Archive for the ‘Words of Wisdom’ Category

h1

Nothing New Under The Sun… Words of Wisdom and Words of Warning From A Century Ago

March 26, 2020

From The Vault…

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

“If you do not put good men into office bad men will put themselves in.” Calvin Coolidge, April 24, 1920

When it comes to journalism and the media, the platforms may change, but the message is still the same.  Today is just like yesterday and tomorrow is going to be like today.  There is really nothing new under the sun. A new twist from here, another from there, but at the end of the day, it is all the same.

Take a look at the April 24, 1920 (yes, you read that right), Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, The Oldest Illustrated Weekly Newspaper In The United States then, and my aforementioned statement will be as clear as crystal.

The cover shows a grim-fisted Uncle Sam with an open and empty U.S. Treasury safe box. The headline touts The Red Success in Russia and on the editorial page under the tag line: “STAND BY THE FLAG: IN GOD WE TRUST” has a guest note from Stephen C. Mason, then president of Association of Manufacturers.  Under the heading  “We Need the Open Shop,” he writes:

“The only truly American standard is the open shop, with equal opportunity for all. I believe every good citizen will agree with us that the time has arrived when organized labor in the United States had better take stock of its policies and practices from a thoroughly American standpoint. The American people are no longer going to accept lip service from those organizations which are leading the nation to the brink of the most serious economic and social crisis in our history. Oft-repeated declarations of Americanism and frequent disclaimers of Bolshevistic beliefs are not sufficient to conceal their constant efforts to stimulate unsound and dangerous industrial theories.”

I asked professor Joe Atkins, my colleague at The University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media, and our resident expert on labor unions and all things labor, to comment on Mr. Mason’s editorial.

His response: “Sounds like classic “Red Scare” verbiage from that era, a time when J. Edgar Hoover and the predecessor to the modern FBI were raiding unions and shutting down foreign language newspapers (the so-called “Palmer Raids”), all in the name of “democracy” when in reality it was a kind of American brand of fascism. All a “closed shop” means is a worker at a unionized factory shouldn’t enjoy the hard-won benefits that the union fought and struggled for without being a member of that union. All an “open shop” is, is a sweet-sounding effort to destroy the union.”

Another article entitled All Progress The Result of Economy (with great advice from a man who ended up being president himself, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge) and a subtitle: Some plain truth from Calvin Coolidge, “The Silent Man on Beacon Hill.”

By Fred John Splitstone

But the most amazing part of that interview was this section:

“The Men We Need in Office

“Here I thought of a remark made that morning by one of the Governor’s friends, who said: “The ruler of Italy is credited with saying that being a king is a business like any other, and that it is the duty of one who follows it to make good on the job. That is the conception that Calvin Coolidge has of office-holding, and he has devoted the past twenty-two years of his life to fitting himself to make good in whatever capacity the people may call him.”

I asked the Governor how we were going to get the kind of men he specified into public office.

“By each citizen realizing and doing his duty at the polls. If you do not put good men into office bad men will put themselves in. If you put good men into the elective offices they will see that the subordinate administrative places are properly filled. What we require, both in State and National affairs, is a class of officers who realize that the duty the government now owes to the people is to reduce their burdens by paying off the obligations that came from the war, rather than imposing additional burdens for the support of new projects. Government expenses must be reduced from a war to a peace basis.”

True words of wisdom, yesterday, today and tomorrow…

And as Robert Heinlein once wrote…
“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.”

Peace in our times and stay well, stay safe and stay inside….

 

h1

Steve Cohn On B. Smith’s Magazine Missing Link… A Mr. Magazine™ Guest Blog

March 3, 2020

My friend Steve Cohn, a legend in the magazine media reporting world, was the editor in chief of MIN: Media Industry Newsletter for more than 30 years. It is rare to find anyone in the magazine media world who does not know Steve or who was not touched by his more-than-positive style of media reporting.  When he retired, he left a void in the world of magazine media reporting, a void, I am quick to add, that has not been filled yet.

So, without any further ado, here is a column by Steve that I am honored and proud to host on the Mr. Magazine™ Blog.

B. Smith Style was a blemish in the late entrepreneur’s remarkable career

By Steve Cohn

After Barbara Smith (1949-2020) passed away on February 22 following a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, her obituaries recapped the remarkable life of a woman who rose from obscurity to becoming a successful model (in 1976, she became the second African-American to be on a Mademoiselle cover) and a successful businesswoman.  By 1999, Smith—who by then had branded her first name as “B.”—owned three restaurants (near Times Square, on Long Island’s East End, and in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station), authored cooking and lifestyle books, had product lines in Bed, Bath and Beyond and La-Z-Boy, and had a syndicated TV show.

Very Martha Stewart-ish (though Stewart has yet to own a restaurant), and in December 1999 Smith further emulated Stewart by launching B. Smith Style with her husband and business manager Dan Gasby.  “It was a lifestyle bimonthly that had the ‘back-office’ financial support [printing, etc.] of Time Inc.,” says University of Mississippi journalism professor Samir Husni, who, as “Mr. Magazine,” has charted launches in his annual Guide to New Magazines since the mid-1980s.

Time Inc. was following the game plan that it established with Martha Stewart with the 1990 launch of Martha Stewart Living.  That, too, was in tandem with Stewart’s TV show to the degree that MSL’s circulation quickly surpassed 2 million. The success emboldened Stewart to end her relationship with Time Inc. in 1997 and form Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (which went public in 1998 and was sold in 2015 when she established a magazine partnership with Meredith Corp.). With Smith being portrayed as “the next Martha,” B. Smith Style seemingly filled a Time Inc. void.

I recall as Media Industry Newsletter (min) editor-in-chief having lunch with Smith and Gasby shortly after the launch, and they were bubbling with optimism.  And why not?  The magazine-media economy was generally buoyant in early-2000 with strong automotive, beauty/fashion and packaged-goods categories augmented by pharmaceutical following the Food & Drug Administration allowing prescription drugs to be advertised in consumer media.

But they never discussed a business plan (circulation forecast, etc.), and that turned out to be a red flag.  I heard nary a word about B. Smith Style after my meeting, and in December 2000 the magazine quietly folded.

Why?  “Lack of advertising,” says Husni.

One would have thought that Time Inc. management would have urged Smith and Gasby to follow Stewart’s role model and hire seasoned professionals on the business side to strengthen advertising, marketing and public relations.  “They had huge egos and would not listen,” say sources familiar with the matter. “Further, the pressure caused by the effects from the disastrous [January 2000] Time Warner merger with AOL probably lessened Time Inc.’s oversight.”

The African-American magazine community has always been known for being very supportive.  Essence (which profiled B. Smith as she was becoming a celebrity) had a kinship with Black Enterprise because both launched in 1970 with help from the Nixon administration’s “Black Capitalism” program. The late Ebony (1945) and Jet (1951) founder John Johnson was the role model for Essence founders Ed Lewis and Clarence Smith and their BE counterpart Earl Graves.

But I was told that Smith and Gasby never sought any outside advice or sale.  “They were arrogant.”

How sad, because B. Smith Style could have made an excellent complement to the women’s beauty-and-lifestyle Essence, which was owned by Time Inc. from 2005 until just prior to the company’s 2018 acquisition by Meredith Corp.

We can only surmise what would have happened to B. Smith Style in the 21st century with digitization and her illness. But given Smith’s talent and fans, the magazine deserved to be a larger part of her legacy.

h1

“Is Print Media Obsolete?” – “Can You Physically Feel, Smell Or Touch The Internet?” Question Answered.

September 27, 2019

I bought the latest issue of Centennial Media’s Flea Market Home & Living recently, a magazine filled with great ideas and gorgeous images. And when I came upon the Editor’s Letter of this issue, as usual, as I do with all my magazines, I couldn’t wait to read it. The question was put out there that everyone in the industry may have asked themselves at one point in time: “Is Print Media Obsolete?” I was blown away by the eloquence and truth of Editor in Chief, Lisa Marie Hart’s answer, comparing a beautiful ink on paper publication to a weekend flea market overflowing with “great old stuff.” As I held the magazine in my hand and read her words, I knew what she was saying. That while many today may still think print is dead or dying, the proof is in the “paper,” so to speak. You can’t replace experiencing an intriguing flea market on a beautiful Saturday morning with just visiting a website. Same goes for experiencing a lustrous ink on paper magazine, pixels just can’t compare! Print Media will never be obsolete!

From the Editor

Since the mid-1990s, when I graduated as a magazine journalism major, there have been times we’ve all wondered, “Is print media obsolete?” When the dot.com boom arrived, and a fallen economy forced iconic magazines to publish their final issues, we feared the worst.

All for naught. We’ve learned that beautiful publications printed on real paper – just like weekend flea markets bursting with displays of great old stuff – can’t be replaced by online reading or shopping. As humans, we innately respond to the sense of touch.

At its best, the internet widens our perspective, reveals the heritage of antique finds and forges authentic connections.

h1

RAVE – A Magazine NOT For Idiots Or Advertising Either – A Mr. Magazine™ Blast From The Past, Circa April, 1953

July 18, 2019

You may have noticed lately that I am not as active on the blog as usual.  Two reasons for that, first, the summer break and second, working on two books, the first on how to launch a magazine and the second on the magazines of the 1950s.

RAVE was a magazine that showcased Hollywood stars, business tycoons, East Coast & West Coast, and occasionally people and places across the pond.  From gossip to facts, the magazine brought the reader up close and personal with celebrities and others who led interesting and provocative lives. And it did it all without advertising. In fact, the premiere issue’s editorial made it a point to draw attention to that, noting, “We would not accept an advertisement of any description even if it were offered to us on a gold platter. Therefore, our choice of stories and pictures will never be influenced by advertising agencies or the counsels of public relations. We’ll call ’em as we see ’em….”

The circulation-based business model has always been a part of the world of magazines, not just in contemporary times. Bringing the reader unbiased information, with no outside interest influences, has been an attractive and often lucrative way for some magazines to exist for generations. This proves, yet again, that there is nothing new under the sun. Magazines have generated controversy and revenue in many interesting ways, and will continue to do so for eons to come. And in Mr. Magazine’s™ world, that is a very good thing.

So, I hope that you enjoy this Mr. Magazine™ Blast From the Past …

RAVE magazine – April 1953

THIS MAGAZINE IS NOT FOR IDIOTS!

Nor is it for those who believe in dodging facts.

It is our intention to dedicate this publication to men and women of clear minds with a reasonably high I.Q. We do not solicit children – the seven-year old children or the seventy-year old children.

We are not afraid of calling a spade a spade. And we do not propose to make this magazine a medium for selling soap and cigarettes, lipstick and shaving cream, breakfast foods and vitamins-we will never be scared of “losing lucrative accounts.” We would not accept an advertisement of any description even if it were offered to us on a gold platter. Therefore, our choice of stories and pictures will never be influenced by advertising agencies or the counsels of public relations. We’ll call ’em as we see ’em….

We have little sense of reverence. In fact, it is our deep-rooted conviction that there is entirely too much reverence on this planet. Therefore, we will never bow to the high placed frauds or pay lip-service to the well-publicized mountebanks.

We will provide words and pictures to illustrate the ever-changing spectacle of life in these United States. Once in awhile we’ll talk of other countries, too. But our main pre-occupation will be with what is going on at home. Movie stars and big business tycoons, bedrooms and drawing rooms, artists and “bad actors,” prophets and liars, Washington and New York, Hollywood and Miami Beach – we’ll deal with all of them and all of it in our magazine. We hope to provide real information and real fun.

Our representatives will never ring your doorbell and beg for a subscription. If you like us, and want to become friends, you will either walk to the nearest newsstand and ask for a copy of RAVE – or, if you live too far away from a newsstand, you will fill in the coupon below, cut it out and enclose it in a stamped envelope (together with three dollars in cash, check, or money order) and mail it to us.

So, good luck-best wishes-and all that sort of thing. We will see you again in two months…when the second issue of Rave will be available at your favorite newsstand.

h1

“Magazines Are The Antithesis Of The Online Experience. They Are The Best Slow Media Experience. Magazines Help People To Focus, To Slow Down, To Savor The Moment…” – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Anne Alexander, Editor, Mindful Magazine.

February 25, 2019

“That’s what I love about magazines, they’re such an intimate form of communication. When a magazine is done very, very well, I think that the reader feels an intimate connection with the writer, the editor, and the art director, and they have a beautiful experience. It’s a deep, rich experience.” Anne Alexander…

Mindful is a mission-driven non-profit brand, dedicated to inspiring, guiding, and connecting anyone who wants to explore mindfulness—to enjoy better health, more caring relationships, and a compassionate society. Anne Alexander is editor of the magazine and knows her way around multiplatform brands and content strategies. Anne is a New York Times bestselling author, she was editorial director for the National Geographic Society and also editorial director for the then Rodale’s Prevention brand, among many other leader positions.

And being editor of a brand that she is so very passionate about is a role that fits her perfectly. The field of mindfulness is one that is growing and proving to be a very important factor that many people are looking for in their hectic lives these days. And Anne is a firm believer in the brand’s signature mantra: Healthy Mind, Healthy Life. She believes the mind is a valuable resource that people are starting to realize needs protecting from the everyday stress and reflections of the past and the future that they’re often forced to think about. And she feels that Mindful is the voice of this emerging mindfulness community and the place to go for insight, information, and inspiration to help us all live more mindfully.

Anne thinks mindfulness is a unique and profound approach to social change, and the work a social innovation initiative. And that mindfulness is entering the mainstream and presents an historic opportunity to transform society.

From conferences and collaborations, Mindful is a contributing factor to the Mindfulness movement and keeps the integrity and expertise throughout the brand, relying on experts and researchers who have been in the field for years. It’s a fascinating topic and one that is exploding all over the country.

So, sit back in your favorite relaxed position and come into the moment as you become “Mindful” of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Anne Alexander, editor, Mindful Magazine.

But first the sound-bites:

On how she became editor of Mindful magazine: I had been at Rodale, and I had done a lot of consulting too, I’d had a whole series of fantastic consulting projects, and then I just really wanted to find a group of good people who were doing good work, work that was really meaningful. And so I just reached out to my network, and somebody I knew who knew somebody who knew somebody put me in touch with Barry Boyce and Jim Gimian, and we had a very lengthy conversation about mindfulness and editorial, and all sorts of things. So, really over a long period of time, we just decided there was a fit.

On why now for this huge public interest in mindfulness: I think the “why now” is because we’re experiencing a tremendous confluence of events, and stress is epidemic and mindfulness is one of those things that can help people destress. The instantaneous payoff is that mindfulness can help relieve stress, but over a longer period of time mindfulness is so important because we’re all involved with multitasking and our attention is being eviscerated by all of the technology that we have. So, our attention is constantly being drawn from our devices to all of the things that pull it away, so mindfulness is a way to bring our attention back, to enable us to regroup and to focus.

On what she thinks when some people tell her the future is for AI and there will never be an artificial mindfulness, that it still has to be part of the human being: Whether or not there’s an artificial AI version of mindfulness, or whether AI instruments develop their own form of mindfulness is something for other folks to ponder. I think that the human mind is such a valuable property that mindfulness enables us to reclaim that beauty and whether or not we want to develop that in some artificial way; I’m sure there are other ways to artificially stimulate ourselves, but I think that mindfulness is something that is inherently human.

On whether when she asks her readers to engage with the brand, will there be a need to put their devices down, or does she feel the role of the printed magazine has also changed: What I would love to do is ask them to try each of those things, because the online experience is wonderful for many reasons. The online experience with our articles, we can help inform people and empower them in some ways. But what I love about the magazine is it’s also sort of the antithesis of that. It’s the best of slow media, if you will, because it helps people to focus, to slow down, to savor the moment. In some ways our articles are old-fashioned, almost artisanal compositions. We have art directors and editors who really focus on the nuance of what we’re trying to say. I think that’s one of the reasons that readers are responding to it.

On whether it makes a difference she is working for a nonprofit, such as Mindful, or a for-profit entity: The nice think about mindfulness, or Mindful, is that the good work that we’re doing, the benefits that we’re accruing, we’re trying to put that back out and to benefit the wider audience. And in some ways it’s a more direct approach than what we were doing at Rodale, and certainly some of the benefits at National Geographic were going back out to help the environment and various things. With Mindful, because it’s such a small organization, you can actually see the benefits and where the revenues are going, to which cause. So, it’s very specific. You can see it on almost a one-to-one basis.

On whether she sees herself as a content provider or an experience maker in this world of editing: I believe that when content is done well, you are delivering an experience to people. When you have the beauty of combining visuals, you’re always creating an experience. To me, that’s the beauty of the work. That’s what I love about being an editor. You’re seeing the content isn’t just the words, it’s the words and how they’re presented and how they’re visually presented. And in order to be successful, I truly believe that has to be an experience for people.

On whether there will be any changes with the magazine since she has become the editor or will she just stay the course: We’re definitely staying the course because it’s been a very successful brand. But actually you will see changes or you could spot changes because I started consulting and working with them in August. You can start to see it in the covers. One of the things that we did with the cover for the January/February issue is we did a beautiful cover with Manoush Zomorodi on self-compassion. I love to try and have a photograph of somebody who just looks so natural and appealing and so authentic.

On her passion for the subject matter: Mindful is something that’s really important to me, and it’s important not just on an individual basis, but it’s important from a community, social and logical standpoint. We’re all so isolated now from a community, sociological point of view. And it’s important to see other people as humans in order to connect and engage with them and to care.

On whether she ever feels that she’s swimming against the current and that audiences have been brainwashed so much and then she has to de-brainwash them: I think people need to be reminded and given permission to slow down and to pause. And that’s where, if there’s a brainwashing that needs to be undone, that’s where mindfulness is coming in, and that’s part of what’s driving the growth of mindfulness. We’ve been going faster and multitasking, thinking it’s cool to have more than one device, and I think that we’re coming to a sense that our attention is a resource that needs to be guarded; it needs to be nurtured and protected and cared for. And the idea of slowing down and pausing is actually something that’s our human right. To do that is something that is important for us and for the community.

On what she would hope to tell someone she had accomplished in one year with Mindful magazine and the entire brand: There are so many growth areas. I would love to see the magazine engage with more people. I would love to see the website engage; we’re reaching like 1.2 million people on a regular basis through the different formats. And there is such a need for mindfulness in the healthcare community and the educator community. And we’re doing work with Aetna and Harvard Pilgrim and Kaiser Permanente, in terms of developing content about mindfulness in healthcare.

On working with Bryan Welch, the new CEO of Mindful: I’m inspired. I love Bryan, because I think Bryan thinks big. And Bryan brings a perspective on strategic growth and opportunity that will really help boost this brand and the company to the next level. He has the street cred to not only believe it, but to help make it happen. So, I am looking forward to working with him. And I think that tremendous things are possible and Bryan will help get the brand there and he’ll do it with his own tremendous integrity.

On presenting the true mindfulness experience: Really being in league with the top researchers who are doing this. We take tremendous pride in working with people like Amishi Jha and Pat Rockman, with the people who have been in this field for years and years, and take it seriously and do incredible research. They aren’t just doing things fly-by-night. You can find apps and all sorts of things claiming to be mindfulness and that claim all sorts of benefits, which their research hasn’t really been out. There are tremendous benefits with mindfulness, but we want to stick with things that are truly credible.

On anything she’d like to add: I think it’s a great group and I’m delighted to be working with them. They’re really smart and this field is growing. One of the things with Barry Boyce, and Jim Gimian who is the founder, they are really committed to carrying a message and the information about mindfulness in a way that’s really responsible. I was recently on the phone with Amishi Jha, who is one of the top leading neuroscientists in the field of mindfulness, and we were talking about how do we grow and maintain that level of integrity and commitment. To not overpromise or oversell.

On the biggest misconception she thinks people have about her: I think sometimes people can be intimidated and I try to be really, really nice and really human and fun.

On what she would have tattooed upon her brain that would be there forever and no one could ever forget about her: Leader.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: I’m such a creative at heart. I love cooking. I love to try and throw together a meal that my kids will actually eat. I’m the mother of three teenagers. And to me, I enjoy cooking and it’s such an accomplishment. I love it if I can make a meal and they all actually eat it and it disappears. And everybody is happy and we all have a sense of contentment.

On what keeps her up at night: There are so many things that need to be done. There are so many great ideas, concepts that need to be developed and launched. When I was in high school I used to row on the rowing team and we would row on the Potomac, down in Washington D.C. And all these planes would land every 30 seconds, and it’s this incredible experience being out on the Potomac at night and you see all these planes that are lined up, and I often feel like that. There are so many ideas that are just waiting out there. Sort of an ether, that are waiting for their time to come in and land. What keeps me up at night is how to land all of those planes. (Laughs)

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Anne Alexander, editor, Mindful Magazine.

Samir Husni: Congratulations on the new job. You’re now editor of a magazine that’s entering its sixth anniversary, Mindful Magazine.

Anne Alexander: Thank you.

Samir Husni: How did you become editor of Mindful?

Anne Alexander: I had been at Rodale, and I had done a lot of consulting too, I’d had a whole series of fantastic consulting projects, and then I just really wanted to find a group of good people who were doing good work, work that was really meaningful. And so I just reached out to my network, and somebody I knew who knew somebody who knew somebody put me in touch with Barry Boyce and Jim Gimian, and we had a very lengthy conversation about mindfulness and editorial, and all sorts of things. So, really over a long period of time, we just decided there was a fit.

I had actually been consulting with them since August, so it’s been kind of an evolution of a role and I had literally just posted my business cards because they had just arrived, but I’d actually been working with them for quite some time, since August.

Samir Husni: The last time I interviewed the CEO of Time Inc. when we had a Time Inc., he told me the largest selling bookazine they had ever produced was on the topic of mindfulness. And when Mindful magazine was started six years ago, it was sort of the early entrant into the marketplace; why do you think it took so long for the population to realize that it’s important to be mindful? Why now?

Anne Alexander: That’s a great question. I think the “why now” is because we’re experiencing a tremendous confluence of events, and stress is epidemic and mindfulness is one of those things that can help people destress. The instantaneous payoff is that mindfulness can help relieve stress, but over a longer period of time mindfulness is so important because we’re all involved with multitasking and our attention is being eviscerated by all of the technology that we have. So, our attention is constantly being drawn from our devices to all of the things that pull it away, so mindfulness is a way to bring our attention back, to enable us to regroup and to focus.

Personally, I draw some parallels with how there was an explosion of interest in sugar; I wrote the “The Sugar Smart Diet,” which turned out to be nice because it was a New York Times bestseller. But in the same way that sugar had become so ubiquitous in our diet, I think we’re experiencing the same thing with all of these things that call our attention away from other things and dilutes our experience of being alive and feeling that we’re present in the moment. We’re worried about the past; we’re worried about the future; our attention is being drawn to what’s on the news, what’s on our devices, what’s on the radio; just all of these things. What’s happening on Instagram and Twitter.

All of these things are splintering our ability to concentrate and to focus, and the beautiful thing about mindfulness is that it’s the antidote to that in so many ways, because it enables you to just focus on what’s going on in the present moment and to feel more alive and more awake actually while you’re in that moment instead of worrying about the future or the past. So, it’s something that’s very easy; it’s very accessible, and it delivers an ability to feel alive and awake in the moment in ways that we don’t really feel right now.

Samir Husni: What do you think when some people tell us the future is for AI and there will never be an artificial mindfulness, that it still has to be part of the human being?

Anne Alexander: Whether or not there’s an artificial AI version of mindfulness, or whether AI instruments develop their own form of mindfulness is something for other folks to ponder. I think that the human mind is such a valuable property that mindfulness enables us to reclaim that beauty and whether or not we want to develop that in some artificial way; I’m sure there are other ways to artificially stimulate ourselves, but I think that mindfulness is something that is inherently human.

Samir Husni: In that “me” moment, when you want someone to pick up your magazine and engage with it or go to the website, are you going to ask them to drop their Smartphones, close their computers, and sit down and enjoy the moment, or do you see the role of the printed magazine as changing too?

Anne Alexander: What I would love to do is ask them to try each of those things, because the online experience is wonderful for many reasons. The online experience with our articles, we can help inform people and empower them in some ways. We have a whole podcast series that’s going gangbusters, and those are audio practices that enable people to experience mindfulness through meditation. And oftentimes that happens on their devices, and in that case you would want to be tethered to your device. You would want to be experiencing the meditation or practice using your device.

But what I love about the magazine is it’s also sort of the antithesis of that. It’s the best of slow media, if you will, because it helps people to focus, to slow down, to savor the moment. In some ways our articles are old-fashioned, almost artisanal compositions. We have art directors and editors who really focus on the nuance of what we’re trying to say. I think that’s one of the reasons that readers are responding to it. It really gives them that ability to savor and come together on a topic.

That’s what I love about magazines, they’re such an intimate form of communication. When a magazine is done very, very well, I think that the reader feels an intimate connection with the writer, the editor, and the art director, and they have a beautiful experience. It’s a deep, rich experience.

So, I would answer that question in multiple ways. I think there is a role for the digital version and a role for the print magazine. One of the really nice things about Mindful is all of these different growth areas. The print magazine serves in a very traditional and what I call, slow media way, which is to just give people that ability to pause and enjoy something and to absorb it. And to be visually delighted and to be stimulated through that word. And again, it’s a very intimate connection.

And I think that our online version can do that as well or our podcasts can do that. We’re also doing these community-based Facebook Live posts, where you get to interact with other people. We’re doing Mindful30, which is a video course. So, there are so many different aspects of the brand and our goal is to meet people where they are and to serve them in whatever ways we can.

Samir Husni: In your mission statement you say that you’re mission-driven but not for profit. And this isn’t new for you, you’ve worked with the National Geographic Society when they were not for profit. How does that differentiate your look or your approach to editing? Does it make a difference whether you are working for a nonprofit or a for-profit entity in your experience?

Anne Alexander: In my experience it’s funny, I tend to be somebody who is always drawn to the sort of do-gooder enterprises. That’s just my passion, trying to help empower people to live happier, healthier lives. And there is a purity about that, in terms of trying to provide people with information that is truly empowering for them. It gives them the tools that they need to live a happier, healthier life. Or in the Mindful case, we like to think of it as living a well-balanced, meaningful life. So, we’re giving people the tools to do that.

With Mindful, part of the nonprofit status and the mission-driven status is to bring the message to as many people as we possibly can. So, there are a whole group of initiatives that we’re undertaking, such as Mindful30, which is an invitation to anybody to sign up and to get 30 days of really good mindfulness information. And part of the proceeds then go to supporting educators in the field who are bringing mindfulness to various institutions and educators. So, I think that’s one of the benefits.

The nice think about mindfulness, or Mindful, is that the good work that we’re doing, the benefits that we’re accruing, we’re trying to put that back out and to benefit the wider audience. And in some ways it’s a more direct approach than what we were doing at Rodale, and certainly some of the benefits at National Geographic were going back out to help the environment and various things. With Mindful, because it’s such a small organization, you can actually see the benefits and where the revenues are going, to which cause. So, it’s very specific. You can see it on almost a one-to-one basis.

Samir Husni: Do you see yourself as a content provider or an experience maker in this world of editing?

Anne Alexander: That is a great question. I believe that when content is done well, you are delivering an experience to people. When you have the beauty of combining visuals, you’re always creating an experience. To me, that’s the beauty of the work. That’s what I love about being an editor. You’re seeing the content isn’t just the words, it’s the words and how they’re presented and how they’re visually presented. And in order to be successful, I truly believe that has to be an experience for people.

Samir Husni: As you take over the helm of the magazine; you’ve been consulting with them since August, but now you’re the editor. Are we going to see any changes with the magazine or are you going to stay the course?

Anne Alexander: We’re definitely staying the course because it’s been a very successful brand. But actually you will see changes or you could spot changes because I started consulting and working with them in August. You can start to see it in the covers. One of the things that we did with the cover for the January/February issue is we did a beautiful cover with Manoush Zomorodi on self-compassion. I love to try and have a photograph of somebody who just looks so natural and appealing and so authentic.

And our April cover is with Dena Simmons, who is the assistant director at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. And again, I just think there is a beautiful authenticity to her on the cover, and I’m so excited as I look at other folks for the cover to cover on the inside.

Everybody has their work that they bring; to me I really want to make the magazine feel that you’re communing with it to bring out the humanity of it and to show the leading experts in mindfulness and the tremendous work that they’re doing. The April issue coming out has an amazing story from Mark Coleman who is a wilderness meditation expert. He leads a lot of meditations in the wilderness and it’s a beautiful piece, because it’s so heartfelt about climate change.

We used to think of going to nature as just this sort of restorative experience, the beauty of nature fills us with awe and all of these things. And now of course, with climate change, sometimes when we’re experiencing nature we have this deep sense of sadness and grief at what’s going on. And Mark talks about that, he talks about mindfulness and this ability to hold a paradox in your mind, to hold the beauty of nature and to hold your grief at the same time. What I loved about this article was it’s very emotional.

And again, to your question about whether content should be an experience, I believe it should be an experience. The words that he’s written are an experience. And the art is an experience, because you can’t help but look at the art and have your heart moved by seeing these polar bears, by seeing what we’re doing. And yet there’s also hope in the piece.

I guess what I try to bring to everything I do is a sense of connection. In order to move people to action or to inspire people, you have to touch them; you have to have them feel that they’re a part of something and that they’re emotionally moved. So, I would like to think that the art, the stories, are going to have a very strong emotional connection. I think that’s one of the things that we’re looking for quite frankly.

Samir Husni: We’ve chatted before and we’ve corresponded, but I have never felt you so passionate about a subject matter. When you launched National Geographic History, you were passionate about the subject, but you weren’t beaming like you are about Mindful.

Anne Alexander: I actually think the secret sauce of that History magazine was and is, in some ways, being able to put people into historical perspective. Being able to put them on the beach in those Roman outfits; what’s it like to march 60 miles a day?

And in some ways it’s the same. It’s creating a visceral reaction and that’s what I love to do. So in some ways it was so funny for me to work on a history magazine, because that’s my true calling, is to try and move people. And to emotionally engage with them. So yes, I was excited about that, but I was excited about that because I felt like I was somebody bringing a very different skillset for a very different subject.

Mindful is something that’s really important to me, and it’s important not just on an individual basis, but it’s important from a community, social and logical standpoint. We’re all so isolated now from a community, sociological point of view. And it’s important to see other people as humans in order to connect and engage with them and to care.

Samir Husni: Do you ever feel that you’re swimming against the current? That the audiences have been brainwashed so much and then you have to de-brainwash them?

Anne Alexander: I think people need to be reminded and given permission to slow down and to pause. And that’s where, if there’s a brainwashing that needs to be undone, that’s where mindfulness is coming in, and that’s part of what’s driving the growth of mindfulness. We’ve been going faster and multitasking, thinking it’s cool to have more than one device, and I think that we’re coming to a sense that our attention is a resource that needs to be guarded; it needs to be nurtured and protected and cared for. And the idea of slowing down and pausing is actually something that’s our human right. To do that is something that is important for us and for the community.

So, do I feel like I swimming against the current? I don’t know if I’m swimming against the current, but I think Mindful as a brand is sending out a very important message. There’s a reason why this brand and this concept is growing. It’s a message that people need to hear and need to be reminded of.

Samir Husni: If you and I are chatting a year from now, what would you hope to tell me you had accomplished with Mindful Magazine and the entire brand?

Anne Alexander: There are so many growth areas. I would love to see the magazine engage with more people. I would love to see the website engage; we’re reaching like 1.2 million people on a regular basis through the different formats. And there is such a need for mindfulness in the healthcare community and the educator community. And we’re doing work with Aetna and Harvard Pilgrim and Kaiser Permanente, in terms of developing content about mindfulness in healthcare.

I would love to be able to feel that we have enabled even more people, whatever would be a tremendous growth, but enable people to connect with themselves, with the present moment, and for them to feel a sense of relief. If we could provide those tools for more people, I think that would be a tremendous accomplishment. And to do it with integrity.

Samir Husni: Bryan Welch is now the new CEO of Mindful. And Bryan comes from a not for profit business that he started before and before that Mother Earth News. How is the new team going? Can you give us a glimpse of working with Bryan?

Anne Alexander: I’m inspired. I love Bryan, because I think Bryan thinks big. And Bryan brings a perspective on strategic growth and opportunity that will really help boost this brand and the company to the next level. He has the street cred to not only believe it, but to help make it happen. So, I am looking forward to working with him. And I think that tremendous things are possible and Bryan will help get the brand there and he’ll do it with his own tremendous integrity.

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

Anne Alexander: I think it’s a great group and I’m delighted to be working with them. They’re really smart and this field is growing. One of the things with Barry Boyce, and Jim Gimian who is the founder, they are really committed to carrying a message and the information about mindfulness in a way that’s really responsible. I was recently on the phone with Amishi Jha, who is one of the top leading neuroscientists in the field of mindfulness, and we were talking about how do we grow and maintain that level of integrity and commitment. To not overpromise or oversell.

This is a field that’s growing. Time magazine is in this market, and lots of people are in this market. But one of the things that really makes Mindful stand apart is this tremendous commitment to getting the information right and not overselling.

Samir Husni: And it’s not just one book, it’s really living it.

Anne Alexander: Yes, and really being in league with the top researchers who are doing this. We take tremendous pride in working with people like Amishi Jha and Pat Rockman, with the people who have been in this field for years and years, and take it seriously and do incredible research. They aren’t just doing things fly-by-night. You can find apps and all sorts of things claiming to be mindfulness and that claim all sorts of benefits, which their research hasn’t really been out. There are tremendous benefits with mindfulness, but we want to stick with things that are truly credible.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?

Anne Alexander: I think sometimes people can be intimidated and I try to be really, really nice and really human and fun.

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

Anne Alexander: Leader.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly at your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Having a glass of wine; reading a magazine; cooking; watching TV; or something else? How do you unwind?

Anne Alexander: I’m such a creative at heart. I love cooking. I love to try and throw together a meal that my kids will actually eat. I’m the mother of three teenagers. And to me, I enjoy cooking and it’s such an accomplishment. I love it if I can make a meal and they all actually eat it and it disappears. And everybody is happy and we all have a sense of contentment.

And then we watch something on TV together. It’s usually a debate between “Chopped” or “Locked Up Abroad” or something. I just like hanging out with my kids. We have a dog and two cats and two goats. I’m taking my yearly teacher training right now, and if I can get my kids to agree for me to teach them yoga and be my stand-in class, that would be fantastic. My son is 16 and he wants to join the Marines, and so we’re doing this marvelous piece about mindfulness in the military. And he kind of thinks this mindfulness stuff is a bit softy-softy, but when I started telling him why and how it benefits the Marines and the Army, I love seeing his ears perk up and he says, “Oh really?” So, he takes a little more interest in what his mom is doing.

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

Anne Alexander: There are so many things that need to be done. There are so many great ideas, concepts that need to be developed and launched. When I was in high school I used to row on the rowing team and we would row on the Potomac, down in Washington D.C. And all these planes would land every 30 seconds, and it’s this incredible experience being out on the Potomac at night and you see all these planes that are lined up, and I often feel like that. There are so many ideas that are just waiting out there. Sort of an ether, that are waiting for their time to come in and land. What keeps me up at night is how to land all of those planes. (Laughs)

You’re grabbing the ideas from the ether and you’re bringing them together with other people. Deepak Chopra talks about it as pure potentiality and that’s exactly it. You’re bringing these ideas in and working with people to create them. And being this sort of brand mama, you give birth to them and then see whether people like them. And it’s an amazing experience.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Michael Clinton To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: 2019 Will Be The Flight Back Year To Quality, Quality Brands, Quality Environment, Safe Environments, And Obviously, Our Magazine Brands Represent That. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Michael Clinton, President, Marketing & Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines.

January 2, 2019

The Real Influencers Of The Marketplace : The Brands Themselves 

“I think credibility is a real issue right now because there was that moment in time where influencers were viewed as an important platform. Well, I think the market has learned that many people who set themselves up as influencers really are not influencers. They’re just people trying to set up a business and when you’re coming through the Cosmo lens or the Elle lens or the Good Housekeeping lens, that’s influence.” Michael Clinton…

CSV28622A

 Michael Clinton is a confirmed believer in the trust factor of magazines and magazine brands. In fact, according to Michael, it’s all about the brands; everything. The brands are the trust factor and that spans the entire multiplatform existence of each and every Hearst product, from the legacy titles, such as House Beautiful and Town & Country, to the latest mega-success stories, such as Pioneer Woman and Airbnb, the brands are the key to consumer trust and creditability, from print product to pixel.

I spoke with Michael recently and we talked about the trust factor of the brands and the legacy titles of Hearst that continue to grow audience and gain new readers, even after 100 years of service to the consumers. Michael said that evolvement is a big reason that Hearst products continue to flourish and grow, and that innovation has always been a part of their magazines’ DNA and will continue to be so. From the year of “Data,” which is what Michael said 2019 will be, with data working for companies in a much larger way, to “Content with Purpose,” Hearst’s new editorial mission, innovation and evolution are key.

This first Mr. Magazine™ interview of 2019 was such an eye-opening and interesting way to start the magazine New Year off. Michael Clinton is optimistic, but totally aware of the challenges that the latest “shiny new thing” of 2019 could bring to the world of magazines and magazine media. However, the passion and strong faith that he has for and in the Hearst brands is palpable and always uppermost in his mind as you will tell immediately from our conversation.

And now without further ado, the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Clinton, President, Marketing & Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines.

But first the sound-bites:

On his predictions for 2019 where magazine media is concerned:I think one thing that we’re seeing is a flight back to quality, quality brands, quality environment, safe environments, first-party environments, and obviously, our magazine brands represent that. And I think there is a lot of concern about context and I think a lot of CMOs are really beginning to step back and rethink things and I believe that plays well for magazine brands. So, I would say that’s one.

On how Hearst keeps growing audiences with its numerous legacy titles, many of which are over 100-years-old:What has to happen with the print magazine is that it obviously has to evolve with the culture. And so, it has to represent what is happening in the culture at any given point in time. If you go back to Town & Country in the 1980s; the eighties had a very different affluent market than today’s affluent market. So, you have to reflect the contemporary times and you have to move the reader along as well. I think it’s the magic of our editors who are constantly evolving the product.

On how he conveys that message of evolvement to advertisers:It’s all in the product; you walk them through the product and show them how the product is evolving and how the product will evolve. Brands want to align themselves with contemporary messaging. And they’re doing the same thing, they’re always taking their brand message and their brand packaging and they’re evolving it and they’re changing it, and they’re changing their message points based on the culture at the time to make it relevant for both their existing customer and new customer. So, I think they’re always looking for the environments in which we can pro-message together.

On print advertising and whether that same trust factor carries over into all of the platforms:First of all, it’s all about the brands, right? The brand is the trust factor. So, if I’m a Cosmopolitan reader, I have the trust factor in print, in digital, in social, on Snapchat, because I trust the brand. And that gets into the context discussion. I think that if you’re seeing something that is on Cosmo.com, you know that it’s been produced by professional editors; it’s authoritative; it’s been vetted properly; as opposed to some pure play digital site or some influence, it has a real credibility.

On how print can be used in today’s digital age to its own best advantage:That’s a great question. Hearst today is the dominant player in the fashion/luxury market; with our brands we produce more content in that space, in print, digital and in social. So, we now dominate. That’s been an evolution and we’re proud of that position we have now with the global luxury brands. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve really believed in the production values of all of our luxury books: Bazaar, Marie Claire, Elle, Town & Country; they’re all oversized; they’re a luxe presentation. The amount of time, energy, and money that is put into beautiful photography and amazing representation of the luxury market; well, the editorial grit behind all of that really allows us to have those great connections with the consumer.

On whether his job today has become more difficult or easier than it was 10 years ago:I would say that it’s become more complex. What is exciting is that our brands now live in many different places. So, 10 years ago, you were basically selling a print platform, right? Today you’re selling a print platform, a web platform, a video platform, a social media platform, and an experiential platform. So, where the excitement lies is in the fact that the brands have been unleashed and we now have consumers interacting with our brands in so many different places, knitting all of that together to create a community  and that’s what’s really exciting.

On what he feels is a big challenge facing the industry today:I would say two things to that. One is there is within the buy-side of the world, there is oftentimes, the chase for the shiny, new thing. And the shiny new thing is not necessarily what’s going to move the consumer to action. So, the pessimism I would have is the lack of appreciation for the broader view of the media world, the media mix. There needs to be more of an investment in educating and training on the buy-side for what all of the different mediums represent. So, that’s one.

On what he thinks will be the “buzzword” or important one word that will define 2019 as the year of what:It’s the year of data. It’s the year of really putting our data to work in a much bigger way and so that data is both print data and digital data. And we’re doing lots of work on the data front, not just for our own content creation, and Troy (Young) may have touched on this, but our new editorial mission is what we call “Content With Purpose,” and when I say content with purpose it doesn’t necessarily mean socially conscious, although that could be a part of it. But it’s content that we know through our data that our readers really respond to.

On any new titles that may be coming in 2019:Possibly. But first let me say that Pioneer Woman has been a huge success for us, it just broke half a million rate base, as you may know. Airbnb will move to six times frequency in 2019 and it will have a rapid circulation growth. So, that’s good. We’re always looking at new products, both print and digital. There’s nothing that’s eminent, but we always have something in the kitchen. Nothing eminent now.

On the biggest misconception he thinks people have about him:That I’m a New York Mets fan. (Laughs) I’m actually a Yankees fan, but that’s beside the point. I do have a reputation of being a bit of a workaholic, but I would argue that I have an extremely well-balanced life. And you have to nurture both sides. While I work hard, I also have lots of interests outside work.

On whether he ever feels as though he’s running in a magazine marathon:That’s a great question and I would just make the response that life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. When you take the long-term view, like in marathon running, you always have stamina and you always have a good Zen-like view of the future, because it is a long play.

On what he hopes is the first thing that comes into people’s minds when they hear the name Michael Clinton: That he respects all people, that he believes in service to people, so as you may know, I have a foundation that some friends and I started eight years ago called Circle of Generosity and it is our commitment to have service to others. And I think that’s just a really important part of how we should live our lives.

On how he decides what to retweet:I think it’s about the optimism of our business. And you’re self-included. I think it’s important to get the positive news out there about our business and about our industry and about media. As you know, parts of the media are under siege these days, and I think what we do is an incredibly important service. And while our magazine company is not in the news business, it’s really important what we do, because we inform people and educate them and entertain them. And so the Retweets are something that are either positive about the business or something that’s really innovative and unique that one of our brands is doing or that I see in the marketplace that is an innovative idea in terms of how you can use magazine brands.

On what keeps him up at night:I’m a good sleeper, but the only thing that keeps me up is when my puppy jumps on my head in the middle of the night. (Laughs)

 

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Michael Clinton, President, Marketing & Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines.

Samir Husni: Michael, put your fortunetelling hat on for a moment if you would, and tell me your three major predictions for what is going to happen in magazine media in 2019.

Michael Clinton: I think one thing that we’re seeing is a flight back to quality, quality brands, quality environment, safe environments, first-party environments, and obviously, our magazine brands represent that. And I think there is a lot of concern about context and I think a lot of CMOs are really beginning to step back and rethink things and I believe that plays well for magazine brands. So, I would say that’s one.

The second thing that I would add to that is, the addiction of too much bottom of the funnel performance-based media has sent shockwaves through a lot of brands, which have begun to see meaningful erosion of their brand equity or consideration. And we’re seeing, if you will, a rebalance of the media mix. And with that is an appreciation for all of the things that magazines represent, print magazines in particular, in terms of brand equity. And I think that race to the bottom has eroded a lot of brand equity, so I would say that’s the second.

And then on the third, I would say that the magazine brands’ digital platforms have a very special sauce to them, because we have very engaged users who are around our subject areas, so whether it’s fashion, beauty, or home, high levels of engagement, high levels of first-party engagement, safe environments, all of this is kind of connecting back to number one. And also in the world of content and context, that plays really well for us.

So, we continue to see huge growth on our digital platforms. I think you know that Cosmopolitan is at 38 million uniques. We just launched Oprahmag.com, and within two or three weeks we’re at 1.3 million uniques. Obviously, what Oprah and Oprahmag.com represents has great connection with consumers. So, I think all of these things bode well for both our print platforms and our digital platforms.

Samir Husni: I have been looking at and researching magazines from 1919 for the MPA’s 100thanniversary, and quite a few of the titles are from Hearst and are still being published today, 100 years later, whether it’s House Beautiful or Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar or Popular Mechanics. You publish more legacy magazines than any other media company. Tell me, how do you keep growing audiences with these legacy magazines? You just shared that Cosmopolitan had 38 million uniques, yet it’s a title that’s over 100-years-old. How do you do that?

Michael Clinton: What has to happen with the print magazine is that it obviously has to evolve with the culture. And so, it has to represent what is happening in the culture at any given point in time. If you go back to Town & Country in the 1980s; the eighties had a very different affluent market than today’s affluent market. So, you have to reflect the contemporary times and you have to move the reader along as well. I think it’s the magic of our editors who are constantly evolving the product.

I believe the sign of a great magazine is when you go to a particular magazine and you pick up an issue from two years ago, forget 100 years ago, just two years ago and you say: wow, that magazine was very different then than it is today, because the editors are constantly evolving the content, the relevance, the stories, and that’s what keeps it modern and fresh. And I think we have lots of great examples of that in the house.

Samir Husni: When you work with the other customer, the advertiser, how do you convey that message of evolvement to them?

Michael Clinton: It’s all in the product; you walk them through the product and show them how the product is evolving and how the product will evolve. Brands want to align themselves with contemporary messaging. And they’re doing the same thing, they’re always taking their brand message and their brand packaging and they’re evolving it and they’re changing it, and they’re changing their message points based on the culture at the time to make it relevant for both their existing customer and new customer. So, I think they’re always looking for the environments in which we can pro-message together.

It’s really the high-touch selling. I think one of the things is that print has always been a high-client touchpoint medium, and so, while we obviously work with our agency partners, clients have always been very, very interested in the print medium. So, there’s a lot of that high-touch human contact that goes with selling the print medium.

CSV28622A

Samir Husni: One of the points that I’ve noticed when looking at the legacy magazines from 100 years ago is there was always that guarantee that all of the advertising in the magazine was true and honest, guaranteed, there was a certain trust factor. Today, if I see that trust factor in print, can I take that promise with me to the digital? Or is it based on the brand?

Michael Clinton: First of all, it’s all about the brands, right? The brand is the trust factor. So, if I’m a Cosmopolitan reader, I have the trust factor in print, in digital, in social, on Snapchat, because I trust the brand. And that gets into the context discussion. I think that if you’re seeing something that is on Cosmo.com, you know that it’s been produced by professional editors; it’s authoritative; it’s been vetted properly; as opposed to some pure play digital site or some influence, it has a real credibility.

And I think credibility is a real issue right now because there was that moment in time where influencers were viewed as an important platform. Well, I think the market has learned that many people who set themselves up as influencers really are not influencers. They’re just people trying to set up a business and when you’re coming through the Cosmo lens or the Elle lens or the Good Housekeeping lens, that’s influence.

Samir Husni: How can you use print to its own best advantage in this digital age?

Michael Clinton: That’s a great question. Hearst today is the dominant player in the fashion/luxury market; with our brands we produce more content in that space, in print, digital and in social. So, we now dominate. That’s been an evolution and we’re proud of that position we have now with the global luxury brands. One of the things that we’ve done is we’ve really believed in the production values of all of our luxury books: Bazaar, Marie Claire, Elle, Town & Country; they’re all oversized; they’re a luxe presentation. The amount of time, energy, and money that is put into beautiful photography and amazing representation of the luxury market; well, the editorial grit behind all of that really allows us to have those great connections with the consumer.

A lot of it is production value and execution by the editors. And then of course, that rolls into the digital platforms as well. One of our fastest growing sites this year has been Harper’s Bazaar. I don’t have a stat in front of me, but Harper’s Bazaar, its luxe presentation in print and its digital execution has helped to drive huge digital growth for us this year.

So, when you look at the production values that those brands have on their websites and also on their social media, it also reflects that. And don’t forget, there are global brands and also don’t forget that we have, aside from global print brands, we now have the capability to work with our luxury partners globally across Elle.com globally or Bazaar.com globally. And that’s a big differentiator for us. So, we’re doing a lot of business with global luxury brands that want that kind of global footprint .

I would use those as a few examples, but we’re really proud of the fact that we’re now the leading fashion/luxury publisher in the world.

Samir Husni: If you reflect back 10 years ago at the dawn of digital, the Smartphone, the iPad, etc., has your job today, looking toward the future, has it become easier or more difficult?

Michael Clinton: I would say that it’s become more complex. What is exciting is that our brands now live in many different places. So, 10 years ago, you were basically selling a print platform, right? Today you’re selling a print platform, a web platform, a video platform, a social media platform, and an experiential platform. So, where the excitement lies is in the fact that the brands have been unleashed and we now have consumers interacting with our brands in so many different places, knitting all of that together to create a community  and that’s what’s really exciting.

So, today you have the women’s health community. And the women’s health community has exponentially grown because the user and the reader live in lots of different places. And that’s been very exciting for magazine brands because we were never able to live in multiplatform the way we do today.

But with that comes complexity, because the different platforms require different content; you get different analytics; you get different measurements, and so you have to knit all of that together for the marketing partner, but that’s the fun of it today.

Samir Husni: Someone reading this interview might say that you’re the eternal optimist, but what is something that you’re afraid is going to be a big challenge as the industry moves forward?

Michael Clinton: I would say two things to that. One is there is within the buy-side of the world, there is oftentimes, the chase for the shiny, new thing. And the shiny new thing is not necessarily what’s going to move the consumer to action. So, the pessimism I would have is the lack of appreciation for the broader view of the media world, the media mix. There needs to be more of an investment in educating and training on the buy-side for what all of the different mediums represent. So, that’s one.

And I think that leads to a lack of an appreciation for what the magazine media represents on all of its platforms. So, that’s our day-to-day job, to make sure we’re out there telling that story. So I think that’s the biggest, sort of pessimistic view that I would have.

But fortunately, we have a great team at Hearst and that’s what they do all day long  and they change perceptions and they put together great programs that have great metrics and great numbers. So, the proof is always in the pudding.

Samir Husni: For the last several years when I speak with people they’re always saying this is the year of “voice,” or this is the year for “video;” is there one word for 2019? It will be the year of…?

Michael Clinton: It’s the year of data. It’s the year of really putting our data to work in a much bigger way and so that data is both print data and digital data. And we’re doing lots of work on the data front, not just for our own content creation, and Troy (Young) may have touched on this, but our new editorial mission is what we call “Content With Purpose,” and when I say content with purpose it doesn’t necessarily mean socially conscious, although that could be a part of it. But it’s content that we know through our data that our readers really respond to.

A great example of that is that we know that the Good Housekeeping reader is passionate about the television show “This Is Us.” They watch it live; it is an appointment viewing for them; they’re passionate about that show. So, how did that express itself then in the content that we created. Creating content that had purpose for the Good Housekeeping reader is that there might be stories or covers about the “This Is Us” cast, because we know there is a high level of interest.

So, how do you take your data, connect it to content creation, and then connect that content creation and that data to advertiser partnerships for both advertising and ecommerce. Data-informed content, data-informed advertising partnerships, that’s what we’re really excited about for 2019.

Samir Husni: In 2018, you didn’t launch any new magazines, what with all of the changes that were taking place. Anything up and coming for 2019? Will we see any new titles based on partnerships or just from scratch?

Michael Clinton: Possibly. But first let me say that Pioneer Woman has been a huge success for us, it just broke half a million rate base, as you may know. Airbnb will move to six times frequency in 2019 and it will have a rapid circulation growth. So, that’s good. We’re always looking at new products, both print and digital. There’s nothing that’s eminent, but we always have something in the kitchen. Nothing eminent now.

Samir Husni: What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?

Michael Clinton: That I’m a New York Mets fan. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too.)

Michael Clinton: I’m actually a Yankees fan, but that’s beside the point. I do have a reputation of being a bit of a workaholic, but I would argue that I have an extremely well-balanced life. And you have to nurture both sides. While I work hard, I also have lots of interests outside work.

Samir Husni: What was the latest marathon that you ran?

Michael Clinton: Albuquerque.

Samir Husni: How many marathons have you ran so far?

Michael Clinton: 15. And the next one will be in Anchorage in June.

Samir Husni: If you were to rank them, which one would be the number one, the one in the Artic, or where?

Michael Clinton: I would have to say Antarctica because it was such a surreal experience and it was my seventh continent and there are less than 1,000 people in the world who have run all seven continents, so I feel like I’m part of a very special club.

Samir Husni: Do you compare your work with magazines to your marathons? Do you feel as though you’re running in a magazine marathon?

Michael Clinton: That’s a great question and I would just make the response that life is not a sprint, it is a marathon. When you take the long-term view, like in marathon running, you always have stamina and you always have a good Zen-like view of the future, because it is a long play.

Samir Husni: When people hear the name Michael Clinton, what do you hope is the first thing that comes into their minds?

Michael Clinton: That he respects all people, that he believes in service to people, so as you may know, I have a foundation that some friends and I started eight years ago called Circle of Generosity and it is our commitment to have service to others. And I think that’s just a really important part of how we should live our lives.

Samir Husni: How do you decide what to Retweet, because every now and then I see you Retweeting something.

Michael Clinton: I think it’s about the optimism of our business. And you’re self-included. I think it’s important to get the positive news out there about our business and about our industry and about media. As you know, parts of the media are under siege these days, and I think what we do is an incredibly important service. And while our magazine company is not in the news business, it’s really important what we do, because we inform people and educate them and entertain them. And so the Retweets are something that are either positive about the business or something that’s really innovative and unique that one of our brands is doing or that I see in the marketplace that is an innovative idea in terms of how you can use magazine brands.

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

Michael Clinton: I’m a good sleeper, but the only thing that keeps me up is when my puppy jumps on my head in the middle of the night. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

The 2019 Mr. Magazine™ Manifesto: “Quotes of Wisdom.” A 2018 Rearview Mirror Look.

December 31, 2018

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” Mark Caine…

It’s a brand new year and Mr. Magazine™ for one is excited and focused on all of the good things 2019 can and will bring to magazines and magazine media. And for anyone who may not know or remember where Mr. Magazine™ stands when it comes to the ONLY definition of a magazine: if it isn’t ink on paper, it’s not a magazine, but the magazine is only one platform of the brand that the magazine is named after. Can I get an amen? And if we’re all being honest and looking beyond the PC-ness of today’s thought processes, we know it’s true that relying on digital-only to bring in the bucks in today’s media environment would not only be dangerous, but very presumptuous as well. In today’s world, it is Mr. Magazine’s™ staunch opinion that unless you have a valid footprint in both realms of publishing, the success rate of any publication is slim indeed. It would occupy this entire space if I were to list the publications that said they were quitting their print business and were no longer in business, or became just a figment of what used to be both, in terms of audience reach and revenue.

But in this year’s manifesto, I decided that instead of waxing poetic on what my take on this world we call magazines and magazine media is, I would instead let you learn from the experts, the leaders and visionaries of the publishing industry itself. I have had the honor and the pleasure of interviewing many of those said dignitaries throughout 2018 and their wisdom and thoughts cannot be taken lightly, they must be reiterated and studied so that the industry that we all love so much can thrive and move forward into this new year of 2019.

And it is with this in mind, that I give to you 18 of the best and most eloquent quotes that Mr. Magazine™ had the privilege of garnering from the sources themselves over the course of the last 12 months. These quotes come from publishing CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, editors in chief, publishers, and a few mavericks who believed in their entrepreneurial dreams. And while the opening quote from above by analyst and strategist, Mark Caine, is not one given directly to Mr. Magazine™, the 18 below most definitely are. But it is with Mr. Caine’s mentality that I present to you this manifesto and tidbits of industry wisdom from the experts.

For if magazines and magazine media had succumbed to the environment that each had found itself in several years ago; if the industry had refused to innovate and trail blaze new paths to success; if digital and print had not realized the amniotic fluid of ink and pixels that they were both destined to share from the beginning of the creative cyber revolution, the chances that Mr. Magazine™ would be here today talking about all of this would be very slight.

So, without further ado, here are 18 quotes from 18 of the most prominent and visionary leaders of the publishing, digital, and magazine media industry.  The titles used are those they had when interviewed in 2018 and the quotes are in alphabetical order.

And Happy New Year to all!

 

Michael Biggerstaff – Owner/CEO, Nxtbook Media:

“We look at publishing like a three-legged stool, you have websites, you have print, and you have digital. And they should all support each other. And one shouldn’t be shortchanged or you’re going to have a rocky stool. We look at that as an opportunity from a print standpoint to support the print product and the website. And the website can support print and digital, but we also look at it like you need to be providing something different in a digital edition. You don’t have the constraints that you do in print.” Michael Biggerstaff, Owner/CEO, Nxtbook Media…

Roger Black – Editor in Chief, Type Magazine:

“I believe that’s the real problem and that’s the second part of what we’re going to talk about at this conference, what do we do; how do we recreate the magazine experience in the digital era? And how do we do it digitally? I will be the first to admit that I have not succeeded in figuring out digital formats for magazines that have the same compelling feeling, the same attraction, the same experience where you sit down with a good print magazine and you enjoy it. And then you get to a finish; you feel like you’ve completed it and you put it down. And that’s not true with the websites or the apps. They’re never finished. And it’s a very tangential and short experience. You dive in and read part of an article and you’re gone. You don’t even know where the article came from some of the time.” Roger Black, Editor in Chief, Type Magazine…

 Agnes Chapski – President, NewBeauty Magazine:

“It’s a huge population and a very affluent audience. They actually have more spendable income and more money. In the beauty space, it’s completely underserved, so when you think about it, to me, it’s an amazing opportunity to speak to women who are hungry to have this kind of information. No one is really intelligently speaking to them, so that is a strong business reason.” Agnes Chapski, President, NewBeauty Magazine…(On Why Baby Boomers & Gen Xer’s Are So Important To NewBeauty)…

 Steve George – Vice President – Content, Kalmbach Media:

“Coming back to some fundamentals that we who love magazines have been talking about for years. I think there’s a physical, tangible reality to magazines that you don’t get online. There’s a durability there in a print product and to a certain extent, there’s a promise that the time and effort that would go into creating and editing and vetting that content in a more durable form, whereas I think online, and we’re seeing this, it’s a voracious beast, where you have to constantly be cranking out new content.” Steve George, Vice President – Content, Kalmbach Media…

William R. Hearst III – Editor & Publisher, Alta Journal of Alta California:

“I wanted to deal with things that last a little bit longer. I was thinking about the people that I know: writers, photographers, editors; these are people who often write books, that take some time to write something. I was less interested in immediacy; I wanted things that had a lasting quality.” William R. Hearst III, Editor and Publisher, Alta Journal of Alta California. …

 James Hewes – CEO, FIPP:

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good year, actually. It’s funny you know, ever since I took this job I’ve been hearing more and more people telling me about the resurgence of print magazines and how print magazines are coming back as a medium, and I think 2018 might be the year when you start to see some signs of that filtering through into the numbers, because, obviously, the numbers that are released by the publishing companies have been pretty bad in 2017.” James Hewes, CEO, FIPP…

Brian Hart Hoffman – President & Chief Creative Officer, Hoffman Media:

“We want to continue making our print-brand publications better and brandier. And updated in line with what people expect and where we see revenue success today…” Brian Hart Hoffman, President & Chief Creative Officer…

 JJ Hornblass – President & CEO, Royal Media:

“An organization has to have a core competency, several actually. So, what is the core competency that we’ve developed? There are a few, but one of the central core competencies is that we’re in constant change mode. So, in fact, if I looked at what we’ve done since 2010 when we made that acquisition to now, probably if I was 10 years before that, all of these things were going on, but now it’s kind of par for the course. And we’re trying to continue to change. So, the walk in the rose garden, is just one that has many twists and turns, but if you know that they’re coming then it’s not so surprising.” JJ Hornblass – President and CEO, Royal Media…

Chuck Howell – Vice President of Strategic Sourcing, Newsstand and Production Operations, Meredith Corporation:

“I don’t think it will be Newsstands 101. I think it needs to be educating the buyers. It’s the readership that’s looking for that content at newsstand that will ultimately carry the message. We just need to make sure that we stay viable at the front end long enough for that message to be had, because to your point, I think the younger buyers out there who don’t have an intrinsic knowledge of what the magazine brings and that lean-back experience, they traditionally get their information and their news off the Internet, but the buyers aren’t necessarily there yet. Eventually, that will evolve.” Chuck Howell (on educating buyers on the importance of magazines and that lean-back experience)…

Joe Hyrkin – CEO, Issuu:

“The reason we’re doing it is because, one – it’s near and dear to our hearts, of course. And at the end of the day we believe strongly that it’s through the telling of stories in a high quality, curated, published way that people are really able to share their passions, to share the area’s ideas and content that moves them, and there’s a huge audience to connect with around that.”Joe Hyrkin, CEO, Issuu…(On why Issuu held the Generators Summit on December 4, 2018.)…

Steven Kotok – CEO, Bauer Media Group USA:

“The women’s service readers definitely like the experience of buying something in print. As much as they love the product and as proud of the product as we are, the buying experience is a big part of it as well. We’re growing our subscriptions, but the physical act of making the purchase from the supermarket and giving yourself a treat after a long day, that is part of the pleasure of these products. Even if some of the information is available online, it’s that retail experience that ultimately excites our consumers.”Steven Kotok, CEO, Bauer Media Group USA…

Jeremy Leslie – Owner & Curator, Mag Culture:

“I’ve always had a fundamental belief in it (print), but what encourages me to continue that deep belief is the wave after wave of new magazines with fantastic ideas and fantastic values; just the good stuff that’s being made is what continues to inspire and excite me.” Jeremy Leslie, Owner & Curator, Mag Culture…

Simon Leslie – Joint CEO & Cofounder, Ink Travel Media:

“We support print because print works. People still love that ephemeral moment of picking up the magazine and flipping through it; that lean-back experience rather than lean-forward. Sometimes it’s nice to get off the screen and have that moment to yourself.” Simon Leslie, Joint CEO & Cofounder, Ink Travel Media…

Sandra Long – Publisher & Editor in Chief, Rosa Magazine:

“I am partial to print magazines, I still think there is a market for them. And when we had women pick it up, the look and feel of Rosa resonated with people and to be able to turn that page was important. Women still buy magazines, whether it’s fashion or, as we hope, political, they’re still buying magazines. I was firm that it had to be print. We will transition to do a little bit online, just to be able to feed that marketplace. But we’ll do print as long as they are supporting it.”…Sandra Long, Publisher & Editor in Chief, Rosa Magazine…

Adam Moss – Editor in Chief, New York Magazine:

“The cover is no longer really to sell magazines on newsstand. As newsstands have become so much less important to all of us, the cover has a different function. It is basically the brand statement of what we make. It declares what we think is important or interesting; it declares our voice. Also, it’s an amazing document for the purposes of social media. Social media takes your cover and distributes it all over the place and it becomes an advertisement for the magazine that’s actually more important than it was originally meant to be when it was to stimulate newsstand sales.” Adam Moss, Editor in Chief, New York Magazine.…

 Doug Olson –President, Meredith Magazines:

“We’ve made a pretty big bet that magazines are not going out of style with our acquisition of the Time Inc. portfolio of brands. We continue to be very excited about the future of these brands in all platforms, whether it’s in print or digital or social. Allrecipes is a perfect example of one of the brands that we took from digital and turned it into print, so obviously it has a very large footprint in digital, but the print continues to grow.” Doug Olson, President, Meredith Magazines…

Vicci Rose – Vice Presdent & Chief Revenue Officer, Us Weekly:

“I’m a great fan of digital and I’m a big supporter. Us Weekly has a very sizeable print footprint with just under two million copies, 1,968,000 per week is our most recent AAM (Alliance For Audited Media) statement for the six months ending December 2017, so of course, we’re big believers in print. And I am incredulous with the number of conversations that I have with agencies and clients in acknowledging that their own research with media-mix modeling, etc. will point to a strong ROI, but it’s not in fashion, so the industry is often plagued with people who are concerned for their jobs because they’re not forward-thinking enough.” Vicci Rose, Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer, US Weekly…

Troy Young – President, Hearst Magazines:

“I would say that in all mediums we have to serve the customers and understand how we are serving those customers. And I call that content with purpose. And I think we just have to be incredibly mindful, whenever we’re delivering a magazine into someone’s home or we are engaging that consumer on YouTube, why we’re there and how we make someone’s life better. Print is heavily edited and curated and it’s like a celebration or an event that happens once a month. And there’s something really wonderful about that. And it’s a lean-back experience that I think gives a consumer a break from the intensity of the digital world. And I think increasingly that people are going to look for that. So, print plays a really important role in saying this is important and this has a place in culture, and take a moment to think and read about this and consume it. And I think our magazines are going to play an important role in how we do that for a long, long time.” Troy Young, President, Hearst Magazines… (On the role of print today)…

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: