Archive for the ‘New Launches’ Category

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An Outstanding October For New Magazines – With 32 Promised Frequency & 91 Specials, Annuals & Bookazines…

November 1, 2016

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Last October as we all enjoyed autumn and the fun times that go along with it; we had an abundance of new magazines to savor and appreciate while we carved pumpkins and ate leftover Halloween candy – 62 new titles to be exact – 21 with promised frequency. This time around our fall harvest is more bountiful than ever – with 123 new titles – 32 with regular frequency and 91 specials, annuals and bookazines. To say Mr. Magazine™ is thrilled and overjoyed would be an understatement.

In our frequency titles, puzzles and adult coloring books dominated the newsstand with a combined total of 11 new magazines out there for our pleasure and relaxation. And in the specials, annuals and bookazines, there was everything from tributes to the late Arnold Palmer to Christmas titles guaranteed to put us in the Spirit for the holidays. Overall, October was a month to remember and a glorious moment in time for magazines.

Above are six of the great October frequency titles. And below is the chart outlining all the stats of October 2016 compared with October 2015.

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For all of the beautiful new October titles, CLICK HERE:

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Guideposts: Reinvigorating Itself Every Two Years With A New Print Magazine – This Time Around It’s A Title That Includes God’s Four-Legged Creatures Within Its Pages – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With John Temple, President & CEO, Guideposts

October 19, 2016

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“I really am. I know it goes against every publishing convention, but I just think print has a lot of viability still. My plan is for Guideposts to launch a new magazine every two years.” John Temple (on whether he is still bullish about print)

And all God’s creatures said “Amen.” That’s right; all God’s creatures. It’s about the human condition always, but in the case of the new Guideposts title that is being tested even as we write and read; it’s about how the animals of creation assist us in that condition we call being human.

Since President and CEO, John Temple, returned to the helm of Guideposts in 2013, he has launched three new print titles; three new magazines in three years. I think it’s safe to say, John doesn’t see the power of print as being any weaker than it’s ever been. In fact, in his own words, “it’s his goal to launch a new print magazine every two years.” So far, he’s exceeding his goal.

I spoke with John recently and we talked about the new magazine that is being tested. So far, the name is still up in the air, but the mission of the publication is not: to show the emotional, spiritual and healing power of animals. It’s an idea John said they’ve had for a while, considering the success of the animal-themed testimonials that Guideposts runs between its own pages.

Along with the new title, John and I discussed the positivity that Guideposts and its other titles reflect in our sometimes crazy and chaotic world. It’s certainly something that we both see as extremely needed in these highly uncertain times.

But whether you’re a positive thinker by nature, or simply a lover of uplifting and beautiful storytelling, Guideposts’ titles offer you a diversion from this world of notifications and bells and whistles that we live in today. Much like the printed product always does.

So, escape with John and me for a few moments as we enter a world of hope and positivity – the Mr. Magazine™ interview with John Temple, President and CEO, Guideposts.

But first the sound-bites:

John Temple

On the essence of the new magazine they’re testing about the healing and inspirational powers of pets: With the new magazine that we’re testing; we had the idea some time ago about doing something in the area of pets, and one of the reasons for that is we run a few first-person stories in Guideposts magazine about pets and about pets and healing. So, we thought why don’t we try to create a magazine around pets, but we didn’t exactly know what to call it. We came up with three titles. One is, Inspiring Pets; or All Creatures; and the third title is Animals and Healing. All three of them are slightly different, in terms of their emphasis, but all of them are built around pets that inspire us.

On the early reaction of the testing: There really haven’t been any surprises. It’s been very fulfilling and very enlightening in that there seems to be a very good audience for this. We started out just testing the house file and of course, we knew that would be strong. And it was. That was in June, and then in September we tested the house file plus 100,000 outside-list names. And that also was strong.

On whether these new readers are branching off of the Guideposts brand or coming to Guideposts from the new titles: I think they’re probably branching off of Guideposts. The new magazines are different and not really Guideposts, in terms of content. And actually the pet’s magazine is going to be different too. It’s going to have third person articles in it and service features, so we’re kind of branching out.

On whether he’s bullish on print, since this is the third new magazine under his tenure as president & CEO: I really am. I know it goes against every publishing convention, but I just think print has a lot of viability still. My plan is for Guideposts to launch a new magazine every two years.

animals-healingOn his most pleasant surprise during his career with Guideposts: I think the viability of our magazine business has been the most pleasant surprise. When I came back in 2013, the magazine industry was in freefall. Advertising was bad and digital was taking over, and I just thought everything was a disaster. But we stayed with it and one of my goals was to reinvigorate the magazine division. We came up with editorial ideas and a marketing strategy, which I think was unique.

On the biggest stumbling block that he’s had to overcome: I think it’s a stumbling block that a lot of publishing people have had to deal with and that’s what do we do with digital? What do we do with social media and how do digital, social media and websites fit into the whole concept that we have in the magazine and book business?

On whether his digital revenue is approaching anywhere near his print revenue: Not yet. No, it isn’t. The print revenue is still a lot more than the digital revenue. But of course, the digital revenue is growing and it’s growing quickly.

On being highly involved in print while still growing the digital: One of the advantages that I think direct mail publishers have in the digital space is that we have millions and millions of names on our files and we have a tremendous amount of data on transactions and payments and all of those kinds of things. And to marry the data on the magazine and book side with the digital data has been a wonderful thing.

On whether he’s been able to maintain Guideposts’ circulation throughout the dawn of the digital age or if had to change things up somewhat: Like many, we have reduced the rate base a bit. Not dramatically, like some, but maybe 100,000. It’s hard to maintain a circulation with a publication that’s been around as long as ours and has had such reach. It’s hard to find in this day and age new names.

On whether he thinks the fact that Donald Trump and his father were both a part of the religious movement of Norman Vincent Peale and the power of positive thinking will bring the magazines any benefit during this political season: No, I don’t think that we’re going to get any benefit at all out of any of that. It’s all wrapped up in all of the politics and the publicity and the chaos that’s really going on in this political season. I don’t look at this as a benefit.

On whether people recognize Norman Vincent Peale still as a powerful link to Guideposts: I think a lot of people do still remember Norman Vincent Peale and I think there is a connection there. Obviously, as time goes on that tie will become less and less, but I think it’s still strong.

temple-5On what his expectations are a year from now when it comes to their stable of magazines: We’re investing a lot of energy and money in growing Mornings with Jesus and in growing the pet’s magazine. I don’t have any circulation goals yet for the pet’s magazine. But we’ll have 150,000 Mornings with Jesus subscribers after two years, which is pretty dramatic. I think the pet’s magazine is going to follow those trends. In a couple of years, we’ll be up to 150,000 in circulation for that magazine as well.

On whether circulation will remain the biggest chunk of their revenue or advertising will increase: Circulation will be the biggest chunk of the revenue; that won’t change. Our advertising that we do now is not a big part of the revenue for the products. And in fact, we probably aren’t going to do a lot of advertising in the new magazines, but what we are doing is a large amount of partnerships.

On whether Mornings with Jesus is doing better than Mysterious Ways: Yes, Mornings with Jesus is doing better than Mysterious Ways. We knew, for example, when we launched Mysterious Ways that it was going to be very strong with the house file. And it is, because we have a feature in Guideposts magazine called “Mysterious Ways.” And it’s the most popular single feature in the magazine.

On anything else he’d like to add: I really believe that this is a great time for magazines and books and content. There is a tremendous amount of energy and things that we can do with ideas and with content and with mission; just all of those things. It’s hard to pick and choose where to go, because there are so many options and so many places to go.

On whether he feels there more need now than ever before for magazines like Guideposts, Mornings with Jesus and Angels on Earth: I think there is. It helps and it tells people’s stories that resonate and sometimes it puts one person’s situation before someone else’s eyes and it makes a connection between the reader and the writer of the story.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly to his home one evening: There is certainly an iPad; I do a lot of reading on the iPad, magazines and newspapers. It’s interesting, because when I’m on the go or I’m in the office or traveling on planes, I read the newspapers on the iPad. At home on the weekends, we get the newspapers delivered and I read the print.

On whether he preaches in a church since he’s a Presbyterian minister: No, I don’t. For me, my ministry really is Guideposts and what we can do through the magazine to really help people. If we can help in the promotion of lives or in the spiritual lives of someone or the faith lives of people; that’s a pretty good ministry.

On what keeps him up at night: Making sure that we navigate the roads successfully that are ahead of us. And there are so many roads that are available. And just trying to make sure and wondering are we making the right move; are we going in the right direction? And sometimes we are and sometimes we aren’t.

temple-1And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with John Temple, President and CEO, Guideposts.

Samir Husni: This is magazine number five in your list of titles; you have Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Mysterious Ways, Mornings with Jesus, and now you’re testing this new magazine about the healing power of pets. Describe for me the essence of this new magazine.

John Temple: With the new magazine that we’re testing; we had the idea some time ago about doing something in the area of pets, and one of the reasons for that is we run a few first-person stories in Guideposts magazine about pets and about pets and healing. So, we thought why don’t we try to create a magazine around pets, but we didn’t exactly know what to call it. We came up with three titles. One is, Inspiring Pets; or All Creatures; and the third title is Animals and Healing. All three of them are slightly different, in terms of their emphasis, but all of them are built around pets that inspire us.

What we’ve done is gone back into the archives of Guideposts magazine and put together stories around these three themes. And that’s what the testing is about.

Samir Husni: What has been the early reaction of the testing? Have there been any surprises from the reaction of the audiences that have seen the magazine?

John Temple: There really haven’t been any surprises. It’s been very fulfilling and very enlightening in that there seems to be a very good audience for this. We started out just testing the house file and of course, we knew that would be strong. And it was. That was in June, and then in September we tested the house file plus 100,000 outside-list names. And that also was strong. We only have about three weeks’ worth of intake on that test, but the indications are that it’s going very well and that we have outside names that we can profitably mail.

Samir Husni: Do you think it’s the power of Guideposts and the power of the model brand that’s helping you to reach and nourish the same audience, or is it a different audience? Are you seeing people coming to Guideposts after all of these new magazines that you’ve launched, or are they branching off of Guideposts?

temple-2John Temple: I think they’re probably branching off of Guideposts. The new magazines are different and not really Guideposts, in terms of content. And actually the pet’s magazine is going to be different too. It’s going to have third person articles in it and service features, so we’re kind of branching out. Most of Guideposts magazine is first-person narratives of people telling their stories. We’re moving slightly into different directions.

Samir Husni: Are you still as bullish about print, because now under your tenure this is your third new magazine?

John Temple: I really am. I know it goes against every publishing convention, but I just think print has a lot of viability still. My plan is for Guideposts to launch a new magazine every two years.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant surprise during your journey throughout the years with Guideposts?

John Temple: I think the viability of our magazine business has been the most pleasant surprise. When I came back in 2013, the magazine industry was in freefall. Advertising was bad and digital was taking over, and I just thought everything was a disaster. But we stayed with it and one of my goals was to reinvigorate the magazine division. We came up with editorial ideas and a marketing strategy, which I think was unique. And those two things together have given us the successes that we’ve achieved.

Samir Husni: What has been the biggest stumbling block or challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

John Temple: I think it’s a stumbling block that a lot of publishing people have had to deal with and that’s what do we do with digital? What do we do with social media and how do digital, social media and websites fit into the whole concept that we have in the magazine and book business? And it’s not really clear exactly how all of this is going to fit together.

It’s an evolution and it’s rapidly changing. It’s very difficult to grab onto it and to hold it and to keep it in one place, because it’s changing so quickly.

Samir Husni: Is your digital revenue approaching anywhere near your print revenue?

John Temple: Not yet. No, it isn’t. The print revenue is still a lot more than the digital revenue. But of course, the digital revenue is growing and it’s growing quickly. And that’s a nice added benefit for the revenue.

Samir Husni: In addition to the magazines, you have books and greeting cards; you’re still very involved in print as you grow the digital.

temple-4John Temple: Yes, we are. One of the advantages that I think direct mail publishers have in the digital space is that we have millions and millions of names on our files and we have a tremendous amount of data on transactions and payments and all of those kinds of things. And to marry the data on the magazine and book side with the digital data has been a wonderful thing. We’ve got a really good head start.

Samir Husni: Since the dawn of digital, say, around 2008 or 2009 when the tablet and Smartphones hit the scene; have you been able to maintain the circulation of Guideposts, or have you had to do anything differently? Have you reduced the rate base? What’s the story with the “Little Engine that Could?”

John Temple: Like many, we have reduced the rate base a bit. Not dramatically, like some, but maybe 100,000. It’s hard to maintain a circulation with a publication that’s been around as long as ours and has had such reach. It’s hard to find in this day and age new names. And with magazines like Prevention and other kinds of publications that are our size, they shrink in their circulation and it has an impact on us.

Samir Husni: With this presidential election, a lot of programs that’s dealing with the history of both candidates are focusing a lot on Norman Vincent Peale and the power of positive thinking, and that’s the church that Donald Trump’s dad and Donald Trump himself attended; do you think that you’ll get any lift from all of that, since you’re getting a lot of publicity?

John Temple: No, I don’t think that we’re going to get any benefit at all out of any of that. It’s all wrapped up in all of the politics and the publicity and the chaos that’s really going on in this political season. I don’t look at this as a benefit.

Samir Husni: Do you think that Dr. Peale’s name is a powerful link to Guideposts or is he a figurehead, such as when someone mentions Henry Luce and Time magazine in the same breath?

John Temple: I think a lot of people do still remember Norman Vincent Peale and I think there is a connection there. Obviously, as time goes on that tie will become less and less, but I think it’s still strong.

Samir Husni: If you and I are having this discussion a year from now, what would you hope to tell me about your stable of magazines? What are your expectations?

temple-3John Temple: We’re investing a lot of energy and money in growing Mornings with Jesus and in growing the pet’s magazine. I don’t have any circulation goals yet for the pet’s magazine. But we’ll have 150,000 Mornings with Jesus subscribers after two years, which is pretty dramatic. I think the pet’s magazine is going to follow those trends. In a couple of years, we’ll be up to 150,000 in circulation for that magazine as well.

In the meantime, we’ve already started looking at other possibilities for a magazine to launch. And I think that next year we’ll probably be testing something else.

Samir Husni: When you think about the business model that you follow, and that the majority of magazines in this country are advertising-driven, something like 80% or 90%; you were ad-free for a long period of time and then you began accepting advertising. Do you have a goal for your magazines’ ratio? Is it going to be 50/50, or circulation is still a big chunk of the revenue?

John Temple: Circulation will be the biggest chunk of the revenue; that won’t change. Our advertising that we do now is not a big part of the revenue for the products. And in fact, we probably aren’t going to do a lot of advertising in the new magazines, but what we are doing is a large amount of partnerships. We’re doing a lot of working with other companies in particular areas. They’re helping us with editorial content and they’re participating with us in the digital space and in the magazine.

Samir Husni: And Mornings with Jesus is doing much better than Mysterious Ways?

John Temple: Yes, Mornings with Jesus is doing better than Mysterious Ways. We knew, for example, when we launched Mysterious Ways that it was going to be very strong with the house file. And it is, because we have a feature in Guideposts magazine called “Mysterious Ways.” And it’s the most popular single feature in the magazine.

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

John Temple: I really believe that this is a great time for magazines and books and content. There is a tremendous amount of energy and things that we can do with ideas and with content and with mission; just all of those things. It’s hard to pick and choose where to go, because there are so many options and so many places to go. And we have to be rigorous in our priorities because we can’t take advantage of all of the opportunities we see.

Samir Husni: As we witness the decline of civility in our political culture; do you feel that there’s more need for magazines like Guideposts, Mornings with Jesus and Angels on Earth to bring back that civil aspect to the country?

John Temple: I think there is. It helps and it tells people’s stories that resonate and sometimes it puts one person’s situation before someone else’s eyes and it makes a connection between the reader and the writer of the story. And I think that’s very important and it does help.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching television; drinking a glass of wine; or something else?

John Temple: (Laughs) Well, there may be a little of the wine there. There is certainly an iPad; I do a lot of reading on the iPad, magazines and newspapers. It’s interesting, because when I’m on the go or I’m in the office or traveling on planes, I read the newspapers on the iPad. At home on the weekends, we get the newspapers delivered and I read the print.

Samir Husni: I know you’re a Presbyterian minister; do you still preach in a church?

John Temple: No, I don’t. For me, my ministry really is Guideposts and what we can do through the magazine to really help people. If we can help in the promotion of lives or in the spiritual lives of someone or the faith lives of people; that’s a pretty good ministry.

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

John Temple: Making sure that we navigate the roads successfully that are ahead of us. And there are so many roads that are available. And just trying to make sure and wondering are we making the right move; are we going in the right direction? And sometimes we are and sometimes we aren’t. It’s interesting; we don’t always go in a straight line. This is uncharted territory.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Magnolia Journal: The Power Of Print Manifests Itself As Meredith Teams Up With Chip & Joanna Gaines To Bring Their Successful Brand To Print – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Christine Guilfoyle, Senior VP, Publisher, Meredith National Media Group

October 12, 2016

“You know that I’m a huge proponent of things like this. What we’ve done at Meredith, and most recently with the launch of The Magnolia Journal; print is alive and well. The consumer continues to purchase print products that appeal to their passions and their sensibilities for service. Circulation numbers have never faltered and it’s our job as publishers, individually, and as publishing companies, to make sure that we continue to demonstrate to the advertising community that we have “her” hooked. And our content is distributed and it’s always on-fashion and that we serve up content that is unique to the platform from which it appears.” Christine Guilfoyle

magnolia-journalToday existing brands are discovering the power of print on a regular basis. From television personalities to fashion retailers; the world of print is alive and well in the communities of many brands. Why are successful brands adding a print title to their repertoire? Possibly because it’s a fantastic way to stay connected to their audiences in a tactile and personal way.

Chip and Joanna Gaines have a successful television show on HGTV: “Fixer Upper,” in their immensely popular Magnolia brand. Their Magnolia Market, based in Waco, Texas, where the Gaines’ live, is flourishing with its website, along with a vacation rental called Magnolia House, Joanna’s Magnolia Home partnerships (furniture, paint, textiles and wall coverings), and a dedicated social media fan base. So, it stands to reason the Gaines’ needed a print magazine to round out their broad spectrum of media connection. So, The Magnolia Journal was born.

The Meredith Corporation believed strongly in this new cog in the Gaines’ media wheel and stepped in to make it happen. Christine Guilfoyle is senior VP and publisher for Meredith’s National Media Group. Christine is bullish about print; bullish about Meredith; and extremely bullish about her newest launch baby, The Magnolia Journal. She believes in this latest brand extension for the Gaines’ and feels it rounds out their successful brand nicely and also adds another wonderful flavor of content to the Meredith circle of publications.

I spoke with Christine recently and we talked about the ease she had in selling this latest piece of the Gaines’ brand puzzle to advertisers and the buying public. We also talked about her own personal commitment to Meredith and the work she does there and how much she truly loves and values the service journalism that the company has always stood for.

It was a lively and inspirational conversation with a woman who knows her company’s brands and who is dedicated to each and every one of them emphatically. So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christine Guilfoyle as we talk about the latest Meredith print launch, The Magnolia Journal.

But first the sound-bites:

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On whether we’re seeing a reversal on the way new titles are launched; brands first, and then the magazines: I can’t answer to that as it relates to the broader market, but I think the answer as it relates to Joanna and Chip Gaines is definitely. They have built a very powerful, cross-channeled franchise with HGTV and their “Fixer Upper” show; with their retail outlet; with their highly successful social media following and their blog.

On how easy it was for Meredith to produce the magazine: It was super easy. Again, I think that Chip and Joanna had a very clear vision of what they wanted the magazine to embody. They had very definitive ideas about the types of content. I think that their values and the things that they care about most; their home, family; the gathering together of family and friends and having good food on the table are very central to the Meredith Corporation and what our values are; and the heritage of what our company has always believed in for over 100 years.

On any stumbling block she had to face and how she overcame it: What did I have to overcome? It’s a silly thing. It was late in a calendar year planning cycle and there were people who were very interested in participating, but because of budgets or timing they were unable to, because of the deadlines. And as you know, launches don’t launch for two years now. Long gone are the very extended launch cycles, where you get to go on a two year roadshow. It was fast and furious; it was probably just over a month’s time that we had to get out into the market.

On whether she thinks partnerships are the future of publishing because it’s tough now for a company to do it on its own: I don’t look at it as being tougher and tougher. I think the world has changed. All the traditional publishers years ago did market research and launched brands that would be timeless. I think today because of fragmentation and technology and multichannel, there are topics, personalities or segments that already have an audience that is developed around them, but their expertise may not be in the printed product or in content distribution, and I think what we’ve been able to do here at Meredith, under the leadership of Steve Lacy and Tom Harty, is be very smart and open-minded. At the Meredith Corporation we serve the consumer. So, how are we filling out our consumer portfolio of content to make sure that at every life stage women have content from Meredith to consume?

On whether she feels service journalism is the wave of the future in publishing: We’re not in the news business or in the celebrity business, so I’m not going to talk about those things because I’m not an authority, but I think the consumer tends to have an insatiable appetite for both celebrity and news, and I think people that are in those areas of interest will figure out which channels they should be in to distribute that information. For Meredith, we’re in the service journalism business and have been for over 100 years. If you look at all of our acquisitions, really since the Gruner & Jahr and that was 12 years ago, and then since I’ve been back at the company, the last six years; we have acquired, and/or partnered, and/or licensed with content ideas, whether it’s in print or in digital, which round out our women’s life stage always on philosophy.

On whether Chip and Joanna Gaines will appear on every cover: I can tell you that we’ll see them on the cover of the second issue for sure. I think long-gone are the days where you say from now until the end of time they’ll appear on the cover. We will work with them and we will satisfy their schedule, and if the consumer wants them to be on the cover and they want to be on the cover, then the Meredith Corporation will have no problem with that.

On whether she thinks a year from now she will be as positive and upbeat about print publishing as she is today: I have 11 more years to go before I can retire, and that depends on if my husband will allow me to. (Laughs) I feel incredibly fortunate because I have gotten to work on some of the biggest brands in the business: TV Guide, People, Better Homes and Gardens twice. I’ve also gotten to work on some fantastic smaller brands, things like MORE magazine and the launch of Every Day with Rachael Ray, and I was able to work with Martha Stewart, and now I’m at Shape and launching The Magnolia Journal, and I participated in the launch of All Recipes. I can’t imagine, honestly, that I will ever really run out of enthusiasm, even if you told me that I had to do it for 22 more years versus 11, because I think you create your own opportunity. You surround yourself with smart people of all ages and levels of experience.

On anything else she’d like to add: I guess the only thing would be that we expect the subsequent issues to have continued success, not only in distribution, but in rate base and increased advertising opportunities. It’s exciting.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up one evening unexpectedly at her home: I have never been a big television watcher and part of that has nothing to do with the platform. If I sit down at home, I may never get up again. It is a whirling dervish of activity. I have two teenaged daughters; a dog; a husband; there are endless people in and out of my home and I love it like that. We’re cooking and talking; we’re cleaning.

On what keeps her up at night: It’s the next big deal. It’s making sure that I’m satisfying, not only myself, but my management team. I look at those guys with love. I never want to let them down. So, regardless of what project I’m assigned, for me it’s Meredith first and foremost. Did somebody get something that I didn’t get; was someone more clever putting a proposal together than I was? I think all of us second guess our pipeline and our proposal response all the time.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Christine Guilfoyle, Senior VP, Publisher, Meredith National Media Group.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on yet another new launch.

Christine Guilfoyle: Thank you. I’m just happy that they continue to ask me to do things like this. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: In the past, we used to launch magazines first and then they became brands. And they would have brand extensions, such as with Better Homes and Gardens. Then we had the television shows and their products; you name it. Are we seeing a reversal of that now since we seem to have many existing brands that are discovering magazines?

magnolia-journalChristine Guilfoyle: I can’t answer to that as it relates to the broader market, but I think the answer as it relates to Joanna and Chip Gaines is definitely. They have built a very powerful, cross-channeled franchise with HGTV and their “Fixer Upper” show; with their retail outlet; with their highly successful social media following and their blog.

And to me what the magazine does for them, as you well know, and for those of us who love print, it gives this lasting, beautiful, tactile expression of what they believe their lifestyle philosophy is. And they know from their fans that there is a hunger for information from them and I think the whole notion of hold-it-touch-it-clip-it-save-it-cherish-it was important to Chip and Joanna. And I think there’s no other platform that satisfies that like a magazine does. I believe it’s quite natural with all of their other successful enterprises and media outlets of distribution. For them not to have a magazine would be more shocking to me.

Samir Husni: How easy was it for you to produce the magazine?

Christine Guilfoyle: It was super easy. Again, I think that Chip and Joanna had a very clear vision of what they wanted the magazine to embody. They had very definitive ideas about the types of content. I think that their values and the things that they care about most; their home, family; the gathering together of family and friends and having good food on the table are very central to the Meredith Corporation and what our values are; and the heritage of what our company has always believed in for over 100 years.

So, the coming together of Chip and Joanna Gaines and the Meredith Corporation was very easy. The putting together of the first issue of The Magnolia Journal was equally as easy. And then as it relates to me, the going out and selling the first-launch issue was incredibly easy. And I would say that their presence in social media made the introduction of the magazine to the buying community just almost effortless.

Samir Husni: In the midst of all of this easiness, was there any stumbling block that you had to face and overcome? And if so, how did you do so?

Christine Guilfoyle: What did I have to overcome? It’s a silly thing. It was late in a calendar year planning cycle and there were people who were very interested in participating, but because of budgets or timing they were unable to, because of the deadlines. And as you know, launches don’t launch for two years now. Long gone are the very extended launch cycles, where you get to go on a two year roadshow. It was fast and furious; it was probably just over a month’s time that we had to get out into the market.

But really this wasn’t a launch to find out what the advertising play is or was. It was much more to get an understanding about consumer demand. And I think very similarly to the launch of All Recipes magazine; we knew that the consumers were heavy engagers with the Gaines’; with their store; with their social and website; and with their television property. What we didn’t know was whether or not they would also want to engage in a magazine.

Samir Husni: We’re seeing all of these partnerships taking place now; Meredith has it with Rachael Ray, All Recipes, with the guys over at Beekman 1802 Almanac, and with Eat This Not That; as a publisher are these partnerships the future of publishing? Do companies not want to publish on their own anymore because it’s so very tough right now?

Christine Guilfoyle: I don’t look at it as being tougher and tougher. I think the world has changed. All the traditional publishers years ago did market research and launched brands that would be timeless. I think today because of fragmentation and technology and multichannel, there are topics, personalities or segments that already have an audience that is developed around them, but their expertise may not be in the printed product or in content distribution, and I think what we’ve been able to do here at Meredith, under the leadership of Steve Lacy and Tom Harty, is be very smart and open-minded. At the Meredith Corporation we serve the consumer. So, how are we filling out our consumer portfolio of content to make sure that at every life stage women have content from Meredith to consume?

And I think that it’s really smart that it doesn’t have to be something that’s homegrown. Obviously, Every Day with Rachael Ray for me was something that was incredibly personal; I left Meredith to launch it. So, when Meredith went into partnership with Rachael and Watch Entertainment, I was very fortunate that I was back and got to work on it again.

What would have happened if Rachael Ray had stayed at Reader’s Digest? What would have happened if Rachael had decided to go it alone? Who knows? But now it’s here and it’s part of our family and it’s thriving. You think about Martha in the same vein. You think about the Beekman Brothers and would they have been able to launch a magazine within the confines of their own business? I think probably the answer to that would have been no.

So, I don’t think it makes our job harder; it makes it interesting and filled with untapped opportunities and it allows us to fill in the gaps and really be a consumer centric organization so that we serve her, the consumer, because if you serve the consumer, the advertiser will follow.

Samir Husni: And that has been a central cornerstone of all of the Meredith publications; that core of service journalism and the attention to the consumer. Do you think the future of magazine publishing, as in ink on paper, is going to be service journalism, as opposed to say, celebrity journalism or news journalism?

guilfoyle-christine-7-13Christine Guilfoyle: We’re not in the news business or in the celebrity business, so I’m not going to talk about those things because I’m not an authority, but I think the consumer tends to have an insatiable appetite for both celebrity and news, and I think people that are in those areas of interest will figure out which channels they should be in to distribute that information.

For Meredith, we’re in the service journalism business and have been for over 100 years. If you look at all of our acquisitions, really since the Gruner & Jahr and that was 12 years ago, and then since I’ve been back at the company, the last six years; we have acquired, and/or partnered, and/or licensed with content ideas, whether it’s in print or in digital, which round out our women’s life stage always on philosophy. Prior to the acquisition of Eating Well, All Recipes and Rachael Ray, food, although our biggest advertising category; we didn’t have a title that was purely food.

So, we acquired three food titles, or channels, that actually round out the whole notion of eating healthy; eating as it relates to a celebrity’s point of view; and then the whole democratic recipe sharing that’s been going on across backyard fences since the beginning of time.

You know that I’m a huge proponent of things like this. What we’ve done at Meredith, and most recently with the launch of The Magnolia Journal; print is alive and well. The consumer continues to purchase print products that appeal to their passions and their sensibilities for service. Circulation numbers have never faltered and it’s our job as publishers, individually, and as publishing companies, to make sure that we continue to demonstrate to the advertising community that we have “her” hooked. And our content is distributed and it’s always on-fashion and that we serve up content that is unique to the platform from which it appears.

In the case of Chip and Joanna Gaines, they mastered social media. I don’t know, Samir, if you’ve looked at their Instagram and/or their Facebook, but Joanna posted the cover of The Magnolia Journal and within 24 hours across Facebook and Instagram there were nearly 145,000 likes of the cover.

Samir Husni: Will we see them on the cover of every issue?

Christine Guilfoyle: I can tell you that we’ll see them on the cover of the second issue for sure. I think long-gone are the days where you say from now until the end of time they’ll appear on the cover. We will work with them and we will satisfy their schedule, and if the consumer wants them to be on the cover and they want to be on the cover, then the Meredith Corporation will have no problem with that.

Samir Husni: If you could put on your cap from the future and if someone were to come to you a year from now and ask you about print, about Meredith, about publishing in general; do you think you would be as upbeat and positive as you are now, or do you think there could be a difference in your outlook?

Christine Guilfoyle: I have 11 more years to go before I can retire, and that depends on if my husband will allow me to. (Laughs) I feel incredibly fortunate because I have gotten to work on some of the biggest brands in the business: TV Guide, People, Better Homes and Gardens twice. I’ve also gotten to work on some fantastic smaller brands, things like MORE magazine and the launch of Every Day with Rachael Ray, and I was able to work with Martha Stewart, and now I’m at Shape and launching The Magnolia Journal, and I participated in the launch of All Recipes.

I can’t imagine, honestly, that I will ever really run out of enthusiasm, even if you told me that I had to do it for 22 more years versus 11, because I think you create your own opportunity. You surround yourself with smart people of all ages and levels of experience. We have a management team here that I put great faith in and I believe that they put great faith in me. And when you’re able to come and work with an organization that has grown to this size and they allow me to be incredibly entrepreneurial and give me new assignments; The Magnolia Journal is my 11th assignment in a little over six years at Meredith.

That to me says one of two things: either I can’t hold down a job or they want to continue to spread my enthusiasm and dedication to print throughout the organization. My workflow ebbs and flows and frankly, I love the work. I think there are far worse things to do for a living than getting to tell stories about people’s relationship with content. And why an advertiser should look for that experience to amplify their message. That to me is like we’re lucky.

I look at Rachael; I look at Martha, and I look at Chip and Joanna and one thing that is consistent is that people will invariably ask how they manage everything. The book tours; the TV show; the children; the this and that. How do they manage it? They love it. And they don’t look at it as a job.

I’ve been fortunate enough now to have Rachael twice in my career. Then I had the great fortune to meet Martha Stewart and get to work with her, and I thought, OK, I’m done. I’m not going to Hearst and I’m not going to work with the unbelievable Oprah Winfrey, but now I have Chip and Joanna. I would have never expected it, but all of them have a passion and a drive. And really the way in which they communicate their message is obviously very different, but at the heart of each of their messages is this: do something you love with people you love to do it with. And honestly, that’s really not very different than my own personal message. I do something that I love and I consider people above me and below me at Meredith my family. And that I get to do it with them is a privilege. I have an unbelievable respect for all of them as they do for me. And that’s a pretty unique position to be in.

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

Christine Guilfoyle: I guess the only thing would be that we expect the subsequent issues to have continued success, not only in distribution, but in rate base and increased advertising opportunities. It’s exciting.

And I think as far as Meredith goes, I couldn’t be more excited for Tom Harty, Jon Werther and for Steve Lacy’s executive team for the next chapter. With our new senior leadership team and what that means for all of us that are here. There’s a feeling of invigoration throughout the organization and that’s exciting.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching television; cooking; or something else?

Christine Guilfoyle: All of them but the TV. I have never been a big television watcher and part of that has nothing to do with the platform. If I sit down at home, I may never get up again. It is a whirling dervish of activity. I have two teenaged daughters; a dog; a husband; there are endless people in and out of my home and I love it like that. We’re cooking and talking; we’re cleaning. People make fun of me because every Friday night the first thing I do when I walk in the door is pour myself a glass of wine. The second thing I do is pull out my vacuum. I don’t get to drink the wine until I’ve vacuumed the downstairs of my home. It’s like my reward at the end of the day. It means one less thing that I have to do the next day. And I really like that glass of wine when I’m done with my vacuuming. (Laughs) And it may lead to another.

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

Christine Guilfoyle: It’s the next big deal. It’s making sure that I’m satisfying, not only myself, but my management team. I look at those guys with love. I never want to let them down. So, regardless of what project I’m assigned, for me it’s Meredith first and foremost. Did somebody get something that I didn’t get; was someone more clever putting a proposal together than I was? I think all of us second guess our pipeline and our proposal response all the time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Bling-Scene Magazine: A Luxury Title That Opens Up The Enigmatic World Of Fine Jewelry By Offering A Venue For Collaboration Using The Most Tactile Platform Of All: Print – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Neil Shah, Publisher, Bling-Scene Magazine

October 11, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-8-48-38-am“We may launch a digital version at some point, but jewelry is very tactile. Orlando,our designer, is a very visual and tactile guy. The experience is different. In fact, there are many blogs and that kind of thing out there for the jewelry industry. There’s a lot of social media influence, but what was missing was that touch and feel. And if you notice the magazine, we went really went all out to focus on that touch and feel. The paper weight is heavier; the covers are heavier than whatever other luxury magazines we’re comparing it to that are out there; if you’re looking at a Robb Report or a Veranda, or any of these luxury lifestyle magazines. We’ve gone probably beyond that, in terms of the weight and the feel of it.” Neil Shah (On why they chose print as the best platform for Bling-Scene)

In the world of luxury lifestyles, nothing is more posh than fine jewelry. We’ve all romanced the stone at least once in our lives. But what you won’t find filling the newsstands are magazines on the upscale topic. That niche has been very lacking, that is, up until now.

Bling-Scene magazine is the latest luxury venture from a family who knows their way around a carat or two, or more, if I’m to be precise. After four decades in the diamond and jewelry industry, the Shah Luxury Group has now turned its attention to the world of magazines. And the beautifully-done, oversized, print title, Bling-Scene is the result. The magazine is the culmination of hard work and determination of all of the Shahs, father, Natwar Shah, his two sons, Neil and Salil Shah, and their creative partner and designer, Orlando Altamar.

I spoke with Neil recently and we talked about the vision the group had for Bling-Scene; the main one involving opening up the very reserved and secretive world of the jewelry industry and allowing it to connect and engage with the consumer. Bling-Scene’s focus will be one of collaboration and marketing, with the intent of partnering with different lifestyle brands and intertwining the worlds of fine jewelry, with, say, fashion, art, wine and any other luxury item. Hotels, resorts, the ideas are endless. Just ask Neil, who knows how intense he and his family and creative partner, Orlando, can be when it comes to ideas.

I hope that you enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with a young man who has diamonds in his blood and when it comes to exciting new ways to further he and his family’s brand, a flood of ideas in his brain, Neil Shah, publisher, Bling-Scene magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

neil-shah

On the idea behind Bling-Scene and why they chose print in this digital age: My family and I run a jewelry company; my father, brother and myself, and we also have a partner, a gentleman by the name of Orlando Altamar. And he’s sort of the creative direction in the company. It was originally Orlando’s idea, which he’s had for several years. He had noticed basically that in the jewelry industry there was no print magazine. There’s a luxury lifestyle print magazine for car-lovers, cigar-lovers; any kind of interest or passion that people might have, but in the jewelry industry it’s kind of a missing niche. And print is a great platform for us as a jewelry company, manufacturer and a designer brand, to showcase ourselves as well. But we didn’t quite act on it at first. I was jogging one day and listening to iTunes and started listening to the iTunes Music Festival. I began wondering what this iTunes Music Festival was all about, and for some reason it hit me like an epiphany. It’s not just a phone, and it’s not just iTunes, and it’s not just a way to download music; it’s a lifestyle. It’s a whole experience.

On why he thought that for a luxury magazine print would be the best medium: We may launch a digital version at some point, but jewelry is very tactile. Orlando, as our designer, is a very visual and tactile guy. The experience is different. In fact, there are many blogs and that kind of thing out there for the jewelry industry. There’s a lot of social media influence, but what was missing was that touch and feel. And if you notice the magazine, we went really went all out to focus on that touch and feel. The paper weight is heavier; the covers are heavier than whatever other luxury magazines we’re comparing it to that are out there; if you’re looking at a Robb Report or a Veranda, or any of these luxury lifestyle magazines.

On how he took that idea and actually turned it into a printed magazine: It wasn’t so much of a moment as a long process, particularly because no one in the company had any background or knowledge of the magazine industry. We had looked at companies outsourcing some of the publications and the production of the magazine, so we tried that and it didn’t really match what we had envisioned. What we ended up with was more like a catalog, which was not what we were going for. We went through a number of iterations and it one thing after another began to fall into place. We started reaching out to anybody that we could talk to: our friends in the industry and outside the industry, anybody who was a writer so that we could start putting together some of the articles first. Each step we would reach out to people and the nice thing was, people were very, not just willing, but excited to help us on this.

On the biggest stumbling block they faced and how they overcame it: Up to now it was more a series of small stumbling blocks, nothing huge in and of itself, but again, not knowing anything about magazines, every little thing was difficult. When we were dealing with deadlines, the pressure was enormous. We were up late nights designing and this and that, so the whole process was pretty intense. I’ll give you an example. Very close to the end, when we were just hitting up against our deadline and we realized that we needed photo credits, so suddenly there was this nightmare, disaster situation where we had no idea how to put together photo credits.

On the plan for future issues: Probably Q2 of next year, we’d like to do the next issue at this point. We will be reaching out to advertisers and reaching out again to some of those people who wanted to get involved and other people in the jewelry world, and hopefully getting this to critical mass. One of the ideas behind this is to partner with retailers for distribution. We really want to ramp up the distribution pretty quickly through those partnerships. That’s all part of the plan in the next several months.

On how he plans to use Bling-Scene as a vessel to open up the jewelry industry and create a relationship between the audience and the fine jewelry market: Some of the things that we want to do are write feature stories about various vendors or manufacturers and that type of thing. And we want to also feature retailers, but obviously the retailers are more in the public eye, vendors are not. And the manufacturers and the brands don’t have as much exposure. So, bringing the audience into that world, educating them about how the jewelry environment works; there are a lot of issues in the industry right now, with blood diamonds and lab-grown diamonds, things like that. We want to educate them and also get them excited about jewelry.

On why he thinks fine jewelry magazines have been so few and far between in publishing: The only thing I can say on that is, again, the nature of the industry is fairly reserved and conservative, along with the lack of marketing. De Beers did the marketing job for the industry for decades and it was a service, but in a sense it left a vacuum in the industry where no one really had to think about it. So, when they pulled out, it’s a vacuum that hasn’t gotten filled yet.

On whether he’s more of a print lover now than a stone lover: Yes, we’re actually in love with and very excited by this project, almost more so than with what we’ve been doing in the jewelry world. From the day we started this and began producing content, I realized that it just amplifies everything that we love about jewelry and about everything we’re doing on the jewelry side. It makes that even more special, to be reaching out to people and engaging with our customers.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly at his home one evening: Either playing with my son or reading various kinds of news, foreign policy and technology type news. Those are two of my hobbies. But you would probably find me playing with my five-year-old son.

On what keeps him up at night: Our factories and back office are in India where we do our manufacturing, so certainly talking to them and trying to stay in touch with the other side of the world is one thing, and the other would be ideas like Bling-Scene and other marketing ideas that we as a group, my family and Orlando and others in the company; we get very excited. We start geeking out on very small ideas that probably most people wouldn’t be very excited about, but we can talk about them for hours or lay awake thinking about them for hours.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Neil Shah, publisher, Bling-Scene Magazine.

Samir Husni: Would you give me a little background on the idea behind Bling-Scene and why you decided to launch a print magazine in this day and age?

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-8-48-38-amNeil Shah: My family and I run a jewelry company; my father, brother and myself, and we also have a partner, a gentleman by the name of Orlando Altamar. And he’s sort of the creative direction in the company.

It was originally Orlando’s idea, which he’s had for several years. He had noticed basically that in the jewelry industry there was no print magazine. There’s a luxury lifestyle print magazine for car-lovers, cigar-lovers; any kind of interest or passion that people might have, but in the jewelry industry it’s kind of a missing niche. So, he’d had this idea for several years and when he joined our company, he brought it to us and I thought it was a great idea and a great concept. And print is a great platform for us as a jewelry company, manufacturer and a designer brand, to showcase ourselves as well.

But we didn’t quite act on it at first. I was jogging one day and listening to iTunes and started listening to the iTunes Music Festival. I began wondering what this iTunes Music Festival was all about, and for some reason it hit me like an epiphany. It’s not just a phone, and it’s not just iTunes, and it’s not just a way to download music; it’s a lifestyle. It’s a whole experience.

And that’s when it hit me what Bling-Scene is; it’s a way of indulging; a way for jewelry lovers to indulge in this. And it’s a way for the industry to collaborate and create content surrounding jewelry and create a lifestyle and to immerse people in that lifestyle.

Traditionally, the jewelry industry is a fairly reserved, somewhat protective or secretive industry, and in this day and time it’s time for people to come together and collaborate and this is what we envisioned. When we started talking about it with people, we got a somewhat powerful reaction and everybody wanted to get involved and that’s what really hit home with us. It’s an incredible way for people to collaborate.

Samir Husni: And why did you think for such a luxury magazine that print would be the best medium in this digital age?

Neil Shah: We may launch a digital version at some point, but jewelry is very tactile. Orlando, as our designer, is a very visual and tactile guy. The experience is different. In fact, there are many blogs and that kind of thing out there for the jewelry industry. There’s a lot of social media influence, but what was missing was that touch and feel. And if you notice the magazine, we went really went all out to focus on that touch and feel. The paper weight is heavier; the covers are heavier than whatever other luxury magazines we’re comparing it to that are out there; if you’re looking at a Robb Report or a Veranda, or any of these luxury lifestyle magazines. We’ve gone probably beyond that, in terms of the weight and the feel of it.

Samir Husni: After you had that a-ha moment when you were jogging and listening to iTunes, how did that epiphany manifest itself into an actual, physical, printed magazine?

Neil Shah: That wasn’t so much of a moment as a long process, particularly because no one in the company had any background or knowledge of the magazine industry. We had looked at companies outsourcing some of the publications and the production of the magazine, so we tried that and it didn’t really match what we had envisioned. What we ended up with was more like a catalog, which was not what we were going for.

So, we went through a number of iterations and it one thing after another began to fall into place. We started reaching out to anybody that we could talk to: our friends in the industry and outside the industry, anybody who was a writer so that we could start putting together some of the articles first. Each step we would reach out to people and the nice thing was, people were very, not just willing, but excited to help us on this. Everyone was very eager to get involved because they loved the idea, and all the more so with every step when it started coming together. The articles were amazing and layout of the pages looked beautiful. So, at every step people became more excited about it and more interested in getting involved.

We got a number of our friends involved in helping us with articles. Orlando put together a lot of the advertisements and the graphics. It was a long process, but we got through it.

Samir Husni: What was the biggest stumbling block during that process and how did you overcome it?

Neil Shah: Up to now it was more a series of small stumbling blocks, nothing huge in and of itself, but again, not knowing anything about magazines, every little thing was difficult. When we were dealing with deadlines, the pressure was enormous. We were up late nights designing and this and that, so the whole process was pretty intense.

I’ll give you an example. Very close to the end, when we were just hitting up against our deadline and we realized that we needed photo credits, so suddenly there was this nightmare, disaster situation where we had no idea how to put together photo credits. And then we looked at some other magazines and talked to a couple of people and it became clear, and it’s really not a big deal, but initially when we realized that we were trying to go to print and we had no photo credits it was almost a nightmare. Just things like that, a series of little stumbling blocks that meant a lot of work and a lot of late nights.

But probably the biggest challenge ahead of us is getting this to a point where it can sustain itself and launching it commercially, then getting it to a critical mass, in terms of defining the revenue model; that will probably be the biggest challenge that’s still ahead of us.

Samir Husni: Now that the first issue is out, what’s the plan for the future and next issues?

Neil Shah: Probably Q2 of next year, we’d like to do the next issue at this point. We will be reaching out to advertisers and reaching out again to some of those people who wanted to get involved and other people in the jewelry world, and hopefully getting this to critical mass.

One of the ideas behind this is to partner with retailers for distribution. We really want to ramp up the distribution pretty quickly through those partnerships. That’s all part of the plan in the next several months.

Samir Husni: One of the things that you mentioned earlier is that this has always been a really closed and secretive type of industry. How do you plan to use this magazine as a vessel to open up the industry and create this relationship between the audience, whether it’s the retailer or the customer, and the jewelry market?

Neil Shah: That’s a great question. Some of the things that we want to do are write feature stories about various vendors or manufacturers and that type of thing. And we want to also feature retailers, but obviously the retailers are more in the public eye, vendors are not. And the manufacturers and the brands don’t have as much exposure. So, bringing the audience into that world, educating them about how the jewelry environment works; there are a lot of issues in the industry right now, with blood diamonds and lab-grown diamonds, things like that. We want to educate them and also get them excited about jewelry.

In terms of marketing in the jewelry industry, traditionally it has been dominated by De Beers, but several years ago De Beers kind of stepped away from that and the industry hasn’t really found its footing, in terms of how to engage with the millennial audience. The hot topic in the industry publications right now; everyday it’s another story about how do we as an industry engage with millennials and this is one of our answers to that question; to put out a magazine like this and not just for jewelry, but open it up to lifestyle partner with other industries as well. We’d love to partner with a vineyard in something like this. In the magazine there are articles about resorts, hotels and vineyards; fashion and other things like that. We want to see collaboration, not just within the industry, but the industry reaching out to collaborate with other lifestyle brands and work together.

Samir Husni: Why do you think such a luxurious topic as in fine jewelry and romancing the stone hasn’t produced any publications devoted to that niche, while if you go to the newsstand you can find several magazines on watches? Why the lack in magazines about actual fine jewelry?

Neil Shah: The only thing I can say on that is, again, the nature of the industry is fairly reserved and conservative, along with the lack of marketing. De Beers did the marketing job for the industry for decades and it was a service, but in a sense it left a vacuum in the industry where no one really had to think about it. So, when they pulled out, it’s a vacuum that hasn’t gotten filled yet. That ability for us as an industry to relate to the consumer and reach out to them isn’t something that I think we’re just starting to do now.

Samir Husni: Are you now more of a print lover than a stone lover?

Neil Shah: (Laughs) Yes, we’re actually in love with and very excited by this project, almost more so than with what we’ve been doing in the jewelry world. From the day we started this and began producing content, I realized that it just amplifies everything that we love about jewelry and about everything we’re doing on the jewelry side. It makes that even more special, to be reaching out to people and engaging with our customers.

And it brings home the purpose of the jewelry in the first place, celebrating and commemorating special events in people’s lives. This is a way for us to carry on that connection.

Samir Husni: If I showed up at your home one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing, reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching television; polishing a big rock; or something else?

Neil Shah: (Laughs) Either playing with my son or reading various kinds of news, foreign policy and technology type news. Those are two of my hobbies. But you would probably find me playing with my five-year-old son.

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

Neil Shah: Our factories and back office are in India where we do our manufacturing, so certainly talking to them and trying to stay in touch with the other side of the world is one thing, and the other would be ideas like Bling-Scene and other marketing ideas that we as a group, my family and Orlando and others in the company; we get very excited. We start geeking out on very small ideas that probably most people wouldn’t be very excited about, but we can talk about them for hours or lay awake thinking about them for hours. And we also get on the phone with each other at 11:00 p.m. and don’t hang up until 2:00 a.m. (Laughs) And our wives are asking us what we’re doing on the phone at 2 in the morning. Hang up the phone and go to sleep. But we just get carried away with those ideas.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Mr. Magazine’s™ Presents min 30 Hottest Launches For 2016!

October 5, 2016

mr-magazine-by-robert-jordanIt’s that time again; time for the 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Year (October 2015 through September 2016) and 2016 was an absolutely bona fide year for new magazines. Content was diverse and designs were divine and they just kept coming each and every month. Happily, new magazines have shown no signs of slowing down over the years, even with the naysayers predicting the death of print. That magazines were, are and always will be a reflector of our society and a concrete part of it forever is a fact that Mr. Magazine™ said all along and will continue to say as long as there are human beings to hear it.

Once again, in conjunction with min; we will be presenting the awards to the 30 Hottest Launches at a breakfast celebration on December, 8, 2016 at the Yale Club in New York City. The event will begin at 8:00 a.m. and conclude at 10:00 a.m. Along with the 30 Hottest, we will also announce and present awards to: The Hottest Publisher for 2016, The Hottest Editor for 2016, and The Number One Hottest Launch for 2016. This year promises to be one of the best yet! So join us for all of the fun and excitement!

Since beginning this very daunting task of selecting the 30 Hottest Launches, considering the love I have for all magazines, many have asked what the qualifications for making Mr. Magazine’s ™ list for the 30 Hottest Launches are and the first and foremost qualifying factor is you have to be a magazine. And if you’re not print, you’re not a magazine. Some might think that consideration is pretty obvious, I do; however, in this digital age, you might be surprised at what some consider a magazine.

The next qualifying factor is the time frame. The magazines chosen had to be published between the months of October, 2015 through September, 2016, and there were a total of 790 new magazines for that period that we had actual physical copies of, with 217 of those having regular frequency. The quality content and amazing designs were beyond the pale and selecting only 30 out of the 217 with promised frequency was almost impossible. Almost.

But when Mr. Magazine™ has a job to do, he gets it done. How is the actual selection process conducted, you might ask? It’s simple really, yet as complex as the cosmos. Between the months of October 2015 through September 2016, all new magazine titles with a regular frequency and that we have actual physical copies of are carefully considered for this very important list. The chosen magazines are selected based on a certain criteria.

In reaching my decision on what makes a hot magazine, by far the number one criteria point is the audience’s reaction to that magazine. How did the overall marketplace react and how did its intended audience respond to it? And just as important; how did the industry behave toward it? These questions are the first thing I ask upon selection of the hottest 30. And once I’ve answered those initial questions, then I really get down to work. Remember my mantra: Audience First.

For example, major industry leaders’ launching new print magazines certainly is something that must be recognized because it speaks of the power of the medium. These people aren’t in the business of wasting dollars on something that has no value, especially when those new babies are some of the absolutely best of the best. This time around there was new offerings from publishing giants such as Condé Nast, Meredith and the southern-born Hoffman Media. For companies as distinguished and successful as these to create and bring new titles into this digital world signifies the good health and power of print.

And then there are the entrepreneurs, with their vision and determination to launch their magazine no matter the cost to their wallets and their emotions; they are no less amazing. Some of the best titles I’ve seen in a long time are among our Top 30 and they come from relatively unknown publishers who are not without experience, just without the stolid names that audiences know so well. Magazines such as: Kazoo, Jarry and Pallet.

So, the criteria for selection is based on factors that include creativity and audience reaction first and foremost, and then industry trends and as always, those rogue wildcards out there that just won’t be denied and seem to make some of the best magazines around.

Also, something has to grab my attention to be selected as a hot new launch, based on the comparative analysis of all the other magazines that are out there. To me, every new magazine is a good magazine. Any new launch is a good launch. I’ve always said my connection to ink on paper is a mutual one, but one that chose me first, albeit willingly. The passion that I have for magazines is not one that I can deny, nor do I even want to. We are connected and I love it.

So, without further ado, here are the 30 Hottest Launches for 2016 in alphabetical order:

B Magazine

B Magazine

Bake from Scratch

Bake from Scratch

Beekman 1802 Almanac

Beekman 1802 Almanac

Celebrity Page

Celebrity Page

Classic Sewing

Classic Sewing

Color Magic!

Color Magic!

FabUplus

FabUplus

Forged

Forged

Galerie

Galerie

GQ Style

GQ Style

Hola!

Hola!

Interior Design Homes

Interior Design Homes

J-14 Decorate!

J-14 Decorate!


Jarry

Jarry

Kazoo

Kazoo

Live with Heart and Soul

Live with Heart and Soul

Living the Country Life

Living the Country Life

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet

Misadventures

Misadventures

My Herbs

My Herbs

Pallet

Pallet

Permaculture

Permaculture

Providence

Providence

Southern Cast Iron

Southern Cast Iron

Spoonful

Spoonful


SwimSwam

SwimSwam

Tablet

Tablet

The Clever Root

The Clever Root


Tread

Tread

Women's Golf Journal

Women’s Golf Journal

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WOTH Magazine: “Wonderful Things” Happen Between The Pages Of This New Dutch Launch – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Publisher, Toon Lauwen & Founding Editor, Mary Hessing

September 22, 2016

A Mr. Magazine™ Launch Story…

01covereng

“We decided to make a print magazine because we wanted it to be a beautiful thing and we thought about design and designers and the way they work, for them materials are very important. We also thought about their skills and the stories behind their ideas for the product. We figured for the magazine, for the media in which we’re telling these stories, it’s the same. So, this is something that you want to hold in your hands, something that materializes. It’s not that we don’t want to have any digital additions, but we want it to be something that you can cherish and keep and something that you can hold and feel the paper, because it’s the same with design.” Mary Hessing

“We also want to reach out to a larger community than the Dutch one, because that’s the reason we took it into an English version too, to have a larger exposure and make it possible to be more European. And that’s also a twist of the necessary optimism it takes to move forward. We tried to show the quality of the magazine with the paper, the lettering and the typeface, etc.” Toon Lauwen

Woth Wonderful Things is a new lifestyle magazine focused on interiors and design, but one done in a more personal way, with strong visuals and content about people and objects that are so interesting they make you wonder about them and the innovative creativity they display that stirs imaginations.

Real-life couple, Toon Lauwen and Mary Hessing, who are based in The Hague in the Netherlands, created this beautiful new publication, and between their support network of longstanding Dutch designers and professionals they have both been involved with for decades, Mary is a former editor in chief for Dutch design magazine Eigen Huis & Interieur, and her partner Toon has been in the business for decades, they started a crowdfunding campaign and made the design dream magazine a reality.

00000663portraitmaryhessingvoorinternet-photo-brenda-van-leeuwenI spoke with both Toon and Mary recently and we talked about their vision for this outstanding new magazine. The deep sentiments of a personal relationship with both the reader and the subject matter that Mary so strongly believes in, and the focus on good content and magnificent writing that Toon strives for with each and every word and page; it’s clear the two of them have a passion for Woth that will only grow and flourish.

So, I hope you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ interview with two people who made a dream into a reality with hard work, creative ideas and superb content, and a network of people who believe in this magazine as much as they do, Toon Lauwen, Publisher, and Founding Editor, Mary Hessing, Woth Wonderful Things Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On the idea behind the magazine and why they decided on a print product (Mary Hessing): We decided to make a print magazine because we wanted it to be a beautiful thing and we thought about design and designers and the way they work, for them materials are very important. We also thought about their skills and the stories behind their ideas for the product. We figured for the magazine, for the media in which we’re telling these stories, it’s the same. So, this is something that you want to hold in your hands, something that materializes.

On why they chose to publish it in an English version (Mary Hessing): Because we have very good connections in Holland with Dutch designers. And Dutch designers are worldwide and that’s very important in this industry. And I think that we have the best commitment for making good content. And we’re trying to broaden our scope and bring it to the world, not only to Holland.

jwk_1653On whether it was easy to market the magazine (Toon Lauwen): Initially we started out with an idea, so we made a crowdfunding campaign, Indiegogo. So, we did interviews and Mary did that to engage our public with the new idea of this magazine. As an independent, we had to start out using a network that we already had. I have been doing this for over 20 years. Mary is the figurehead, so to speak, and she has actually done a lot of good footwork with those designers and brands in Italy and all over Europe to make all of those connections, also with the advertisers.

On any stumbling blocks they had to face and how they overcame them (Mary Hessing): What was really difficult was we started out with no money, with just this idea, so we asked a lot of people to help us. We did the crowdfunding campaign, but even before that we had been asking people from our network if they would help us out with the content. And I received all positive responses, everyone was really supportive and really thought we should do the magazine. Everybody felt there was a need for a project like this and that it would definitely get off the ground. Then we did the crowdfunding campaign, and I also asked the people I used to work with, most of them are freelancers now, to help us out with making the magazine.

On how difficult it was as a couple working together (Toon Lauwen): We’ve worked together before, of course. But then I was writing for a former magazine, but now we’re really teaming up because we’re both responsible for getting it to the printer and getting the bills paid, etc. We’re a business team. And that does take some adjustment, but on the other hand it’s also something we like to do. With our house, we did it together.

On what they hope the magazine has achieved in one year (Mary Hessing): I would really like the magazine to have a solid base and have a strong and healthy existence. And that it has secured its right to exist. And I want it to stand out independently from other magazines.

01coverengOn anything else they’d like to add (Mary Hessing): I’d like to emphasize that Dutch Designer Gert Dumbar made our logo. He’s an old family friend of mine and he did this as a favor to us. And I’m really proud of it. It’s so funny because I asked this really elderly gentleman to make something really bold and daring and fantastic, and when I asked him for the logo for “Wonderful Things,” he thought the word Woth was a strange and intriguing word. It’s such a strong logo and I think in a way there’s a little bit of the 1980s influence there, and I think it’s interesting because everybody is now looking at the ‘80s for inspiration and we have the real thing.

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at their home (Mary Hessing): I would probably be putting my children to bed which takes forever. (Laughs) I always like to make up with them for all of the things I missed during the day, so that takes time.

On what someone would find them doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at their home (Toon Lauwen): I might be watching a documentary or reading a book. I read about history a lot.

On what keeps them up at night (Mary Hessing): Living up to expectations from other people, not normally, but especially about this project.

On what keeps them up at night (Toon Lauwen): I’m always reasoning in my head about a tagline, or just some small thing. I’ve been a worrier since I was young; it’s my nature. (Laughs)

ton-of-hollandspreadAnd now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Toon Lauwen, Publisher, and Founding Editor, Mary Hessing, Woth Wonderful Things Magazine.

Samir Husni: Tell me the idea behind the magazine and why you decided to launch a print publication in this digital age?

Mary Hessing: We decided to make a print magazine because we wanted it to be a beautiful thing and we thought about design and designers and the way they work, for them materials are very important. We also thought about their skills and the stories behind their ideas for the product. We figured for the magazine, for the media in which we’re telling these stories, it’s the same. So, this is something that you want to hold in your hands, something that materializes. It’s not that we don’t want to have any digital additions, but we want it to be something that you can cherish and keep and something that you can hold and feel the paper, because it’s the same with design.

Samir Husni: And why did you publish in an English version as well?

Mary Hessing: Because we have very good connections in Holland with Dutch designers. And Dutch designers are worldwide and that’s very important in this industry. And I think that we have the best commitment for making good content. And we’re trying to broaden our scope and bring it to the world, not only to Holland.

Samir Husni: Toon, as the publisher, how easy was it for you to market the magazine? You’re a great team and you have a known editor and the Dutch design is known all over the world. What was the reaction when you first went and tried to sell an ad or tried to get some sponsorship for the magazine?

Toon Lauwen: Initially we started out with an idea, so we made a crowdfunding campaign, Indiegogo. So, we did interviews and Mary did that to engage our public with the new idea of this magazine. As an independent, we had to start out using a network that we already had. I have been doing this for over 20 years. Mary is the figurehead, so to speak, and she has actually done a lot of good footwork with those designers and brands in Italy and all over Europe to make all of those connections, also with the advertisers.

That footwork really enabled us to make direct contact with the advertisers, the bosses of those brands, to ask them to support our magazine in the middle of the year, because we started out in May or June. So, our campaign was concentrated in mid-season, summer. It wasn’t a piece of cake, that’s for sure.

But nevertheless, we’ve found a true optimism with the people and an involvement with them at the brands, helping us out, buying advertisements, and also with the readership through subscriptions and single issues, just based on a campaign or an idea and largely dependent on an image that Mary put out as an editor in chief of the title that she worked at before.

Samir Husni: Was it all just a stroll through a rose garden, or should I say; a tulip walk…

Toon Lauwen: (Laughs).

Samir Husni: …that you had no stumbling blocks and no problems? Or did you have stumbling blocks, and if so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

portretten-ronald-vd-kempMary Hessing: What was really difficult was we started out with no money, with just this idea, so we asked a lot of people to help us. We did the crowdfunding campaign, but even before that we had been asking people from our network if they would help us out with the content. And I received all positive responses, everyone was really supportive and really thought we should do the magazine. Everybody felt there was a need for a project like this and that it would definitely get off the ground. Then we did the crowdfunding campaign, and I also asked the people I used to work with, most of them are freelancers now, to help us out with making the magazine.

So, we had the contacts and the crowdfunding. Then we had to actually make the pages. And everyone helped us for as long as they could, but at the end of the day we’re the only ones responsible for getting it to the printers. We are really grateful and happy that everybody was so supportive and helpful, but it can only stretch so far.

Samir Husni: How difficult is it for you as a couple to work together?

Toon Lauwen: It’s really easy because I’m writing a lot, so my concentration is totally different. To begin with, I work best in the mornings and Mary works at night, until 2 or 3:00 a.m. I’m always reasoning in my head what to write, which usually takes a lot of time and concentration for me. But now there was no time for that. We had to produce a lot of text.

Mary Hessing: You are two different people in your thought patterns, but also on energy levels as well. So, I work at night and normally I sleep very well. But these days, with the magazine, sleep was very difficult, so I was awake a lot. I would go to bed late and rise really early because I knew there were things we had to do for the magazine. So I would just do it.

Toon Lauwen: We’ve worked together before, of course. But then I was writing for a former magazine, but now we’re really teaming up because we’re both responsible for getting it to the printer and getting the bills paid, etc. We’re a business team. And that does take some adjustment, but on the other hand it’s also something we like to do. With our house, we did it together.

Mary Hessing: We renovated 15,000 squares and we’re still together, so I think we can argue, but we will manage. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: If we’re talking one year from now about the magazine; what do you hope you could tell me that Woth had achieved in that year?

Mary Hessing: I would really like the magazine to have a solid base and have a strong and healthy existence. And that it has secured its right to exist. And I want it to stand out independently from other magazines.

Toon Lauwen: We started out as a new title, typically niche, since it’s about design. And the name itself, calling it “Wonderful Things,” we want it to reach out to people with its ideas and its motivation of people who work with design, but not only designers, just anyone creative in general, chefs and any other professions. So, we made the format a bit broader that just the theory of design only. That’s what we were trying to do with the title, “Wonderful Things,” and the brand.

mary437defbwphotokasiagatkowskaMary Hessing: Also, I wrote for many years for two other design titles and working with design can be difficult. When you look at all of the living magazines around the world, a lot are based on the same formula and it’s very difficult to make it personal, so we’re really trying to find a way to make Woth personal. And we’re doing this by focusing on the creatives. Whatever we do we want to put them central. And in a way I think this could be like a human interest idea for a design and interior decorating magazine. I think people are interested in these people in the magazine; they’re superstars in a way, and they have a very nice way of living and great view of the world, so we really want to speak to them on a personal level.

This is what we’re aiming for. We want it to be personal. What I get back from people is the way it’s written, it is really personal.

Toon Lauwen: We also want to reach out to a larger community than the Dutch one, because that’s the reason we took it into an English version too, to have a larger exposure and make it possible to be more European. And that’s also a twist of the necessary optimism it takes to move forward. We tried to show the quality of the magazine with the paper, the lettering and the typeface, etc.

So, we hope that we can answer your question about where we’ll be in a year by saying we have evolved from a local niche magazine to bit more European, and that we even have a global reach.

Mary Hessing: Because of my work, I’ve been visiting countries and people everywhere and there is this connection between people, the way that they look at their lives, the way they live them. The people I work with, the agents and photographers internationally; these are all very nice and interesting people. I feel like there’s already a connection and I’d really like this magazine to be a magnet for that as well

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

Mary Hessing: I’d like to emphasize that Dutch Designer Gert Dumbar made our logo. He’s an old family friend of mine and he did this as a favor to us. And I’m really proud of it.

Samir Husni: It really looks good.

Mary Hessing: It’s so funny because I asked this really elderly gentleman to make something really bold and daring and fantastic, and when I asked him for the logo for “Wonderful Things,” he thought the word Woth was a strange and intriguing word. It’s such a strong logo and I think in a way there’s a little bit of the 1980s influence there, and I think it’s interesting because everybody is now looking at the ‘80s for inspiration and we have the real thing. He’s from the spirit, so I think this is very interesting that all these other people are copying this idea and we have the real thing.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing; would you be reading a magazine, your iPad, watching television, or something else?

Mary Hessing: I would probably be putting my children to bed which takes forever. (Laughs) I always like to make up with them for all of the things I missed during the day, so that takes time.

Toon Lauwen: I might be watching a documentary or reading a book. I read about history a lot.

Mary Hessing: He’s also a great cook and he always says that he cooks and it’s his gift to us and it is. But actually it’s his hobby, his way to relax.

Samir Husni: And you’re based in The Hague, correct?

Mary Hessing: Yes, we are.

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

Mary Hessing: Living up to expectations from other people, not normally, but especially about this project.

Toon Lauwen: I’m always reasoning in my head about a tagline, or just some small thing. I’ve been a worrier since I was young; it’s my nature. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor: August 2016 Vs. August 2015

September 2, 2016

Launch Monitor August 2016 vs 2015

To see all the new titles of 2016 so far please click here.

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