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June 15, 2009

Eye On Recruiting, Michele S. Magazine

AT HACHETTE, CHIEF BRAND OFFICER IS IN

As magazine companies become more “multimedia” with business models far beyond those of increasing advertising pages and circulation, the organizational structure must evolve as well. An early example of this trend of staff restructuring came in 2007, when Michael Rooney ended nearly a decade at ESPN (including publisher and general manager) to take the new position of Wall Street Journal chief revenue officer.

Leading the way in 2009 is Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.’s “brand centric” women’s-magazine reorganization that was announced in March by president/ceo Alain Lemarchand. Publishing directors Carol Smith (Elle), Deb Burns (Elle Decor/Metropolitan Home), and Carlos Lamadrid (Woman’s Day) were each promoted to chief brand officer with full responsibility for their respective business units–including developing new revenue streams, setting brand direction across platforms for both business and editorial, integrating print and digital ad sales, and circulation strategy. (Complementing and supporting the new structure is a centralized corporate effort led by HFM U.S. executive vp/chief operating officer Philippe Guelton.)

After three months, the clear consensus from the three was the ability to move on sales opportunities immediately. Carol talked about quick accomplishments with less red tape. Deb talked about achieving more in the past 12 weeks than in all of 2008–specifically in moving on programs from idea phase to launch. Carlos talked about how the overall feedback from advertisers has been fantastic. “Everyone agrees with our new structure and really sees it as the wave of the future,” he says. So far, so good.

How has the HFM U.S. staff responded to the reorganization? “Our traditional print sellers are an expansive lot,” says Burns. “There will be a transition period with workshop training, but with the right logistical support we will sell more as a united group. Roles are expanding, and, in some cases, new positions may even be necessary.”

What kind of leadership is needed to run brand groups? Business smarts and experience are essential, of course. However, most highly successful people have always been
creative and conceptual. But, as responsibilities become broader in scope, as in HFM U.S.’s new organizational structure, conceptual thinking is required.

“In Carol, Deb, and Carlos as new CBOs, we are fortunate to have three seasoned and insightful individuals who have unique sets of characteristics to effectively run all areas of the business,” says Lemarchand. “Carol, Deb, and Carlos are examples of CBOs who are applying entrepreneurial thinking to expand the HFM U.S. brand and to develop
new and innovative revenue opportunities. Their talents span from business savvy to the creative aesthetic and from robust selling skills to the intuition to market cre-
atively in today’s complex environment.”

My Own Two Cents

What is impressive to me is how Lemarchand and Guelton have increased responsibility for three key publishing directors and are supporting their growth with investment
spending on a brand-by-brand basis. HFM U.S.’s new brand-centric structure, combined with a financial commitment to each magazine, especially in this changing market, is an indication of the company’s commitment for long-term success.

HFM U.S.’s new organizational structure is an important model for leaders of other media companies to consider in today’s evolving media business.