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From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports… Chapter 2: The History Of Distribution According To John Harrington

April 23, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 6.14.44 PM The magazine newsstand is an American icon, a pleasure in itself to visit and browse. The channel, as we know, is compromised: what happened? John Harrington of Harrington Associates opened the Magazine Innovation Center’s Act 6 with an explanation and summary of the history of the magazine distribution

For 40 years the old system of magazine distribution supported hundreds of wholesalers, who received their publications via national distributors and distributed them to regional retail chains. It was a profitable system, although one which passed along only 27% of the cover to retailers. As retailers grew more powerful and were able to demand higher discounts, and the power in the distribution system shifted to retail, the economic viability of the system was compromised, and remains compromised today.

To understand the degree to which this system has been compromised, Harrington took us through the history of the channel. In 1994 sold 2.1 billion magazines, at a value of almost $4 billion at retail, with a sell through of 41%.

Eleven years later, in 2015, we saw a sale of only a quarter of those units, fewer than a half a billion copies. Despite cover price increases, we saw a loss of 40% in revenue, commanding only $2.5 billion at retail. Efficiency has dropped to 26%, creating huge economic pressures on the system that handles the publications.

Harrington presenting at the opening of Day 2, ACT 6 Experience

Harrington presenting at the opening of Day 2, ACT 6 Experience

What happened? At the same time that the market shifted incrementally and over time, there were three major events: the great disruption of 1995, the Anderson News ext of 2009, and the Source Distribution collapse of 2014. At the same time, digital and mobile information delivery grew.

In 1995 retailers threw out the old rules. The power they accumulated through their consolidation forced consolidation on wholesalers as pricing and service were reconstructed in ways mandated by retailers. The distribution channel was reconstructed and reconfigured as wholesalers lost their economic vitality, and most went out of business. By 1999,four wholesalers accounted for 90% of the business.

Retail chains had changed their footprints from regional to national, giving them more power and the need to work with fewer, and consolidated, vendors. More magazines were published, at the same time the mega-titles on which wholesaler profitability was based were disappearing. With more publications to handle, the profitability of each was considerably reduced.

In 2009, when Anderson News went out of business, 25% of the distribution channel vanished literally overnight. At the same time, the Great Recession resulted in a loss of the discretionary income that supports the impulse buy that drives sales of magazines at the newsstand.

In 2014, Source Distribution collapsed, leading to an overnight loss of 30% plus of sales, leaving two major wholesalers and one direct distributor.

Today we face a recession hangover, where consumers grew used to living without their magazines; many who depended on print now receive their information via digital media. Publishers shifted their focus to digital expansion and grew increasingly disenchanted with traditional channels. And the business has become fundamentally unsound.

How can we as an industry reverse or repair these disastrous trends? Or is this once-profitable channel to disappear entirely? These are questions we’ll explore throughout the coming days of Act 6.

And you can click below to watch John Harrington’s presentation at the ACT 6 Experience:

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From ACT 6 Experience With Love: Linda Ruth Reports… Chapter 1: Magazines Are Not Just Surviving — They Are Thriving.

April 22, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 6.14.44 PM In an age which, six years ago, industry trend-spotters widely believed would be post-print, magazines are not only surviving—they are thriving. They have shown themselves to be flexible, adaptable, and robust. The creativity of publishers in creating multi-media platforms and leveraging them as a driver to print is a testament to that.

Folio magazine’s Tony Silber and Southern Living’s Sid Evans gave a structure to these concepts to the full room of attendees at the opening banquet of Dr. Samir Husni’s Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT 6. There are more titles on the newsstand than there were a decade ago; print advertising retains its credibility and authority with consumers; and magazines are an immersive, personal, and connective medium.

Opportunities are also challenge for publishers, and we can’t ignore that reality. While that Google and Facebook have become primary drivers of audience to publishers websites, they also leverage publisher content and audience, at no cost, to build their own sites and ad revenue; in doing so, they have built their own annual ad revenues to a point which eclipses that of the entire publishing industry.

Sid Evans delivers the keynote at the opening of the ACT 6 Experience

Sid Evans delivers the keynote at the opening of the ACT 6 Experience

Yet, as Evans pointed out, a reader who spends four minutes on a website will spend ten times that with a single issue of Southern Living; that four minutes allocated on the webpage could be spent on the cover alone. And as to the Southern Living reader wrote: “Top three books of all time: One: The Bible. Two: To Kill a Mockingbird. Three: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Southern Living.”—what website can claim to receive a letter like that from a reader?

As we move into the content of the MIC’s ACT 6, we’ll look forward to hearing more about the re-inventions that publishers are implementing for their publications and their businesses in this age which has, in fact, not emerged as post-print after all.

Click below to watch Sid Evan’s opening keynote at the ACT 6 Experience:

And to watch Tony Silber’s opening remarks click below:

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Hearst Magazines’ David Carey To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: The Magazine Cup Is More Than Half Full…

April 18, 2016

Hearst Magazines’ Success Kicks Print Into High Gear & Proves This Is No Time To Stop Believing In Ink On Paper – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With David Carey, President, Hearst Magazines.

David Carey “The print is dead movement was, I think, largely led by newspaper journalists who were maybe feeling in their own newsrooms what was going on and they were extending it to any traditional form. I think what’s happened is every sector of media, literally every sector, is in a period of enormous disruption and I think that has put the magazine industry in context, and I guess that we look at disruption as opportunity. People will succeed and make money from disruption and people will find themselves challenged and we want to obviously be in the former.” David Carey

On a recent trip to New York to present Mr. Magazine’s™ and min’s 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Past 30 Years, David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, took a few minutes out of his busy day to talk to me about the company’s continued belief and success in print and the accomplishments they’ve achieved with combined partnerships with other media platforms and businesses. I met David at his office on the 43rd floor of the Hearst Tower in New York City.

CareyandHusni3 David is a man who runs Hearst Magazines with a clear focus and gives all credit to the spectacular teams that he works with and their creative ideas and executions. From the recent partnership with Verizon, which he gives total credit to Neeraj Khemlani, who is co-president of Hearst’s entertainment division, to the first-ever joint venture with Snapchat, which David praises Joanna Coles for leading, he knows the value of a great partnership, and great teams.

While other companies are trimming and stifling new print magazine launches, Hearst is putting their best print foot forward and proving that ink on paper can not only survive in this digital age, but flourish as well. And along with Hearst’s outstanding digital platforms, the company intertwines print and pixels in a way that promotes and propels both platforms successfully into the future.

So, I hope you enjoy this extremely positive and interesting interview with a man who has proven that he knows how to lead with strength and vision in an age where print and pixels merge and the power of both are celebrated; the Mr. Magazine™ interview with David Carey, President, Hearst Magazines.

But first, the Mr. Magazine™ Video Minute with David Carey followed by the sound-bites:

And now for the sound-bites:

On Hearst’s secret sauce that keeps them growing and flourishing with new launches and bigger and better-quality magazines: Well, the credit goes to the team. One of the lines that I use with the team is if you don’t like change; you’ll like relevance even less. The industry continues to need to evolve what it does and how it accomplishes its goals. And the Hearst team does a great job with that. And then on our digital operations to figure out that scale has to be our friend, that we have too much self-inflicted complexity, that the only way to make digital work is to have a giant, global content ecosystem, where content gets to travel across brand and across geography without permission, friction or cost.

On Hearst’s partnerships and whether they’re still a viable opinion: Yes, we’re talking about partners all of the time. We generally prefer the partnership model, because we do believe when two companies contribute financial resources and management talent, promotional platforms that you can use and significantly boost your chances of success. So, partnership is out preferred course.

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 8.10.14 PM On why he thinks it took the magazine and magazine media world seven years to discover that print was neither dead nor dying: The print is dead movement was, I think, largely led by newspaper journalists who were maybe feeling in their own newsrooms what was going on and they were extending it to any traditional form. I think what’s happened is every sector of media, literally every sector, is in a period of enormous disruption and I think that has put the magazine industry in context, and I guess that we look at disruption as opportunity. People will succeed and make money from disruption and people will find themselves challenged and we want to obviously be in the former.

On whether he ever envisioned that Hearst Magazines would be where it is today when he assumed the position of president: I knew going in that we had things that were uniquely suited to Hearst; we have a parent company of remarkable strength. The corporation, because of what Frank Bennack built and now his transition to Steve Swartz, you have a company, unlike other media companies that perhaps you could imagine threats to their existence; Hearst is the opposite of that. From our entertainment division assets, to our business media assets, to 30 local TV stations, which do exceedingly well in political years; and our newspaper division that has seen growth and profits now four years in a row, there’s that can-do spirit that’s part of what we do as well as the financial ability to invest.

On Hearst’s partnerships with entities such as Complex and Vice: Those are with our entertainment division as you know. This news relationship with Verizon that we have is a very important one. We’ve formed this Verizon relationship that’s going to be programming content for the Go90 platform and then Verizon came into our Awesomeness business, not just ours; it’s owned 51% by DreamWorks and 49% between Hearst and Verizon, so for Hearst to now have this relationship with Verizon is fantastic, given their power. The credit goes to Neeraj Khemlani, who is co-president of our entertainment division and did a brilliant job on that. We haven’t worked so closely with Complex yet, but we’ve had ideas with Vice and have been discussing different things that we can do together.

On how he decides which partnerships to accept: We take everything seriously. But there are a couple of important considerations. The first is; we do spend a lot of time early on in a chemistry check, because we know these partnerships ideally last for a very long time and the signing of the deal is the easiest, least stressful piece, right? We do spend a fair amount of time making sure that it feels like we have a good relationship with the partner, because that’s just like the people who are your closest associates in the world. So, there’s a good chemistry period.

On the hardest decision he’s made since becoming president of Hearst Magazines: We make a lot of decisions; we’re always rethinking flows and structures and what people do and how they do it. And you deal with human beings and some are great with change and others are not so good with it. And we’re a culture that’s sensitive to people and we balance implementing, at times, disruptive actions with respect for the individual.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up unexpectedly at his home one evening: I spend a lot of time reading our magazines; there are all sorts of interesting and thoughtful analyses of trends across the world. I do very much believe in interdisciplinary thinking, that the answers to some business problems are found by looking at other industries, not just our own. So, I like to consume as much as I can.

On the next big thing coming up with Hearst Magazines: I think that we’re at it every day. We run in spurts as I mentioned to you. We have big initiatives and they all come in kind of when they’re ready. But our teams are thinking about how to advance and evolve other businesses every day.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with David Carey, President of Hearst Magazines.

CareyandHusni2 Samir Husni: What is your secret recipe when it comes to Hearst magazines? You’re still launching new magazines; you’re not firing people en masse; you’ve upsized all of your magazines; almost every magazine in the portfolio is bigger and on better paper. What is the secret sauce that other companies aren’t finding?

David Carey: It’s simple. A: we step on no cracks when we walk down the street and we sleep under a pyramid at night. (Laughs) People have not realized the mystical powers of these forces.

Samir Husni: (Laughs too).

David Carey: Well, the credit goes to the team. One of the lines that I use with the team is if you don’t like change; you’ll like relevance even less. The industry continues to need to evolve what it does and how it accomplishes its goals. And the Hearst team does a great job with that. So, whether we are looking at our print businesses in terms of what’s the right way to produce our products and the creation of the Hearst Design Group led by your alum, Mr. Newell Turner, and bringing three teams together into one big team to produce three different products, running against the traditional standards of the business and those businesses today are not only economically healthy, but gave us the confidence to do a pilot issue of Metropolitan Home, a great mark that we acquired, it was defunct, with the Lagardère acquisition and a chance to bring it back.

And so we’re always kind of thinking differently. Recently we made the move to have Jay Fielden not only continue to oversee Town & Country as editorial director, but also be the day-to-day editor in chief of Esquire. Jay is a real talent; he did a fantastic job at Town & Country.
So, we stretch our teams and we stretch our thinking.

And then on our digital operations to figure out that scale has to be our friend, that we have too much self-inflicted complexity, that the only way to make digital work is to have a giant, global content ecosystem, where content gets to travel across brand and across geography without permission, friction or cost. And that was one of the most disruptive decisions we made, over the course of my career, but one of the biggest, because the profit growth that we’ve had from digital has allowed us to make our numbers and has taken pressure off of the organization. So, that has allowed us to avoid a large staff restructure and so on, because we’ve met our numbers for our U.S. business, largely by taking business model risks that have paid off. But our teams have implemented brilliantly.

Samir Husni: The word on the streets is you’re not only launching new magazines, you’re bringing back magazines from the dead and putting them back into print, such as the case with Metropolitan Home. And this is the first major test where you didn’t partner with someone else, such as with the last three or four magazines that you launched. Is there still talk about other partnerships?

David Carey: Yes, we’re talking about partners all of the time. We generally prefer the partnership model, because we do believe when two companies contribute financial resources and management talent, promotional platforms that you can use and significantly boost your chances of success. So, partnership is out preferred course.

But in this particular case, we had the mark and Newell had a vision for it. And we were able to officially produce it out of the Hearst Design infrastructure. The way this worked was different, we didn’t need to assemble a team and hire a bunch a people. We managed to fit it in within the workflow, both sales and editorial, of the existing population of managers. And so it was a different model. This group found that they could stretch even beyond Elle Décor, Veranda and House Beautiful. It made sense because we had a mark, Metropolitan Home, for many people they still remember it fondly. And this is our way to kind of test that reservoir of good will that hopefully exists for the brand.

This was driven by Newell. He came to us with this plan, had a vision for it, believed that we could do it in a way that made sense financially and we like to empower our managers. And our discussion with Newell was to go for it.

Samir Husni: One thing that I’ve noticed this year in following magazine media and the marketplace, no one is saying that print is dead anymore. That mantra has vanished. Why did it take us seven years to discover that print is neither dead nor dying?

David Carey: The print is dead movement was, I think, largely led by newspaper journalists who were maybe feeling in their own newsrooms what was going on and they were extending it to any traditional form.

I think what’s happened is that the rest of the world has been caught up in this absolute state of chaos. And suddenly, magazines don’t seem as chaotic. The cable TV business seems incredibly chaotic. Parts of the digital business, you have Yahoo, one of the big players, looking at revenue declines of 15% per year, and all the disruption there.

I think what’s happened is every sector of media, literally every sector, is in a period of enormous disruption and I think that has put the magazine industry in context, and I guess that we look at disruption as opportunity. People will succeed and make money from disruption and people will find themselves challenged and we want to obviously be in the former.

It’s been important for those that long-thought certain industries had a get-out-of-jail-free card forever and that proved not to be true. I believe that has changed the thinking around magazines, and for the good. We always believed it, of course. People would look at other things as sure bets and the good news is that there are no moats around any business, no matter how large, that business is available and it’s up to you to determine whether you’re going to succeed or fail. I don’t care if you operate a digital company, a television network, or a magazine company.

Samir Husni: In 2010, did you envision that Hearst Magazines would be where they are now when you assumed the position of president?

David Carey: I knew going in that we had things that were uniquely suited to Hearst; we have a parent company of remarkable strength. The corporation, because of what Frank Bennack built and now his transition to Steve Swartz, you have a company, unlike other media companies that perhaps you could imagine threats to their existence; Hearst is the opposite of that. From our entertainment division assets, to our business media assets, to 30 local TV stations, which do exceedingly well in political years; and our newspaper division that has seen growth and profits now four years in a row, there’s that can-do spirit that’s part of what we do as well as the financial ability to invest.

I knew we had a team that knew how to innovate and not take everything they do too seriously. And I think at the same time we’ve pushed that hard against the conventional thinking, or in some cases the disruption that has impacted some of the other companies in the industry,

I’m proud of where we are, but I do believe that we can go much further. I give our team high marks that we have still a lot more to get done and a lot more to accomplish.

Samir Husni: How much are you going to push those new partnerships, whether it’s with Complex or Vice or other entities? Are you going to bring them into the fold or is it as you were reported in the New York Observer and also told me: “you wake up at night and think about these things?”

David Carey: Those are with our entertainment division as you know. This news relationship with Verizon that we have is a very important one. We’ve formed this Verizon relationship that’s going to be programming content for the Go90 platform and then Verizon came into our Awesomeness business, not just ours; it’s owned 51% by DreamWorks and 49% between Hearst and Verizon, so for Hearst to now have this relationship with Verizon is fantastic, given their power. The credit goes to Neeraj Khemlani, who is co-president of our entertainment division and did a brilliant job on that. We haven’t worked so closely with Complex yet, but we’ve had ideas with Vice and have been discussing different things that we can do together.

We get a lot of people who knock on our door and want to co-create media with us, in what used to be only print, but now in other interesting incarnations. In digital of course, in the fall we created the new digital business with Lena Dunham around the “Lenny Letter,” which was a very successful newsletter with a clear, concise voice. We’ve created a new digital business and partnership with Lena and her production partner.

Of course, we also did our new joint venture with Snapchat, their first ever joint venture was with Hearst. Joanna Coles did a great job leading that. We announced our relationship with Condé Nast, so this is just in a few months, and then with Verizon.

In just a four or five month period, we’ve partnered with Condé Nast and Verizon and Snapchat and Lena Dunham. We’ve been thinking about these pop-up magazine concepts for some time. And many people come to us because they’ve seen the great success of Oprah or Food Network and some of them have good brand recognition, but maybe not in terms of promotional resources, a real big company behind them. So, we’ve been thinking about what to do.

What we first did with Carine Roitfeld and Harper’s Bazaar, as you know, four times per year she publishes this brilliant portfolio that runs across every edition of Harper’s Bazaar globally in the same month. And no one does that, right, simultaneous global content creations. We’re trying something different on that.

And what we’re going to do with Linda Wells in the fall, and of course, Linda is the highly-respected, long time editor of Allure, we’re building internally is the Wells Report and we’ll see what the final title will be, but it will be a content play that will run across Elle and Marie Claire, Town & Country and Harper’s Bazaar, partial circulation and you take a concept that would reach a slice of those audiences, and we have a lot of those individuals who approached us, that could work as a pop-up magazine, maybe not work as their own dedicated franchise, but could very much work as a horizontal content play.

So, we’re piloting the Linda Wells project with great hope and we have others behind it. Since we did the Lena Dunham deal with “Lenny,” we’ve had many others who are successful, content names in their own right, approach us to do something similar. Our hope is that we can do a couple of these a year. We could probably do more if we want to respond to all of the inbound queries, but we want to execute each one well. That’s why when we talk print, we do it in an every two-to-three-year cycle, because we want to make sure that we can really focus and do it right and then move on to the next one.

Samir Husni: What do you use as a filter? I’m sure you’re bombarded by people who want to partner and who want to do a pop-up magazine. What’s the filter; which ones make it to David’s desk?

David Carey: We take everything seriously. But there are a couple of important considerations. The first is, we do spend a lot of time early on in a chemistry check, because we know these partnerships ideally last for a very long time and the signing of the deal is the easiest, least stressful piece, right? We do spend a fair amount of time making sure that it feels like we have a good relationship with the partner, because that’s just like the people who are your closest associates in the world. So, there’s a good chemistry period.

And then we do research and we test to see if the concept will be able to grow and be able to command an audience and drive advertising. But I would say one of the most important considerations is; are these people who we’re going to spend a lot of time with, ones that we can problem solve with? You hope problems never come, but they do come. As a result, there are projects that I won’t name; two projects in the last two years that came up that I thought were really, highly promising businesses, but we weren’t so sure the partnership was going to be strong and we passed on something that we thought could have been successful, but might have been choppy midway through because we didn’t have good alignment with the partner.

Those are the decisions that I make with Michael and Ellen. Those are hard decisions, to walk away from something that might have been a good business, but the partner has some questions. But we have to do that.

Samir Husni: For an outsider, people look at you and at what you’re doing and think: wow, David’s life at Hearst has been nothing but a rose garden. But what has been the most challenging time you’ve had?

David Carey: Part of our day, every day is filled with the good stuff and part of our day is filled with the tough, operating decisions and problems that you get around the world and that you have to manage.

Samir Husni: What has been the hardest decision that you’ve made since you became president of Hearst Magazines?

David Carey: We make a lot of decisions; we’re always rethinking flows and structures and what people do and how they do it. And you deal with human beings and some are great with change and others are not so good with it. And we’re a culture that’s sensitive to people and we balance implementing, at times, disruptive actions with respect for the individual.

It wasn’t a hard decision. The implementation of Pub Works is filled with complexity and opportunity. I do believe at my core that this is a significant advancement for the entire industry, not just these two companies. But we have a lot to do between now and then. You can’t be afraid.

The age-old question, and people have different personal characteristics; the age-old question that people always ask is: what keeps you up at night. And I don’t like that question. The reality is nothing. I sleep well every single night and I always have. And maybe I’m fortunate that that’s me, because we have all sorts of issues, things that go right and things that go wrong. You wake up the next day and you try to solve them again. And we’ll solve a bunch of them, but we won’t solve them all.

Samir Husni: So, rather than me asking you my typical last question about what keeps you up at night; if I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; your iPad; watching television; or something different?

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 8.10.50 PM David Carey: People have different media consumption habits; this is not a statement which some people make because they try to come off as intellectuals, but I really don’t watch TV; when you don’t watch TV you have a lot of extra time on your hands, a lot of extra time.

I watch maybe two or three hours per week of TV, maybe. So, that gives me a lot of time to do a lot of other things. I don’t really like sports; I’m not good at playing them and I’m not really interested in them, except with my sons in a live setting at a baseball or football game.

So, I spend a lot of time reading our magazines; there are all sorts of interesting and thoughtful analyses of trends across the world. I do very much believe in interdisciplinary thinking, that the answers to some business problems are found by looking at other industries, not just our own. So, I like to consume as much as I can.

Again, I also get more than a handful of emails at all hours of the day and so I’m communicating all through the day and evening. It’s a weird statement to make, but part of my personal career success is that fact that most people watch TV 20 or 30 hours per week. If you only do that two hours per week, you have a lot of time to do a lot of other things, from reading books for enjoyment to playing games and just everything else. That will eliminate me from being head of Hearst Television; I can cross that job off the list. (Laughs) But I have friends who talk about this show or that show and I don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s just one of those things. My wife and kids will watch every Housewives show, you name it, but it’s something that never really attracted me.

Samir Husni: And what’s the next big surprise we’re going to hear from Hearst Magazines come October 2017, since October seems to be the launch date for new magazines?

David Carey: I think that we’re at it every day. We run in spurts as I mentioned to you. We have big initiatives and they all come in kind of when they’re ready. But our teams are thinking about how to advance and evolve other businesses every day. I don’t know if we have any significant step-function changes in what we do, but I think that being open to everything is how we spend our time.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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The 30 Hottest Magazine Launches Of The Past 30 Years Event: Hubert Boehle, Ellen Levine and Priest + Grace Named Hottest Publisher, Editor and Designer, Respectively, Of The Past 30 Years + InStyle, The Hottest Magazine Launch Of The Past 30 Years. As Selected By Mr. Magazine™

April 14, 2016

27513_mins_30_Event_logo You can’t have the 30 Hottest Magazine Launches of the Past 30 Years without calling out the current Hottest Publisher, Editor and Designer(s) who have put their respective magazine(s) through its paces to land it in this most elite of groups. Announcements of the winners were made at the min 30 Event on April 14 at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

On any given day, Mr. Magazine™ can be seen flipping through individual copies of new magazine launches, but I can also be found thumbing happily among those legacy brands that have led the way for all those new titles that have followed, such as in the case of the 30 Hottest Launches of the Past 30 Years.

And in doing so, I have observed the trails that have been blazed in both the editorial and designer forests, and with the advertising revenue streams that run perpendicular to those creative trails, only to connect somewhere a little farther down the path to become the communal force of nature that they are when joined.

The result was the Hottest Publisher, Editor, and Designer of the past 30 years. After all, you can’t have hot magazines without equally smoking people. So, as difficult as it was to choose among the stellar talent out there, I somehow managed to do it, and during the same epiphany came up with five questions to ask each of them.

Without further ado, we begin with our Hottest Publisher of the Last 30 Years:
Hubert Boehle, President, CEO, Bauer Media Group USA, LLC.

HUBERT_BOEHLE_CEO[2]

Samir Husni: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Hubert Boehle: I faced the biggest challenge of my career right after I joined Bauer Media in the U.S. in 1989. The company had just launched First for Women and even though we spent millions on TV ads the magazine just didn’t hit its target numbers. The problem was that we had badly underestimated the readers’ attachment to the Seven Sisters. The launch plan was to offer a magazine similar in content but younger than the established magazines, but – contrary to our experience in Europe – focus group attendants kept telling us: “I trust this old brand; my mother used to read it and so will I.” My boss at the time, Konnie Wiederholz, charged me with getting the magazine to profitability. I wanted that challenge, but at the same time I was scared to death because I was inexperienced and had almost no familiarity with the American marketplace. As you know, First is still around and has been a healthy magazine for close to 30 years, so obviously it all worked out. Our first goal was to stem the losses. We used all the tricks you learn in Publishing 101: cutting costs, firing up the ad sales team, raising the cover price, changing frequency, fine-tuning the editorial product. I took some of these actions with bated breath. Not all of them worked, but all in all the changes were successful, and I felt like an Olympic finalist when we finally crossed the break-even point.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your career so far?

Hubert Boehle: Probably that too happened during the relaunch of First for Women, and it taught me the power of reader-focused editorial. In its initial years, First suffered from terrible price elasticity. We raised the cover price twice, from $1.00 to $1.25 and from $1.25 to $1.50. Both increases were a waste of time, because we lost so much circulation that the net effect was close to zero. So the market was sending us a clear message: your original launch idea – an eighth sister for younger readers – stinks!

The decisive turnaround happened when we noticed that the magazine sold better with topics that addressed the reader not in her roles as mother, cook and housewife, but as a young woman with personal needs and interests. We did well when we covered topics like hairstyles and diets on the cover and we lost to the competition when we offered Seven Sisters staples like household tips, recipes and crafts.

So we finally changed the editorial positioning of the magazine to what we still use as our tagline: We put you first! Looking at women’s magazines today, it’s hard to believe that would make such a big difference, but back then, the focus on fashion, beauty, health, nutrition and diet was a real USP. After this repositioning, we went through with a hefty price increase, from $1.50 to $1.99 and this time we didn’t lose a single copy in sales.

Samir Husni: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think we are better off today than the “good ol’ days?”

Hubert Boehle: This would be the moment for me to say, “There’s never been a better time for quality journalism,” but, let’s face it, the “good ol’ days” weren’t just good, they were mind-blowing. Magazine publishing was like a license to print money and you had to spend a lot of time golfing not to achieve double-digit margins.

From that perspective, it’s difficult to be nostalgia-proof. Revenues and margins are under pressure and nobody expects that magazine publishing as an industry can return to the old way of doing business. For the last few years, every publishing house has had to adapt to this new reality of shrinking returns, and we will need to keep on finding new ways of managing our business and, most of all, new business. I wish I knew what exactly that new business will be; my guess is there will not be one solution that will fit all, and instead, a number of different paths depending on each publisher’s particular know-how.

Samir Husni: From a publisher’s point of view how do you view the future or the “publishing” profession?

Hubert Boehle: There’s no doubt that we will go through a period of intense changes. My hope is that the change will be a transformation, rather than a disruption, of the current situation. I hope we publishers will be able to use the capital, the talent and the know-how we have gathered to, on the one hand, keep our magazines attractive enough so they continue to find readers, and, on the other hand, to successfully invest in new activities. Platform agnostic is the sexy new phrase, and I am more optimistic than I was a few years ago that we will be successful in developing significant new revenue streams.

Samir Husni: What is your reaction to being named the hottest publisher of the past 30 years?

Hubert Boehle: Samir, we were fortunate enough to win your “Launch of the Year” award a few times and I always felt honored because you choose your top launch based on how you gauge a new title’s appeal to the reader, and you’ve never been afraid of going against the grain; for example, your vote for Simple Grace this year. And the same can be said for In Touch in 2002 because the title was nothing but a little rebel at the time. So to receive this award – not to mention the million-dollar prize that comes with it – is a special moment in my professional life.

HCI
Hottest Editor of the Past 30 Years:
Ellen Levine, Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines

Samir Husni: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Ellen Levine: I actually love challenges – I find them engaging. Starting new magazines is a creative opportunity that some might see as a challenge, because you need to find true uniqueness and originality, but ultimately it is really a wonderful way to put creativity to work, and I love it.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your career so far?

Ellen Levine: There have been so many, but one that stands out is launching Food Network Magazine, which we did in the depths of a recession. In fact, the first issue’s on-sale date was the day the market tanked. We didn’t know what would happen, and when the results started coming in, we could see that it was an immediate, huge hit. People really embraced it, it was just what they needed at that moment, which is always what you are trying to achieve.

Another very pleasant moment was when we learned that the first issue of O, The Oprah Magazine had sold out in a little over week and we went back to press to print thousands of additional copies – proof that women truly value Oprah’s advice and wisdom. In both cases, I felt like we had tapped into something special with our content that really resonated with consumers.

Samir Husni: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think we are better off today than the “good ol’ days?”

Ellen Levine: To me, every yesterday is a good ol’ day, but tomorrow is the future.

Samir Husni: From an editor’s point of view how do you view the future or the “editing” profession?

Ellen Levine: There’s more creativity, more room for experimentation than ever before. The original definition of editing was putting pencil to paper, and we all continue to do that too – editing is and will always be essential in the media business.

Samir Husni: What is your reaction to being named the hottest editor of the past 30 years?

Ellen Levine: It is a huge honor, and in so many ways I have Hearst to thank for it. Our leadership, the editors and publishers that I work with every day – we’re like a family. There’s no other place where I could stretch myself creatively and see things come to fruition the way I have at Hearst, from launching new brands to reshaping and evolving existing ones.

The Hottest Designer(s) of the Past 30 Years:
Robert Priest and Grace Lee of Priest + Grace Design Firm

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Samir Husni: What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Priest + Grace: Remaining relevant as a person and as a designer. Being somebody who constantly believes in reinvention and looking forward.

Samir Husni: What has been the most pleasant moment in your career so far?

Priest + Grace: There have been several things really. Moving to New York, from London via Toronto is certainly one. Teaming up with Grace Lee and the effect our collaboration has had on my creatively has been a revelation to me.

Samir Husni: Looking at the industry as a whole, do you think we are better off today than the “good ol’ days?”

Yes! But of course there are many definite challenges right now. I feel everyone is looking for a new way of communicating, and the jury is out as to which path to follow.

Samir Husni: From a designer’s point of view how do you view the future or the “design” profession?

Priest + Grace: It’s about taste and value to me. If you have good taste and can be flexible there’s a place for you in the future of design. If you have great taste, you’re articulate and you don’t compromise, you are the future of the design.

Samir Husni: What is your reaction to being named the hottest designer of the past 30 years?

Priest + Grace: Incredulous!

The Hottest Magazine Launch Of The Past 30 Years:
In Style

InStyle-1

In 1974 when Time Inc. launched People magazine, many people said that Henry Luce was probably turning over in his grave at how an institution like Time Inc., with titles such as TIME, Fortune and LIFE, were marching through the celebrity neighborhoods with a magazine called People.

However, little did they know that People would change the course of the history of magazines when it came to celebrities and human interest, and needless to say, People also became a major cornerstone in the world of magazine business.

Move forward to 1994; literally ripping a page from the success of People, Time Inc. launched a brand-new baby, born from the womb of the master mother: a baby they named InStyle. The same remarks were made about the infant as there had been about its famous mom two decades before. ‘Why would a company that deals with news and weeklies go into the fashion market? Why would they publish a women’s magazine that was heavily focused on style and beauty?’ The same doubts, with basically the same naysayers as there had been with People, spouting the same disparagements.

When People was launched there was very little competition in its category, but when InStyle hit newsstands, the fashion field was robust and ripe with some heavy-hitters such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. InStyle had to swallow its nervousness and compete with three giants.

But not only did the magazine compete; it carved a niche for itself and did something the others didn’t do, it humanized celebrities. Suddenly people were seeing celebrities in a more personal and relaxed environment, proving that the magazine had a different access to their favorite stars than the others did, making InStyle unique.

The magazine made celebrities, style and fashion accessible to the masses without degrading the subjects they were covering and humanized the personality behind the famous name.

And of course, InStyle is not just limited to the United States. Currently the magazine is being distributed as international editions in 17 other countries including: Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Greece, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Turkey and South America. Its digital footprint is strong as well, with a website and app that keeps the brand in your face, right where it should be.

InStyle fits the criterion excellently that was required and needed to wear the title: The Hottest Launch of the Past 30 Years.

The Hottest 30 Magazine Launches of the Past 30 Years

What can you say about 30 magazines that have left a streak of fire in their wake as they impacted three generations? Well, you can definitely call them the 30 Hottest Launches of the Last 30 Years for sure. And you can say they are all inimitably unique and dynamic. Take a look at each one and see if you agree with my thoughts about them:

Cooking Light-2Cooking Light: Combining the love of food and the health of its audience, the magazine was able to beautifully showcase scrumptious and delicious food, that while healthy, was so stunningly decadent-looking, you would never know you were eating in good health. It took the guilt out of eating.

Dwell-4Dwell: The little engine that could. Dwell was one magazine that if you were a gambler would have been a long shot at best. Yet, with the diligence of its staff and creators, Dwell has become a leader in the interior design and shelter categories, in print, in events and of course, digital.

ELLE-2ELLE: One of the first magazines to succeed in bringing that Euro-trend to the United States. And not only did ELLE succeed; it excelled and became a dominant player in the world of fashion magazines.

Entertainment Weekly-8Entertainment Weekly: The first major weekly magazine to be published in the last 30 years that curated all the entertainment landscape before the word curation was en vogue and provided everything its audience (and DJs) needed to know about popular culture.

ESPN-1ESPN The Magazine: ESPN The Magazine was built from the television network and the brand. The creation of a lifestyle magazine that complemented everything sports and vice versa was one more piece of the puzzle that the brand needed to dominate the sports enthusiasts’ attention.

Fast Company-3Fast Company: The new business magazine, but with a twist. The magazine kept pace with the ever-changing facets of business and industry, from the technological aspects to the business aspects, so no business or technology was left behind if they were reading Fast Company.

First for Women-2First For Women: When First For Women was born the market was flooded with women’s magazines, but First For Women proved it was a force to be reckoned with. And today, it reigns supreme as one of the leading women’s magazines on the newsstands in a still very crowded marketplace.

Food Network-5Food Network Magazine: Born in the midst of the economic meltdown, Food Network Magazine carried the torch for print, proving that print wasn’t dead and that food was the new sex of the 21st century. It showed that print well done could not just succeed, but could also flourish.

Garden & Gun-12Garden & Gun: Garden & Gun is the southern magazine with the national appeal that succeeded in creating a distinct voice that readers from every corner of the country can relate to. The magazine combines great literary content with beautiful photography and an upscale look and feel.

Highlights High Five-1Highlights High Five: As the digital tsunami was approaching Highlights recognized not only the digital changes taking place, but also the physiological and psychological changes in children and created a magazine for younger children to help prepare them for the future.

InStyle-1InStyle: If someone told me years ago that Time Inc. would be a major player in the fashion category, I would have probably laughed, but with its unique approach to celebrities and fashion, InStyle carved a niche for itself in a big way, so much so that that niche has become part of the norm.

InTouch-9InTouch Weekly: Born at the height of the celebrity craze and aimed and targeted at a mass newsstand audience, In Touch Weekly was the first major new weekly to be published in the United States since Entertainment Weekly and set the stage for two more weeklies: Life & Style and Closer.

Marie Claire-6Marie Claire: The fashion magazine with a conscience. No other fashion magazine can come close to all of the appetizers and desserts that Marie Claire offers. Fashion is still the stronghold of the publication, but there are a host of human, social and world interests in the magazine.

Living-5Martha Stewart Living: It began the trend of making brand extensions based on the persona of the magazine’s namesake, rather than what they do professionally. The first magazine in a long, time that lent itself to its namesake, and became the journal of the everyday life of Martha Stewart.

Men's Health-11Men’s Health: Men’s Health shattered the myth that the male of the species didn’t take advice or care about their bodies. And not only was that myth shattered in the United States, the brand exploded and expanded globally and proved men were just as health-conscious as women.

Mental Flos-4Mental Floss: What can you say about a magazine that wants you to feel smart again? Born from the seeds of a classroom, Mental Floss became a brand that can be found in print, in books, online and on television. It’s rooted in the idea that information and knowledge should be fun and entertaining.

MORE-3MORE: The magazine for substance and style that made a breakthrough in women’s magazines when they stood firm on the foundation that age was just a number. With MORE, women suddenly felt ageless and the magazine documented that in both words and photos.

New Beauty-2NewBeauty: Captivating and reflective, NewBeauty set the trend for the beauty space by coupling education powered by innovation to become the go-to source for readers looking for an outlet to get the truth on many beauty trends, people, and products in the world then and today.

O The Oprah-13O The Oprah Magazine: O The Oprah Magazine has been able to extend the brand from the television screen to the world of newsstands, and make it larger than life. So even if you don’t see her on TV, you can still see her everywhere. She’s always on your mind and never out of sight.

OUT-7OUT: OUT was the first lifestyle magazine for a gay audience that removed the stigma from being gay and allowed readers to remove the wrappings and showcase the magazine in every possible venue, including their coffee tables. It changed the look and feel of gay magazines.

ESCVR04_EAST_1_print.pdfPeople En Espanol: A breakthrough in the marketplace. People En Espanol tapped a growing source in the market that had been ignored for a long time. The magazine established itself as the leader in the Hispanic marketplace for the coverage of celebrities and human-interest stories.

Rachael Ray-3Rachael Ray Every Day: Humanizing a brand based on an actual, living, breathing human being is evident in Rachael Ray Every Day. The closeness that you feel with her television program is replicated in the experience you get when you’re flipping through its pages.

Real Simple-8Real Simple: I don’t think that you can go wrong with a magazine that aims to make life “easier,” especially when it comes to one that actually broke the mold of what a woman’s magazine is or should be and presented a “Real Simple” concept of living into our complex way of life.

A Taste of Home-1Taste of Home: Way before the phrase “reader-generated content” was coined; Taste of Home was participating in this 21st century concept. It was the trend-leader in this idea before anyone even knew this was an idea, proving the magazine has always been ahead of its time.

Teen Vogue-6Teen Vogue: Needless to say, plenty of magazine mothers have given birth to teen magazines in the past, but Teen Vogue is the only surviving offspring of those proud and strong mothers. Teen Vogue proved that it was as buoyant and immovable as its famous mom, and continues to be.

THE WEEKCMKYThe Week: The magazine’s tagline says it all; The Week is literally and figuratively all you need to know about everything that matters. The Week actually delivers on that statement. In a very short time The Week has become a must read and the Rolls Royce of the newsweeklies.

WebMDCYMKWebMD: While it’s no longer a unique idea that digital websites are discovering print, WebMD was one of the first successful players in the field. The brand believed strongly that it’s not either/or when it comes to engaging its audience, but both print and digital are the only option.

Wired-7Wired: From a creation based on passion and a love for everything that’s techie, Wired grew to become the techies’ bible in an industry where there’s no shortage of technology-based publications. It grew up from the passion of its creators to become the techies’ lifestyle magazine.

Women's Health-10Women’s Health: Unlike Men’s Health, Women’s Health came into a crowded market and changed the precedent of how women think about and dealt with health issues. Suddenly, a magazine was born that dominated the women’s health category.

WSJ 72-2 (2)WSJ. Magazine: Setting new standards in newspaper supplements, WSJ Magazine captivated an expanded audience and paved the way for something potentially disposable to become a collectible and valuable print product while creating a whole new source of revenue for the mothership.

Until the next 30 years…
Enjoy magazines!

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Fortune Magazine: Bringing Quality Journalism To Its Multimedia Franchise, Proving Print & Digital Can Complement Each Other Effortlessly – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Alan Murray, Editor, Fortune Magazine

April 11, 2016

“We live in a world right now where you have legacy brands trying to become smart digital operations and you have smart digital operations trying to build brand. I think in both cases the job is tough, but I actually think we have the better hand. In other words, it’s easier for a great brand to build a good digital organization than it is for a good digital organization to build a great brand.” Alan Murray

COV.W.04.01.16.Xmit.indd A legacy brand that has no misconceptions about the future of business in today’s digital world; Fortune magazine has established a deep footprint in both print, and as recently as two years, also digital. In March 2016, the brand’s website realized over its target of 20 million unique users, an amazing accomplishment, especially for a website that didn’t exist two years ago.

Alan Murray is editor of Fortune and has a clear vision for the brand and also a clarion view of business today and why there is renewed interest and resurgence in the world of business magazine media. It’s Alan’s belief that the millennials of today have turned back to the business world as disillusionment with Washington and all things political have set in over recent years. No longer do they feel they can impact society and the world in general through government, but have a better chance of doing good and realizing goals and dreams through the channel of business.

I spoke with Alan recently and we talked about the good “fortune” of the brand, and how for him and the Fortune team the realization of those 20 million unique web users wasn’t just a numbers game. He said a concerted effort to maintain and improve on the quality of their online journalism had been a prime goal, producing a steady stream of smart stories, exclusive scoops and authoritative analysis that Fortune’s readers value. In addition, subscribers to their newsletters – the brand’s most loyal and valuable readers – had grown to well over 200,000.

So, I hope that you enjoy this glimpse into the world of business magazine media with a man and a brand that knows the niche from the inside out and offers a renewed hope and excitement for all things “Fortune;” the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Alan Murray, Editor, Fortune Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Alan Murray headshot 2013 On whether the hierarchy of politics first and business second from the days of Henry Luce still stands or there’s been a change in the audience’s attention: I think, particularly in an election season like this one, people are very interested in politics. And there are probably more people interested in politics than there are in business. But the fact that we’ve reached 20 million visitors in March suggests that there are quite a few people interested in business as well.

On whether he thinks there has been resurgence in business magazine media or there’s an uncaring-type attitude when it comes to the audience’s interest: No, we don’t get that. First of all, most people are employed by businesses, so I think people certainly care about their jobs. But I also think that we’re at this interesting moment where in the United States the government has failed us. And so people who really want to make a difference in the world more and more are turning to business rather than government.

On how he plans to incorporate his vison for the Fortune brand throughout the different platforms: Increasingly people are seeing business as a principle means of doing good in the world. We started something last September called the “Change the World,” which focuses on companies that are trying to address global social problems as a core part of their profit-making activities. Obviously that’s not every company, but you see more and more of that and that’s the motivation of a lot of young people going into business today. Our most popular franchise of Fortune is something that you may have seen called “100 Best Companies to Work For.” And that’s very popular with young people looking for jobs. They go there to see what companies share their values and will give them a chance to make an impact in the world.

On how he contrasts the website with the printed edition of Fortune: We’re trying to do great journalism both online and in the magazine. The difference is not so much about the quality of the journalism; it’s the way it’s consumed. When the magazine goes into people’s houses and they sit down on the weekend to spend 30 or 40 minutes flipping through it; that’s a very laid-back reading experience. With the website, you’re talking about people who have maybe three minutes to scramble through some information in the morning before they go to the office or they take a few minutes at lunch. I did research on this when I was at the Pew Research Center; people are reading more than ever before, but they’re reading in stops and starts on their mobile phones.

On whether his job as an editor today is easier or harder than in the past: I think it’s very hard. Let me give you a prime example from Fortune. Probably the best single story we did last year was a story on the Sony hack. It was written by Peter Elkind, a long-time Fortune writer, who spent six months of last year reporting and writing this story, and that’s all he did for us during those six months. Then on the other hand, you look at someone like Dan Primack, who writes “Term Sheet,” which is an incredibly respected newsletter for the private equity audience. Peter Elkind and Dan Primack are both great journalists and anybody you talk to that reads their work recognizes that, but they’re dealing in very different media. And it does make managing a news organization that cuts across those media more difficult.

On whether he misses the good-old-days of being an editor: No, I think journalism is more fun today than it’s ever been before because you have access to all of these different media, different ways of reaching people, because you can reach a broader audience than ever before. Fortune has never had the 20 million people who came to Fortune in March. It was the biggest audience by far, by orders of magnitude that Fortune has ever had.

On what motivates him to get out of bed in the morning: It’s a combination of the things that we’ve already talked about. One is that journalism is more fun and exciting; it’s changing more rapidly than it ever has before and change keeps you excited. I’ve been fortunate in my career to do just about everything that a journalist could do. I’ve hosted a TV show on CNBC for three years; I’ve written three different columns for the Wall Street Journal; I’ve written long-form and short-form, but the fact that the medium is constantly changing and evolving makes it fun.

COV.W.02.01.16.FINAL.indd On whether he can ever envision Fortune without a print edition: I think that someday print will go away, but I don’t think that it’s going to be in my lifetime. There are still too many people who love the print form. I suspect someday that we’ll figure out a way to imitate that in digital so that we don’t have to cut down all of the trees, but I don’t think that it’s going to happen in my lifetime. I think that print is going to be around a lot longer than people think it is.

On anything else he’d like to add: The only thing that I would say is this, we live in a world right now where you have legacy brands trying to become smart digital operations and you have smart digital operations trying to build brand. I think in both cases the job is tough, but I actually think we have the better hand. In other words, it’s easier for a great brand to build a good digital organization than it is for a good digital organization to build a great brand.

On what someone would find him doing if they showed up at his house unexpectedly one evening: My wife works in Washington most of the week, so a lot of times I come home and I’m by myself, and at the very last hour of the day, I tend to watch TV. That’s the only time I watch TV. I watched all of “Mr. Robot,” for instance. I usually pick up an hour of TV right before I go to bed.

On what keeps him up at night: The rapid pace of change in the advertising market and the race to create other forms of revenue to make up for that, and whether we can do the second task enough to make up for the first. You can’t understate how important the conferences are to the Fortune brand. That’s such a critical part of our brand, the conferences that we do.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Alan Murray, Editor, Fortune Magazine.

Samir Husni: Almost nine decades ago when Henry Luce launched Fortune, it came after Time magazine, so we had the politics first and then the economics. Are we still in that same hierarchy when it comes to our audience’s attention? Is it still politics first and business second or have you felt a change in the country and in the audience?

Alan Murray: I think, particularly in an election season like this one, people are very interested in politics. And there are probably more people interested in politics than there are in business. But the fact that we’ve reached 20 million visitors in March suggests that there are quite a few people interested in business as well.

Samir Husni: Why do you think that is the case? Part of me feels like there has been a resurgence of the business magazine media and the other part of me wonders if sometimes there’s an uncaring attitude when it comes to business media by the audience.

Alan Murray: No, we don’t get that. First of all, most people are employed by businesses, so I think people certainly care about their jobs. But I also think that we’re at this interesting moment where in the United States the government has failed us. And so people who really want to make a difference in the world more and more are turning to business rather than government.

I know young people that I talk to who really want to make a difference and who two or three decades ago might have been dying to go to Washington, are now talking about starting their own business or joining a startup. So, I do think people increasingly see business as a way to make a difference in the world.

Samir Husni: And how do you take that and apply it to your vision for the Fortune brand, whether it’s print, online, or any of the available platforms? I know just in the last two years the brand has gained its own website, fortune.com, and has excelled with it, but how do you take that vision and incorporate it throughout the brand?

Alan Murray:COV.W.03.15.16.Xmit.indd We see two big trends driving interests in business right now. One is technology. Over the last two decades the excitement was about consumer technology; it’s now really moved into the workplace and transformed the way businesses operate in a profound way. That’s why we have doubled our technology reporting staff in the last year; we hired seven reporters from Gigo who focus on cloud computing and the Internet of things; artificial intelligence and all the technologies. They’re really transforming the way business is done. And it’s a huge issue for our readers.

We did a survey of Fortune 500 CEOs last year and we asked them what was the biggest challenge facing their business, and we gave them all kinds of options. Was it regulations; competition from China; was it their concerns about the economy? The number one reason they gave us; the number one challenge facing their businesses they responded, was the rapid pace of change in technology. So, that’s one thing driving this interest in business. And companies like Apple that used to be solely focused on consumers, are now focusing on the workplace.

The second thing that I believe is driving business is what we were just talking about: increasingly people are seeing business as a principle means of doing good in the world. We started something last September called the “Change the World,” which focuses on companies that are trying to address global social problems as a core part of their profit-making activities.

Obviously that’s not every company, but you see more and more of that and that’s the motivation of a lot of young people going into business today. Our most popular franchise of Fortune is something that you may have seen called “100 Best Companies to Work For.” And that’s very popular with young people looking for jobs. They go there to see what companies share their values and will give them a chance to make an impact in the world.

So, I think those two things together are driving the current interest in business and the current rise in interest in Fortune.

Samir Husni: How do you either differentiate or contrast Fortune.com with the print edition of the brand? Are you working overtime to make sure that what you give me in Fortune the printed magazine is different than what’s online, because I noticed in your press release that you’re paying much more attention to and creating some very serious journalism online?

Alan Murray: We’re trying to do great journalism both online and in the magazine. The difference is not so much about the quality of the journalism; it’s the way it’s consumed. When the magazine goes into people’s houses and they sit down on the weekend to spend 30 or 40 minutes flipping through it; that’s a very laid-back reading experience.

With the website, you’re talking about people who have maybe three minutes to scramble through some information in the morning before they go to the office or they take a few minutes at lunch. I did research on this when I was at the Pew Research Center; people are reading more than ever before, but they’re reading in stops and starts on their mobile phones. So, you have to create content that reaches them on their phones. How do we do that? Well, it has to be much shorter because it’s not 30 minutes in the armchair; it’s five minutes at the train station. You need to have headlines that will grab their attention; you need to aggressively work the social networks because a lot of people are taking their lead from friends or people that they follow on social media.

We now have six morning newsletters, including one that I do myself, that have close to 300,000 subscribers and very high open rates, so that’s a way of capturing people on their mobile phones. And we create over 100 stories per day. So, it’s really about creating content in a way that caters to the method that’s being used by the people consuming it.

Samir Husni: Does that make your job easier or harder? Is the job of an editor in chief today a heavier load than what it used to be and how are you juggling your time?

Alan Murray: I think it’s very hard. Let me give you a prime example from Fortune. Probably the best single story we did last year was a story on the Sony hack. It was written by Peter Elkind, a long-time Fortune writer, who spent six months of last year reporting and writing this story, and that’s all he did for us during those six months. And it was an incredible piece of journalism and probably one of the longest that we’ve ever run in the magazine that is already winning a lot of awards because it was done so well.

Then on the other hand, you look at someone like Dan Primack, who writes “Term Sheet,” which is an incredibly respected newsletter for the private equity audience. Dan writes a newsletter every single day and on top of that probably posts three stories per day to the website.

Peter Elkind and Dan Primack are both great journalists and anybody you talk to that reads their work recognizes that, but they’re dealing in very different media. And it does make managing a news organization that cuts across those media more difficult.

Samir Husni: Do you miss the good-old-days?

Alan Murray: No, I think journalism is more fun today than it’s ever been before because you have access to all of these different media, different ways of reaching people, because you can reach a broader audience than ever before. Fortune has never had the 20 million people who came to Fortune in March. It was the biggest audience by far, by orders of magnitude that Fortune has ever had.

So, you reach more people and you reach them in more diverse ways. You can do interesting things with video; you can interact with them on special networks. I think journalism is more fun than it’s ever been before in my lifetime.

Samir Husni: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and be excited about going to the office?

Alan Murray: It’s a combination of the things that we’ve already talked about. One is that journalism is more fun and exciting; it’s changing more rapidly than it ever has before and change keeps you excited. I’ve been fortunate in my career to do just about everything that a journalist could do. I’ve hosted a TV show on CNBC for three years; I’ve written three different columns for the Wall Street Journal; I’ve written long-form and short-form, but the fact that the medium is constantly changing and evolving makes it fun. So, that’s one.

And then two is the fact that the story is so interesting; we are in the middle of something that I believe is the equivalent to the industrial revolution. It’s forcing companies to rethink the fundamentals of how they do business and it’s forcing business leaders to rethink the way that they lead. And that’s very exciting and very interesting and Fortune is determined to lead the way.

Samir Husni: Can you ever envision Fortune without the print edition?

Alan Murray: I think that someday print will go away, but I don’t think that it’s going to be in my lifetime. There are still too many people who love the print form. I suspect someday that we’ll figure out a way to imitate that in digital so that we don’t have to cut down all of the trees, but I don’t think that it’s going to happen in my lifetime. I think that print is going to be around a lot longer than people think it is.

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

Alan Murray: The only thing that I would say is this, we live in a world right now where you have legacy brands trying to become smart digital operations and you have smart digital operations trying to build brand. I think in both cases the job is tough, but I actually think we have the better hand. In other words, it’s easier for a great brand to build a good digital organization than it is for a good digital organization to build a great brand.

It was true at the Wall Street Journal; it was true when I worked at the Pew Research Center, and it’s true at Fortune. Having a great brand is a powerful weapon and as long as you don’t screw it up, you can win, even if you’re late to the game.

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

Alan Murray: My wife works in Washington most of the week, so a lot of times I come home and I’m by myself, and at the very last hour of the day, I tend to watch TV. That’s the only time I watch TV. I watched all of “Mr. Robot,” for instance. I usually pick up an hour of TV right before I go to bed.

Samir Husni: Who would be the best president for our economy from those that are still in the running now?

Alan Murray: I’ve been pretty straightforward about that. I’ve said that I don’t think there is a viable candidate left who would be good for business. And I think that’s the first time in my lifetime or my career that that has been the case. It shows that business is really on the political outs because I don’t think any of the candidates really provide what business needs.

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

Alan Murray: The rapid pace of change in the advertising market and the race to create other forms of revenue to make up for that, and whether we can do the second task enough to make up for the first. You can’t understate how important the conferences are to the Fortune brand. That’s such a critical part of our brand, the conferences that we do. And that’s part of the way that we keep from being totally dependent on digital advertisers.

It’s a three-legged stool, and in my mind, they’re of equal importance: our digital operation, the magazine, and the conferences.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Food, Art, And Sports Dominate Quarter One 2016 In New Magazine Launches…

April 6, 2016

The first quarter of 2016 witnessed the launch of 199 new titles compared to 191 in the same period of 2015. While we saw an increase of eight titles, there were a decrease of five titles in the number of magazines launched with four times frequency or more.

Galerie-21843-6Fit pregnancy & baby-4JARRYTrend & tradition-2Cartoons-3

The new magazine launches, which you can see and access each and everyone of them on the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor, continue to cover a variety of timely, yet timeless, topics ranging from the ever-popular food titles to the rising stars of art and antiques.

Below are two charts comparing the first Quarter of 2016 to that of 2015.

1st Quarter 2016 vs 2015 pie graphs

1st quarter 2016 v 2015 top categories bar graph

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allrecipes Magazine: A Redesign That Reinforces An Even Stronger Digital-To-Print Connection Proves To Be Just The Right Ingredients – The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Cheryl Brown, Editor In Chief, allrecipes Magazine.

April 4, 2016

“I think it’s being proven again and again that consumers want the content everywhere. They don’t see it as mutually exclusive to only one platform. And as I said, they use the web for very specific things; and in terms of recipes and food, they’re going on, whether it’s 3:00 p.m. and they know dinnertime is coming; they’re searching for something, they saw a picture of something that they want to make and they go online to find it. With the magazine, again, it’s the general inspiration. We’re serving up ideas for food that they never would have searched for. And in fact, it’s recipes that they wouldn’t have thought of on their own. And readers love that.” Cheryl Brown

“I just think that there’s a place for everything. The photography in a magazine will always be so glorious and such a different experience than online. It’s another way to obtain information and all of the platforms serve different purposes. Print takes a bashing sometimes and that thinking is misinformed, because consumers still want it.” Cheryl Brown

image002 One of the world’s largest recipe sites, allrecipes.com, launched their print magazine in 2013 and since then, the ink on paper component (published by Meredith six times per year) has seen steady customer growth and engagement over those almost three years. But with the redesign and re-launch of the website in 2015, the print publication felt the need to freshen-up its attire a bit too. And with the April/May issue, the magazine has done just that.

Cheryl Brown has been editor in chief of the print publication since its launch and watches over each and every facet of the magazine like a proud parent. I spoke with Cheryl recently and we talked about the magazine’s desire to reinforce the digital-to-print connection with its own redesign, which mirrors the website even more than before.

The chemistry between Cheryl, the website and the printed magazine is apparent as she talks about the brand as a whole and about each of its individual platforms, which she believes every consumer wants and has a right to. Cheryl has a strong volition that the audience comes first always and what the audience wants is to consume their content wherever and whenever they choose. And as their engagement grows stronger, so does their loyalty to the brand. By giving their readers content on each and every available platform, Cheryl honors that loyalty and avidly advocates it. And according to her, in the ever-growing food category, cherishing that audience connection is vital.

So, grab your favorite allrecipes ingredients for a relaxed read and enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Cheryl Brown, Editor In Chief, allrecipes Magazine.

But first, the sound-bites:

Cheryl professional soft focus 2 On the redesign’s difference in covers between the last issue and the current one: In terms of the actual food or image, it goes both ways. I think the big difference you see in our cover between the February/March issue and the April/May is the whole graphic design of it. Our approach has really changed to make the cover feel more graphic, fresher and more modern. And to mirror some of the design elements that you’re seeing on the site.

On why the word magazine was added to the allrecipes title: We were trying to let people know that we are multiplatform; that we’re everywhere the readers are and sometimes people immediately associate allrecipes with the dot com, which we make sure that is on the cover as well.

On why she thinks there is such audience engagement with the printed magazine and the website of allrecipes: I think the allrecipes brand itself is a very positive and accepting space. You can go to other food brands and there’s more of a set mission and Cheryl Brown may or may not fit within what their mission is or what their goal is. But with allrecipes, we’re very democratic; there are all kinds of cooks there who are very supportive. There are fewer critical community comments at each other and more helpful ones.

On how the redesign is deepening the engagement with readers: I know it’s a small thing, but we’ve always had the reader comments and reviews on recipes, but the subtle design move to add their photos, their faces, to their comments, literally putting a face to the reader review, is again showing our readers that these are people just like them, real people, not just editors behind the green curtain. I think that we’ve introduced some new content areas that speak to them. Our new column “Cook 2 Follow,” which profiles a community member; we have a huge community, but we’re picking out some interesting community members.

On why the reader’s pictures and their pets’ pictures are in black and white: As a design person, you and I both know that black and white can be much more forgiving and the quality of the photo – well, when a community member puts a photo on the site, they’re not thinking that it needs to be high resolution for print. Why would they think that? And so, a lot of the photos that are uploaded by users to the site; we struggle with the resolution levels being high enough for print and black and white got us around a little of that problem. It was just a little more forgiving when it came to that.

On whether there was anything she regretted not including in the first issue of the redesign: We just went through the magazine again recently and we talked about how we liked this or that, kind of doing a postmortem. And overall, we’re really happy with it, not to pat ourselves on the back. There weren’t many things that we wished we could do over. I mean there are always little things that you look at and say maybe we could have done something else. But overall, we’re really happy with it. I think what we’re looking forward to is that this is the first iteration and we’re now pushing forward. How can we keep pushing the needle and improving on this?

On whether pleasing advertisers played a part in the redesign: I believe we really did have our consumer first and foremost, but as you know, in this day and age an editor is always thinking about all aspects of the business. There’s no more of we just deal with the words and pretty pictures; we also have to look at the business side like a publisher. That is also very much in tandem with my job, so of course, I’m always thinking about creating a great environment for my readers, but I’m also creating a great environment for advertisers and content that they want to be around, that would entice my reader to engage with the advertiser’s brand.

On how her role as an editor in chief has changed since the dawn of the digital age: It’s the same, just bigger. I just think the way that we consume media has more platforms and more options today. An editor touches all of those things now. So, when you’re creating content for a print page, you do always have in the back of your mind how will this translate to an article on the site; could we do something with this in video? How could we push this out socially; is there a social element behind the scenes to this shoot that we could have fun with?

On how social media is used to promote the printed magazine: The allrecipes brand has the big dot com team in Seattle and then we have the print team in Des Moines, and I sort of float in New York. So, our social media is largely run by the dot com team, but they obviously are our sister in the allrecipes family. They really use social media, in terms of us the printed magazine, to boost subscription; again, a lot of people still don’t know that there is a magazine, so they promote it on the site a lot just to boost awareness of the print product and also to engage with subscription users and let them get to know the brand, such as a Facebook chat with one of our editors around baking season.

On her most pleasant moment since taking the job as editor in chief of allrecipes Magazine: This is my first time being an editor in chief with this magazine and I think for me, not only is this the first time for me as an editor in chief, I launched it. I am so attached to this magazine; it’s literally like my baby. From the minute that we put out a 32-page booklet, seeing if people would be interested in this magazine, to the first prototype that came out; to me it’s just been so exciting.

On any problems that were encountered along the magazine’s journey: Some of the bumps that have happened behind the scenes were with getting a brand new staff and in figuring everything out. And with every step making sure that what we did was strictly allrecipes. How we opened up conversations about story ideas and the discussions that were: yes, that’s a great idea, but how is it an allrecipes idea? I’ve seen that same story five times. It was really digging into the core of what the brand is. And I’m going to say that definitely wasn’t an emergency room trip, more of a healthy workout event. No, nothing catastrophic has happened.

On why in this digital age she still believes in the power of print: I think it’s being proven again and again that consumers want the content everywhere. They don’t see it as mutually exclusive to only one platform. And as I said, they use the web for very specific things; and in terms of recipes and food, they’re going on, whether it’s 3:00 p.m. and they know dinnertime is coming; they’re searching for something; they saw a picture of something that they want to make and they go online to find it. With the magazine, again, it’s the general inspiration. We’re serving up ideas for food that they never would have searched for. And in fact, it’s recipes that they wouldn’t have thought of on their own. And readers love that.

On anything else she’d like to add: We’re just so proud of this redesign. We’ve been producing the magazine for over two years now and I think that we’ve always had content that we used to keep people digitally informed, but the design has lagged behind a little. If you had asked me how the design was digitally, I’m not sure that I could have given you a clear answer, but I feel like now I can. Suddenly, the fog has lifted and we have a really clear mission on our design and anybody who visits the site is seeing those echoes and can see that the magazine and the site are all the same family, and that’s really exciting for me.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up at her home one evening unexpectedly: It could go either way. I often have a magazine opened if I’m having dinner at the table. Sometimes if I have used my iPad to make the dinner, I’ll continue reading on that while reading a magazine too. I still have a big stack of magazines next to my bed, and after dinner is done and everything is cleaned up, reading a magazine really is the way that I unwind.

On what keeps her up at night: How we’re going to keep growing. I feel like we’re on this really exciting trajectory And I’m both nervous and eager to keep surprising and exciting our readers and engaging them more and putting something in every issue that makes them excited and looking forward to the next issue. And that’s no small feat. When I look at magazines that have been around for 40 or 50 years; I was at Gourmet magazine for a long time and that was an older brand, and I used to think, we have to keep engaging the reader issue after issue, so I’m both excited and somewhat daunted by the challenge of it sometimes.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Cheryl Brown, Editor In Chief, allrecipes Magazine.

F M 16 Cover Photo Samir Husni: Do you think the pizza cover on the current issue of allrecipes Magazine works better than the doughnuts cover that was on the last issue?

Cheryl Brown: In terms of the actual food or image, it goes both ways. I think the big difference you see in our cover between the February/March issue and the April/May is the whole graphic design of it. Our approach has really changed to make the cover feel more graphic, fresher and more modern. And to mirror some of the design elements that you’re seeing on the site.

With April/May we introduced the sheer bars of color and when you go on the homepage of the site, you see they’ve also introduced those sheer, gray bars. So, what we want is to very subtly mirror those design elements to really marry the two parts of the brand: the digital and the print, together. And I also think those sheer bars help balance the film strip of faces across the top.

And it’s not so much the food itself, because I got lots of emails about that donut cover, how people loved it and they may not have wanted to bake, but they wanted to make donuts. But they were both very sensible too. Pizza is every day, but you can elevate it, and donuts are every day, but you can elevate those as well.

Samir Husni: Why did you feel you needed to add the word magazine to the allrecipes title?

Cheryl Brown: We were trying to let people know that we are multiplatform; that we’re everywhere the readers are and sometimes people immediately associate allrecipes with the dot com, which we make sure that is on the cover as well. We want to always pay homage to our parent of the family. (Laughs) But we also thought it would be nice to offer a subtle nod and let people know that there’s the dot com; there’s the magazine; there are apps; there are videos, and that we really are everywhere the readers are. And we thought it was nice to be proud of print, to call that out.

Samir Husni: I thought you were just doing it to please me, but…(Laughs)

Cheryl Brown: (Laughs also) Well, that too.

Samir Husni: In 2013, the magazine launched with a half million and now it’s at 1.3 million; you have almost seven million readers, so, how are you translating this phenomenon of putting audience first and really listening to them onto the pages of the magazine? Of course, I see quite a few of the faces of the people who engage with the magazine on the cover, but why do you think the brand allrecipes has such a strong engagement with its audience, both with the printed magazine and the website?

Cheryl Brown: There are a couple of layers to that question. I think the allrecipes brand itself is a very positive and accepting space. You can go to other food brands and there’s more of a set mission and Cheryl Brown may or may not fit within what their mission is or what their goal is. But with allrecipes, we’re very democratic; there are all kinds of cooks there who are very supportive. There are fewer critical community comments at each other and more helpful ones. For example, if someone is struggling with a recipe, there are six community members jumping in to offer suggestions, rather than beating someone up or attacking them. So, I think that positive environment of the dot com is huge.

And I also think in the last decade user-generated content went from being a dirty word, to actually being the norm. There are many consumers out there who now trust their fellow consumers more than the special test kitchens for instance, because they know if their neighbor or their friend had success, that they can too. And that makes them feel encouraged and gives them permission to explore. And I believe that’s another layer of it that they feel like the brand is one that other people like best. We hear that phrase a lot “other home cooks like me.” And there’s truth to that. You feel like you’re in a friendly place with other people who understand you and understand the kind of life you’re living.

And then the magazine layer has captured a lot of that spirit. The people are already very familiar with this brand; we’ve maintained that positivity and those great recipes, with our main focus on everyday recipes to help during the busy weekdays. But we’ve also offered a way for people to be inspired, which is a phrase that may be overused, but what we’re learning as we work together with the dot com team is that when people go to the site they have something in mind, maybe a certain recipe that they want to make or remember making. They’re on a mission. When they spend time with the magazine, and I’m hearing this in focus groups now, they’re getting ideas that they never would have had or they never would have thought to search for. Or they never would have considered making “that” and now they can’t wait to try it.

So, I think in tandem, that’s where the acceptance of this brand is coming from. We’re meeting a lot of the needs for the average home-cook on a lot of different platforms and they want all of those platforms.

Samir Husni: You mentioned that part of the reason for the redesign, besides echoing the redesign of the website, was to deepen the engagement with the reader. How are you doing that?

Cheryl Brown: There are a couple of ways. One is, and I know it’s a small thing, but we’ve always had the reader comments and reviews on recipes, but the subtle design move to add their photos, their faces, to their comments, literally putting a face to the reader review, is again showing our readers that these are people just like them, real people, not just editors behind the green curtain.

I think that we’ve introduced some new content areas that speak to them. Our new column “Cook 2 Follow,” which profiles a community member; we have a huge community, but we’re picking out some interesting community members. And again, I’m already hearing from focus groups that people are enjoying seeing somebody like them; they like the fact that they can relate to them: she’s another busy mom and gets what it’s like to struggle each day to feed her family.

We’ve kind of created a community where other people can fit in, where we introduced a new entertaining feature, but we’ve made it really casual, not a big fancy blowout. Fancy is not how people entertain all of the time, this is casual. And so we’ve introduced that to our pages.

Again, it’s touching all aspects of their life. We want to make sure that no matter where they are, whether it’s a single, professional woman or a stay-at-home mom, there’s something within the pages that speaks to them and that content expansion is part of that for sure.

Samir Husni: The designer in me has to ask, why are most of the reader’s pictures and their pets pictures in black and white?

Cheryl Brown: As a design person, you and I both know that black and white can be much more forgiving and the quality of the photo – well, when a community member puts a photo on the site, they’re not thinking that it needs to be high resolution for print. Why would they think that?

And so, a lot of the photos that are uploaded by users to the site; we struggle with the resolution levels being high enough for print and black and white got us around a little of that problem. It was just a little more forgiving when it came to that.

And the other thing is it creates a distinction between people and lifestyle and then food. The food is always going to be in big, bold colors, capturing your attention, whereas when you see black and white, you know that’s going to be about lifestyles and people. It creates a division a visual cue for different types of content.

Samir Husni: What was the one thing, after you saw the April/May issue that you wished you’d done differently? Did you leave anything out that you wished that you’d included?

Cheryl Brown: My creative director, who I do need to give out a nod to, while the launch last September on the site was obviously the big push to the redesign, my new creative director, who came onboard the end of August, was also the big push to do this. I feel like the planets came into alignment with the site redesign and his arrival.

And he had historically been creating and designing content for both web and print and so I then had somebody who understood how to translate digital design to print pages. So, I do want to give Michael Belknap a nod on that one.

And we just went through the magazine again recently and we talked about how we liked this or that, kind of doing a postmortem. And overall, we’re really happy with it, not to pat ourselves on the back. There weren’t many things that we wished we could do over. I mean there are always little things that you look at and say maybe we could have done something else.

But overall, we’re really happy with it. I think what we’re looking forward to is that this is the first iteration and we’re now pushing forward. How can we keep pushing the needle and improving on this? So, I don’t think that we missed anything on this issue, but I think we’re excited about pushing forward and how to keep growing.

Samir Husni: Steven, your publisher, has been quoted as saying that the advertisers were also happy and excited about the redesign.

Cheryl Brown: Yes.

Samir Husni: Were you thinking about them when you started the redesign?

Cheryl Brown: I believe we really did have our consumer first and foremost, but as you know, in this day and age an editor is always thinking about all aspects of the business. There’s no more of we just deal with the words and pretty pictures; we also have to look at the business side like a publisher. That is also very much in tandem with my job, so of course, I’m always thinking about creating a great environment for my readers, but I’m also creating a great environment for advertisers and content that they want to be around, that would entice my reader to engage with the advertiser’s brand.

There is no advertiser out there that doesn’t want to be around a clean, fresh modern design, so yes, I always have the advertiser in my mind as I do my reader. That’s how we stay in business and there’s a lot of competition in the food category. So, I want to give advertisers a reason to come to our brand.

Samir Husni: How has your role as an editor in chief changed since the dawn of the digital age? Do you feel that you’re now more of a curator than a creator?

Cheryl Brown: It’s the same, just bigger. I just think the way that we consume media has more platforms and more options today. An editor touches all of those things now. So, when you’re creating content for a print page, you do always have in the back of your mind how will this translate to an article on the site; could we do something with this in video? How could we push this out socially; is there a social element behind the scenes to this shoot that we could have fun with?

For me it’s just really parceling apart, where it used to be kind of a one-in-done, you created a feature and it went into the magazine pages and boom! The magazine went out. Now, that same piece will have a different lifecycle. So, the story needs to have multiple components and they need to function differently on all of those platforms.

I think it’s exciting. There are a lot of things that happen, and once upon a time in magazine photo shoots, you might have had a really cool moment to happen, but you didn’t have a way to use it then, and now you do. You can post them on Facebook or Instagram.

It’s fun to be able to use all of those elements that in the past might have gone, not to waste, but may not have been able to appear in front of the consumer, but now they can and do. To me, it’s actually more exciting now and I like having my fingers in a lot of different areas of the business and to be mindful of it and to be helping my dot com peers come up with content ideas, helping Steve pitch packages to an advertiser. To me it’s become a more exciting and dynamic world.

Samir Husni: How are you utilizing social media to promote the printed magazine?

Cheryl Brown: The allrecipes brand has the big dot com team in Seattle and then we have the print team in Des Moines, and I sort of float in New York. So, our social media is largely run by the dot com team, but they obviously are our sister in the allrecipes family. They really use social media, in terms of us the printed magazine, to boost subscription; again, a lot of people still don’t know that there is a magazine, so they promote it on the site a lot just to boost awareness of the print product and also to engage with subscription users and let them get to know the brand, such as a Facebook chat with one of our editors around baking season. Again, they just leverage us for more engagement with the brand overall.

2014 December January Samir Husni: What has been your most pleasant moment since you took the job as editor in chief of allrecipes Magazine?

Cheryl Brown: That’s a good one. This is my first time being an editor in chief with this magazine and I think for me, not only is this the first time for me as an editor in chief, I launched it. I am so attached to this magazine; it’s literally like my baby. From the minute that we put out a 32-page booklet, seeing if people would be interested in this magazine, to the first prototype that came out; to me it’s just been so exciting.

And professionally, I saw aspects of the business that when you’re not an editor in chief, you just don’t see or experience, because why would you need to know about that or why would you ever be involved in that part of the business? So, you see all of the parts of the business that goes into creating the magazine; the marketing and ad sales; the research, suddenly just this whole world opens up to you and you understand how complex launching a magazine is.

Of course, personally I’ve had moments where I’ve seen a story and thought, I wish that had turned out differently, but you also realize that this is a close process; you’re not going to knock it out of the park every time, because if you did, it would be tough to continue. And you’re always growing and you’re always evolving. So, to me professionally, it’s been an amazing almost three years now since I’ve been doing this and it’s just very exciting.

You have moments in your career where something exciting happens and there’s a spike, and you have a renewed energy for what you do and watching this brand was that for me. It was a rebirth of why I was in media in the first place and why it was so exciting.

Samir Husni: So the baby is born and you make it through the terrible-twos and now you’re entering the three-year-old stage. Any growing pains or visits to the ER? (Laughs)

Cheryl Brown: (Laughs too) Some of the bumps that have happened behind the scenes were with getting a brand new staff and in figuring everything out. And with every step making sure that what we did was strictly allrecipes. How we opened up conversations about story ideas and the discussions that were: yes, that’s a great idea, but how is it an allrecipes idea? I’ve seen that same story five times.

It was really digging into the core of what the brand is. And I’m going to say that definitely wasn’t an emergency room trip, more of a healthy workout event. No, nothing catastrophic has happened. Occasionally, when you test covers, you’ll get some feedback that you didn’t want to hear on something that you loved and other people don’t like it. But we’ve been very good at listening to our consumers and putting them first and acting on that. And it has served us very well. No emergency room trips yet, and I’m knocking on wood as I say that to you.

Samir Husni: In this digital age, why do you still believe in print and its power?

Cheryl Brown: I just spent 10 hours yesterday watching one-on-one interviews with readers about the magazine, and I’ll watch more tomorrow; I think it’s being proven again and again that consumers want the content everywhere. They don’t see it as mutually exclusive to only one platform. And as I said, they use the web for very specific things; and in terms of recipes and food, they’re going on, whether it’s 3:00 p.m. and they know dinnertime is coming; they’re searching for something, they saw a picture of something that they want to make and they go online to find it.

With the magazine, again, it’s the general inspiration. We’re serving up ideas for food that they never would have searched for. And in fact, it’s recipes that they wouldn’t have thought of on their own. And readers love that. What I keep hearing again and again is they just need ideas. They’re going to spend a lifetime making dinner and eventually they just get worn out. Everyone gets tired of their own dishes, so that’s why they turn to media at all, be it digital, a book, or a magazine.

I just think that there’s a place for everything. The photography in a magazine will always be so glorious and such a different experience than online. It’s another way to obtain information and all of the platforms serve different purposes. Print takes a bashing sometimes and that thinking is misinformed, because consumers still want it. We’re talking about fashion catalogs, just everything. You may go online to buy your outfit, but you got the idea from the catalog. Consumers still very much want print and they understand how to utilize it.

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

Cheryl Brown: We’re just so proud of this redesign. We’ve been producing the magazine for over two years now and I think that we’ve always had content that we used to keep people digitally informed, but the design has lagged behind a little. If you had asked me how the design was digitally, I’m not sure that I could have given you a clear answer, but I feel like now I can. Suddenly, the fog has lifted and we have a really clear mission on our design and anybody who visits the site is seeing those echoes and can see that the magazine and the site are all the same family, and that’s really exciting for me. I feel like the whole magazine is really coming together now and we’re positioning ourselves to just grow even more in the coming years.

Samir Husni: If I came to your house one evening unexpectedly, what would I find you doing; reading a magazine; reading your iPad; watching television; or something else?

Cheryl Brown: It could go either way. I often have a magazine opened if I’m having dinner at the table. Sometimes if I have used my iPad to make the dinner, I’ll continue reading on that while reading a magazine too. I still have a big stack of magazines next to my bed, and after dinner is done and everything is cleaned up, reading a magazine really is the way that I unwind.

I spend so much time during the day with some kind of screen in front of me, whether it’s my phone or my laptop, it’s a treat for me to just get away from the screens and spend some time with the print page.

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

Cheryl Brown: How we’re going to keep growing. I feel like we’re on this really exciting trajectory And I’m both nervous and eager to keep surprising and exciting our readers and engaging them more and putting something in every issue that makes them excited and looking forward to the next issue. And that’s no small feat.

When I look at magazines that have been around for 40 or 50 years; I was at Gourmet magazine for a long time and that was an older brand, and I used to think, we have to keep engaging the reader issue after issue, so I’m both excited and somewhat daunted by the challenge of it sometimes. It’s a challenge to your own creativity to make people loyal and passionate about your brand and to keep presenting something fresh and exciting to them.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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