Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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Meredith Core Media: A Strong Belief In Print As Its “Core” Business With Several New Titles To Prove It, And More On The Way – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Doug Kouma – Editorial Content Director, Meredith Core Media. A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive…

July 5, 2017

Two New Magazines, Hungry Girl, Waste Less, Save More, To Join Eat This, Not That, The Magnolia Journal, And Forks Over Knives, In Meredith Core Media’s Stable Of New Shining Print Stars…

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

When a company puts print first, or at least at its core, no matter what the negatively-slanted pundits might say, in Mr. Magazine’s™ humble opinion, the future will be rosy indeed. Last week I wrote about Hearst Magazines and their print proud philosophy, today I am proud to highlight Meredith Corporation’s Meredith Core Media group. The group helped launch The Magnolia Journal, and with its recent phenomenal success the magazine is now been brought into the bigger fold of the Meredith Corporation. Meredith Core Media is enjoying a definite print prosperity.

From the early beginnings of the successful Eat This, Not That brand, where Meredith partnered with David Zinczenko’s Galvanized Media Group, to their extremely beneficial Chip and Joanna Gaines association, Meredith Core Media has proven that affiliations with other successful brands can certainly be major opportunities for the realms of print. And the company’s editorial content director, Doug Kouma, believes that wholeheartedly.

I spoke with Doug recently and we talked about Meredith Core Media’s success with The Magnolia Journal and its past accomplishments with Eat This, Not That, and also about the Beekman 1802 Almanac, which was a beautiful attempt to bring the unique brand to the mass market audience. From successes to even the shorter-lived achievements, Meredith Core Media has always put print at the helm of its ship and never strayed off course.

And the mission continues, as in January, 2018, the company will partner with former Food Network channel star, Hungry Girl (Lisa Lillien) to bring Hungry Girl Magazine’s premier issue to the marketplace.

And they will be partnering with the CropLife Foundation on a new magazine that will bring attention to the issue of food waste, a hot topic in sustainability circles today. Tentatively titled “Waste Less, Save More,” this annual bookazine will provide real-world strategies for planning, shopping, and cooking, as well as 50+ recipes, to help consumers use more of the food they bring into their homes and cut back significantly on what goes into to the landfill.

It doesn’t sound like print is declining in Meredith’s world at all. And according to Doug, it’s more relevant than ever, even with millennials. So, enjoy this informative interview with a man who believes the tangible nature and power of print is still a legitimizing factor in the world of media, across all platforms; the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Doug Kouma, editorial content director, Meredith Core Media.

But first, the sound-bites:

On defining Meredith Core Media: It’s something that’s evolved over the last couple of years out of Meredith Special Interest Media. I think it was three years ago that we first entered into a partnership with the Eat This, Not That brand; that’s David Zinczenko’s brand through his Galvanized Media Group. We launched a bookazine with them. At the time, the bookazine format was for—and I don’t want to use the phrase “lookbook,” but that’s kind of where we were using it—a high end décor and building side. This was a new opportunity to try something in a high quality format that was really mass market-driven and really service-driven.

On why many publishers have lost faith in print, while companies like Meredith and Hearst have never given up on their “core” product: I think it requires a change of mindset in many cases. We’re not out there trying to launch a $3.99 general interest magazine with anyone. In a lot of cases, these products are pretty niche, they already have a pretty loyal brand following, and they’re premium products. I don’t always think of them as magazines in the traditional sense of the word “magazine,” something you have sent to your home or you purchase, you sit down with it for half an hour or an hour, and then you’re pretty much done; you move on. That’s not what these are.

On how The Magnolia Journal came into being: The idea started as a seed with Joanna herself, with both Chip and Jo believing that they had a concept here that their consumers would respond positively to, and that would be unique in the marketplace. But, they didn’t have anyone on staff who had really worked in the publishing industry, or really knew anything about it.

On any conflicts that may have arisen between the Gaines, “Fixer Upper” and Meredith: As we were conceptualizing the magazine with her, we had to get our heads around what the Magnolia brand meant versus what the “Fixer Upper” brand was, and how we knew them from that show. Magnolia is far broader and encompasses far more aspects of the lifestyle, from food and gardening, to family relationships, to travel. Because of their relationship then with Scripps we were restricted in some ways, in terms of how much home and remodeling content could be a part of the magazine. I can’t say that really tied our hands, because Joanna’s vision was for something broader than that.

On whether he has a favorite “baby” or is he proud of all of the magazine children under his care at Meredith: I would say that, obviously, everybody here is really proud of the success of The Magnolia Journal, it was—I don’t like to use the cliché phrase labor of love—but I think that’s what it was for a lot of that team. I guess if I had to identify one that kind of holds a special place for me, it would probably be the Forks Over Knives launch. It was a content area where we saw a need in the marketplace. One of the leading—if not the leading—brand in the plant-based eating lifestyle, and to see how that came together and to see how successful it was on newsstand, and how it did it quietly, as some higher profile projects were hitting the marketplace around it…it’s just pretty cool to see something like that.

On whether any of his “children” have disappointed him: Yes, I would say the Beekman 1802 Almanac, mostly because I love that product. I loved working on it—Josh (Kilmer-Purcell) and Brent (Ridge) are fantastic guys to work with. We had a great time putting it together, and there’s still a little bit of sadness there that we couldn’t figure out, in the limited time we had available to us, how to make that product work in the mass market.

On any new projects in Meredith’s future: We’ve got a couple of irons in the fire that are pretty hot. Hungry Girl, who is a former Food Network personality, a cookbook author; she’s got a really good digital and social presence; we are launching a new magazine with her. It’ll be Hungry Girl magazine, coming out in January, 2018. That’s the newest launch that we’re really in the thick of right now.

On why he thinks media reporting is always so negative about the magazine industry: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I would say it probably requires a shift in mindset. You can’t even say that the big brands, the Better Homes & Gardens of the world, are necessarily struggling from a consumer standpoint. I think they’re just as relevant as ever. The rate base is just as strong as it’s ever been. When I’m cooking, I’ve learned that I don’t like to cook by trying to read a recipe on my phone or my computer, because I have to scroll back and forth and my fingers are dirty and it’s messy and it’s not convenient and I spill something. I’d rather have a magazine or a cookbook in those cases.

On whether he believes print legitimizes online media and that’s why many blogs and websites are adding a print product to their portfolios: Yes, I think actually the tangible magazine you can hold in your hands is a feather in the cap for a digital-first brand. It’s what says, “We’ve made it. We’re here to stay. We’re legitimate.”

On anything else he’d like to add: Just that we’re seeking out ideas on our own, but we’re always happy to have inbounds as well. If somebody out there has got a great concept and wants to float it our way, we’re happy to have those conversations. And, if it’s not right for us, maybe help identify who it is right for. That’s part of all of this; we’re really passionate about this. A good idea is a good idea, and I always like to see that come to fruition—whether it’s with us or someone else.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly at his home one evening after work: You will catch me cooking dinner—that’s kind of my unwind. I specifically cook something several days a week, usually with a glass of wine. I’m pretty passionate about my California Sonoma County wines. You’ll see me taking my dog out for a walk. You probably won’t see me reading magazines at home.

On what he would have tattooed upon his brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about him: I would like to believe that people view me as honest, kind and authentic.

On what keeps him up at night: I think the future; the future of the industry; my own personal future. I think we’re doing a little bit of reinvention here, and that doesn’t mean everything’s a success. It’s human nature, and it’s my nature especially, to want to succeed at what we’re doing. And that just doesn’t always happen. So, I think it’s worry about whether we can really make some of these things work.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Doug Kouma, editorial content director, Meredith Core Media.

Samir Husni: Tell me, what is Meredith Core Media?

Doug Kouma speaking at the ACT 7 Experience, April 2017.

Doug Kouma: It’s something that’s evolved over the last couple of years out of Meredith Special Interest Media. I think it was three years ago that we first entered into a partnership with the Eat This, Not That brand; that’s David Zinczenko’s brand through his Galvanized Media Group. We launched a bookazine with them. At the time, the bookazine format was for—and I don’t want to use the phrase “lookbook,” but that’s kind of where we were using it—a high end décor and building side. This was a new opportunity to try something in a high quality format that was really mass market-driven and really service-driven.

That magazine, Eat This, Not That, has books publishing around that, and David Zinczenko has a pretty robust digital program around that; but the magazine is what fleshed that out and allowed it to be a true 360 brand. That was successful from issue one. It’s been solid on newsstand over the years. The product has continued to evolve as they, and we, figured out what that mass market consumer is looking for in that type of product at that price point.

That relationship began to show the possibilities of working with other brands, working with third parties who had great ideas or had great existing products in other spaces, and who sought to move into the print magazine space.

What Meredith brings to the table is huge scale on the backend, and some significant cost efficiencies, in terms of the printing production and distribution. Then, of course, by working through the special interest media group, we have traditionally had a team of scrappy editors who work on a wide variety of projects—who are pretty nimble, who are able to pivot from one to another across a variety of content areas.

So, we began to look at other opportunities and others began to look at us as a potential publishing partner. I would say over the course of a year / year and a half, that grew to the point that we identified the need to create a group within Meredith that would specifically take on or manage some of these projects. That’s where Meredith Core Media was born.

At the time, it also included some other Meredith brands that were unique properties unto their own; I’m talking about our diabetes publications, our quilting publications, things that didn’t necessarily align nicely with Better Homes & Gardens, which is where most of the special interest portfolio was.

At the time that Meredith Core Media was born, those were part of our group as well. I’d say it was about half managing our own brands, and half managing or working with outside partner brands. And, again, that continues to evolve over the next year / year and a half to where we are today. Those Meredith brands have realigned with other properties within the Meredith infrastructure that makes sense for them. What Meredith Core Media is today is a business entity specifically designed to work without side-brands on print magazine products.

Samir Husni: I’ve tried to think who, besides Meredith and Hearst, are actually bringing those print magazines to the marketplace and going into second printings. Forks Over Knives, a Meredith Core Media brand, had a second printing on the newsstands. Also, who hasn’t heard about The Magnolia Journal and the rapid move the magazine had from zero to one million in a very few months? The same thing is happening with Hearst’s Pioneer Woman. Why do you think, as an industry, that a lot of publishers have lost faith in print?

Doug Kouma: I think it requires a change of mindset in many cases. We’re not out there trying to launch a $3.99 general interest magazine with anyone. In a lot of cases, these products are pretty niche, they already have a pretty loyal brand following, and they’re premium products. I don’t always think of them as magazines in the traditional sense of the word “magazine,” something you have sent to your home or you purchase, you sit down with it for half an hour or an hour, and then you’re pretty much done; you move on. That’s not what these are.

So, in the case of a magazine like Magnolia, which is not quite to the full premium bookazine end of the spectrum, but it’s definitely a premium product; it has that limited frequency—it comes out quarterly—and it’s a high quality product, but it has recipes that you’re going to want to go back to on a regular basis. It has the beautiful lifestyle photography and the beautiful home décor photography.

It’s really meant to be a coffee table magazine, something that you are going to want to hang onto for a while. What we have seen with that brand in particular is those consumers, who are very passionate about the Magnolia brand and what Joanna (Gaines) does, they want to build a collection of those magazines. Even subscribers who got into the system on issue two—in pretty decent numbers—started contacting Magnolia, wanting to get their hands on issue one. They wanted to build that library for themselves at home.

I don’t know if that’s quite answering your question, but when I look at some of these brands, what they want to do, and what we’re doing with them…you’re really creating an experience for, largely, the brand loyalists, while you do look to expand the reach of the brand a bit in the newsstand space. It’s a focused, curated experience, and it’s meant to be something that the consumer is going to hang onto for a while.

Samir Husni: I understand that The Magnolia Journal has now immigrated to the “main ship” at Meredith, but you were there at the beginning. Can you describe for me that moment of conception? How did the idea of The Magnolia Journal come to fruition, and how did you team with the Gaines to make it happen?

Doug Kouma: The idea started as a seed with Joanna herself, with both Chip and Jo believing that they had a concept here that their consumers would respond positively to, and that would be unique in the marketplace. But, they didn’t have anyone on staff who had really worked in the publishing industry, or really knew anything about it.

As I understand it, because I wasn’t involved in those very early conversations, they sought out a couple of publishers to begin to pitch the idea to. At the point when they got more serious, they began discussing it with Meredith, which is the point when the conversations moved from our business development group to begin to include the editorial teams.

That’s what those early conversations were; they were sitting down with Chip and Jo and a couple of members of their staff and listening to what they wanted to do, listening to what they thought would work. Then, once we had a deal, taking ourselves down to Waco and immersing ourselves in their brand and in the Magnolia world so that we could really understand what it is that they wanted to convey to consumers.

They’re building a brand that’s separate and apart from “Fixer Upper” as a broadcast property, and that was something that we had to get our heads around very early in the conversations. I think it’s something that consumers had to begin to see differently with that first issue.

Samir Husni: At present, and I don’t know the latest status with the Gaines and HGTV, but does their relationship with HGTV change anything in the game? Have there been any conflicts with any of the brand’s established platforms?

Doug Kouma: Well, there’s a lot of stories out there and rumors out there that aren’t based in fact, and what Joanna has said is if you don’t see it come from Magnolia themselves, through their own properties, then view it with a skeptical eye. I can’t comment on the status of any of that.

What I can say is, as we were conceptualizing the magazine with her, we had to get our heads around what the Magnolia brand meant versus what the “Fixer Upper” brand was, and how we knew them from that show. Magnolia is far broader and encompasses far more aspects of the lifestyle, from food and gardening, to family relationships, to travel. Because of their relationship then with Scripps we were restricted in some ways, in terms of how much home and remodeling content could be a part of the magazine. I can’t say that really tied our hands, because Joanna’s vision was for something broader than that. We’ve been able to include the team and been able to include the right amount of home content for that brand, but there were some considerations there with some places we weren’t able to go because of that relationship.

Samir Husni: To specifically talk about you and your role as editorial director; is there one of the many babies you take care of that has a special place in your heart? Or do you try and treat all of your children the same? Do you think, “Wow, look at the success of the Magnolia Journal, or Eat This, Not That, or Forks Over Knives or the Beekman 1802 Almanac; I’m so proud of one of them or all of them? How do you handle being the editorial director for all of these magazines?

Doug Kouma: Well, it’s a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, I get to work with a really diverse group of brands and outside contributors and get to see things from different points of view, and I really enjoy that. On the other hand, I really don’t get to dive in as deeply or work as closely with some of the content on most of these as you might assume, or as might be interesting or fun.

I would say that, obviously, everybody here is really proud of the success of The Magnolia Journal, it was—I don’t like to use the cliché phrase labor of love—but I think that’s what it was for a lot of that team. It was a small group of us who all had—I’m not saying this isn’t our job—but we all had full time jobs when that came into our world. It was “hey, let’s all put in some extra effort here and some extra hours, and see if we can turn this thing into something. So, we’re all really proud of that.

I guess if I had to identify one that kind of holds a special place for me, it would probably be the Forks Over Knives launch. It was a content area where we saw a need in the marketplace. One of the leading—if not the leading—brand in the plant-based eating lifestyle, and to see how that came together and to see how successful it was on newsstand, and how it did it quietly, as some higher profile projects were hitting the marketplace around it…it’s just pretty cool to see something like that.

Samir Husni: Is there a child that disappointed you?

Doug Kouma: Yes, I would say the Beekman 1802 Almanac, mostly because I love that product. I loved working on it—Josh (Kilmer-Purcell) and Brent (Ridge) are fantastic guys to work with. We had a great time putting it together, and there’s still a little bit of sadness there that we couldn’t figure out, in the limited time we had available to us, how to make that product work in the mass market.

That’s the challenge here. Ultimately, the delivery vehicle we have available to us through Meredith is mass. Over the course of the last year, in particular the last six months since the success of Magnolia, we’ve had a few ideas. And there’s really good ideas out there that are not necessarily right for Meredith as a publisher, because, although we can go focused and direct, we can’t go too niche in many cases. That’s not who we are.

So, that one was hard. I think it was a gorgeous product, but we’re just not in an environment—I mean, it’s a creative lab, I’ll say that—but it’s not a creative lab that allows us to spend a lot of money or, frankly, lose money in any case. We want to know if we can break even out of the gate and build something from there; maybe we can get some longevity with something. But, unfortunately, on that one we just weren’t able to scale it. I’m really pleased that they’ve been able to continue publishing it on a smaller scale, but that one will always have a special place for me as well.

Samir Husni: What does the future hold for Meredith Core Media? Any major things in the making?

Doug Kouma: We’ve got a couple of irons in the fire that are pretty hot. Hungry Girl, who is a former Food Network personality, a cookbook author; she’s got a really good digital and social presence; we are launching a new magazine with her. It’ll be Hungry Girl magazine, coming out in January, 2018. That’s the newest launch that we’re really in the thick of right now. And I think you are already aware that Forks Over Knives is going into two more regular productions in 2018, so we’re in the thick of that as well.

Also, we recently announced another project. We’re partnering with the CropLife Foundation on a new magazine that will bring attention to the issue of food waste, a hot topic in sustainability circles today. Tentatively titled, “Waste Less, Save More,” this annual bookazine will provide real-world strategies for planning, shopping, and cooking, as well as 50+ recipes, to help consumers use more of the food they bring into their homes and cut back significantly on what goes into to the landfill. We haven’t announced a publication date yet.

Samir Husni: I feel as though you might agree with me when I say, “We don’t have a print problem and we don’t have a magazine problem; we have a magazine business model and content problem.” If you look at all the media reporting, you would think print died in 2009. And then you hear that Rodale is putting their magazines up for sale. Then the media reporters tell you, “Oh, because print is in decline; everybody is selling.” Why don’t we see more stories about what Meredith Core Media is doing and what Hearst Magazines are doing? From a journalistic point of view and being an editorial director, why do you think people have that mentality?

Doug Kouma: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I would say it probably requires a shift in mindset. You can’t even say that the big brands, the Better Homes & Gardens of the world, are necessarily struggling from a consumer standpoint. I think they’re just as relevant as ever. The rate base is just as strong as it’s ever been.

I have my own theories on that. I think consumers over the course of the last decade, particularly in the last five years, have begun to—consciously or not—digest different types of information in different ways, and I’m the same. There’s the stuff that I want to see through my social media feeds, there’s the regular websites and blogs that I go to where I’m happy to get that information, but when I want to really enjoy big, beautiful photography, I don’t want to look at that on my phone. I want to look at that on a beautiful printed magazine page.

When I’m cooking, I’ve learned that I don’t like to cook by trying to read a recipe on my phone or my computer, because I have to scroll back and forth and my fingers are dirty and it’s messy and it’s not convenient and I spill something. I’d rather have a magazine or a cookbook in those cases.

When I’m dreaming a little bit, when I’m wanting to feel inspired a little bit, again, it depends on what it is. If I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but it’s the end of January and spring is right around the corner and you can smell it in the air, I love to get my hands on a gardening magazine and begin to get inspired. If I want to find 10 ideas on how to style my porch, then maybe I’m going to get online and look for those, because there’s immediate gratification and I’m looking for something very specific. Whether we, as consumers, have really begun to think about it in that way, I do think you’re seeing a resurgence in consumer recognition of the value of the printed product in parts of their life.

I think it’s evolving, just like every introduction of a new form of media. When television came along it didn’t kill radio. When the ability to record to VHS tape and then to record to DVR came along, it didn’t kill live TV. But everything’s evolving, and it’s therefore informing the content decisions that are being made across those different platforms. So, I suspect that’s what’s happening in the magazine space.

It’s probably also not quite fair to say that today; you know, maybe these partnerships, maybe building around these dynamic brands that were not print-first brands, that might be the future of magazine publishing—it’s certainly not what’s ultimately paying the bills and keeping the lights on today; those are the big boys, like Better Homes & Gardens. There’s definitely opportunity here, it’s definitely growing.

Samir Husni: Do you think that’s the main reason we’re seeing a lot of blogs coming to print and publishing magazines, that there is something missing in that 360 brand if you don’t have a print product?

Doug Kouma: Yes, I think actually the tangible magazine you can hold in your hands is a feather in the cap for a digital-first brand. It’s what says, “We’ve made it. We’re here to stay. We’re legitimate.”

And, almost counterintuitively, I suspect a lot of that is being driven by millennials. For as digitally savvy, and as digital-first a generation as millennials and Gen Z’s are, there’s also this yearning for authenticity and for something real. Again, I think it’s based on the type of content. I think with that generation in particular. It’s not fair at all to say millennials aren’t magazine readers. They’re magazine readers, but they want different types of magazines and want to consume information in different ways.

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

Doug Kouma: Just that we’re seeking out ideas on our own, but we’re always happy to have inbounds as well. If somebody out there has got a great concept and wants to float it our way, we’re happy to have those conversations. And, if it’s not right for us, maybe help identify who it is right for. That’s part of all of this; we’re really passionate about this. A good idea is a good idea, and I always like to see that come to fruition—whether it’s with us or someone else.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Are you on an iPad; cooking; sitting and reading a magazine with a glass of wine? What’s your end-of-day “me” time?

Doug Kouma: You will catch me cooking dinner—that’s kind of my unwind. I specifically cook something several days a week, usually with a glass of wine. I’m pretty passionate about my California Sonoma County wines. You’ll see me taking my dog out for a walk. You probably won’t see me reading magazines at home.

Samir Husni: If you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Doug Kouma: I would like to believe that people view me as honest, kind and authentic.

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

Doug Kouma: I think the future; the future of the industry; my own personal future. I think we’re doing a little bit of reinvention here, and that doesn’t mean everything’s a success. It’s human nature, and it’s my nature especially, to want to succeed at what we’re doing. And that just doesn’t always happen. So, I think it’s worry about whether we can really make some of these things work.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Pioneer Woman Magazine: Pioneering Its Way To A Phenomenal Debut And Proving That The Power Of Print Is Stronger Than Ever – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Vicki Wellington, Vice President, Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer And Maile Carpenter, Editor In Chief, The Pioneer Woman Magazine…

June 28, 2017

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 06: (L-R) Vicki Wellington, Ree Drummond, and Maile Carpenter attend The Pioneer Woman Magazine Celebration with Ree Drummond at The Mason Jar on June 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Pioneer Woman Magazine)

“We’re never done climbing the mountain, Samir, you know that. (Laughs) Ever. And I’ll tell you what I love, and I feel this maybe more than I did back when we launched Food Network, everybody is rooting for us. Everyone is so excited that we have this great news. And Ree (Drummond) as well. I just feel there is a lot of positive energy around us, wherever we are. Whether we’re inside Hearst; Michael (Clinton) said it better than anybody, this company is very much print-proud.” Vicki Wellington…

“We talked about this in the past; a magazine is such an intimate experience. It is so perfect for her brand. As I said, she has such a great connection with her fans, and the idea of spending this precious “me” time with Ree really happens in the magazine. It’s different from the other platforms. Her blog is amazing, and you get all of these personal details, so that’s incredibly successful in its own right. But a magazine is something that you can sit back and really fall into.” Maile Carpenter…

The Pioneer Woman Magazine: A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story

At the beginning of June, The Pioneer Woman Magazine debuted at Wal-Mart, the retailer where Ree Drummond, who is the “Pioneer Woman” has her line of cookware, dinnerware and home products sold. Initial distribution of the Hearst Magazines’ premiere issue was 150,000 copies. Mere weeks later, the magazine was nearly sold out and went back to press for another 100,000 copies. Can we say – wow! The power of print brings another facet to an already successful brand.

Vicki Wellington is publisher of the new magazine and Maile Carpenter is editor in chief. These two ladies are a proven team, having launched the Food Network Magazine with amazing success. Now, at the helm of this latest Hearst print endeavor, an immediate grand slam is no surprise to anyone, especially Mr. Magazine™.

I spoke recently with Vicki and Maile, and we talked about The Pioneer Woman, both the magazine and the living, breathing human being. Although, in all honesty, Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t tell the difference between the two, as the ink on paper reflects the person so beautifully.

It’s an intimately personal and connected look at Ree Drummond and her family, but more importantly at her lifestyle. And according to Vicki and Maile, it’s something her fans have readily accepted and that was long overdue for the woman who has shown many people a unique and exciting way of life.

As for Hearst’s involvement, it has been my experience in watching the company and in how they handle new launches, and their portfolio in general; the folks absolutely know what they’re doing. They’ve been bullish about print forever, even when most everyone else was buying headstones in the ink on paper cemetery. But Hearst never gave up on the power of the printed word, and to this day still proclaims it the core of their business. As does Vicki and Maile. So, who better to head up The Pioneer Woman than two ladies who “put the wagons in a circle” and headed out on their own print journey a few years back, when most everyone else was boarding the cyberspace connection?

So, without further ado, here is the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicki Wellington and Maile Carpenter as they share their excitement about Hearst’s latest print success story: The Pioneer Woman Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

On how the magazine came into being (Maile Carpenter): We’ve been working with Ree (Drummond) for years through the Food Network. Ellen Levine gets credit here, because she noticed a couple of years ago that Ree just had such huge appeal with people, and Ellen said then that we should keep an eye on her. And sure enough, Ellen did, and had some conversations with Ree, and now here we are.

On how Maile’s editing approach differed from the Food Network Magazine to The Pioneer Woman (Maile Carpenter): It’s always different when something is based on a person than when it’s based on a brand. It presents different possibilities. What’s great about Ree is she has such a clear vision and such a clear brand. Her following is there and it’s strong. So, we really had a very good sense of who she is when we started.

On whether Vicki has any preference or inner struggle when it comes to selling ads for the Food Network Magazine versus The Pioneer Woman (Vicki Wellington): As you know, I have two girls in real life, and I love them both equally, but they’re both very different girls. And Maile actually has two girls as well. So, when it comes to the two magazines, I really feel exactly that. I literally call them the big girl and the baby; that’s actually what I say here at work. So, you know what? No, they’re totally different girls; they have different needs, and we love them both, but they’re two, completely different kids. That may sound funny, but it’s actually true.

On the advertisers reaction when Vicki first starting meeting with them about the first issue of The Pioneer Woman and whether it was different than when she first started selling the Food Network Magazine (Vicki Wellington): It was different. When we started with Food Network, the world was a mess and people sort of questioned whether the Food Network Magazine would really be a success. Now, I think we walk in with great credibility and they know that our editors have created this fantastic magazine, right on brand, that continues to sell amazingly well on newsstand and to subscribers with renewals. So, now I think we walk in as really credible, experienced people, where there’s very little risk, to be honest. And what was neat about this, which I’d never done before and is kind of interesting, we limited the number of ads that we took, because it was all about the edit and the content and how consumers would react to the content. So, we brought in a limited number and we couldn’t fit everybody in. It was a nice strategy and people were really dying to get in the magazine.

On the ad focus for the second issue (Vicki Wellington): With our second issue, we will be accepting more advertisements, but we’ll be limiting them as well. When we were out selling the first issue, we sold them both at the same time, which is really an advantage for the advertisers. So, a lot of it was presold in the very beginning. What’s neat is now you see it’s a huge success, as you said we went back to press for another 100,000, the feedback and the early research has been phenomenal.

On the role the printed magazine plays within The Pioneer Woman’s already successful brand (Maile Carpenter): We talked about this in the past; a magazine is such an intimate experience. It is so perfect for her brand. As I said, she has such a great connection with her fans, and the idea of spending this precious “me” time with Ree really happens in the magazine. It’s different from the other platforms. Her blog is amazing, and you get all of these personal details, so that’s incredibly successful in its own right. But a magazine is something that you can sit back and really fall into.

On the fact that Hearst still holds that print is the core foundation of its business, while others continue to doubt the power of print (Vicki Wellington): Let me just say, and you know how I feel about this, and I feel like this is true of the press in many ways; it’s always so much more exciting to jump on the negative, and to jump on the things that are going badly. And I’ve always thought this. We’ve had this amazing story from the very second that we started, yet it’s not always interesting to the press. And I don’t know why, because it really should be.

On whether Maile feels as though she’s reached the top of the mountain with The Pioneer Woman (Maile Carpenter): I will say that creatively it’s been like, as we all said, adding a new baby to the family, but for all of us it’s been so fun and exciting to work on another brand. It’s helped both. It’s helped us define ourselves at Food Network, and know who we are, and when funny story ideas come up, we know that they’re exactly right for Food Network.

On whether Vicki feels as though she’s reached the top of the mountain with The Pioneer Woman (Vicki Wellington): We’re never done climbing the mountain, Samir, you know that. (Laughs) Ever. And I’ll tell you what I love, and I feel this maybe more than I did back when we launched Food Network, everybody is rooting for us. Everyone is so excited that we have this great news. And Ree as well. I just feel there is a lot of positive energy around us, wherever we are. Whether we’re inside Hearst; Michael said it better than anybody, this company is very much print-proud. But we’re out in the community. Clients, everybody is excited for Ree.

On what’s next for The Pioneer Woman (Vicki Wellington): Well, we have a second issue to put out, which obviously, everyone will do a beautiful job on. And we’re doing a lot of research; we’re checking consumer feedback, which again, just the first 20 days are crazy off the charts. Obviously, Michael (Clinton), David (Carey), and ourselves, will make a decision about our next steps. Again, we’re feeling bullish, but you know how the company is; they’re smart, and slow and steady wins the race; we’ll check all of the consumer research make sure that this is something that people really want, and we’ll take it from there.

On why they think more publishers aren’t doing what Hearst does when it comes to new print publications (Vicki Wellington): I honestly don’t know that answer, it’s hard to know what goes on in other families, it really is. I really don’t know the answer. I’m just glad we’re here.

On why they think more publishers aren’t doing what Hearst does when it comes to new print publications (Maile Carpenter): I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Hearst knows how to launch magazines and puts the support behind them in the right places.

On anything else they’d like to add (Vicki Wellington): I will just say that with The Pioneer Woman, the feedback that we got was great. But not only on the food front, which we would expect, of course, but also the feedback that readers seemed to love when we showed pieces about the ranch and her family, and her life beyond. Right now the magazine has about 33 percent food, so it’s much more of a lifestyle, plus everything else. And we’re excited that the feedback came back so positively on these other fronts.

On anything else they’d like to add (Maile Carpenter): We’ve just been so happy with how closely we’re working with Ree. Like I said, you never know when you start something, but she’s been so great to work with, and she has such clear vision. It’s been really fun and exciting to work with her, and see her creativity at work. She really touches every page.

On breaking new ground with non-endemic ads or new advertisers in The Pioneer Woman (Vicki Wellington): I think the L’Oréal piece was good. They came in very early on, an exclusive beauty advertiser, actually in both of our issues. They’re running many different kinds of ads, and I think they got it. They got it early on, they were excited about it. So, I think that might have been a surprise for people.

On whether either of them are a “pioneer woman” themselves (Maile Carpenter): Well, Ree gave me a pair of cowboy boots, so now I am, I guess. (Laughs) I’m pioneering my way through the city. (Laughs again).

On whether either of them are a “pioneer woman” themselves (Vicki Wellington): You know what, I’m not. I’m definitely not a pioneer woman, but here’s the neat thing, and this is why I get it. I see how great it is to lift the veil and see what a life would be like that’s so completely different from my own. And I love that.

On what they would have tattooed upon their brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about them (Vicki Wellington): For me, it would be “fight on.” Keep on moving; keep on climbing the mountain. Keep moving ahead; keep the positivity moving forward. I try not to involve my brain with all the craziness of our world and our country, and life in general. I just come in everyday to this amazingly beautiful Tower and I’m excited to be here and to see my team. And I’m excited to work with Maile and her team. So, fight on and keep it going.

On what they would have tattooed upon their brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about them (Maile Carpenter): Mine would be “to always be authentic.” That’s the magic of Ree and we’re all learning that from her and reminding ourselves when we work with her of how important it is to be authentic and true to yourself.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Vicki Wellington, vice president, publisher & chief revenue officer and Maile Carpenter, editor in chief, The Pioneer Woman Magazine.

Samir Husni: I understand The Pioneer Woman is going for a second printing, so let’s begin with our last conversation. The last time we talked, both you and Maile hinted that something was brewing. At that time, you couldn’t really tell me anything except that something was going to happen. And lo and behold, The Pioneer Woman Magazine was born. And I read the letter that both of you wrote that basically said: here’s a woman who had everything but a magazine. And now, we all have the magazine.

Vicki Wellington: Yes, we do have the magazine. I can let Maile tell you about how we got it up and running, and I can certainly talk a little about the feedback and success.

Maile Carpenter: We’ve been working with Ree (Drummond) for years through the Food Network. Ellen Levine gets credit here, because she noticed a couple of years ago that Ree just had such huge appeal with people, and Ellen said then that we should keep an eye on her. And sure enough, Ellen did, and had some conversations with Ree, and now here we are.

What’s interesting about Ree, and I think what makes her so successful, is that she really built her following from the ground up, one person at a time. She was one of the original mom-bloggers, and she cares deeply about every single person who follows her. She really does reach out to them and has conversations with them, so this isn’t the same as having someone who launches a television celebrity, who then begins talking to people on social media. Ree really knows the people intimately and they know her, and they feel a very personal connection to her. And we’re seeing what that does. They just love everything that she does; they want to be a part of her life and they could not be more excited to have a magazine based on her. We’re getting such a great response from people. They’re going to multiple stores to find a copy.

Vicki Wellington: We saw a first issue selling on eBay for $40. We had a few others, but how funny is that?

Samir Husni: Maile, as you put the first issue together, and you’ve been editing the Food Network Magazine for some time now; how did your approach to The Pioneer Woman differ from your approach to the Food Network brand?

Maile Carpenter: It’s always different when something is based on a person than when it’s based on a brand. It presents different possibilities. What’s great about Ree is she has such a clear vision and such a clear brand. Her following is there and it’s strong. So, we really had a very good sense of who she is when we started.

The other great thing is she is super-involved. You never know when you go into something like this, how much time a person is going to have to put into it, but she’s been amazing. With every, single page she’s been involved. Picking out every item, the headlines and the decks and the stories. She’s writing for the magazine and providing images; this is truly hers. And people will accept that because they know her so well and have a very personal connection to her. They would know if it wasn’t hers. (Laughs) It has to be authentic. She is truly authentic, and people know that about her.

Samir Husni: Vicki, this is the new baby, but do you have any preference? When you’re selling the Food Network Magazine versus when you’re selling The Pioneer Woman; is there any inner struggle when it comes to getting ads for the magazines, in choosing one over the other?

Vicki Wellington: As you know, I have two girls in real life, and I love them both equally, but they’re both very different girls. And Maile actually has two girls as well. So, when it comes to the two magazines, I really feel exactly that. I literally call them the big girl and the baby; that’s actually what I say here at work. So, you know what? No, they’re totally different girls; they have different needs, and we love them both, but they’re two, completely different kids. That may sound funny, but it’s actually true.

Samir Husni: Can you relive that moment when you first started meeting with advertisers and talking about the magazine; did you get the same reaction from them as when you introduced the Food Network Magazine or was it different?

Vicki Wellington: It was different. When we started with Food Network, the world was a mess and people sort of questioned whether the Food Network Magazine would really be a success. Now, I think we walk in with great credibility and they know that our editors have created this fantastic magazine, right on brand, that continues to sell amazingly well on newsstand and to subscribers with renewals. So, now I think we walk in as really credible, experienced people, where there’s very little risk, to be honest.

And of course, as Maile said, interestingly, Ree started from this social platform when nobody was on social. So, if they needed to know who she was and what she was doing, they could go right on her blog and find out. You could see her taking her kid and looking for colleges, like we all do. You could see her bringing out sandwiches to her son and the whole baseball team. You can see all of these things and you also see her fans responding back and forth with her. So, I believe people get the relationship right away. That, combined with the credibility of what we’ve already done; I think this was easier, much easier. It really was.

And what was neat about this, which I’d never done before and is kind of interesting, we limited the number of ads that we took, because it was all about the edit and the content and how consumers would react to the content. So, we brought in a limited number and we couldn’t fit everybody in. It was a nice strategy and people were really dying to get in the magazine. We didn’t do that with Food Network; we didn’t do that with Domino, but we did it here and it was really nice and encouraging to see the great interest from advertisers to get in on the action.

Samir Husni: What’s the focus for the second issue?

Vicki Wellington: With our second issue, we will be accepting more advertisements, but we’ll be limiting them as well. When we were out selling the first issue, we sold them both at the same time, which is really an advantage for the advertisers. So, a lot of it was presold in the very beginning. What’s neat is now you see it’s a huge success, as you said we went back to press for another 100,000, the feedback and the early research has been phenomenal. So, anybody coming into the second issue should run and sprint to get in, honestly. Seriously, because they’re getting such a sure thing.

Samir Husni: Maile, you write in the introductory letter that you felt it was high time that Ree had a magazine too. From an editor’s point of view, what role does the printed magazine play within The Pioneer Woman’s already successful brand?

Maile Carpenter: We talked about this in the past; a magazine is such an intimate experience. It is so perfect for her brand. As I said, she has such a great connection with her fans, and the idea of spending this precious “me” time with Ree really happens in the magazine. It’s different from the other platforms. Her blog is amazing, and you get all of these personal details, so that’s incredibly successful in its own right. But a magazine is something that you can sit back and really fall into.

And her images, she photographs her ranch in the most beautiful ways. People have been seeing these images on her blog, and we’re able to really fall into them in print and tell stories from her ranch. I think the magazine is such a nice format for her. And as I said, her fans want so much to be a part of her life, and they want her in every possible form. And it’s not like they’re choosing a medium; they want her on TV; they want her blog; they want everything they can get. And the magazine was just the right piece. We’re already seeing the results.

Vicki Wellington: The results are just phenomenal. I can’t share them just yet, because they’re so early, but from what I understand, this company has not seen results like this in a long time. So, we’re very bullish.

Samir Husni: Vicki, tell me, when I interviewed Michael Clinton recently, he said that print is still the core business at Hearst. Yet, we see so many other companies and so many articles out there still doubting the power of print. From a publisher’s point of view, what’s your secret sauce? What are you doing differently at Hearst?

Vicki Wellington: Before the secret sauce, let me just say, and you know how I feel about this, and I feel like this is true of the press in many ways; it’s always so much more exciting to jump on the negative, and to jump on the things that are going badly. And I’ve always thought this. We’ve had this amazing story from the very second that we started, yet it’s not always interesting to the press. And I don’t know why, because it really should be.

And honestly, it’s Maile and her team. From the minute I met Maile, her only care has been about the reader. What does the reader want? What is the reader looking for? And she asks this in every meeting we have; how about the reader? And I think, because she’s executed it so perfectly, it’s easy and a pleasure to market and sell something like that. She makes our job easy. So, I think it’s about her getting the product right.

You look at this magazine, our baby, and you look at our big girl, and they look nothing alike. But the same team, the same small team, put both of these products together and they’re right on brand, and they look nothing alike. So, I think that says a lot.

Maile Carpenter: Our creative director, Deirdre Koribanick, is amazing. Her secret; she always talks about this, she has since we launched, is about being able to open a magazine to any page and know what magazine you’re in. And if you can open to different sections and they look entirely different, then you haven’t successfully created a single design method. And I think that she’s been so great in both magazines in unifying the look.

Samir Husni: Maile, have you reached the top of the mountain?

Maile Carpenter: I will say that creatively it’s been like, as we all said, adding a new baby to the family, but for all of us it’s been so fun and exciting to work on another brand. It’s helped both. It’s helped us define ourselves at Food Network, and know who we are, and when funny story ideas come up, we know that they’re exactly right for Food Network.

Vicki Wellington: We’re never done climbing the mountain, Samir, you know that. (Laughs) Ever. And I’ll tell you what I love, and I feel this maybe more than I did back when we launched Food Network, everybody is rooting for us. Everyone is so excited that we have this great news. And Ree as well. I just feel there is a lot of positive energy around us, wherever we are. Whether we’re inside Hearst; Michael said it better than anybody, this company is very much print-proud. But we’re out in the community. Clients, everybody is excited for Ree.

We had a party for her to celebrate the premier issue, and we had people come from hours away. We had a client who took their private jet and flew in for this party. Ree was there, her family, which was actually really neat. And you’ll see her daughter in the magazine, and her handsome, cowboy husband is so excited about the magazine. But I just think everybody is rooting for it, so it feels good. It feels good to have a new baby that everybody wants to see succeed.

Samir Husni: So, what’s next?

Vicki Wellington: Well, we have a second issue to put out, which obviously, everyone will do a beautiful job on. And we’re doing a lot of research; we’re checking consumer feedback, which again, just the first 20 days are crazy off the charts. Obviously, Michael (Clinton), David (Carey), and ourselves, will make a decision about our next steps. Again, we’re feeling bullish, but you know how the company is; they’re smart, and slow and steady wins the race; we’ll check all of the consumer research make sure that this is something that people really want, and we’ll take it from there.

That said, we’re proud of everything we’ve done, as we always are, of the product we represent and the new baby. And we’re proud of our big girl. We don’t talk about our big girl, but we’re turning 10. We have a birthday next year in 2018, which it went by like a minute, but it’s a big birthday for us.

Samir Husni: Every time I speak with David or Michael, there’s something new brewing. It seems like you’re always having a baby right after the new baby has been born, especially this year as you had almost twins with The Pioneer Woman and Airbnbmag.

Vicki Wellington: But they’re very different kids, as you know. They’re in our family, so think of them as cousins. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Vicki Wellington: Born around the same time; they hang out a little bit, but born to different families.

Samir Husni: With the true “Rose Garden” picture that you’ve painted, why do you think that only a few other publishers are doing what Hearst is doing?

Vicki Wellington: I honestly don’t know that answer, it’s hard to know what goes on in other families, it really is. I really don’t know the answer. I’m just glad we’re here.

Maile Carpenter: Yes, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Hearst knows how to launch magazines and puts the support behind them in the right places.

Vicki Wellington: And we love the joint venture teams. Again, we have our family and we have their family; combined, we have so many more assets together. I don’t see anybody else doing that, but it’s a wonderful thing that we’ve got this extended group of knowledgeable, smart people, with again, a very positive culture, able to help.

For example, when we put out the premiere issue, we supported it at Hearst, obviously, and across Hearst Digital in many ways, but of course, Scripps supported it in a huge way. So, again, I feel like everybody doesn’t get that kind of advantage.

Samir Husni: Any stumbling blocks that you’ve ran into?

Vicki Wellington: Not right now, Sir.

Maile Carpenter: We need more hours in the day. (Laughs)

Vicki Wellington: We’re busy, that’s for sure. But we can’t complain about that; we really can’t.

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

Vicki Wellington: I will just say that with The Pioneer Woman, the feedback that we got was great. But not only on the food front, which we would expect, of course, but also the feedback that readers seemed to love when we showed pieces about the ranch and her family, and her life beyond. Right now the magazine has about 33 percent food, so it’s much more of a lifestyle, plus everything else. And we’re excited that the feedback came back so positively on these other fronts.

Maile Carpenter: We’ve just been so happy with how closely we’re working with Ree. Like I said, you never know when you start something, but she’s been so great to work with, and she has such clear vision. It’s been really fun and exciting to work with her, and see her creativity at work. She really touches every page.

Samir Husni: As I look at the ads in the first issue, did you feel that you broke any new ground? I remember in the past, you and I had talked about getting new advertisers, non-endemic advertisers in the Food Network Magazine. How about in The Pioneer Woman?

Vicki Wellington: I think the L’Oréal piece was good. They came in very early on, an exclusive beauty advertiser, actually in both of our issues. They’re running many different kinds of ads, and I think they got it. They got it early on, they were excited about it. So, I think that might have been a surprise for people.

Samir Husni: If someone asked either of you if you were a “pioneer woman,” what would you say?

Maile Carpenter: Well, Ree gave me a pair of cowboy boots, so now I am, I guess. (Laughs) I’m pioneering my way through the city. (Laughs again).

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

Vicki Wellington: You know what, I’m not. I’m definitely not a pioneer woman, but here’s the neat thing, and this is why I get it. I see how great it is to lift the veil and see what a life would be like that’s so completely different from my own. And I love that.

Maile Carpenter: No, but you are, Vicki. This is the thing; I love Ree’s editor’s letter, and did not change a single word of it, she turned it in exactly as it appears in the magazine, word for word. And it was about how we’re all pioneer women, no matter where we happen to live or what we’re going through in life. I thought it was a nice way to see things. And I think Vicki is a pioneer woman.

(Everyone Laughs).

Samir Husni: I always thought Vicki was a pioneer woman.

Vicki Wellington: I’m an urban pioneer woman, perhaps. Again, I think it’s like a kind of fantasy. It’s an opposite life from mine, but it would be so cool for me to pop on a neat pair of blue cowboy boots and go out on the ranch. I don’t know how long I could live; I might die within 48 hours. (Laughs) But I think it would be exciting to try. For me, that’s how I look at it.

Samir Husni: I’ll give you eight hours, Vicki. (Laughs)

Vicki Wellington: My husband might give me four hours. (Laughs too)

Maile Carpenter: It’s really an incredible experience to go out to Oklahoma. Everyone is trying to sign up for the next trip when we shoot out there. It’s breathtaking. It’s just so beautiful.

Samir Husni: My new last question to you both; if you could have one thing tattooed upon your brain that no one would ever forget about you, what would it be?

Vicki Wellington: For me, it would be “fight on.” Keep on moving; keep on climbing the mountain. Keep moving ahead; keep the positivity moving forward. I try not to involve my brain with all the craziness of our world and our country, and life in general. I just come in everyday to this amazingly beautiful Tower and I’m excited to be here and to see my team. And I’m excited to work with Maile and her team. So, fight on and keep it going.

Maile Carpenter: Mine would be “to always be authentic.” That’s the magic of Ree and we’re all learning that from her and reminding ourselves when we work with her of how important it is to be authentic and true to yourself.

Vicki Wellington: And that’s the secret of Maile’s editing success, it really is. For both magazines. Her honest, authentic genuineness.

Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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

June 12, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until we meet at the newsstands…

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

• January 2017:

• Frequency – 5
• Specials – 32

• January 2016:

• Frequency – 21
• Specials – 56

• February 2017:

• Frequency – 4
• Specials – 33

• February 2016:

• Frequency – 12
• Specials – 57

• March 2017:

• Frequency – 6
• Specials – 62

• March 2016:

• Frequency – 7
• Specials – 46

• April 2017:

• Frequency – 12
• Specials – 30

• April 2016:

• Frequency – 21
• Specials – 50

• May 2017:

• Frequency – 20
• Specials – 48

• May 2016:

• Frequency – 25
• Specials – 43

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The Story Of HOLA! Made In The U.S.A.: The Final ACT 7 Experience

June 7, 2017

The final ACT 7 Experience was reserved for Sylvia Banderas, Publisher/VP Integrated Sales, HOLA! newly launched Spanish magazine in the United States. Ms. Banderas presented the story of the launch and the need for such a publication in the U.S. market… Click below to watch the video.

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Here’s What It Takes To Launch A Magazine: A Panel Discussion. ACT 7 Experience, Day 3, Part 3.

May 11, 2017

The afternoon of day 3 of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 7 Experience opened with Josh Ellis, Editor in Chief, Success Magazine leading a panel discussion on what it takes to launch a magazine. The panel included the following industry leaders from editorial, sales & marketing, advertising, design and distribution areas:
Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant, Joseph Berger Assoc.
Nicole Bowman, Founder & Principal, Bowman Circulation Marketing
Marshal McKinney, Design Director, Garden & Gun
Jennifer Reeder, VP, Sales, Democrat Printing
Steve Viksjo, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Jarry magazine, and
Bryan Welch, Founder, B the Change Media.

Check the video below and stay tuned for more videos to come…

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Launching a Magazine: What To Bring To The Table…Linda Ruth Reporting From The ACT 7 Experience…

May 8, 2017

(Left to right) Marshall McKinney, Design Director, Garden & Gun magazine, Bryan Welch, founder and CEO, B the Change Media, Jennifer Reeder, VP of Sales at Democrat Printing, Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant at Joseph Berger Associates, Nicole Bowman, Founder & Principal at Bowman Circulation Marketing, Steve Viksjo, Co-founder and Creative Director at Jarry magazine, and Josh Ellis, editor in chief, Success magazine.

“Demographics are evil,” said Bryan Welch, the founder of B the Change Media, speaking before an enrapt audience at the Magazine Innovation Center’s Act 7 in Mississippi last week. Welch was part of a panel that included industry luminaries Joe Berger, Publishers Marketing & Sales Consultant at Joseph Berger Associates, Nicole Bowman, Founder & Principal at Bowman Circulation Marketing, Marshall McKinney, Design Director, Garden & Gun magazine, Jennifer Reeder, VP of Sales at Democrat Printing, and Steve Viksjo, Co-founder and Creative Director at Jarry magazine.

“If you go into the magazine business with a specific age range in mind,” Welch continued, “you are excluding people who might share the passions of your audience. Demographics are, in a sense, used to create tribes of your audience: this group is liberal democrat, that group conservative republican, and so on. When we set out to de-tribalize the content of our magazine we stumbled across a huge audience that we didn’t aim for, we didn’t know about, and we would have excluded if we had been limited to a demographic profile.”

The panel was moderated by Josh Ellis, editor in chief of Success magazine, and focused on magazine launches, and opinions were shared on what it takes to launch a magazine. You need to start with a product champion, Reeder said: “Someone with the dream.”

Berger agrees with the need for vision, but wants it rooted in practicality: “You have to be brave, a little crazy…and you have to do your homework.” For him, homework includes understanding the business and managing your expectations. “I can arrange for where your magazine is going to want to go. But once it’s on the stands, it’s the publisher’s job to make people want pick it up. We can help by showing how it’s done. Beyond that, it’s important to be realistic about what can happen. When it comes to newsstand, all of the challenges are the results of consolidation. We might not like it, but we can’t change it. It’s what happens in economics, it’s what happens in capitalism. We can rail about what happened in 2003, but we’re in 2017. So let’s forget about what went before and ask: how can we sell your issue? We have the same number of magazines, but less space. How do we let the audience know that the magazine is there and they can get it?”

“Passion is the raw material of the business we’re in,” Welch said. “For me , that’s the invigorating thing about it. It’s also the terrifying thing. If you put together a team of passionate idealists who believe in your vision, and what you are doing fails, the people you are with go down with you. That’s a lot of responsibility.”

“Your responsibility is to your audience as well as your team,” McKinney added. “You want to serve your core reader at all costs. You’ve built trust with that reader—never, ever violate that trust. Give them a healthy dose of what they’ve learned to expect, and surprise them when you can. You can do a lot of counter-intuitive things. You can make a cover that won’t sell on the newsstand, for example, if it builds your mythology and continues to build your brand. But the thing you can never do is betray your reader.”

And how does print fit into this apparently digital age?

“I can’t name a digital product that has lived on its own,” Welch said. “If you don’t have events or a print publication or both, you have no way of monetizing what you are doing.” That does not mean ignoring the opportunities offered online. “You meet the people online. You monetize them through print and events.”

“Use your social media presence to announce the launch through the influencers,” said Viksjo.

In this group, tilted to entrepreneurs, some of the points made at John French’s “How to Save a Magazine” presentation on the previous day were not entirely embraced. As Welch put it, “I am outraged at the idea that you want to launch your magazine for the investor. You need to launch it for the reader! You cannot serve two masters.”

McKinney agreed. “It’s like kicking your reader in the crotch, when you come in and dismantle the editorial. It might work on some level, but it isn’t keeping the audience in mind.”

“A business on the verge of bankruptcy is in a place where some crotches need to be kicked,” Welch reflected. “But not the reader’s. Never the reader’s.” And who is the reader? Someone who shares in the passion of the magazine. “Twenty years ago I took a sacred vow never to use the word ‘rate base’ in a professional setting. It’s the dumbest idea. Managing to a circulation level ignores the value you get from each member of the audience.”

“You need to be clear on who your readers are,” Bowman added. “If you are not clear on who you are trying to serve, you are not going to be able to find your audience.”

“I’ve worked for a magazine that got started with $7000 and a box of cards,” McKinney said. “And another with $12 million in its launch budget that almost had to shut down. It’s a wild ride.”

“And God help you if your project is good enough to attract venture capital,” Welch said. “The relationship with the VC is a path to their control.”

To make an impression, McKinney advised, “Print on great paper. Don’t skimp. Some of the most coveted real estate in the world is the American coffee table. That’s where you want to be.

“Our physicality is what distinguishes us,” Welch said. “It’s what allows us to monetize our stories in a way we cannot do without that physicality. How much leverage could I get by upgrading that physical experience? We can measure the impact on the newsstand. And what is the advertisers real response? There might be a lot of value there.”

“People want to own things,” Berger said. “We’ve got the web, the video, all this other stuff which is interesting, but they don’t own it. A magazine, they can own.”

And what words of wisdom can this group leave with us? “Your readers are the center of your business,” said McKinney. “Hold them captive in your mind. Build from there.”

And Welch finished with: “Be emphatically who you are. Think of the most outrageous thing you want to say and say it with the first issue. Set a marker out there. Don’t bother testing sell lines that don’t get you excited. Make aggressive statements about your entity. And be faithful to your audience, so that they know who is showing up.”

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Tony Silber, Vice President, Folio, Leads A Panel On “Tales Of A Magazine Launch” At The ACT 7 Experience…Linda Ruth Reporting…

May 5, 2017

On the eve of the last day of ACT 7, Tony Silber, vice president of Folio, entertained us as a drummer in the ACT 7 band at Ground Zero Blues Club in the Mississippi Delta town of Clarksdale. The next day, that same Silber was leading a panel of publishers who told us their stories of recent magazine launches.

The range of successful launches represented on stage was enormous. It included Jarry, focusing on cooking and lifestyle for gay men; ROVA, a new print magazine for millennials who love to hit the open road in their RV’s; Take, which tells stories about the artists of New England; Good Grit, a social culture magazine for the South; Good Day, which will introduce the Grange and its mission to an audience beyond its current membership; Art+Design, which is bringing the New Orleans culture to 17 countries worldwide; Via Corsa, offering post-purchase adventure for automobile enthusiasts; and HGTV, a home lifestyle publication inspired by the title brand.

Addressing the topic of the balance between passion and business, publishers weighed in with their experiences of translating their passion into revenue. “If I did it as a performance art piece, I would lie in a fetal position and cry for an hour,” Michael Kusik, publisher of Take magazine volunteered. “But I saw Take as an opportunity to address an audience that is being missed. There are vast numbers of experiences people can have if they get in the car and drive.”

“I think you literally have to have a streak of insanity to start a magazine—I feel that every day,” added Laura Bento, founder and editor of Good Grit. “The reality of being an entrepreneur is that you are one step away from being homeless all the time. ‘So kids, you can sleep in a closet for a while, it’ll be fine.’” Her advice for publishers looking for financing: “Ask for three times more money than you think you need. Or four times. Or ten times…you are going to need way more money than you think you will.”

“The definition of passion is the willingness to suffer for what you love,” said Steve Martin, founder and publisher, Art+Design magazine. “I think every publisher can relate to that. We suffer every day for what we love. At Art+Design, we take everything the magazine has made and put it back into the magazine. In so doing, we’ve grown it from 80 pages to 154 pages, with a circulation of 10,000 per issue.”

“We’ve historically had many millions of members, but for the Grange, as for all similar organizations, there’s been a big drop off in membership,” Amanda Brozana, editor, Good Day! magazine added. “But you don’t need to be agriculturally driven to be part of it. We need to communicate this message—so Good Day! is a necessity. The passion part is needing to tell our stories.”

“At Via Corsa, we go around the world and look for car things to do,” said Ron Adams, founder & publisher, Via Corsa magazine. “It often turns into family adventures, which is a passion in our lives. We’re committed to doing what it takes to bring cool automotive adventures to print. Paradoxically, we are beginning, out of necessity, to move away from that passion to take care of the business side.”

“HGTV Magazine is very much a business,” Dan Fuchs, vice president/chief revenue officer, HGTV Magazine, said, to laughter from the audience. “I’m passionate about the business, but there are levels of responsibility with deadlines, economics, company accountability. From issue one, you need to stick to your positioning. If you waver, your readers and advertisers will check out. There is a commitment to following through on your positioning.”

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