February 1, 2010

Eye On Recruiting, Michele S. Magazine


Magazines are at a crossroads of a tough economy and evolving media opportunities. Although print will still be at the core for many companies, the effort to extend the overall content distribution model to include Web sites, digital magazines, mobile, blogs, podcasts, virtual events, video, and other new technology will continue to redefine what is at the core of the brand.

Let’s take a look at two different business models that are reaching their audiences across multi-platforms while staying loyal to their brand and respective core competencies.

1. Elle Group
Positioning: Magazine at its core. The most important spoke in the brand wheel is Elle, for without this content and point of view none of the others would be possible to develop according to Elle Group senior vp/chief brand officer Carol Smith.

Staffing model: In May 2009, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. created brand groups centered around clusters of titles each led by chief brand officers with complete responsibility for their respective business units. With the brand centric structure in place, Smith has been able to implement brand extensions at a much faster pace than before.

Results: Elle has been an early adopter in developing successful brand extensions in innovative ways beyond the printed page. It was the first fashion magazine to launch a companion Web site and the first to participate in a reality television show with Project Runway. In 2010, Elle offers fashion content, products, and programs through multi-channels with a portfolio that includes print, film, digital, philanthropy, and retail assets from spas and social gaming to DVDs and dresses.

2. Food Network
Positioning: Broadcast at its core. Already well established on tv (16 years) and the Web, the E.W. Scripps-owned Food Network wanted to extend its multimedia platform, as ESPN successfully did in 1998. Partnering with Hearst Corp. on a 50-50 joint venture, Food Network magazine was launched on October 11, 2008. This launch defied conventional thinking in one of the toughest ad markets in recent history.

Staffing model: The partnership launched with a an FN staff (for content and sales), and a newly assembled multi-channel sales staff led by publisher Vicki Wellington. Hardly a centralized sales effort but quite effective just the same, the FN magazine staff is made up of both dedicated sales and outside sales reps that collaborate on all integrated advertising programs. The existing Hearst organizational structure also enables the magazine to benefit from operational efficiencies by sharing executive functions and in some cases, sales positions with other Hearst magazines.

Results: This smart business model has exceeded circulation and advertising revenues from the get go. Strong leadership by Wellington has enabled the two sales teams to work as partners which has generated exclusive new ad packages for the brand.

My Own Two Cents
Simplistic as it sounds, it’s not whether the magazine is or is not the center of the brand, but rather the degree of relevancy of the content. There is little doubt that where there is real brand power combined with leadership and vision from the top, success can be achieved in new and different ways as is the case with Elle Group and Food Network magazine.