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April 20, 2009

Eye On Recruiting, Michele S. Magazine

TEAMWORK, POPULAR SCIENCE-STYLE

When was the last time you brought staff together from different departments and brainstormed new business ideas? Before you roll your eyes at this basic suggestion, remember that it can work and does work, if not swept aside when needed most.

Here is an idea that began with an editor-in-chief but continued its development through the brainstorming process with staff from all disciplines at the magazine brand. What evolved was this very exciting and cutting-edge new product that was recently launched:

Popular Science’s Genius Guide
This online-only fully interactive multimedia magazine with embedded video, animation, and full-screen graphics, was launched from the PopSci Media Group in March 2009. Each of the Genius Guide’s highly visual and interactive pages is packed with information for readers to explore. Click on a television in the first issue to see it animate, rotate, and open in offering an exact diagram on how to install your home theater. Click on components in the diagram to launch a video that tells you how to do-it-yourself those portions of the system you don’t want to buy. Even the ads are dynamic and have audio attached.

How did this come about?

PopSci editor-in-chief (since June 2004) Mark Jannot, inspired by the Kindle “digital reader,” wanted to explore the technology and see how it could be applied to readers of his magazine. Jannot took the idea of creating the “next generation of magazines” to PopSci Media Group publisher (since July 2003) Gregg Hano, who agreed it was an idea worth exploring. The two tapped into the collective power of the PopSci Media Group by engaging employees from online, creative, marketing, circulation, and editorial to brainstorm what PopSci could do to position itself ahead of the digital curve.

The consensus was to maintain the curated feel of a magazine online, but to make it more dynamic than previous digital publications to increase the likelihood for a successful new-product launch.

That led Jannot, Hano, and the staff to a Zinio rep who understandably believed in the concept and continued developing it. What evolved was an online-only fully interactive magazine monetized by subscription via Zinio and advertising revenues.

My own two cents
Gregg Hano has a standing weekly “open” meeting for anyone on staff who wants to participate in new business development brainstorming. Further, Hano and Jannot are keeping the PopSci staff energized at a time when there is much anxiety over job loss. Involving them in the search for ways to be part of the solution and to monetize new-media opportunities is a great morale-builder.

So often, the best ideas bubble up from the lower ranks, and one of the basic ways to capitalize on this is through brainstorming.

The cost of admission should be a new idea. Whether it is completely open-ended or it is around a target advertiser is certainly your call. If you haven’t pulled staff together for one of these creative meetings, it might be worth revisiting. It’s certainly working for the PopSci Media Group.