Brand Awareness: Two Magazines, Two Views

“Printegration” equals the integration of print and digital. That was just one thing we learned on our visits to leading magazine media and technology companies as part of the NYU Summer Publishing Institute last week. And guess what else we learned? You can give away a magazine and make more than selling it!

On visits to GQ (land of printegration), Time Out New York (free is the way of the future), Refinery29, Bloomberg Media, AOL/Huffington Post, and Rachael Ray Every Day, we were exposed to top brands with unique viewpoints and selling points. Here’s an inside look at two of our visits.

GQ: The Right Stuff

As we walked from the SPI headquarters in lower Manhattan to the GQ offices in One World Trade Center, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. We were all eager to experience what it is like to work for a legacy men’s brand, and also to hear what goes into producing it every month.  While sitting in the 28th floor boardroom with an amazing view of Manhattan and the Hudson, we had the opportunity to engage in a candid conversation on the state of the industry, best advice for landing a job, and how to maintain a competitive edge.

“I think of myself as the great encourager,” said Catherine Gundersen, Managing Editor of GQ.com. “But, sometimes that means with a stick rather than a carrot.” Gundersen, along with Devin Gordon, Senior Articles Editor, and Jon Wilde, Editor of GQ.com, gave us some insights into their roles, and how they are working to establish print and digital integration, or as they call it: “Printegration.”

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(l to r) Catherine Gundersen, Managing Editor of GQ.com; Mike Hoffman, Executive Digital Director; Devin Gordon, Senior Articles Editor; and Jon Wilde, Editor of GQ.com.

And, of course the elephant in the room needed to be addressed: the question of whether or not the magazine industry will withstand the impact of the digital age for a long period of time.  Understanding our concerns, and wanting to be as candid as possible, Friedman gave us his honest answer: “There will be a magazine industry in 20 years, and I am way more confident about the state of the industry than I have ever been.” Friedman spoke about the positive value of long-form reporting, and the importance of quality story telling in maintaining a brands’ relevance.  “People want stuff and you have to be really good at giving it to them,” said Friedman.

Jon Wilde and Mike Hoffman, Executive Digital Director, discussed engaging their audience by keeping up with trending topics that align with the brand, and creating in-house content that brings readers back for more.  Hoffman describes it as “holding the ball as long as we can.”

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GQ‘s Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer, Howard Mittman, (center) fields questions and vets student project ideas, with Rory Stanton, Director of Finance and Business Operations and SPI Magazine Consultant, (left) and Catherine Gundersen.

SPI students were put to the test when GQ Publisher, Howard Mittman, challenged a few of them to say their 30-second magazine pitch in front of everyone in the room. With all of the great advice that he gave us on how to maintain a business financially, he made sure to drive home the overarching idea that we should create something that is of value to our readers. “When you finish reading GQ you will be  smarter for having read it,” Mittman said.

From our visit, it was apparent that the GQ team is optimistic about the future of the industry, and ways to make print and digital part of an enhanced brand. SPI students left feeling inspired and ready to begin the job-hunt process.

By Malia Brown

Time out New York’s Time for A Change

How does a free magazine succeed? Time Out New York sought to answer this question in the past year when it chose to stop charging for its print edition on the newsstands. “It’s a totally different strategy,” said Carolyn Stanley, Managing Editor. She explained that advertisers are willing to pay more because the free version of the magazine now has a far larger circulation and reaches a wider audience. That said, there is a belief that free things lack quality, especially in New York, and the magazine had to work hard to combat this.

So Time Out made it a  goal to reassure its advertisers and audience that the quality would not go down. So far, the model has worked incredibly well for them. In the past year, Time Out has greatly increased its circulation and ad pages, according to Stanley.

Jennifer Picht, the “Things To Do” editor, emphasized another key point that plays a role in the magazine brand’s success: “We’re more digitally inclined now.” A story is usually written first for digital and then with a new angle for print.

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Christina Izzo, Food & Drink Editor for Time Out New York, (left) walks students through her editorial process.

While Stanley and Picht emphasized the importance of digital, the emphasis really comes down to the mission of their brand. “Our goal is to get people to go out,”  said Picht.

Stanley, Picht, and Food & Drink Editor Christina Izzo all emphasized that the success of Time Out has a lot to do with the staff’s passion for writing about what’s trending in New York City. Where should people go to eat? What can they do on the weekend?

The SPI students who visited Time Out were offered an interesting perspective on a new and clearly successful business model.

 

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SPI students at the Time Out New York offices with Carolyn Stanley, Managing Editor (left).

by Dimana Tzvetkova

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