All About “O”

O’s Jill Seelig Makes a Point

When it comes to the publisher’s role in a magazine, selling pages to advertisers is just the beginning.  Jill Seelig, Vice President and Publisher of O, The Oprah Magazine, spoke to students at NYU’s 2010 Summer Publishing Institute to explain the rest of the process.

Seelig proudly announced that she, “absolutely loves magazine publishing.” Her message was one shared by her eager audience.  In addition to passion, however,  Seelig echoed other presenters when she said this generation will need to understand digital media inside and out. Not only are consumers and editors keeping up with the move to digital, noted Seelig. Advertisers, too, want to be on the cutting edge. “Digital doesn’t mean that print is dead,” said Seelig. “It means we need to combine all media assets and offer advertisers ways to reach consumers through multiple outlets.”

And this is where a publisher like Seelig comes in. She took us back to the “O You!” event in 2008, held in San Francisco, California for ardent followers of the Oprah brand. Thousands of women across the country joined together for a day of empowerment and inspiration. Panelists and speakers, such as financial expert Suze Orman and design guru Stacy London shared their latest tips. Companies like L’Oreal Paris were giving free makeup sessions, and even Oprah herself made a surprise visit.

The event was so exciting that Intel, the computer technology company, signed on as the top level, or “integrated,” sponsor for the event, meaning they had maximum visibility, and content integration in print and online. This deal came with 12 ad pages and cost Intel “a pretty hefty price tag,” noted Seelig.

Several students in the audience wondered why a technology company like Intel would reach out to a brand Seelig described as “warm and fuzzy.” She explained that Intel  did it to relate to and reach a new demographic.

To engage as wide an audience as possible, Seelig’s team launched the website oyouonline.com, which played an important role in giving the one-day event more continuity and breadth. Followers were able to learn about and register for “O You!” online beforehand, then watch webcasts and updates during and after the event. The site generated over two million hits.

Seelig’s team of 40 staffers works hard to create and build high profile events and partnerships, though there are times when they have to turn away advertising. The magazine does not accept tobacco ads, for example, or those for dietary supplements not approved by the FDA. Their most important motivating factor, Seelig says, is putting readers and their welfare first.

So, while a typical day for Seelig may be making a cold sales call or attending multiple meetings, ultimately it involves a lot more than selling the page. That’s just the beginning.

by Stephanie Wilcox

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