand reader is in the low 40s on average; they tell us that they love the size.

On whether they can envision a day Prevention would not have a print component: (Bruce Kelley) We will not pull the plug on the print edition. It does too well with advertisers; it does too well with people who like print, and not just people of a certain age, but across a whole stretch. So, I can’t foresee it.

On the target audience they’re going for with today’s Prevention: (Bruce Kelley) It’s not an age, that’s for sure. I think it’s a spirit and the spirit is a great curiosity about things related to what they eat and how they live. It’s ambitious women who are active. And in some ways the conversation about health has changed a lot in really interesting ways.

On why (for the most part) Prevention’s web content is free: (Lori Burgess) Well, who’s to say we will forever. The consumer has been trained to get their content for free on the web, but that’s changing. We were ambitious enough to launch Rodale U, which are basically internet courses that are paid on the web, and is a brand new feature. It’s the same way; we became one of the few magazine brands that had the courage to create an event program and a two-day summit that we charge money for. People don’t come to our events for free. They pay to come.

On whether they think the magazine media industry will ever recover from the Welfare Information Society that’s been created: (Lori Burgess) I’m going to answer this one politically correct. I truly believe that what this company is founded on is something that is far deeper, in terms of importance in people’s lives. Health and wellness is going to become increasingly important as the Baby Boomer becomes older, as an example.

On Lori’s non-politically correct answer to the same question: (Lori Burgess) I think we shouldn’t have done this, but I also think back then, and I remember it; I don’t believe anyone knew what the Internet could be. I don’t think even Steve Jobs back then completely knew what the Internet could be.

On what keeps Lori up at night: (Lori Burgess) I think that we can’t move quickly enough. We have really spread our tentacles well beyond print and digital into the doctor’s offices points of care, into events; we have a lot of big ideas. We’re partnering with some really interesting companies, so I think we just can’t move fast enough. We are nimble, but there’s so much potential for this brand.

On what keeps Bruce up at night: (Bruce Kelley) What keeps me up is thinking of ways to make Prevention customers happy, such as helping them. That probably sounds so sappy. (Laughs)

Lori Burgess head shot And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Lori Burgess, Publisher and Bruce Kelley, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention magazine…

Samir Husni: Prevention has reached the senior age of 65 years old, but now, after 65 years, it’s become younger and more vital than ever. Tell me about the new Prevention and your plans for its future.

Bruce Kelley: Prevention is in the perfect place at the perfect time, that’s my view of it. I came on 15 months ago and it just strikes me that with the millennials being more interested in health than any other younger generation before them, with the Gen X the same, and the Boomers entering a stage where they have to care about their health; Prevention is in this perfect place where health dominates the Zeitgeist in ways that it probably hasn’t maybe in our lifetimes.

Prevention is also produced through a company, Rodale, which has been a part of the health category forever. And I feel more than ever that the company is just so committed and its mission so wrapped up in helping people live a healthier lifestyle and doing it in a very fun way. Rodale is so committed to being a digital force; a force on any platform that people are using, that it was just a perfect place and time for Prevention to essentially say: we’re going to hit a new peak.

Samir Husni: Lately, for maybe the last five or six years, it would appear that Prevention has been trying to find its way. It went through different redesigns, reinventions, approaches to covers and different testing of covers. Do you think, keeping that same DNA, which started 65 years ago, that you have built the perfect Prevention now?

Lori Burgess: I echo to a degree something that Bruce said a moment ago and that is that in a way Prevention is 65 years young, because the time has now come for consumers to get much more serious about their health and wellness. There are so many different forces that are coming into play; the cost of healthcare is through the roof right now.

But the really interesting factor, to answer your question, is that we did take stock and dissected this brand a few years ago to really ascertain what tomorrow’s Prevention should be. And what we learned was that we didn’t want to change the target focus; we very much wanted it to be for somebody who is really committed to their health and wellness.

We did acknowledge that print has historically targeted and been embraced by consumers who are getting older. And we acknowledge with print that what happens to women when they get older is suddenly there’s a day, a moment in time, and it could be a condition which they have been diagnosed with or it could just be the fact that like me, suddenly they’re looking in the mirror and saying, wow, I’m getting older. Why does this hurt in the morning? Or why can’t I recover from going out and having a glass of wine as easily as I once did? So, when a woman experiences these physiological and psychological changes, she wants to get serious about it.

Now what’s different today than five or ten years ago is that the people who are coming into Prevention, and particularly in the print franchise, are Baby Boomers and we all know what they’re like. They’ve got the can-do attitude; they’ve been the people who have changed the world; they’re the people who invented the iPhone 6; all these kinds of people, who have conquered the world, and suddenly they’re waking up and saying, oh my goodness, I’m getting older. Well, I’m going to discover the fountain of youth. I’m not going to let getting older take away my possibilities or the new challenges that I want to face.

To really put closure on what you’re suggesting; we didn’t shift Prevention; we acknowledged with Prevention that we were dealing with a new group, a new mindset of consumers that were coming into our franchise and that our team needed to be a lot more exciting and relevant; a lot more cutting-edge and a lot more ahead of where everybody else was. And I think that’s what really differentiates us.

The sexy part of it is that the digital is attracting a younger audience, because guess what, our kids are living with us and they’re watching us workout like fiends and they’re watching us worry about our parents who might not be quite as healthy as we are. So, these young people are coming into the franchise saying I’m interested in getting healthier earlier, because I’m going to be even better than my parents are.

Samir Husni: You have the perfect name, an ounce of Prevention; you speak to the audience’s common sense; how can you translate that simple, yet ingrained name in the minds of anyone who thinks about health, into the editorial formula of Prevention?

Bruce Kelley Bruce Kelley: The way we’re doing it is adopting a digital-first strategy and by that I mean; how do you know somebody is obsessed or really interested in a topic these days? You put up stories on the web and you see which ones they click.

We came in, and just in the last year, started doing something that I think no other magazine is doing, where essentially all the editors are digital editors and they put up their beats; they put up great content on Prevention.com and then they watch closely what goes up on social, our social audience is just very engaged, and they watch what drives traffic. Then when we see what the hot topic is at that time and we throw more stories at that topic.

For instance, haircuts; who would have known haircuts that make you look ten years younger would be one of our hottest topics right now. That is informative to us as editors and we have a lot of good editors. They create that content and then they determine how they’re going to get that into the magazine in a way that a print reader will have that same visceral reaction to it.

So when you put the right content onsite and people click on it, the word Prevention starts to mean what that content is. It means feeling better, getting younger; one of our hottest clicks these days is ‘Eight Symptoms that Your Doctor isn’t Telling You About.’ And anybody would be interested in that; any demographic. They click; they learn great health concepts and then we can turn that into great content for the magazine.

Samir Husni: What’s the rate of duplication? I mean, if we’re talking about those two audiences, digital and the magazine, and you have this digital-first strategy instead of audience-first; how do you know that these are the same people?

Bruce Kelley: I believe a digital-first strategy is an audience-first strategy, because the health audience in this world today is coming to health content through digital. If you added up all the impulses that people have to search out health content; I don’t have the actual numbers, but it would be an extraordinary, exponentially larger number coming at it through digital strands.

Lori Burgess: And to go a step further; for us too, it’s coming through mobile, not just digital; 72% that are coming to us are mobile. Think about it; they’ve gone to the doctor; they have a thought and they want to get an instantaneous answer right then and there.

Samir Husni: I took my students to MIN Day recently and spent the whole day there and we listened to one speaker after the other, from digital agencies to you name it, talk about the death of the homepage; the death of the tablet; that everything is now mobile and that’s what drove me to write that it took us 500 years to talk about the death of print, but it only took us five years to talk about the death of the tablet and the homepage. (Laughs)

Bruce Kelley: (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: From all the studies that I’ve seen show that the rate of duplication between the digital audience and the print audience is between 6 to 10%. Do you have any numbers that are different from those?

Lori Burgess: Our numbers are low too; they’re not quite that low, but they’re very low. To be straight-up with you, the median age of the print is 59. It fluctuates every month digitally, but the new numbers for April just came out and the median age for our website was 33. A lot of that, the younger side, is due to social media, which tends to attract a younger audience, but it certainly validates that there are a lot of young consumers.

But when you look at all the data, the similarities, in terms of interests that exist between the Boomers and the Millennials; it’s just profound. They’re almost identical. It’s so cool.

The very first issue of Prevention, June 1950.

The very first issue of Prevention, June 1950.

Bruce Kelley: Imagine a strategy where every week on Prevention.com we are telling people about the magazine and a lot of them don’t even know about the magazine, but they’re interested enough that we get a lot of subscriptions through that, number one. We also have a great book business; we have Rodale U, which is our new product, and we tell them about that and they click on it if they’re interested in a digital E-course.

So, Prevention.com becomes the foundation of growth for Prevention, the brand. And the print and all these other elements become the places that we can send them and the places that they can then pick. They can actually as audiences decide which platform makes the most sense for them. Our growth on Prevention.com; we’re over 100% up year over year. In terms of social posts, we’re up over 500%. So the brand is actually blowing up online and that just has so many ways in which it can make the magazine more vibrant; it can allow us to build new products, which our audience can then choose to be a part of.

Our Transformation Challenge, which we just put up on Rodale U, in eight days, sold 10,000 copies. In 21 days a person can transform their life, lose weight, and feel great. And we had 10,000 people who paid $10 or more for a book to go along with it. And they’re on the Rodale U, literally hundreds of them, on threads talking about what they’re up to; what their diet strategies are; commenting on the course and how they’re using it, and just simply sharing.

Lori Burgess: It’s community. It’s like the biggest community out there.

Bruce Kelley: It’s community; it’s Rodale at its best, because that’s what Rodale is; it’s useful, fun ways of making your life better and healthier.

Samir Husni: So, tell me what’s your secret that you’ve been able to monetize digital in this Welfare Information Society that we created on the web? How are you getting people to pay for those things?

Lori Burgess: Yes, we’re having great success admittedly in both print and digital. I would say to you that we did return Prevention to its roots. Our DNA has always been about breakthrough content and information. We’ve led the nation’s conversation about proactive health and wellness. There are a lot of health media channels out there, from the WebMD’s to the health magazines, but no one has the same degree of unrivaled, authoritative perspective; the fact-checking that these editors go through to determine whether something is viable content and should be covered or not, is unprecedented in the industry.

We’re one of the last, I’d say, beacons of true, real journalism, so advertisers value that because, you know what, we’re not talking about try this shampoo or that shampoo. When we write about a particular story, whether it’s on the topic of mammograms or skin cancer, we have to be sure we’re getting it right because the information that we’re giving the consumer could be the difference of life and the choices that they’re making; it’s all about the sciences.

We sit in a very interesting position and as one advertiser said to me about a week ago, you really don’t have competition, because we sit in a really pretty spot.

Samir Husni: What has been the major stumbling block you’ve had to face?

Bruce Kelley: I haven’t really encountered a stumbling block. I hate to sound Pollyannaish. The things that people say should be stumbling blocks; I actually think are strengths, the size, for example. Eighty percent of our readers, the people who are drawn to this, and I guess our newsstand reader is in the low 40s on average; they tell us that they love the size. That’s what they’re attracted to. And that makes sense to me in today’s world. People are in a hurry, they want something quick; they want something mobile, like a tablet. The tablet may not be working as a magazine enterprise, but this magazine is working as one. (Laughs) People still like print. So, I get excited about the possibilities of getting the ‘next generation.’ I get excited because this is their tablet magazine.

And as Lori said, a perception that we’re not young, but the fact of the matter is if you look at the brand, if you look at how fast it’s growing; the 360 count that Mary Berner and the MPA are doing shows us up 25% year over year, which is better than any of our competitors, in terms of just impressions. Where is that coming from? It’s coming from all the mix of things that we offer.

Samir Husni: Can you ever envision Prevention without a print component? Will the Prevention brand survive if you pull the plug on the print edition?

Bruce Kelley: We will not pull the plug on the print edition. It does too well with advertisers; it does too well with people who like print, and not just people of a certain age, but across a whole stretch. So, I can’t foresee it. If things change much more drastically in the industry, then I can imagine it. This is one of the last print publications, but if it goes away, I totally see Prevention absolutely thriving, because look at it; it’s prevention and health content and people consume health content on digital and they do it in all the ways that Rodale is getting very sophisticated about doing it.

Lori Burgess: And just to echo one other thought, we charge for subscriptions now, it’s pretty bold; we charge 12 issues for $24. We’re one of the most expensive magazines in the industry. We may not be the biggest or the fanciest or the heaviest, but we have the confidence in the editorial product to command one of the highest subscription rates in the industry. And if consumers don’t want to pay for that, they can go to our website; much of our website is free and open access to them. But I also have to say we carry an abundant amount of advertising in the OTC (over the counter) and DTC (direct to consumer) categories. We’re the number one media vehicle in all of magazine media for over the counter remedies and for DTC we’re one of the biggest.

The number two media channel that the entire pharmaceutical industry spends in is print. Consumers are hungry for this information and they want to make great choices. And I think that’s the other thing when you’re talking about what makes Prevention so great; Bruce and his team give the whole perspective, so if you and I are having skincare problems, let’s just say; you might, based on all the information these guys give, make a whole different choice than I might choose. But the point is they treat us like we’re smart and they give us the information to make the right kinds of choices. This is one of America’s great media brands.

Samir Husni: For print, you said 59 was the median age. When you’re putting together the magazine, who’s your target audience; who’s the audience that you’re going after?

Bruce Kelley: It’s not an age, that’s for sure. I think it’s a spirit and the spirit is a great curiosity about things related to what they eat and how they live. It’s ambitious women who are active. And in some ways the conversation about health has changed a lot in really interesting ways.

When I was at Health Magazine in the 1990s when it was in San Francisco and it was a very interesting, cutting-edge magazine. Then it was about the science really trying to figure out what the healthy way of life was then, questions like, how do we deal with cholesterol; is the Mediterranean Diet the right one. Does human growth hormone work? There were a lot of mysteries out there.

Now, it’s less about the mysteries, although there are still some mysteries to report on, it’s more about the fact that we know how to live healthy, but how do we inspire ourselves to actually do it? How do we overcome the reality that it does take inspiration and motivation; it does take friendships; it does take, yes, knowledge, but it also takes authenticity and realism about what it’s really like to try and eat clean, for example. You walk into Whole Foods and you’re head begins to explode because there is so much to choose from.

So, we’re there, both as the one advising you what to eat and how to live, but we’re also that spirit; we’re the ones saying just do the best you can; you’ve got the right attitude, and a lot of it is about attitude. A lot of it is about how you perceive your journey that you’re actually getting better and smarter and more excited as you go.

Turning health into this positive lifestyle attitude is a big part of what Prevention is right now. And to me it’s the most exciting part, because motivation is everything in today’s world.

Samir Husni: When you have such a treasure as Prevention and it has such a good place in the marketplace, in terms of advertising and circulation; why did you make your content on the web free?

Lori Burgess: Well, who’s to say we will forever. The consumer has been trained to get their content for free on the web, but that’s changing. We were ambitious enough to launch Rodale U, which are basically internet courses that are paid on the web, and is a brand new feature. It’s the same way; we became one of the few magazine brands that had the courage to create an event program and a two-day summit that we charge money for. People don’t come to our events for free. They pay to come.

So, I think we are working to shift our model, it’s like a vessel on the seas; we were headed to Australia and we decided to shift gears a bit and head toward Alaska and it takes some change.

Bruce Kelley: And I think Rodale has been, maybe more than any other major media company, founded on the principle that if you give customers good information and good inspiration, they’ll pay for it. Hence, Rodale has a very big book business.

And something like an article that’s in our May issue, the cover story, Lose 10 Pounds and Feel Great; it has great content. They’ve paid for the content and they open it up and it inspires them to join the 21-day Transformation.

Now, to get the most out of the Transformation, they go to Rodale U and they get a Sizzle Reel that tells them this is everything they’re going to get out of the 21 days. And it shows people who have done it. And then at the end of that it says it’s going to cost them $9.95. And we really recommend that you buy the Sugar Smart Express book to get the most out of the plan. And so you have 10,000 people who are doing that and you have almost 1,000 who have bought the book as a part of the plan.

It’s good content and it’s the future, in that if it’s really strong content and it’s really deep, people get a valuable experience out of it and they will pay for it.

Samir Husni: If that’s the case and we know that people will pay for good information and good content; why do you think that as an industry when the Internet came, we created this Welfare Information Society? We actually put people on welfare information; here are the tables filled to capacity; come and get it. You were smart enough to create Rodale U, so you shifted the attention from Prevention.com, where you can get everything for free, to Rodale U where you have to pay for it. Do you think our industry will ever recover from the big, huge mistake of giving our content away for free? Cable never did it. And that’s what I don’t understand with our industry. When HBO first started in 1977, they said if you want cable, you pay me $9.99 and we’ll split it between the deliveries. But the internet; no, we told AT&T take all the money, just wire that home and we’ll provide them with all the information for free.

Lori Burgess: I’m going to answer this one politically correct. I truly believe that what this company is founded on is something that is far deeper, in terms of importance in people’s lives. Health and wellness is going to become increasingly important as the Baby Boomer becomes older, as an example. It’s going to have huge implications on our society, on the financial side and on most situations in this country and so, I would say to you if there is ever a company that is going to figure this out by being innovative and nimble enough to try the new ways of connecting and resonating with consumers and creating enough value that consumers are willing to put some skin in the game and pay for it, it is absolutely Rodale.

Scott Schulman and Maria Rodale have really charged the entire team to think from a very innovative perspective. They don’t want us thinking about the way things were; they want us thinking about the way things should be in the future. And I think as this particular brand becomes more ingrained in people’s lives at a time when it matters the most, it gives all of us permission to try new businesses and new experiences to present to the consumer that perhaps haven’t been realized yet.

This brand has that kind of commission. Some brands don’t; this brand and certainly this company have that.

Samir Husni: And your non-politically correct answer?

Lori Burgess: I think we shouldn’t have done this, but I also think back then, and I remember it; I don’t believe anyone knew what the Internet could be. I don’t think even Steve Jobs back then completely knew what the Internet could be.

So, shame on us? But don’t you remember when everything crashed in 2001; no one knew what tomorrow was going to be.

Bruce Kelley: I came most recently from a couple of years at ESPN, where I was peripherally involved in Insider, which was their premium product. That experience really influenced what my thoughts were when I came in to the brand and had my conversation with Scott Schulman about what Prevention could be, because that’s a model, there are others, but that’s a model where there’s a magazine involved, ESPN the magazine, there’s great content behind a paywall, Insider, and people gladly pay $40 a year to get access to that. And I view sports as one of those know-it-all obsessions; well, health is one of those know-it-all obsessions as well.

It’s also a content area where people have true needs and true ambitions that do require expertise and inspiration. So, I’m still going on the theory and so is Rodale as a whole, because we see it. We were just in a big management meeting where that was the message; we have great experiences and great value. Our number one job is to have relationships with the customers so they are like onboard with us. And if it has value to the consumer, they will pay for it.

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

Lori Burgess: Two things keep me up at night. Actually, I sleep very well, so nothing keeps me up at night. (Laughs) No, seriously, I think that we can’t move quickly enough. We have really spread our tentacles well beyond print and digital into the doctor’s offices points of care, into events; we have a lot of big ideas. We’re partnering with some really interesting companies, so I think we just can’t move fast enough. We are nimble, but there’s so much potential for this brand.

And secondly I would say candidly, we are still selling media to young people. A lot of the people who buy media in the digital space and the magazine space are really young. They’re younger today than they’ve ever been. They’re responsible today for bigger budgets than ever. And their organizations are leaner as well. And they don’t have the time to get to know media and individual properties the way they once did. So, I think what keeps me up at night is how do I, as a marketer and a publisher, do an exceptional job in helping young people that really aren’t quite there yet, in terms of their health and wellness, and they’re working in organizations that have reprioritized things; how do I help them feel the passion, the love and the potential that this kind of brand can have in order to reach consumers. That keeps me up late a lot.

Bruce Kelley: What keeps me up is thinking of ways to make Prevention customers happy, such as helping them. That probably sounds so sappy. (Laughs)

(Everyone laughs)

Bruce Kelley: But it’s so true, because of what we just talked about, which is they need that value and experience that makes them say, this brand, whatever it is; whether it’s an issue of the magazine, or this series of articles online, whether it’s a course on Rodale U, or an app that we produce someday; this brand is valuable to them. That’s where the rubber meets the road. And I’ve felt it most recently when I spent time on the threads of the Transformation Challenge, where you have literally hundreds of women in the midst of trying to have 21 of the best days of their lives talking to each other. And occasionally saying I wish the course had discussed this or mostly just saying how great the course is. I’m five days into this and I feel great. I’ve cut sugar out of my life; I’m working out like I haven’t done in a long time; this is working. This is worth it.

But every once and a while you see that little lack of perfection and it makes you think, darn it; we need to be perfect in every way for that customer to feel like a ‘Rodale’ person. A Prevention person; someone you helped to transform their life. And they love you for it.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

MagFinder: The Grinder And Tinder App For Single Copy Magazine Lovers – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Joshua Gary, Senior Vice President, MagNet. A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive.

May 15, 2015

“We wanted to make it easy for publishers to communicate to their customers where their magazines were available for purchase; not only via a traditional website, but also making it available via mobile, so that when people are actually in the store, they can get information about what’s available to help facilitate that spur-of-the-moment decision. We want to take off the “mobile blinders”, and put a “mobile spotlight” on our brands..” Joshua Gary

Joshua Gary Photo What if you could browse your favorite retailer’s inventory from the comfort of your own home? Or you’re doing your grocery shopping and you decide that you’d like to see the latest issue of your favorite magazine, but you still have food items to buy; what if you could pull up the store’s availability of magazines right there in front of the macaroni and cheese?

With MagNet’s new app – MagFinder – you can do any of those things, and many more. Joshua Gary is Senior Vice President at MagNet, the company that’s using innovation to raise the customer shopping experience to a whole new level.

I spoke with Joshua recently and received a sneak peek of the MagFinder experience. He allowed me a preview of what this app (which doesn’t need downloading, by the way) can do and discussed the many, many benefits it offers to the entire food chain of the magazine media business, with the consumer being the ultimate winner overall.

In this Mr. Magazine™ exclusive, Joshua made me privy to a demonstration of this creative and extremely cutting edge technology and allowed me the honor of being the first to interview him about it. His baby will be publicly christened at the 2015 IMAG Conference in Boulder, Colorado on May 18. And to say he’s a proud parent would be an understatement.

So, I hope you enjoy the interesting and exciting information he shared with me, as you read the Mr. Magazine™ exclusive interview with Joshua Gary, Senior Vice President at MagNet.

But first the sound-bites:

Screen shot 2015-05-15 at 9.23.15 PM On what MagFinder is all about: Here’s the problem. There’s only been incomplete or outdated information available to publishers and therefore only incomplete information that publishers can make available to their consumers.

On how MagFinder can help a customer find that elusive new title: Now all you have to do is come into our site, type in your title and it’ll tell you where to find that magazine. Using the example title, Simple Grace; I give the app my location, based on the IP address of my computer. It also works on your phone using GPS. So, when it says nearest location within 3.3 miles that’s based on where I’m located at that point. I can click on Simple Grace and it will bring up a listing of where it’s available to buy now, based on the information we’ve received as recently as yesterday.

On the comparison of a Match Finder, Grindr or Tinder to the MagFinder app: (Laughs) It’s meant to inspire and encourage in store purchases and it’s meant to encourage people to see what’s available to them and then to go find that magazine.

On whether he thinks publishers will be jumping on the bandwagon once the app goes public: I believe that once they hear about this vision, I think they will jump in with both feet. Right now, we’ve been spending a lot of time building out the app and we’re coming to a point where we have to make sure it’s accessible to consumers. It hasn’t been released publicly yet.

On any disadvantages he can see with the app: I think this is going to create another level of competition among publishers who want to try to bring people to their own content. When there are five, six or seven gun magazines out there and many of them may look similar, I can see a publisher being concerned that the consumer might choose a competitive product over their own. And then the best content ends up winning. So, for some publishers this app may not work to their advantage.

On any future profile-driven features of the MagFinder app: Let me tell you about our first foray into individual profiles. Once logged in, I flag favorites for a title or category. With those favorites we can customize content delivery to you.

On the fact that the app doesn’t have to be downloaded: Here’s the best part about it; you don’t have to download anything. It is a completely web-based app. I have my link to MagFinder on my phone and when I click on it, it opens up a web browser and it acts, feels and plays like a natively-installed app, but you don’t have to download anything. And we did that on purpose for a couple of reasons.

On what is in it for MagNet: We’re building solutions that ultimately assist in driving consumers to buy magazines, because that will support the entire supply chain. So, this is really right up our alley.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ exclusive interview with Joshua Gary, Senior Vice President, MagNet.

Samir Husni: Can you tell me exactly what MagFinder is all about?

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.07.23 AM Joshua Gary: Here’s the problem. There hasn’t been until today an up-to-date, complete portal by which to communicate available magazines to consumers. There’s only been incomplete, or outdated information available to publishers and therefore only incomplete information that publishers can make available to their consumers.

Every publisher has, whether it’s Architectural Digest, Out Magazine or anything else, customer service agents that take inquiries from customers; every one of them receives phone calls and emails from their customers asking where to find magazines at retail. And their customer service will generally ask someone from consumer marketing and consumer marketing either has an outdated list of stores or has nothing at all to offer. Ultimately, they have to go back to the customer with an answer that’s either incomplete, inaccurate or doesn’t really serve their purposes.

The only place where all of the title allocation information comes together is here at MagNet.

We wanted to make it easy for publishers to communicate to their customers where their magazines were available for purchase; not only via a traditional website, but also making it available via mobile, so that when people are actually in the store, they can get information about what’s available to help facilitate that spur-of-the-moment decision. We want to take off the “mobile blinders”, and put a “mobile spotlight”on our brands. In the five or ten seconds we have to help a customer figure out what they might like while standing in line, we try to fill that gap by giving the customer information about what’s available based on our data base because it’s the only complete set of information available to the industry.

We are filling this with all of the allocation information for every magazine that we collect in the United States and Canada for every store we collect as well as showing the covers that we’re scanning on about 4,000 different magazines so that they can see what they’re looking for.

Samir Husni: And just to illustrate your point; when I published my interview with Carol Brooks from Simple Grace Magazine, I was bombarded by emails and by comments on my blog where the interview was published; where can I find the magazine? I can’t find it anywhere. And Carol had to go to my blog to answer the comments from readers on where they could find the magazine. So this is a perfect example; a new title comes to the marketplace, but no one can find it.

Joshua Gary: Exactly. And now all you have to do is come into our site, type in your title and it’ll tell you where to find that magazine. Using the example title, Simple Grace; I give the app my location, based on the IP address of my computer. It also works on your phone using GPS. So, when it says nearest location within 3.3 miles that’s based on where I’m located at that point. I can click on Simple Grace and it will bring up a listing of where it’s available to buy now, based on the information we’ve received as recently as yesterday.

Samir Husni: You’re telling me that you’re creating a Match Finder or Grindr or Tinder for magazines? (Laughs)

Joshua Gary: (Laughs too) It’s meant to inspire and encourage in store purchases and it’s meant to encourage people to see what’s available to them and then to go find that magazine. We have title descriptions, which by the way, we procure and save ourselves. We have an employee at our home office who goes to all of the publishers’ titles websites and looks for mission statements about the magazine and enters that information into the app, so that consumers have an idea of what it is they might be getting.

When you see the cover, it’ll bring up the price; the number of locations within a certain radius of where you’re located; the closest store; a way to filter by distance; the store names and addresses, as well as directions to that store. If I want to go the Wal-Mart, I can see the little dot on my map, the little blue dot is where I’m located at that moment, then you can see the location of that Wal-Mart and if you click on the directions button, it will bring up directions to that store.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.17.47 AM Samir Husni: This is such an amazing vehicle, especially with mobile technology and the penetration of mobile and Smartphones; why do you think publishers and magazine media companies aren’t jumping in and helping you, instead of you doing this all on your own? There are certainly a lot of benefits for them in this technology.

Joshua Gary: Yes, there are a lot of benefits for them. I believe that once they hear about this vision, I think they will jump in with both feet. Right now, we’ve been spending a lot of time building out the app and we’re coming to a point where we have to make sure it’s accessible to consumers. It hasn’t been released publicly yet.

Obviously, you have access to the behind-the-scenes prerelease version, but it’s not out there publicly. I do firmly believe that when we do release this publicly to the publishing community, we’re going to get tremendous support. The part that we need to encourage is the sharing aspect, because we still have to rely on the publishing community to support and share our vision. Every person that I’ve demoed this to has wholeheartedly embraced the idea. We haven’t had one publisher who has said to us that this doesn’t serve a purpose or isn’t valuable.

We’ve asked every publisher that we’ve shown it to up until now, which has been about a dozen publishers, major publishers and small guys included; we asked them if they would put a link to MagFinder on their website so that their customers would always know and the answer was an emphatic yes.

Samir Husni: When do you think you’ll be ready to release this?

Joshua Gary: The first release is scheduled for the IMAG Conference in Boulder on May 18.

Samir Husni: So I’ll be seeing you there then.

Joshua Gary: Great.

Samir Husni: Do you see any disadvantage with this? Can you think of a reason someone would argue against MagFinder or see anything negative about this app?

Joshua Gary: Yes. I think this is going to create another level of competition among publishers who want to try to bring people to their own content. When there are five, six or seven gun magazines out there and many of them may look similar, I can see a publisher being concerned that the consumer might choose a competitive product over their own. And then the best content ends up winning. So, for some publishers this app may not work to their advantage.

Samir Husni: That’s always been the pipedream for wholesalers, and I remember the days when Anderson News was in the business of wholesale; wholesalers always wanted to create those categories and tiers within the categories and they wanted to make sure that the top titles; 1, 2, or 3, were the ones that received all the attention. Are we creating something similar to that or is it going to be completely up to the customer to decide?

Joshua Gary: It completely levels the playing field; there’s no preference toward any publisher or another; there’s no preference toward any region and there’s no preference toward any retailer.

Samir Husni: Can you see the day where the customer will come to MagFinder and say here’s my profile; I’m interested in cat magazines or gun magazines, etc.?

Joshua Gary: Yes. And let me tell you about our first foray into individual profiles. On one page of the app, what you’ll see at the very top is a login button. Once logged in, I flag favorites for a title or category. With those favorites we can customize content delivery to you. So yes, you can actually go into MagFinder and find a magazine you like, say Animal Tales, and you’ll see a favorite button and when I hit that button, a green bar appears and that magazine is added to favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.13.01 AM And what we’re doing with that information is using it to customize content delivery to you. And it will be based on your preferences, either by an editorial category or by a specific magazine. Not only for whatever might be interesting for you to read in a newsletter, but also to let you know when there’s a new issue of your favorite magazine available on the newsstand. So, the next time that Animal Tales comes out on sale, MagNet will either send you an email, letting you know the new issue of the magazine is available so you can go purchase it, or you can choose on the app itself to have MagNet send you an SMS text message to let you know.

Samir Husni: Technically, after downloading MagFinder and allowing notifications, if the customer has chosen their favorite magazines, let’s say Cosmopolitan or First For Women, the app will have the capability of notifying the customer by either email or text that the new issue of their favorite magazine is out?

Joshua Gary: That’s exactly right. We’re going to make sure that we limit the number of text messages that a customer can receive because we don’t want people to be overloaded or to turn them off because they’re constantly being notified. As we sit here today, the limitation will be one a week, no more.

Samir Husni: So, Joshua, the next question has to be; what took you so long? (Laughs)

Joshua Gary; (Laughs too) So many things to take on at the same time; too many fires to put out. (Laughs again) No, this has been a project that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was just a matter of getting the time and the focus associated with making it happen.

Another thing is we didn’t always have a large enough data base of covers. We wanted MagFinder to be very visual, opposed to just reading text; we wanted the customer to be able to see the covers of the magazines, which are scanned at a very high resolution and make sure that they’re ultra-crisp. We have about 4,000 magazines now that we’re scanning per month. We feel like it’s a large enough number of magazines where we can make the app much more visual. We encourage any publisher who doesn’t see their magazine cover to contact us so we can get it added.

Another point is that technology has progressed to the point that we can Tweet, Share and Favorite. We can also make it available on mobile just as easily as on the web with speed as a consideration. There are so many pieces of data that we’re serving up; we wanted to have an app that was fast on the phone. MagFinder Mobile is just as responsive as it is on the desktop. We wanted that to be the case and I think that the technology has now allowed us to do that.

Samir Husni: I’ve been doing this for over 30 years here at the university and to me, this is the first time that I’ve seen or heard an innovative way to help the newsstands or single copy. All I’ve heard, since I began concentrating on newsstand, is all the problems, but nobody ever offers any solutions. My expectations are that this is going to be something very big and very helpful, because you’re saving the consumer’s time, while still allowing them to shop covers and see issues of the magazines without leaving their home.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.14.47 AM Joshua Gary: Exactly. And we see it taking a variety of different angles from here and I’ll give you one example. Off of the home page, one of the things that you’ll notice is that there’s a little bar at the bottom that reads ‘most popular magazine.’ That’s based on our point of sale data, so I can see helping customers find their magazines based on popularity; based on what’s been purchased more often in a store, in a region, in a category or in a state, or even among their friends or social sphere.

I can see the categorization and popularity expanding and becoming much more profile-driven. If you like Cosmo, for example, you might want to check out Glamour. Why would you want Glamour, because your friends are buying Glamour, a new issue just came on sale; any number of reasons.

Samir Husni: It’s just amazing. The only thing even close to this is in Finland, the wholesalers track the sales and every six months the magazines that get the checkouts or the front displays are the ones that sold the highest numbers in the previous six months. It’s not a matter of ‘you pay me and you get the checkout position,’ it’s ‘how many copies have you sold’. And this app is going to show me, for example, that People magazine and National Enquirer have been the most popular magazines, not because they have the best cover or they’re well-liked, but because of the number of copies sold.

Joshua Gary: That’s right. Look under the National Enquirer or Us Weekly; it’s not even Cosmopolitan; in our example here, it’s Fine Homebuilding. It’s telling you what is selling well.

Samir Husni: I am truly fascinated. I can’t wait to download the app and I know I can’t do it now because it’s not out yet. (Laughs)

Joshua Gary: There’s another interesting thing that I’ll tell you. We’re not just necessarily helping them find a magazine, but we also want consumers to be able to browse the inventory in a store at any given time. And there are a couple of different ways to get to that inventory within MagFinder.

You can also click on the Browse button at the top of the app by store. And then you can actually search a particular store.

Samir Husni: Do you know how much time that will save me if I can find all of my first issues through this app? (Laughs)

Joshua Gary: We’ll have to create a special version just for you, Samir. (Laughs too)

Samir Husni: Right. (Laughs again)

Joshua Gary: Don’t forget about Twitter. You can use MagFinder to tell your friends that you’ve purchased a certain magazine; we have a hashtag; there’s a sharing on Facebook element; you can login via Facebook or Twitter. We truly believe the social tie-ins will be an integral part of the success of this app.

Samir Husni: For the first time in this digital age, how can I be the first one to download this app on my Smartphone?

Joshua Gary: Here’s the best part about it; you don’t have to download anything. It is a completely web-based app. I have my link to MagFinder on my phone and when I click on it, it opens up a web browser and it acts, feels and plays like a natively-installed app, but you don’t have to download anything. And we did that on purpose for a couple of reasons.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.23.41 AM The first reason was that we wanted to make sure that we had greater accessibility with the least amount of intrusion for publishers and customers. We didn’t want a customer to feel like they had to download something to be able to use it. We wanted to create all the functionality we needed without the customer having to download anything. It still uses your GPS; it still gives you all the recommendations; it’s still just as fast.

This is great because you don’t have to worry about the different iPhones or Samsungs on the market and the cross-compatibility challenges that software services providers regularly face. MagFinder is what’s called a “responsive, HTML5 based application” which means it’s much more compatible across devices and browsers, even on mobile.

As we get into some of the more advanced functionality capabilities that exist within your phone, I expect that we’ll revisit having a natively-installed application, maybe for the purposes of taking pictures or videos. something like that. But as of right now that wasn’t required.

Samir Husni: What is in it for you?

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 11.20.00 AM Joshua Gary: If you think about our position in the business; it is partly to try and support and strengthen an efficient, optimized supply chain, and to facilitate the flow of information amongst the various entities associated with the newsstand. From our perspective, it doesn’t do a whole lot of good if we build solutions that only benefit one rung within the supply chain at the others’ expense.

MagFinder will help everyone in the supply chain, because if we’re finding magazines with greater ease, we’re generating interest, not only in the magazine itself, but in the brand’s content in a way right now that publishers can’t easily do. The people that end up benefiting most are customers; however who benefits when the customer benefits? The retailer, the wholesaler, and the publisher benefit as well. If we can help facilitate that success, it’s right where MagNet wants to be

Samir Husni: As I told you earlier, this is one of the first really innovative ways that I’ve seen to reach the magazine customer in their home and on their phone. I’ve heard a lot of questions asked about how to get the mobile blinders to help the industry. And I think with this, we’re telling our customers to keep their blinders on and we’ll help them find their way.

Joshua Gary: We’ll help them figure it out; exactly.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Country Living Goes “Country” In The June Issue For The First Time In Its 36-Year History – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Rachel Barrett, Editor-In-Chief, Country Living.

May 13, 2015

“Country Living had never dipped its toes fully into the country music waters, but if that audience is going to read a shelter decorating magazine, I think Country Living is the magazine for them. So, we talked about how to be very deliberate about penetrating that world without alienating our core readership, because I’m realistic; I know not all of our readers are country music fans and they don’t come to our magazine for celebrities and/or music.” Rachel Barrett

country living june 2015 Country Living magazine is taking its June issue on a long drive into the country with a guest editor and the first-ever person to appear on its cover in the magazine’s 36-year history. Grammy-Award winning singer, Miranda Lambert is the distinguished celebrity that received the honor. And it is a momentous event indeed.

Rachel Barrett is the magazine’s editor-in-chief and said the upcoming issue of Country Living showcases many firsts for the magazine as it rubs shoulders with the country music industry without deviating from its original DNA. No celeb-tell-alls here; Country Living merely continues to do what it does best, celebrating country style with tasteful class and easy fun.

I spoke with Rachel recently about the memorable June issue with all its ‘firsts,’ from the new feature: Turn This Country Room Into a Song to the first edition of Country Living Backstage, a free mini-mag created in partnership with the Country Music Association for the CMA Fan Fest held in Nashville June 11-14.

A true southern lady herself, Rachel graciously shared her enthusiastic excitement about the issue and the magazine in general. It was a conversation that was as refreshing as a mint julep on a hot southern day.

But of course, Country Living doesn’t happen only below the Mason-Dixon, as Rachel was quick to point out, even though it’s published in Birmingham, Ala. The magazine appeals to people everywhere who enjoy the country lifestyle; from New York to Nebraska; Country Living satisfies its audience all across the United States.

I hope you enjoy this fun and lively conversation with Rachel Barrett, Editor-in-Chief, Country Living magazine. I know Mr. Magazine™ did.

But first the sound-bites:

On why the June issue was chosen for the magazine’s maiden voyage into ‘country’: We began looking at what time of year to potentially do this issue and to be honest, we weren’t even seeking to put a person on the cover; we were just talking about the fact that country music is so mainstream. A lot of topics that just lined up with the country music lifestyle felt really right for the magazine to explore right now.

On the things she’s implementing in print to interact with the magazine’s audience: We’re just adding different levels of engagement. I mentioned that we moved Simple Country Pleasures to the back page of the magazine, so now we’re opening the feature well with a seasonal cross stitch and in June it’s a guitar because it’s a country themed issue, but we’ve done various cross stitch patterns.

On discovering Hearst was moving Country Living to Birmingham and her feelings about that when she was offered the job: I felt full support from Hearst; they handled the whole thing brilliantly. Transitioning a major national brand from New York to Birmingham, staffing it from scratch; I was also pregnant when I took the job, so that added to some of the chaos. (Laughs) But there were challenges and sometimes I’m floored, in retrospect, as to how we pulled it off. A lot of that credit goes to the New York-based Country Living team who sort of helped pass the torch in the most graceful manner.

On the major stumbling block she had to face: I think just starting from scratch. There was a small window of time where we had a temporary office space and a post-it note on the door that read Country Living. (Laughs) And our neighbors were like: what, the magazine?

On her most pleasant moment: The best moments are just every time we’ve added a person to the staff; it was also such a unique opportunity because the people would ask what’s the job description and we’d reply, well, what do you want it to be? (Laughs)

On anything else she’d like to add: One of the other exciting things on the heels of this country music play is that we have Country Living Backstage and I think this is a testament to how mainstream country has become.

On what keeps her up at night: What doesn’t keep me up at night? (Laughs) For one, my two children. I have a two-year-old and a one-year-old. But in addition to them, I think it’s just excitement for Country Living. You know, we’re really a small magazine, as I have reiterated a couple of times, and so everyone multi-tasks. We’re definitely kind of scrappy; I’m working on everything from brainstorming the reader page to big picture brand-building.

CLX050115_010 And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Rachel Barrett, Editor-in-Chief, Country Living.

Samir Husni: There are so many firsts in the June issue of Country Living; we have the first celebrity guest editor, the first Backstage Pass, the first Country Living Backstage mini-magazine, you name it; I was just going through the list of how many firsts the magazine has in the June issue. Why now and why June for all these premier bonanzas?

Rachel Barrett: I’ve been onboard now for almost two years; I started in October 2013, and we took about six months to build a staff here in Birmingham and to complete the transition. And we’ve been a little slow about introducing some changes into the magazine, but recently I read an article in The New York Times about a study done by the MPD Group that talked about how country music had finally become the most popular musical format in the country with its widespread appeal.

Country Living had never dipped its toes fully into the country music waters, but if that audience is going to read a shelter decorating magazine, I think Country Living is the magazine for them. So, we talked about how to be very deliberate about penetrating that world without alienating our core readership, because I’m realistic; I know not all of our readers are country music fans and they don’t come to our magazine for celebrities and/or music.

We began looking at what time of year to potentially do this issue and to be honest, we weren’t even seeking to put a person on the cover; we were just talking about the fact that country music is so mainstream. Recently, even Steven Tyler announced that he was doing a country album; Nelly is also going to do one, and so there’s definitely widespread appeal. We decided to look at the lifestyle associated with the genre of country music.

As we started discussing the issue in more detail and brainstorming ideas, we thought that it would be more authentic and interesting to bring on a guest editor from that world to help us brainstorm. We bounced around a few names, but Miranda Lambert just seemed like the perfect choice for us; she’s the reigning queen of country; she took home a ton of awards recently at the ACM’s, I think more than any other country artist, and then we started digging a little deeper and found out that she’s from Lindale, Texas, where the town’s motto is actually “Good Country Living,” which was perfect. She chooses to live in the small town of Tishomingo, Oklahoma; I think the population is around 3,000 people.

So, we reached out to her publicist, who also happened to be a Country Living fan; it’s always great when an L.A. publicist is familiar with a magazine called Country Living. It turned out she’s a reader and so we didn’t really have this awkward back and forth, where we were trying to rope in the celebrity who didn’t really understand the magazine or was pitching content that was off brand. Miranda reads us on her tour bus.

She bounced around a ton of ideas on our first phone call; she had clearly taken notes and went over ideas with Blake (Shelton), it was a really nice back and forth. We photographed her for the inside story and of course, if you’re Country Living and you have a photo shoot and time carved out with Miranda Lambert, you’re going to shoot a vertical, a potential cover shot; it wasn’t necessarily the plan to put her on the cover, but it felt like the right move at the right time. I can’t think of anyone, particularly in the last five to ten years, who would be a better face for the magazine.

I felt strongly that everything we put in this issue needed to appeal to the Country Living reader who didn’t care at all about country music; the houses weren’t going to be chosen just because they were tied to a celebrity, they had to be houses that would be worth running in the magazine no matter who their owner was.

We found spaces that fit the bill. We have a story called ‘King of the Road’ and the title is inspired by a country song, but it’s a celebration of the new travel trailer culture. Of course, country stars drive around in their Airstreams and have these great, decked-out trailers, but our readers are also really into that lifestyle and we know they’re also into small spaces, so a lot of topics that just lined up with the country music lifestyle felt really right for the magazine to explore right now.

In terms of Backstage, that was just another thing we felt was right. We’d been talking about; generally speaking, people aren’t flocking to the newsstands as much as they used to, so we talked about how Country Living needed to be present where our readers are and where potential readers are. I’m originally from Tennessee and I know that the CMA Fan Fest is a huge event. I think 50,000-plus people flock to downtown Nashville to celebrate country music; HGTV has a presence there, they have this giant building called ‘The Lodge,’ and so we thought: how does Country Living build a presence at this event, because it’s great exposure for us, albeit a slightly different audience.

When I worked at Glamour, we had done a special publication during Golden Globe’s week and it was distributed throughout Los Angeles and Glamour has the Golden Globe’s weekend; this feels similar in spirit to that. It’s sort of Country Living’s inside guide to downtown Nashville throughout that weekend. The content gives attendees a sneak peek into our brand, but through the lens of the things they’re interested in.

One of the stories that we have in Country Living Backstage is ‘Turn this Country Song into a Room,’ so we’re taking four or five songs that will be performed through the CMA Fan Fest in downtown Nashville and we’re putting together a room. There’s one song called ‘Get Your Shine On’ by Florida Georgia Line, so we put together this living room with a bunch of fun, metallic touches and there’s, of course, some sort of Tennessee Moonshine resourcing on the page. (Laughs) Another song out right now is ‘American Kids’ by Kenny Chesney and so we built this whole Americana-inspired porch.

So, I think that we’re finding a way to tap into the world of country music without pandering to the celebrity side of things.

Samir Husni: One of the things that I remember about Country Living from the days of John Mack Carter and Rachel Newman, when the magazine was first launched, was it had that spirit of enjoying everything ‘country.’ And you seem to be bringing that trait back to the magazine. You’re not going miles from the original DNA, but you’re rebuilding upon that basic foundation.

Rachel Barrett: I appreciate your saying that. Country Living has only had four editors in the history of the magazine and I’ve received some sweet letters from readers who’ve said, I think it’s a promising sign that your name is Rachel. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too)

Rachel Barrett: You know, everyone sort of pines for their old issues, including myself; I love looking at magazines from their very beginnings and I’ve been in touch with Rachel Newman and Nancy Soriano, so there’s this nice connection from past editors; I’m sort of revisiting some of my favorite aspects of all of the incarnations of the magazine over the years. We’re definitely trying to celebrate that more in the magazine and we’re putting a little more heart and soul into the pages.

Samir Husni: We’ve named all the previous editors; let’s also add Sarah Gray…

Rachel Barrett: Yes, certainly. Even working in the magazine industry in New York, I’m from Tennessee and she’s from Mississippi; everybody was always saying that she and I needed to meet. And I’ve always been a huge fan of what she did at Country Living; I would say that I started reading Country Living even more regularly when she came onboard. And I think that she definitely seized upon the social trend of country becoming cool again. Even hipsters in Brooklyn were into canning. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs as well)

Rachel Barrett: I think that she really embraced that in a smart way and brought a whole new readership into Country Living. I haven’t had a chance to communicate with her, but I’m definitely a fan.

Samir Husni: You also created ‘Find the Horseshoe’ inside the magazine, which was a staple of Country magazine that was started by Roy Reiman many years ago. What other types of things are you doing in print to engage people in this digital age and create that interactivity with the audience through ink on paper?

Rachel Barrett: Country Living was not a magazine that was broken, so we’re not trying to come in and fix it and introduce whiplash-inducing change, but one of the things we did modify was our section called ‘Collecting.’ The word collecting is great, it describes jut what it is, but I felt like it wasn’t tapping into the heart of collecting. So, we renamed the section ‘The Thrill of the Hunt’ because it opens up this section for us to feature some new merchandise. I had been at a Country Living fair in Columbus and they were doing a TV segment and we asked this woman: what brings you to the fair? And she said it’s the thrill of the hunt. And you really see that in action at our events and so we decided to rename the collecting section ‘The Thrill of the Hunt.’ And that’s when the Horseshoe Hunt came up and we thought to play off of The Thrill of the Hunt we’d incorporate that element into our pages, so we’ve been hiding a horseshoe in every issue. It’s just one way to have readers interacting with every page of the magazine.

A reader came up to me recently at the Nashville fair and she said the first thing that she always did when she got her issue of Country Living was look for the horseshoe. And that just made me so happy that that one little touch, a tiny, subtle little horseshoe, could bring such fun to a certain set of our readership.

Another example of that interaction, I would say, would be Simple Country Pleasures, which is this longstanding popular column in the magazine. It used to be the back page of the magazine, then it opened the feature well, and recently, we moved it back to the back page of the magazine. It’s an image of the countryside and then a great quote. To be candid, it’s one of the most popular pages and the easiest page to produce. Beautiful images of the countryside are not hard to come by. On our side, we said, OK, this is a page that we don’t have to really do anything new with; it’s successful as is, but is there some way we can build on this; some way we can do something to get readers really excited about it.

So, I read an article in The New York Times recently about how adults have gotten into coloring books and these childhood-inspired crafts. Even our guest editor, Miranda Lambert, had posted something on Instagram the other day; she was coloring in a coloring book while drinking beer. (Laughs) It was like hashtag beer and coloring book.

One thing that a lot of people shop for at the Country Living fairs is paint-by-numbers, those relics of the 70s and 80s; they’ve really had a big resurgence. So, we found this Kentucky-based company, Easy 123 Art, to team up with and they have turned every image now on the back page of the magazine into a paint-by-numbers kit that readers can order.

We didn’t really change the DNA of the page, there’s just a small redirect to the company. And the company has been inundated with thousands and thousands of orders for these paint-by-numbers kits. It’s really been amazing. Some readers are sharing their paint-by-numbers art online; we’ve tapped into the sort of crafty mindset of readers and given them something else to take away from their magazine experience. So, that’s another example.

This is another small example; we’re introducing in our July/August issue a column called ‘Ask a Country Vet.’ It’s another really popular franchise. We have a fairly new country vet that answers our reader’s questions and talks all things animal. We know from social media that people just love adorable pet pictures, so now we’re adding one pet photo that’s just captioned ‘This Pet Photo’ and it’ll be almost our version of The New Yorker caption contest. So, we’ll see how much readers get into that. It kind of gives them the chance to be clever and we’ll run their best answers in the next issue of the magazine and hopefully, eventually we’ll tie it to a prize.

We’re just adding different levels of engagement. I mentioned that we moved Simple Country Pleasures to the back page of the magazine, so now we’re opening the feature well with a seasonal cross stitch and in June it’s a guitar because it’s a country themed issue, but we’ve done various cross stitch patterns. We make the cross stitch pattern available online and readers are sharing that they’ve recreated our cross stitch. Of course, the ultimate goal would be to sell a Country Living brand of cross stitch kits down the road and it’s beautiful that our copy editor is actually the person who does the cross stitch every month; she’s definitely multi-tasking. (Laughs)

We’re still exploring it every month, but kind of looking at pages that are already successful, but figuring out if there is a way to give them more depth either in the magazine or off the page.

Samir Husni: When David Carey announced that Country Living was moving to Birmingham, there were a lot of skeptics out there who said this move was just a nice way of killing the magazine, shipping it from New York to Birmingham. When you took this job, did you have any doubts or any fears that screamed: I’m moving from an established magazine that was doing very well to a brand that people were sure was about to end? Can you recall your original feelings when you were offered the job? Were you skeptical as well or did you jump and say, no, I believe in this brand and I’m with it all the way?

Rachel Barrett: Even when I moved from Real Simple to Southern Living, I kind of felt like it was a similar challenge. I felt like Southern Living had been a brand that my grandmother had read, but didn’t have as much cache with a younger audience or a new audience, so at the time I think even people in New York were asking; what is she doing. (Laughs) And Southern Living has had this great resurgence and a lot of success recently, so I felt like that challenge only inspired me. I had always loved Country Living. Way back in the day, when I was an associate editor at Glamour and Eliot Kaplan would do his requisite check-in with you and he asked me what magazine at Hearst would I ever want to be editor-in-chief of and I pointed at Country Living and he remembered that.

I love the content, it’s great. And I know while you’re transitioning a magazine, there are a lot of question marks around that and it creates storylines, but Country Living has such a healthy subscriber base and that’s something we’re looking to build on with the Country Living fairs and other events; it’s a really strong subscriber base and they’re very loyal, so I didn’t feel as uncertain as other people around me felt.

And I felt full support from Hearst; they handled the whole thing brilliantly. Transitioning a major national brand from New York to Birmingham, staffing it from scratch; I was also pregnant when I took the job, so that added to some of the chaos. (Laughs) But there were challenges and sometimes I’m floored, in retrospect, as to how we pulled it off. A lot of that credit goes to the New York-based Country Living team who sort of helped pass the torch in the most graceful manner.

I think one of the advantages; obviously, having some sort of history with the magazine, there’s a lot to be said for that, and there were a lot of people at Southern Living and it was so helpful to have these people around you who had this knowledge of the brand and why certain things didn’t work. It’s also rare and maybe unprecedented to be able to look at and build upon a decades-old brand through the eyes of an entirely new team. That was very exciting. Our style director came from the New York-based Country Living staff, but for the most part we were a fresh staff. There was no one saying ‘but that’s not how we’ve always done it.’

I think in some ways it was such an interesting opportunity to be able to take a magazine with a strong subscriber base and look at it with fresh eyes and fresh energy; trying to build on, I hope, the best parts of all the decades of the magazine.

Samir Husni: What was the major stumbling block you had to face and how did you overcome it?

Rachel Barrett: I think just starting from scratch. There was a small window of time where we had a temporary office space and a post-it note on the door that read Country Living. (Laughs) And our neighbors were like: what, the magazine?

In terms of recruiting during that interim period; recruiting a staff from scratch was definitely challenging. I brought over a couple of people from Southern Living who I really admired, but I also saw it as an opportunity to expand within the talent pool of Birmingham. I didn’t want our filter to naturally skew Southern; I wanted to make sure we had people representing different parts of the country. I think seven or eight people on our staff relocated from New York City and other locations. And we’re a small staff right now; we’re at 16.

Just building a staff from scratch and finding office space and really just finding the right balance, sometimes when new editors come in they’re very eager to try a million new things, but I realized that this isn’t a magazine where you need to do that. So, part of the challenge is just reining myself in. (Laughs) I mean, you get very excited and have a ton of ideas. Ellen Levine had some great advice; sometimes I’m like trying to brainstorm some flashy, amazing new pet column, and she says Ask a Country Vet is working, readers love it; don’t overthink it. (Laughs again) Sometimes I need to be reminded of that.

Samir Husni: And what has been the most pleasant moment?

Rachel Barrett: There was a week when we were fully staffed. We have an open position right now; our executive editor was just named editor-in-chief of Coastal Living.

As a small staff we just have lots of great, little victories; we’re a very close-knit group. Every time we get our new issues in the box delivered, we have sort of an official unveiling in the conference room.

The best moments are just every time we’ve added a person to the staff; it was also such a unique opportunity because the people would ask what’s the job description and we’d reply, well, what do you want it to be? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too)

Rachel Barrett: When you have open headcount that’s entirely open; I mean normally at magazines you’re dealing with one very specific role, because one person leaves and they have a very decisive role and you’re filling that position. But with every new person that came onboard, I was asking well, what do you want to do and then we’ll hire the next person based on what you don’t want to do. It’s just been this really unique and interesting experience.

My dad is a recruiter, a headhunter, so maybe I learned a little from him. I was really pleasantly surprised. The most daunting thing probably was having a staff of one and three months pregnant. (Laughs) But one of the most surprising and rewarding things was building this really talented staff from scratch and seeing how well they work together and how everyone inspires each other here.

Samir Husni: The journalist in me has to ask you this question; was that like a Time Inc. revenge, getting your executive editor to be the editor-in-chief of Coastal Living because you left them? (Laughs)

Rachel Barrett: I don’t think so. (Laughs too) I feel like when you hire really talented people, other people are going to recognize their talent too. We were so excited for Steele (Marcoux). We had a champagne toast in the conference room and she was recently at High Point and uploaded a picture on Instagram with our address and I was like hands off, Steele Marcoux. (Laughs) I don’t see it as a revenge play at all, I think Steele is such a great hire; she was the first person I hired. Every meeting I was ever in with her, I was always in agreement.

So, I think if you’re looking to tap into the talent pool to hire a new editor-in-chief for Coastal Living, she was such a clear choice, regardless of where she was working. She also started her career there.

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

Rachel Barrett: One of the other exciting things on the heels of this country music play is that we have Country Living Backstage and I think this is a testament to how mainstream country has become. Back when I lived in New York City there wasn’t even a country station and now, of course, they have a country station and they’re also getting a huge country music festival this summer, in late June. It’s called FarmBorough and it’s a 3-day country music concert series that will be held on Randall’s Island. Country Living is also taking over the Green Room for that event. So, that’s exciting. Again, it’s a different audience; it’s a New York City-based audience and so we’re currently putting together the plans of how we’re going to decorate the Green Room for that event.

That’s been fun. It’s hard, because I left New York four years ago, and now I’m thinking if they’d only had a country station and a country concert festival when I lived there. (Laughs) But this is just another exciting thing that Country Living is doing, in tandem with this June issue.

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

Rachel Barrett: What doesn’t keep me up at night? (Laughs) For one, my two children. I have a two-year-old and a one-year-old. But in addition to them, I think it’s just excitement for Country Living. You know, we’re really a small magazine, as I have reiterated a couple of times, and so everyone multi-tasks. We’re definitely kind of scrappy; I’m working on everything from brainstorming the reader page to big picture brand-building.

I think step two for Country Living is really building on our fair franchise; we just had a really successful first-time Country Living fair in Nashville. I think we had 22,000-plus people attending over three days. I go to the fair and it’s a huge success, but then my brain begins churning with how do we build on this franchise and how do we round out the experience? Do we add a sound stage; just that sort of thing. So, the things that keep me up at night probably change every single day, but I think it’s just that we have a great magazine and how do we expand upon it in ways that are really going to resonate with our subscribers.

And then also those toddlers. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) Thank you.

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A Millennial Read That’s Fast-Paced, Upbeat & Not Digital – The Mr. Magazine Interview With Emily Cronin, Editor-In-Chief, Trending NY Magazine.

May 11, 2015

“One of the results of living on your Smartphone is you crave a break and people like me and my friends; our readers, I think increasingly, new magazines bring a breath of fresh air and a treat. Although, like you, it’s my job to read magazines and keep up with everything that’s going on, I still favor them and bring them on vacation with me, because you read a magazine very differently on a long commute or a flight or in a beach chair than you do at your desk.” Emily Cronin

Trending_Cover_May 2015 A new free, monthly fashion, beauty and entertainment magazine for millennial New York women, that’s the concept behind Hearst’s, Trending NY. It’s upbeat, colorful and a fast read that not only competes with millennials’ digital devices; it’s actually a welcomed diversion and something readers are excitedly craving in their fast-paced lives, at least according to Trending NY’s founding editor, Emily Cronin.

And if anyone should know the minds of the magazine’s readers; it’s Emily. Being a millennial herself, she knows the value of a long, deep breath away from the bombardment of today’s information flood and Trending NY is ready to provide that much-needed respite. After four pilot issues last year, Trending NY starts regular monthly publication with the May 2015 issue.

I spoke with Emily recently and we talked about her early interests in political science, becoming a foreign correspondent, and then the ultimate realization of her love of stories, storytelling and beautiful, collectable covers. And of course, we talked about the potential of Trending NY and the goals she hopes to accomplish with the magazine that collects all the trending topics of interest a millennial New York woman wants and needs to know, and puts into the timelessness of print.

I hope you enjoy this refreshing interview with a young lady who knows the convenience of the digital age, but also knows in order to enjoy the beauty and joy of life, sometimes you have to slow down the pace and relax with a great magazine. And now the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Emily Cronin, Editor-in-Chief, Trending NY.

But first the sound-bites:

On how her career transitioned from a Political Science major in college to fashion, beauty and entertainment: It’s a long story, but the short version is when I was in college I wanted to be a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. But at the same time I was working on the student newspaper and the student magazine. And I found that what I loved was telling longer stories that you could really invest in and make beautiful and create covers that had a lifespan.

On why she believes millennials are craving the lean-back experience of print:
One of the results of living on your Smartphone is you crave a break and people like me and my friends; our readers, I think increasingly, new magazines bring a breath of fresh air and a treat.

On whether she fears that readers will come to expect an overabundance of direction from Trending NY:
Actually, that’s really fun. Whether I’m an editor or not, I’m constantly on the hunt for information about what’s new and what’s on the horizon. And Trending NY is an amazing vehicle for my team and me to share our discoveries. Everything that’s in the magazine is something that we’re excited about.

On the basic concept of the magazine:
Trending NY is the new free monthly fashion, beauty and entertainment magazine for millennial New York women. The magazine is a quick shop-able read; everything in the magazine, all the clothes, all the beauty items, are in store now; there’s none of the delayed gratification that we’ve grown accustomed to with traditional monthly fashion magazines.

On whether she thinks we may see more “Trending” titles upcoming:
You never know. I would love it if that were somewhere in the future, but I’m really not at will to say. Although, I will say that Trending is a name that lends itself to other cities, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

On the biggest stumbling block she’s had to face:
There have definitely been small challenges, but there have been no stumbling blocks; this whole thing has been a lot of fun, honestly.

On her most pleasant surprise:
I love it when I see people reading it on the subway. It makes me feel a little like a spy, sitting there watching them and trying to see the pages that they’re lingering over and just to witness people interacting with it and enjoying the product that we’ve worked so hard on is really a joy.

On what she feels the role of an editor is in 2015 compared to the years before the digital explosion: I think now more than ever the editor has a responsibility to filter all of the information that’s out there. There is an unbelievable torrent of information hitting our reader every day and something that I repeat all the time to my team is that we have to be specific.

On what motivates her to get out of bed every morning and look forward to going to work:
What really keeps me going is the next big idea. Hearst has now committed to producing more issues of Trending NY to December 2015 and we have ideas for features for a year beyond that. So, constantly we’re refining and building our ambition and trying to figure out how we can make the next issue even better and that’s a huge motivating factor.

On what she reads at home when she’s relaxing:
What am I reading? Everything, I’m very lucky. One of the best things about being an editor at Hearst is that I get all of our magazines and I bring them home with me and have giant leaning towers of magazines on the floor all over the apartment. I love nothing more than after the kids go to bed, flipping through a magazine and really taking more time with it.

On what keeps her up at night: I’m always thinking about the magazine and am really driven by excitement at what we can accomplish with it.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Emily Cronin, Editor-in-Chief, Trending NY.

Samir Husni: You majored in Political Science and graduated with honors from Duke University, but so far your journalism experience has been in fashion, beauty and technology, no politics. When was the transition from Political Science in school to what you’re doing now? It’s very fascinating. And now you’re editor-in-chief at a very young age for a major magazine; can you tell me about your career paths?

EmilyPortrait1 Emily Cronin: It’s a long story, but the short version is when I was in college I wanted to be a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. But at the same time I was working on the student newspaper and the student magazine. And I found that what I loved was telling longer stories that you could really invest in and make beautiful and create covers that had a lifespan.

When I graduated, instead of moving to the Middle East, I moved to London and I did start working in financial and political news; my first jobs were actually at the Financial Times and CNBC. But it became quickly apparent to me that I wanted to be in fashion magazines; I wanted to do features and fashion and create those beautiful stories that I loved.

I was very fortunate; I entered and won the Vogue talent contest for young writers, which having moved to London and not knowing anyone in the magazine industry, it gave me a great foot in the door and paved the way for me to go and work at Harper’s Bazaar and Elle UK in London. I’m really happy with the path my career has taken.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on your latest achievement, becoming editor-in-chief of Trending NY. If someone your age asked you; Trending NY is aimed at millennials, are you out of your mind to publish a print magazine for this age group? Millennials live on their Smartphones and digital devices; this is a digital age, after all. Why do you think they would be reading Trending NY in print?

Emily Cronin: That’s very true, but one of the results of living on your Smartphone is you crave a break, and people like me and my friends and our readers, I think, increasingly view magazines like a breath of fresh air, like a treat. And although, like you, it’s my job to read magazines and keep up with everything that’s going on, I still savor them and bring them on vacation with me, because you read a magazine very differently on a long commute or a flight or in a beach chair than you do at your desk.

What I’m so excited about with Trending NY is the chance to provide something that surprises and delights our reader and makes her feel like she’s been given a gift. So, absolutely, there’s not just a place for this in New York, but it’s something that women in our demographic are craving.

Samir Husni: You’re now the curator for these women in New York. Do you feel any sense of alarm or fear that they’re going to depend on you to tell them what to do?

Emily Cronin: Actually, that’s really fun. One of the reasons that I think a lot of people, including myself, get into journalism is that we like to be the ones who know what’s going on before anyone else and we also like to be the ones who tell everyone else what’s happening.

Whether I’m an editor or not, I’m constantly on the hunt for information about what’s new and what’s on the horizon. And Trending NY is an amazing vehicle for my team and me to share our discoveries. Everything that’s in the magazine is something that we’re excited about. We make very sure of that. It’s really a pleasure every month to share it with the readers.

Samir Husni: For those who are not living in New York, Emily; can you tell me a little bit more about the magazine so people outside of the City will have a better idea of what’s trending and what it’s all about?

Emily Cronin: Of course. Trending NY is the new free monthly fashion, beauty and entertainment magazine for millennial New York women. The magazine is a quick shop-able read; everything in the magazine, all the clothes, all the beauty items, are in store now; there’s none of the delayed gratification that we’ve grown accustomed to with traditional monthly fashion magazines. And we really collect the best of what’s happening in New York so that our readers can maximize their experience in the City. It’s positive, upbeat and inspirational and everything a girl could want to read on her commute.

Samir Husni: Can we expect to see from Hearst later on a Trending L.A. or a Trending Chicago; is this an experiment or is New York unique for such a magazine?

Emily Cronin: You never know. I would love it if that were somewhere in the future, but I’m really not at will to say. Although, I will say that Trending is a name that lends itself to other cities, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve faced since starting Trending NY and how did you overcome it?

Emily Cronin: This whole experience has honestly been so refreshing because we had a chance to come in and do something completely new. We are effectively a startup publication with all the backing and resources of the incredibly well-resourced Hearst Corporation.

There have definitely been small challenges, but there have been no stumbling blocks; this whole thing has been a lot of fun, honestly.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant surprise?

Emily Cronin: You know what; I love it when I hear that people are saying nice things about the publication behind my back. In other words, when I get positive feedback secondhand; where someone will say to me, my colleagues came in and saw the magazine on my desk and said they picked that up recently and it was really good.

I also love it when I see people reading it on the subway. It makes me feel a little like a spy, sitting there watching them and trying to see the pages that they’re lingering over and just to witness people interacting with it and enjoying the product that we’ve worked so hard on is really a joy.

Samir Husni: You’re now the editor of Trending NY; what would you say if someone asked you what the role of editor is today in 2015 compared to what it was before the digital explosion?

Emily Cronin: I think now more than ever the editor has a responsibility to filter all of the information that’s out there. There is an unbelievable torrent of information hitting our reader every day and something that I repeat all the time to my team is that we have to be specific. If we’re going to tell our reader that she needs to go to this festival in Brooklyn, that’s not good enough. We have to tell her the one event that she can’t miss and what she should eat and drink and wear.

I view one of the roles of Trending NY as a crib sheet for overstretched New York women; they don’t want to know every movie that’s opening this weekend or every restaurant that has a special, they want to know exactly what everyone else is talking about so that they can stay in the flow of the conversation, which is moving faster and faster every day.

Samir Husni: Having said that; what makes Emily get out of bed every morning and look forward to going to work?

Emily Cronin: Well, the first thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is my 16-month-old twins. They wake up very early and then of course, I’m up early too, which gives me a chance to check my email and look at Instagram and Twitter.

But what really keeps me going is the next big idea. Hearst has now committed to producing more issues of Trending NY to December 2015 and we have ideas for features for a year beyond that. So, constantly we’re refining and building our ambition and trying to figure out how we can make the next issue even better and that’s a huge motivating factor.

Samir Husni: The twins are in bed and asleep and you’re sitting on your couch at home with a glass of wine if you indulge; what would I find you reading and would it be on a digital device or in print?

Emily Cronin: What am I reading? Everything, I’m very lucky. One of the best things about being an editor at Hearst is that I get all of our magazines and I bring them home with me and have giant leaning towers of magazines on the floor all over the apartment. I love nothing more than after the kids go to bed, flipping through a magazine and really taking more time with it. Obviously, I look at everything that comes across my desk at work in a very quick way, with a view toward seeing how the things that we’re doing are trending. But really reading the features and looking at the fashion shoots; I look at everything you’d expect me to look at in all of our publications that I can name and some that I can’t. I also look at the international titles, having come up in London; I still get all of my British magazines as well.

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

Emily Cronin: Can I say the twins again? (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Of course. (Laughs too)

Emily Cronin: What keeps me up at night is actually very similar to what gets me up in the morning and that’s excitement at the potential of what we can do with Trending NY and what we can accomplish.

And I’ve definitely learned to sleep with a pen and a notepad on my nightstand so that if I wake up with a very specific, detailed thought about a feature or a headline or a distribution issue, I can write that down and I can also write down the big ideas. Sometimes when I wake up, I find that I’ve written down something that actually is useful.

To be a little more concise, I’m always thinking about the magazine and am really driven by excitement at what we can accomplish with it.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Travel Is Hot & So Is Print – The Reinvention of Travel+Leisure – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Jay Meyer, Publisher & Nathan Lump, Editor-In-Chief, Travel+Leisure Magazine

May 1, 2015

“If you look at travel media; travel media has had a growth of 37% in the last three years and the research team says that because of two reasons. One: because travel is luxury, and two: because we’re all so attached to our desktops, tablets and phones; at some point in time, people actually want to put those devices away and have a lean-back experience and dream a little bit and plan a trip; do something for themselves.” Jay Meyer

“What we’re seeing from the business community is that obviously, from a brand awareness and storytelling perspective, print is still a really important tool for us and that’s also partially because we’re living in the luxury space. And luxury advertisers have really seen that print still works for them from that perspective.” Nathan Lump

TL_May_2015_COVER Travel and magazines are two luxuries that go hand-in-hand, or so the powers-that-be over at Travel+Leisure believe whole-heartedly, and I would have to agree with them. While no one necessarily needs to read a magazine or travel to Europe just to see the Eiffel Tower; more often than not, it’s called for, if for no other reason than simply to disconnect from the real world and all of its devices that seem compelled to proclaim yet another notification of information. Something else travel and magazines have in common is their ability to transport you to idyllic locations totally different from the norm, another much-deserved, take-a-breath experience in our world of fast-paced existence.

Jay Meyer is vice president and publisher of Travel+Leisure magazine and Nathan Lump is editor-in-chief. The two are the highly-proud parents of the reinvented, more immersive and transporting travel magazine. With a redesign aimed at the current ravenous appetite affluent consumers have for travel, the magazine reaches out and touches that audience with an experience that shares their own memories through the art of travel. And for some, travel is art. And the new Travel+Leisure magazine showcases that trait beautifully.

I spoke with Jay and Nathan recently about the positive changes the magazine has made and about some of the numbers that support the idea that travel is a hot commodity right now in the world of magazine media. According to Jay, T+L is enjoying its largest audience ever in print, with 6.7 MM and in digital, 3.3 MM. The magazine is twice as large as its nearest competitor and has more millionaires in its audience than any measured publication.

Also, according to Time Inc.’s 10th Annual Time Inc./YouGov Survey of Affluence and Wealth which was recently released; leisure travel is expected to grow the most among all categories studied, with an increase of 15.9% from 2014 to $115.2 billion. When asked about passions, travel was the top response (67%), followed by “spending quality time with my family” (65%).

The findings certainly bode well for the future of Travel+Leisure and the two men whose passion for travel is exceeded only by their ardor for their brand.

So, I hope you enjoy this “trek” into the minds of two avid travelers as they talk about the magazine that always goes with them on their travels – the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jay Meyer, Publisher, and Nathan Lump, Editor-in-Chief, Travel+Leisure.

But first the sound-bites:


On why Jay believes travel is so hot right now on the publishing scene:
If you look at travel media; travel media has had a growth of 37% in the last three years and the research team says that because of two reasons. One: because travel is luxury, and two: because we’re all so attached to our desktops, tablets and phones; at some point in time, people actually want to put those devices away and have a lean-back experience and dream a little bit and plan a trip; do something for themselves.

On Nathan’s opinion of the lean-back experience:
I think for me, it’s really true in the sense that when you think about it, we have so much information at our fingertips; no one necessarily needs to read a magazine in order to learn things, so those that do are obviously making a very conscious choice that they want to give a certain amount of their leisure time to that experience.

On whether Nathan can ever imagine Travel+Leisure not having a print component:
Sure. We’ve seen the growth in digital and all of us can imagine that world. I don’t think that world is upon us yet. Our readership in print is actually larger than it’s ever been in its history.

On Jay’s opinion of why Travel+Leisure’s audience numbers have increased within its print media, rather than its digital: I think there are a lot of reasons, but the simplest is that we needed to re-platform, which is now done. And in the past we have been producing about 10 pieces of content per week, and Nathan and his team are moving into a place where they’re going to produce 20 pieces of content per day, high velocity publishing, and we expect those numbers to increase exponentially.

On whether as a publisher, digital makes Jay’s life harder or easier when it comes to selling the brand to advertisers:
I think digital absolutely makes our lives easier. Nathan was talking about consumer behaviors earlier; if you actually think about the process and mindset of looking at travel as being inspired and then planning and considering and then buying and sharing; we need to be on all of those channels; we’re not there yet, but obviously, digital is a huge part of that process.

On how Jay sees the magazine’s attempt to attract luxury advertisers, but stay grounded and keep the magazine at mass appeal at the same time:
The answer is if you look at syndicated research, to your point, we have a really great audience and marketers see that audience as exactly what I said previously, in terms of, they have a healthy income, they take action, they travel, and outside of Travel+Leisure, if you look at it from the advertiser’s brand perspective, these are people that they want as customers.

On the humanization of the magazine and who would appear if Nathan struck the magazine with a magic wand:
Everything that we’ve done with the changes to the brand really begins with who we see this reader as, and fundamentally for me, it is that person who Jay mentioned earlier who takes 23 trips per year. So, when you think about that person, that person has been a lot of places, done a lot of things; they’ve crossed a lot of things off of their bucket list and they are fundamentally worldly people. They bring a sophisticated and cosmopolitan point of view to their lives and to their travels.

On why the magazine’s logo wasn’t changed during the redesign according to Nathan:
Partially, because I think that the brand is in such a healthy place and it has such great awareness and recognition. I felt why tinker with something that is working for us.

On the biggest stumbling block Jay had to face as publisher of the magazine:
In terms of Nathan’s arrival and from that point to where we are now, I think the biggest challenge has been time.

On how he overcame it: Honestly? Relentless hard work and a ton of travel. (Laughs)

On anything either would like to add – Jay first:
One thing that I would add is that we kind of summed up that the travel space is doing quite well and Nathan talked about the travel industry as a whole, the GDP and the number of jobs; I would just say that I want to applaud Time Inc. for giving us the resources to make this happen in print and digital, which as you know, doesn’t always happen together.

On what Nathan would like to add:
The one thing that I would add, Samir, is that we focused quite a bit on the print magazine, but I think the other thing that is really important here too is the digital piece because obviously we see tremendous opportunity for us to grow and also to evolve our business, particularly leveraging our digital platforms.

On Nathan’s opinion of why it took five to six years for the media industry to realize when it comes to print and digital, it’s not either/or, it’s both: I think for a lot of people there was just some basic fear and lack of understanding of how people were really using the product.

On what keeps Jay up at night: As we move forward, it’s an interesting time in the media world; it’s all about ideas. So, ideas keep me up at night, my own and others.

On what keeps Nathan up at night: What does keep me up at night is the fact that I have so many things that I want to do, that we want to do, and there is always that thinking like, oh no, are we going to be able to do it all and do it all as quickly as I would like.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Jay Meyer, Publisher, and Nathan Lump, Editor-in-Chief, Travel+Leisure.

Samir Husni: First, congratulations on the magazine; I love the new design; actually, I love the whole reinvention of the magazine.

Jay Meyer: Thank you.

Samir Husni: Jay, what’s the status of the travel magazine market today? You’ve reinvented Travel+Leisure; Condè Nast Traveler is upscaling their magazine and changing the size; National Geographic Traveler has a new editor; Smithsonian came out with a new travel magazine and so did Airbnb; suddenly, it looks as though travel is hot. Why do you think this is happening now?

Style: "Rich_Color" Jay Meyer: Travel is hot. If you look at travel media; travel media has had a growth of 37% in the last three years and the research team says that because of two reasons. One: because travel is luxury, and two: because we’re all so attached to our desktops, tablets and phones; at some point in time, people actually want to put those devices away and have a lean-back experience and dream a little bit and plan a trip; do something for themselves.

We believe, and these products were built for, the reader and viewer of Travel+Leisure who wants to be inspired and we call those people: experience-collectors. They travel 23 times per year; they all have passports, and they have a really healthy income. And that 23 times per year breaks down to 13 business trips and 10 leisure.

Samir Husni: Nathan, you wrote in your letter from the editor that reading a magazine is a luxury. Can you expand on that a little bit more and on what Jay just said, in terms of the lean-back experience?

Nathan Lump: Sure. I think for me, it’s really true in the sense that when you think about it, we have so much information at our fingertips; no one necessarily needs to read a magazine in order to learn things, so those that do are obviously making a very conscious choice that they want to give a certain amount of their leisure time to that experience.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at what behaviors look like across the platforms. One of the things, and it sounds very intuitive and I think it’s important to keep it in mind, because we live in a digital age, if I’m looking for information about something in particular, I’m going to engage in digital behaviors around finding that information. If I’m a traveler and I’ve decided to go to Spain; I’m not sitting around waiting for my Travel+Leisure to come and hoping there’s going to be an article about Spain in it for me. I’m going to go online and find out more information about the place that I’m going to go to.

From the magazine reading experience, I think what that means is we have this audience whether they purchased the magazine on the newsstand or they’re a subscriber, they’re interested in travel; they’ve decided to give us some of their leisure time, and they’re basically coming to us in an open mindset. They’re saying, I am open to the idea of discovering new places, new experiences and new things, so they’re issuing an invitation to us to get them excited.

For me, editorially, the bar that we set for ourselves, particularly in print, is to try and create an experience that is immersive and rich enough that we are, in fact, actually getting people excited about things that they didn’t know they should get excited about. And that’s a lot of what I mean when I talk about the luxury of magazine reading.

I would also add, just building on what Jay has said too about the travel category in general, and you probably know some of this, so forgive me if I’m telling you something that you already know; travel is over a $7 trillion industry globally. One in every 11 jobs is generated by the travel industry, so this is a huge category. It’s bigger than a lot of other categories or industries that we think about when we think about media and verticals.

When you look at spending; over the years travel has become much more essential to people. Twenty years ago when you used to ask people if times got tough, what would you cut out of your lives in terms of spending, travel would be right up there at the top. This has actually changed in the years since and it’s become much more of a thing that people say they wouldn’t cut out. They’ll say they won’t buy that new sofa, but they’re still going to take that trip. And that’s been a really important shift.

Recently, Time Inc. released the results of an annual survey that we do, a survey of affluence and wealth, and among the findings, one that I found compelling was of all the discretionary spending categories that these folks said they were going to spend money on this coming year; their desire for travel was the second biggest category in that survey for spending after automobiles. So, it’s obviously a real priority for people, which I think contributes to the durability of the category.

Samir Husni: As an editor-in-chief, Nathan, can you ever imagine Travel+Leisure not having a print component after what you told me about the strength and power of print?

Nathan Lump Headshot 4.15 Nathan Lump: Sure. We’ve seen the growth in digital and all of us can imagine that world. I don’t think that world is upon us yet. Our readership in print is actually larger than it’s ever been in its history.

Jay Meyer: Yes, it’s at 6.7 million.

Nathan Lump: I would say that for the moment we see print still as a healthy piece. Obviously, digital is a really important growth opportunity, but we still see that there is a desire for this kind of luxurious, more lean-back experience, at least, in our category.

Samir Husni: Jay, it has been your print audience that has almost doubled in number, rather than your digital audience. Yet, when I look at statistics and numbers from other magazines and hear about their 3 million in print circulation and their 25 million in digital audience, why do you think Travel+Leisure’s audience is still attached to the print media?

Jay Meyer: I think there are a lot of reasons, but the simplest is that we needed to re-platform, which is now done. And in the past we have been producing about 10 pieces of content per week, and Nathan and his team are moving into a place where they’re going to produce 20 pieces of content per day, high velocity publishing, and we expect those numbers to increase exponentially.

Now, having said that, I think the key was to re-platform and redesign, so that we were able to move this forward.

Samir Husni: Did digital make your life easier or harder, Jay, in terms of selling the brand Travel+Leisure? Is digital making your job as a publisher harder or can you just walk into any ad agency and not hear the word crazy when talking about the reinvention of a print magazine in this digital age?

Jay Meyer: I think digital absolutely makes our lives easier. Nathan was talking about consumer behaviors earlier; if you actually think about the process and mindset of looking at travel as being inspired and then planning and considering and then buying and sharing; we need to be on all of those channels; we’re not there yet, but obviously, digital is a huge part of that process.

Nathan Lump: I would add that what we’re seeing, and Jay correct me if I’m wrong, what we’re seeing from the business community is that obviously, from a brand awareness and storytelling perspective, print is still a really important tool for us and that’s also partially because we’re living in the luxury space. And luxury advertisers have really seen that print still works for them from that perspective.

And then digital gives us an additional tool in our toolkit to do that, but also to help those partners who are interested in really driving bookings or consideration via their own website. It satisfies those kinds of needs, so in fact, I think it gives us, from a strategic perspective; it gives us more to sell as opposed to selling against. It allows us, depending on what the partner is looking for, to provide them with the product that makes sense for them, or in many cases, both products because many of our advertisers advertise across platforms with us.

Jay Meyer: And that’s really the point. I think what we’re seeing and what we’ve seen in the last couple of years is that most core partners of Travel+Leisure are using both. They’re not choosing one over the other; they’re actually using both for different reasons.

Samir Husni: Jay, as I look at the May issue and the variety of ads; we go from Cartier to GEICO; can you briefly tell me how you’re trying to capture that luxury market and at the same time stay grounded and be as mass as the magazine can be since you are the largest travel magazine?

Jay Meyer: That’s a good question and a tough question. And the answer is if you look at syndicated research, to your point, we have a really great audience and marketers see that audience as exactly what I said previously, in terms of, they have a healthy income, they take action, they travel, and outside of Travel+Leisure, if you look at it from the advertiser’s brand perspective, these are people that they want as customers.

On the luxury side, if you break down the 6.7 million, we actually have 1.1 million who are millionaires. So, there is a super healthy top end of that audience and certainly the luxury marketers understand that and want to reach those people.

Samir Husni: Nathan, let me shift gears a little bit and talk about the content. If you could humanize the magazine, strike it with a magic wand and have a person appear; would I see Nathan materialize, and if so, what type of conversation would he and I have about Travel+Leisure?

Nathan Lump: That’s a good question and I may end up answering it in a slightly roundabout way. Everything that we’ve done with the changes to the brand really begins with who we see this reader as, and fundamentally for me, it is that person who Jay mentioned earlier who takes 23 trips per year. So, when you think about that person, that person has been a lot of places, done a lot of things; they’ve crossed a lot of things off of their bucket list and they are fundamentally worldly people. They bring a sophisticated and cosmopolitan point of view to their lives and to their travels. So, from my perspective what that means is, editorially, we need to be where they are. We need to be as sophisticated as they are or more so, because they’re looking at us to surprise them and to give them novelty.

We’re really trying to push the boundaries in terms of what we give them, making sure that we are not only super current and in the know, but that we’re also really insightful. These folks are also, I think, really engaged with the world and understand what’s going on around them, they comprehend that travel is a tool for understanding the world.

You’re going to see in upcoming issues, such as in our June edition, our cover story is about Cuba; we have another big story in that issue looking at New Orleans 10 years after Katrina. These are two of the big stories of our time and we’re looking at them particularly through the lens of travel because we know that our audience use travel as a means of understanding. It’s pleasurable, of course; we want to capture the pleasure and the joy and fun of travel, but we also understand that we need to engage with some of the big issues, so, you can tell me if I’m answering your question, but I’m trying to conjure that reader.

And if we’re personifying ourselves; I want to be them. I want the product to feel, in that way, very intelligent and sophisticated, very worldly and with a very strong global perspective; that we’re paying attention to the entire world, we’re engaged with that; we’re as interested in what’s happening on the other side of the planet as we are with what’s in our backyard.

Samir Husni: So, when the June issue arrives at my home and I peer through the peephole in my door; do I see Nathan standing there?

Nathan Lump: Well, sure; I am definitely this person myself, I would say. I’m a serious traveler and have been my whole life. I probably travel a bit more than 23 times per year; that may or may not be recommended. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too)

Nathan Lump: But I love it. For me, travel is the great passion in my life; it is the thing that has changed me. It’s opened my eyes to so many things. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and I’ve had this travel bug ever since I was a child. Who knows why – I do try to bring to the product my own passion for this subject.

In the very first issue that I touched, which was the December issue of last year, and was largely completed when I arrived, but I did make a couple of small changes to it; we changed the cover, but I also wrote my first editor’s note for Travel+Leisure. And one of the things that I said in there was that I believe the fundamental hallmark of a traveler is curiosity. A true traveler is genuinely curious. And they don’t lose that. The more that they see and travel; the more curious they become. And that is absolutely true of myself in my own life and I definitely bring that to the page.

So, yes, I hope that the magazine is a reflection of me in that way.

Samir Husni: You’re also sounding like a journalist because I tell my students that a true journalist is a curious journalist. I tell them they don’t need a degree in journalism; they need a degree in curiosity.

Nathan Lump: I completely agree with that and that’s the thing about our subject matter. A lot of people say that this is fluffy stuff, but I really charge my team with bringing a journalist’s point of view to the work that we do. And that doesn’t mean that it’s all serious, a lot of travel is about joy, and the traveler’s experience is having fun, but I think there is a lot about learning and exploring and seeing the world and that is journalism.

Samir Husni: So, my next curious question is why did you leave the design of the logo the same? You changed everything except the nameplate.

Nathan Lump: That’s true. Partially, because I think that the brand is in such a healthy place and it has such great awareness and recognition. I felt why tinker with something that is working for us. Sometimes an editor will come in and feel that they have to change absolutely everything, including that, but because our brand has such great awareness and such great affection from our readers, I didn’t want to confuse them in that way. I just thought it was better to keep that piece stable.

Samir Husni: Jay, what has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face with Travel+Leisure and how did you overcome it?

Jay Meyer: In terms of Nathan’s arrival and from that point to where we are now, I think the biggest challenge has been time.

Samir Husni: As in the company, the magazine, or real time? (Laughs)

Jay Meyer: No, real time. In terms of setting the course of what we wanted to do with the product and who we were talking to and actually making that happen in a very short amount of time, which was certainly tough on both sides of the house.

Samir Husni: How did you overcome it?

Jay Meyer: Honestly? Relentless hard work and a ton of travel. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too)

Jay Meyer: I think Nathan and I would have the same answer, which is just relentless determination to make sure it happened.

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

Jay Meyer: One thing that I would add is that we kind of summed up that the travel space is doing quite well and Nathan talked about the travel industry as a whole, the GDP and the number of jobs; I would just say that I want to applaud Time Inc. for giving us the resources to make this happen in print and digital, which as you know, doesn’t always happen together.

Travel as a category is not a core category for Time Inc. and not one that they have played in before Travel+Leisure arrived here. So, we applaud them for seeing the opportunity and giving us the resources to make it happen.

Nathan Lump: The one thing that I would add, Samir, is that we focused quite a bit on the print magazine, but I think the other thing that is really important here too is the digital piece because obviously we see tremendous opportunity for us to grow and also to evolve our business, particularly leveraging our digital platforms.

As Jay said, and as you know, we re-launched the print magazine and the website at the same time, and like Jay said that almost never happens. I can’t think of the last time someone did it. And we did it because I was really committed and the company was committed and supportive of the idea to reimagine the platforms holistically, understanding the ways in which they’re related to each other and the existing dialogue they have with each other and they allow us to do slightly different things to serve our audience.

From my perspective, what we’re going to be doing digitally; you’re going to see a lot more from us and the dispersion of the website is really just the beginning. There is a lot more to come in terms of features and functionality, but also in terms of how we use that to engage and serve the audience.

So, the digital piece of it is, I think; we don’t really look at it as a threat; we look at it as an opportunity. I’ve actually been more focused on digital, although I have a long background in print, I’ve been more focused on digital in recent years. And that’s also a little bit unusual for a magazine brand editor. The last five or six years, I’ve been almost exclusively focused on digital products, and so I really see the ways in which we can leverage that.

Samir Husni: Nathan or Jay, why do you think it took us almost five or six years to except the fact that it’s not either/or, it’s both?

Nathan Lump: I think for a lot of people there was just some basic fear and lack of understanding of how people were really using the product.

I also think too that some categories have been more challenged by digital than we have in the travel verticals; for instance, news media have had a harder time adjusting to the balance between print and digital. And those are obviously some of the biggest and best-known brands out there. So, I think that’s also driven the narrative a little bit. Publicly, because the news organizations have such large audiences, such a big pulpit, they’ve also been the ones that have in some ways seen digital be more of a challenge to print than we have in the travel verticals.

Samir Husni: My typical last question, and I’ll start with Jay; what keeps you up at night?

Jay Meyer: I’m not a strong sleeper, so a lot of things keep me up at night. (Laughs) I would say, and I won’t speak for Nathan, but I’m ambitious and curious. As we move forward, it’s an interesting time in the media world; it’s all about ideas. So, ideas keep me up at night, my own and others.

Samir Husni: And Nathan?

Nathan Lump: You kind of stole it from me, Jay. (Laughs) What does keep me up at night is the fact that I have so many things that I want to do, that we want to do, and there is always that thinking like, oh no, are we going to be able to do it all and do it all as quickly as I would like. Like Jay said, the world is evolving so quickly and so is the industry, that there’s always that concern if you’re moving along with it quickly enough. I think that’s why we’ve been so aggressive in the last six or seven months and why we’re going to keep that pace up. That is really the biggest thing, honestly, for me.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

PLUS, A Magazine With A Mission: Where The Readers Are Much More Than Their Status. The Rebranding Of HIV Plus Magazine – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Diane Anderson-Minshall, Editor-In-Chief.

April 27, 2015

“Print is not dead for us; it’s thrilling. Of course, I hear it in other magazines and it scares me to death because I’m such an old print horse that I never want it to go away. And so it’s really exciting for me to be at a magazine where there’s never talk of not doing print anymore. Yes, it’s doing well.” Diane Anderson-Minshall

PLUS 2-2 Although we live in the 21st century and in an era of natural enlightenment overall; unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to the three letters HIV virus and the implications and stereotypes that may follow.

That’s why the powers-that-be at HIV Plus magazine decided that their message of care and concern for people who suffer from HIV and all chronic, medically-managed illnesses would be better served to rebrand without those three letters. Hence, Plus magazine was born with the intent of opening up a whole new conversation with people who felt uncomfortable picking up the magazine when it was known as HIV Plus.

Diane Anderson-Minshall is editor-in-chief of the magazine and is a staunch advocate for the magazine’s mission. I spoke with Diane recently and we talked about the rebranding and how the hope of reaching more people with the magazine’s message was the driving force behind the change in title and design.

I hope you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Diane Anderson-Minshall, Editor-in-Chief, Plus magazine, and a woman whose passion for the HIV/AIDS community and all who endure the pain of chronic illnesses, is genuine and far-reaching.

But first the sound-bites:


Head Shot - Diane Anderson-Minshall On changing the name from HIV Plus to simply Plus:
We did have people who told us if you don’t have HIV in the title, even though we’re still a magazine for people with HIV, but if we don’t have it in the title, it looks like a health magazine about several things, including HIV. You don’t have to be HIV positive to read it.

On the new tagline; you’re more than your status:
The bottom line is we’re recognizing that our readers have HIV, which is a chronic manageable condition and it’s not a definer of their lives, so we have to recognize that they need more out of a magazine than just treatment information. They’re looking for a whole magazine for the whole totality of their lives.

On keeping the website and social media with the original name:
We didn’t rebrand the website or the social media sites and part of that is because a magazine is something that is very visible versus a website where anyone can sneak onto it; we all know that because we sneak onto certain websites all the time.

On the new celebrity-oriented covers and whether they convolute the message the magazine is trying to render:
I don’t actually. I think that our mission is the same. We started doing celebrity covers when I came onboard as editor-in-chief and part of that is because celebrity covers are aspirational. I think that we’d be foolish to not recognize that people like to see aspirational profiles of other people who are doing something related to their lives.

On whether any celebrity has ever rejected the magazine’s offer to be on its cover:
Yes, absolutely. I’m not sure I can name who those people are, but that absolutely happens all of the time. And those are oftentimes celebrities who are doing something with an AIDS charity already, but who don’t want to be associated with a magazine. Sadly, it has happened a number of times.

On the biggest stumbling block she’s had to face:
The biggest stumbling block was getting our people who write for the magazine to recognize that our readership is a high school educated level readership, because I think people find that’s sometimes harder to write to.

On her most pleasant moment at the magazine: There have been so many. But at the U.S. Conference on AIDS last year in San Diego, for example, we made a life size cover of the magazine, with just the logo and a little bit of text, and then basically people came up and posed in front of the magazine like they were the cover star of the magazine. And then they Tweeted out the photos or we did and that was a great moment.

On whether she considers herself a journalist first or an advocate for the magazine’s mission:
I consider myself a journalist first, but there’s no denying that this is advocacy journalism. There’s just no denying that in order to do this magazine, you have to consider yourself an advocacy journalist.

On anything else she’d like to add:
One thing that people do keep asking me is whether we’ve made this change because we’re losing money? And this is the very first time I can say this, because a lot of times I’ve been at publications where what I’m about to say was not the case; where we did make a change and it was because we needed to deal with dropping revenue. In this case, we’ve been doing phenomenally well and we’ve been consistently doing well over the last few years that I’ve been here.

On why she believes print is not dead:
Print is not dead for us; it’s thrilling. Of course, I hear it in other magazines and it scares me to death because I’m such an old print horse that I never want it to go away. And so it’s really exciting for me to be at a magazine where there’s never talk of not doing print anymore.

On what keeps her up at night:
In terms of publishing, just production can keep me up at night. Just knowing production is two weeks away and that I have to file 80,000 words by then. That can keep me up at night. And that’s just the very beginning of what keeps me up at night.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Diane Anderson-Minshall, Editor-in-Chief, Plus magazine.

Samir Husni: Why did you change the name of the magazine from HIV Plus to just Plus?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: My publisher, Joe Valentino, and I had been talking for a couple of years about whether the name of the magazine was kind and modern and really reflected all that we were doing with it for readers. We started doing some informal questioning of those readers and of people who distribute the magazine; because we’re a bit like WebMD in that we reached our quarter of a million reader’s right at the point of care, for the magazine in particular, of course, the mobile app and the web as well.

We started talking about how the name was; what we were doing with it; if it was reaching readers, that kind of thing, because when we started the magazine in the late 1990s it was a very different landscape in terms of who was reading the magazine and the kind of information that we were providing.

In the last couple of years, we’ve definitely become much more service-oriented than we were before. The magazine before had been very newsy, of course in part because it was also run by that staff of The Advocate, which is an LGBT news magazine, so it had been very newsy, but maybe wasn’t as useful when it came to what readers were looking for at that point.

This sort of informal questioning and surveying people kind of coalesced at the U.S. conference on AIDS last fall, where we did informal focus groups and we talked with a lot of people who were reading the magazine and also people who provided the magazine, like social workers, clinicians and people who ran LGBT centers or health centers or AIDS service organizations.

And when we started questioning them, we found a couple of things at that point and one of them was that we had a number of people who came up to the booth, picked up the magazine and said, oh my, I love Plus magazine and I read it all the time. And that made us realize that there was a chunk of our readership that was already calling us Plus magazine, sort of like the little HIV in our masthead or our logo at that point wasn’t resonating for them that it was part of the name of the magazine the way we had designed it.

And then at the same time we spoke with a number of people who said, I have a lot of people who read your magazine when they’re at my office or at the center, or getting their monthly healthcare or shots, but they won’t take it home, in part because it’s called HIV Plus. It’s really clear that it’s a magazine only for people with HIV.

So, I asked those people by just dropping the word HIV from the title, would it allow them to take the magazine home and feel comfortable about it? And the consensus was from all these people, yes, just removing the word; those three little letters from the title kind of eliminated the stigmatizing language that led with the virus. And this helped us think, well, OK, maybe this is a time for us to rebrand ourselves as Plus and eliminate the stigmatizing language that leads with the virus and tell our readers that at this point we understand that they more than their HIV status; you’re you, plus a little something more and for a lot of our readers that can be HIV or Hepatitis C or another condition.

At the same time, the change would open the magazine up for those people who would not pick it up or take it home because of having that HIV in the title. The change would make those people feel comfortable and safe to carry the magazine on a subway or read it in their cubicle or leave it on their coffee table if their friends come over.

A part of it was we recognized that there were different types of people reading our magazine and several of those people were very happy and proud to use HIV as a way to describe themselves and those are the people that we feel we were reaching at that point, and those people aren’t often living in the areas hardest hit by the virus. And we knew that there were a lot of people living in areas where they weren’t getting the right kind of treatment or getting connected to care; they’re weren’t getting the right kind of information because they were afraid for people to recognize that they had HIV.

So, we did have people who told us if you don’t have HIV in the title, even though we’re still a magazine for people with HIV, but if we don’t have it in the title, it looks like a health magazine about several things, including HIV. You don’t have to be HIV positive to read it. That’s kind of our angle; we’re trying to work to get those people who are afraid to pick up the magazine and we’re asking those people who lead with HIV in their lives to understand that we’re not going in the closet about being a magazine for people with HIV, we’re just asking them to make some considerations for those people who are afraid to pick up the magazine. By losing those three little letters in the title, we sort of open ourselves up for those people to join the conversation and have access to the information that they desperately need and aren’t getting yet.

Samir Husni: And that led to the new tagline under the name: because you’re more than your status?

PLUS 1-1 Diane Anderson-Minshall: Yes, I mean, we’re really just sort of playing around with different things and for me; I kept thinking with Plus, we wanted to tell our readers that we get you, you’re you, plus something extra, in this case, HIV, but it could be other things too.

But the bottom line is we’re recognizing that our readers have HIV, which is a chronic manageable condition and it’s not a definer of their lives, so we have to recognize that they need more out of a magazine than just treatment information. They’re looking for a whole magazine for the whole totality of their lives.

Samir Husni: You’re website is still HIV Plusmag.com…

Diane Anderson-Minshall: It is and that’s actually going to stay that way for now. We didn’t rebrand the website or the social media sites and part of that is because a magazine is something that is very visible versus a website where anyone can sneak onto it; we all know that because we sneak onto certain websites all the time. People generally don’t see a browser history; they don’t look into what we’re searching for, so you can actually go onto HIV Plusmag.com without feeling the stigma. And I’m assuming a lot of people will still do that, so you don’t feel any stigma when you do it because no one knows what you’re doing online, versus a magazine which is very visible; it’s something that you take home or have on your coffee table or next to your bed.

It’s something very different for people when they’re carrying the magazine versus reading the website. And we recognize that sometimes those are two different audiences with two different needs. So, we went ahead and left the social media and the web and our mobile app with the brand HIV Plus for a variety of reasons, but that’s one.

And then another reason is that making a change to those things right now; we just don’t want to scare off the readers that are accessing us through those channels at this point and we don’t need to lose traffic or any of those kinds of things. And we felt like again, with the website and the social media accounts, it just wasn’t as pressing to change those because people aren’t monitoring you when you’re looking at those sites versus when you have a magazine and it’s everywhere around you. Does that make sense?

Samir Husni: Oh yes, that makes perfect sense. In fact, you give more ammunition to my fight that digital and print each has its own role in today’s world.

Diane Anderson-Minshall: Yes, absolutely.

January February 2015 - Tyson Beckford HI Samir Husni: We all know that we live in a digital age and as you mentioned, it’s much easier for somebody with HIV to sneak onto the web and look for answers or help; yet with the magazine, it’s like announcing it to the world. As you move into Plus, even into the design of the cover with its celebrity-oriented nature; do you see any conflict between the message the magazine is providing and the look of the magazine?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: I don’t actually. I think that at this point, we’re the leading provider of HIV health information through the magazine and our online portals and mobile platforms and we still have the same mission, which is bringing accurate and trustworthy information about HIV and other related mental and physical health conditions, but in a way that’s empowering and entertaining and up-to-the-minute.

And so I think that our mission is the same. We started doing celebrity covers when I came onboard as editor-in-chief and part of that is because celebrity covers are aspirational. I think that we’d be foolish to not recognize that people like to see aspirational profiles of other people who are doing something related to their lives. Everybody picks up a magazine with a celebrity on it; it’s much harder to get people to pick up a magazine without a celebrity, so there’s no reason for us not to run those as well.

What we do is interview celebrities who are either people who do have HIV or have some relationship to HIV or AIDS, maybe through a family member or they work in a social cause related to it as a charity or they’re playing a role of an HIV-positive person on television or in film. And those are some of our most popular pieces.

What I think of these celebrity pieces is a little bit like the cherry in the cough syrup, you know; we need to make this sweet for people to pick up and then they get the information they need inside. The celebrity covers bring people in.

You’re at the doctor’s office and you’re looking at the array of magazines on the table and you’re next to us and you’ve got Sofía Vergara on the cover of WebMD and we’ve got somebody to compete with that so you’ll pick us up. And then you’ll find the information that you need; the treatment and medication information, but also the fitness, mental health, nutrition, sex and dating advice and the real, but aspirational profiles of other people living healthy lives with chronic conditions.

Samir Husni: Have you ever been rejected by a celebrity or a celebrity’s agent who said, no, we don’t want to be on the cover?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: Yes, absolutely. I’m not sure I can name who those people are, but that absolutely happens all of the time. And those are oftentimes celebrities who are doing something with an AIDS charity already, but who don’t want to be associated with a magazine. Sadly, it has happened a number of times.

And then we’ve also reached out to some celebrities we know who are HIV-positive themselves and tried to see if they were ready to have their coming-out interview and they were not. We don’t hold any ill will in those cases because we understand how difficult it is to come out about being HIV-positive, but again if you’re a celebrity with all the resources of the world at your fingertips and you’re not able to come out about being positive, imagine how difficult it is for the 18-year-old kid in the southeast who’s just found out he’s positive and has no resources.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block that you’ve had to face since becoming editor-in-chief of the magazine and how did you overcome it?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: The biggest stumbling block was getting our people who write for the magazine to recognize that our readership is a high school educated level readership, because I think people find that’s sometimes harder to write to. We’ve had to refocus the magazine a little bit and recognize that there are a couple of things happening here with this readership and one is that the readership isn’t college educated. And that changes how you’re writing things. I have a policy where I send back any story if I have to go to the writer and say, do you understand this sentence, and they say no, and I respond, then neither will our readers. I’ll send back anything where I can’t understand it and I think it’s really hard for people to like medical stuff without getting very science-oriented and boring. So, I believe we have a responsibility to our readers to make this stuff more interesting and understandable; to make it information that they’re going to want to read, rather than information that feels like it’s a package insert.

I feel like in a lot of ways one of our responsibilities is to take what pharmaceutical companies are saying about their medication for example, or about clinical trials or studies or new research and development, take that information and then translate for actual readers. And that’s a really heated task because there’s just such a big disconnect between science, academia and the way that they speak and the way an average real person does and the way that we understand things.

That’s actually been a challenge, making the magazine more service-oriented and more understandable to a group of readers who basically don’t know that kind of language and information that I think we sometimes fall back on.

We’re a niche magazine and I’ve always managed niche magazines, but I think in this case, we’re a niche magazine that’s finding out consistently that we have a wider audience than we once thought and so we’re trying to understand how to reach and speak to that audience cross range; 90% of our readers are men and among those, over half are people of color, and a larger majority are gay or bisexual, so that means we have 10% of women who are almost entirely straight, some are transgender, and of our readership, only about 88% have HIV, so I feel like we speak to the health needs of these readers more than any other magazine does. And I can say that even though we belong to the company that has the two largest gay publications on their roster; that we can speak to the health needs of gay and bisexual men in a way that other publications just can’t because we have the know-how and the experience.

But I do think we speak to both gay men and straight women and across different ethnic groupings; it’s a pretty broad range.

Samir Husni: And what has been your most pleasant moment at the magazine?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: There have been so many. I went to the ‘HIV is not a Crime,’ which is an anti-criminalization conference that was held last summer and was the very first, and is basically aimed around reforming HIV criminalization laws in the country, many of which were put together in the 1980s when AIDS was a terrifying thing and a lot of the lawmakers who originally worked on those initial laws are now arguing for those laws to be updated, reformed or ditched completely. I went to the conference, both to cover it and lend any advice and to really just support it to show that our organization supports that movement.

And I met so many people there who just treated me like a rock star, being the editor of Plus magazine, and it was amazing seeing these people who are frontline activists, working directly with politicians and people who had gone to the White House to speak to President Obama about HIV; people who are really major players in what we would call the HIV activist movement. And they were just very excited to have Plus represented there and excited to meet the people behind the magazine. I wouldn’t say it was like being One Direction or something, but it was really amazing.

Certainly, when we go to these events, it’s for us; it’s partly about a new opportunity for audience development, because that’s a part of what events are for publishers and their publications. And we love it. When we go these events we see people moving between our platforms with the brand, and once they get one platform, they explore the other and we’re a part of that when we’re doing these events.

But at the U.S. Conference on AIDS last year in San Diego, for example, we made a life size cover of the magazine, with just the logo and a little bit of text, and then basically people came up and posed in front of the magazine like they were the cover star of the magazine. And then they Tweeted out the photos or we did and that was a great moment because, again, when we’re trying so desperately to reach people who are afraid to pick up the magazine, at the same time, we have all of these other people who are so proud of the work that they’re doing or so proud of the life they’re living.

And some of them aren’t activists; they’re ordinary people living with HIV. But they were so proud to be on the cover of the magazine, to be like cover stars. Just the excitement and the energy around something like that; it wasn’t even about our social media numbers shooting up, which they did, but it was really about that wonderful feedback that people were getting what we were doing, that they like what we’re doing and that we’re giving them something that’s really adding to their lives.

Samir Husni: What do you consider yourself? I know you’re the editor-in-chief, but what do you consider yourself to be first, a journalist, an advocate, or a rock star?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: (Laughs) I consider myself a journalist first, but there’s no denying that this is advocacy journalism. There’s just no denying that in order to do this magazine, you have to consider yourself an advocacy journalist. I think those two things are first and the rock star is very, very far down on the line. I have moments of feeling like a rock star, but I know I’m not.

Samir Husni: (Laughs) Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: I feel like we reflect the best the country has to offer in coverage of HIV and Aids and we’re trying to take a magazine that’s largely a service publication and work in hard-hitting news and health investigations and have the latest treatment information, and these interviews that are always inspirational, for our readers.

We’ve won a number of awards for our coverage of HIV and AIDS, including the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; they have an excellence in HIV/AIDS coverage award which we’ve won a few times. We’ve won some other awards as well and I was given the Western Publishing Association; the Maggie Award last year. They have an inaugural leadership award and I was given that for the work on HIV Plus mobile app. So, we get pretty good validation from other journalists in other areas media.

One thing that people do keep asking me is whether we’ve made this change because we’re losing money? And this is the very first time I can say this, because a lot of times I’ve been at publications where what I’m about to say was not the case; where we did make a change and it was because we needed to deal with dropping revenue.

In this case, we’ve been doing phenomenally well and we’ve been consistently doing well over the last few years that I’ve been here. In fact, we’ve often been the top print magazine in the company and that includes both Out and The Advocate magazines, because our ad sales are consistent and we don’t face the same economic setbacks that other advertising arenas do, like fashion or travel and advertising industries, for example. Pharmaceutical industries have specific things they need to advertise and they have requirements for that advertising, so as long as the medication market is robust, then we continue to have consistent ad sales, which is our primary driver of funds.

So, it’s important for me to make it clear that this was not a decision we made because we weren’t selling, it was quite the opposite and I’m really proud of that.

Samir Husni: So, you’re telling me that print is not dead?

Diane Anderson-Minshall: Print is not dead for us; it’s thrilling. Of course, I hear it in other magazines and it scares me to death because I’m such an old print horse that I never want it to go away. And so it’s really exciting for me to be at a magazine where there’s never talk of not doing print anymore. Yes, it’s doing well.

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

Diane Anderson-Minshall: Everything. Even though we’re doing well, we still have limited resources allocated to editorial, so we still have everyone doing the job of four different people.

In terms of publishing, just production can keep me up at night. Just knowing production is two weeks away and that I have to file 80,000 words by then. That can keep me up at night. And that’s just the very beginning of what keeps me up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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