h1

New Magazine Power By The Numbers: February 2015 Compared To February 2014. A Mr. Magazine™ Exclusive

March 15, 2015

I’ve always said that the vivacity and life’s blood of the magazine industry is in its new launches, as in ink on paper new launches. There is nothing, be it human or otherwise that can continue its species without new birth. And that certainly applies to ink on paper in every way.

The very essence of growth and sustainability is within the confines of creation itself. And Mr. Magazine’s™ Launch Monitor was born from that idea. It is the nursery window where proud parents and relatives or friends of the family can stand and admire the beauty and potential of each newborn ink on paper at their leisure.
launches fef14:15
For the year 2015, I have added a new feature to the Launch Monitor: monthly comparisons. From the Top 10 categories to the Average Cover Price – each month will have the numbers for 2015 and 2014 for you to parallel and consider. The numbers will speak for themselves and the information will be available along with the usual new magazine launches and their covers.

The methodology for this new feature is simple. I am a student of the newsstands. I visit the newsstands almost daily and hunt for new magazines. Every new magazine I find I buy. Once bought, my staff code the magazine, scan the cover and add to my 30,000 plus collection of new magazines. I also depend on the folks launching new magazines and mailing me their first issues. If I do not have a physical copy of the magazine it is not in the statistics. Having said that, I am sure that I do not have every single new magazine. So please treat the aforementioned numbers as the minimum number of new launches.

categories feb 14:15

I hope you enjoy this new feature and I hope it brings another detail of our fascinating world of magazines into a clearer focus and understanding, because it’s a given; we can’t know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been…

It goes without saying that I have each and every one of the magazines posted on the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor and remember my soon to be trademarked phrase “If It Is Not Ink On Paper, It Is Not A Magazine.”

h1

Magazines As Entertainers. The Social Role of the American Consumer Magazines. A Blast from Mr. Magazine’s™ Past… Dissertation Entries Part 4

March 13, 2015

1983

The social role of magazines: we continue with entertainment.

The social role of magazines: we continue with entertainment.

3. Magazines as Entertainers

Although entertainment was not considered a function of mass communication until late in the fifties when Charles Wright added it to Harold Dwight Lasswell’s three functions, magazine history books have described the role of magazines as entertainers since their earliest years. Wright defined the entertainment role as “communicative acts primarily intended for amusement irrespective of any instrumental effects they might have.”

Benjamin Compaine noted that magazines throughout their history “have provided a wide range of diversion – from sexual escapism to informative pieces on the space programs.” In fact, magazine historians say that for almost two centuries, the eighteenth and nineteenth, the American magazine was the most important entertainment medium available. Unlike other media, magazines did not arise out of necessity. “There was no immediate need for magazine reading,” says John Tebbel. Magazines were a leisure time occupation of the upper classes. This “leisure time occupation” soon spread to reach other classes of the American population, and the role of magazines as entertainers expanded to provide both entertainment and recreation to countless isolated American families in a period where those pleasures were few and far between.

The above information was written in 1983 and is taken from a portion of my dissertation when I was at the University of Missouri-Columbia where I obtained my doctorate in journalism. And while the majority of the material still holds true, things have changed drastically in some areas.

2015

The entertainment factor of magazines figures greatly into the social equation of their role in society. In fact, in 1983, when I wrote my dissertation, some of the biggest magazines on the newsstands were in the entertainment category. It was the year that McDonald’s introduced the Chicken McNugget and the second Cold War was at its height and it was a great year for entertainment reads. Magazines such as:

bop Bop – a monthly American entertainment magazine for kids 10 years of age and teens.

Mupmag01 Muppet Magazine – a full-color quarterly publication that was launched in January 1983, shortly after the last Muppet Fan Club Newsletter had been distributed.

people mag People – a weekly American magazine of celebrity and human-interest stories, launched in 1974 by Time Inc. With a readership of 46.6 million adults, People has the largest audience of any American magazine.

Mad_Magazine_E.T._1983 MAD – an American humor magazine founded in 1952 by Editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines, launched as a comic book before it became a magazine.

rolling stone Rolling Stone – a magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine’s editor-in-chief, and music critic Ralph J. Gleason.

teen magazine Teen Magazine – an American teen lifestyle magazine for preteen and early teenage girls, ages 10 to 15.

TV Guide 1983 TV Guide – the weekly American magazine that launched in 1953 and that provides television program listings information as well as television-related news, celebrity interviews and gossip, film reviews, crossword puzzles and in some issues, horoscopes.

Many of these leaders in the entertainment category are still going strong today and some are not, but the connection between magazines, media personalities and the interest and entertainment of the buying public is still just as magnetic as it was in the 1980s.

People love famous people; they love to read about them, learn all the juicy gossip that may or may not be going on in their lives, and they love to discuss them with friends and family.

But media personalities aren’t the only theme when it comes to entertainment magazines; there are crafts, games, hobbies, sports, music, collecting and in today’s niche magazine world; a host of other subject matter that is so spectrally broad that it boggles the mind.

inkonpaper_blog_ad As Tebbel wrote, “There was no immediate need for magazine reading,” I totally concur. And will add, there never will be a “need” for magazine reading. We’re not going to die out as a race if we don’t find out the latest scandal going on in the Kardashian camp, or whether or not Madonna will ever wear Armani again after her embarrassing fall at the Brit Awards, but I counter with this; while those topics and many others may not add years to our life spans in the scheme of things, they do make the dash between our birth and death dates much more interesting and enjoyable simply because they feed a “need” all human beings have: the connection to other human beings.

And that is a major role that entertainment magazines fill: linking one human spirit to another.

Until next week when Mr. Magazine™ sounds off on magazines as initiators…

h1

The Doctor Is In As Physicians’ Life Magazine Gets Ready To Launch – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Peter Slack, President of Slack Incorporated, Publisher of Physicians’ Life… A Launch Story

March 11, 2015

“The nature of this publication is we want physicians to spend some time away from their practice, getting away, relaxing and curling up with something. And that’s what print does.” Peter Slack

PhysiciansLifecover A lifestyle print magazine targeted for the busy, sometimes stressful world, of clinical practice; Physicians’ Life offers a respite to the maddening world of medical for those overworked men and women who choose to dedicate their lives to others. The magazine aims for a place where doctors can escape from their offices and patients for a while and enjoy getting lost in a world of travel, exercise and connection with other professionals just like themselves. And not only does it aim; it hits its mark quite well.

I have met Peter Slack, president of Slack Incorporated and publisher of Physicians’ Life, and we clicked from the first time we met. In fact, we clicked so much that he hired me to be a publishing consultant on this new magazine launch. So here you have it, truth in reporting, I am a paid consultant for Physicians’ Life but that did not stop me from having a frank conversation with Peter Slack about this new magazine venture. It is a story of a new launch and no one can explain it more than the publisher of the magazine.

I spoke with Peter recently about this brave new world called consumer magazines. Slack has been publishing B to B magazines for years, but this is their first endeavor into the world of consumerism. And while the target audience is physicians, the advertisers won’t necessarily be from the pharmaceutical and health-care worlds. Physicians’ Life will play more toward the affluence of doctor hood, with travel, fashion, auto and luxury being a prime mark for advertisers.

Peter and I talked about the risks; the rewards, and the expense of such a project as this, but he noted that a print component in the consumer world was a very natural extension of what Slack is already doing, and a superb way to grow their market.

So, sit back and relax, the doctor is in and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Peter Slack, President of Slack Incorporated, Publisher of Physicians’ Life…

But first the sound-bites:


Wyanoke-aOn whether he is out of his mind to launch a print magazine in this digital age:
No, I don’t think we are out of our minds. I think it’s a great idea and we’ve done our research. All along the way with our research, we were prepared to change our minds and say no. But the results kept coming back as green lights, and the red lights didn’t pop up.

On why his company is making the move to the consumer side of magazines:
The way it came about is the leadership of our company got together about two years ago and we made the statement that we’re a very healthy company; we know what we’re doing in the professional healthcare media space; what more can we do to expand our company, because if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward in the business climate today.

On what he envisions his major stumbling block to be and how he plans to overcome it:
The major stumbling block for us is that we’re privately held and we did not go and get outside financing for this publication. We’re still funding it in-house. We’re fortunate that we do have a lot saved up since we spend our money very judiciously. We’re not a public company; we’re not floating a bond and we’re not going to a VC (venture capitalist), so we have a limited budget to do this and it’s a very expensive project.

On his most pleasant moment so far:
The pilot issue came out in early January and we took copies with us to a meeting we had of ophthalmologists in Hawaii. I took several of them (ophthalmologists) aside and gave them copies of the pilot issue and to man, every single one said, “This is tremendous and much-needed. You guys are on the right track.”

On what he expects the next year to bring:
A year from now I hope to tell you that physicians are reading it and advertisers are embracing it.

On why he decided to go with a print publication for consumers:
The nature of this publication is we want physicians to spend some time away from their practice, getting away, relaxing and curling up with something. And that’s what print does.

On the doctors sharing with doctors tagline of the magazine:
Doctors are unique people, just as any professionals are, but doctors do respect each other. They’ve gone through the same schooling and we’ve learned over time that doctors enjoy hearing from other doctors.

On what keeps him up at night: There is so much opportunity right now in healthcare publishing, with the different platforms: print, online, mobile and there’s a lot of substandard information out there because it’s so easy for almost anyone to put information online. What keeps me up at night is making sure that we’re intelligently approaching that opportunity in the most aggressive way that we can and that we’re not missing the boat.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Peter Slack, President of Slack Incorporated, Publisher of Physicians’ Life…

Samir Husni: Are you out of your mind launching a print magazine in this environment that we live in; one where you hear nothing but gloom and doom?

Peter Slack: (Laughs) I knew you’d start with a good question. No, I don’t think we are out of our minds. I think it’s a great idea and we’ve done our research. All along the way with our research, we were prepared to change our minds and say no. But the results kept coming back as green lights, and the red lights didn’t pop up.

And we’re not the only people launching new publications right now. It’s seems like the time is right for this one.

Samir Husni: You’re an established media company that is specialized in B to B magazines; you have a lot of specialty magazines aimed at physicians and all kinds of people in the medical and healthcare field; why are you making the move to the consumer side?

Peter Slack: That’s a great question. The way it came about is the leadership of our company got together about two years ago and we made the statement that we’re a very healthy company; we know what we’re doing in the professional healthcare media space; what more can we do to expand our company, because if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward in the business climate today.

So, I challenged our upper leadership to come back with new ideas that could either be within our current comfort zone or outside it. And the idea of a consumer magazine came back from our chief financial officer, Darrell Blood, whose fiancée is a physician, and he made a strong argument that the time was right for someone who knows physicians and knows what they’re all about, to put together a publication that would meet their needs outside of the daily practice.

And yes, this is outside of what we do, but it’s related to what we do, because what we do 24 hours per day, every day of the year, is we work with physicians. That’s what we do and what we know, and we listen to their lives, both professionally and outside of what they do in their clinical practices.

When Darrell brought up the idea and said that he’d heard about the stresses that physicians were under when he’d attended cocktail parties and dinners with his fiancée and her colleagues; well, we’d been hearing these same things at our editorial boards and dinners that we’d been going to for several years from doctors that we knew very well.

So, yes, we know our marketplace well; we know the professional healthcare publishing world well, and we’re thankful that we’ve done well and continue to do well. But we’re looking for new ways to grow our company. And this seems like a natural fit.

Samir Husni: What do you envision to be the major stumbling block through this consumer journey and what do you plan on doing to overcome it?

Peter Slack: The major stumbling block for us is that we’re privately held and we did not go and get outside financing for this publication. We’re still funding it in-house. We’re fortunate that we do have a lot saved up since we spend our money very judiciously. We’re not a public company; we’re not floating a bond and we’re not going to a VC (venture capitalist), so we have a limited budget to do this and it’s a very expensive project.

We’re fortunate also in that we have around 40 advertising sales reps that sell to the professional marketplace, to pharmaceutical and device companies, and our editors are professional editors in creating professional, peer-reviewed publications and newspapers for physicians and other healthcare practitioners. None of us on the advertising sales side or the editorial side really fully understand the consumer marketplace, or the lifestyle marketplace and so one of the best things that happened to us is we went on a search to find out who could help us and we discovered the James G. Elliott Company in New York and they’ve brought great resources, on both the research side to prove the concept, they introduced us to you, Samir, and you have helped us and consulted with us along the way in this new kind of arena, and you introduced us to Beth Weinhouse who has turned out to be a Godsend on the editorial side.

The Elliott Group are professionals and they know how to reach the luxury marketplace; the consumer marketplace; the affluent marketplace which physicians fall into. Samir, you’ve helped us with the overall consulting of magazine publishing versus professional healthcare publishing, and Beth has jumped in and given us just what we needed to develop the editorial.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment so far, since you’ve launched the pilot issue and until the launch of the first issue; what was the moment that made Peter Slack think: Wow!

Peter Slack: The pilot issue came out in early January and we took copies with us to a meeting we had of ophthalmologists in Hawaii, it’s a meeting every year of about 1,000 ophthalmologists, and we know them very well; we’ve been in ophthalmology forever, so we know many of them that attend extremely well.

So, I took several of them aside and gave them copies of the pilot issue and to man, every single one said, “This is tremendous and much-needed. You guys are on the right track.” That’s an anecdotal way of saying that our research is validated and the concept is good.

Samir Husni: Peter, if I sit down with you a year from now and ask you to reflect on the first year of Physicians’ Life; what would you tell me?

Wyanoke-a Peter Slack: I would tell you that in the past year the factors that we’ve looked at about its success was of course advertising, but before advertising, the support was editorial interest. We’re going to test the first couple of issues to see how well it’s being read. We’re going to test the audience and I hope to tell you that the audience embraces it.

And the second thing that I hope to tell you is that the advertising community has embraced it as well, because that’s essential. There have been publications in the past that have been produced by healthcare publishers that went outside of the clinical realm and provided some of this kind of information and they did well. But the advertising environment changed over that period of time and that’s why we’re going to a different segment this time which we think is going to work.

So, a year from now I hope to tell you that physicians are reading it and advertisers are embracing it.

Samir Husni: You are launching, as far as I know, the largest consumer magazine launch in 2015; you’re launching with almost 350,000 in controlled circulation, magazines mailed to the physicians, and another 150,000 copies to distribute at conventions. Technically, you may end up with half a million copies. Does that make you tremble a little or have some doubts about launching the largest new magazine launch of 2015?

Peter Slack: It’s exciting, isn’t it? (Laughs) I think the answer to that question is that the physicians who are going to be receiving this publication; we already have a relationship with. As a company we mail or reach electronically or in some way, 450,000 physicians every month. So the list of 350,000 that we’re going to be mailing Physicians’ Life to is culled from that same list of 450,000 that receive something from us every month. So, they know us. They know who Slack is.

And there is this confidence that when it arrives in the mail to them, and I’m not saying the first issue is going to be read by every single one of them, but there is this confidence that when they ask who’s behind this publication and they see it’s us, they’re going to recognize it as something they should spend a little more time with.

And the copies that are distributed at conventions, and they’re going to be distributed from our booths, we exhibit at 70 to 80 medical conventions each year, and right on the booth it’s going to read Slack Publishing and Physicians’ Life is going to be there and they’ll make that connection as well.

So, you’re right; it’s going to be an expensive proposition; you know what it costs to print and mail 350,000 copies, plus now we have the additional 150,000; it’s an expensive proposition. But this is the risk that we have decided to take.

Samir Husni: I know people will understand the reason that you decided to go with print because you’re working with me. (Laughs)

Peter Slack: (Laughs too) I’m glad that you believe in print too.

Samir Husni: So, if you take me out of the equation; why did you decide to go with a print publication for these physicians?

Peter Slack: The nature of this publication is we want physicians to spend some time away from their practice, getting away, relaxing and curling up with something. And that’s what print does.

Right now they have a big stack of peer-reviewed publications and they read some of them and maybe they read them just when they need to or when they have the time. They go online and they search for information and Google brings it to them; they’re used to that kind of quick information; that quick hit, to go in when they need something and find it.

This is different. This is not go to Google and put in: where do I want to go on vacation, or I wonder if there are other physicians doing what I’m doing or if they enjoy wine or if they have the same challenges I do in getting a workout in. This is something they can pick up in one place and read it in their home or on the airplane, have it in their hands and flip the pages and actually get a feeling that they’ve escaped their professional world for a little while. And print does that.

We will have a website and it will operate under the same premise: this is a place that you can go and escape. And this is interesting; we’re not even going to have a search function on the website. We don’t want them to go to the website and put in search words; the front page is going to have categories that they can go to and clock on and over time, when the articles build up, there will be a reservoir of articles, but we don’t want them to go in and search and immediately go to a little nugget of information; we want them to really experience what we’ve put together to help them escape from their practice.

So, there’ll be a website and it’ll do that and it’s going to be restricted to physicians only. We plan on having a forum set up where they can share ideas with each other on the website.

But the print in this case really fits and really works because we’re going to have a front cover and a back cover and everything in between. It’s information that’s going to be developed by us and our physicians’ editors. And we think it is important for them to get in one place and actually pick it up and spend some time with it.

Samir Husni: I noticed your tagline: doctors sharing with doctors. Tell me a little about that tagline and about the importance of that personal connection with each other for the physicians, rather than just journalists sharing with doctors.

Peter Slack: Doctors are unique people, just as any professionals are, but doctors do respect each other. They’ve gone through the same schooling and we’ve learned over time that doctors enjoy hearing from other doctors. So, what we’ve done, and our research bore this out too and it was very clear, if this was written and directed by doctors to other doctors and doctors were on the editorial board and the editorship that it would make a difference. So, every article is going to have a spin on it to make it directed toward doctors and written by doctors. There might be an article there about working out, but this is going to be about how physicians have very difficult schedules, so how do you get your workout in because you’re a physician? Just those kinds of things. The general topic can generally be found anywhere across the many, many magazines on the newsstands, but these articles are going to be written in the direction of physicians only, written by our staff, which are directed by physicians.

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

Peter Slack: Nothing, other than the fact that this is something that is really a natural extension of us. You made the great point that it’s somewhat out of our comfort zone, but it really is a natural extension. And it’s something that we’re very excited about.

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

Peter Slack: Probably two things: getting a good putting stroke going; that’s probably the number one thing. (Laughs) And number two is there is so much opportunity right now in healthcare publishing, with the different platforms: print, online, mobile and there’s a lot of substandard information out there because it’s so easy for almost anyone to put information online. There is such a great opportunity for legitimate publishers to approach the marketplace now.

So, what keeps me up at night is making sure that we’re intelligently approaching that opportunity in the most aggressive way that we can and that we’re not missing the boat, because I really think that this is a tremendous opportunity, the time right now, for legitimate publishers to put out quality information and to gain the interest of their audience.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Women’s Health Magazine Coins “Well-thy” As The New Wealthy. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With The Magazine’s “True Grit” Publisher, Laura Frerer-Schmidt…

March 9, 2015

“It is such a beautiful print product and I think to be inspired to make real changes in your life, and some of them may be small, such as a lip gloss that’s moisturizing, and some of them are big, like you’re going to think differently about your life, and then some are medium, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, but for those kinds of inspiring changes I think print is a great medium for them. It tells a story and it tells it so completely.” Laura Frerer-Schmidt

WH0315_NEWS Women’s Health is well-thy. And if publisher, Laura Frerer-Schmidt has her way, the magazine will stay that way. Laura coined the phrase “well-thy” when she took the health and wellness print product, owned by parent company Rodale, to new heights. Well-thy has become an energetic movement, much like its equally dynamic composer.

I spoke with Laura recently and we discussed everything about Women’s Health and the “well-thy” movement. From events to social to digital to print; Laura prides the magazine on its totally integrated immersion. According to her animated description, the platforms feed off each other, with no way to differentiate where one begins and another leaves off. Circles of action that propel the audience and inspire positive changes in their lives.

And the numbers don’t lie. Under Laura’s leadership, Women’s Health continues to buck the trend remaining up in advertising sales both print and digitally. In 2015, the magazine remains up through the April issue and is poised to be up in May as well. Women’s Health has always remained true to its voice and that is something that advertisers and consumers value highly.

I hope you enjoy this ebullient conversation with a woman who knows how to motivate herself and the people around her with her “True Grit” nature and a positive outlook on the well-thy future…the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Laura Frerer-Schmidt, Publisher, Women’s Health…

But first, the sound-bites.


LFS headshotOn coining the phrase well-thy when it comes to the health and wellness category:
You know that wealthy is spelled well-thy, so it’s really about a trend. It’s a macro-trend and a micro-trend on many different levels. It’s where wellness is the new cool and is trendy.

On introducing wellness to the Women’s Health equation:
It’s a pretty easy connection to make, actually. When you come to our brand, you’re not coming for a sit-back read; you’re not coming to relax, or be entertained, or watch what other people do; it’s less of a cinematic experience and more of an engaged experience, like a triathlon; like life.

On a major stumbling block she envisions facing and how she plans to overcome it:
The market in general is not great. And when I say that; I mean the advertising market. And I also mean media overall. I would like to evolve past what we consider our immediate competitors and think of ourselves like a brand; I mean really think of ourselves like a brand, evolve into every area that we’re not touching so far, which there are only a few left.

On how she views the health and wellness competition outside of Rodale:
I think that they’re really smart businesses in that they’re recognizing the well-thy trend and they want a piece of it. It’s a huge market. If you look it up, there are articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that have run about the health market and on how it’s expanding. They want those dollars.

On whether she can picture a day where Women’s Health won’t have a print component:
No, I can’t. That’s my gut. I’m going to say right off the bat, no.

On anything additional she’d like to add:
I think that this is going to be an interesting year for our category. I’m going to say that consumers need to trust brand identity. And that will be an advantage for us this year. That we are true to what we have always been and that we know who we are and we know what we’re about.

On what keeps her up at night:
I think brand evolution keeps me up at night and the other thing is I love my team. I’m very, very involved with each and every one of them.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Laura Frerer-Schmidt, Publisher, Women’s Health…

Samir Husni: Congratulations on reaching a milestone; 10 years in today’s magazine publishing world is a major milestone.

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: Thank you.

Samir Husni: You coined the phrase: wellness is the new luxury; so, wellness is the new wealthy. Tell me a little bit more about the genre’ of wellness and why do you view it as the new luxury?

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: You know that wealthy is spelled well-thy, so it’s really about a trend. It’s a macro-trend and a micro-trend on many different levels. It’s where wellness is the new cool and is trendy. It used to not be this way; I’m 47 years old, so I’m old enough to know. I remember the 80s quite well and it used to be about things and logos all over your body, giant cars and giant diamonds.

But today you see many brands from chic, mass brands to very chic, luxury brands leaning toward health, wellness and strength. I just came back from the Personal Care Product Council (PCPC); the largest beauty conference in the country, a lot of magazine people go there, amongst other media types, as well as very large beauty clients. Every brand I spoke with there, from prestige brands to the mass brands, and most of the mass brands consider themselves quite chic; they all spoke about wellness and health. I’m talking about Cover Girl, Pantene, Clinique, Shiseido; there’s a spin on all brands toward health and wellness because when you’re standing around the water purifier with your water bottle, you are talking, bragging about your green drinks or your triathlon or maybe your new electric car that’s powered by Panasonic batteries; this is the life. It’s the well-thy life. It’s an outdoorsy life; it can be skiing, surfing, running; it can be all of these sports that are really growing in great strides and becoming more social.

I think even the social movement across the country is related to wellness. Being connected to others is one of the critical components for wellness. It’s all a part of this lifestyle and our brand. And our brand happens to incorporate all of these things in a unique way; in a way that most women’s brands do not and I think that’s the key to the success we’ve had in this 10th year.

Samir Husni: How do you explain the confusion a lot of people have with the word health versus wellness? I mean, if someone asked you the unique selling proposition of Women’s Health; how would you introduce wellness into the Women’s Health equation?

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: It’s a pretty easy connection to make, actually. The unique proposition of Women’s Health, and it stems directly from Rodale, our parent company, is that when you come to our brand, and we are a very large brand, in print we’re the fourth largest contemporary women’s magazine in the U.S., with 11 million in audience and about 8½ million uniques in digital on comScore and about 18 million on Coremetrics, which makes us really big in audience; it actually makes us the second largest after Cosmo, and the reason why we’ve been growing so much, despite the industry trend, is because we’re an action-based platform, we’re about #transformingyourlife. So when you come to our brand, you’re not coming for a sit-back read; you’re not coming to relax, or be entertained, or watch what other people do; it’s less of a cinematic experience and more of an engaged experience, like a triathlon; like life. Around 98% of our consumers take some sort of action to change their lives by the time they come to the brand; that’s from Beta Research.

So, it’s unique and it’s working, because in today’s world when you come to us, our digital offers an interactive platform, our print offers a rich platform of information that #transforms your life, and then our social allows you to give us immediate feedback. We actually have more interactions on social than anyone in our set. We may not have total friends and followers that are larger, but our interactions per day on those five platforms, right at 8 million, are huge. It’s the circle of interaction, action and connection, because also, if you think about it, I’m pretty sure Rodale is the only fully integrated company for magazines. So, most of them have silos selling digital and print and we’re all integrated. We’ve always been integrated.

The same person who puts together an idea for Olay here, is giving them a digital platform that feeds the print platform that feeds the social platform that feeds an events platform. Then we’re also connected to our international division, which is really healthy. We have 29 editions internationally; Men’s Health is even bigger internationally, and we also have our books and DVD departments that we feed with partnerships as well,

Starbucks is an advertiser in Women’s Health and in many of our other brands and we actually published the CEO’s book. So, everything kind of comes around in this big circle of action and I think it works.

Samir Husni: Laura, you seem to be on Cloud Nine and you’re doing such a wonderful job with the magazine and the advertising shares and the numbers reflect that; what major stumbling block do you envision facing this year as you celebrate the 10th anniversary of the magazine and what’s your plan for overcoming it?

WH010215_NEWS Laura Frerer-Schmidt: That’s an interesting question. Thank you for asking it. (Laughs) I would say the limitations of the market right now. The market in general is not great. And when I say that; I mean the advertising market.

And I also mean media overall. I would like to evolve past what we consider our immediate competitors and think of ourselves like a brand; I mean really think of ourselves like a brand, evolve into every area that we’re not touching so far, which there are only a few left.

I would definitely prefer to be thought of as a brand instead of a magazine, because we’re so much more than that. When you limit yourself to one thing, just digital or just print or just social, just TV, just products or just events; you’re not a powerful enough brand. And there are some really powerful brands in our business, but I look at right now, and they need to evolve. And they can; there’s a lot waiting for them when they evolve past being mainly a print product.

Samir Husni: Do you imagine the market is going to get even more competitive than it is in 2015?

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: We’ll see who survives. I’m very surprised to see some of the brands that I know and love struggling this year. I think sometimes some of the big brands either go away or they go through such big changes that they evolve to become a little bit less of a competitor. We’ve really been true to our brand for the entire 10 years. We’ve evolved for sure, but we haven’t had to create big, sweeping changes around the identity of the brand because it’s been on trend with the whole well-thy movement and I think being smart enough to take advantage of that and to understand what it is the consumer has been loving from us has protected and grown us.

And my real answer to your question is probably it will be more competitive because I think that it’s a winner-take-all situation. I think that more and more companies are going to certain companies or brands and giving them all their money, or most of their money, because they want to see more than just a campaign run; they want to see a movement. So that means, fewer, stronger and better.

Samir Husni: A few months ago Meredith merged Fitness magazine into Shape; Hearst launched Dr. Oz The Good Life; Time Inc. reinvented Health magazine; Condé Nast reinvented Self… As you look at your competitive set; how do you see that wellness/health market outside Rodale competing with you?

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: I think that they’re really smart businesses in that they’re recognizing the well-thy trend and they want a piece of it. It’s a huge market. If you look it up, there are articles in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal that have run about the health market and on how it’s expanding. They want those dollars.

But I’m going to say that it is critical in this field that you be fully integrated as a company, fully integrated. And I mean a person doesn’t have to go to three different people to get digital, print and events. You have ideas that come to you that are movements and they’re movements in a social way and in a digital and print way, and they all feed each other. And I think if you look at the biggest client almost all of us have, Procter & Gamble, and as you may know, over the last year they’ve been moving people all around the country and it’s been a huge change for them, because they’re insisting that all of their brands be integrated, so that there’s not a print team for Cover Girl and then across the country there’s a digital team for Cover Girl; they want it all-in-one.

People are being trained now to handle print, TV, digital, social, events and products; just everything, on one team, because they want that message to be integrated. And Rodale has been fully integrated from the very beginning; we were never siloed in that way. And maybe it’s because we needed to be a little more efficient with our dollars; we couldn’t afford to have that many different teams. (Laughs) We have always had our teams, marketing, sales and editorial be fully integrated in print, digital, books, iTunes content and everything else that we do.

Samir Husni: Can you envision a day where Women’s Health will not exist in print?

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: No, I can’t. That’s my gut. I’m going to say right off the bat, no. It is such a beautiful print product and I think to be inspired to make real changes in your life, and some of them may be small, such as a lip gloss that’s moisturizing, and some of them are big, like you’re going to think differently about your life, and then some are medium, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, but for those kinds of inspiring changes I think print is a great medium for them. It tells a story and it tells it so completely.

I also think social is great to get people involved in it, because if you send a text to someone or it’s on Twitter and it says a chicken breast is 100 calories and 10 grams of protein, awesome. It just gets the conversation started. Or even a quote: don’t ask who’s going to let me, ask who’s going to stop me and a link to an article on True Grit.

You need all of these things; you need the quick social; you need the interactive digital, and you need the slightly more in depth storytelling of print. And I think that they speak to each other in a way. That’s why our circulation has been strong, our digital and social has grown so much. I think our numbers can be attributed back too all of the platforms linked to each other and it’s a fact, we know that over 30% of our digital traffic comes from social. It’s the circle of a conversation.

Samir Husni: You sound as energetic as the pages of the magazine. What makes Laura click and tick every morning and every day?

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: Oh my goodness, I was born this way. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: (Laughs too) You’re starting to sound like Lady Gaga, born this way.

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: Just like everything in life, my personality has good things about it, and not such good things about it. (Laughs) One of the good things is that my whole life, since I was a kid, I have been a very gritty person. It’s actually a quality measured by Harvard scientists called grit that trumps good looks, intelligence, money and physical prowess. You can win the Olympics and be the third best athlete if you have it.

The reason why I came to Women’s Health, and this is another thing that actually makes me tick; I came to Women’s Health because I read an article in the magazine about True Grit and I was so blown away by it. I starting talking to a couple of the folks here, and about six months later they called and said they needed me to come in. (Laughs)

So, whatever it is that makes me tick, there is definitely a thread of it throughout the brand. And that’s probably what you’re hearing.

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

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: I think that this is going to be an interesting year for our category. There is a lot of change going on with Shape and Fitness merging, as you mentioned, and even Self has gone through a repositioning that was pretty dramatic. I’m going to say that consumers need to trust brand identity. And that will be an advantage for us this year. That we are true to what we have always been and that we know who we are and we know what we’re about. Being true to your brand for your consumer is going to be critical in many ways this year. I believe it will affect everyone’s circulation, their digital audience, social, and then it will affect advertising.

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

Laura Frerer-Schmidt: My renovations. (Laughs) I’m renovating a house. That’s what keeps me up at night for real. But here, I would say, and it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing; is the excitement. But sometimes excitement can keep you up. We’re evolving our brand this year and we’ll come to you and tell you more about it, we had things actually happen this morning and last week, and there are some real and unusual new brand evolutions that will be happening that we’re stewarding through that I think will be unique in the industry.

I think brand evolution keeps me up at night and the other thing is I love my team. I’m very, very involved with each and every one of them. I know everything about their lives, or as much as can be known. I help them choose their wedding invitations; I help them get through bad breakups; I help them find an apartment they want to buy; I look at the floor plan with them; I show up and go there; I think Women’s Health is an interesting place because everyone here has evolved their life in some way, which is kind of what the magazine does and what the brand does.

So, I think it’s interesting that people are getting married and having babies and buying their first place, running their first marathon and doing so many things, and if something ever happens with them, and they’re people, they’re humans, stuff happens; I think about and I want to help. And it’s not just because I’m a great person, they are my profits. This is a business about people. It’s about consumers and it’s about the people who create the brands.

So with all these people running around the office, I have to make sure that they’re in a culture that supports them and uplifts them, but that they also are fulfilled and that they’re doing the best that they possibly can. I think about my people a lot.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Magazines As Reflectors: The Social Role of the American Consumer Magazines…The Size, Role & Future of Consumer Magazines: A Blast from Mr. Magazine’s™ Past… Dissertation Entries Part 3

March 6, 2015

The social role of magazines: we continue with reflection.

The social role of magazines: we continue with reflection.

1983

2. Magazines as Reflectors

There is no better way to know what the new trends are in American society than to visit the local newsstands and take a look at the newest magazines that have been published. A visitor to the newsstands in early 1983 will see a huge display of magazines dealing with computers and video games. In 1982, the same was true with magazines dealing with health and fitness. Science had its share of the market earlier with six new magazines published, all with the promise to deliver science to the public in a language it can understand.

The magazine, throughout its history, has been a reflector of American life, or, as Ronald Wolseley put it, “what the owners think is American life.” Wolseley noted that “the solid values of the lives of millions of American families are reported by the national magazine, unsensationally but vividly and accurately, in articles and fiction, in pictures and illustrations.”

Drawing on Marshall McLuhan’s hot and cool theory, Wolseley developed a “much less startling theory,” yet one that he thought might be useful. “The magazines of any nation exist in circles corresponding to the circles created by the interests of the population,” Wolseley’s theory stated. That is to say that magazines play the role of a mirror of society reflecting between their covers week after week what is going on in the real life.

John Tebbel seems to support Wolseley’s theory when he says that magazines “have always faithfully reflected the society in which they are produced.” Tebbel believed that magazines have been, are, and will be reflectors of life in America. He considers this one of their most important functions. “Anyone who wants to understand what Americans thought and believed in the twenties, must read the back issues of the Saturday Evening Post of that decade.”

The above information was written in 1983 and is taken from a portion of my dissertation when I was at the University of Missouri-Columbia where I obtained my doctorate in journalism. And while the majority of the material still holds true, things have changed drastically in some areas.

2015

When you look in a mirror; what do you see? Your own reflection, of course, a mirror image of your features, expression and persona staring back at you.

Now, hold the cover of a magazine up in front of that same mirror; what do you see? Society’s reflection, without a doubt, a mirror image of the interests, issues and trends that hold importance for most American lives. And it doesn’t matter the content of that cover; whether it’s Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, or Mark Zuckerberg, Time’s Person of the Year for 2010; the symmetry and rhythm of whatever topics featured with any given issue, resonate with human beings everywhere.

This is what a print magazine does best: it reflects the souls and mindsets of the human consumer and engages their concerns and delights in a way no other medium ever has or ever will. It was true in 1983 and it still rings resoundingly accurate for the 21st century.

Mimicking cultures and menageries of people is a natural action for magazines; after all they are only echoing what’s going on around them; so, it’s not the fact that they’re capable of doing it; it’s the fact that they do it with such gusto and impact that no other medium can compete. That is the doorstopper; the wedge of ink on paper steel that digital, mobile and even television, can’t pry from beneath print’s portal, the place where the audience finds that ultimate connection and jolt.

So, was John Tebbel right? Have magazines “always faithfully reflected the society in which they are produced?”

Jackie K• In January 1961, the cover of Time magazine featured Jacqueline Kennedy, apropos of the time since her husband was being inaugurated as President of the United States that same month.
Partridge 1971• December 18-24, 1971; TV Guide had the Partridge Family on its cover, as the highly popular show was in its second season by then.

kelly lebroeck• Kelly LeBrock on the March 1981 cover of Cosmopolitan, a face of the 80s that at the time was considered one of the sexiest women in Hollywood.

diana 1991• April 1991, Princess Diana graces the cover of Good Housekeeping, vowing to never get a divorce, her response to media when her marriage had begun to fall apart in the early 90s.

Domnoupc-P1.tiff• Newsweek’s September 24, 2001 special report cover after the horrible 9/11 tragedy: “After the Terror – God Bless America.”

oprah-o-magazine-june-2011-2• The June 2011 issue of O – The Oprah Magazine, dedicated to the 25th and last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

madonna-rolling-stone-march-2015-cover• March 2015 cover of Rolling Stone, Madonna shows she still has what it takes to grace the cover of one of the most popular music magazines around.

inkonpaper_blog_ad And these are only a few from the gargantuan list of magazine covers that have distinguished the nation’s newsstands over the decades. Looking at just the above list, I would say John Tebbel hit the print nail on the head when he stated: “magazines have always faithfully reflected the society in which they are produced.”

Wouldn’t you agree?

Until next week, when Mr. Magazine™ talks about the entertainment role magazines have played and still do in our world yesterday and today… and remember, if it is not ink on paper, it is not a magazine.™

h1

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

March 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

But first the sound-bites…

Sound-bites:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donna Kalajian Lagani: That’s exactly right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donna Kalajian Lagani: Very little.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samir Husni: Thank you.

h1

Newsweek One Year After The Print Re-Launch: Profitable And Self Sustaining. The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Newsweek’s Editor in Chief Jim Impoco.

March 4, 2015

The story of Newsweek is unlike any other magazine story. Born in 1933 and killed in print in 2012 under the watchful eye and leadership of one of the most celebrated editors of our time, Newsweek was bought by IBT Media and relaunched in print in 2014. And like the phoenix, it rose from the ashes and its dismal fate to become better than ever.

With a different publishing and business model, Newsweek now sets the standard of what a weekly should be. It looks and reads like a monthly, but is published on a weekly basis. I asked Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s editor in chief, who oversaw the relaunch of the weekly a year ago, about the reasons behind the success of Newsweek today, a year after its relaunch. His answers are sweet and short, but adds a lot to the story of Newsweek, the little magazine engine that could:

Feb 27 2015 Newsweek CoverSamir Husni: Now that Newsweek is celebrating its first year after its return to print, what did Jim Impoco do that Tina Brown did not do?

Jim Impoco: The main difference is that we got to try a different business model with a more targeted, limited distribution. That option was not available before. We’ve discovered that Newsweek is a pretty hard brand to kill off and expect that to remain so.

Samir Husni: What was the major stumbling block you’ve faced during the relaunch and how were you able to overcome it…

Jim Impoco: We relaunched with the Bitcoin cover and it created a fair amount of controversy on social media platforms. Our view on that story has never changed and we were happy to have opened up the conversation.

Samir Husni: What was the most pleasant moment during this one year journey?

Jim Impoco: Expenditures coming into alignment with spending – ie, we became profitable and self sustaining. And we’ve produced hard-hitting long-form journalism that has moved the dial.

Samir Husni: If we are to look into the future, where do you see Newsweek a year from now?

Jim ImpocoJim Impoco: With the caveat that our crystal ball is still in Beta, we expect to grow the whole operation as well as our audience, and remain in the thick of the news business.

Samir Husni: What do you consider the most important three issues you’ve published this past year.

Jim Impoco: ISIS Inc., Somaly Mam, Bitcoin

Samir Husni: Do you feel you set the bar high for what a newsweekly should be in print in this digital age?

Jim Impoco: Who has time to set bars? We’re just happy to be in the gym.

Samir Husni: What keeps Jim Impoco up at night?
Jim Impoco: Caffeine. Questions about what keeps Jim Impoco up at night.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,253 other followers

%d bloggers like this: