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SAMIR “MR. MAGAZINE™” HUSNI

PUBLISHING DURING A PANDEMIC

inside the great minds of magazine and magazine media makers


SAMIR “MR. MAGAZINE™” HUSNI

PUBLISHING DURING A PANDEMIC

inside the great minds of magazine and magazine media makers


Copyright © 2020 By Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. www.mrmagazine.me samir.husni@gmail.com

All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from publisher No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of information herein.

Published by Magazine Innovation Center School of Journalism and New Media 114 Farley Hall University, MS 3877 Printed in the United States of America


PUBLISHING DURING A PANDEMIC inside the great minds of magazine and magazine media makers

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni Design and Illustrations James Daulton Byars Book Editor Angela Rogalski


CONTENTS 5

9

Introduction

Chapter 1: Stephen Bohlinger Senior Vice President Group Publisher of Better Homes & Gardens

19 Chapter 2: Susan Borison Founder, Editor, & Publisher of Your Teen Magazine 23 Chapter 3: Chris Carpenter Owner & President of Royle Printing 27 Chapter 4: John Cimba President & CEO of GLC Joe Stella Vice President & Associations Shannon Cummins Vice President & Healthcare 35 Chapter 5: Andy Clurman CEO of Active Interest Media 41 Chapter 6: Steve Cohn Former Editor In Chief, min: Media Industry 51

Chapter 7: Vanessa Coppes CEO & Editor In Chief of Bella Magazine

61 Chapter 8: Phyllis Hoffman DePiano CEO of Hoffman Media 67 Chapter 9: Philip Drumheller President & Owner of Lane Press, Inc. 73 Chapter 10: Sid Evans Editor In Chief of Southern Living 79 Chapter 11: Bill Falk Editor In Chief of The Week Magazine 87 Chapter 12: David Fry Chief Technology Officer of Fry Communications 91 Chapter 13: JD Heyman Editor In Chief of Entertainment Weekly


99 Chapter 14: Sue Holt Managing Director of ITP Consumer, Live, and Gaming (United Arab Emirates) 103 Chapter 15: Joe Hyrkin CEO of Issuu 111

Chapter 16: Jayne Jamison Senior Vice President, Publisher, & Chief Revenue Officer of The Oprah Magazine Lucy Kaylin Editor In Chief Arianna Davis Digital Director

127 Chapter 17: Kent Johnson CEO of Highlights for Children 133 Chapter 18: Dave Jones Managing Director of SimpleCirc 141 Chapter 19: Katriina Kaarre Publishing Director of Octavamedia, Findland 145 Chapter 20: Bonnie Kintzer CEO of Trusted Media Brands 151 Chapter 21: Steven Kotok CEO of Bauer 157 Chapter 22: Simon Leslie Founder & Co-CEO of INK 165 Chapter 23: Bernie Mann Publisher of Our State Magazine 173 Chapter 24: Paul McNamee Editor of The Big Issue 181 Chapter 25: Meaghan Murphy Content Director of Woman’s Day Magazine 189 Chapter 26: Doug Olson President of Meredith Magzines 197 Chapter 27: Stephen Orr Editor in Chief of Better Homes & Gardens 205 Chapter 28: Gemma Peckham Publisher & Editor In Chief of Executive Media Global 213 Chapter 29: Sherin Pierce Publisher of The Old Farmer’s Almanac


221 Chapter 30: David Pilcher Vice President for Sales & Marketing of Freeport Press 227 Chapter 31: Joel Quadracci CEO of Quad 237 Chapter 32: Mike Ragsdale Founder of 30A Will Estell Editor In Chief & Director of Publishing 249 Chapter 33: Eric O’Keefe Founder & Editor of The Land Report Eddie Lee Rider Jr. Founder & Publisher 259 Chapter 34: Eric Schurenberg Mansueto Ventures, & CEO of Fast Company & Inc. 267 Chapter 35: Liz Vaccariello Editor In Chief of REAL SIMPLE Magazine 273 Chapter 36: Thomas Whitney President of Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company 279 285

Chapter 37: Troy Young President of Hearst Magazine Chapter 38: Blaise Zerega Managing Editor of Alta Magazine


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INTRODUCTION In March 2020, the COVID-19 virus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since then most of the world has been experiencing the uncertainty and devastation the Coronavirus has caused. We here in the United States are no different from the rest of the globe. From mandated stay-at-home orders to social distancing and the wearing of masks, the world as we knew it is no longer and the new “normal” is prevalent. Industries and companies have also had to Since March 11, 2020 I started wearing the cap learn a new way of doing things, magazine I bought in Robben Island, South Africa and a and magazine media publishers included. mask every time I get out. Stay safe, take care, This book “Publishing During A Pandemic” keep the faith and know this too shall pass. is a compilation of conversations that I have had with many of the leading powers-that-be in the world of magazines, magazine media, printing, design, digital, and other business executives that have had this pandemic thrust upon them without warning or consideration. And for the most part, I am happy to say, I found out straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak) that they are doing just fine. A little worse for the wear in some areas maybe, but doing very well in other sections of their businesses. Having to incorporate the new verbiage of the day: social distancing, quarantine, mask-wearing, into their daily lives now, I must say magazine and magazine media people are a sturdy lot and do not give up easily as many of us already knew. You know, social distancing or isolated connectivity, as I coined the phrase many years back, are two names for the publishing during a pandemic

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same situation. When I came up with the phrase “isolated connectivity” it was after a friend of mine told me the following story: “One day I came home from work to find my son watching something on his laptop and texting at the same time. I asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ My son answered, ‘Duh, can’t you see, I am watching a movie.’ I responded, ‘But you are also texting.’ His response: ‘Duh, I am texting with my girlfriend who is watching the same movie at home.’ That made me think, so I asked, ‘Why don’t you just take your girlfriend to the movies and watch together, like the good old days?’ My son replied, ‘Duh again, Dad, we can’t discuss the movie at the theater.’” “Isolated connectivity” was the first thing that came to mind when I heard that story. Today we feel we are so connected, yet we are more isolated than ever before, especially with the pandemic. That conversation with my friend took place years before the COVID-19 has almost forced the entire world to go into “isolated connectivity” under the new phrase “social distancing.” The major difference of course is “isolated connectivity” was a choice adopted by millions who enjoyed what they felt to be the privacy of their home and the virtual connectivity that kept folks screens apart. Today “social distancing” is not a choice. It is a must and a force to be reckoned with. Whether you want to call it “isolated connectivity” or “social distancing,” I believe this seclusion goes against our nature as human beings. We are physical creatures, and we thrive on three “ships” that cruise all the channels of our

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physical nature. I have written and preached in my seminars about those three “ships” time and time again: ownership, membership and showmanship. And these ships are vital to our natures. We want to own it, belong to it, and then show it off. Here’s the sum of what I am trying to say: As long as we have human beings we are going to have physical things, and as long as we have physical things, we are going to have magazines. Magazines, unlike their business models, are not going to go by the wayside of life; it is how we manufacture and sell them to the public that is going to change. To quote a magazine executive I recently interviewed, “Customers will continue to vote with their pockets.” And not even a pandemic can completely stop the process. Today, in these uncertain times, magazines are more relevant than ever, as you will learn from the people who create them. By reading this book, you will ascertain the determination, sheer will, and passion that the people between the covers of this book have for their brands. And the people said, AMEN. Enjoy! Mr. Magazine™

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CHAPTER ONE

Stephen Bohlinger Senior Vice President & Group Publisher of Better Homes & Gardens “We’re staying the course as a monthly, staying at 7.6 million rate base.”

Content drives Meredith Corporation, quality, relevant content. And never has that been more evident than with Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Traditional Home, three Meredith brands that are weathering the pandemic storm quite admirably. Stephen Bohlinger is Senior Vice President Group Publisher for the trio of titles and is happy to report that things are moving along very well during these uncertain times. “This is a wonderful time for our brands – Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Traditional Home. Why is it a wonderful time? Because not only are we going home, but most of our readers and advertisers are doing the same.” I spoke with Stephen recently and he shared that comment and many more with me during our conversation. As always, it was a pleasure to hear from the powers-that-be at Meredith, especially to find out the pandemic may have presented its challenges, but it hadn’t stopped the company from doing what they do best: putting out quality content without disruption. publishing during a pandemic

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On how the business has been operating during the pandemic: First and foremost, I’ve been commuting, working and living out of the mecca New York City since 1985, so I lived through recessions, 9/11 and the banking crisis, but this is unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like this. We went from 100 percent seated across the country – all of our offices – to 100 percent home in the snap of a finger within 24 hours. The first thing that we needed to do was adjust quickly. There was no script, no game plan that we could refer to because this had never been seen before; we’d never done this before. Certainly, I hadn’t seen it. On whether they have had to change any magazine frequencies because of the pandemic: We talked to our CEO, Tom Harty, and my boss, Doug Olson, and we looked at every single element: frequency, rate base, print, bind and mail. We realized that this is a wonderful time for our brands – Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Traditional Home.

Samir Husni: How are you adjusting as group publisher of Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Traditional Home during this pandemic? Stephen Bohlinger: First and foremost, I’ve been commuting, working and living out of the mecca New York City since 1985, so I lived through recessions, 9/11 and the banking crisis, but this is unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like this. We went from 100 percent seated across the country – all of our offices – to 100 percent home in the snap of a finger within 24 hours. The first thing that we needed to do was adjust quickly. There was no script, no game plan that we could refer to because this had never been seen before; we’d never done this before. Certainly, I hadn’t seen it. We needed to be really nimble and to adjust rapidly because we knew we had to continue doing business. And I am amazed at how our team has responded. Most of the people on my team are working mothers, so they were not only disrupted in their own work environment, but they were disrupted at home. They were disrupted with their kids, who were no longer going to school and were now at home, so they were taking care of their children and, in some cases, their parents as well. So, I’ve just been amazed at how nimble and quick they’ve been able to adjust to the new world of working from home while still serving our clients’ needs. The good news is that we have phenomenal relationships with our clients and our agency partners and that translated very well. We were able to do calls on Zoom/Webex and see one another, so we were practicing social distancing and didn’t have to wear masks. We were able to get business done productively and efficiently. It happened overnight, and the team responded seamlessly. Samir Husni: Have you had to change any frequencies with your magazines due to the pandemic or make any tough decisions?

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Stephen Bohlinger: Great questions and ones we took to the highest level. We talked to our CEO, Tom Harty, and my boss, Doug Olson, and we looked at every single element: frequency, rate base, print, bind and mail. We realized that this is a wonderful time for our brands – Better Homes & Gardens, Southern Living and Traditional Home. Why is it a wonderful time? Because not only are we going home, but most of our readers and advertisers are doing the same. They’re sitting at home and as they look at their four walls, they’re realizing that they might need a paint job. Or they need to redo their kitchen. And they can achieve these goals by spending time with our powerful and relevant brands which are now UP with readers spending 33 minutes per issue with Better Homes & Gardens. Better Homes & Gardens is a 100-year-old brand and has historic archives to reflect on. Our editor in chief, Stephen Orr, is an amazing leader. We’ve been together for five years, and I just love him as a person, a friend and certainly as the leader of the largest monthly magazine in the world. We’re 12 times per year; the readers want and need our brand and so it makes perfect sense to continue with this monthly frequency. The brand is more relevant today than ever before so let’s stay the course and deliver a great product they demand. When we looked at the rate base, which we do every year – it’s 7.6 million – it made sense financially. This is a juggernaut for the Meredith Corporation; it’s such a big brand reaching 43 million fans and followers. So it made perfect sense to continue delivering the rate base of 7.6 million and sending that to the homes of our consumers 12 times per year.

Is it a wonderful time? Because not only are we going home, but most of our readers and advertisers are doing the same. They’re sitting at home and as they look at their four walls, they’re realizing that they might need a paint job. Or they need to redo their kitchen. And they can achieve these goals by spending time with our powerful and relevant brands which are now UP with readers spending 33 minutes per issue with Better Homes & Gardens.

Yes, it made sense financially, but even more important is that the content is more relevant today than it has ever been. Given this time and this pandemic, people looking inward, people are returning to their homes and doing things they may never have done, I feel this is a resurgence for print. I see this as a great time for our industry because people are sick of looking at a screen every day, sick of leaning in, seated

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On whether he thinks people will rediscover print once the pandemic is behind us: Yes, I really do believe so. I believe there will be a resurgence for print and that this will be a great time for the industry, a great time for iconic, 100-year-old, heritage brands like Better Homes & Gardens, which is 100 percent relevant today.

looking at a screen. And at night, they’ve seen every Netflix show. I’ve seen it with my own children. They’re millennials and would rather curl up and read a book after a long day than looking at a screen, They want to close the computer, put the phone away. That’s wonderful to see and it’s great for our brands. Samir Husni: As you move forward and this pandemic is behind us, do you think this resurgence will continue and people will rediscover print after spending so much time with screens? After the virtual for so long, will they be looking for reality? Stephen Bohlinger: Yes, I really do believe so. I believe there will be a resurgence for print and that this will be a great time for the industry, a great time for iconic, 100-year-old, heritage brands like Better Homes & Gardens, which is 100 percent relevant today. We reach 8.2 million millennials, and the leading millennial is turning 40. People always say that millennials aren’t going to buy homes but guess what? They’re not only buying homes. They’re buying their second homes. There are 40-year-olds who are buying their second home right now. I see the millennial audience disengaging with what they were brought up on, which was screen time. They’re throwing their phones down for a while and reading books or magazines, whether it’s BH&G, Southern Living or Traditional Home. I think it’s a wonderful time for the Meredith Corporation and the industry. As for our clients and advertisers, it’s been rough, right? Initially, when the pandemic hit, there was lots of uncertainty. We didn’t know what the future looked like, so there were a lot of advertisers, clients that said they were going to take a pause in categories like automotive or beauty. However, we saw an uptick for some advertisers like packaged goods – certainly in cleaning products and convenient food brands. In some of our categories there was

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opportunity for them to reach out and show the American public that they were there for them, that we’re in it together. And there are no better brands to do that than the ones that they’re getting at home. And, the ones they trust. Samir Husni: Was there a moment in the last few months where you said that’s it, I can’t take it anymore? Or has it been a walk in a rose garden throughout this pandemic? Stephen Bohlinger: It hasn’t been a walk in a rose garden, no. It’s been a challenge since day one, but I’m the son of a coach. My dad was an educator like you, a gym teacher and coach, and he always taught me to stick to your heart and stomach and call it guts. And, that’s what we did. The best thing for us – and what allowed us to avoid that “this is too much” moment – has been the communication and the relationships we have at the Meredith Corporation. I talk to my boss, Doug Olson, every day. We have a business continuity meeting with all of his direct reports every day. And even if it’s just to get everybody on the phone and communicating, it helps everyone to relax and take a breath, to feel that we really are in this together. So that communication from the highest level has been extremely helpful.

On if he feels running the company during a pandemic has been a walk in a rose garden or very challenging: It hasn’t been a walk in a rose garden, no. It’s been a challenge since day one, but I’m the son of a coach. My dad was an educator like you, a gym teacher and coach, and he always taught me to stick to your heart and stomach and call it guts. And, that’s what we did. The best thing for us – and what allowed us to avoid that “this is too much” moment – has been the communication and the relationships we have at the Meredith Corporation.

My team is the same. We meet daily and talk regularly about what their fears and concerns are. I really feel that communication and those relationships and trust within our team have helped everyone. Whether it’s relationships within our own team or our relationship with the highest level at Meredith, the communication is there and its constant. Samir Husni: Once the pandemic is behind us, do you think working from home will be the new normal or you’ll go back to the face-to-face environment of the office? Stephen Bohlinger: I’m all about the high-five, the hug and the pat on the back, and there’s nothing ever that will replace a face-to-face meeting with a client, breaking bread with

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On whether he thinks working from home will become the new “normal” indefinitely: I’m all about the high-five, the hug and the pat on the back, and there’s nothing ever that will replace a face-to-face meeting with a client, breaking bread with them over lunch, or going to a ballgame with them or playing golf with them. This is a relationship business and it has been since day one. I always tell my team that you’re only as good as your reputation and you’re only as good as the relationships you can build and keep.

them over lunch, or going to a ballgame with them or playing golf with them. This is a relationship business and it has been since day one. I always tell my team that you’re only as good as your reputation and you’re only as good as the relationships you can build and keep. I’d love to see us return to that at some point, but I’ve been amazed at how efficient we’ve been in running our business with our clients thanks to those relationships. I’ll give you a perfect example. As we pivot the content – working with Stephen and his amazing, talented edit team – we were able to do what we’re calling “Project Joy,” editorial meetings with our clients. We bring in Stephen, who is not only the editor of BH&G but is the content leader for more than half of the Meredith brands. We reached out to all of our key agency partners and clients, and we’ve done over a dozen of these meetings, which are usually an hour long, and I’m amazed at how many people attend these meetings. The screen is full, with 20 to 25 people seated at the highest level, interested and leaning in. I always used to say that if you feed them they will come, so we’d do lunch and learns, but we’re not feeding them. We’re just giving them solutions for their clients and they’re showing up in droves. This has opened our eyes to a new way of doing business. It has totally changed overnight, but we haven’t lost any momentum. Communication has probably been better than before because we’re leaning in and being more nimble. We always ask our clients if we’re serving them the way they need to be served in these “Project Joy” meetings. And they all answer “Absolutely and thank you.” Samir Husni: What’s your forecast for meeting the budget this fiscal year? Stephen Bohlinger: When the pandemic hit there were certainly advertisers out of the game, and that put a pause on

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spending. So, we’re not going to reach budget where we were year over year. We’re always compared by what we did the year before, and the June issue was the first issue where we saw advertisers taking a pause. The leaders at Meredith are realists, and it starts at the top with our CEO Tom Harty. He knows what’s going on with the economy; he’s extremely close to it; and he said let’s do the best we possibly can and let’s be very understanding of what our clients are going through. We’re in this together, and let’s be there for them. Let’s listen to what their challenges are and try to figure out the solutions for them. Try and convince them why we feel they need to be here at this given time.

On the budget for this fiscal year: When the pandemic hit there were certainly advertisers out of the game, and that put a pause on spending. So, we’re not going to reach budget where we were year over year. We’re always compared by what we did the year before, and the June issue was the first issue where we saw advertisers taking a pause.

Issue to issue, being realists, we knew we would not match where we were year over year, but as we look at August, the issue that we’re closing right now, the panic seems to have subsided. I haven’t seen anyone pulling out at the 11th hour. Are we where we were a year ago? Not yet. This isn’t going to be a V snapback. This is going to be a U. It’s going to take a little longer, and we’re going to be patient. But what we are seeing is some great things with our consumers. The renewals are pacing in the double digits; the direct mail efforts are up 11 percent, proving the power of print. They’re voting with their wallets, the magazine store has recorded nine straight weeks of growth, up 47 percent and the Amazon sub orders have seen eight straight weeks of growth, up 76 percent. So, that’s a good sign. We’re going to have to weather the storm on the ad revenue, but we are getting more from the consumer. That’s why we’re staying the course as a monthly, staying at 7.6 million rate base. Newsstands, particularly for the brands that I oversee, aren’t that big. There has been some disruption on newsstand, but that doesn’t really affect ours because the majority of our brands are delivered to the home. By the way, the average time spent with BH&G is now 33 minutes, up from 30

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On anything he’d like to add:

minutes. Readers are spending more time with us, which is phenomenal.

We’re an omni-channel experience, so this is a brand that has many touchpoints. We have a huge content licensing business with Walmart. We have BH&G Real Estate, which is doing extremely well. What’s also performing at its highest level and is showing amazing growth is digital, with BH&G’s highest traffic since 2015, at more than 17.7 million visits.

Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Stephen Bohlinger: We’re an omni-channel experience, so this is a brand that has many touchpoints. We have a huge content licensing business with Walmart. We have BH&G Real Estate, which is doing extremely well. What’s also performing at its highest level and is showing amazing growth is digital, with BH&G’s highest traffic since 2015, at more than 17.7 million visits. I recently went to a big box retailer to buy some things. I waited 45 minutes, mask on, six feet apart from other shoppers. The store was packed with long lines of people buying home products. They’re going to BHG.com prior for gardening, home or whatever project it might be as we are there for all of their home needs. In addition, Pinterest traffic is the highest it’s been since 2014, email is also up, and we had 45 million in video views, the highest since 2019. All very positive signs. We’re a multi-platform experience. Print is a big part of what we do, but our digital business has been tremendous throughout these times. We have over 43 million fans and followers right now. It’s enormous. That’s an enormous monthly reach for BH&G. We’re definitely proud of that. On the readership side, print-only has a total readership of 33 million. Our total brand audience, per Magazine Media 360, is 43 million. Those are galactic numbers. Other brands within the industry are reducing rate bases and frequencies, but we’re staying the course for all the right reasons. We’re creating a gap as the leader – more so than ever before. From an editorial standpoint, it’s wonderful to go through this time with a partner like Stephen, who is just tremendous. We had our Style Maker issue in September, a big tentpole event, and it drives from print. We have an event in New York City in September, and we invite over 100 style

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makers from throughout the country – be it food, home, gardening, décor, beauty, whatever it may be – and they show up for a full day. Early on we had to make a decision. Stephen said we’re not going to be able to pull this off in September. We don’t know where the world will be. This was just a week in at being at home and he knew what was needed to be done: It’s going to be a better idea to move it. By the way, it’s our 10th anniversary for the Style Maker event, so we had a lot of fanfare behind it, and advertisers had already signed up. So, we pivoted. We moved it to spring 2021, and we changed the editorial theme in September to the power of home. Brilliant. And in these “Project Joy,” editorial roadshows, Stephen ensures them that we’re getting the brand out into the consumers’ hands without disruption. The “Power of Home” will be the theme of our September issue. It’s about getting joy out of life, whether it’s cooking a recipe at home or organizing your drawers – all of the great content that BH&G brings to our audience through all of our channels.

On what keeps him up at night: It’s the health and wellness of my team across the board. Most of my team members, as I said earlier, are hardworking mothers, and the majority of those in New York commute, so that in and of itself is a challenge. I just worry about them and their families. Some are also caring for their parents. Some staff members lost their grandparents here in the New York metropolitan area, which was very sad. I worry about them and the disruption they may face in their lives.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Stephen Bohlinger: It’s the health and wellness of my team across the board. Most of my team members, as I said earlier, are hardworking mothers, and the majority of those in New York commute, so that in and of itself is a challenge. I just worry about them and their families. Some are also caring for their parents. Some staff members lost their grandparents here in the New York metropolitan area, which was very sad. I worry about them and the disruption they may face in their lives. Again, it’s a relationship business. We’re a team and we’ve been together for a long time. I care about them, and they care about their fellow team members. Thankfully we’ve been pretty healthy, but I do worry about that.

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We have been talking about phasing back in. We’re on track to open the Des Moines office in phases first. In New York, which is home to most of our team, we’ll also look at when it is safe to phase in, and I feel extremely confident about how Meredith leadership is putting together a careful and thoughtful plan as to how we bring our employees back to work in an environment that is safe. The health and wellness of the team is what keeps me up. I always worry, but it makes me feel good when we talk each morning as a team and I get to see everyone’s face. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER TWO

Susan Borison

Founder, Editor, & Publisher of Your Teen Magazine “At Your Teen, we feel that it is more important than ever to let parents know that they are not alone.”

Susan Borison is the founder and editor/publisher of Your Teen Magazine, a parenting magazine for parents of teenagers. The magazine began because Susan herself had five children and when they began reaching adolescence, she felt the need for some parenting tips. So she created “Your Teen.” Today the magazine and the brand are dealing with the pandemic as all of us are: straightforwardly and as bravely as possible. I reached out to Susan recently and she told me that it had been an intense time for her and her team, but they are learning to pivot quickly as new ways of business present themselves, such as the free digital magazine they’re offering readers called: Parenting in a Pandemic. Coping skills for teens and ways to stay connected with their friends while still being apart are just two topics covered. It is definitely a tool that parents can use to assist them during these uncertain times. Samir Husni: How has Your Teen Media been operating during this pandemic? publishing during a pandemic

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On how Your Teen Media has been operating during the pandemic: At Your Teen Media, we’ve all become attached to the word “pivot” because the pandemic has required all of us to adjust our approach—not just as a business but as parents and humans. Our biggest pivot has been to turn our May/June print issue into a bonus digital edition focused on the new normal of parenting teens in social distancing/quarantine: Parenting in a Pandemic. On how easy, hard or disruptive the transition to working from home was: Our staff has always worked from home, but we had regular in-person meetings at our office/ coffee shop/kitchen table as we worked through different projects. These meetings now occur entirely on Zoom. On some things she’s been doing for her readers and their families to help during the pandemic: It’s been a very intense time; we’ve been sharing a daily expert interview since the pandemic upended much of what is considered

Susan Borison: At Your Teen Media, we’ve all become attached to the word “pivot” because the pandemic has required all of us to adjust our approach—not just as a business but as parents and humans. Our biggest pivot has been to turn our May/June print issue into a bonus digital edition focused on the new normal of parenting teens in social distancing/quarantine: Parenting in a Pandemic. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home? Susan Borison: Our staff has always worked from home, but we had regular in-person meetings at our office/coffee shop/ kitchen table as we worked through different projects. These meetings now occur entirely on Zoom. Samir Husni: What are some things you’ve been doing for your customers’ families and teenagers during this pandemic to help? Susan Borison: It’s been a very intense time; we’ve been sharing a daily expert interview since the pandemic upended much of what is considered to be typical for families and teenagers. One of our most popular interviews is with Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of Voice Lessons for Parents; she spoke about those high school and college seniors who are experiencing the loss of big life cycle events like graduation. Dr. Mogel delivers life changing advice. Samir Husni: What about your own life, how have things changed for you personally? Susan Borison: In my own house, I have gone from being an empty-nester to having four of my kids at home, and I find myself spending my days locked in my bedroom where I have set up my “office”. The days are so busy with work and my family that I can feel purposeful. But the nights are longer.

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I put my head on the pillow, and that seems to be the signal for all the thoughts that I’ve been keeping at bay to enter my brain. I remember feeling strangely calm about Covid-19 at the beginning of March. When I look back, maybe it was denial. Now, I haven’t left my house in weeks, except for taking the dog for walks. That transition happened so fast. I wonder if many families have gone through a similar trajectory. At first, we felt a little giddy that we were all home, and we framed the experience as an adventure. Now, several weeks in, we know people who have lost loved ones due to Covid-19. Plus the extra family time seems less adventurous as we get more annoyed with each other and impatient to find out how long the stay-home orders will last. In the midst of it all, I know that my family has much to be grateful for, but we also feel the loss of freedom and increase in anxiety. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your readers during this difficult time? Susan Borison: At Your Teen, we feel that it is more important than ever to let parents know that they are not alone. As people have become more isolated at home, they need the support of a parenting community. That’s why we published the bonus edition of our magazine about parenting in a pandemic. It includes so much information to help parents of teenagers get through this new reality. The FREE digital magazine includes dedicated sections on: ∙ Coping strategies for families sheltering in place ∙ Learning at home – do’s and don’ts for parents ∙ Ways to stay connected while apart ∙ Free resources and ideas for family fun ∙ College students – what now? ∙ Staying positive and looking ahead

to be typical for families and teenagers. One of our most popular interviews is with Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of Voice Lessons for Parents; she spoke about those high school and college seniors who are experiencing the loss of big life cycle events like graduation. On how things have changed for her personally: In my own house, I have gone from being an emptynester to having four of my kids at home, and I find myself spending my days locked in my bedroom where I have set up my “office”. The days are so busy with work and my family that I can feel purposeful. But the nights are longer. On the message she is communicating with her readers during this difficult time: At Your Teen, we feel that it is more important than ever to let parents know that they are not alone. As people have become more isolated at home, they need the support of a parenting community. That’s why we published the bonus edition of our magazine about parenting in a pandemic.

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On any additional words of wisdom: Of course, we wish we never had to create this issue, but the pandemic had other ideas. Now, we hope that we can provide support, advice, and ideas to as many families as possible.

More than 13 years ago, we got into this business because we wanted to make sure that parents of teenagers didn’t feel alone. We are so grateful that our magazine is seen as a valuable resource by readers: “First, I could not put it down. Every article was on point and exactly what I needed to hear. Second, as a teacher, I can’t recommend enough your section, Learning at Home. As a mother of a high school freshman and a college freshman, you are my hero of the year!” – Ada Milka-Wood, via Instagram “It’s a brilliant, necessary issue.” – Dr. John Duffy, psychologist and parenting expert Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Susan Borison: Of course, we wish we never had to create this issue, but the pandemic had other ideas. Now, we hope that we can provide support, advice, and ideas to as many families as possible. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER THREE

Chris Carpenter

President & Owner of Royle Printing “Remain strong, we’ll get through this.”

Located in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, Royle Printing is an independently owned and managed printing company specializing in high quality graphic and distribution services, and has been in business for 70 years. Chris Carpenter is president & owner of Royle and like the rest of us is adapting to the COVID-19 way of life as best as he can. I reached out to Chris recently and asked him how, under the circumstances, Royle is doing? There was no surprise there. Mainly, Royle is doing well, however, some things have been negatively affected, “We have seen shifts in page counts, circulation and in some cases, issues have been postponed. Businesses centered in travel and meetings have been affected the most. We’re working with all of our customers, making the necessary adjustments to help them get through this period.” While others were actually more positive, “I will add, we have a number of catalog companies who have actually increased their counts. They see this as an opportunity to have a more engaged moment with a customer…fewer distractions. I think this is true for both publishers and catalogs, but it requires good content for a magazine and unique goods for sale in a catalog.” publishing during a pandemic

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On how Royle Printing is operating during the pandemic:

Samir Husni: How is Royle Printing operating during this pandemic?

Considering the circumstances, we’re doing alright. Our associates remain healthy and strong, for the good of their families and the Royle Community. While we have a very diverse customer base, both in publishing and catalogs, most are being negatively affected.

Chris Carpenter: Considering the circumstances, we’re doing alright. Our associates remain healthy and strong, for the good of their families and the Royle Community. While we have a very diverse customer base, both in publishing and catalogs, most are being negatively affected. It’s really important that we practice patience and understanding as we make our way through this tough period. One inspiring event at Royle is the installation of our new Manroland Rotoman S press. While the timing could be considered questionable, we feel strongly that it puts us in a great position when we get back to normal business conditions.

On the steps they are taking to ensure everyone working onsite is social distancing and staying as safe as possible:

Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what are the steps you are taking to social distance and ensure that everyone left onsite is as safe as possible?

We follow and implement the parameters set forth by the CDC, communicating daily with associates, vendors and customers. As hard as it is, I think everyone has adjusted pretty well. On the impact so far on publishing frequencies, printing, mailing, etc.: We have seen shifts in page counts, circulation and in some cases, issues have been postponed. Businesses centered in travel and meetings have been affected the most. We’re working with all of our customers, making the necessary adjustments

Chris Carpenter: We follow and implement the parameters set forth by the CDC, communicating daily with associates, vendors and customers. As hard as it is, I think everyone has adjusted pretty well. The bulk of administrative staff works from home and the operations team is diligent about hygiene and social distancing. We are fortunate to have a modern manufacturing platform, which includes a great deal of automation. This also creates a fair amount of autonomy and space between associates. Samir Husni: What has been the impact so far on publishing frequencies, printing, mailing, etc.? Any change in the print schedule from your clients? Skipping issues, reducing print run, etc. Chris Carpenter: We have seen shifts in page counts, circulation and in some cases, issues have been postponed. Businesses centered in travel and meetings have been

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affected the most. We’re working with all of our customers, making the necessary adjustments to help them get through this period. I will add, we have a number of catalog companies who have actually increased their counts. They see this as an opportunity to have a more engaged moment with a customer…fewer distractions. I think this is true for both publishers and catalogs, but it requires good content for a magazine and unique goods for sale in a catalog.

to help them get through this period. I will add, we have a number of catalog companies who have actually increased their counts.

Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, workforce?

To date, we’ve not experienced any major delays in receiving paper, ink or other consumables required for production. We might see some momentary delays in shipments or freight, but it typically gets resolved without impacting our customers. As for labor, we are always looking for committed and skilled people to join Royle Printing and the printing industry – even in a pandemic!

Chris Carpenter: To date, we’ve not experienced any major delays in receiving paper, ink or other consumables required for production. We might see some momentary delays in shipments or freight, but it typically gets resolved without impacting our customers. As for labor, we are always looking for committed and skilled people to join Royle Printing and the printing industry – even in a pandemic! This is an issue that’s troubled our industry for years. Print can provide meaningful careers for people and we have to do a better job of telling our story. Our doors are always open and we’d love to hear from you if you’re looking to join a talented team. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and do you think anyone could ever prepare for something like this? Chris Carpenter: I don’t think anyone saw this coming or that it would have such a broad, lasting effect. It’s absolutely terrible and shocking to see so many people being affected by the pandemic, the worst being so many lives lost. I hope we’re able to learn from this, placing more attention on prevention and treatment. The next 6-months will be interesting to see what advances are made. As for business preparedness, it certainly underscores the importance of having a committed and thriving culture, along with being financially disciplined.

On any shortage in paper, ink, or workforce:

On whether he had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic: I don’t think anyone saw this coming or that it would have such a broad, lasting effect. It’s absolutely terrible and shocking to see so many people being affected by the pandemic, the worst being so many lives lost.

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On what message he is communicating with his employees and clients during these uncertain times: Remain strong, we’ll get through this. All of us will need to make some adjustments, some of which will remain in place for the foreseeable future. On what makes magazine media relevant today: It really comes down to content. If you create and publish content that people desire, you have a basic foundation for the publishing/ advertising model. On any additional words of wisdom: A special thanks to the healthcare providers who have tirelessly served the sick and needy though this pandemic…you’re bright lights in the world – thank you. On what keeps him up at night: The general concern for so many who are affected by this pandemic. In time, we’ll heal, learn and get stronger, but I worry about the lasting effects on families, businesses and the general economy.

Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees and clients during these uncertain times? Chris Carpenter: Remain strong, we’ll get through this. All of us will need to make some adjustments, some of which will remain in place for the foreseeable future. We will do our very best to take care of our associates and clients, being patient and understanding as we move forward. Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? Chris Carpenter: It really comes down to content. If you create and publish content that people desire, you have a basic foundation for the publishing/advertising model. The distribution of the content will vary, involving both print and digital delivery, but consumers will subscribe and purchase these services. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Chris Carpenter: A special thanks to the healthcare providers who have tirelessly served the sick and needy though this pandemic…you’re bright lights in the world – thank you. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Chris Carpenter: The general concern for so many who are affected by this pandemic. In time, we’ll heal, learn and get stronger, but I worry about the lasting effects on families, businesses and the general economy. Getting people back to work, in a safe and planned way, will go a long way in getting things back to normal. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER FOUR John Cimba President & CEO of GLC Joe Stella Vice President & Associations of GLC Shannon Cummins Vice President Healthcare of GLC

John Cimba

“A content & marketing agency creating vital content strategies during a pandemic.� GLC based in Chicago, delivers award-winning marketing strategies and programs for more than 50 companies, healthcare organizations, and professional associations across the country. Whether the content is delivered via print, digital, video, or social channels, GLC believes a good program starts with a sound strategy and improves through measurable results. Recently, I spoke with the president and CEO of the company, John Cimba, the vice president over Associations, Joe Stella, and the vice president over Healthcare, Shannon Cummins. The three of them sat down with me via Zoom to talk about how their company was moving forward during a pandemic. It was a very interesting and informative conversation with three people who are involved in creating strategies for companies who need content to assist them in getting their message out to the public.

Shannon Cummins

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On how they are operating during a pandemic (John Cimba): Right now, one of the things that we were very fortunate to have happen for us was that before all of this happened we as a company had gone into two days a week of working remotely. So the transition from going two days a week to five days a week wasn’t actually that tough. We were already set up for it. So, that was one thing that was an easy transition. On the decision to work two days per week from home even before the pandemic (John Cimba): Where our office is located is a suburb of Chicago, in Skokie, but there are a lot of great talents that are in the city itself. We’re locked into a lease, so we can’t just pack up and move into the city, so we knew that a draw for some of that talent in the city was to allow them to work remotely a couple of days a week.

Samir Husni: How are you operating during this pandemic? John Cimba: Right now, one of the things that we were very fortunate to have happen for us was that before all of this happened we as a company had gone into two days a week of working remotely. So the transition from going two days a week to five days a week wasn’t actually that tough. We were already set up for it. So, that was one thing that was an easy transition. The tough part has been working with our clients who are not used to working remotely and trying to help them through it all. There are a lot of hiccups along the way: technical, financial, all sorts of things that are impacted with that. But as a company, on our end, we’re functioning business as usual. Samir Husni; Why was the decision made even before the pandemic to work remotely two days a week? John Cimba: Where our office is located is a suburb of Chicago, in Skokie, but there are a lot of great talents that are in the city itself. We’re locked into a lease, so we can’t just pack up and move into the city, so we knew that a draw for some of that talent in the city was to allow them to work remotely a couple of days a week. Then when we saw that was going well, we unveiled it for the whole company and it’s actually been very successful for us. Samir Husni: You mentioned that your clients were having more difficulty with working remotely, how are you overcoming that challenge? John Cimba: A big change has been suddenly people who were 30 days current are now 60-70 days because they’re still trying to figure out a CFO is no longer in the office, they’re at home. They have to figure out how do I get checks cut, etc. From that standpoint, it has gotten a lot better, it’s moving

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back to normal. But in working with clients directly, I’ll let Joe and Shannon tackle that one. Shannon Cummins: My clients are all in the healthcare space, so they’re definitely feeling the impact directly. Many of our clients over the last several weeks have been involved in managing the communication and literally in the command center on a daily basis reporting on information. In some instances, for larger clients, it’s part of what they’re doing for some of our smaller clients where maybe there’s one person managing all communications in marketing. They’ve been taken out of their regular job to manage communication around the COVID. So, we’ve had a lot of shifting of schedules and calls that had to get rescheduled, work that may have had to be pushed a little bit, but at the same time the challenge of needing to communicate with their community, almost now more than ever, in terms of what they’re doing and what’s going on, is vital. I have received so many emails and communications in the healthcare space. There has been webinar after webinar about communication. Communication about coming back, that it’s safe to go into an ER. Hospitals are laying off emergency room workers because people are not going to ERs because they don’t feel it’s safe.

On the company’s clients and how they’re overcoming any clientrelationship difficulties (Shannon Cummins): The direct impact on them has been significant. Many of our client contacts are still in the hospital and not necessarily at home because of the fact that they are frontline workers in a different way. I’ve been in the healthcare communications space since 1986. In this time more than ever, it has been really interesting in terms of the immediate response in communications about COVID.

The direct impact on them has been significant. Many of our client contacts are still in the hospital and not necessarily at home because of the fact that they are frontline workers in a different way. I’ve been in the healthcare communications space since 1986. In this time more than ever, it has been really interesting in terms of the immediate response in communications about COVID. The loss of revenue they have experienced over the last few months and how to get people back in the hospital and using their services and to know it’s safe, is going to be a real opportunity and challenge for them. Joe Stella: My clients are trade and professional associations. The project management

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On any changes he envisions for GLC after the pandemic (John Cimba): I think we actually laid the foundation to put us in a very good place going forward. As a content agency, we’re delivery agnostic. So, whether it’s video, print, digital; it’s about the content for us first. We’ve positioned ourselves where we’re not dependent on one form of delivery over another.

communications perspective. One of the things that he said is it’s his least favorite thing when he opens up a magazine and somebody is talking about their doctor, it’s all about the doctors. He said now more than ever frontline workers are heroes everywhere. Our clients who have been publishing and who continue to publish print are moving away from their traditional type of communication around service line and all of that, and are really highlighting what they’ve done and the progress they’re making, really featuring COVID stories from a provider and patient perspective. Healthcare, now more than ever, has a great story to tell. And they are telling that story. Our client in New Jersey said they had over one million hits to their website, specifically their content hub where they’re offering up communications over the past two months as COVID occurred. Over one million hits to their website, which is the number they saw for the entirety of 2019. Our clients are proactively using print and emails, social media, to communicate their message, and quickly pivoting to getting people back in the door with elective procedures, things that have been put off. The challenge of communicating around COVID was very real and important. And now they’ve gotten people back. They have now almost a more important story to tell. People are concerned about going back to healthcare and they need to let them it’s safe. The evolution of Telehealth is also very interesting. In the same way that we’re going to see changes in the way schools and businesses are handled, healthcare too will be handled a bit differently. My husband struggles with sleep apnea and he was able to get a Tele-visit with a neurologist who ordered a sleep study that he can do at home. And the fact that he can do that without ever going in for healthcare organization, they bill our insurance as if we met

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personally with the doctor, it’s pretty interesting and amazing and very comforting to us.

On any lessons learned during this pandemic (John Cimba):

Samir Husni: Do you envision any changes at GLC after the pandemic is behind us? John Cimba: I think we actually laid the foundation to put us in a very good place going forward. As a content agency, we’re delivery agnostic. So, whether it’s video, print, digital; it’s about the content for us first. We’ve positioned ourselves where we’re not dependent on one form of delivery over another. Change is how we live and I think we’re in a very good place as a company, whichever way this goes. Whether it’s print, video or digital, we’re positioned for it. And I’m thankful for that because it would be tough to just jump in and try and transition our company while going through all of this.

From a business standpoint, the lesson learned is something I already knew, which is our company has an unbelievable staff. To be able to see the staff that we have, the team that we have, jump onto the transition of being fulltime remote, juggling family and everything, it’s a reminder that the people around us are what makes this great and us successful.

Samir Husni: Any lessons you have learned from this pandemic? Any words of wisdom or advice? John Cimba: From a business standpoint, the lesson learned is something I already knew, which is our company has an unbelievable staff. To be able to see the staff that we have, the team that we have, jump onto the transition of being fulltime remote, juggling family and everything, it’s a reminder that the people around us are what makes this great and us successful. Shannon Cummins: The fact that our approach to working with our clients is so customized. In the healthcare space, we work with small, independent individual hospitals to the largest healthcare system in New Jersey, and everything in between. Their demands and needs in the consumer market and how they want to communicate, whether it’s digital or print, what their budget will allow; I think the fact that we are so customized in the way we work with our clients, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, is going to benefit us even more going forward.

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On what keeps them up at night (John Cimba): My number one job; my number one goal going through this, I don’t want to lose one person through this. So, doing whatever we can do as a company for our clients and at the same time keeping every single person we have engaged, in the best place they can be, and I know it’s hard for some, and most importantly not losing any employees. That’s the biggest thing for me.

The demand in healthcare communication isn’t going away and how they need to deliver content is going to continue to vary. We’re very well-positioned to continue to do well, and hopefully even better, as a company because our work is important. The biggest challenge is how we, in that custom approach, make sure the message is differentiated. The message has to stand out and not just be what everyone else is sharing. The need to communicate creatively and differently is vital today. Joe Stella: Stay focused on your mission. In this time, you have all of this downward pressure in organization because you’re dealing with something that’s unprecedented and is impacting some of your main revenue channels. So, don’t take your eye off of your mission. And for our clients that means quality of content. It’s easy to say we’re not going to have our event, but if we produce 25 webinars, we can replace half of that revenue, but can you produce 25 webinars and do it well? Is it going to provide information to your constituents, your members, in the way that they need that information? Or is just filling a revenue gap? The pressure that a lot of people are feeling might lead them down a wrong path and to make some decisions that may impact the overall perception of the organization if it’s not executed well. So focus on what you do well, double-down on those channels, don’t try to do too much, everyone is scattering and trying to master everything digitally, don’t be all over the place. Stay focused on what your mission is, own a channel, produce quality content, and your audience will stick with you through this because they need you and they’ll need you afterward because of the new lessons there will be to learn. Everybody is going to need to learn from each other during the “new normal.” Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? John Cimba: My number one job; my number one goal going

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through this, I don’t want to lose one person through this. So, doing whatever we can do as a company for our clients and at the same time keeping every single person we have engaged, in the best place they can be, and I know it’s hard for some, and most importantly not losing any employees. That’s the biggest thing for me. Joe Stella: The economy keeps me up at night. We need to bring buyers and sellers together again and when I look at the outlook on travel and large group gatherings and the fact that Chicago isn’t going to open its conventions until there’s a vaccine, which will have a huge impact on the city, it’s tough. You realize how much impact all of that has and how it reverberates through this area’s economy to the people who need it the most, those essential workers and the folks who run the restaurants, the drivers who are getting us to and from places.

On what keeps them up at night (Joe Stella): The economy keeps me up at night. We need to bring buyers and sellers together again and when I look at the outlook on travel and large group gatherings and the fact that Chicago isn’t going to open its conventions until there’s a vaccine, which will have a huge impact on the city, it’s tough.

That worries me and the faster we can get back to that normal, where everyone feels comfortable, the better. We need to really focus on getting back to normal. We need the meetings to start up again. We need these buyers and sellers to come together again. Shannon Cummins: I like both John and Joe’s answers, they were both good ones. GLC has an amazing group of people that we’re lucky to work with. John and Ed’s commitment to making sure everyone stays employed and has a job is a testament. I’m lucky in that my children are grown and so many of the people that I work with who are taking care of our clients are at home managing, being now teachers and parents and working at the same time. And I know that has been a struggle for them, but they don’t bring that to the table every day. They’re doing such great and amazing work and I’m so appreciative of that. Personally, what keeps me up at night is my family and them remaining safe with elderly parents and my 26-year-old son who is an EMT transporting COVID patients every weekend,

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On what keeps them up at night (Shannon Cummins): Personally, what keeps me up at night is my family and them remaining safe with elderly parents and my 26-year-old son who is an EMT transporting COVID patients every weekend, so I don’t get to see him in person. And that’s hard.

so I don’t get to see him in person. And that’s hard. The issue around education, what’s happening with schools and the plan for schools going forward, my sister is a principal and my other sister is an education consultant, and figuring how that moves forward. In the same way that the economy is impacting so many people, education is as well. From a work perspective, I feel very lucky to be part of this organization and the work that we’re doing and the people who we get to work with. Samir Husni: Thank you all.

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CHAPTER FIVE

Andy Clurman

CEO of Active Interest Media On changing or halting any print schedules: “We have not done that as of yet.”

Ingenuity and determination. Two descriptive traits that we Americans have proven over the years to have an abundance of. And during this life-altering pandemic that we’re all facing, never have we demonstrated it more, both personally and professionally. And magazines and magazine media are no different. Recently, I spoke with Andy Clurman, president and CEO at Active Interest Media. Andy told me that his team at AIM were unbelievable, taking the work-from-home directive and running with it, coming up with creative and new ideas to keep even their events business operational (a Facebook Live team roping event) during the social distancing that we’re all practicing. From events to their print titles, AIM is moving forward during this tragedy with hope, grace and fortitude, as Andy and his team develop an awareness for this new world we are all living in currently, while keeping the business an Active, Interest-ing Media company. Samir Husni: Magazines and magazine media have adapted through many crises over the years, but to my recollection there has been nothing like this. How are you conducting business through this pandemic? publishing during a pandemic

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On how he is conducting business during this pandemic: We have a lot of people working remotely and thankfully through technology it wasn’t a big leap for us two weeks ago to ask everyone to work from home. We have a couple of essential positions where those people have to come in periodically, but so far just using all the tools we have and the ones we’ve gotten better at, such as Microsoft teams that I think are fully functioning, we’re doing good. The thing that has been most impacted is obviously our event business, which is growing to be a larger and larger part of our company. Fortunately, none of our largest marketing events are happening this time of the year, but we did have to cancel, postpone, or virtualize a whole number of events which included a boutique boat show we were doing in Seattle, a log and timber home show in Minneapolis, a number of team roping events in New Mexico, a fitness and yoga event that we were doing.

Andy Clurman: We have a lot of people working remotely and thankfully through technology it wasn’t a big leap for us two weeks ago to ask everyone to work from home. We have a couple of essential positions where those people have to come in periodically, but so far just using all the tools we have and the ones we’ve gotten better at, such as Microsoft teams that I think are fully functioning, we’re doing good. We’re very happy at the moment and grateful that we have not seen a big impact, as of yet, on people’s health as far as we can tell. We’re doing daily check-ins with everyone. We have a twice per week town hall meeting with everybody. Leadership meetings, all using videoconferencing, so people have been improving their videoconferencing game with lots of clever tricks of the trade. The thing that has been most impacted is obviously our event business, which is growing to be a larger and larger part of our company. Fortunately, none of our largest marketing events are happening this time of the year, but we did have to cancel, postpone, or virtualize a whole number of events which included a boutique boat show we were doing in Seattle, a log and timber home show in Minneapolis, a number of team roping events in New Mexico, a fitness and yoga event that we were doing. But what has been so amazing is how creative my team has been in coming up with ways to not just do virtual events, but finding ways to, for example, do a team roping event using Facebook Live and still be able to have people compete from the privacy of their own backyard practice arenas. So, that business is certainly challenged. And figuring out what to communicate, and the things that are longerranged. For example, our largest fitness event is in midJuly at Disneyland, so researching alternate dates, making contingency plans, communicating with all of our presenters and our attendees with what we’re doing so they’re not in the dark.

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Another thing that has been really impressive is how each one of our groups has stepped up with different kinds of industry support and leadership efforts and assistance, particularly in places that have been really hard hit like the fitness industry where fitness trainers aren’t able to do inperson training with their clients. The skiing industry has summarily shut down and the outdoor industry, most of the retailers are closed. We have a lot of industry impacts and we’re trying to be helpful and supportive and give people resources to either be able to do what they love or, for example, we’ve opened up our entire online education library for free to all of our industry partners in all of our categories. Samir Husni: What about the publishing side? I understand how the events side is heavily impacted, but what about the magazines? Are you changing print schedules or halting any of the print titles for now? Andy Clurman: We have not done that as of yet. We are studying different impacts, but so far advertising has held up. There has been some cancellations, but there have been more delays, with people pushing campaigns back. At least as of the end of last week we hadn’t seen a material drop in advertising, which made us read that every issue of the moment was going to be profitable, but we’re keeping our eyes wide opened and everybody is communicating in real time what they’re seeing in our different markets. It would be surprising if advertising didn’t come down a bit.

On whether they are changing or halting any of their print schedules for now: We have not done that as of yet. We are studying different impacts, but so far advertising has held up. There has been some cancellations, but there have been more delays, with people pushing campaigns back. At least as of the end of last week we hadn’t seen a material drop in advertising, which made us read that every issue of the moment was going to be profitable, but we’re keeping our eyes wide opened and everybody is communicating in real time what they’re seeing in our different markets. It would be surprising if advertising didn’t come down a bit.

Samir Husni: When this is behind us, do you think the publishing business model will readjust or reinvent itself? What’s your expectations in the midst of what’s going on now? Andy Clurman: Long before all the longer-term impacts and social changes, I think people were accelerating or reinventing the business on the fly, for example, we started an ecommerce initiative a while ago, last summer, and it’s been honestly somewhat languishing. Then suddenly

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On whether he thinks the business model will reinvent itself after the pandemic is over: Long before all the longerterm impacts and social changes, I think people were accelerating or reinventing the business on the fly, for example, we started an ecommerce initiative a while ago, last summer, and it’s been honestly somewhat languishing. Then suddenly when we got to the end of this year, we really ramped it up and we’re seeing signs of incredible traction,. Across the company, just in the last two weeks, as we’ve been looking at what else we could do to help diversify and safeguard the business against a decline in advertising, we ramped up the ecommerce-related effort and a new product that we’re going to be bringing to the market in a few weeks.

when we got to the end of this year, we really ramped it up and we’re seeing signs of incredible traction,. Across the company, just in the last two weeks, as we’ve been looking at what else we could do to help diversify and safeguard the business against a decline in advertising, we ramped up the ecommerce-related effort and a new product that we’re going to be bringing to the market in a few weeks. There’s been a lot of looking at the things that we had in our development pipeline and really focusing on the ones that we think would be most helpful to our customers right now and things that will add more diversification to the business. Even though everybody is hunkered down at home, there’s a lot of creative energy flowing that’s going into driving some of these new revenue streams, which we’ve always been pretty good at, but the team is even more energized and more creative when we’re dealing with all of these unknowns. On the social and business impact, this is really proving how much technology allows us to function in all kinds of places. I don’t know if you’re experiencing this, but I have; you can conduct your classes on Zoom, but the engagement level of students, and I would imagine the same holds true for a team, and even though it’s implicit, the quality of communication you have when you’re in person with people is much better than it is over a really good video platform. Samir Husni: What message would you want to send to your team during these difficult times? Andy Clurman: I think the message is all of us are in this business and in different sections of the business because we have a mission and we’re driven by what we think is a valuable service to our audience, our marketing partners, and the community that we have as a team in our company. This is a moment when I think it’s proving to be a test of people’s character and commitment.

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And it’s really gratifying to see the extraordinary levels people are stepping up to in order to fulfill those commitments to each other and to their communities.

On the message he would like to send to his team during these difficult times:

One example of that I can share is shortly after we all hit the work-from-home button, our marketing services group launched a project called “Newton.” And the idea behind “Newton” was to pull together our different groups and come up with what sort of products and services we could build and bring to market at a time when all the terms of commerce and community had phased at least temporarily. They called it “Newton” because Isaac Newton was famously quarantined during the Great Plague in 1665, and that’s when he discovered gravity. So, without any prompting, one of our groups took a leadership role and pulled together other parts of the company to try and come up with some great new ideas. It’s inspiring to see people step up like that. Samir Husni: Do you have a special message for the advertisers and the readers? Andy Clurman: We’ve been sending those out almost daily. We’ve been sending access to our online yoga classes for anxiety, health and wellness classes. So our message is we’re here to support them and we’re here to support each other. The sum of that preserves the bedrock of what we all do and our business. We might all take some lumps in the short term, but it will preserve and probably create some unexpected evolution that we’ll all be a part of when we navigate through this. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Andy Clurman: You don’t want to be blindly optimistic, but seeing the character and the collaboration that people are rising to is a testament to the quality of our people and everyone else as well.

I think the message is all of us are in this business and in different sections of the business because we have a mission and we’re driven by what we think is a valuable service to our audience, our marketing partners, and the community that we have as a team in our company. This is a moment when I think it’s proving to be a test of people’s character and commitment. And it’s really gratifying to see the extraordinary levels people are stepping up to in order to fulfill those commitments to each other and to their communities. On the message he would send his advertisers and readers: We’ve been sending those out almost daily. We’ve been sending access to our online yoga classes for anxiety, health and wellness classes. So our message is we’re here to support them and we’re here to support each other. The sum of that preserves the bedrock of what we all do and our business. We might all take some lumps in the short term, but it will preserve and probably create some unexpected evolution that we’ll all be a part of when we navigate through this.

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On anything he’d like to add:

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

You don’t want to be blindly optimistic, but seeing the character and the collaboration that people are rising to is a testament to the quality of our people and everyone else as well.

Andy Clurman: In a perverse way; intellectually it focuses the mind when you’re presented with problems that you haven’t ever encountered in your very long career and think you’ve seen everything. I guess the thing that I’m wondering most is you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So what is it that I don’t know since I’ve never encountered this before? Are we doing enough of the right things?

On what keeps him up night:

Samir Husni: Thank you.

In a perverse way; intellectually it focuses the mind when you’re presented with problems that you haven’t ever encountered in your very long career and think you’ve seen everything. I guess the thing that I’m wondering most is you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So what is it that I don’t know since I’ve never encountered this before? Are we doing enough of the right things?

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CHAPTER SIX

Steve Cohn

Former Editor In Chief, min: Media Industry “Magazines haven’t changed in this day & age from past days & ages; It’s connecting, establishing relationships with the readers.”

If you are in the magazine and magazine media world, the name Steve Cohn has to conjure up good memories of a journalist who edited the leading magazine media newsletter, min: media industry newsletter, for 30 years, and edited it well, very well indeed. He is, in fact, the only journalist I have never heard anyone say a single negative word about. He took his job seriously and acted as any good journalist would, he reported the facts and documented the magazine media world with numbers and figures. His lunches with the “who’s who” in the business were a fixture of his reporting and people awaited the arrival of the newsletter every Monday morning nonstop. I spoke with Steve recently to chat about his views on the world of magazines and magazine media, as someone who watched and reported on the industry for years. He was there after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and he was there during the economic crisis of 2008/09. I asked his opinion of the current magazine media situation as a part of my series of Publishing During A Pandemic. His stroll through memory lane sheds a lot of highlights on an industry that is determined to be resilient and in search of a new business model after a century of success with an ad-driven one. publishing during a pandemic

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On people saying he is an expert at putting a positive spin on things: I was being honest, I put a positive spin because I didn’t just write things willy-nilly. Obviously as a good journalist, I talked to them and got their answers to my questions. If they said something positive, I would record that. I also questioned it, and I would record that too. I was being fair, I wasn’t being a Pollyanna. On what he thinks the role of magazines are today in these uncertain times: If you look at The New Yorker, for example, it’s just as influential as it’s always been. I think magazines have to be out there and they have to be a voice. It’s far more challenging with the Covid-19 outbreak; it’s probably more challenging than it’s ever been before. But they have to be out there because people depend on them.

Samir Husni: People have said that you’re an expert at putting a positive spin on things, no matter how bad they look. Steve Cohn: I was being honest, I put a positive spin because I didn’t just write things willy-nilly. Obviously as a good journalist, I talked to them and got their answers to my questions. If they said something positive, I would record that. I also questioned it, and I would record that too. I was being fair, I wasn’t being a Pollyanna. And being fair was really important to me, because the health of MIN (Media Industry Newsletter) depended on the health of the industry, the magazine industry. To just knock everybody didn’t do me any good, unless there was justification for it. So, a positive spin? Yes, you’re correct to a degree. I was an honest journalist. If the magazine was in trouble I would report on it. If their ad pages were down at the time, that was a fact. I based on facts not on rumors. I tried to be honest. That’s something I did throughout my career. And I think it worked, because obviously, I built a trust with many of the people I talked to. And that was important because there’s a natural adversarial relationship between a journalist and his/her subject. You deal with these people day-to-day and their wellbeing made my wellbeing. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Samir Husni: In your opinion, as a 30+ year journalist and as editor of one of the most influential media newsletters that we’ve had, what is the role of magazines today in the midst of this doom and gloom that we’re passing through now? Steve Cohn: If you look at The New Yorker, for example, it’s just as influential as it’s always been. I think magazines have to be out there and they have to be a voice. It’s far more challenging with the Covid-19 outbreak; it’s probably more challenging than it’s ever been before. But they have to be out there because people depend on them.

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I think in the short-term, they will be more dependent on their websites, because single copies may be hard to buy with all the stores closed, at least limited anyway. So, the websites are important. And also magazines offer reassurance and service, and that’s something unique. Today, in 2020, to some degree it’s like what happened after September 11, to some degree. There was a lot of gloom and doom back then, especially for the travel magazines. But they pulled through and hopefully they will again. I think the challenge is must greater because we don’t know when this is going to end. And we don’t know if the Coronavirus is going to come back. Samir Husni: One of my favorite quotes is one that you told me your former boss, the late Bill Barlow said, “Magazines are a people business.” Steve Cohn: Definitely, because it’s the emotions. It’s the emotions of the publishers and editors out there; it was their emotions that I always tried to convey in the Newsletter. I never liked to use the word “it” for a magazine, it was always the editor, publisher or a top executive of the magazine that I would talk to that was representing the magazine. It was always their emotions that I tried to convey. To me, that made it very personal and not only to me, but also to the readers and really reflected on what they did.

On a quote from his former boss, the late Bill Barlow– Magazines are a people business: Definitely, because it’s the emotions. It’s the emotions of the publishers and editors out there; it was their emotions that I always tried to convey in the Newsletter. I never liked to use the word “it” for a magazine, it was always the editor, publisher or a top executive of the magazine that I would talk to that was representing the magazine. It was always their emotions that I tried to convey.

One of my favorite stories – in 2003 I had lunch with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, and we talked for a bit. He’s a brilliant guy who’s still there. And I asked him how long he thought he was going to be at The New Yorker, and he answered, “Until my knees creak.” And I put that in the Newsletter because it was an emotion. And he’s still there, to his credit. It was a way to catch a little of the emotion behind the person and the personality, more than just blah, blah, blah.

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On what he thinks makes magazines relevant in this day and age: It hasn’t changed in this day and age from past days and ages; it’s connecting, establishing relationships with the readers. Whatever sector you’re in, be it fashion, sports, news; be it science or lifestyle, there has to be a one-to-one connection with the reader. I think PEOPLE magazine does that brilliantly, that’s why they’re so strong..

I see a lot of bland reporting out there, and certainly I’ve also done my share, but I think you have to try and make things emotional so you can connect with your readers, especially if you have a newsletter like MIN, which is sort of a one-toone relationship with the audience. That was something I believed in. Bill Barlow certainly did too, and he influenced me. He passed away in 1994, but he was the owner and the guy who hired me. He was also the guy who introduced me to you too, I don’t think he knew you, but he had heard about somebody at Meredith, and I guess it was Jim Autry at the time, who had hired someone who had a connection with you, and he told me about you. And I called you – it was August 1986, and that’s how we met. Ironically, Bill also gave me the idea in December to do a launch review. And in those days there was no Internet, so I had to go to the New York Library and get back issues of Folio. I used to do a launch roundup every month. I did that for about a year or two and then I got wiser. (Laughs) I started leaving that to you. But Bill was a big influence. He was a guy who lived on the Upper Eastside, very wealthy. MIN Newsletter launched in 1947 and he bought it in the mid-‘70s as a hobby and that’s sort of how he treated it. But he needed someone to do the work, the nitty-gritty, and that’s why I was hired in 1986. Samir Husni: What do you think makes magazines relevant, necessary and sufficient in this day and age? Steve Cohn: It hasn’t changed in this day and age from past days and ages; it’s connecting, establishing relationships with the readers. Whatever sector you’re in, be it fashion, sports, news; be it science or lifestyle, there has to be a oneto-one connection with the reader. I think PEOPLE magazine does that brilliantly, that’s why they’re so strong. I think Vogue and Anna Wintour has done that brilliantly; to make the audience feel like a part of the business and not

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strangers. I think that’s very important. It always has been and it always will be. Those are the magazines that are the most successful. When they publish an article that strikes a chord and gets a lot of attention and that the reader really wants to read, and not just put away for a rainy day, those are the magazines that are successful and they will be and will continue to be. Samir Husni: And can you make people need a magazine, instead of just wanting one? Can you change that want to a need? Steve Cohn: I think in order to change a want to a need, you have to put the content out there that people really want. Home improvement magazines do that; if you need to fix your house in some way, you buy The Family Handyman. The cover lines attract you and that’s why they’re so important, especially on newsstand, because they can hook the reader. Then you can change that want to a need. That can be a very difficult challenge, especially in 2020 with so much media out there.

On making people need a magazine rather than just wanting one: I think in order to change a want to a need, you have to put the content out there that people really want. Home improvement magazines do that; if you need to fix your house in some way, you buy The Family Handyman. The cover lines attract you and that’s why they’re so important, especially on newsstand, because they can hook the reader. Then you can change that want to a need.

One thing I used to write about all the time was advertising is finite, but media is infinite. And that’s always been a challenge for publishers. And it’s a deeper challenge now. Publishers and editors who connect with readers, who give them content that they want to read right away, are the ones who will succeed. I always worried about that myself. I wanted to write what people wanted to read because I didn’t want to waste their time. That was a real concern of mine. If there was big news early in the week and I came out on a Friday with it, I couldn’t just write the same thing that was already out there a thousand times, I had to put my own spin to it. I needed to tell them something they didn’t know. And that was a way of connecting with the readers. They would see something they hadn’t seen before and they wanted to read it. That was the key to our success for many years, that

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On what advice he would give the magazine industry today about moving forward: It might seem Pollyannaish, so I apologize, but I’d say just do the best job you can and put out the best content you can. In a correct society, that would bring results. It doesn’t always do that, but just be as professional as you can. That’s easier said than done sometimes, I also know that too, especially with what’s going on today with Covid-19. It has to be unbelievably challenging to publishers. Obviously, I think digital editions’ readerships are probably going up with most everyone at home.

Box Scores and our other features. I always put the weekly Box Scores on an odd page, either number 3 or 5. And I would always go directly to page three to see how I was doing, New York Magazine, versus my competition. I never forgot that. And I put a lot of emphasis on their accuracy and the monthly Box Scores accuracy, just making sure we had all the participants. And that was a big challenge for me every week. I didn’t do the work personally, but I was responsible for it. And that was really paramount to our success, because Ad Week and everybody published words, but only we had the numbers. After 9/11, for example, with the Box Scores, everything dropped precipitously after the attack, it wasn’t the fault of the economy, it was the fault of Osama Bin Laden. I didn’t use those words, but it was the terrorist attacks that made everything tank from the fall of 2001 to the fall of 2002. So I tried to be sensitive to that and write it carefully, and it was the right thing to do. Samir Husni: If you were to reach out to the magazine industry today, the CEOs, publishers and editors; if they were to ask your advice, based upon your experience, about what they should do to move forward, what would you tell them? Steve Cohn: It might seem Pollyannaish, so I apologize, but I’d say just do the best job you can and put out the best content you can. In a correct society, that would bring results. It doesn’t always do that, but just be as professional as you can. That’s easier said than done sometimes, I also know that too, especially with what’s going on today with Covid-19. It has to be unbelievably challenging to publishers. Obviously, I think digital editions’ readerships are probably going up with most everyone at home. Samir Husni: Can you tell me the highlight of your long career? Steve Cohn: The highlight of my career was the way MIN

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responded after the 9/11 attack. It was a very difficult time, especially in New York, as it is today. And there was a lot of media out there. And with the travel magazines, people were afraid to travel, to fly, as they are today, but for different reasons. I decided, instead of all the publishers asking me what I was going to do, I decided to call an editor, in this case Nancy Novogrod, she was the editor of Travel + Leisure. It was about 10 days after 9/11 and I asked her what she was going to do. She said she was closing the November issue and the editor’s note that she had planned to write, she changed it to the importance of travel and how travel was needed, even in the difficult times after 9/11. And I asked her to fax it to me, email was relatively new back then. So she faxed it to me. I put it in the Newsletter and over the next three months, other editors began sending these things to me. I didn’t even request them. I received tons of them. And I ran a page of them from September through Thanksgiving. Maybe a little beyond. And that was my proudest moment.

On the highlight of his long career: The highlight of my career was the way MIN responded after the 9/11 attack. It was a very difficult time, especially in New York, as it is today. And there was a lot of media out there. And with the travel magazines, people were afraid to travel, to fly, as they are today, but for different reasons. I decided, instead of all the publishers asking me what I was going to do, I decided to call an editor, in this case Nancy Novogrod, she was the editor of Travel + Leisure.

I got editors to share their thoughts about the major tragedy of that time and how they were persevering. And if I was editor of MIN today, I’d probably try and do the same thing, although it would be more difficult because the tragedy is ongoing. My favorite story, David Zinczenko, who at that time was in his first or second year as editor of Men’s Health, told me in those days he lived near the World Trade Center and he ran past it very early on the morning of 9/11 before the attacks came. And then he went back to his apartment. Later, he met a police officer who had found someone’s keys or something like that, and he asked David if he knew whose they were and David said no. Afterward, he wondered whether that officer had run down to the World Trade Center after the attack. He asked that question in his editor’s letter. It turned out the officer was okay. But that struck a chord with me. And hopefully with the readers. Just another thing in my career that I’ll never forget.

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On what he is doing these days:

Samir Husni: What are you doing these days? Enjoying retirement, reading a lot of magazines?

I live in White Plains, New York and I write a lot of stuff gratis for the library. I’ve been doing that for about three or four years. I do it to keep me busy and test my writing skills to some degree. I’ve also written articles for Folio. I did one on David Carey when he retired from Hearst, but now he’s back.

Steve Cohn: I live in White Plains, New York and I write a lot of stuff gratis for the library. I’ve been doing that for about three or four years. I do it to keep me busy and test my writing skills to some degree. I’ve also written articles for Folio. I did one on David Carey when he retired from Hearst, but now he’s back. And I did one on Glenda Bailey about a year ago when she was then editor of Harper’s Bazaar, when she was about the sole survivor left among editors, except for Anna Wintour and David Remnick. If you ever talk to her she sounds very Cockney, very East End London, sort of like Eliza Doolittle before My Fair Lady. And she was put down because of that when she was editor of Bazaar, yet she succeeded. It’s a wonderful story. I have done things like that for Folio, all gratis, for free. I tried to do the Barbara Smith story, but they said they were “too busy” for it, and it was suggested that I send it to you, which I did and thank you for publishing it. I try to keep busy and really observe the industry from afar, rather than up close. It concerns me and its wellbeing concerns me. I read Ad Age, Adweek, The New York Post, and Mr. Magazine™ and Women’s World Daily, just to see what’s going on. Most of the names I worked with, other than a few, are no longer there anymore. I left MIN in July 2016 and I think easily the majority of the editors and publishers I worked with are gone. It’s a difficult time for the industry and who knows where it’ll be a year from now or five years with this virus. That’s what is so scary. Your health is paramount. So you social distance and stay indoors and hope for the best. If I were editor of MIN today and not being able to see people, that would be a huge detriment to my reporting. It would be so much harder. Meeting people was one of the most enjoyable parts of my job.

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Samir Husni: Are we going to see a memoir or a book from your long career in journalism? Steve Cohn: I would say to some degree, I have been thinking about it for a while. People will ask me why I don’t write a book about this or that. There are two things I’ve thought about: number one, if I wrote a book it wouldn’t have a lot of people who would buy it, maybe the Square, which is 14th Street, and Columbus Circle, which is 59th Street, the rest of the country, with some exceptions, maybe Oxford, Miss. (Laughs), probably wouldn’t buy it. So, I haven’t taken it really very seriously, and I still don’t. I like to reminisce a lot and that’s why I was happy to do this interview. And I thank you for that. Samir Husni: What kept you up at night when you were editor of MIN? Steve Cohn: What kept me up at night then was worrying about the issue, mostly Sunday nights, just worrying about the issue closing. I used to use an old expression, if you’ve watched the movie “The Godfather,” it was X-rated, but James Caan’s character, Sonny Corleone, in one scene mentioned that he didn’t want his brother, Michael, to come out of the toilet with just his private part in his hand. I always thought about that, and “when the fat lady sings,” I had to be ready. I didn’t want to be like Michael Corleone or something, I wanted to be prepared. So, that was a motivator for me, believe it or not. A line from “The Godfather”…(Laughs) It was a motivator for me to get the issue out. I was the editor, so the buck stopped with me. It was my responsibility. In 30 years, I broke my elbow once, so I missed maybe five closings at the most, when my kids were born, something like that. Otherwise, I was there every Friday. It was a challenging job, a demanding job, but it was a fun job.

On whether he has considered writing a memoir or a book about his life: I would say to some degree, I have been thinking about it for a while. People will ask me why I don’t write a book about this or that. There are two things I’ve thought about: number one, if I wrote a book it wouldn’t have a lot of people who would buy it, maybe the Square, which is 14th Street, and Columbus Circle, which is 59th Street, the rest of the country, with some exceptions, maybe Oxford, Miss. (Laughs), probably wouldn’t buy it. So, I haven’t taken it really very seriously, and I still don’t. On what kept him up at night when he was editor of MIN: What kept me up at night then was worrying about the issue, mostly Sunday nights, just worrying about the issue closing.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Vanessa Coppes

CEO & Editor In Chief of Bella Magazine “Print is important because print makes something permanent.”

Vanessa Coppes is a social entrepreneur, an author, blogger, and now CEO and editor in chief of Bella Magazine. With the new tagline “Life Is Bella!” Vanessa is bringing more compassion, empathy and social relevance to the brand’s content. Bella Magazine is a national subscriptionand newsstand-based lifestyle publication offering a curated guide to fashion, beauty, health, philanthropy, arts and culture, cuisine, celebrities, and entertainment. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, the newsstand distribution has been somewhat curtailed with Barnes & Noble unable to receive any new orders. But with the same passion as her brand, that didn’t stop Vanessa. I spoke with Vanessa recently and we talked about how the magazine is being offered online and now has an apparel line associated with it, which has brought in any entirely new infusion of revenue and interest. With the monumental movement “Black Lives Matter” and the pandemic engulfing the world in a new normal that no one was even remotely ready for, Vanessa has taken the content of Bella to a new level, turning each themed issue into its own unique experience and bringing thoughtful stories to life within the magazine’s pages. publishing during a pandemic

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On why she acquired Bella instead of starting her own brand from scratch:

Samir Husni: Why did you acquire Bella instead of starting your brand own from scratch and what’s your concept of Bella today?

I have always loved telling stories and that creative process of connecting with a person. Maybe get them to share their story in a way that can help and support someone else in something that they may be going through. I had been working with the previous owners since its inception. We were friends and had connected. And when they decided to sell, I don’t even know what triggered, it was like a kneejerk reaction to jump on the opportunity because I have always been a very creative person and I just felt that maybe this was my time to tell these stories from my perspective. And hopefully help other people see the world as I see it, but not just as I see it, but as my team sees it.

Vanessa Coppes: I have always loved telling stories and that creative process of connecting with a person. Maybe get them to share their story in a way that can help and support someone else in something that they may be going through. I had been working with the previous owners since its inception. We were friends and had connected. I remember receiving the first issue of Bella almost 10 years ago and I just loved it. You had trends, fashion and beauty, but there was always substance. And as a person of substance that I like to believe I am, I connected with the content. And so I definitely wanted to be involved. I had been writing since I was a young girl, and I actually came up with my column that I wrote for Bella almost seven years ago. And when they decided to sell, I don’t even know what triggered, it was like a kneejerk reaction to jump on the opportunity because I have always been a very creative person and I just felt that maybe this was my time to tell these stories from my perspective. And hopefully help other people see the world as I see it, but not just as I see it, but as my team sees it. I have a very diverse team and I don’t say that to peg myself into the trends of diversity and inclusion, I just really have a very diverse team. People from different cultures, different backgrounds, and it’s such a beautiful thing to have all of these creative people come together. Because at the end of the day each issue tells a story in itself and everything is connected one to the other. And I try not to disrupt anyone’s creative process, because as a creative person I know that always kills the process itself. Everybody is free to share their ideas and share their concepts and based on the theme of the issue, what comes out of it is truly phenomenal.

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I think the biggest compliment that I’ve received, especially over the past year, is just how the magazine has elevated how the content has been elevated to really be reflective, not just of the team, but also of the times that we’re living in. I always felt like that was missing a little bit. There are so many fashion/beauty publications and when we decided to be in the space of lifestyle, I asked what does the Bella lifestyle actually look like? And it’s really trying to live a beautiful life from the inside and outside. The reality is not everyone looks the same. The world that we live in isn’t a reflection of size two models and blonde women. It’s an array of beautiful people who come in different shapes and sizes. So, let’s be reflective of that. I even changed the tagline this year to be reflective of that. It’s “Life is Bella!” because life is beautiful when you decide to look at it from that lens. Samir Husni: Since you took over the magazine, you’ve had to deal with the pandemic first and foremost, then along came the milestone movement of Black Lives Matter; do you think the gods are working with you or against you to elevate the content of Bella?

On whether the combination of the pandemic and other milestone events that have happened since she took over Bella have hindered or helped her elevate the brand’s content: By nature, I am a very spiritual person. I operate from a place of spirituality and integrity; I pray a lot; I meditate; I practice yoga three times per week. So I come from that world of energy. And everything that goes into each issue is literally prayed about; it’s thought out; it’s meant to be intentional. So to your point, I knew in my gut that a lot had to change for this magazine to stay relevant.

Vanessa Coppes: By nature, I am a very spiritual person. I operate from a place of spirituality and integrity; I pray a lot; I meditate; I practice yoga three times per week. So I come from that world of energy. And everything that goes into each issue is literally prayed about; it’s thought out; it’s meant to be intentional. So to your point, I knew in my gut that a lot had to change for this magazine to stay relevant. I don’t want to say a lot in the sense of the covers themselves had to change, it was more the stories that we were focusing our attention on, so that they could be more reflective of the reality of the world that we are living in. In the beginning, one of our popular issues had always been the “Hollywood Issue,” which was the Jan./Feb. issue and things revolved around awards season. And I like the awards; I like the

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fashion, but that’s not really what I wanted to focus the content on, because it’s like the running joke, when we’re writing about beauty and fashion, it isn’t brain surgery. It’s fluff to a certain extent. People that wanted to pick up the publication, especially after I took it over, were people that wanted to read about women who were building businesses, or the person in another country who was helping to feed the hungry; it was more human interest stories, fashion-conscious companies that were sourcing ethically or organically. Things again, made of substance. It all goes back to substance. Again, I’ve always listened to the universe, have always been opened to receiving and allowing for this to take the form that it’s intended to take. My team, for the most part, operates from that same space. Again, the stories that we were telling were just reflective of what we were feeling and what was happening around us. I also felt that it would be completely unethical on our part to not take a stand and to not be another voice to add to the movement of Black Lives Matter, with me myself being a person of color. I think I would have been denying part of my identity had I not done that. The magazine has never been self-serving. We have weekly meetings editorially to dig through the topics that people really want to know about. What is of interest to our readers; what do people want to explore; what should we be expanding on? And that’s really want we’re focused on. Quite honestly, the response has been truly a blessing, because as you know and everyone knows, magazines have completely shut down and have had to lay off a ton of workers. This whole working from home concept isn’t new to my team, because we’ve been doing it for years. So, we just adapted. Today I’m home because there’s no power in my office, which is 10 minutes from my house, but I go to my

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office because I have smaller children and I need the peace. (Laughs) But this isn’t new to the team. No one really wants to know about the latest lipstick right now. However, we do want to know how people are cooking, how they’re working out from home, how they’re keeping their sanity. What are a few things that I can do to brighten up my mood, because it felt like Ground Hog Day every day for a while. We felt like we were living the same thing over and over. I’m not going to lie, once the pandemic hit it was very difficult. We lost clients and I looked at my husband and asked him what did we get ourselves into with this? But I think that the way we adapted and responded to the crises was the true blessing. We found other ways to keep money coming in, which was we created an apparel line with the brand. Who knew that people wanted a T-shirt with the Bella logo on it? I knew, because I had been saying it for years. We put that plan into action and attached the philanthropic work that we’ve always done. I always like to think of myself as a social entrepreneur, where yes, we need to make money, but how is this impacting our helping another group of people. So, we attached the apparel line to several causes and people got behind it. And honestly, that’s a reflection of the work that we’re doing to this day. I’ll sit somedays and say, we’re here. People clearly still want to read this. We’re producing and working content every single day. It has honestly been a blessing. So, yes, the gods have been working with us. (Laughs)

On any challenges she has faced along the way during her magazine journey: The challenges are there when you see them as “challenges,” because my team has quite frankly learned to navigate, especially now during this pandemic and this racial divide that we’re in; we work from our hearts. We operate out of love and compassion. We want to tell stories of people who are doing amazing things, not just here, but in the world. And the support that we’ve received has been great, I have literally cried. I haven’t had to furlough or let go of anyone on my team. That’s a true testament of commitment on one part from each of them, but also love for what they do.

Samir Husni: The magazine industry is still, for the most part, lily-white. You’re one of the few people of color who actually own and produce a magazine that I know. Has it been a walk in a rose garden for you or have there been challenges along the way?

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Vanessa Coppes: Here’s what I have found to be true from the moment I took over. Ultimately, the person at the top is the one that makes the decisions. We know this from other companies and businesses; it always comes from the top. And that is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. Meaning I am the one who ultimately decides who’s going to be on the cover; who’s going to be featured; who’s going to be in the book. I have to say kudos to my team, who are all very opinionated and will speak up and speak out. We did a really big campaign for Pride, which was something that hadn’t been done in the publication itself in past years, however I made it a point myself because I have team members who are a part of the LGBTQ community. And again, I felt it would be unethical for me to not hold space for them. I even told my team members that I wanted it to feel like their birthday every day that month, because I wanted them to feel celebrated for who they are. That kind of compassion and humility has been what has driven me as a person and as editor in chief of this publication. I’m always the one to ask how something will impact our readers; what is the ultimate goal that we want to reach? What is it we’re trying to relay and what story are we trying to tell? With the content we’re publishing, I always say that I want my nieces who are 11, 12 and 16, when they pick up this publication, I want them to be able to see themselves in the stories. And that’s very important, because I remember being 12 or 16 and wanting to starve myself because I couldn’t fit into what I saw in the publications. But to your point, the challenges are there when you see them as “challenges,” because my team has quite frankly learned to navigate, especially now during this pandemic and this racial divide that we’re in; we work from our hearts. We operate out of love and compassion. We want to tell stories of people who are doing amazing things, not just here,

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but in the world. And the support that we’ve received has been great, I have literally cried. I haven’t had to furlough or let go of anyone on my team. That’s a true testament of commitment on one part from each of them, but also love for what they do. These stories have to be told, because we also have responsibilities to our clients who are still onboard. But everyone has worked as a team and has vocalized. When an issue arises, my team are the first to state their opinions. So, it’s only a challenge if you view it as a challenge. We’ve been very adamant about trying to do the right thing at all times. Samir Husni: While you’ve seen some magazines fold or decrease their frequencies, you continue to publish during the pandemic, every other month, a bimonthly frequency. Why do you think print is important to the Bella brand today? Vanessa Coppes: It’s what our readers want from us. A magazine is a response to human behavior. Our reader is a reader that either walks into a bookstore or orders the publication online, which is what we’ve done over the past few months because of the pandemic. Our distribution has changed a little bit; Barnes & Noble completely stopped receiving new orders, which was our distribution outlet.

On why she thinks print is important to the Bella brand today: It’s what our readers want from us. A magazine is a response to human behavior. Our reader is a reader that either walks into a bookstore or orders the publication online, which is what we’ve done over the past few months because of the pandemic. Our distribution has changed a little bit; Barnes & Noble completely stopped receiving new orders, which was our distribution outlet.

Print is important because print makes something permanent. And the acknowledgement that you receive from seeing your stories on a printed page is something that’s quite literally indescribable. It’s like getting to the top of the mountain. Before all of this, my first article in print I literally cried. It became real to me. It just felt like I had gotten to a part of where I wanted to go. We have readers who have collected every copy of the magazine because each one is just very unique, especially this year. We’ve elevated even the paper that we print on, the quality has increased tremendously. I felt like since our distribution was not the same, our prices have gone up,

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On anything she’d like to add: One thing that people ask me is what’s in the future. We are, as I’m sure everyone is, taking it one day at a time with regards to the world and the times we’re living in. We’re super-proud and excited for the future, because regardless of what’s happening, we’re still here. People are still buying the publication, subscribing to it; we’re signing on new brand partners. It still has its place. And I think it’s because of those minor changes that we’ve made, content-wise.

people are willing to pay for it, therefore we have to give them something that they will continue to want to pay for. And I get texts and emails from people who tell me that each issue is better than the last. It’s really quite beautiful. And we’re very proud of that. Print is like nothing else. It’s like a great book. It’s literally nestling on a couch with a cup of coffee or some hot cocoa and your magazine. It’s learning about different people and places. Right now everything is aspirational; we’re not getting on planes for a while, but at least on the pages of Bella you can look through beautiful images of different parts of the country and the world and still stay connected to people, places and things. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Vanessa Coppes: One thing that people ask me is what’s in the future. We are, as I’m sure everyone is, taking it one day at a time with regards to the world and the times we’re living in. We’re super-proud and excited for the future, because regardless of what’s happening, we’re still here. People are still buying the publication, subscribing to it; we’re signing on new brand partners. It still has its place. And I think it’s because of those minor changes that we’ve made, content-wise. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Vanessa Coppes: The fate of our future because I am a hopeless optimist. I really do believe in compassion and empathy. I always pray that we all be a little kinder and a little more gracious to each other, because if we find ourselves in a difficult situation we would want to be afforded that same courtesy. Not to say I’m perfect, I’m far from it, but I think that we are all in need of a little bit more love and compassion and understanding from each other so that we can get ourselves out of this mess.

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Samir Husni: Thank you.

On what keeps her up at night: The fate of our future because I am a hopeless optimist. I really do believe in compassion and empathy. I always pray that we all be a little kinder and a little more gracious to each other, because if we find ourselves in a difficult situation we would want to be afforded that same courtesy. Not to say I’m perfect, I’m far from it, but I think that we are all in need of a little bit more love and compassion and understanding from each other so that we can get ourselves out of this mess.

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CHAPTER EIGHT Phyllis Hoffman DePiano CEO of Hoffman Media “We want to bring hope and beauty to the world… Our words of encouragement are we’re all in this together.”

Positivity and staying strong and focused is the mindset that Hoffman Media has taken during this tragic pandemic. With keeping their people safe and healthy the main goal of their efforts, Chairman & CEO Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, said her team is working from home and still producing the great content their readers expect. I spoke with Phyllis recently and we talked about a few of her titles, such as Bake From Scratch, Victoria, and Taste of the South, and about how Hoffman brands center on home and hearth, which everyone is interested in anyway, but especially now. Providing the comfort of home and food, Hoffman titles bring hope and joy to these uncertain times we find ourselves living in. In Phyllis’s words: “People need hope. They need hope and they need to know that this is going to pass and we’re going to get through it if we work together as a nation. And if people will stay home and separate themselves.” And what better item to have at home with you than a Hoffman magazine. Along with their social media and online resources, the community spirit the brands foster brings everyone together even while social distancing prevails.

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On how Hoffman Media is operating during this pandemic: Hoffman Media is good. We’ve mobilized our entire business to work remotely and we’re still producing great content. With the magazines we work so far ahead and we have a lot of seasonal photographs and things and now we can do the editorial work to go with them. And we continue producing the content that our readers want. On whether she would have ever anticipated anything like this ever happening: As far as whether I have ever anticipated anything like this, not to this magnitude. Years and years ago when we were very small, Desert Storm was happening and that was the first time our country had been in a conflict like that in years, I guess since the Vietnam War. Everything shut down, people were scared to death. That passed, and of course 9/11 was devastating to everybody. But what we have found is we gear our editorial toward making your home your haven. Even our travel is evergreen. I think people

Samir Husni: How is Hoffman Media operating during this tragic pandemic? Phyllis Hoffman DePiano: Hoffman Media is good. We’ve mobilized our entire business to work remotely and we’re still producing great content. With the magazines we work so far ahead and we have a lot of seasonal photographs and things and now we can do the editorial work to go with them. And we continue producing the content that our readers want. Our subscriber business has not fallen; our grocery sales are up in the newsstand, but I think that would be true of everyone. That’s where you can go these days, the grocery store and the drugstore. And we’re just being very patient and working with our partners in advertising and tourism. When it comes back we’re going to be looking for ways to help them rebound. We’re still seeing custom content for our food clients as big. But all in all, it’s early, but we’re pulling together as a team. And that’s all you can do right now. We’re doing teamwork remotely and our IT department has set up conference apps where the whole team can be on the screen at the same time and talk through things. It’s very unusual but it’s working. Samir Husni: The magazine industry has been through tough times, after September 11 and many other things that have happened, but we’ve never faced anything like this social distancing. Did you ever anticipate anything like what we’re seeing today? Phyllis Hoffman DePiano: As far as whether I have ever anticipated anything like this, not to this magnitude. Years and years ago when we were very small, Desert Storm was happening and that was the first time our country had been in a conflict like that in years, I guess since the Vietnam War. Everything shut down, people were scared to death. That passed, and of course 9/11 was devastating to everybody.

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But what we have found is we gear our editorial toward making your home your haven. Even our travel is evergreen. I think people are spending more time with their magazines and we’re doing a lot of online encouragements to our readers. We’re bringing editorial to them, our baking crowd and cooking crowd. Taste of the South is absolutely exploding, but people are home cooking. Our magazines by the very nature of them lend themselves to spending a lot of time with them during times like this when you are sheltering at home. Samir Husni: And what’s your message to your employees, readers, and advertisers? What words of wisdom can you offer in these uncertain times? Phyllis Hoffman DePiano: As far as our staff, Brian or Eric (Hoffman) or I will write a letter to all of them every week encouraging and thanking them for their work and letting them know that we’re doing everything in our power to maintain operations as they are. And for advertisers; people are spending more time with our magazines and I think that’s true even of the back issues. I’m getting emails from people that tell me they’re reading one of our magazines from a year ago. Our magazines are normally not thrown away, they’re kind of little treasures. So, we’re seeing people engaged heavily with our magazines during this time. And how long will things be this way, who knows. I wish I had a crystal ball, I really do. I’m ready for it to be over like everyone else. But we’re concerned mainly with the safety of our staff. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to anyone. That would be tragic. So, I don’t know where we are in this timeline of this Covid-19 virus. You think surely we’re getting to the end and then you don’t know.

are spending more time with their magazines and we’re doing a lot of online encouragements to our readers. On her message to Hoffman’s employees, readers, and advertisers during these uncertain times: As far as our staff, Brian or Eric (Hoffman) or I will write a letter to all of them every week encouraging and thanking them for their work and letting them know that we’re doing everything in our power to maintain operations as they are. And for advertisers; people are spending more time with our magazines and I think that’s true even of the back issues. I’m getting emails from people that tell me they’re reading one of our magazines from a year ago. Our magazines are normally not thrown away, they’re kind of little treasures. So, we’re seeing people engaged heavily with our magazines during this time.

But we’re carrying on as much as possible. And it’s giving our people a focus; it’s also giving them time to be creative. As you know when you’re in an office everything is going wide open with the business aspect of it, telephones ringing. Now,

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you really just have a lot of quiet time. And I think what’s good about this is our editors and editorial teams working individually and together are having time to really think about good editorial. What can we do in the future? What has been valuable to people during this? And our words of encouragement are we’re all in this together. It’s not that Hoffman Media is the only one experiencing this, this is worldwide and all media companies are experiencing it to various degrees of severity. We’re very grateful for our staff and they’re just phenomenal. It’s a comfort to know that they take ownership of this business as we do. We look forward to coming out on the other side of this with a different perspective maybe of appreciation for even the tiniest of things that we can encourage people with through the pages of our magazine. Emails are important, our social media is very important and our websites; we’re keeping those updated regularly. We’re seeing in our sewing and craft division a lot of at-home education, because we have an extensive program of learnto-sew and enhance your skills at home. The educational site launched right before this happened, so we’re seeing that we are a resource for people who truly are staying home and want to continue to learn. And it’s the same thing with bake and our cooking. We’re doing videos partnering with our advertisers, teaching people how to do things. It’s really returned us to, I won’t say the basics, but I will say to the things that people really want to learn. It has made us look at that and think this is a great time to bring that to people. Samir Husni: Do you think in this age of social distancing or what I call isolated connectivity, holding or having a print magazine in hand enhances that sense of community or eliminates a little bit of that social distancing? Phyllis Hoffman DePiano: I think it does because even with

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our advertisers, people are going to their websites and really spending time with the resources that we present. And I do think that it is a sense of community because I know each of our magazines like Victoria, for example, Victoria has a huge sense of community, so their social media, websites and blogs are very community-spirited. So yes, we’re seeing that is very important and it kind of keeps you from feeling that you’re isolated because you’re actually reading and seeing what other people are commenting, and it’s really refreshing. We have had a wonderful time – I write a blog “The Ribbon” in my journal and it’s nothing but encouragement. I think that to our readers, if I can bring any kind of encouragement to them on a weekly basis, I’m going to do that. I’m going to spend time writing, because you just never know what you might say or you might lead them to something that could help them. It’s been a really wonderful sense of community for me to write that blog. And of course our editors and their staff all work on their own individual social media platforms, including Instagram. So yes, it’s an extension of our community that we have, not only through the pages, but for the extension of the pages. Our online store is a resource for a lot of people who are not near, for example, bookstores that might carry the Bake From Scratch annual edition. We’re seeing our online store sales continue to meet budget and we’re very excited about that. People need hope. They need hope and they need to know that this is going to pass and we’re going to get through it if we work together as a nation. And if people will stay home and separate themselves.

On whether she feels having that print magazine in hand enhances that sense of community and eliminates a little bit of that social distancing factor we all are practicing: I think it does because even with our advertisers, people are going to their websites and really spending time with the resources that we present. And I do think that it is a sense of community because I know each of our magazines like Victoria, for example, Victoria has a huge sense of community, so their social media, websites and blogs are very community-spirited. So yes, we’re seeing that is very important and it kind of keeps you from feeling that you’re isolated because you’re actually reading and seeing what other people are commenting, and it’s really refreshing.

We have found in our business that when things are like this, such as after 9/11, our readers really band together and bring forth to social media platforms, which are today a lot more extensive than they were when 9/11 occurred, they were in their infancy then. It’s very rewarding when someone says they were so pleased to read an article about a certain topic

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On what keeps her up at night: What keeps me up right now is the safety of our employees. Are they safe? Do they have everything they need? I want to make sure they have food and supplies. I’m making masks right now, face masks for needs that we have among our people. So, that’s what keeps me up, is everybody who works for us, that we’re committed to and they’re committed to us, do they have everything they need during this time. My phone is on, as I told them, text me, call me if you need anything. We will figure out how to get it to you.

in one of our magazines. We want to bring hope and beauty to the world; we want to bring encouragement, because there’s too much reality right now that people are having to deal with. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Phyllis DePiano: What keeps me up right now is the safety of our employees. Are they safe? Do they have everything they need? I want to make sure they have food and supplies. I’m making masks right now, face masks for needs that we have among our people. So, that’s what keeps me up, is everybody who works for us, that we’re committed to and they’re committed to us, do they have everything they need during this time. My phone is on, as I told them, text me, call me if you need anything. We will figure out how to get it to you. The face masks I’m making actually started with my doctor who I had asked a few weeks ago if he needed any. At the time he was good. Then he called me and said they were having a huge shortage, so I made 40 for his office staff. And I was talking to Brian recently and he told me about some people who needed masks too. So, I’m making those. They’re not couture by any means, but they work. We feel like we’re helping here and you want to do something to help. Even though it’s small and insignificant, anything we can do to make our world a better place and to show people we care about them, because that makes a difference in people’s lives so much, that somebody cares about you. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER NINE

Philip Drumheller President & Owner of Lane Press, Inc. “I would advise publishers to lean on their printers for problem-solving – now more than ever.”

Founded in 1904, Lane Press, located in Burlington, Vermont, is distinguished by its rich history of printing and publishing innovation. During this pandemic, Philip Drumheller, president and owner of the company, said they are open and ready to serve their clients, but are operating “very carefully and very thoughtfully.” I reached out to Philip recently and asked him about this tragic pandemic, its effect on the business, and what he feels makes magazines and magazine media relevant, especially during these uncertain times. “At a time like this, people are seeking trustworthy content that helps them understand the many aspects of this evolving health care crisis.” Samir Husni: How is Lane Press operating during this pandemic? Philip Drumheller: Very carefully and very thoughtfully. We are an essential business per the state of Vermont’s Governor’s “Stay Home” order, and we very much agree with that. We know how important it is for publishers to be able to communicate with their readership without interruption publishing during a pandemic

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On how Lane Press is operating during this pandemic: Very carefully and very thoughtfully. We are an essential business per the state of Vermont’s Governor’s “Stay Home” order, and we very much agree with that. We know how important it is for publishers to be able to communicate with their readership without interruption – especially in such an unusual time. On the steps they are taking to keep employees who are still working onsite safe: The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. We have followed the guidance of the CDC from the very beginning of the outbreak. We have very thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedures in place; we ensure that employees who are in the plant maintain adequate distancing between each other; and we have as many employees working from home as possible. On the impact of the pandemic on the business: We do have a few customers who are

– especially in such an unusual time. People need continued access to information and thought leadership. We’re glad that we can be here, open, and of service to our customers in this delicate time. Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what are the steps you are taking to social distance and ensure everyone still at the workplace is as safe as possible? Philip Drumheller: The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. We have followed the guidance of the CDC from the very beginning of the outbreak. We have very thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedures in place; we ensure that employees who are in the plant maintain adequate distancing between each other; and we have as many employees working from home as possible – our administrative staff and a portion of our customer service staff. I think it’s fair to say we haven’t skipped a beat. Samir Husni: What has been the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, mailing, etc.? Any change in the print schedule from your clients? Skipping issues, reducing print run, etc. Philip Drumheller: We do have a few customers who are cancelling their spring issues. Some are consolidating their spring issues with summer or combining months. It very much depends on market segment – we serve many different types of magazine publishers, all of whom have different needs and challenges right now. Our goal is to help them meet those challenges by being as flexible and creative as we can. For example, we’ve been offering our customers special incentives on add-on features so they can add pandemicrelated messaging to their magazine – like on a bellyband, a tip, or an onsert inside a polybag. All of these are great ways to add an extra layer of communication at this time. We’re also offering special pricing on a publication of narrow

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specifications – one we can produce most quickly and costefficiently. Our goal is to help publishers stay in contact with their readers. This type of flexible approach enables publishers to do that even while they’re dealing with their own very new and constantly evolving constraints. Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, workforce? Philip Drumheller: No, we haven’t seen any disruption in our supply chain. And our workforce is incredibly dedicated. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic? And can you ever be prepared for something like this? Philip Drumheller: I’m sure none of us imagined anything of this ilk and magnitude occurring, but we’ve always believed it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. We’ve always focused on having solid processes and well-established lines of communication in place – both internally and with our customers – so that when something comes up, these foundational pillars give us a functional, effective framework to operate in. It worked for us during the outbreak of the Spanish Flu, two world wars, the Great Depression, numerous banking crises, oil embargos, the Great Recession, and, of course, 9/11. Together with nearly 120 years of experience, I’d say that’s why we’ve been able to adjust so quickly to this situation. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees and clients during these uncertain times? Philip Drumheller: Lane Press remains open and is here to help publishers continue serving their readership. And we’re doing this with a constant eye toward protecting our employees and our community.

cancelling their spring issues. Some are consolidating their spring issues with summer or combining months. It very much depends on market segment – we serve many different types of magazine publishers, all of whom have different needs and challenges right now. Our goal is to help them meet those challenges by being as flexible and creative as we can. On any shortage of materials or workforce: No, we haven’t seen any disruption in our supply chain. And our workforce is incredibly dedicated. On whether he ever imagined working during something like a pandemic: I’m sure none of us imagined anything of this ilk and magnitude occurring, but we’ve always believed it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. We’ve always focused on having solid processes and well-established lines of communication in place – both internally and with our customers – so that when something comes up, these foundational pillars give us a functional, effective framework to operate in.

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On what message he is communicating with his clients and his employees: Lane Press remains open and is here to help publishers continue serving their readership. And we’re doing this with a constant eye toward protecting our employees and our community. On what he feels makes magazines and magazine media relevant today: Magazines are a vehicle for high-quality content – vetted, trustworthy, indepth content. At a time like this, people are seeking trustworthy content that helps them understand the many aspects of this evolving health care crisis.

Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? Philip Drumheller: Magazines are a vehicle for high-quality content – vetted, trustworthy, in-depth content. At a time like this, people are seeking trustworthy content that helps them understand the many aspects of this evolving health care crisis. Many of the magazines we produce provide this kind of content to readers in business, health care, education, and wellness sectors. But also, magazines have always been an effective form of entertainment – a chance to dive into a tactile, sensory experience that is immersive and can take your mind off the stresses of the day. How much do we all need that right now? To step back and read about inspiring home design or the noble undertakings of our alumni peers, or just to look through a curated photo gallery? When your favorite magazine comes right to you at your doorstep and you can sit back and get lost in it – that’s something we can all benefit from now. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Philip Drumheller: I would advise publishers to lean on their printers for problem-solving – now more than ever. When our customers tell us they’re challenged in a particular way, we work hard to come up with novel ways to help them. All businesses are thinking out-of-the-box right now. And it’s incredibly refreshing to see businesses and consumers relying on each other in such creative ways. I truly believe this is how we’ll come out of this stronger – by trusting and relying on each other. Further, despite the enormous and obvious challenges of this pandemic, it is also a calling to simpler times… meals with family, a reduction in the frenetic pace of life, more time to read (magazines) and reflect, less noise, cleaner air and water…. It seems to me this is a crucial and especially opportune time for publishers to deliver their product to their readers’ doors.

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Samir Husni: And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Philip Drumheller: Concerns about the economy keep me up. There are so many small businesses in our local community and among our customer base that have worked so hard to build their businesses. And there are so many employees depending on them to continue to do so. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On any additional words of wisdom: I would advise publishers to lean on their printers for problem-solving – now more than ever. When our customers tell us they’re challenged in a particular way, we work hard to come up with novel ways to help them. On what keeps him up at night: Concerns about the economy keep me up. There are so many small businesses in our local community and among our customer base that have worked so hard to build their businesses. And there are so many employees depending on them to continue to do so.

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CHAPTER TEN

Sid Evans

Editor In Chief of Southern Living “This pandemic has made people value the simple things in life more than ever.�

The little things in life have become the most important things in life for many of us during this pandemic. Staying at home has become the norm and making home the best place to stay has become vital. Enter the comfort of Southern Living magazine and brand. Southern Living has been making us feel happy and secure for decades. The magazine offers up delicious recipes, amazing home ideas and inspiration to make each day better than the last. Sid Evans is editor in chief at Southern Living and knows a thing or two about what the brand gives to its readers. Joy, happiness and a sense of home are just three of the attributes the magazine provides to its loyal audience. I spoke with Sid recently and we talked about publishing this tried and true brand that people trust and depend on. And while Sid admitted things were definitely different now than before the pandemic hit, Southern Living is still publishing the same quality content and joyful ideas and inspiration that it always has. Samir Husni: You wrote in the June issue about the little things in life. Do you think publishing during a pandemic is forcing magazine publishers and editors to look more into those simple things? Did it take a pandemic for us to search for a simpler philosophy? publishing during a pandemic

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On looking for the little things in life during a pandemic: This pandemic has made people value the simple things in life more than ever. People have an appreciation for cooking, family time and gardening. These things have become much more meaningful, more than ever before. And we’ve certainly heard that from our readers. On how easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home: It has been a challenge, that’s for sure. There are aspects of it that we adapted to very quickly. We have a very digitallysavvy staff and most of our communications and systems are built on digital platforms. In some ways we were able to adapt quickly and well and keep the production cycle moving.

Sid Evans: This pandemic has made people value the simple things in life more than ever. People have an appreciation for cooking, family time and gardening. These things have become much more meaningful, more than ever before. And we’ve certainly heard that from our readers. They also value Southern Living more than they have ever valued it. We’re hearing that through letters and emails, that when their magazine shows up in their mailbox it’s an exciting and happy moment. It connects them to the world in a way that has become very important. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home? Sid Evans: It has been a challenge, that’s for sure. There are aspects of it that we adapted to very quickly. We have a very digitally-savvy staff and most of our communications and systems are built on digital platforms. In some ways we were able to adapt quickly and well and keep the production cycle moving. In other ways it has been much harder because we can’t produce content the way we used to. We can’t photograph food in the food studios; we can’t go into people’s homes and do home shoots; we don’t have any restaurants to take pictures of. So, all of that has really changed the kinds of stories that we can do and the way that we produce them. Samir Husni: If we look forward to the summer issues, are we going to see a different type of content than usual? Or are you readjusting your publishing schedule because of the pandemic? Sid Evans: Yes. Fortunately, much of the content that we have produced already is very timely and very relevant to what’s going on right now. For example, in June we have stories about what to do with all of those tomatoes you may have. And great summer cocktail recipes.

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Things that I think people will appreciate. How to brighten your porch and make it a prettier place to spend time. All of those things are very relevant.

On whether there will be a different type of content in the summer issues:

We shoot a lot of stuff a year in advance, because seasonality is so important to Southern Living. I would say that more than 50 percent of our content we plan and shoot one year in advance so that we can capture the absolute peak of the season. All of that is going to make for very strong June and July issues that will be really relevant right now. Looking ahead to next summer, that’s a little harder.

Fortunately, much of the content that we have produced already is very timely and very relevant to what’s going on right now. For example, in June we have stories about what to do with all of those tomatoes you may have. And great summer cocktail recipes. Things that I think people will appreciate. How to brighten your porch and make it a prettier place to spend time. All of those things are very relevant.

Samir Husni: Why do you think Southern Living’s content today is more relevant than ever? Or do you think it is? Sid Evans: It’s more relevant than ever because if you think about what people are doing right now, they’re cooking every day, three meals a day. They can’t go to restaurants right now, they are cooking at home. They need ideas and inspiration. They need something to break them out of their rut and that’s something that we do every month in the magazine and every day on the website. They need ideas for how to make their home more livable, more enjoyable, and more of a sanctuary. That’s something that we do. People really appreciate that content right now; it’s just so important. It’s part of what’s helping them get through this whole ordeal. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and what was your first reaction when it hit? Sid Evans: No, I never imagined that I’d be living through a situation like this. I never imagined it for my family, my friends or my colleagues at the office. If you’d said to me two months ago that we would be putting out Southern Living from home without going into an office, I couldn’t even have conceived of that. But I will say that this team has surprised

On whether he thinks Southern Living’s content is more relevant today than ever: It’s more relevant than ever because if you think about what people are doing right now, they’re cooking every day, three meals a day. They can’t go to restaurants right now, they are cooking at home. They need ideas and inspiration. They need something to break them out of their rut and that’s something that we do every month in the magazine and every day on the website.

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On whether he ever imagined that he would be working during a pandemic: No, I never imagined that I’d be living through a situation like this. I never imagined it for my family, my friends or my colleagues at the office. If you’d said to me two months ago that we would be putting out Southern Living from home without going into an office, I couldn’t even have conceived of that. But I will say that this team has surprised and amazed me with what they’ve been able to do. On what message he is communicating with his staff and readers during these uncertain times: I tell my staff to stay focused on the reader, think about what they’re going through, think about what they need from us and what we can provide. And think about how Southern Living can improve their lives and give them something hopeful every month. I think that really motivates this team.

and amazed me with what they’ve been able to do. And the creativity that they have brought to this whole enterprise and their devotion to the brand and to the readers. We’ve been figuring it out one day at a time, and somehow we’re making it work. We’re all motivated by the response we’re getting from our audience. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your staff and readers during these uncertain times? Sid Evans: I tell my staff to stay focused on the reader, think about what they’re going through, think about what they need from us and what we can provide. And think about how Southern Living can improve their lives and give them something hopeful every month. I think that really motivates this team. I will tell you that one area that is a challenge, especially right now, is travel. That’s a really important part of Southern Living. We are a guide to the South. We’ve covered the cities, small towns, the beaches and the mountains. We recommend the best places to go and we have a lot of stories lined up that spoke to that. All of that is on hold right now. Until places start to open up, we’ve really had to put a lot of great travel coverage on hold. I’m looking forward to bringing that back and I know that our readers are looking forward to getting back out there, back on the road to start visiting places again. Samir Husni: How is this impacting the relationship with the advertisers? Sid Evans: We stay in close touch with our advertisers. We’re listening to them, particularly in the travel space where we’re talking to them, rooting for them, hoping that they’re going to get back online in a safe and responsible way. And that they can start to see some of their businesses come back. One of the things that we’ve been doing is to share a lot of

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research with our advertisers about what our audience is going through. We have access to phenomenal research. We have panels that we can tap into; we have audiences that we can reach out to in real time and very quickly take their temperature and get a sense of what they’re worried about, what they’re looking forward to, and how they’re dealing with this pandemic. We’ve been sharing that research on calls with some of our advertising partners and they’ve been really grateful and appreciative to hear this information, because these are their consumers. That’s something that has been a real advantage for Southern Living right now. Samir Husni: What do you think justifies the continued printing of the ink on paper Southern Living? Sid Evans: We still have a very popular, very profitable print magazine that is valued by both readers and advertisers. I just don’t see that just-digital day yet. For Southern Living, for our audience, having that print magazine show up right now is absolutely golden. They are so grateful to get that magazine and there’s so much value to them in that print magazine. It has a lot of meaning to them and a lot of value. That being said, we’re also seeing incredible traffic to our digital platforms. The online traffic has been remarkable. There is a ton of engagement on our social platforms and we’re doing a lot of innovating on that front as well. So, I think you have to do both at the same time. You have to keep reaching those new audiences and you also have to take care of your print audience. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add?

On how the pandemic is impacting the relationship with the advertisers: We stay in close touch with our advertisers. We’re listening to them, particularly in the travel space where we’re talking to them, rooting for them, hoping that they’re going to get back online in a safe and responsible way. And that they can start to see some of their businesses come back. On what he thinks justifies the continued printing of the ink on paper Southern Living: We still have a very popular, very profitable print magazine that is valued by both readers and advertisers. I just don’t see that just-digital day yet. For Southern Living, for our audience, having that print magazine show up right now is absolutely golden. They are so grateful to get that magazine and there’s so much value to them in that print magazine. It has a lot of meaning to them and a lot of value.

Sid Evans: On the innovation front, we have a lot going on. We’re launching a new podcast series called “Biscuits & Jam,” where I’ve been interviewing musicians who are holed up at home and who are going through a lot of the same things

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On anything he’d like to add: On the innovation front, we have a lot going on. We’re launching a new podcast series called “Biscuits & Jam,” where I’ve been interviewing musicians who are holed up at home and who are going through a lot of the same things that our readers are. I’ve been talking to them about food and family, and that’s been really interesting and a great use of this new platform. It will launch on June 2. On what keeps him up at night: First and foremost, the health and safety of my team. That’s the thing that is top of mind and that I’m most concerned about. Also, what is creating content going to look like going forward? Creating content is a social endeavor. We get together in teams and create and shoot recipes and we decorate porches and we also brainstorm ideas together. So much of what we do is social in nature.

that our readers are. I’ve been talking to them about food and family, and that’s been really interesting and a great use of this new platform. It will launch on June 2. We have a television show that just launched in April called “The Southern Living Show” that’s on a lot of the Meredith Television networks. It’s in 12 markets. That’s seeing a lot of audience growth week over week. We have a Facebook group devoted to cooking where it’s become a really important community and a way for people to share Southern Living recipes and talk about them. And show each other what they’re making and what they’re baking. These are all important things to the brand, in terms of reaching out to new audiences and continuing to innovate. This is a time for innovation. Now more than ever. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Sid Evans: First and foremost, the health and safety of my team. That’s the thing that is top of mind and that I’m most concerned about. Also, what is creating content going to look like going forward? Creating content is a social endeavor. We get together in teams and create and shoot recipes and we decorate porches and we also brainstorm ideas together. So much of what we do is social in nature. We photograph restaurants and towns and so I worry about what that is going to look like and how we’re going to do it. At the moment, I don’t see that breaking for a while. I do worry about that. I do think that even though we’re living under this dark cloud of the virus, there are things to really value and appreciate right now. And there’s an opportunity to reconnect with family and to reset priorities. That only comes along once in a lifetime. So we have to take advantage of that. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

Bill Falk

Editor In Chief of The Week Magazine “I feel an even greater responsibility to our readers to be able to sift through this information and try to detect a signal in the noise…”

The Week magazine will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary, and its one and only editor in chief, Bill Falk, says never has the magazine been more needed than during this pandemic. As the curation is tight, and during these ambiguous times, extremely concise and as accurate as possible, each issue will alert you to all the important updates and COVID-19 information as possible, and quite often to a few sources to follow up on. I spoke with Bill recently and we talked about all of the particulars of working from home, publishing a magazine with your staff via remote communications, and about how journalists and information providers rank right up there with First Responders to him when it comes to helping people get the content they need to stay safe and well. Samir Husni: You’re publishing a weekly magazine, so how is The Week operating during this pandemic? Bill Falk: We’re actually doing pretty well. Again, I think we are fortunate in that our business model has always been to get the majority of revenue directly from subscribers, rather publishing during a pandemic

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On how a weekly publication such as The Week is operating during the pandemic: We’re actually doing pretty well. Again, I think we are fortunate in that our business model has always been to get the majority of revenue directly from subscribers, rather than to rely on advertising. And that has held us in good stead through various recessions and other problems, obviously through the whole digital disruption of the magazine industry. On how easy, hard or disruptive the move to working from home was: It certainly makes it more difficult. It’s a degree of difficulty of about a seven or eight to a nine or ten. I miss the ability to communicate with staff instantly, face-to-face; to huddle; to discuss things. And not being able to do that easily and having to rely on electronic communications definitely adds a layer of friction to the process.

than to rely on advertising. And that has held us in good stead through various recessions and other problems, obviously through the whole digital disruption of the magazine industry. So, where our advertising has been hurt, just like everyone else’s, we can’t escape that, but subscriptions are going strong and we actually raised our prices before the pandemic hit. We’re actually anticipating an increase in revenue from subscriptions this year. We should be pretty solid through this pandemic. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home? Bill Falk: It certainly makes it more difficult. It’s a degree of difficulty of about a seven or eight to a nine or ten. I miss the ability to communicate with staff instantly, face-to-face; to huddle; to discuss things. And not being able to do that easily and having to rely on electronic communications definitely adds a layer of friction to the process. But we’ve been increasingly moving to doing our surveying of what’s in the media to online sources, just because it’s so convenient now. Most of our major source newspapers and magazines we can access digitally. In a lot of ways, that hasn’t changed dramatically. We’re able to still look at all the original source material with relative ease. It’s the actual making of the physical product that is more complicated. We have Slack communications among the staff. We also use email for certain things. And on deadline days, which for us are Monday and especially Tuesday and Wednesday, the messages are flying fast and furious. If multitasking makes you stupid, as they say, then we’re very dumb indeed. (Laughs) We’re multitasking like crazy, sometimes editing, fielding an email, looking at photos, answering copy editors’ questions, all at the same time.

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It gets really stressful. I think that the degree of stress that we experience on deadline is greater. It’s more multitasking and more things to pay attention to. You miss something without the direct face-to-face communication. Sometimes in the office I could just pick my head up and say to the art director who was five feet away, “Did you get that photo from Mark yet?” (Laughs) Whereas at home I’ve got to Slack him and maybe he’s doing something else and I have to wait and then I get interrupted by a different message and a different problem to deal with. It reminds me of that old Ed Sullivan Show skit where the guy would come out with 10 sticks and 10 plates and try and spin all the plates while the Flight of the Bumblebee played without dropping any. (Laughs again) But it is doable. We’re fortunate that within the last year we moved our office and in so doing we upgraded our technology. We’re all equipped with laptops that can very easily access the server. It was more complicated before with the dial-in and all sorts of things. And now we can all be on the server and work pretty seamlessly remotely in that way. Samir Husni: The Week launched almost 20 years ago, so how relevant is The Week today in the midst of the pandemic, and in the midst of everything that has taken place over the years with the industry?

On how relevant he thinks The Week is today in the midst of the pandemic, and in the midst of everything that has taken place over the years with the industry: I actually think that it has made us more relevant than ever, because the amount of information coming at people now is exponentially greater than when we launched almost 20 years ago. There’s just a constant firehose coming at people on social media and various online sources. Our mission and our value proposition to the reader is the same, except that it may be even more needed now, which is: Let us read most of it for you and curate it, make sense of it, group it into categories, subjects and topics that cohere in a sensible way.

Bill Falk: I actually think that it has made us more relevant than ever, because the amount of information coming at people now is exponentially greater than when we launched almost 20 years ago. There’s just a constant firehose coming at people on social media and various online sources. Our mission and our value proposition to the reader is the same, except that it may be even more needed now, which is: Let us read most of it for you and curate it, make sense of it, group it into categories, subjects and topics that cohere in a sensible way. And then give you a variety of opinions about a topic from a lot of different sources so you can get some

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On whether he had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic and if he thinks someone could prepare for something like it: It’s impossible to be fully prepared for something like this. I think like a lot of other media, we have run stories in the past from experts predicting that this day would come.

perspective on the story and connect the dots, that’s what we’ve always tried to do, connect the dots. And there are a lot more dots now, so it’s harder. What we’re doing is still very much needed and I think now in the midst of a time where we’re all frightened, worried, scared and overwhelmed, I feel an even greater responsibility to our readers to be able to sift through this information and try to detect a signal in the noise and give people an idea of what we know about COVID-19; what we know about the policy disagreements; what we know about the science and treatments; and where this may go. What’s happening in the rest of the world. We had a briefing on a longer story recently about the South Korea experience with COVID-19 and how they were so successful in minimizing the number of cases and deaths without destroying their economy. And we explained that to readers. There are many different ways we can cast light on this, and honestly, I’m pretty obsessed with the subject. I find myself going from reading three or four hours a day in preparation for work to maybe six hours a day reading constantly. I have CNN on and various other networks, switching around, trying to educate myself every day as to what the latest developments are and what the smart people are saying about this. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and do you think anyone could ever prepare for something like this? Bill Falk: It’s impossible to be fully prepared for something like this. I think like a lot of other media, we have run stories in the past from experts predicting that this day would come. There have been many people in infectious diseases, after SARS, MERS, Ebola and HIV, who said there would be more new pathogens emerging, probably across the species barrier

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from animals and at one point we’re going to be very unlucky and one of these pathogens is going to be very infectious and spread easily. So we have runs stories about that in the past, but it’s like running a story about an asteroid strike on the earth, we all know it’s possible, but you don’t really believe it until something like that happens. On one hand it’s not surprising, but on the other hand it’s shocking. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your staff, advertisers, and readers during these uncertain times? Bill Falk: To the staff, I try to convey the message that we have a really important responsibility here and this is the biggest story of our lifetimes. I guess we thought 9/11 and the aftermath would be the biggest story and this supersedes that. We have a great opportunity to use the skills we’ve honed to help readers understand this, make sense of it, to give them tips.

On what message he is communicating with his staff during these uncertain times: To the staff, I try to convey the message that we have a really important responsibility here and this is the biggest story of our lifetimes. I guess we thought 9/11 and the aftermath would be the biggest story and this supersedes that. We have a great opportunity to use the skills we’ve honed to help readers understand this, make sense of it, to give them tips.

We actually created two new pages, we changed our format which we rarely do, but we got rid of the travel page, which is obviously irrelevant at this point, and we turned it into a page called “Life At Home” that’s full of stories about how to make-do in quarantine, and dealing with your kids and how to make a mask. We’ve devoted our art section to various streaming movies and series that people can watch. We’re heavily covering any kind of entertainment that you can still access online. So, we’re rallying to meet this challenge and my message to staff has been that we have a real duty here to carry on in this crisis. In a sense, I think people in the information, journalism business are in the class of First Responders. People need information; they’re scared and worried and we have to convey information to them from experts and political leaders and various other sources. That’s been my

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On any additional words of wisdom: I recently read an editor’s letter about this, that there is a reminder here that nothing in life is sure or guaranteed. We should appreciate every day. I find myself being very grateful for a lot of things , including the fact that I can continue to work under these circumstances. I know many people cannot and are in dire economic straits as a result.

message to staff. We do things to cheer ourselves up through meetings and Slack channels where we post photos of ourselves at home and our pets and families and things. To the readers, we’ve actually put a few letters on the cover of the magazine addressed to our readers telling them not to worry, we will continue publishing and that we’re all working remotely and safe. So they don’t have to worry about us. And that should there be any disruption in the ability to print or distribute the magazine, we’ve asked people to give us their email and we can give them information. We will then make it available to all the print subscribers online, get them behind the paywall, or look at our APP version of the magazine. So, that’s been our message to readers, that we will continue to publish and we will be here for them. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Bill Falk: I recently read an editor’s letter about this, that there is a reminder here that nothing in life is sure or guaranteed. We should appreciate every day. I find myself being very grateful for a lot of things , including the fact that I can continue to work under these circumstances. I know many people cannot and are in dire economic straits as a result. It’s just particularly gratifying to be able to be immersed in this and to meet the challenge of trying to make sense of what is going on. And I’m grateful to be in journalism. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Bill Falk: In terms of the magazine, my big fear would be that members of my staff would become ill and this could interfere with our ability to work, so I have some contingency plans on that, but so far, we’ve all been healthy, thank God, but that is something to worry about. We are a small staff, we need all hands on deck, so that is a danger.

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I worry about disruptions in delivery, but the postal service seems to be carrying on. And I obviously worry about the pandemic’s effect on our country and the economy, the political divisions. Some of what’s going on is very disturbing. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On what keeps him up at night: In terms of the magazine, my big fear would be that members of my staff would become ill and this could interfere with our ability to work, so I have some contingency plans on that, but so far, we’ve all been healthy, thank God, but that is something to worry about. We are a small staff, we need all hands on deck, so that is a danger.

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CHAPTER TWELVE

David Fry

Chief Technology Officer of Fry Communications “We’re optimistic there will be a rebound in the magazine marketplace this summer.” In 1934, Fry Communications, Inc. in Pennsylvania began as one of the first publishers of weekly shopping guides. A small family operation, the company focused on publishing – but not printing – that shopper for over thirty years. Henry Fry, the current Chairman of the Board, purchased the company’s first offset press in 1967. The rest they say is history. David Fry is chief technology officer for the family-owned company. I spoke with David recently and he said that during this pandemic the company was operating fairly normally, but very cautiously. Since the governor of Pennsylvania deemed printing a “life-sustaining industry,” Fry Communications has remained open to serve their customers, with employee safety paramount. “We’re emphasizing regular communications with both employees and clients. The most important messages to both audiences include the specific steps we’re taking to keep everyone safe, and what we are doing to ensure we’re here for our customers for the long haul.” David feels magazines and magazine media are more relevant than ever with the uncertain times we’re all living in. The information and content on the pages of a magazine not only informs and entertains, but can also be one of those, “communication channels we have to stay safe and to stay sane.” publishing during a pandemic

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On how Fry Communications is operating during the pandemic: Fry Communications is operating essentially normally, albeit with extreme caution. The governor of Pennsylvania has deemed printing a “life-sustaining industry” and we are making great efforts to serve our customers while keeping our employees safe. On the steps being taken to ensure the safety of his employees still working onsite: We started planning for COVID-19 mitigation measures in the first week of March. We asked our customers to stop visiting the plant for press inspections the following week. Nearly all nonproduction staff members, such as finance, sales, HR, IT, etc., are working from home. We have been educating our team members about the necessary safety protocol for five weeks now, washing hands regularly, wiping down your workspace frequently during a shift, stay home if you’re experiencing any symptoms, etc.

Samir Husni: How is Fry operating during this pandemic? David Fry: Fry Communications is operating essentially normally, albeit with extreme caution. The governor of Pennsylvania has deemed printing a “life-sustaining industry” and we are making great efforts to serve our customers while keeping our employees safe. Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what are the steps being taken to social distance and ensure everyone is well at the workplace? David Fry: We started planning for COVID-19 mitigation measures in the first week of March. We asked our customers to stop visiting the plant for press inspections the following week. Nearly all non-production staff members, such as finance, sales, HR, IT, etc., are working from home. We have been educating our team members about the necessary safety protocol for five weeks now, washing hands regularly, wiping down your workspace frequently during a shift, stay home if you’re experiencing any symptoms, etc. We enforce a two-week quarantine for any employees who report symptoms either in themselves or family members. We’re staggering break periods to prevent people from clustering in small areas. Our sanitation team has greatly increased its efforts around cleaning bathrooms, break areas, doorknobs, etc. We mandate that anyone visiting the plant for pickups or deliveries must wear a face mask. Samir Husni: Has there been any impact so far on publishing frequencies, printing, mailing, etc.? Any change in your client’s print schedules, such as skipping issues, reducing print run, etc.? David Fry: We have definitely seen volume reductions, in all forms.

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Some periodicals have reduced page counts or print runs, and some are skipping issues all together. Some vertical and geographic markets, like travel and NYC, have been affected more than others. Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, or workforce? David Fry: No, we haven’t seen any shortages in materials or manpower yet and we don’t foresee any. Samir Husni: Did you ever in your worst nightmares imagine something like this could happen? David Fry: No, we certainly never considered the problems around a pandemic putting most of the country on lockdown. Like everyone, we were initially shocked to see how quickly everything changed. Things that seemed impossible to imagine on a Monday became commonplace by Wednesday. We quickly learned to respond to the problems dynamically, however, and the team has risen to the challenge amazingly well. It has been a great time to relearn the old adage, “Worry about what you can control and ignore the rest.” Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees and clients during this uncertain time? David Fry: We’re emphasizing regular communications with both employees and clients. The most important messages to both audiences include the specific steps we’re taking to keep everyone safe, and what we are doing to ensure we’re here for our customers for the long haul. The responses from our customers have been overwhelmingly positive and hugely gratifying to the team working in such trying conditions. Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today?

On whether the pandemic has impacted any of his client’s printing schedules: We have definitely seen volume reductions, in all forms. Some periodicals have reduced page counts or print runs, and some are skipping issues all together. Some vertical and geographic markets, like travel and NYC, have been affected more than others. On whether he has seen any shortages in paper, ink or workforce: No, we haven’t seen any shortages in materials or manpower yet and we don’t foresee any. On if he had ever imagined something like a pandemic happening: No, we certainly never considered the problems around a pandemic putting most of the country on lockdown. Like everyone, we were initially shocked to see how quickly everything changed. On what message he’s communicating with his clients and employees during this time: We’re emphasizing regular communications with both employees and clients. The most important messages to both audiences include

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the specific steps we’re taking to keep everyone safe, and what we are doing to ensure we’re here for our customers for the long haul. On what he thinks makes magazines and magazine media relevant today: Now more than ever, we’re relying on communication channels to stay safe, to stay sane, to do our jobs, and to hold our communities together while we have to remain distant from each other. On any additional words of wisdom: While no one knows what the next six to nine months will bring, we’re optimistic there will be a rebound in the magazine marketplace this summer. On what keeps him up at night: Right now a lot of things keep me up at night! But let’s hope Congress does something to keep the USPS properly funded in the next two months.

David Fry: Now more than ever, we’re relying on communication channels to stay safe, to stay sane, to do our jobs, and to hold our communities together while we have to remain distant from each other. A good percentage of our customers’ products feature content about COVID-19 right now, including both consumer periodicals and specialized trade journals. The Pennsylvania governor was right, printing is indeed life-sustaining. One of our customers perhaps said it best: “[Our publication] has not missed a monthly issue since it was launched in June 1850. It would have been unthinkable for me to fail in my obligation to my subscribers and newsstand buyers. When this crisis passes, I would be very grateful to have the chance to thank Governor Wolf in person in Harrisburg.” Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? David Fry: While no one knows what the next six to nine months will bring, we’re optimistic there will be a rebound in the magazine marketplace this summer. I think about the famous Sam Walton quote on the 1991 recession: “I’ve thought about it and I decided not to participate.” He knew it was a great time to invest and win market shares from his competitors. We think many other businesses will respond similarly and we’re hopeful that magazine media will benefit from that burst of economic activity. And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night? David Fry: Right now a lot of things keep me up at night! But let’s hope Congress does something to keep the USPS properly funded in the next two months. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

JD Heyman

Editor In Chief of Entertainment Weekly “The wonderful thing about moments of crises is that it brings out the best in most people.”

In June 2019, JD Heyman was named Editor in Chief of Entertainment Weekly, the world’s leading media brand covering entertainment and the business of popular culture. As EIC, he has repositioned EW as the voice of the new golden age of show business across all platforms, with a deluxe monthly magazine, a news driven website and growing extensions in social media, audio, television and events. But as we all know, the world has changed inexplicably with the onset and continuation of the pandemic. I spoke with JD recently and we talked about how EW has been operating during this pandemic and how a magazine that relies on up close and personal interviews and photographs of celebrities and others who entertain and inform us is handling the situation. JD was upbeat and optimistic about the present and the future, while remaining realistic when it came to how that future may look beyond the pandemic. As he said, “The words matter; the design matters.” And he believes that tripling-down on the quality and relevance of the product they offer readers is vital. And with EW, quality is a given. publishing during a pandemic

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On how Entertainment Weekly is operating during the pandemic: It has actually been an amazing experience as a magazine-maker, as an editor, as a journalist, a marketer and as a businessdevelopment person. It has been a challenging, but really exciting time. There were a lot of things that we were already in the process of really thinking deeply about and reinventing at Entertainment Weekly when this all happened.

Samir Husni: You’re now based in L.A., the magazine moved several years ago, then the pandemic happened. How are you operating during this pandemic since you have a publication that depends a lot on photography, celebrities and entertainment? JD Heyman: It has actually been an amazing experience as a magazine-maker, as an editor, as a journalist, a marketer and as a business-development person. It has been a challenging, but really exciting time. There were a lot of things that we were already in the process of really thinking deeply about and reinventing at Entertainment Weekly when this all happened. I’ve been at EW for seven months and before the pandemic I was at PEOPLE running the entertainment coverage there before that, so I’ve been a long-time fan and collaborator with EW, because we’re sister brands. The biggest challenge is the economic challenge that we’re all in as a country, as a world. But the content challenge has not been that difficult for us at all. There are plenty of stories to tell. What we discovered very early in the pandemic, really by late February, early March, was that we were going to need to address how to cater to people who were going to be spending a lot more time at home. In the first week or so of March, we came up with something called “Quaranstream,” which was our content recommendations for people who were sheltering-in-place. We started that very early and then by March 15, we decided that it would be better for us to work from home, so just right before there was mandated sheltering-in-place in California and New York. Our systems were in place, in terms of production and communication; none of that was difficult to adopt. We were very quick to move into a work-from-home environment. As far as the entertainment community and Hollywood are concerned, the wonderful thing about moments of crises is that it brings out the best in most people. And certainly in

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the world of entertainment, not to be totally glib, because there are very important things going on in the world and people doing the real work of making this situation better, but entertainers have a role to play. I was sitting at home working, watching a lot of old screwball comedies of the 1930s, and I asked myself what was it about these old movies that so appeals to me? Why do I like comedies from that period? If you know pop culture at all, you realize very quickly those films were made during very dark times in world history. There was a Great Depression; there was a fascist empire on the rise; there was genocide, and yet, you would never know that from most of the popular culture of the time. And that’s true in the late 1960s, and it’s true during other tumultuous times in our culture. People turned to entertainment as a kind of balm. I call it the healing balm of fun. That’s what we’re here to provide for our audience. We decided very quickly that we’re going to reorient a lot of our content toward that proposition, bringing Hollywood home with humor and with heart. That’s what we believe. All of our writers and reporters, and actually all of the entertainers that we deal with, were very excited to do that. We have sort of a dual mission at Entertainment Weekly; we reach a broad audience of more than 24 million people. We also reach a lot of people who work in entertainment, who are influencers within the industry. We thought it was important to both support the industry and to give people distraction. And the results have been huge. We’ve had a significant increase in our digital traffic, more than 20 percent, and our May issue was our bestselling monthly issue ever. So, that goes to show you that there’s some truth in this idea of being the place where people go to be lifted up, enlightened, entertained; putting on a show for people in times of trial is extremely important. The craft of magazine-making is something that I believe to be as contemporary as ever, and

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I think when we look at the products that we make in any platform, we have to really create a quality experience for the audience, a deeper quality experience than perhaps we have in the recent past. The words matter; the design matters. If you look at our May issue—we just closed our June issue, and I think we’re one of the few brands in today’s economy that broke new business in June from an advertising perspective, because we really believe in collaborating on the advertising side—but we really believe in giving readers a high-touched, deluxe experience in print as well as serving them digital news. If you look at our May issue, we have a high degree of humor; we have a high degree of content that promotes engagement, interactive puzzles and games, recommendations, a whole feature full of recommended content for them; a lot of comedy and deep dives into stuff people love. So, I wouldn’t say we’re the place to come if you’re looking for hard news about a vaccine, that’s not our job. Our place is to create some lightness, some counterprogramming for people who are in their homes and really kind of desperate for recommendations about how to make the load a little lighter, from board games to trivia to great look-backs at Hollywood moments to really fun interviews and access. As far as your question about access goes, it’s challenging and different, but we had an unprecedented number of celebrity contributors in the last two issues. And we’ve also figured out how we may photograph people. In our June issue, we had something which was very rare for us, an illustrated cover because we thought it was important to support artists at this time. So, sort of our own WPA kind of effect. But I believe we’ll be photographing people sooner rather than later. We were also lucky in that we had shot a lot of stuff for our magazine previously. It hasn’t thus far been a problem.

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Samir Husni: How do you see the direction of the magazine moving forward beyond the pandemic? Do you think it will be a new day or life will go back to the way it was for EW? JD Heyman: That’s an interesting question and I think I have to use my very narrow experience of history as a guide. Earlier in my career, I went through the 2008 recession. And what we learned out of that experience as editors was that consumer habits do change and there are some permanent changes that happen in a big adjustment such as this. The big lesson for us from 2008 was that you have to be as close to the audience as possible. You have to listen to them and be engaged in a dialogue with them, because their habits do shift. They shift because they have less disposable income or they get their information in different ways, so what that taught me was that while the experience of a magazine is as relevant as ever the quality of that experience has to go everdeeper. Our job is to build an affinity with our audience in every way we can —constantly. Our job is to be really as close to them as possible. When I took over this job, I’ve been in constant conversation with readers about what they like and don’t like and I have tried to be responsive to that.

On how he sees the magazine moving forward beyond the pandemic: That’s an interesting question and I think I have to use my very narrow experience of history as a guide. Earlier in my career, I went through the 2008 recession. And what we learned out of that experience as editors was that consumer habits do change and there are some permanent changes that happen in a big adjustment such as this.

On the other hand, the lesson is not to be led by larger trends. If you’re using your brain correctly in this business, you take the data, the information you have, and you lead. You create a place that feels distinctive. I believe that in our business it’s not a search for every single eyeball, but the right eyeballs for your brand. And to build that as a distinctive and unique home forpeople. The best magazines in history are the ones that feel like a trusted friend with a particular point of view and are in dialogue with their audience. I kind of boil it down to making unique, memorable, shareable content. Is what I’m telling you something you’ll share? Does it feel like value added to your life? If I’m asking you to buy something that costs money to make, is it a good value proposition for you? Looking at this particular crisis

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On any challenges he has faced during the pandemic that he’s still dealing with: Oh sure, there were things that we really had to rethink, such as photography. A lot of what we do is experiential. In addition to doing our magazine, EW is really good at leading panels and talks, creating experiences at film festivals and television festivals where we go and interview celebrities and engage with fans. We have a big thing every year at Comic-Con in San Diego, obviously that’s not happening, so we have to come up with alternatives for people. Looking at the medium-term, we have to create a robust array of experiences for people that replaces going out to be part of a conversation.

I would say our job is to triple-down on making a quality product that feels enhancing to the lives of its audience; to do that in print, which is a vivid, beautiful medium and really a billboard in every town in America for what you do; to do that digitally in terms of having a sense of relevance and urgency in storytelling, and to do that in new platforms as they evolve. I think of this content as a cloud that I take and seed different plots of earth with. I rarely think about the platform first —except for what best serves that technology. A magazine after all is just a form of technology. And it should be delightful and a deluxe experience. And for the people who get it, it should feel like a magazine for a special club. Anyone who reads EW should feel part of a club. We share a certain language; we have certain things we like; we enjoy reading and culture and art and we’re funny. The EW reader has a wiseacre kind of view, a sort of wry view of life. And while they are diverse, they share a sensibility. My old publisher used to say they are a psychographic not a demographic. They’re the cool kids in the cafeteria who always know what’s going on. We want to deepen that culture for them. Samir Husni: Have you faced any challenges during this pandemic that you failed to overcome or are still dealing with? JD Heyman: Oh sure, there were things that we really had to rethink, such as photography. A lot of what we do is experiential. In addition to doing our magazine, EW is really good at leading panels and talks, creating experiences at film festivals and television festivals where we go and interview celebrities and engage with fans. We have a big thing every year at Comic-Con in San Diego, obviously that’s not happening, so we have to come up with alternatives for people. Looking at the medium-term, we have to create a robust array of experiences for people that replaces going out to be part of a conversation.

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If you would have asked me a year ago where I believed a lot of growth in our industry would be, it would be in these experiences of bringing people together. Obviously, I still believe that, but the ways that we bring people together will naturally have to change. And we’re in dynamic conversation with people all the time about how to do that. The good thing is that the best metric of all is conversational. If you’re having a good conversation with someone, as I am with you, then that is interesting to other people. And conversation, if you look at the growth of podcasting and everything that you see in today’s culture, it’s really less about here’s a big movie star, we have five minutes of her time, we’ll do a great piece on her and spend a lot of money on photography. The audience is far more sophisticated now. They know what TV writers do; they want to know how to make movies. They know far more about the process than the public of a generation ago.

On anything he’d like to add: The main job of an editor anywhere, but certainly at EW, is to create great storytelling. Magazines are an interesting array of ideas, packaged in a dynamic and exciting way for an audience. And that idea is as relevant and as exciting as it ever was.

They’re much more interested in how everything works. And in feeling like they’re peers and equals in that conversation rather than the magazine editor coming up with an idea and dispensing that idea to the public. That’s an old idea of doing things. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? JD Heyman: The main job of an editor anywhere, but certainly at EW, is to create great storytelling. Magazines are an interesting array of ideas, packaged in a dynamic and exciting way for an audience. And that idea is as relevant and as exciting as it ever was. I never think on any day that I go to work, whether it’s in my house or at my office, that I don’t have an incredibly interesting, creative job, but it really does start from the audience. All innovation really comes from the audience. And the best magazine-makers get as close to that audience as possible.

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On what keeps him up at night:

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

My son is deciding where he’s going to college, so that keeps me up at night. What keeps me up at night? Everything. No, I think as a culture and as a world we are in a very fragmented state. And sometimes our media increases that sense of fragmentation — actually quite often. And what keeps me up at night is whether the next several generations will rediscover shared experience. The best part of our media is in its opportunity to bring people together.

JD Heyman: My son is deciding where he’s going to college, so that keeps me up at night. What keeps me up at night? Everything. No, I think as a culture and as a world we are in a very fragmented state. And sometimes our media increases that sense of fragmentation —actually quite often. And what keeps me up at night is whether the next several generations will rediscover shared experience. The best part of our media is in its opportunity to bring people together. To inform, engage and enlighten people, not just to agitate and alienate people. There should be another kind of algorithm in our media that isn’t based on outrage. What I hope for is that people who are in the media business, and the consumers who buy their products, are engaged in this higher conversation—beyond what we’re able to monetize. I think we should always remember that this is an extremely important role and we should all be thinking about how to bring community together, particularly as the world comes out of this crisis. I worry a lot about what community will look like. People being together is important. All media has a role to play in that. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Sue Holt

Managing Director, ITP Consumer, ITP Live and ITP Gaming (United Arab Emirates) “We can get through this and will.”

Magazines fall under the umbrella of “Credible Journalism” very easily. Just ask Sue Holt Managing Director of ITP Media Group (ITP), the Middle East’s largest publisher of international multi-platform magazine brands. She manages a team of over 250+ editorial, digital, advertising, marketing and event team members including Time Out Dubai, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, GQ Middle East, ArabianBusiness.com, Condé Nast Traveler and Cosmopolitan ME. During this pandemic, Sue says that credible journalism is more important than ever. “People want and need information and entertainment from trusted sources. Magazines and credible journalism have made magazine media arguably more relevant in the current landscape.” I reached out to Sue recently to ask her how the company and she and her team were operating during these uncertain times. She answered that while ITP had reduced its hours, they were still producing quality content and hosting many important and innovative digital content with relevance to the world we live in today. Samir Husni: How is ITP Consumer, United Arab Emirates operating during the pandemic? publishing during a pandemic

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On how ITP Consumer (UAE) is operating during the pandemic: ITP has reduced its working hours to 3 days a week or 25 hours per week across shifts for editors/digital content team. This was in order that we could ensure no losses and our teams would receive some pay at least. We have also deployed our events team (as there are no events expected until September 2020) and they are learning new skills such as digital marketing, content creation, research etc. On how easy, hard or disruptive the move to working from home was: Easy in terms of most things can now be done digitally such as meetings, coordination of schedules etc. Difficult regarding content creation and keeping the content fresh and exciting. On the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, events, etc. of the company: We have cancelled all of our events until September 2020 and now reformatting these as online conferences, forums etc. We have reduced the print

Sue Holt: ITP has reduced its working hours to 3 days a week or 25 hours per week across shifts for editors/digital content team. This was in order that we could ensure no losses and our teams would receive some pay at least. We have also deployed our events team (as there are no events expected until September 2020) and they are learning new skills such as digital marketing, content creation, research etc. Everyone is mainly working from home, however on occasion our production managers or photography team will go into the office with government passes for exceptions. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home? Sue Holt: Easy in terms of most things can now be done digitally such as meetings, co-ordination of schedules etc. Difficult regarding content creation and keeping the content fresh and exciting. Obviously, also pages such as photoshoots with models etc. are proving challenging operationally. Samir Husni: What is the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, events, etc.? Sue Holt: We have cancelled all of our events until September 2020 and now reformatting these as online conferences, forums etc. We have reduced the print cycle of most of our print publications as the print distribution and printing has been effected with printers closed for now in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We have also offered ‘at home’ subscriptions so people still receive the physical magazines. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and do you think anyone could ever prepare for something like this? Sue Holt: No. I’m not sure what we could’ve done to be

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prepared aside from arranging the tech side for more flexibility working from home. This was, however, done quite quickly (2-3 days and the whole company of 500 people had it set up). Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your staff, advertisers, and readers during these uncertain times? Sue Holt: To our readers we just want to say that we have one of the largest business magazine news-sites in the region – ArabianBusiness.com – and we are ensuring that we are correctly and responsibly reporting the Covid-19 facts and how they relate to the region, plus what other businesses are doing to get through this. From other magazines, such as women’s lifestyle, we are hosting digital retreats with relevant subjects, such as mental health, wellness and cooking. Positive messages and how we are all in this together are particularly important. To our advertisers, initially we struggled with this as there is a fine line between us still wanting to do business and generate revenue, but also being sympathetic to our clients who have been deeply impacted. We learned very quickly which clients wanted to discuss creative ways to still operate and promote themselves during this time, and which ones didn’t want to have a discussion now, and which ones are still planning for an upturn in Q4-2020. And to our staff, we are in constant communication with our teams and are trying to keep them motivated during this time. We have organized a ‘Creative Challenge’ across all the offices (UAE, Saudi, U.K., India, Qatar, LA) where people work with people they don’t normally work with to generate interesting creative commercial solutions for now and postcrisis with prizes such as free Deliveroo, online supermarket shopping vouchers etc. This is something we had always spoken about but never had time for previously and has been well received as an initiative.

cycle of most of our print publications as the print distribution and printing has been effected with printers closed for now in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We have also offered ‘at home’ subscriptions so people still receive the physical magazines. On whether she had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic and if she thinks someone could prepare for something like it: No. I’m not sure what we could’ve done to be prepared aside from arranging the tech side for more flexibility working from home. This was, however, done quite quickly (2-3 days and the whole company of 500 people had it set up). On what message she is communicating with her readers during these uncertain times: To our readers we just want to say that we have one of the largest business magazine news-sites in the region – ArabianBusiness. com – and we are ensuring that we are correctly and responsibly reporting the Covid-19 facts and how they relate to the region, plus what other businesses are doing to get through this. From other magazines,

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such as women’s lifestyle, we are hosting digital retreats with relevant subjects, such as mental health, wellness and cooking. Positive messages and how we are all in this together are particularly important. On what makes magazine media relevant today: People want and need information and entertainment from trusted sources. Magazines and credible journalism have made magazine media arguably more relevant in the current landscape. On any additional words of wisdom: As an industry we may be suffering due to the loss in advertising revenue but this is short term and the increased digital readership and engagement is something we should be extremely proud of and focus on the retention of once we come out of this.

Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? Sue Holt: People want and need information and entertainment from trusted sources. Magazines and credible journalism have made magazine media arguably more relevant in the current landscape. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Sue Holt: As an industry we may be suffering due to the loss in advertising revenue but this is short term and the increased digital readership and engagement is something we should be extremely proud of and focus on the retention of once we come out of this. In the Gulf region we are also heavily reliant on advertising / sponsorship revenue – we need to diversify our business and this situation has now made this a bigger priority. Samir Husni: And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Sue Holt: Nothing. We can get through this and will. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On what keeps her up at night: Nothing. We can get through this and will.

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN Joe Hyrkin Issuu’s CEO “What we’re seeing is this resilience among publishers who are getting their content out there and are continuing to publish.” The pandemic has paused us all in many of the same ways. Working from home, staying at home, and social distancing ourselves from friends and family that do not live with us. It has caused tragic and enormous loss of life all around the globe. But while we feel and see all the horrible toll this disease has caused, there has to be hope for the future; hope for better days to come. In fact there is a framed poster in my office with the phrase “There is Always Hope” in every language you can imagine. Joe Hyrkin is CEO of Issuu, the world’s leading Omni channel content tools and publishing digital platform. And while like all of us, Joe has seen the extreme rapidity of working from home and caring for the health and welfare of his employees, he’s also digging for the positive that can come out of this awful nightmare. The caring for others on the personal side, and the creativity and innovation he’s seen from his resilient employees on the professional side. I spoke with Joe recently and we talked about all of this, the dark days of the disease and the brighter tomorrow we all have faith is coming. While one of the biggest challenges for publishers, he believes, is advertising, he feels there’s going to have to be a whole lot more creativity around how publishers work with advertisers in the midst of all this.

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On how Issuu is operating during the pandemic: There’s two pieces, one is just the general operations of how the business is running. And on the operations side, we moved to all remote about three weeks ago. We have offices in Palo Alto, Copenhagen, Berlin, and then we have a few people scattered around the United States who are already working remotely. But we now have everyone working from home.

Samir Husni: In the doom and gloom environment that we’re living in today, both in the media world and in our everyday reality, how is Issuu operating during this pandemic? Joe Hyrkin: There’s two pieces, one is just the general operations of how the business is running. And on the operations side, we moved to all remote about three weeks ago. We have offices in Palo Alto, Copenhagen, Berlin, and then we have a few people scattered around the United States who are already working remotely. But we now have everyone working from home. In which case, we’re doing a lot more Zooms. In fact, in the middle of March we had hoped to have a full offsite planning meeting for the next two quarters, and usually we do those in person, in Copenhagen. And people from the U.S., Copenhagen and Berlin all work together for a week on all the planning. That was scheduled for the second week in March, and we kept waiting to see if we were going to be able to do that, or if we should start planning our business remotely. We ended up moving it to Zoom. The big challenge is there is a nine hour time difference between California and Copenhagen, so operating, and this is a group that has to work together because we’re planning all the details, so what we did was start the meetings early in the morning here. They ran from 6:00 a.m. here in California to 1:00 p.m., which meant it was late afternoon into the evening in Copenhagen. We took an hour break so that people could have dinner with their families. And in fact, for the sole purpose of planning, we delivered meals to people’s homes so they would have time to have a meal with their families during these planning sessions. There’s this great feature in Zoom called “Raise Your Hand,” so having a meeting with 10 or 12 people, we used thatfeature and had someone moderating it. It was really productive.

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We started doing that the week before everyone began working remotely. So, we had a bit of a head start. We’ve done everything remotely since then.

On the business model during the pandemic:

We’ve now had two company-wide meetings. One of the things that I’ve done differently is we usually haven monthly all-hands meetings, where people come together in the three main offices, it’s at the same time, 8:00 a.m. in California, 5:00 p.m. in Europe. We’re now doing two of those a month, just to get people together more frequently. I’ve started doing Zoom for office hours, twice a week to talk about anything, so anyone who wants to talk is more than welcome to do that. We’ve just made a lot of effort to connect with people and communicate with them much more throughout this whole process. Samir Husni: What about the business model? Joe Hyrkin: On the business side, and this is all tied to operations too, one of the things that I’ve been reminding everybody, and I think it’s important for every company and every business, is don’t conflate what’s happening in your company with what you’re reading in the press. There’s going to be a lot of challenges and huge downturns in advertising, some companies are doing better than others, understand what’s happening in your own company before you just assume it’s going to be lumped in with e verything else. For us, it’s been really interesting. We don’t rely on advertising, it’s a small piece of our revenue as we’ve talked about. The bulk of our business is our customers paying us for access to additional tools and services. What we’ve found is we’re actually growing in the midst of this. We’re being very careful; we’ve reduced prices in some areas; we’ve made a number of the features that we used to charge for free, particularly for magazine publishers. We’ve made “Collaborate,” the flat planning system freely

On the business side, and this is all tied to operations too, one of the things that I’ve been reminding everybody, and I think it’s important for every company and every business, is don’t conflate what’s happening in your company with what you’re reading in the press. There’s going to be a lot of challenges and huge downturns in advertising, some companies are doing better than others, understand what’s happening in your own company before you just assume it’s going to be lumped in with everything else. For us, it’s been really interesting. We don’t rely on advertising, it’s a small piece of our revenue as we’ve talked about. The bulk of our business is our customers paying us for access to additional tools and services. What we’ve found is we’re actually growing in the midst of this. We’re being very careful; we’ve reduced prices in some areas; we’ve made a number of the features that we used to charge for free, particularly for magazine publishers.

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On many major publishers saying their plans have not really changed yet, but that they are doing a lot of content on their digital platforms: For us, more people are using Issuu digital sales now as a way to generate revenue. We’re finding more people using Issuu Collaborate. It’s a great flat planning system, but it also helps in terms of managing collaborators, managing remote workers, managing their contributions, their things coming in on time. It’s always been used for that, but now it’s even more important because there is increasingly no centralized location for publishers. Right now the centralized location is online and on Zoom.

available to all Issuu customers. We used to charge a 30 percent rev share for folks who used Issuu digital sales, but we’re not charging the rev share anymore, we’re letting them keep all of that revenue. What we keep finding is increasingly, particularly magazines and newspapers because they can’t print anymore, printing facilities are closed, even if they’re not closed they’re normal means of distributing the printed paper is no longer available. Their concerns around printed stuff related to Covid-19 has to do with is the virus on it and are people passing their germs around. So, what we’re seeing is this resilience among publishers who are getting their content out there and are continuing to publish. So, they have been moving to Issuu. We’ve seen a number of, particularly university publishers, issuing press releases telling people that they will keep publishing and they’re moving everything to Issuu. There’s an interesting local magazine, the Merritt Herald in British Columbia, they did an entire editorial on moving strictly to digital copies due to Covid-19, which are available on their website through Issuu. We also saw The Kenyon Collegian do that through our Issuu webpage. What we’re finding is more and more publishers are continuing to create that magazine and newspaper experience and they’re highlighting their use of us. It’s a great responsibility for us; our role in all of this is we have to keep running and operating, making sure that we’re delivering even more for publishers to get their content out. Samir Husni: Yet every CEO and every publisher that I have spoken with so far have told me that they haven’t changed anything, as far as their frequency, or print? So far the plans are to continue as is. And they’re doing a lot on their digital side, publishing a lot of their content there. Joe Hyrkin: For us, more people are using Issuu digital sales now as a way to generate revenue. We’re finding more people

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using Issuu Collaborate. It’s a great flat planning system, but it also helps in terms of managing collaborators, managing remote workers, managing their contributions, their things coming in on time. It’s always been used for that, but now it’s even more important because there is increasingly no centralized location for publishers. Right now the centralized location is online and on Zoom. We’re also seeing people share and distribute that content through the different channels more: Facebook, Instagram; we’re seeing more creativity around what they can do with digital. I think the big challenge for all the publishers is advertising. We’re seeing these huge cuts: travel, airlines. If you were relying on travel and hospitality to fuel your advertising, you’re going to have to find that somewhere else. There’s going to have to be a whole lot more creativity around how publishers work with advertisers in the midst of all this. The big challenge that I’m finding is we just don’t know how long this is all going to last. So, if it’s going to be a month, okay we can keep things pretty much the way they were operating before, we don’t have to make a huge number of changes, we’ll be back to normal in a month. But we don’t know. We don’t know what’s going to happen to the businesses that were advertising, both big and small. Samir Husni: Did you ever envision something like this happening, even in your worst nightmares? The entire world shutting down?

On whether he ever envisioned something like this happening, even in his worst nightmares: No. But not only that, it’s the speed in which we’ve done it. Just think about it. Two months ago. Your ACT 10 Experience was fully scheduled six weeks ago, and I was planning on being there this April. I wasn’t even questioning it. I think it’s amazing how radically the world has changed in a matter of weeks. It’s totally unimaginable. There was a well-known movie about an epidemic, I can’t remember what it was called, but the writer of that script was recently quoted as saying, I couldn’t have written the script to align with what’s been happening in the world right now, because no one would have believed it. It would have been too farfetched.

Joe Hyrkin: No. But not only that, it’s the speed in which we’ve done it. Just think about it. Two months ago. Your ACT 10 Experience was fully scheduled six weeks ago, and I was planning on being there this April. I wasn’t even questioning it. I think it’s amazing how radically the world has changed in a matter of weeks. It’s totally unimaginable. There was a well-known movie about an epidemic, I can’t remember what it was called, but the writer of that script was recently quoted as saying, I couldn’t have written the script to align with

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On whether he thinks everything will go back to the traditional way of doing business after the pandemic is over or the work-from-home directive has given him room for thought:

what’s been happening in the world right now, because no one would have believed it. It would have been too farfetched.

I think most businesses, most not all, are designed to revolve around people operating together in some fashion, but we’re all learning that there’s a lot more flexibility available to us. The biggest challenge that I’m finding with my company right now, my team, is people who have school aged children, particularly elementary schoolchildren and younger, are really struggling. One of the things that I do think will come out of it operationally will be a lot more openness to flexibility, so even when we do go back to the office, I think there will be an openness to flexibility and to connecting with each other and employees more. There’s an empathy that we’re all learning for each other.

Joe Hyrkin: I think most businesses, most not all, are designed to revolve around people operating together in some fashion, but we’re all learning that there’s a lot more flexibility available to us. The biggest challenge that I’m finding with my company right now, my team, is people who have school aged children, particularly elementary schoolchildren and younger, are really struggling.

Samir Husni: As CEO of a major digital company, do you think you’ll return to your traditional way of doing work after this is over? Or has the work-from-home directive given you room for thought?

They’re trying to balance being with their family all day, childcare that they now have to do themselves, and they’re having to learn how to homeschool. I have brilliant engineers and brilliant marketers who are really good at what they do every day in the office, they don’t know how to homeschool. We’re demanding culturally, there is a huge demand on people, to be able to figure out how to balance their home life with homeschooling and trying to get their work done. And we’re trying to be as flexible as we can. We understand that people are challenged with all of these things. And we know some of the work is going to come late. We’re asking people who have a little extra time to help. We’re moving deadlines in certain instances and we’re having everyone reach out to their manager or the exec staff if they’re too challenged; let’s talk through it and be flexible. One of the things that I do think will come out of it operationally will be a lot more openness to flexibility, so even when we do go back to the office, I think there will be an openness to flexibility and to connecting with each other and employees more. There’s an empathy that we’re all learning for each other. The other thing that’s interesting is doing

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everything by Zoom, we’re all seeing into each other’s homes. You meet people in the office, you see them with their tie, you see them however they operate, then suddenly we’re seeing people’s bookshelves or their art in their homes. If they have children, put them in your lap for the Zoom, we’re encouraging that, it’s totally fine. There is a humanness that is one of the silver linings to this process. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what’s keeping you up at night these days? Joe Hyrkin: How long is this going to last. And it was interesting for the first couple of weeks, working at home and learning how to use Zoom and those sorts of things, but how do we support the individuals in the company who are most challenged by it, with childcare, as we talked about. With aging parents in some instances. With the distance that people have with their families. There is an extra layer of stress that all of my employees have; some people talk about it, some don’t, but this is on everybody’s mind. And in some instances it weighs pretty heavily on them. Then what will be the follow-on economic fallout. I think we’re all kind of in the middle of what’s happening right now, day-to-day, but once we do start to go back to work and when we discover the new normal, whatever that may be, what kind of economic environment are we going to be walking back into? We’re going to see so many stores closed, businesses closed. In my neck of the woods, in Silicon Valley, we’re going to see many well-funded startups that are going to fail. What is the overall impact going to be on how we’re operating?

On what keeps him up at night: How long is this going to last. And it was interesting for the first couple of weeks, working at home and learning how to use Zoom and those sorts of things, but how do we support the individuals in the company who are most challenged by it, with childcare, as we talked about. With aging parents in some instances. With the distance that people have with their families. There is an extra layer of stress that all of my employees have; some people talk about it, some don’t, but this is on everybody’s mind. And in some instances it weighs pretty heavily on them.

When this started, the economy was in really good shape, people talk about that, and now it’s being discussed as a health crisis. What keeps me up at night related to this is, yes it’s a health crisis and we’re going to start to see real economic challenges as well, but will we be able to bounce back from that quickly? The flip side is the best companies,

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the best innovations, some of the best creativity manifests out of these challenges. If we look back at the 2008 financial crisis, so many interesting creative products and businesses and ways of operating evolved out of that. So, I am excited to see what manifests; what new products and what new ways of operating come out of this. I think for publishers, in a certain way, this could potentially be a really golden time, because they are able to connect with their audience more so now than ever before. People actually have the time to read the stuff they care about. People are going to develop new passions and new hobbies. There’s going to be opportunities that come out of this that is not all doom and gloom. One of the things I always love about talking to you is you have this great perspective on the longevity of the magazine world. It has gone through all kinds of upheavals, from wars to Depressions to digital, to on and on. And yet it keeps going. So, what will the new evolutions of this category, of this sort of ecosystem of journalism and print content; where is that going to go? That’s an exciting thing, I think. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER SIXTEEN

The Oprah Magazine’s Senior Vice President, Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer, Jayne Jamison; Editor In Chief, Lucy Kaylin; & Digital Director, Arianna Davis. O The Oprah Magazine At 20: Celebrating hope and bloom in the midst of doom and gloom.

Jayne Jamison

From the vault: At the O, The Oprah Magazine launch party. I took a few pictures of Oprah (never published them before now) and received a boxed copy of the magazine signed by her. Happy 20th anniversary. Wish it was a different time, but “this too shall pass.” One thing I know for sure is that O, The Oprah Magazine, with no competition in the marketplace, has been spreading the “you can do it” message for 20 years strong now. Even in the midst of this pandemic, the message of the magazine and its namesake is still the same: “Live Your Best Life.” Oprah Winfrey is such a positive force in the world today and her magazine is just as upbeat and hopeful. During a pandemic, Oprah’s message and that of the magazine’s has never been needed more. And on top of everything else, this is the 20th anniversary of O, the Oprah Magazine. I was lucky enough to be at the O, The Oprah Magazine launch party 20 years ago, where I received a boxed copy of the magazine signed by her. What an amazing event and gift!

Lucy Kaylin

Arianna Davis

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On operating during a pandemic: We’re trying to engage where we can. There are some clients who have put their ad plans on pause; there are clients who are moving forward and are highly engaged with us, so it really depends on the category of business that we’re talking about. CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) people are very active and interested.

President/Publisher & Chief Revenue Officer), Lucy Kaylin (Editor in Chief), and Arianna Davis (Digital Director), and we talked about publishing during a pandemic, and not only publishing, but celebrating a milestone – the 20th anniversary issue. It was a remarkable round table discussion held virtually, of course, but with true hope, inspiration and honesty. Samir Husni: How are you operating during this pandemic? Jayne Jamison: We’re trying to engage where we can. There are some clients who have put their ad plans on pause; there are clients who are moving forward and are highly engaged with us, so it really depends on the category of business that we’re talking about. CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) people are very active and interested. Obviously, retailers who have furloughed their employees and aren’t opened, even if they have ecommerce, it’s a little more difficult. But we have armed the staff with tons of ideas and we’re doing it through Zoom calls, Webex and Zoom, we’re doing a lot of video calls with our clients, because for us, we’ve always been in a high-touch business, so it’s really hard just to be emailing back and forth without seeing your client’s face and being able to present the concept yourself. So, we’re doing it a lot and it’s working really well, actually, except maybe for my dog barking in the background or a screaming child occasionally. (Laughs) Samir Husni: How easy or difficult was the move to working from home for you? Jayne Jamison: For me, I think it depends on each person and their digital savvy. Some people have a few more issues than others, but if you have a good connection and there are no problems with Internet, it’s a pretty easy system to learn and everybody really got up to speed quickly.

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Before we left we gave everybody a tutorial and on how to use Webex and Zoom. Many of our clients were already using them, especially those who have offices all over the world. So, we got used to it and used to it very quickly. I prefer to be in front of someone, but because we can’t it’s the next best thing really. Samir Husni: As the chief revenue officer of a magazine that’s celebrating 20 years, and not just any magazine, but O, The Oprah Magazine, what’s your plan going forward? You have the 20th anniversary issue, and I assume everything inside it took place before the pandemic hit us, so what’s next? Jayne Jamison: We actually closed the first week in March, so our timing was impeccable on that. Moving forward, it’s hard to say. It all depends on when we are out of the isolation mode, because right now I think a lot of advertisers are waiting for their stores to reopen to spend again. So, we don’t really know. We’re working on things like the summer issues, but we don’t know when we’re going back to work. It’s a hard situation because there is no answer right now, everybody would love to have one, but we don’t. And we’re based in New York, so we’re in the epicenter of this problem. We live in a very high-density area, we have to know that there is going to be testing so that everyone can get back to work.

On what we will find in the 20th anniversary issue: First, we did a really cool inkjetting on the front cover with our partner Olay, and like many of the partners of Oprah Magazine, they have been with us since the beginning. We started with a personalized message from Oprah, which is inkjetted in our Oprah font, her handwriting, so 500,000 subscribers received a personalized cover with an inkjetted message from Oprah. Then you open it up to consistent spreads, for Olay’s spacing, of some of our most iconic covers that we’ve had in the last 20 years, including the one of Oprah wearing a 3.5 pound wig that won an ASME award for the magazine a number of years ago. It’s a really amazing high-impact unit with this custom personalization on the cover.

Samir Husni: What will we find in this 20th anniversary issue of O, The Oprah Magazine? Jayne Jamison: For our brand, it’s all about the engagement. Oprah’s fans are really excited about everything she does. For us, this idea of personal growth is important. When you think about Oprah launching this magazine 20 years ago, it was about mindfulness, the mind/body connection, and about elevating your lives and positive mental health; all of these things are really in the forefront now. And also being the

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most diverse general market magazine in America and the fact that we’ve always had diverse voices. And not just ethnicity, we’re talking about age, sexual orientation, and body shape and size. So, in terms of what America looks like and what America is interested in, this idea of connecting with other human beings, obviously at this moment, that’s hard, but we’ve always been about how to create stronger connections in your life, whether it’s with your family, your work associates, or globally. The people who read this magazine are lifelong learners and they’re very interested in learning about others, people who are different than them, and Oprah is so great about finding the commonalities among people. It’s just been a joy because this is a brand that whatever we do, if we have a custom collaboration with Talbots and we’re trying to drive people into the store, or if it’s Amazon we’re working with, everyone looks to Oprah, she’s the arbiter of taste and she’s the person we go to for inspiration. And if you think about right now, how people need inspiration, for the times, it’s just amazing how this brand has morphed into what everybody is looking for. It’s not something that’s cookie cutter, you don’t have a lot of magazines out there that are competitors. O, The Oprah Magazine doesn’t really have a competitor. We’re not competitive with lifestyle magazines, certainly not Real Simple. We’re certainly not a women’s service magazine, so we have a very unique position and because of that it gives us an audience that’s not duplicative. Samir Husni: Give me three unique things that you feel you’ve achieved with the 20th anniversary issue. Jayne Jamison: First, we did a really cool inkjetting on the front cover with our partner Olay, and like many of the partners of Oprah Magazine, they have been with us since the beginning. We started with a personalized message from Oprah, which is inkjetted in our Oprah font, her handwriting,

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so 500,000 subscribers received a personalized cover with an inkjetted message from Oprah. Then you open it up to consistent spreads, for Olay’s spacing, of some of our most iconic covers that we’ve had in the last 20 years, including the one of Oprah wearing a 3.5 pound wig that won an ASME award for the magazine a number of years ago. It’s a really amazing high-impact unit with this custom personalization on the cover. And what we did on the back cover was with Hallmark. They’re doing a really big digital campaign with us, which is actually launching very soon, and it’s all about connection, which is very timely right now; we actually polybagged a greeting card in the issue. It went specifically to millennial readers, our millennial readership has grown significantly because Oprah obviously resonates a lot with millennials. So we did a card that was all about connection and how you could celebrate Mother’s Day if you’re not with your mother physically. These reader’s will get a card to send to their mothers and it’s going to 100,000 subscribers that the client chose, in addition to running an ad on our third cover and having the big digital campaign. We also have various clients who basically ran ads thanking us for the partnership that we’ve had. There are fashion brands like Bionic Shoes, Lane Bryant, people we have credited throughout the years continuously, and they all ran really nice ads congratulating us and touting the credits that they’ve had in our magazine. So that was really nice too. There’s a lot of really great advertising and content in it. It’s our biggest issue of the year thus far. We had about 66 pages of advertising within the issue, so we had many new advertisers too. But I would say the thank you ads, such as with our partner Holland America, we have a cruise partnership, they took out a spread to thank us for that partnership, those were just so nice because we have a lot of synergy and very deep relationships with many of our core clients.

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Samir Husni: What is your message to your readers, clients and employees during these uncertain times? Jayne Jamison: My message is one of resilience. Every day we have to get up and say this is a new day, we’re going to try again. We’re going to come up with another new idea; we’re going to get one client on the phone that we haven’t been able to connect with. If you’re in this industry, overtime you’ve built up, obviously, a sense of resilience, but this is a lot different, because you have people working from home. So, for me, it’s find the time, and I don’t care when you do it. Some of my staff have children at home and they’re homeschooling, so it’s a matter of trying to balance all the things in their lives. If today is a bad day, we can get to it tomorrow, but I think that resilience is what makes a good salesperson a great salesperson. You never take no for an answer, you always go back and find another option or another idea that’s going to get your clients excited because it’s going to help them grow their business. Samir Husni: Anything you’d like to add? Jayne Jamison: One thing I do want to tell you very badly is my husband is from Memphis, Tenn. and one way I can get my children to Zoom with me is send them food, so we are having Rendezvous BBQ tonight. My kids are all over the place, but everyone got their Rendezvous last night and we’re going to eat together tonight via Zoom. (Laughs) Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Jayne Jamison: The question is when can I get in front of my clients again, face to face. It is a high-touch business and it always has been. That’s really what we’re all craving for, not just obviously clients, but also to be with our staff face to face. You can communicate nicely through a computer,

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but we’re all wondering when can we go back. Will it be this month or next month, the summer? There are so many unanswered questions and we all want to plan the future, but right now we can’t. Samir Husni: Thank you. Up Next Lucy Kaylin: Samir Husni: When I look back and reflect on the first issue of O, The Oprah Magazine from May/June 2000, Oprah’s call to action was “Live your best life,” “Have courage for the next 31 days.” Twenty years later, after showing people how to live their best life, what’s the message today during this pandemic? Lucy Kaylin: To be honest, we’re the perfect companion for something like this. It would be wonderful to avoid anything like this pandemic ever again, but since we find ourselves in this position, we’re the magazine that’s truly there for you in good times and bad. We are very much dedicated to the idea that you really have everything you need inside yourself, in a sense. You have strength that you didn’t realize that you had; you have powers of expression, exploration and imagination. And of course, connecting will now be happening over Zoom and Webex and on the phone, and all the rest, but you still have the power in you to reach out and connect, to comfort and to bring joy to yourself and others again, in good times and bad. That’s really what we counsel all the time, it’s not about the external things, at the end of the day it’s not about what you can buy, even though we do show lovely things that you can buy in the magazine should you want to, but that’s not where the lasting joy is going to come from. Going through what we’re going through now, we’re just eager and delighted to be providing yet more of that inspiration and counsel. And also great ideas that we can share with readers on how to make even a time like this a

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On how she is ensuring that the magazine is relevant, needed and sufficient in today’s uncertain times: I think it’s more relevant than ever. This is not a time to put your head under the pillow or allow yourself to be paralyzed with fear. We are all about the connection in its various forms. One of the things that we’re finding as we endure this surreal circumstance is that we are desperate to connect. And that even means connecting in our way with people on the other side of the world. We have an enhanced sense of people everywhere going through what we’re going through and we care a lot.

rich and fulfilling one, where you ultimately find out new things about yourself. Samir Husni: How are you ensuring that the magazine is relevant, needed and sufficient in today’s uncertain times? Lucy Kaylin: For the reasons I just said, I think it’s more relevant than ever. This is not a time to put your head under the pillow or allow yourself to be paralyzed with fear. We are all about the connection in its various forms. One of the things that we’re finding as we endure this surreal circumstance is that we are desperate to connect. And that even means connecting in our way with people on the other side of the world. We have an enhanced sense of people everywhere going through what we’re going through and we care a lot. And it’s the kind of thing that we are very focused on at O, The Oprah Magazine. We are always finding ways to shine our light and to use ourselves in ways that will be, not only joyful for us, but helpful for others. We need it now more than ever, so I think the relevance is rather acute at the moment. Samir Husni: There was a quote you made once that Oprah taught you not to overthink or do something just to check it off your list. How are you handling that to-do list with your team during this pandemic? Lucy Kaylin: Thank goodness for the apps, the technology that we all have to make that happen. The first few days were really harry, where we were just kind of scrambling, shooting off emails like crazy, with me getting messages to the team and delivering edits that way, which was a very cumbersome way to work. Soon enough, of course, we’re all up on Slack and we have the opportunity to see each other and we have the opportunity through Slack to look at pages together, look at layouts together, and we all talk and share and brainstorm almost as if we’re in the office together at the Hearst Tower.

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We’re also planning some ways to be social together. One of the things that I’ve been doing is check-ins with small teams because it’s sort of hard to do with 35 people, but I just had a check-in with my copy and research department on Slack and I’m having a check-in with the fashion department, with the books department and a check-in with the beauty department, etc. So, it’s a way to at least maintain some personal contact with my wonderful staffers and just stay in touch. We have a tradition of something called an “Obar,” which is when we close an issue or there’s something to celebrate, we break open some wine and have some cheese, we just have a really fun time at the office just being together. Obviously, we can’t do it quite the same way this time, but we’re going to have a Zoom Obar next week which I’m excited about. There is going to be some fun and games that will help us feel like we’re together. Samir Husni: The 20th anniversary issue is themed “Visionaries,” and you’ve been with the magazine now for over a decade; did you ever imagine anything like this happening, that you would be publishing during a pandemic? Lucy Kaylin: No, I certainly never imagined it. It blows my mind every time I think about it, that this isn’t just some terrible thing that New York City is going through, it’s happening all over the world. Obviously, it has just compromised business on all levels in the worst ways. And even though that’s terrible, I’m quick to be grateful for everything I have to be thankful for and all of us at Hearst are more grateful than we could possibly say, that we have our jobs through this. And that the company has been really quite wonderful in terms of putting the employees first through this terrible circumstance. Samir Husni: What’s Oprah’s and your message through the pages of the magazine during this pandemic?

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On where she sees things heading after the pandemic is behind us: That’s a good question. I feel like we’re going to have to see when this fog dissipates and then try to tell where we are, because one thing I think this has done for us is force us to work in a new way, but it has also encouraged us to think in a new way. To think about what are some of the things, the practices, maybe even the crutches, that we’ve used over the years that we really don’t need.

Lucy Kaylin: You know Samir, I do not write a letter from the editor, that’s Oprah’s role and Oprah definitely writes for the magazine, she’s very of-the-moment and exceedingly aware, concerned and compassionate in regards to whatever the world is going through. And that’s reflected in what she’s writing. In fact, I was just proofing a “Here We Go” section and we added a box underneath the picture this month that is a shout-out to the photo team that pulled off some stories this month under unbelievable circumstances. For instance, we had the fabulous team of Gentl and Hyers doing a food story and they made the food themselves, they shot it themselves in a very different and strict-down way. And the people who did the fashion story, I think the photographer’s girlfriend was the model and she did her own hair and makeup. People are finding incredibly creative ways to get this work done. And we make sure that our readers know what went into it, who came up with great ideas and sacrificed to bring them the content they love. Samir Husni: As you move forward, what do you think is next? Try to look into your crystal ball, through the fog and tell me what you see. Lucy Kaylin: That’s a good question. I feel like we’re going to have to see when this fog dissipates and then try to tell where we are, because one thing I think this has done for us is force us to work in a new way, but it has also encouraged us to think in a new way. To think about what are some of the things, the practices, maybe even the crutches, that we’ve used over the years that we really don’t need. For instance, does the entire team need to be joined at the hip, Monday through Friday, all day, every day, to put out this magazine. Is there something creative we can do, a sort of rotating cast of people on the premises and then some remote, just that sort of thing.

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There are learnings here, and that’s exciting. If this has taught us anything, we know now that we have to be agile and we have to be able to get by on very little sometimes. We can’t just assume that we’ll have the resources and the luxury, the incredible luxury, to all just sit around together and bang out ideas. We have to think in terms of new ways of working. And we have to always be adhering to our mission at O, which is to help women live their best lives, no matter what befalls them. Sometimes it’s personal tragedy and difficult circumstances in one’s own life and sometimes it’s something like this. Our mission is vast and ongoing and we’re proud to be of service with that mission. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Lucy Kaylin: Just be kind to each other, connect in every way you possibly can, and also know that lovingly-made media, along the lines of monthly magazines like O, are a great way to foster a connection. You can reconnect with you and you can connect through what you’re learning in O and what inspires you in O and share it with others. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Lucy Kaylin: Aside from a global pandemic? And a completely ravaged stock market and the fact that both of my kids are on the West Coast; what’s keeping me up at night? It’s really just my normal insomnia, Samir. Even in good times I’m up a few hours in the middle of every night. I’m choosing to be grateful for the opportunity to use those hours for reflection, because we live in a world where that is required to maintain your equilibrium. We really need to hunker down and reflect. And whether that’s at 3:30 in the morning or on a lazy Sunday, it’s something I strongly encourage. Samir Husni: Thank you. And last, but certainly not least, Arianna Davis:

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On the impact of the pandemic on the website: The lens that we look at everything through is whether or not this will inspire our reader or helping them with their best life. If it’s a celebrity news story, we still want to make sure that the story is told from a positive perspective. That there is a point beyond contributing to the celebrity news cycle. Or the flip side of that, really digging in and finding the reported story or the essay that’s going to move our reader or stay with her for a long time.

Samir Husni: In the midst of this pandemic, what role is oprahmag.com playing today in spreading Oprah’s message and the magazine as a whole? Arianna Davis: There has always been an online presence in some way or another for the magazine. For a long time there was oprah.com, which was a bit more of a marketing site for things happening in Oprah’s world. There was some coverage of the magazine, but it wasn’t its own editorial site. So, in 2018 Hearst decided it was the right time. It was coming on the heels of Oprah’s infamous Golden Globe speech where she inspired a lot of hope in people and talked about the Me Too movement. It was really an inspirational moment. And the magazine was so successful, I think Hearst decided it was time that the magazine have its own editorial website. We launched in October 2018. The magazine has been around so long and is incredibly rich with the kind of stories you really want to sit down and spend your time with. The online edition is more of what’s happening right now, looking through the lens of living your best life, while the print magazine is an inspirational tool for what you may want to do later with the sense of Oprah’s positivity. There are a few things that we’re able to do online that the magazine may not gear as much toward, which is news stories, even some celebrity content, but also most of the great content from the magazine goes online. We also do a lot of personal essays, the same kind of inspirational, riveting content that you’ll see in the magazine. It’s definitely the same ecosystem as the print magazine, we’re just able to do things a bit more timely since we can get a story up on the same day. Samir Husni: Has it been easier or harder to do the digital when you’re isolating and social distancing from your team? Arianna Davis: That’s a good question. I wouldn’t say easier or harder, it’s been different. Digitally, we had the tools that

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we needed in order to create content. Our team works on Slack, so we were used to messaging each other using that platform. We file all of our stories using that messenger service and we had access to our CMS, so everything workwise could definitely be done digitally. Just like every other industry right now, what our team is missing is that time together, having meetings, brainstorming face-to-face, just seeing everyone every day, that’s the piece we’re missing a bit of. But we’ve definitely been able to be just as productive working remotely. We just don’t get that face time. But we having been doing Zoom calls and lots of key meetings via Zoom, so I’ve been very thankful for the technology during this time. Samir Husni: What has been the impact of the pandemic on the website? Arianna Davis: The lens that we look at everything through is whether or not this will inspire our reader or helping them with their best life. If it’s a celebrity news story, we still want to make sure that the story is told from a positive perspective. That there is a point beyond contributing to the celebrity news cycle. Or the flip side of that, really digging in and finding the reported story or the essay that’s going to move our reader or stay with her for a long time. That being said, we’ve never really done breaking news. We know that we’re not CNN or a newspaper, we’re more in the lifestyle and inspirational space. But when the pandemic hit, it was definitely tricky for us to find the balance. When we were publishing some of our typical content, we saw that it wasn’t getting as much traffic as it normally might. People weren’t clicking on the inspirational content at that time because all everyone wanted to read about was the Coronavirus to a point of near hysteria, everyone was so worried. So, we had to pivot our content to figure out how we could

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On what the 20th anniversary digital counterpart will look like: Much of the content from the 20th anniversary issue will be going online and there will be an oral history of the magazine and how it came to be and how the magazine has progressed through the years. It’s a really delightful story that I think readers will love that we’re going to do online in a big way.

be helpful and make sure we were providing our reader withstories that could help her, but at the same time not turn into a newsroom where we were just delivering bad news all day long, which was what most of the news cycle was at the time. So, we pivoted some of our typical service content. Maybe it might have been: How To Be Productive When Working From Home, or giving tips to our readers on how to work from home while your child is also at home and your husband is home, and how do you find time for you. We just had to rethink our topics and our strategies a little. Just make sure we were providing service that was meaningful and timely. Samir Husni: As the 20th anniversary issue comes out in print, what’s the digital counterpart going to be like? Arianna Davis: Much of the content from the 20th anniversary issue will be going online and there will be an oral history of the magazine and how it came to be how the magazine has progressed through the years. It’s a really delightful story that I think readers will love that we’re going to do online in a big way. But in addition to that we have a series called the “OG Chronicles,” which features Oprah and Gayle. It started out as kind of an advice column where they were on video answering questions and it has progressed to them sometimes playing fun games or interviewing each other. Oprah’s signature column in the magazine is “What I Know For Sure,” so we have a fun game, a lightning-round version of “What I Know For Sure,” where we asked Oprah and Gayle to each tell us what they know for sure about 20 different topics in 10 seconds or less. So, that’s a fun additional moment for the 20th anniversary. We’re also covering all of the visionaries that they’ve been doing throughout the year with special extras, sometimes

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extra questions that they didn’t have space for in the magazine and we’re really celebrating those visionaries in a big way as well. The 20th anniversary will definitely be a big moment on the website in addition to print. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be publishing or working during a pandemic? Arianna Davis: No, I never imagined a pandemic. I don’t think anyone saw it coming. Even when we started to hear things about the virus happening, I don’t think we saw it coming to this extent. I’ll be honest, March was a tough month, because as I mentioned, we’re still a relatively new site in the world of media, so for us, we’re really serious about what is our voice and our content and how can we be of service right now. That was important. We wanted to be sure we were aligned with what Oprah was feeling. It was not something that I would have ever saw coming. I was an intern at the magazine right after college, so I don’t think I ever really foresaw the job of being the digital director at the time. I was still thinking of my career in print magazines. I definitely never foresaw that one day I would be running a nine million – plus user website, and definitely not in the midst of a pandemic. But here we are. (Laughs) Samir Husni: Anything you would like to add? Arianna Davis: Just to pat ourselves on the back a little bit. We were the fastest-growing website launch in Hearst history, which I am really proud of that fact. When we were first launching oprahmag.com, a lot of people were surprised, most thought Oprah Magazine already had a website, and people were also surprised that we were launching something new in this media climate, in digital media. So the fact that we were so fast-growing and we’ve been able to launch a lot of different series, the OG Chronicles that I

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mentioned; we have over five million views across platforms, so we’ve grown it quickly and I’m really proud of what we’ve done with our team. I’m excited to see what’s next for us post-pandemic. And I’m happy we have this platform right now to offer our readers comfort and escape, and hopefully some service as well. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Arianna Davis: The pandemic right now in this particular moment. Just worrying about family members and loved ones. I have had some loved ones who have been affected by this virus; I have had friends who have lost family members to this pandemic. I fell very lucky and blessed that I can work from home and that I do have a job. I’m working from an apartment that I love, but not everyone is so lucky. There’s just so much uncertainty right now and that keeps me up at night, in addition to traffic and making sure our website stays afloat in all of this. And that we are able to be a true resource to our readers at this time. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Kent Johnson CEO Highlights for Children “I’m rooting for every family, for every company, and for every government as we try and adapt and get through this together.” Faith and learning to adapt, two things that CEO Kent Johnson and his teams at Highlights for Children are having and doing to continue to publish during this pandemic. I spoke with Kent recently and he was candid and very grateful for his team’s ability to continue with quality content despite the stress and disruption of this terrible crisis. He said nothing would change about their publishing schedules for now and was very thankful for the online products that Highlights offers for children and that they were doing so well in this day of homeschooling and isolation. Having a degree in physics, Kent said he believes and enjoys data-driven thinking and decision-making, but with the pandemic, his idea of leadership for himself and his company is through transparency and much more frequent communication to the company. “I try to focus all of us on our mission and remind us all that however hard it is today, we’re going to get through this as a country. We’re going to get through this as a global, interconnected human population. We have to keep our faith, but be realistic and do the best we can every day.” Indeed, Kent. We will get through this together.

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On how Highlights for Children is operating during this pandemic: All things considered, we’re operating pretty well. We have great leadership from our governor here in Ohio. We jumped on the idea that we had to be fully remote pretty early in the process. We trusted our teams and empowered our IT and leaders to get us working remotely. I was just amazed at how fast they did it. After the initial adrenaline of the change, we’re now in the stage of trying to figure out how to get used to it, be productive and be well-balanced in this virtual office environment. I’m impressed with our team and happy that we’re adapting as well as we can. On whether the work-fromhome move was easy or hard for everyone: I would say that we were lucky and it varied by function. We made the decision on a Wednesday morning that we should do a dry run of work from home on Friday, but by Thursday night we decided we would just go fully to work-from-home. So, it took us about maybe 72 hours due to some of the tougher positions. And that

Samir Husni: With everything that’s going on today, how is Highlights for Children operating during this pandemic? Kent Johnson: All things considered, we’re operating pretty well. We have great leadership from our governor here in Ohio. We jumped on the idea that we had to be fully remote pretty early in the process. We trusted our teams and empowered our IT and leaders to get us working remotely. I was just amazed at how fast they did it. After the initial adrenaline of the change, we’re now in the stage of trying to figure out how to get used to it, be productive and be wellbalanced in this virtual office environment. I’m impressed with our team and happy that we’re adapting as well as we can. Samir Husni: Was the work-from-home move easy or hard for everyone? Kent Johnson: I would say that we were lucky and it varied by function. We made the decision on a Wednesday morning that we should do a dry run of work from home on Friday, but by Thursday night we decided we would just go fully to work-from-home. So, it took us about maybe 72 hours due to some of the tougher positions. And that includes getting customer service, our contact centers, getting those people who deal with customers to be able to work from home too. So, there was a technology piece to that as well. Samir Husni: With the pandemic, are you considering changing any frequencies or any of your publishing schedules or is everything status quo for now? Kent Johnson: For our magazine business, we’re keeping our print publishing schedule the same as always. And I will say, there was a technology task to get our editorial for our magazine product development to work remotely, because the designers work with such big files and important technology systems. So, that was also a transition that I’m happy to say we’re on the other side of.

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But we’re keeping our print schedule the same. We’ve seen a pretty significant increase in demand for the products from Highlights that aren’t our magazine. Our Highlights Learning line of products, things like workbooks, summer workbooks, get ready for Pre-K, getting ready for K, kind of fun with a purpose with more explicit learning objectives. Those have sold incredibly well on Amazon and through our site as parents are looking for help with their kids home now and with everyone trying to be a homeschooler across the country. We’ve been working very hard to keep ourselves in inventory and market those products appropriately, let customers know. That’s been a bright spot in our service to customers. The other thing I would say is that where we have changed from the old role of content is we’ve just launched this week a program we call “Highlights At Home,” which is a frequent publication of helpful digital content that has inspirational messages from our chief purpose officer, Chris Cully. It has humor and activities that you can do at home. And we’re both launching that to our consumers directly through social and email, but we’re also making that content available to partners who want to provide it to other companies, other nonprofits who want to provide it directly to their customers. So, we’re totally changing the rules about intellectual property and how we partner just to try and be of help to families and parents stuck at home during this pandemic and this crisis. Samir Husni: You’re a physicist by education, did you in your worst nightmares ever envision something like this happening, not only in the United states, but across the entire world? Kent Johnson: Many of us have contemplated this in the realm of fiction.

includesgetting customer service, our contact centers, getting those people who deal with customers to be able to work from home too. So, there was a technology piece to that as well. On whether he is considering any changes to publishing schedules or frequencies due to the pandemic: For our magazine business, we’re keeping our print publishing schedule the same as always. And I will say, there was a technology task to get our editorial for our magazine product development to work remotely, because the designers work with such big files and important technology systems. So, that was also a transition that I’m happy to say we’re on the other side of. But we’re keeping our print schedule the same. On the message he has for his staff and readers during this pandemic: My overall message and the way I’m trying to lead through this crisis is with transparency and much more frequent communication to our company. But the main message is we will get

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through this and we’ll get through it together. In a time of crisis and stress, we have to double-down on our values and we have to double-down and emphasize the purpose of our company. On whether his degree and background in physics has helped him during this pandemic in running a major magazine media company: It’s interesting, because I do have training in science and I love to be a datadriven decision maker in business and our company thrives on data. We, as a leadership team, have been very conscious and very explicit that in a time of crisis we say all our crystal balls are sitting shattered on the floor. We’re trying to use our intuition, use our heart and lead more like a general than a rational thinker. We take all of the data we have, but we have to make decisions in a time of crisis more rapidly. We remind everyone that we can’t be perfect, that we have to move quickly and make decisions in a decisive manner. And communicate why we’re doing it and what we’re doing, and adapt.

I was trained as a physicist and between finishing my degree in physics and coming into the magazine industry, I spent six years in the medical diagnostics industry, including working on some assays for biotoxins. So unfortunately, I have run in the circles that think about the technologies we use to detect viruses and disease. I have been exposed to people who have worried about this, but you don’t take that risk seriously in your day-to-day life. But I do think this kind of pandemic was anticipatable and it’s just horrible that it’s here. I’m rooting for every family, for every company, and for every government as we try and adapt and get through this together. Samir Husni: What message do you have for your staff and your readers during this pandemic? Kent Johnson: My overall message and the way I’m trying to lead through this crisis is with transparency and much more frequent communication to our company. But the main message is we will get through this and we’ll get through it together. In a time of crisis and stress, we have to double-down on our values and we have to double-down and emphasize the purpose of our company. I’ve been talking a lot to our employees about what we do, whether it’s in education in our magazines, across all our products. We’re not the frontlines; we’re not the medical providers who are the heroes right now, but what we provide is a really important service to families as they try to broker the disruption and the stress. I try to focus all of us on our mission and remind us all that however hard it is today, we’re going to get through this as a country. We’re going to get through this as a global, interconnected human population. We have to keep our faith, but be realistic and do the best we can every day. Samir Husni: During this pandemic, does your degree and background in physics help you in any way running a magazine media company?

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Kent Johnson: It’s interesting, because I do have training in science and I love to be a data-driven decision maker in business and our company thrives on data. We, as a leadership team, have been very conscious and very explicit that in a time of crisis we say all our crystal balls are sitting shattered on the floor. We’re trying to use our intuition, use our heart and lead more like a general than a rational thinker. We take all of the data we have, but we have to make decisions in a time of crisis more rapidly. We remind everyone that we can’t be perfect, that we have to move quickly and make decisions in a decisive manner. And communicate why we’re doing it and what we’re doing, and adapt. I think a crisis like this has caused me and our leadership team to adapt our style. And it adapts a little bit away from the scientific and the rational to the more intuitive and the heart, leading with values and best judgements, given what we know at the time. Samir Husni: I know you have worldwide publications also; have those been impacted by the pandemic? Kent Johnson: Our international business is really important to us from a mission perspective. I think we’re still trying to understand the impact globally on our business. I will say that maybe as a company we had sort of an early insight into the impact of this pandemic. One of our key customers, a really valued partner for us is based in Wuhan. And we’ve worked with them for many years to get our Highlights/ High Five content and other early childhood content to preschool kids in China. So, we both had the early view of what happened to business as Wuhan and Hubei province shut down in China.

On whether Highlights’ worldwide publications have been impacted by the pandemic: Our international business is really important to us from a mission perspective. I think we’re still trying to understand the impact globally on our business. I will say that maybe as a company we had sort of an early insight into the impact of this pandemic. One of our key customers, a really valued partner for us is based in Wuhan. And we’ve worked with them for many years to get our Highlights/High Five content and other early childhood content to preschool kids in China. So, we both had the early view of what happened to business as Wuhan and Hubei province shut down in China.

But what’s inspiring for our people and it reminds me of our message point that we are going to get through this is, right now we’re constantly talking to our partners in China and watching China’s economy come back on line. We’re very

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On what keeps him up at night: Uncertainty. It’s probably keeping us all up at night. We have to take this dayby-day with faith that the purpose of our company is important today and will be important on the other side of this. I lose a lot of sleep thinking about our people, hoping our people are keeping a balance in their lives so that they can perform well and maintain their mental and physical health and an effectiveness in their lives as a whole, across their families, extended families and their colleagues at work.

worried about our friends in China and worried about the impact on their economy and their society just as we’re worried about the impact this will have on all of us. One of the things we did early on when they shut down schools in China is we had a pilot going for our Highlights Digital Library, which is a digital platform with thousands and thousands of stories that have been published in Highlights and High Five over the years. Early on we rolled that out as broadly as we could through our partners for free. We expanded the pilot to reach as many kids as our partners could at home, because they were stuck in the homeschool environment early and in isolation and with social distancing. So, I’m very concerned about the impact on the global economy and we’re just trying to support our partners and work with them as their businesses get back on line. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Kent Johnson: Uncertainty. It’s probably keeping us all up at night. We have to take this day-by-day with faith that the purpose of our company is important today and will be important on the other side of this. I lose a lot of sleep thinking about our people, hoping our people are keeping a balance in their lives so that they can perform well and maintain their mental and physical health and an effectiveness in their lives as a whole, across their families, extended families and their colleagues at work. I believe we’re all kept up at night thinking about the public health and all the pain and suffering, first in the public health, second in the economy, and for all those people this impacts directly and indirectly. We will get through this, but it’s hard. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Dave Jones

Managing Director of SimpleCirc “People just have to stay the course.”

SimpleCirc subscription software is designed to help publishers manage their circulation and increase subscriber retention while saving them time and money. Dave Jones is the managing director of the company and one of its founders. Being in the small publishing business themselves, Dave and SimpleCirc know all about what it takes to move forward in small or large publishing, but what about during a pandemic? I spoke with Dave recently and we talked about that. About how staying the course is really the only thing you can do and maybe pausing in an attempt to weather the crisis and move through it and come out on the other side as strong as possible. Dave said that keeping in close contact with your customers and reminding them that you’re there for them is an important part of staying that course. Indeed. We all need to know we’re in this together. Samir Husni: How is SimpleCirc operating during this pandemic? Dave Jones: What we did is reach out to all of our publishers, of course, to let them know different ways that they can take advantage of this opportunity, because as a small publisher myself, we do eight small publications for the National publishing during a pandemic

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On how SimpleCirc is operating during the pandemic: What we did is reach out to all of our publishers, of course, to let them know different ways that they can take advantage of this opportunity, because as a small publisher myself, we do eight small publications for the National Football League; we have found that people seem to be reading more and they’re more engaged because they’re home. On the genesis of SimpleCirc: We own a publishing company, as I mentioned. We’re small publishers and we’ve had it for a long time, it covers the National Football League. I went through a whole bunch of different software, installed software that would crash on the server; we tried software that was too advanced and had too many things on it that we wouldn’t use, all these different features. So, we created SimpleCirc for us to use in our publications only. And then other publishers and associations that we belonged to started asking us about it, so we gave it to them. Then we

Football League; we have found that people seem to be reading more and they’re more engaged because they’re home. So, when we sent out our renewal notices, we had a renewal notice that went out early February and we had a very high return, which some of it had to do with the pandemic, but what we did is reach out to our customers to make sure they are keeping in contact their subscribers. We built this link, because a lot of them didn’t do email for some reason, they would just do snail mail and that would take forever, so we built this renewal link where every subscriber that they had would have their own special link and then when they would send it out, the customer would click on it and an order form would already be filled out. All they would have to do is drop in their credit card number. And that seemed to help a lot of different publishers bring in money during this time. Samir Husni: Tell me the story behind SimpleCirc. Dave Jones: We own a publishing company, as I mentioned. We’re small publishers and we’ve had it for a long time, it covers the National Football League. I went through a whole bunch of different software, installed software that would crash on the server; we tried software that was too advanced and had too many things on it that we wouldn’t use, all these different features. So, we created SimpleCirc for us to use in our publications only. And then other publishers and associations that we belonged to started asking us about it, so we gave it to them. Then we added more features, but we kept everything that small publishers need. We had all the sales reports, email… because at the end of the day it’s just a database, that’s all we are, we’re not doing anything special. So, we put everything together and collaborated with small publishers. Then it just took off.

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I think people really like it because we’re publishers ourselves, we aren’t tech people, and we built it so publishers could understand. And we’re adding a lot of different features to it. We only sell it bimonthly, and in the 2½ years we’ve been selling it, no one has left us because they think it’s just great for them. And we make it real easy for them as well. That’s one of the things about SimpleCirc. Samir Husni: It seems this pandemic has hit you with a double whammy, your magazines are all sports-related, National Football League. So, between publishing the magazines and what’s happening in the sports world, how are you adjusting to this ever-changing landscape? Dave Jones: That’s a good question, because we’re football publications. I’ll just give you a quick example, we had to do a draft guide, the NFL Draft is at the end of April, so we had to have it all ready to go and printed by February to mail off to everybody. And if you didn’t get it out by then no one would receive it. We’d have to give tens of thousands of dollars in refunds and as a small company we couldn’t do that. So, we got it all ready and then our printer closed down. We had to find a new printer, resize everything, and then we found someone who could do it. Our mail house closed down as well, so we had to find someone to mail it out.

added more features, but we kept everything that small publishers need. On SimpleCirc publishing sports magazines and how they are adjusting to the ever-changing sports landscape during the pandemic: That’s a good question, because we’re football publications. I’ll just give you a quick example, we had to do a draft guide, the NFL Draft is at the end of April, so we had to have it all ready to go and printed by February to mail off to everybody. And if you didn’t get it out by then no one would receive it. We’d have to give tens of thousands of dollars in refunds and as a small company we couldn’t do that.

To make a long story short, we got the issue out and I think our subscribers for our team publications that received the Draft Digest knew that we were still publishing and people were calling us and thanking us for publishing it. Now, we’re just waiting for football season. If football season doesn’t start, we’re in big trouble. A lot of the publishers, they aren’t into sports, but they have the same issue. They’re not selling advertising; subscribers are wondering if they’re going to keep publishing; the printers have closed, so we kind of coached them on

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On what advice he gives to small publishers during this pandemic: I talk to them about marketing, because a lot of these small publishers do not know how to market effectively. So, I tell them to utilize their emails, utilize their global mailings; let’s see what your mail house is doing. We put all of those things together and we help them. Also, we make them take advantage of their digital product. That’s an uphill battle, because a lot of publishers don’t use digital products. So, we tell them to offer their customers a digital product; email them out. On when he and his partners decided to share SimpleCirc with other small publishers: We were at a convention, we have all the publishers meet every year in Las Vegas, and we were telling some of the other publishers about it and they really liked it, so we let them use it. They fell in love with it. And they would pass it on to some other people that weren’t in the sports field who would then try it out. And people really enjoyed it.

switching people to digital, which was really hard to do, because I’m sure you know, when people like print they like print. Most of the print people are older clientele, so you’re right, we got hit both ways. Our publishers haven’t seen any effects yet, but that’s coming down the road, I think, within the next two months. Samir Husni: When you reach out to those small publishers, what advice are you giving them? Dave Jones: I talk to them about marketing, because a lot of these small publishers do not know how to market effectively. So, I tell them to utilize their emails, utilize their global mailings; let’s see what your mail house is doing. We put all of those things together and we help them. Also, we make them take advantage of their digital product. That’s an uphill battle, because a lot of publishers don’t use digital products. So, we tell them to offer their customers a digital product; email them out. I saw you did an interview with the guys from The Week. I get that publication. They did a letter for a couple of issues, right on the front, that said here’s what’s going to happen. They’ve done that and I think the publishers have seen pretty good results from that. Another problem that we’re coming across is snail mail is going so slow with the post office. It took some people 30 days to receive our Draft Digest in the mail. That was in New York City and New Jersey. And we mail from Buffalo, N.Y. We had people in Arizona receiving it before people in New York, because delivery was so messed up due to the virus. Samir Husni: When you and your partners came up with the idea for SimpleCirc, it was mainly to serve yourselves; when was that “light bulb” moment that you said, we’ve done something good, we should share it?

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Dave Jones: We were at a convention, we have all the publishers meet every year in Las Vegas, and we were telling some of the other publishers about it and they really liked it, so we let them use it. They fell in love with it. And they would pass it on to some other people that weren’t in the sports field who would then try it out. And people really enjoyed it. We started out with small publishers, but now we actually have large publishers too. We have some publishers who have under 1,000 and now we have some that have 300,000. So, it has really grown quite a bit. We keep adding it and growing it as we go. Once we knew our customers liked it, we knew we really had something here. It’s really the service that they like the most, I think. We have really good service and understand their business. Samir Husni: If a publisher calls you and says, Dave, I have a magazine with 10,000 subscribers, what can you do for me? Tell me the one, two, three of how you would help them. Dave Jones: We will import their data, give them a free trial, three months of using SimpleCirc. I would give them a quick presentation, an overview of how it works. There are no instructions with SimpleCirc, none. If you go to our website, it kind of walks you through it. It’ll read: type in your publication and how many issues you do per year. Then type in your price. So, we walk you through it and you can be set up in 20 minutes. I tell people let’s get them set up so they can play around with it. Test it out, do some real orders. You can do everything real on it, take real orders on it. That gives them a feel and they can take ownership of it. We have 150 publishers and they can talk to anyone they want. Samir Husni: Who owns the data? Who owns the names on the circulation lists?

On the one, two, three of how SimpleCirc helps publishers: We will import their data, give them a free trial, three months of using SimpleCirc. I would give them a quick presentation, an overview of how it works. There are no instructions with SimpleCirc, none. If you go to our website, it kind of walks you through it. It’ll read: type in your publication and how many issues you do per year. Then type in your price. So, we walk you through it and you can be set up in 20 minutes. On who owns the data: They own it. We use Amazon servers, so we’re not using servers in the basement. It’s all on Amazon, so obviously they own it. The good thing is they have really easy access to the data. They can download their data 100 times a day if they want to. The easy access was important, because the company we used before this, we had no access to our data. It was like asking permission, like we were beholden to them. So, it was crazy.

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On how he feels about the near future: What scares me is the football aspect, whether or not they’re going to play football. But here’s the good thing, we know that football is not going away. As a publisher, I know that. It may get postponed or come on a limited basis. So, that’s good. We won’t have customers saying give us our money back because football is being put out of business. We tell our customers we’re putting everything on pause. On any additional words of wisdom: People just have to stay the course. If you’re losing out on advertising, that’s understandable. But keep in contact with your advertisers, keep in contact with your customers. I think that’s really important for a publication, whether you’re emailing them and letting them know what’s up or when you think the next issue is coming, just put something in their hand and let them know. You have a captive audience right now of readers who normally wouldn’t be home or have time to read your publication.

Dave Jones: They own it. We use Amazon servers, so we’re not using servers in the basement. It’s all on Amazon, so obviously they own it. The good thing is they have really easy access to the data. They can download their data 100 times a day if they want to. The easy access was important, because the company we used before this, we had no access to our data. It was like asking permission, like we were beholden to them. So, it was crazy. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and how do you feel about the near future? Dave Jones: What scares me is the football aspect, whether or not they’re going to play football. But here’s the good thing, we know that football is not going away. As a publisher, I know that. It may get postponed or come on a limited basis. So, that’s good. We won’t have customers saying give us our money back because football is being put out of business. We tell our customers we’re putting everything on pause. The other part is you don’t want your writers getting sick, you want to keep paying them, which we are because they’re working. We have them in every city. The big thing is I want people to get their product through the mail. I don’t think it’s going away, but mail is under attack, and we have to make sure they can still deliver our product. So, there are always outside factors that have nothing to do with us. You want the teams to do well. If most of them stink in the NFL we cover, that can hurt you. Then the pandemic hurts you, so it’s a bit strange how we have to do everything. But I know magazines aren’t going away right now. With SimpleCirc, we just have to put things on pause and give customers a break and help them out if they have issues. We’re very proactive in that. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom?

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Dave Jones: People just have to stay the course. If you’re losing out on advertising, that’s understandable. But keep in contact with your advertisers, keep in contact with your customers. I think that’s really important for a publication, whether you’re emailing them and letting them know what’s up or when you think the next issue is coming, just put something in their hand and let them know. You have a captive audience right now of readers who normally wouldn’t be home or have time to read your publication. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Dave Jones: The big thing is what does the future hold, because everybody knows that what you lose in print, you don’t pick up in digital. The numbers are much smaller. That scares me. I want to be able to get through this and have a kind of plan to move forward. None of us know, however. We don’t know what’s going to happen, we can only guess. And then, I have to get out of the house. (Laughs) I need to get out.

On what keeps him up at night: The big thing is what does the future hold, because everybody knows that what you lose in print, you don’t pick up in digital. The numbers are much smaller. That scares me. I want to be able to get through this and have a kind of plan to move forward. None of us know, however. We don’t know what’s going to happen, we can only guess. And then, I have to get out of the house. (Laughs) I need to get out.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER NINETEEN

Katriina Kaarre

Publishing Director of Octavamedia, Finland “This situation will change things for good.”

A leading player among Finnish magazine publishers, Otavamedia Ltd. is part of the Otava Group and publishes a total of 25 magazines in Finland and more than 30 websites. Katriina Kaarre is publishing director for the company and is dealing with the pandemic much like her American counterparts, as best she can. I reached out to Katriina recently and asked her about this “new normal” the magazine and magazine media industry are having to adjust to for now: working from home, social distancing and anticipating a truly uncertain future. Katriina is staying positive and said, “Corona will help the quality media thrive, the hunger for good (quality) content is stronger than ever, which can be seen in our figures, especially on the web. The power of legacy brands is stronger than ever.” Indeed, quality content is always needed, especially through times such as today. Samir Husni: How is Octavamedia in Finland operating during this pandemic? Katriina Kaarre: Otavamedia has been doing fairly well through this so far. However, our print media sales are down publishing during a pandemic

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On how Octavamedia is operating during this pandemic: Otavamedia has been doing fairly well through this so far. However, our print media sales are down and anticipated to drop even more toward the end of the year; online is doing a lot better (but will not be enough to cover for the print loss). We thought that single copy sales would take a stronger blow but they haven’t (since people go to grocery stores less frequently). By far our biggest sales channel, subscription sales, is down by five percent. On how easy, hard, or disruptive the move to working from home was:

and anticipated to drop even more toward the end of the year; online is doing a lot better (but will not be enough to cover for the print loss). We thought that single copy sales would take a stronger blow but they haven’t (since people go to grocery stores less frequently). By far our biggest sales channel, subscription sales, is down by five percent. Since nobody knows how long the situation will last, we’re making estimations every month of the whole. All this means is that we will not able to make the budget for this year and have had to cut some costs. However, we are not cutting development cost of the digital, which has been on a significant rise, both in media sales and in subscription sales. The staff of Otavamedia is of course worried about the situation, but are working conscientiously, getting the work done as well as possible. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home?

Katriina Kaarre: Luckily, we renewed the tech when moving to our new offices the end of February and all the connections have worked well. The move from office to Luckily, we renewed the tech when moving to homes has been easier than expected (so many Finns are our new offices the end introverts anyhow). For people with small kids at home, it has of February and all the been a lot harder. Also, developing things (bouncing ideas, connections have worked testing reactions etc.) hasn’t been easy, but we’re getting well. The move from office to better at it. homes has been easier than expected (so many Finns Samir Husni: What has been the impact so far on the are introverts anyhow). publishing frequency, printing, events, etc.? For people with small kids at home, it has been a lot harder. Katriina Kaarre: There has not been any changes to On the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, events, etc.:

frequencies of publications so far. Also, we print almost all of our magazines in Finland, so we haven’t had problems on that front either. Events have been cancelled, so we’re expecting big losses of sales in that. The year’s biggest event

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called “Housing Fair” is still in the works, but the prospect is that it will at least be moved to a later date or cancelled. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic? And can you ever be prepared for something like this? Katriina Kaarre: There had been a few stories about the next possible pandemic in the past years, but we never imagined anything on this scope. Finland has basically had the same problems that other countries have had: insufficient resources to test the virus, the lack of respirator masks and scarcity of respirators. Finland is coping rather well with the situation, all in all, and the percentage of people deceased is still quite moderate. People gathering together is strictly forbidden, but people can move outdoors quite freely (in a party of only a few people). Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees, clients and readers during these uncertain times? Katriina Kaarre: This situation will change things for good: redo content planning to serve the audience in the current mental atmosphere, connect with co-workers digitally just to see how everyone is doing, don’t waste energy on things you cannot change. And to the readers: try to make the best of this, go out and focus on quality time at home. We’re repackaging content for the audience to make the best of time spent at home. Besides corona stories (which do still really well on the web), do-it yourself, gardening, grilling, knitting tips are well read now. Also, we’re constantly developing new native concepts for advertisers that adapt to the current situation. Print advertisers are particularly cautious and we’re expecting at least a 30-50 percent drop by the end of the year. Digital sales and single copy sales are doing okay (people have time to read) so far.

There has not been any changes to frequencies of publications so far. Also, we print almost all of our magazines in Finland, so we haven’t had problems on that front either. Events have been cancelled, so we’re expecting big losses of sales in that. The year’s biggest event called “Housing Fair” is still in the works, but the prospect is that it will at least be moved to a later date or cancelled. On whether she ever imagined she would be working during a pandemic: There had been a few stories about the next possible pandemic in the past years, but we never imagined anything on this scope. Finland has basically had the same problems that other countries have had: insufficient resources to test the virus, the lack of respirator masks and scarcity of respirators. Finland is coping rather well with the situation, all in all, and the percentage of people deceased is still quite moderate. On what message she is communicating with her employees, clients and readers during these uncertain times: This situation will change things for good: redo content planning to serve the audience in the current mental atmosphere, connect with co-workers

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digitally just to see how everyone is doing, don’t waste energy on things you cannot change. And to the readers: try to make the best of this, go out and focus on quality time at home. We’re re-packaging content for the audience to make the best of time spent at home. On what makes magazines and magazine media relevant today: Knowing the reader, anticipating his/her behavior. Giving content that serves them well at the right time, in the right channel, in the right package. Trusting in trustworthy quality content that the readers are willing to pay for it. On any additional words of wisdom: Corona will help the quality media thrive, the hunger for good (quality) content is stronger than ever, which can be seen in our figures, especially on the web. The power of legacy brands is stronger than ever.

Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? Katriina Kaarre: Knowing the reader, anticipating his/her behavior. Giving content that serves them well at the right time, in the right channel, in the right package. Trusting in trustworthy quality content that the readers are willing to pay for it. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Katriina Kaarre: Corona will help the quality media thrive, the hunger for good (quality) content is stronger than ever, which can be seen in our figures, especially on the web. The power of legacy brands is stronger than ever. Samir Husni: And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Katriina Kaarre: The economical state of Finland and the world, the speed with how fast it is getting worse. At least we can comfort our readers and give them advice on how to get through these crazy times. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On what keeps her up at night: The economical state of Finland and the world, the speed with how fast it is getting worse. At least we can comfort our readers and give them advice on how to get through these crazy times.

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CHAPTER TWENTY Bonnie Kintzer Trusted Media Brands’ CEO “Our magazines are very relevant today… and we are not rethinking our business…”

Bonnie Kintzer, president and CEO of Trusted Media Brands, is a person who feels the tragedy going on in the world deeply, while trying to retain her sense of optimism that is an integral part of who she is and how she does her job. Bonnie said that while there are challenges for all media companies during these uncertain and devastating times, Trusted Media Brands will remain the consumer-driven company they’ve always been and sees no reason to do anything differently when this pandemic is behind all of us: “We are not rethinking our magazine business. We think that our consumers very much enjoy getting their product in print and our digital business will continue to expand.” The faith she has in her teams and in the content of Trusted Media Brands is inspiring. And the message of support she sends her employees is stalwart. Samir Husni: How is Trusted Media Brands operating during this pandemic? Bonnie Kintzer: We’re operating 100 percent from home, publishing during a pandemic

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On how Trusted Media Brands is operating during this pandemic: We’re operating 100 percent from home, everyone is working from their home environment. I was just looking at some numbers; in the last two weeks we’ve printed six magazines and 13 books. Our digital content is doing really well, our traffic is up. We’ve actually been hitting records because of our food content and our DIY content. Reader’s Digest has broken records too, so I think from an operational perspective, we haven’t missed a beat. It’s really an incredible tribute to our team. On why it seems that every article written or every topic talked about by media critics, when it comes to magazines and magazine media, paints a picture of doom and gloom: Well, it’s certainly not our case. Our circulation efforts are up – we’re primarily a DTC (Direct-to-Consumer), so our magazines response rates are up, which is obviously great. Our DTC books are on track; our subscription box orders are up, so I think a lot of the doom and gloom is

everyone is working from their home environment. I was just looking at some numbers; in the last two weeks we’ve printed six magazines and 13 books. Our digital content is doing really well, our traffic is up. We’ve actually been hitting records because of our food content and our DIY content. Reader’s Digest has broken records too, so I think from an operational perspective, we haven’t missed a beat. It’s really an incredible tribute to our team. Samir Husni: Why do you think that almost every article we pick up, everything from the so-called media critics, paints such a picture of doom and gloom for the industry? Bonnie Kintzer: Well, it’s certainly not our case. Our circulation efforts are up – we’re primarily a DTC (Directto-Consumer), so our magazines response rates are up, which is obviously great. Our DTC books are on track; our subscription box orders are up, so I think a lot of the doom and gloom is obviously advertising-related. We have been hit unproblematically, but in total for us, most of our revenue comes from the consumer and that consumer revenue is holding strong thankfully. Samir Husni: When you hear things like, avoid paper, the Coronavirus can stay on paper; do you think fears like that will have a lasting impact on the industry? What’s Plan B for you should you need it? Bonnie Kintzer: For businesses like ours that are consumerdriven and not ad-driven, it won’t change the health of our magazine business at all. For companies that are advertisingdriven, it’s obviously a different set of economics, but I’ll let them comment on that. But I’m not seeing that at all for us. Samir Husni: As you made the move from office to home, was it an easy one and seamless? Or have there been challenges? Bonnie Kintzer: We did a lot of planning, with half of our business being in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They were about

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two weeks or a little bit less, just a little behind, the New York and Northeast shutdown. We ended up having planning time, which really helped obviously, because most of our, except for Reader’s Digest, all of our products are really created in the middle of the country. For the New York team, I would say, Bruce Kelley is our chief content officer at Reader’s Digest and he did an amazing job of getting everyone on his team together. He put together a planning calendar of how they were going to make this work. I’m sure it wasn’t without its challenges, but I will say that we haven’t missed any dates at all when it comes to our schedule. And thankfully, with technology, it makes an enormous difference. And our vendors have all been deemed essential, so that also makes a big difference. I can’t say enough good things about all of our vendors, whether it’s LSC or CDS, they’ve been in constant contact with us. They have done an incredible job making sure that it is business as usual from a consumer perspective. Samir Husni: If we look at history, especially with Reader’s Digest, DeWitt Wallace started the magazine right after World War I from his hospital bed in Paris in 1920. Once this pandemic is behind us, what do you think the future holds for magazines and magazine media? Are you rethinking the business in any way at all? Or will it be business as usual? Bonnie Kintzer: We are not rethinking our magazine business. We think that our consumers very much enjoy getting their product in print and our digital business will continue to expand. We launched a health website, we did a quiet soft launch a few months ago, and it’s doing quite nicely during this pandemic. So, we’ll be looking at more vertical launches, which we had already said was our intention. It’s been great to see the subscription box business doing well during this time. Maybe that will expedite additional launches in the box space.

obviously advertisingrelated. We have been hit unproblematically, but in total for us, most of our revenue comes from the consumer and that consumer revenue is holding strong thankfully. On whether the work-fromhome directive was an easy one for them: We did a lot of planning, with half of our business being in Wisconsin and Minnesota. They were about two weeks or a little bit less, just a little behind, the New York and Northeast shutdown. We ended up having planning time, which really helped obviously, because most of our, except for Reader’s Digest, all of our products are really created in the middle of the country. On whether she feels that after the pandemic is behind all of us, she may rethink the way the business is run: We are not rethinking our magazine business. We think that our consumers very much enjoy getting their product in print. Our digital business will continue to expand. We launched a health website, we did a quiet soft launch

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a few months ago, and it’s doing quite nicely during this pandemic. So, we’ll be looking at more vertical launches, which we had already said was our intention. It’s been great to see the subscription box business doing well during this time. Maybe that will expedite additional launches in the box space. On whether she ever envisioned something as catastrophic as the pandemic happening: I was actually on vacation in Hawaii with my kids on a very remote island and I got back on March 11. That first 48 hours was like being shell-shocked, because even though I had been reading while I was away, it’s obviously not the same as coming back to the Metro New York area in real life. In the end you have to rely on your team and have a lot of communication. And we had that. We did two Town Halls this week. We had 200 employees on each of the Town Halls, all over the world. We have people in Europe and our Canadian employees, and I think that was very important and we’ll do another one of those in a few weeks.

There’s nothing here that says that our business model needs to change. In some ways, quite the opposite, you could say that out business model is strongest during times like this where we have the direct relationship with the consumer. And the consumer wants to get these products in print and also digitally. As I said, the digital traffic is exceptional. These have been the strongest days, outside of Thanksgiving and Christmas, for Taste of Home, for instance. People want to know how to bake bread or tortillas, and what to feed their kids. For Family Handyman, they’ve been breaking records, in terms of DIY projects and landscaping. People need to keep busy. I think we’re on the right track with content and that’s what we do well. Samir Husni: Did you ever envision the situation we’re living with today, even in your worst nightmares? And do you think you can prepare for something like this? Bonnie Kintzer: I was actually on vacation in Hawaii with my kids on a very remote island and I got back on March 11. That first 48 hours was like being shell-shocked, because even though I had been reading while I was away, it’s obviously not the same as coming back to the Metro New York area in real life. In the end you have to rely on your team and have a lot of communication. And we had that. We did two Town Halls this week. We had 200 employees on each of the Town Halls, all over the world. We have people in Europe and our Canadian employees, and I think that was very important and we’ll do another one of those in a few weeks. I’m sending letters out every week, my head of HR is sending out notes. So, I think we just have to really connect with as many people as possible, because nothing could prepare anybody for this. Samir Husni: What’s the message you’re communicating with your staff, and your advertisers? Bonnie Kintzer: With advertisers we are communicating

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that we are here for them and as they’re revisiting their marketing messages and their plans. And for us it’s business as usual, in terms of our content creation. I’m really partnering with them on what comes next, because I think obviously advertisers are trying to figure out what’s the best message that they need to have and where do they want that message to be. To the company, I’ve been communicating about what’s happening with business and also just sharing information about things, whether it’s working from home or some of the challenges, both personally and professionally. And to my leaders, we are meeting every week on video and making sure that all my leaders are in touch with all of their people. And that everyone gets contacted, that we make sure that all of our people are safe and healthy, and that we identify if there’s a need we can help somebody with. I do think that our employees feel connected, which is very important. Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? Bonnie Kintzer: In times like this people want the familiar and they want the comfort. Sitting back and reading a magazine about gardening or cooking gives you a really good feeling. Everyone is inundated with the news and a lot of worry and I think magazines are a really great way to relax and remember what’s important to you. Magazines are very relevant today. Samir Husni: Any final words of wisdom? Bonnie Kintzer: I think it is good to be optimistic during these times. I always say keep your feet on the ground, but be optimistic. And be honest about what’s happening. You cannot solve a problem that you haven’t accurately identified. So, if there’s a challenge, name it and deal with it. People are incredibly resilient and I see that with our employees, just an amazing amount of resilience.

On her message to the advertisers during this pandemic: With advertisers we are communicating that we are here for them and as they’re revisiting their marketing messages and their plans. And for us it’s business as usual, in terms of our content creation. I’m really partnering with them on what comes next, because I think obviously advertisers are trying to figure out what’s the best message that they need to have and where do they want that message to be. On what makes magazines and magazine media relevant today: In times like this people want the familiar and they want the comfort. Sitting back and reading a magazine about gardening or cooking gives you a really good feeling. Everyone is inundated with the news and a lot of worry and I think magazines are a really great way to relax and remember what’s important to you. Magazines are very relevant today.

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On any words of wisdom:

And that inspires me.

I think it is good to be optimistic during these times. I always say keep your feet on the ground, but be optimistic. And be honest about what’s happening. You cannot solve a problem that you haven’t accurately identified. So, if there’s a challenge, name it and deal with it. People are incredibly resilient and I see that with our employees, just an amazing amount of resilience. And that inspires me.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Bonnie Kintzer: What doesn’t, who’s sleeping well? I worry about my employees’ health; I worry about a vendor having to temporarily shut down a facility. I think all of our vendors have backup plans and we’ve certainly reviewed them all. And I worry about how many people are going to be sick and die. In the New York area, it’s happening now. I think there’s a lot to worry about, but there’s also a lot to look forward to. Samir Husni: Thank you

On what keeps her up at night: What doesn’t, who’s sleeping well? I worry about my employees’ health; I worry about a vendor having to temporarily shut down a facility. I think all of our vendors have backup plans and we’ve certainly reviewed them all. And I worry about how many people are going to be sick and die. In the New York area, it’s happening now. I think there’s a lot to worry about, but there’s also a lot to look forward to.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Steven Kotok CEO of Bauer “It’s just about keeping that human connection.”

Bauer Media publishes two of the largest selling magazines on the newsstands: Woman’s World and First for Women. One is published weekly and the other 17 times a year, so publishing schedules are tight, even when the world isn’t the uncertain place it is today. Steven Kotok is president and CEO of Bauer Media Group USA. Bauer’s focus through this whole tragic pandemic has been the safety of its employees and staying engaged with its audiences. According to Steven the transition to working from home was a lot of work, but went surprisingly well and now they’re just concentrating on producing the same quality content and connecting with their readers. As far as changing anything about their publishing schedules right now, he said everything was, “So far so good, but it’s still pretty early.” Steven also adds that Bauer is a family company in every sense of the word, with a fifth generation of ownership, and taking care of its employees and readers is paramount during this precarious time in everyone’s life. Be it business or personal, the company cares about what’s going on in everyone’s lives. He believes that keeping that human connection will see them through, after all, that has been Bauer’s core since the beginning.

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On the status of Bauer Media during this pandemic: It certainly took a lot of work, but it was surprisingly smooth migrating to 100 percent working from home. Things happened a lot faster than we expected. I think it’s been about three weeks ago that we set a week where every department was going to have a practice day from home. We planned this in advance, but that practice day actually became everyone’s first day working from home. No one came back after that. Things definitely overtook us in a rapid way, but we’d done enough planning that in a sense it was, I don’t want to say seamless because everyone put so much hard work into it, but it wasn’t very disruptive because of the level of planning that we’d done. On any change in Bauer’s publishing schedules or frequencies: So far so good, but it’s still pretty early. But it’s still the same going forward. The weeklies are weekly; the 17 times per year are still 17 times per year; the SIPs are on sale for three months, so there’s ample opportunity

Samir Husni: What is the status of Bauer Media during this pandemic? Steven Kotok: It certainly took a lot of work, but it was surprisingly smooth migrating to 100 percent working from home. Things happened a lot faster than we expected. I think it’s been about three weeks ago that we set a week where every department was going to have a practice day from home. We planned this in advance, but that practice day actually became everyone’s first day working from home. No one came back after that. Things definitely overtook us in a rapid way, but we’d done enough planning that in a sense it was, I don’t want to say seamless because everyone put so much hard work into it, but it wasn’t very disruptive because of the level of planning that we’d done. Samir Husni: Any change in plans in terms of your publishing schedules; any change in frequency or so far so good? Steven Kotok: So far so good, but it’s still pretty early. But it’s still the same going forward. The weeklies are weekly; the 17 times per year are still 17 times per year; the SIPs are on sale for three months, so there’s ample opportunity for shoppers, even if they’re in the stores less or more to run across them. And if they fit their needs, they will still fit. The topics we cover: inspiration, health, food, are just as relevant now. Other areas, like news, there’s more interest in maybe other things, where there’s less interest in some, but I think for us our core pillars are just as relevant. Samir Husni: Is this a sword with two edges for you? Most of your sales are on newsstands in supermarkets, which are still open. Is it a blessing in disguise that you have titles in grocery stores? Steven Kotok: It’s definitely not a blessing in any way, because of how negative it is, but I would say that it has changed patterns. And as far as newsstand, a lot of the

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disruption is definitely in travel and terminals, that sort of thing. But we’re still pretty early into this thing right now. We’re not seeing a lot of ups or downs. In Europe they’re seeing some lifts in their television magazines and puzzle magazines. Here, it may just be too early. We have a travel page and obviously we’re treating that a little less actionable and more aspirational, something you might want to dream about, rather than like you’re going to take a trip next month. It’s not a blessing in disguise, certainly, but it may just be too early to see the effect. Samir Husni: What message would you send out to your staff, readers and advertisers during this pandemic? Steven Kotok: Number one is that Bauer is a family company in every sense of the word. We’re fifth generation ownership, but we’re also a company that’s had some of the same people who have worked for us since the ‘80s. First and foremost, it’s family first and people have to take care of their families and make sure that their families are safe. That’s always been a part of who we are; we’re very serious about business, but we want to do it in a way that the families can be taken care of. And that’s number one. Number two comes out of that. Part of being a family company and having five generations of ownership is, we’re not a public company; we’re debt free and owned by the family, so we think in terms of decades and generations. Our strategy hasn’t changed and that’s not by default, that’s by an act of decision from the top that has been discussed. As unfortunate as this is, this strategy of our business and our ability to reach people and to be paid for the content that we produce, and to connect with our audience, all of that remains. If ad budgets are different in Q2 or Q3; if store traffic is up or down, we don’t see anything changing about the long-term trend.

for shoppers, even if they’re in the stores less or more to run across them. And if they fit their needs, they will still fit. The topics we cover: inspiration, health, food, are just as relevant now. Other areas, like news, there’s more interest in maybe other things, where there’s less interest in some, but I think for us our core pillars are just as relevant. On whether having titles on newsstands in supermarkets is a blessing in disguise for Bauer since grocery stores are remaining open: It’s definitely not a blessing in any way, because of how negative it is, but I would say that it has changed patterns. And as far as newsstand, a lot of the disruption is definitely in travel and terminals, that sort of thing. But we’re still pretty early into this thing right now. We’re not seeing a lot of ups or downs. In Europe they’re seeing some lifts in their television magazines and puzzle magazines. Here, it may just be too early.

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On what message he would send out to his staff, readers and advertisers during this pandemic: Number one is that Bauer is a family company in every sense of the word. We’re fifth generation ownership, but we’re also a company that’s had some of the same people who have worked for us since the ‘80s. First and foremost, it’s family first and people have to take care of their families and make sure that their families are safe. That’s always been a part of who we are; we’re very serious about business, but we want to do it in a way that the families can be taken care of. And that’s number one. On whether he had ever imagined anything like the pandemic happening in all his years of publishing: Certainly not something like this, but I think in publishing these muscles are pretty well developed for people in all types of media. It’s an industry that has seen a lot of rapid change and a lot of challenges, so whether it was 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis or just the structural changes that have been going on, this is

families and in how we approach this, as a generational project more than aquarter to quarter project. Samir Husni: In all your years in publishing, did you ever imagine anything like this would happen? Steven Kotok: Certainly not something like this, but I think in publishing these muscles are pretty well developed for people in all types of media. It’s an industry that has seen a lot of rapid change and a lot of challenges, so whether it was 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis or just the structural changes that have been going on, this is an industry that’s really built up those muscles of adaptation. I believe we’re well able to adapt to this new business reality. There are only so many times you can be shocked at a sudden change. The human cost and the human factors are very shocking when you hear some of the numbers of the potential toll, but from a business perspective, as much as this is something that we never certainly foresaw, it’s not out of the range of types of challenges that we’ve faced at a business level. I certainly wish it was more of a financial crisis than a health crisis, in terms of the human toll of the people in this country, but from a pure business perspective, I think all of us in this industry have become accustomed to facing unexpected challenges. It’s not that we’re frozen and don’t know what to do, we all know what to do, the specifics of how we execute. The tactics we’ll have to figure out as we go. I don’t think anyone expected that we’d all be working from home, but that level of change is something that as an industry we’re at least, emotionally prepared for. Samir Husni: Once this pandemic is behind us, do you think it will force the industry to change, as far as maybe the new logistics of publishing? Steven Kotok: That’s a good question. I think there’s certainly

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a lot of things, such as if we were going to all move to work from home on purpose, we probably would have planned it after a year. Then here we are doing it basically in one week’s notice. I do think a lot of rapid changes that seemed large can really happen swiftly, but I believe it all depends on the consumer. We’re in the business of reaching and engaging with the consumer, so if consumer behavior changes in some material way, that would change the industry. I don’t think our production processes and so forth would necessarily change. Because even though we were working in our offices, things had become so electronic that moving files from editor to an art director, even if those people are sitting farther away, those processes were already in place and completely digitized. So, I think the big question that, whether it’s Coca-Cola or a magazine company, how will this impact consumer behavior. That remains to be seen. I don’t think any of us know the answer to that, but in terms of how we operate, I don’t think that’s going to change drastically. We need to adapt to whatever consumer behavioral changes are coming, but I don’t know that anyone knows what those are going to be. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Any words of wisdom? Steven Kotok: Just on the working from home front, the last company I worked with, we were 100 percent from home and I learned a lot from that. For our business at least, we ask the managers that the first thing they do each day is spend 15 minutes with their team in a little group, and I think that human connection is important. We’re not together physically, but we can still start the day with a check-in, whether it’s on business or just personal stuff, just getting that point of contact.

an industry that’s really built up those muscles of adaptation. I believe we’re well able to adapt to this new business reality. There are only so many times you can be shocked at a sudden change. On whether he thinks once the pandemic is over, it will force the industry to change, such as in the logistics of publishing: That’s a good question. I think there’s certainly a lot of things, such as if we were going to all move to work from home on purpose, we probably would have planned it after a year. Then here we are doing it basically in one week’s notice. I do think a lot of rapid changes that seemed large can really happen swiftly, but I believe it all depends on the consumer. We’re in the business of reaching and engaging with the consumer, so if consumer behavior changes in some material way, that would change the industry.

As far as words of wisdom, we have to keep that human connection with our employees and our readers. In our case,

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On anything he’d like to add: Just on the working from home front, the last company I worked with, we were 100 percent from home and I learned a lot from that. For our business at least, we ask the managers that the first thing they do each day is spend 15 minutes with their team in a little group, and I think that human connection is important. We’re not together physically, but we can still start the day with a check-in, whether it’s on business or just personal stuff, just getting that point of contact.

with our ownership, Mrs. Bauer has really spoken from the heart about what this business means to her and how much she appreciates what everyone has done to adapt. If there are any words of wisdom, it’s just about keeping that human connection, whether it’s with the people you work with or whether it’s with the readers who really keep the whole thing running. That’s been our focus, even though it’s how we operated already, and in a time of crisis you reach for your core. And our core is human connection and audience engagement. And it’s more important now than ever, throughout the organization. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Simon Leslie

Founder & Co-CEO of INK “If there was ever a time when people needed to go back to trusted sources of information, this is it.”

Ink travel media was founded in 1994 and has grown from six offices around the globe to 300. They’re storytellers and sellers of advertising to some of the largest brands in the world today, such as American, Qatar, Etihad and Virgin Airlines and also sells digital media space to airlines. The company’s Co-CEO and Founder, Simon Leslie, is remaining totally positive during this pandemic. While the world may see this tragedy as an enormous enemy to the magazine media industry, Simon prefers to see the possible opportunities it presents. I spoke with Simon recently and we talked about how basically the entire world has come to a standstill, but also how he has chosen to see the potential this pandemic offers to the world of business, rather than the detriments. And how caring about people and your company is paramount to the continued success of your business. My conversation with Simon was upbeat, positive and a delightful one to have during a time when those attributes are hard to come by. Samir Husni: How is Ink operating during this pandemic? publishing during a pandemic

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On how Ink is operating during the pandemic: We’ve gone from six offices to 300, and we don’t have many landlords. So, it’s a whole new world that we’ve created. It’s been a little bit challenging in terms of being an officebased business to a workfrom-home environment, but actually I think we’ve adapted quite well and quite quickly. We’re doing things to keep people entertained and to learn and grow during this period. On whether the workfrom-home transition was smooth or difficult: With the technology we had, we were already set up to do most things. The technology was quite adaptable, we had to buy a lot of headsets and setups and landlines so people could work from home. We had to buy a few extra printers, but it wasn’t a huge shift. On how the pandemic has impacted business as usual for Ink: It’s business very much unusual, most of our carriers are grounded. The only airline that’s

Simon Leslie: We’ve gone from six offices to 300, and we don’t have many landlords. So, it’s a whole new world that we’ve created. It’s been a little bit challenging in terms of being an office-based business to a work-from-home environment, but actually I think we’ve adapted quite well and quite quickly. We’re doing things to keep people entertained and to learn and grow during this period. Our teams are doing creative work for our clients, so we’re helping them with their social, outreach, messaging and their videoing. We’re keeping everyone busy and we’re going to come back in a good way. We certainly have our sales team on high alert, so when the doors open again they’re going to be rushing back out. Samir Husni: You said you moved from six offices to 300, how was the move to work-from-home? Was it a smooth transition? Simon Leslie: With the technology we had, we were already set up to do most things. The technology was quite adaptable, we had to buy a lot of headsets and setups and landlines so people could work from home. We had to buy a few extra printers, but it wasn’t a huge shift. And maybe some people are asking why we even have to go back to the office, why can’t we just work from home continuously, but I don’t think any of my team is asking that, they’re looking forward to getting back to the office. Our culture is very much about being together, celebrating and doing stuff together. While we do have a lot of meetings while we’re working from home, it’s not the same as just walking up to someone and chatting in the office. Samir Husni: How has this impacted the current status of publishing the magazines; is it still business as usual or are you cutting some of the frequencies or suspending some of the publications?

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Simon Leslie: It’s business very much unusual, most of our carriers are grounded. The only airline that’s continued publishing all the way through is American. Obviously, as the biggest airline in the world, they haven’t stopped. The others have stopped and when they’re going to be back at reasonable levels of passengers, we’ll start publishing again. We basically lost most of April, May, and maybe a little bit of June as well. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic, where the entire world was grounded? Simon Leslie: I’ve always thought about something like this, where we could switch off for a couple of months. I’ve been working flat-out for 33 years and the ability not to have to worry about a target, a budget, and hitting some sales numbers is quite pleasant. So, it’s not a perfect scenario, but we’re going to make the best of it. And we have to go back when this finishes and make sure that we did something that was productive in this period, that we don’t just waste it and fritter it away. I’ve been through every single challenging situation since 1988 and there’s never been anything where you can’t go and pray, you can’t fly anywhere, you can’t do anything; all the things we love to do have been taken away from us. But then again, we’re all in the same situation. And no one is going to look at us in five years’ time and say, you had a terrible 2020, what did you do wrong? We’re all going to have a blip on our balance sheets, on our profit and loss this year, with the exception of the toilet roll and hand sanitizer producers. (Laughs)

continued publishing all the way through is American. Obviously, as the biggest airline in the world, they haven’t stopped. The others have stopped and when they’re going to be back at reasonable levels of passengers, we’ll start publishing again. We basically lost most of April, May, and maybe a little bit of June as well. On whether he ever imagined working during a pandemic, where basically the entire world shut down: I’ve always thought about something like this, where we could switch off for a couple of months. I’ve been working flat-out for 33 years and the ability not to have to worry about a target, a budget, and hitting some sales numbers is quite pleasant. So, it’s not a perfect scenario, but we’re going to make the best of it. And we have to go back when this finishes and make sure that we did something that was productive in this period, that we don’t just waste it and fritter it away.

Samir Husni: Once this pandemic is over, what do you think the magazine and magazine media industry will have learned? Simon Leslie: I think what has been interesting, and I’ve been

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On what he thinks magazines and magazine media may learn after the pandemic is over: I think what has been interesting, and I’ve been watching and observing some of the things people have been saying to you, for example; I’m not sure anyone is learning anything, they’re just trying to reinvent the wheel. And some of them are trying to reinvent it as a square. And I believe that’s wrong. This is an opportunity where we have to look at everything we do and figure out the most sensible way we can stay in business. On what message he is communicating with his employees, clients, advertisers and readers during these uncertain times:

watching and observing some of the things people have been saying to you, for example; I’m not sure anyone is learning anything, they’re just trying to reinvent the wheel. And some of them are trying to reinvent it as a square. And I believe that’s wrong. This is an opportunity where we have to look at everything we do and figure out the most sensible way we can stay in business. Also, at the same time, we don’t have to reinvent anything; we can just get better at what we do and improve our products and improve our way of doing business. Improve our communication with both our readers and our clients to make sure we’re giving them much more value, because I think that’s what we’ll end up doing during this period, showing people how much we care, because ultimately, this is about who cares. The companies that are shown to care about their employees, their clients, their advertisers, will come out of this much stronger that people who’re just after having the least impact on their bottom line. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees, clients, advertisers and readers during these uncertain times?

Simon Leslie: Our message is we’re going to come back stronger; we’re going to come back more energetic, more positive, more enthused. We’re going to do everything we Our message is we’re going can to grow and use this as an opportunity, while others to come back stronger; we’re are shattering and closing and stuttering, we’re going to be going to come back more prepared, ready and able to take advantage of energetic, more positive, the opportunities. more enthused. We’re going to do everything we can to grow and use this as Over the last year I’ve been craving a recession, because an opportunity, while there are so many good businesses out there which are being others are shattering and poorly run, and I would love to get my hands on some of these closing and stuttering, we’re brands that seem to be underappreciated and uncared for by going to be prepared, ready the people who own them. If I can use this as an opportunity and able to take advantage to pick some of those up, I will be doing that. of the opportunities.

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Samir Husni: Do you see any negative things about what’s happened to the magazine industry during this, other than the blip on your P & L, or you’re thinking strictly positive? Simon Leslie: I think it’s just going to be different. People are still going to behave, and I keep challenging myself on this point, which is are we not going to want to go to a football match and sit next to somebody, are we not going to go to a bar and get a drink? Are you going to go into the most popular bar in whatever city you’re in and everyone is going to stay at six-foot intervals? That’s not how we behave as humans. So, I just think for a short period of time we’re going to be a bit more germophobic, but after that we’ll just go back to normal. And I think that the normality will come. If there are three businesses that have been affected by this it’s travel, advertising and publishing. And I have all three of those right in my sweet spot. So, I don’t think I could have been hit any harder, and yet I’m standing here and I’m actually grateful for this opportunity. I’m grateful that we’ve had this time and I promise you the people who have stuck with me, clients, staff and advertisers, I will do whatever I can to repay that support. Samir Husni: So, you’re looking at the pandemic as an opportunity more than a negative?

On whether he sees any negative things about what’s happened to the magazine industry during this or is he thinking strictly positive: I think it’s just going to be different. People are still going to behave, and I keep challenging myself on this point, which is are we not going to want to go to a football match and sit next to somebody, are we not going to go to a bar and get a drink? Are you going to go into the most popular bar in whatever city you’re in and everyone is going to stay at six-foot intervals? That’s not how we behave as humans. So, I just think for a short period of time we’re going to be a bit more germophobic, but after that we’ll just go back to normal. And I think that the normality will come.

Simon Leslie: I certainly love opportunity and I love when people get scared and I love it when they start panicking because it’s not a time to panic. It’s not like a war where something is broken and the infrastructure is gone or like when the banking system broke in 2008. This is a situation where we’ve all been hit by the same wave and it’s no one’s fault, nobody caused it. We’re all going to come out of it relatively at the same time, most of us pretty much scarred by it, but nothing is fundamentally broken. How people will behave will depend how quickly and completely this is over. I think having been locked down for

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On looking at the pandemic as an opportunity: I certainly love opportunity and I love when people get scared and I love it when they start panicking because it’s not a time to panic. It’s not like a war where something is broken and the infrastructure is gone or like when the banking system broke in 2008. This is a situation where we’ve all been hit by the same wave and it’s no one’s fault, nobody caused it. We’re all going to come out of it relatively at the same time, most of us pretty much scarred by it, but nothing is fundamentally broken.

12 to 16 weeks, most people will be dying to go to a restaurant or a bar to sit and relax, just do things they haven’t been able to do. And especially get on a plane. Samir Husni: What makes print magazines and print magazine media relevant today? Will print play a different role after the pandemic is behind us? Simon Leslie: I’m going to let you in on a little secret, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I bought a newspaper yesterday. I wanted to read something, I wanted to have an opinion and I wanted to see what people were saying. The letters to the editors were interesting. And the paper was still thick and full of advertising and full of great content, trustworthy content. I’m sick of watching the news. I’m sick of watching the press briefings. They’re all saying what they want to hear, they have their own hidden agendas. This is a crisis of communication. If there was ever a time when people needed to go back to trusted sources of information, this is it because our leaders are telling us something different, there’s inconsistencies in countries, and there are inconsistencies even within governments. And we’re supposed to believe a load of people who, quite frankly, haven’t ever managed this type of situation in their lives either. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Simon Leslie: We had a speaker once who came on and told us that we have to think about the next day the night before, so we’re excited when we wake up. And I was so excited I couldn’t actually get to sleep, so that has always kept me up a little bit. Nothing is really worrying me right now. I’m excited about the opportunities that are going to present themselves, I really am. If there are people out there who are in media and are

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frustrated with their current employees, or they’ve been taught to go and do something else, tell them to reach out and talk to us, because we’re going to grow after this, we’re going to take on more people. We have lots more inventory that we’re creating and I genuinely believe that if you want to be in an industry that’s going to bounce back, travel is definitely going to be part of it. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On why he thinks print media is relevant today: I’m going to let you in on a little secret, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I bought a newspaper yesterday. I wanted to read something, I wanted to have an opinion and I wanted to see what people were saying. The letters to the editors were interesting. And the paper was still thick and full of advertising and full of great content, trustworthy content. I’m sick of watching the news. I’m sick of watching the press briefings. They’re all saying what they want to hear, they have their own hidden agendas. On what keeps him up at night: We had a speaker once who came on and told us that we have to think about the next day the night before, so we’re excited when we wake up. And I was so excited I couldn’t actually get to sleep, so that has always kept me up a little bit. Nothing is really worrying me right now.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Bernie Mann

Publisher of Our State Magazine “People want to get some news that they know every month is going to come in their mailboxes, good news, happy news, pleasant news…”

Our State magazine celebrates North Carolina. By far, it is one of the most successful state and regional magazines published. For over two decades, owner and publisher Bernie Mann has been doing just that, celebrating the state he loves, and publishing the magazine “the Mann way.” Today the company is an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership) as he sold it to his employees. So how is publishing a magazine “the Mann way” is going in the midst of a pandemic. The latter something he never imagined, much less considered living through. I spoke with Bernie recently and we talked about running a magazine publishing company during these uncertain times and all of the things many of us will never get to do again, like sit in an office together and work. It may sound unreal, but as Bernie said we just do not know what the future holds. In the magazine, he chooses not to mention or report on COVID-19, as he stated everyone else is handling that repeatedly. Instead, he brings the magazine alive with beauty and optimism, everything North Carolina means to him and his audience. publishing during a pandemic

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On how he has been operating during the pandemic: For us, the pandemic is something that’s covered by other people. There’s no need for us to tell more of the same story over and over again. So, we don’t tell that story at all. That’s not for us. What we tell is the story of optimism; the story of beauty; the story of how lovely North Carolina is and what a great place it is to live and visit. We talk about the history, the foods and the beauty, and that’s what people expect from us.

Bernie assured me that Our State is maintaining and putting out magazines. And right now that’s a good thing. With working from home and technology’s assistance, the beautiful magazine that focuses on optimism, nature’s beauty and North Carolina’s culture is still going strong. And Mr. Magazine™ thinks that’s a very good thing. Samir Husni: Tell me how you’re operating Our State magazine during this pandemic? Bernie Mann: For us, the pandemic is something that’s covered by other people. There’s no need for us to tell more of the same story over and over again. So, we don’t tell that story at all. That’s not for us. What we tell is the story of optimism; the story of beauty; the story of how lovely North Carolina is and what a great place it is to live and visit. We talk about the history, the foods and the beauty, and that’s what people expect from us. The number of people sending us checks for circulation has never been greater. It’s just been amazing. But people want to get some news that they know every month is going to come in their mailboxes, good news, happy news, pleasant news, stuff that they can enjoy and quite frankly, they can get in their car and go to and see. The issue we had about waterfalls, as soon as the restriction is lifted, you can go there in two hours from almost any place in North Carolina and see these magnificent waterfalls. And in June our issue is going to be about the Coast. On the cover is a long pier that is just beautiful and people will see it and look forward to going and walking on that pier. Our take on the Coronavirus is that it exists; we don’t discuss it; we don’t deal with it. Our editor, Elizabeth Hudson, she writes a column each month and it’s not like any column because it is strictly her own feelings and impressions, things that have happened in her life. And when she sat down to write the column this month, she said that she wasn’t going to write about what was happening to people, she said I’m

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going to write about how much I enjoy the feeling of the sand between my toes when I go to the beach. And that was her column about the things that she remembered when going to the beach.

On how his work environment has changed with the pandemic and it has effected he and his team:

Samir Husni: How has your work environment changed with the pandemic and how has it impacted you and your team?

We have had what I enjoy and what we have enjoyed having as a collaborative group of people who love being together and sharing ideas, and we still answer the phone. The door is locked, we’re not having visitors, but the phone is answered by a human from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. I think that’s terribly important.

Bernie Mann: We have had what I enjoy and what we have enjoyed having as a collaborative group of people who love being together and sharing ideas, and we still answer the phone. The door is locked, we’re not having visitors, but the phone is answered by a human from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. I think that’s terribly important. I’m in the service business and if the first impression you get is from a machine, then that doesn’t say very much about the service I’m providing. So, I provide a human who actually talks to you. Samir Husni: You mentioned that you have spent almost half a million dollars in advertising; why are you spending money now for the magazine?

On spending almost half a million dollars recently on advertising for the magazine:

Bernie Mann: We started our campaign in September and continued it through the end of April, very early May. It felt like the right thing to do to promote our magazine. When you ask people to advertise because you tell them it will help their business, if it’s so good, then why don’t you advertise? I think it’s good and advertising is important. It’s terribly important to have the right message in the right place. When you advertise a magazine like ours, it’s not easy to just say: let’s buy some radio or billboards or some television advertising. We have been very specific in what we have done. And very narrow-focused.

We started our campaign in September and continued it through the end of April, very early May. It felt like the right thing to do to promote our magazine. When you ask people to advertise because you tell them it will help their business, if it’s so good, then why don’t you advertise? I think it’s good and advertising is important. It’s terribly important to have the right message in the right place.

And then we do it with a lot of repetition. We always tell people you need repetition in your advertising. Okay, if we think it’s so smart, then we should do it too. It’s just using basic techniques. We’re not that smart. They used to say about Vince Lombardi, people should play a Vince Lombardi

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On his different approach to the business model: You build a brand by constantly having the right message in the right places. So, that’s what we do. We go straight to the client. And that may be easier for us because most of our clients are in North Carolina, but I would dare say that if you live in New York and your clients are in Michigan, up until a few months ago, you get on an airplane and you go there.

football team, everybody knew exactly what he was going to do, he just implemented it with consistency. And that’s what we do. We’re very consistent; we’ve set up some guidelines for what is important to us and it seems to be important to our readers. And it is constantly promoting North Carolina. We say it in our name: Our State Celebrating North Carolina. We celebrate. And our TV commercials celebrate the beauty of where we live. Samir Husni: Tell me about your different approach to the business model. I know you don’t use ad agencies, your team calls on advertisers. Tell me how this works. Bernie Mann: When I look around me in the industry and I see such wonderful magazines, and they keep getting thinner and thinner. And then good magazines like Esquire are six timers per year. And so many of the others have either dropped out or gone smaller. And I know it’s not because there isn’t enough content, there’s plenty of content. Why are they getting smaller? Because they don’t have the advertising. Why don’t they have the advertising? Because for years and years there has been a plan, you go to ad agencies and pick up your ads. Now the ad agencies, God love them, are in business to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that. And they’ve found that they can make money by doing other things than print advertising. So, my girlfriend is no longer my girlfriend. What do I do next? They don’t do anything next. And the ads get smaller and smaller because the ads have gone away. If you rely on the ad agency as your girlfriend. And I don’t fault the agencies because there’s nothing better than digital for the ad agencies. I always think of it as the Three C’s: costly, digital is costly, digital is cool, and digital is confusing. It’s the best thing that ever happened to an ad agency. (Laughs) My girlfriend has gone away. So what do I do? I find another

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girlfriend. And who is my best girlfriend? It’s the client, because the client still loves print. The client loves seeing their ads in beautiful color, on wonderful paper, and they know that’s how you build brand. You build a brand by constantly having the right message in the right places. So, that’s what we do. We go straight to the client. And that may be easier for us because most of our clients are in North Carolina, but I would dare say that if you live in New York and your clients are in Michigan, up until a few months ago, you get on an airplane and you go here. But I don’t think too many of the salespeople for the magazine industry have done that. And they’ve relied on going to the same places on the same streets. They go to pick up their ads and they tell them we have no ads for you. And then they go back and are told the ad business is terrible. No, no, the ad business isn’t terrible, it’s the people who used to spend money with you who aren’t anymore. So, you find someone else.

On whether the pandemic has affected his publishing or advertising schedule: It’s been very painful. We’ve had so many of our clients who have had to close. It’s hard for them to advertise if the store is closed. It’s hard for them to advertise if you can’t go into the restaurant or the hotel or go visit their attraction. So yes, from an advertising standpoint, this has been very painful. But we’ve had gigantic numbers of people who have bought subscriptions. Not enough to make up for the print.

Samir Husni: Has your publishing or advertising schedule been affected by the pandemic: Bernie Mann: It’s been very painful. We’ve had so many of our clients who have had to close. It’s hard for them to advertise if the store is closed. It’s hard for them to advertise if you can’t go into the restaurant or the hotel or go visit their attraction. So yes, from an advertising standpoint, this has been very painful. But we’ve had gigantic numbers of people who have bought subscriptions. Not enough to make up for the print. We make most of our money from print, but it’s nice to know that at least there’s a secondary source. This is very funny; we have a little store, has about 750 sku’s and one of the items that we sell in our store is a jigsaw puzzle. Normally, we sell about 40 or 50 of them a month and they’re puzzles depicting North Carolina. Last month, in April, we sold 1,200 puzzles. If you go on Amazon right now, you can’t even buy them, they’re sold out because people

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On whether he had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic and if he thinks someone could prepare for something like it: Never could have imagined this. In fact, now we’re an ESOP, I sold the company to the employees. We have a board of directors and there’s a woman on the board, she and her husband own hotels and restaurants, and she said you know what might happen, we might have to close both the restaurants and the hotels. I asked her how in the world she could even conceive of such a thing. And three weeks later that’s what happened. So, this is a very difficult time for everybody. Who could have conceived this ever?

need something to do just sitting at home. And they enjoy doing puzzles. But it’s just funny that there are certain things that sell. There’s always someone who is going to make money during a difficult time. We’re not making money during this time and it’s painful, but at least we’re not out of business like some people I know. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and can you prepare for something like that? Bernie Mann: Never could have imagined this. In fact, now we’re an ESOP, I sold the company to the employees. We have a board of directors and there’s a woman on the board, she and her husband own hotels and restaurants, and she said you know what might happen, we might have to close both the restaurants and the hotels. I asked her how in the world she could even conceive of such a thing. And three weeks later that’s what happened. So, this is a very difficult time for everybody. Who could have conceived this ever? But everyone we have who can work from home is working from home. We’ve set up computers and thank God for Zoom. So we have conferences all the time. And we’re putting out magazines. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Bernie Mann: The biggest concern I have is number one, that everybody in my company stays healthy, that’s the biggest concern I have. The second is tell me when it’s over. When it’s over, we can plan for what’s going to happen. It won’t be a light switch; it won’t happen all at once. Will my employees ever be back together in the same room for Monday morning meetings at 8:30? I don’t know if that will happen again. We always enjoyed that; we enjoyed the camaraderie of being

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together. I don’t know if that will happen.

On what keeps him up at night:

I don’t know if we’ll be able to sit in an office with people near each other. I don’t know if I can take my clients to lunch with a mask on. What do I do, lift the mask and put the spoon in? I don’t how that’s going to work. But maybe I’ll learn. We’re in difficult times. I don’t think many people have ever even imagined. Samir Husni: Thank you.

The biggest concern I have is number one, that everybody in my company stays healthy, that’s the biggest concern I have. The second is tell me when it’s over. When it’s over, we can plan for what’s going to happen. It won’t be a light switch; it won’t happen all at once. Will my employees ever be back together in the same room for Monday morning meetings at 8:30? I don’t know if that will happen again.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR Paul McNamee Editor of The Big Issue “I believe something has been triggered by the Coronavirus that is making people look out for others in ways they wouldn’t have always done before.” The Big Issue is a magazine that feels a strong social responsibility to its vendors, and that’s because those people who sell the magazine are the homeless across Britain, and actually across the globe now that there are branches all over the world of The Big Issue. The magazine supports the homeless by allowing them to buy the publication at half price and then resell it for the entire cover price. Paul McNamee is editor of The Big Issue and spoke about the magazine which was started by Lord John Bird and Gordon Roddick some 29 years ago. Lord Bird had a bit of colorful past, in and out of prison, and Roddick was cofounder, along with his wife Anita, of The Body Shop, a cosmetics business that grew exponentially. According to Paul, the pair, Bird and Roddick, wanted to do something about the homeless crisis going on in London. Hence, the unusual business model of the magazine that has had to be slightly restructured due to the pandemic. “There were two things that were key for us to do. The first was to make sure that those people who rely on The Big Issue for an income, our street vendors, and there are around 1,500 of them in any given week across Britain. We had to make sure that they could get income,” Paul told me and went on: publishing during a pandemic

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On the history of The Big Issue: The Big Issue was started in 1991, 29 years ago in London by John Bird and Gordon Roddick. At that time, John Bird was a printer, but with a very colorful past. He had been in and out of prison and had been homeless himself on and off for several years. Gordon Roddick was a friend of his who had set up The Body Shop, a cosmetics company, with his wife Anita Roddick. The pair of them, Bird and Roddick, wanted to do something about the growing homelessness crisis that they saw in London.And they came up with the idea of a magazine that would be produced professionally and then sold to those who were homeless or vulnerable or right on the margins. The homeless people would buy it for half half the cover price, then sell it for the cover price and that difference was how they made a living. So the more they sold the more they could make.

“We came up with a three month subscription offer, which seems to be right about the time people think this will be through its worst. It’s a three month offer, with a goal of 60,000 subscriptions. Then we started building an app. We have a website and we’re very good at social media, and we started building the app very quickly. We began talking with retailers, because we’ve never in all of our history been sold in shops. So we started speaking to major retailers in Britain and they were very keen to do what they could to help. And just yesterday we went into the shops for the first time in our history.” Paul told me that the social responsibility they felt to their vendors and readers was the only reason the magazine existed. So, despite much duress, these fantastic magazine people, our friends across the pond, came up with a way to continue the magazine and help their fellow man. Magazines and their creators are amazing… Samir Husni: How are things in the U.K.? Paul McNamee: Still locked down. Still quiet. Still uncertain. But I think people are getting more used to this strange way of life. Samir Husni: For people who may not be familiar with The Big Issue outside of the U.K., would you tell us a little about it? Paul McNamee: The Big Issue was started in 1991, 29 years ago in London by John Bird and Gordon Roddick. At that time, John Bird was a printer, but with a very colorful past. He had been in and out of prison and had been homeless himself on and off for several years. Gordon Roddick was a friend of his who had set up The Body

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shop, a cosmetics company, with his wife Anita Roddick. The pair of them, Bird and Roddick, wanted to do something about the growing homelessness crisis that they saw in London. And they came up with the idea of a magazine that would be produced professionally and then sold to those who were homeless or vulnerable or right on the margins. The homeless people would buy it for half the cover price, then sell it for the cover price and that difference was how they made a living. So the more they sold the more they could make. And that basic model of people coming to The Big Issue to buy and then going on the street to sell, that’s been the business model ever since, with the 50 percent cut. And that model grew in London and it was actually fortnightly, then it went to weekly across the U.K., and ultimately around the world. The Big Issue is now in Japan, Korea, Australia, Taiwan, South Africa, and numerous other street papers that have used The Big Issue’s business model, either by copying it and using the professional team to produce it and sell it. Or in the States, particularly, there’s a lot of city-based street papers that use a lot more input from those who sell it, but they earn a much more modest scale than The Big Issue.

On how he has changed the business model due to the pandemic: We just had to. In publishing, as it is in a lot of industries, when you’re thinking of a big change, you plan it over time. You will perhaps test it. Then you will decide whether or not the change you are planning is worthwhile or workable. But with the pandemic, we simply didn’t have time to do any of that. We just had to act and act quickly.

So, The Big Issue started as a single organization, a single publication in London, and spread to influence a global movement. Samir Husni: When you have a publication like The Big Issue that depends on sales on the streets, how have you changed the business model with this pandemic and stay-at-home directive? Paul McNamee: We just had to. In publishing, as it is in a lot of industries, when you’re thinking of a big change, you plan it over time. You will perhaps test it. Then you will decide whether or not the change you are planning is worthwhile or workable. But with the pandemic, we simply didn’t have time to do any of that. We just had to act and act quickly.

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On why he thinks The Big Issue is relevant today during the pandemic: The social responsibility is a key part of it and essentially why we are here. The social responsibility we feel for those people who need us is why we do what we do. They buy the magazine from us and they sell them to the public, and that’s at the heart of everything. And you can’t really separate us from anything else and I think the only reason that people have been keen to help The Big Issue, whether it’s the subscribers, corporate subscribers, or retailers, is because they recognize that responsibility and they want to find a way to help those people who write in the margins. I believe something has been triggered by the Coronavirus that is making people look out for others in ways that wouldn’t have always done before.

There were two things that were key for us to do. The first was to make sure that those people who rely on The Big Issue for an income, our street vendors, and there are around 1,500 of them in any given week across Britain. We had to make sure that they could get income. There’s no other way for them to get it. They’re not employed in any traditional sense, although we feel that they’re workers and they’re essentially running small businesses by buying a product and selling it. But in a traditional sense, they’re not employed, therefore they can’t benefit from government help, so we had to think very quickly. How do we manage to get benefit to those people? And then the other side to that is how do we manage to keep going as a business because we have to be here for our staff to help those vendors and then afterward. When the crisis is over, we suspect that we’ll be needed in a bigger way, there might be more need for people to make that kind of income. So, we have to carry on. I suppose the third thing is how do we make sure that we get a magazine into the hands of the people who enjoy it. We don’t want them to stop. So, when you’ve got those particular challenges, you very quickly come up with ways to overcome them, first, with subscriptions. Unlike a lot of magazines, we had no subscription base because of the interaction that people have with street vendors. And they enjoy that interaction, it’s important for us that exists. We may have had a few dozen subscriptions, but no real base. We came up with a three month subscription offer, which seems to be right about the time people think this will be through its worst. It’s a three month offer, with a goal of 60,000 subscriptions. Then we started building an app. We have a website and we’re very good at social media, and we started building the app very quickly. We began talking with retailers, because we’ve never in all of our history been sold in shops. So we started speaking to major retailers in Britain and they were very keen to do what they could to help. And

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just yesterday we went into the shops for the first time in our history.

On anything he’d like to add:

So, we’ve had all of these incredible revolutionary changes to the business model that we had to implement, and at the same time produce a magazine and stuff for the app remotely, with people not being able to communicate as they normally would and not being able to look and check pages in the normal way. It’s been quite a few weeks.

One thing I’d like to say is that I want to thank people who have supported The Big Issue during this time. A month ago we were making plans for future issues, we’re a weekly, so we have to plan a bit ahead. We were making plans for spring, for special issues, all those kinds of things. All of that had to go out the window as we restructured content and found new content. And I want to thank people who have come along with us and supported us and have allowed us to rebuild and be there for the vendors.

Samir Husni: In addition to the social responsibility of publishing the magazine, why do you think The Big Issue is relevant today during this pandemic? Paul McNamee: The social responsibility is a key part of it and essentially why we are here. The social responsibility we feel for those people who need us is why we do what we do. They buy the magazine from us and they sell them to the public, and that’s at the heart of everything. And you can’t really separate us from anything else and I think the only reason that people have been keen to help The Big Issue, whether it’s the subscribers, corporate subscribers, or retailers, is because they recognize that responsibility and they want to find a way to help those people who write in the margins. I believe something has been triggered by the Coronavirus that is making people look out for others in ways that they wouldn’t have always done before. In terms of a publication, one thing that I’ve always been repetitive about and that I make sure the staff understands and everybody understands is that it’s not enough for people to take pity on a vendor and buy the magazine, they have to want it and want the content. They need to feel as though they’re getting something that they’re not necessarily getting from other places. That might be because we have a particular challenge to orthodoxies, to institutions; we’re not owned by a big publisher, therefore we don’t have to fall into step with any

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On what keeps him up at night: Wondering what we’re going to put in the magazine the next morning. I know that a lot of people have said that during this time, working from home means a lot less to do and they can make plans for the garden or make plans to work around the house; I don’t know where those people are getting time, because I feel like we’re working longer and more intensely than we did before this happened. At night, I try and get a little bit of sleep and then I wake up and get ready to go again, because we have to go again.

particular thinking. We can be outside of the mainstream; we can allow ourselves to be a platform for people who might not necessarily have a voice anywhere else, and we can also bring a particularly different style of cultural input. The interviews that we conduct are admittedly different; we don’t have an agenda, people feel much more open when talking to us. We have good writers who come along and want to write for The Big Issue. Content is key and it has to be something that people want to return to again and again. And I take pride in the fact that we’ve can consistently go up against any other standard magazine and win awards for covers, content, design and editing, for all these things and we still sell in big numbers. Social responsibility, you can’t really separate it, but we have a core identity in the content that others don’t really have. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Paul McNamee: One thing I’d like to say is that I want to thank people who have supported The Big Issue during this time. A month ago we were making plans for future issues, we’re a weekly, so we have to plan a bit ahead. We were making plans for spring, for special issues, all those kinds of things. All of that had to go out the window as we restructured content and found new content. And I want to thank people who have come along with us and supported us and have allowed us to rebuild and be there for the vendors. And also the staff of The Big Issue, because I think a lot of the focus has been on how we’re supporting our vendors and how we were immediately able to get money to them and get support to them, but the staff deserves huge credit for doing that, because again, they’re working at home and they can’t necessarily see the results of what they’re doing, but they have made a huge and a positive impact. I want to thank everyone who has supported us and encourage them to do more, to get their friends to take subscriptions and also to pay credit to the staff.

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Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Paul McNamee: Wondering what we’re going to put in the magazine the next morning. I know that a lot of people have said that during this time, working from home means a lot less to do and they can make plans for the garden or make plans to work around the house; I don’t know where those people are getting time, because I feel like we’re working longer and more intensely than we did before this happened. At night, I try and get a little bit of sleep and then I wake up and get ready to go again, because we have to go again. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Meaghan Murphy

Content Director of Woman’s Day Magazine “Our job is to be a beacon of positivity.”

High energy and upbeat. Two descriptions that fit the content director of Woman’s Day magazine to a perfect T. Meaghan Murphy has been at the helm of the brand since right before the pandemic hit, but she was executive editor at Good Housekeeping for years and has a very long and successful career in service journalism, such as her time as the deputy editor and fitness director of Self at Condé Nast. I spoke with Meaghan recently and we talked about the infusion of joy and happiness that she and her team are bringing to the magazine. Woman’s Day is a legacy brand that has undergone a bit of a change and revitalization, all during a pandemic. But Meaghan’s energetic and upbeat nature didn’t let a global pandemic stop her, she looked at it as a challenge that would hone the magazine and bring out all the talents her creative team and she had to make Woman’s Day even better.

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On reinventing a magazine with the legacy of Woman’s Day during a pandemic:

Samir Husni: We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Is this the best of times or the worst of times to reinvent a magazine, especially a magazine with a legacy such as Woman’s Day?

Maybe it’s the okayest of times. (Laughs) I’m going to take the middle road. It was incredibly challenging, but also incredibly fun.

Meaghan Murphy: Maybe it’s the okayest of times. (Laughs) I’m going to take the middle road. It was incredibly challenging, but also incredibly fun.

On whether the reinvention started before or during the pandemic: It’s pretty surreal. I got the job right before quarantine, so I was just in the midst of wrapping my head around what Woman’s Day was and what I wanted it to be. I was putting together a team, and the next thing I knew I had my new art director and my new team. I hired someone virtually, from my kitchen table, as my deputy.

Samir Husni: Did the reinvention start before or during the pandemic? Did you say, what the heck, I have a new job so let’s the start the magazine over from scratch? Meaghan Murphy: It’s pretty surreal. I got the job right before quarantine, so I was just in the midst of wrapping my head around what Woman’s Day was and what I wanted it to be. I was putting together a team, and the next thing I knew I had my new art director and my new team. I hired someone virtually, from my kitchen table, as my deputy. So, it was a very crazy process. As magazine editors we’re used to throwing up inspiring visuals on the wall, but this was more Zoom calls. And we had the built-in excuse that if it failed, it was the pandemic. (Laughs) I made this magazine from my kitchen table. I went into it pretty fearless, realizing that it was the most insane circumstances under which to take on a new job and to reinvent a legacy brand. So, I said what the heck, I have absolutely nothing to lose, it’s a crazy scenario. Samir Husni: How did you approach your new team during that first Zoom meeting? New leader, new ideas – how did that go? Meaghan Murphy: I think I just explained that I wanted to make the magazine a destination celebration, a place where no holiday is left behind, from Taco Tuesday to Christmas, where we celebrate and find the joy in every single day of our lives. I know the magazine is called “Woman’s Day,” but I want us to think of it as “Woman’s Yay.” Everybody got very

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excited about that vision for the magazine. I mean, Woman’s Day was doing a ton of things right, but I really wanted to surface the joy and the happiness. What I said to the team was let’s just put everything through a fun filter, anything we’re doing let’s put it through that fun filter and make sure there’s joy, discovery and excitement and energy on every page. My team had already seen me dancing around the hallways as the executive editor of Good Housekeeping, so they knew my energy. And knew that I wanted to bring that energy to the magazine. Woman’s Day was doing a great job, but I wanted to give it a little lightning bolt zap and fully recharge it. That’s kind of what I’m known for. Yay is my favorite word. I do something called the “Yay List” which is like a virtual gratitude item, asking people to find the good in everything. So, I wanted to bring that Yay to “Woman’s Yay.” Samir Husni: What is the new message from the reinvented Woman’s Day to your readers and advertisers? Meaghan Murphy: I think the message is that there is joy and goodness in every day. And we want the good to be louder, especially in tough times. We want to give you tiny moments of celebration on a daily basis. We have a section of the magazine called the “Smile File” and it’s really based on national days. So, if it’s “National S’mores Day” we’re going to give you an epic new S’mores recipe. If it’s “National Swimming Pool Day” and we know you can’t get to a swimming pool, we’re going to give you the coolest sprinkler for your backyard to make that more fun.

On how she approached her new team in that first Zoom meeting with her new ideas for the magazine: I think I just explained that I wanted to make the magazine a destination celebration, a place where no holiday is left behind, from Taco Tuesday to Christmas, where we celebrate and find the joy in every single day of our lives. Everybody got very excited about that vision for the magazine. On the new message from the reinvented Woman’s Day to its readers and advertisers: I think the message is that there is joy and goodness in every day. And we want the good to be louder, especially in tough times. We want to give you tiny moments of celebration on a daily basis. We have a section of the magazine called the “Smile File” and it’s really based on national days. So, if it’s “National S’mores Day” we’re going to give you an epic new S’mores recipe.

On “National Junk Food Day” we’re going to ask you to match the celebrity to their favorite junk food. On “National Book Lover’s Day” we’re going to give you the ultimate beach reading list. It’s really about realizing that every day, every second, you have a choice to find the good and to celebrate

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On what role she thinks print plays in helping people find escape and happiness: We’re definitely finding the “Yay” across all platforms, but the print edition – when you see this first issue, it’s the kind of thing you’re going to want to put on your coffee table and by your bed. The images are beautiful and happy and it feels like a big sunshiny hug. It is a really bright, colorful, happy magazine. And I think people are really going to be excited about it. I’m very excited about it and I can’t wait to share it.

life. We lead with love and we look at the world through that fun filter. And I really want Woman’s Day to be an escape for people. A place where you can go to feel happy and excited; to forget for a second everything that’s going on in the world and everything that could be bringing you down. To escape the news cycle. Samir Husni: What role do you think print plays in helping people to escape and find that happiness and joy? Meaghan Murphy: We’re definitely finding the “Yay” across all platforms, but the print edition – when you see this first issue, it’s the kind of thing you’re going to want to put on your coffee table and by your bed. The images are beautiful and happy and it feels like a big sunshiny hug. It is a really bright, colorful, happy magazine. And I think people are really going to be excited about it. I’m very excited about it and I can’t wait to share it. Samir Husni: I’ve heard that you’re also adding a chief spiritual editor; there’s been a Bible verse by the masthead in every issue since the magazine started. What role will spirituality play in the new vision of the magazine? Meaghan Murphy: It’s very interesting because one of the first things people asked me when I took on this position was if the Bible verse was going away? And I said why would it? It’s something that people love. We have a faith-based readership and it’s something they really care about. So, instead of putting a little Bible verse on the table of contents or by the masthead, I wanted us to really stand for it. Now is a time people really need to have faith more than ever. So, I tapped my friend Candace Cameron Bure, who is someone I’ve always admired for her strong faith and her commitment to her family. I told her that I would love to give her an opportunity every month to share a Bible passage that was meaningful to her and to talk about how it shaped her life, then invite other people into that conversation.

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Some of the things that do incredibly well for us digitally are our Bible verses. Bible verses for hope in trying times; Bible verses for love. So, it was something that I felt was very important to stand for and to shine a light on. And to bring it further into the conversation versus a small Bible verse kind of buried in the front of the book. If this matters to our readers, I want to make it louder. Candace was honored and incredibly thrilled to be able to have this platform to speak about her faith because it is so important to her. Samir Husni: Have the last four months, as you planned for this first new issue during a pandemic, been a walk in a rose garden for you or were there some challenges along the way? Meaghan Murphy: Yes, there were challenges. First of all, I have three kids, a nine, eight and six-year-old. My husband works full-time and I work full-time. We had no help for the first three months, our babysitter wasn’t able to come into the house, so trying to homeschool, build a new team, finish a book, I have a book coming out in February, doing my podcast; I was juggling three jobs and three homeschool educations. My husband is amazing, he cooks dinner and that’s our secret sauce because I don’t do any cooking, but I will share great recipes in Woman’s Day for my husband to make.

On what role spirituality will play in the new vision for the magazine: It’s very interesting because one of the first things people asked me when I took on this position was if the Bible verse was going away? And I said why would it? It’s something that people love. We have a faith-based readership and it’s something they really care about. So, instead of putting a little Bible verse on the table of contents or by the masthead, I wanted us to really stand for it. Now is a time people really need to have faith more than ever.

So, there were endless challenges. It’s almost laughable. I’d think how did I do that? That was nuts! It’s really been a surreal trajectory, but I’m also really grateful for the new perspective. I realize that I don’t need to commute to the city five days a week to make a killer magazine. I think it will forever change the way that I work, even when we’re back in the Tower. I don’t see myself commuting five days a week. We’ve done an incredible job remotely. We’ve been a very nimble, small, but mighty team. And I’m really grateful for the time I’ve gained with my family. Family dinners weren’t something that we were able to have every night before this, because I was commuting

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On whether the last four months as she planned for this new issue during a pandemic was a walk in a rose garden or there were some challenges along the way: Yes, there were challenges. First of all, I have three kids, a nine, eight and six-year-old. My husband works full-time and I work full-time. We had no help for the first three months, our babysitter wasn’t able to come into the house, so trying to homeschool, build a new team, finish a book, I have a book coming out in February, doing my podcast; I was juggling three jobs and three homeschool educations. On whether she thinks the changes the pandemic brought about will remain in place even when it’s behind us: It’s the new “new.” I love the scrappiness of it. I get such a jolt at how scrappy we’ve had to be. Our new cover with our fruit rainbow was created in a garage in the Poconos with fruit from a grocery delivery. And it’s epic.

from the city, my husband was commuting home from Princeton. But now Taco Tuesday is a national holiday at Team Murphy house. Every Taco Tuesday since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve added a decoration, just other elements, to it. I have many sombreros for the night. We have taco napkins and plates; my daughter made garland. We made our own placemats. My kids are always saying when the pandemic is over, we can never walk away from Taco Tuesday again. And I say don’t worry we won’t. It’s also sort of informal the way I’m making the magazines. In our recipe section “What’s For Dinner Tonight?” we still have the amazing 20-minute meals that you can put on the table, but we added an element that became incredibly important to me, with the eye-opening experience of the pandemic and the return to family. We have “Table Talk.” You’re eating with people and you’re engaging and communicating. It’s these moments of family and connection and engagement that are really going to get us all over these tough times. Samir Husni: What are your expectations for the future? Do you think that the changes that the pandemic has brought about will remain in place even when it’s behind us? Meaghan Murphy: So, it’s the new “new.” I love the scrappiness of it. I get such a jolt at how scrappy we’ve had to be. Our new cover with our fruit rainbow was created in a garage in the Poconos with fruit from a grocery delivery. And it’s epic. I’m so proud of this magazine. We did it and we wouldn’t have gotten that same sense of accomplishment if it had been easy. When things are hard, it just makes it that much more awesome when you succeed. And we even changed the logo. It’s just so exciting. I can’t wait to frame it in my office. We looked back at the 1950s and some old iterations of Woman’s Day and did some of that.

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And my favorite thing about the magazine is there are little moments of discovery on every page. You’ll notice a little flag that reads “Yay” on a watermelon. There are these little moments of joy throughout. My other favorite section is called “Hello, That’s Adorable.” It’s the wreath of the month on a front door. And because it’s a front door, every month it says “Knock, knock, we’ve got a joke for you.” And there’s a joke on the door. The wreath is a flamingo and we made it in quarantine and shot it somehow. And we asked what’s the opposite of a flamingo? A fla-ming-stop. (Laughs) Samir Husni: How can Woman’s Day bring that message of hope and joy to your readers during these troubling and uncertain times? Meaghan Murphy: I think we all have this natural negativity bias and you could watch the news all day and feel like crap all day. And I don’t think that’s healthy. We have to have time for that reality every day and then we need to have more time for the opposite of that for our mental health and our sanity. And I don’t think we need to feel guilty about also finding the joy and having fun, just looking at the flip side of all that stuff. There is a lot that sucks right now; there’s a lot that’s tough and hard. And if that’s all you dwell on and you just live in that place, you’re going to be miserable. And miserable people don’t change the world.

On how Woman’s Day can bring that message of hope and joy to its readers during these troubling and uncertain times: I think we all have this natural negativity bias and you could watch the news all day and feel like crap all day. And I don’t think that’s healthy. We have to have time for that reality every day and then we need to have more time for the opposite of that for our mental health and our sanity. And I don’t think we need to feel guilty about also finding the joy and having fun, just looking at the flip side of all that stuff.

It’s okay to be positive and it’s okay to find moments of joy and to celebrate. Celebrations are good for our mental and physical health. We cannot allow ourselves to only be sucked into that negative vortex. It’s so easy to find the bad right now because the bad is so very loud. Our job is to be a beacon of positivity and to give people moments of reprieve from that. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Meaghan Murphy: I’m super excited about the magazine. We have a small and amazing team. I also have a book coming

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On anything she’s like to add: I’m super excited about the magazine. We have a small and amazing team. I also have a book coming out in February, which I’m really passionate about. It’s called “The Fully Charged Life” and it’s a radically simple guide to having endless energy and filling every day with Yay. And it’s based in positive psychology. It looks at the signs of positive psychology within different charges of your life and it gives action-packed tips based on my 25 years as a service journalist in magazines. On what keeps her up at night: One of my superpowers is a shut-off button. I have an ability to power down at the end of the day and just zone out. It might be because I move at a 150 MPH and just wear myself out, but I do think one of my superpowers is an ability to let it go; just to shut off. And then to pick back up the next morning. So, I don’t lose a lot of sleep.

out in February, which I’m really passionate about. It’s called “The Fully Charged Life” and it’s a radically simple guide to having endless energy and filling every day with Yay. And it’s based in positive psychology. It looks at the signs of positive psychology within different charges of your life and it gives action-packed tips based on my 25 years as a service journalist in magazines. It all spring boarded from an article I wrote for Cosmo called “The Seven Secrets of Happiness” many years ago that finally flipped a switch for me that happiness is a choice and there are exercises and things that we can do to move toward happiness. That book and the tips and strategies in there have 100 percent informed everything that I’m doing with my team. When I’m coaching them through tough days and when we’re weathering some tough storms. It’s not easy to work remotely with everyone having different challenges. I’m using all those tips and strategies to do this. And it really does inform where Woman’s Day has come. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Meaghan Murphy: One of my superpowers is a shut-off button. I have an ability to power down at the end of the day and just zone out. It might be because I move at a 150 MPH and just wear myself out, but I do think one of my superpowers is an ability to let it go; just to shut off. And then to pick back up the next morning. So, I don’t lose a lot of sleep. That’s not to say I don’t have worries during the day and I’m not fully aware of the challenges that life is bombarding us with right now, but I have found an ability to say it’s time to let go and recharge and pick it back up in the morning. I sleep like a baby. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX Doug Olson President of Meredith Magazines “It’s important for us to stay laser-focused on creating relevant and essential content for consumers and supporting our partners. We’re all in this together”

These could certainly be described as the “worst of times” in some ways. The world is facing a pandemic of gargantuan proportions; people are sheltering inside their homes to prevent the spread, allowing those who can to work from home and try and go about their normal duties as efficiently as possible. The world of magazines is no different. With the added challenges of bookstores and newsstands temporarily closing, the already stretched profitability of some magazine media companies has become an even thinner line of revenue. As everyone awaits the end of Covid-19 and hope that we and our friends and families stay safe and healthy, we also know that we are strong and resilient. That our country as a whole will come back and be better than ever.

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On his message to his staff during these trying and uncertain times: Our number one message throughout this crisis continues to be keeping our employees and their families safe and healthy. We’re all in this together. We are so proud of how our Meredith family is overcoming the extremely difficult circumstances throughout this crisis. Obviously, most of our offices are closed because of state directives or local guidance, and in locations where we’re able to remain open, we’re recommending that everyone work from home.

Over at Meredith Corporation, Doug Olson, president, Meredith Magazines, has the same opinion. And while before this pandemic, Meredith was launching and publishing new titles at successive speeds, believe it or not, not much has changed for them. Their “secret sauce” is still working, even in this time of uncertainty. I spoke with Doug recently and we talked about his team’s ability to just jump in and do what was needed to be done during this time. And about how proud he was of them and their dedication. His belief that we’re all in this together is an attitude that permeates Meredith before and during Covid-19. Samir Husni: It seems that the people in the media business are always quick to sound the alarms of doom and gloom, not only for the country, but for magazine media as well. When Playboy magazine folded, it’s because of the Coronavirus and when Esquire goes to six times per year, it’s also the pandemic. You’re the president of the magazine division of Meredith, the largest magazine group in the world; in the midst of all of this COVID-19 and all of these shutdowns, what’s your message to your magazine people? Doug Olson: Our number one message throughout this crisis continues to be keeping our employees and their families safe and healthy. We’re all in this together. We are so proud of how our Meredith family is overcoming the extremely difficult circumstances throughout this crisis. Obviously, most of our offices are closed because of state directives or local guidance, and in locations where we’re able to remain open, we’re recommending that everyone work from home. If you would have told me six months ago that in the middle of March every employee would be working from home and creating the same premium content, that we would be selling advertising, putting our magazines together, and updating our websites from our home environments, I would have said

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that would be very difficult. But within a matter of a day or two, we had all of our operations up and running from workfrom-home scenarios thanks to a talented and tireless team working behind-the-scenes to make that happen seamlessly and they continue to do so. I’m so proud to be part of this stellar organization. PEOPLE has put out two issues in the last two weeks, completely done remotely, with a 200-member team. These are tremendous accomplishments and there is enormous innovation, creativity and collaboration happening across the board. I’m humbled and grateful for our employees’ response to all of this. Our employees are dealing with a lot of different circumstances right now. Some are caring for their elderly parents; some are homeschooling their kids now that Spring Break is mostly over, at least in the Midwest. The fact that we’re overcoming all of the challenges, putting out the same premium quality content in our magazines and across all of our platforms is deeply satisfying and prideful. Samir Husni: Excluding the magazines that are subscriptiondriven, whether it’s PEOPLE, Better Homes & Gardens or REAL SIMPLE, how do you think this shutdown or stay-at-home way of working is going to impact the strategy for the special interest publications? With all of these millions of copies you’ve been putting on the newsstand and with Barnes & Noble stopping shipments of magazines because people can’t got to the bookstores or newsstands, any change in plans or slowing down in those titles? Doug Olson: We clearly evaluate our publishing schedule every week, but currently there are no changes. We do realize that Barnes & Noble is not currently taking any new products given the circumstances.

On any plans he has to slow down the publication schedule of the special interest titles: We clearly evaluate our publishing schedule every week, but currently there are no changes. We do realize that Barnes & Noble is not currently taking any new products given the circumstances. We saw an uptick at newsstand in the first week when everybody began working from home. The last week has been virtually flat. We sell the bulk of our product at Walmart, Target and the big grocery chains. There’s a lot of traffic, and keep in mind, every checkout aisle is open. Under normal circumstances, a lot of those checkout lanes are not open and people do a lot of the self-checkouts. Under the current circumstances, with the number of people in the store, all checkout lanes are open. As consumers wait to check out o, as they’re waiting to check out, they have the opportunity to take a look at some of our products and many are putting them in their cart and their hard-earned money toward the immersive experiences our brands provide.

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On whether Meredith plans to launch the new Ayesha Curry magazine as scheduled during the tragic pandemic: Yes, the magazine is complete and we’re talking to Ayesha’s team about the launch. We’re currently planning to launch it as scheduled in late April. On whether they have a name for the new magazine yet: We do have a name for it. I believe she is going to announce it on her social media a little closer to launch. The magazine is printed and ready to go. Ayesha has over nine million social media followers, so she plans to unveil the name to those brand enthusiasts.

We saw an uptick at newsstand in the first week when everybody began working from home. The last week has been virtually flat. We sell the bulk of our product at Walmart, Target and the big grocery chains. There’s a lot of traffic, and keep in mind, every checkout aisle is open. Under normal circumstances, a lot of those checkout lanes are not open and people do a lot of the self-checkouts. Under the current circumstances, with the number of people in the store, all checkout lanes are open. As consumers wait to check out o, as they’re waiting to check out, they have the opportunity to take a look at some of our products and many are putting them in their cart and their hard-earned money toward the immersive experiences our brands provide. It’s also important to keep in mind that 96 percent of all of our rate-based titles are subscription-based. We only have four percent that are newsstand. And subscriptions have sold at a higher than normal average as well. So, if something’s index is normally at 100, we’ve seen most of our direct mail campaigns and some of our digital subscription activities actually over index, past that 100 mark. The special media titles, to your point, we do put out roughly 300 products per year, the higher-priced, higher quality magazines that we’re famous for here at Meredith. And so far the sales trends are holding as well. Samir Husni: Are you still going to launch the new Ayesha Curry magazine as scheduled? Doug Olson: Yes, the magazine is complete and we’re talking to Ayesha’s team about the launch. We’re currently planning to launch it as scheduled in late April. Samir Husni: Is there a name for it yet? Doug Olson: We do have a name for it. I believe she is going to announce it on her social media a little closer to launch. The magazine is printed and ready to go. Ayesha has over

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nine million social media followers, so she plans to unveil the name to those brand enthusiasts. Samir Husni: You sound very optimistic and you continue to publish magazines, while many cry doom and gloom, touting the closure of some magazines as the end of days. Why does the media only shout the bad news, rather than the good news, such as Meredith’s continuation of new titles? And what is Meredith’s secret sauce that secures that positive attitude? Doug Olson: I think from our perspective, our content and premium storytelling is resonating with consumers right now, even more so than usual. Our content is vital and an important much-needed escape from the current C-19 crisis. That said, magazine media is a challenging business. We continue to read about the doom and gloom, but we’ve proven that with a powerful portfolio and trusted premium content leading the way, you can outperform the market significantly. There are definitely obstacles ahead for all of us. It’s important for us to stay laser-focused on creating relevant and essential content for consumers and supporting our partners. That, I believe, will carry the day. Samir Husni: If you were going to send a message to your readers, customers, advertisers; whether you called it a message of hope or simply Doug looking into his crystal ball for the future, what would that message be? Doug Olson: Our message is we’re all in this together. By banding together this country has always proven that it can overcome any situation. I believe we play a small part in that at Meredith, whether it’s a magazine, website, video, or social media, we’re going to continue to inform, inspire and entertain our audience. Together, all of us will overcome this crisis and move ahead to brighter days.

On Meredith’s positive attitude toward their continued publication of new titles and the company’s secret sauce for success: I think from our perspective, our content and premium storytelling is resonating with consumers right now, even more so than usual. Our content is vital and an important muchneeded escape from the current C-19 crisis. That said, magazine media is a challenging business. We continue to read about the doom and gloom, but we’ve proven that with a powerful portfolio and trusted premium content leading the way, you can outperform the market significantly. There are definitely obstacles ahead for all of us. It’s important for us to stay laser-focused on creating relevant and essential content for consumers and supporting our partners. That, I believe, will carry the day.

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On his message for the future to his readers, customers and advertisers: Our message is we’re all in this together. By banding together this country has always proven that it can overcome any situation. I believe we play a small part in that at Meredith, whether it’s a magazine, website, video, or social media, we’re going to continue to inform, inspire and entertain our audience. Together, all of us will overcome this crisis and move ahead to brighter days.

Samir Husni: Do you think working under pressure, working from home will be a model for the future or this is just temporary and everyone will return to the office once the pandemic is over? Doug Olson: I know that we have many employees who work for us that would love to come back to the office for the socialization aspect of their regular jobs, but I see your point. Some of this may be looked upon differently when we move forward. We’ve proven that we can execute many parts of our jobs remotely, including some tasks we never dreamed we could do. In all of our business continuity plans we always assumed that one office within Meredith would have some kind of challenge that we’d have to overcome, but I don’t think any of our scenarios took into account that all of the employees would be working from home. Again, I’m so proud of our team. I know that there are a lot of other organizations out there that have accomplished similar Herculean efforts and this speaks to the silver lining of this crisis — it brings out the best in everybody. So, we’re going to continue to support one and all and do the best job we can. Samir Husni: Anything you’d like to add? Doug Olson: Again, our number one focus throughout this crisis continues to be keeping our employees and their families safe and healthy. Obviously, keeping the business moving forward is very important to us, especially as a publicly-traded company. But our paramount focus continues to be the safety and well-being of our team. At the end of the day, that’s the most important priority right now. I believe the business is thriving because our employees are safe and secure. When we’re able to bring them back together, we’re going to learn and apply some great lessons from this, and make some

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adjustments. Now more than ever, I love our Meredith family, our business, our portfolio and I genuinely appreciate people like you who support our organization and industry. Stay well! Samir Husni: Thank you, stay safe, stay well, and stay inside.

On whether he thinks working from home could turn into a future business model for Meredith: I know that we have many employees who work for us that would love to come back to the office for the socialization aspect of their regular jobs, but I see your point. Some of this may be looked upon differently when we move forward. On anything he’d like to add: Again, our number one focus throughout this crisis continues to be keeping our employees and their families safe and healthy. Obviously, keeping the business moving forward is very important to us, especially as a publiclytraded company. But our paramount focus continues to be the safety and well-being of our team. At the end of the day, that’s the most important priority right now. I believe the business is thriving because our employees are safe and secure.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

Stephen Orr

Editor In Chief of Better Homes & Gardens “The magazine media world, particularly in print, and in digital and video too, has been needing to dismantle old ways that are based on the past.�

Bringing people joy and giving readers the content they want even before they know they want it; according to Stephen Orr, editor in chief, Better Homes & Gardens, this is what makes for good editors and what makes a service journalism magazine relevant during these uncertain times. I spoke with Stephen recently and we talked about publishing during this pandemic and about how the differences in producing magazines today versus just a few months ago can be challenging, the process can also be reenergizing, causing innovation and creativity to jump to the forefront. Staying upbeat, positive and delivering the same joyful content that Better Homes & Gardens has always created is something that Stephen and his team continue to do, even in the face of a pandemic. For it’s a given the world needs joy now more than ever and magazines always come through. publishing during a pandemic

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On what he believes the role of service journalism magazines are during this pandemic: Meredith has a range of titles, and as editor in chief of Better Homes & Gardens and overseeing about 12 of our brands we’re in the business of inspiring people, lifting them up and educating them in a very positive manner. We’re not all covering hard-hitting, investigative stories that are about troubling things. Some brands do amazing investigative journalism about subjects. PEOPLE, for instance, comes to mind. But for the most part, magazines like BH&G are service journalism, and we are in the business of trying to make people happy. On his message for his audience when they read his editorial in the May issue of BH&G: When I thought of my neighbors as I wrote that editorial, and I was thinking about them obviously as I walked by, it touched my heart because I can imagine all of those families; all of those single people; all of those couples; all of those elderly people, doing the things that made them happy. We’re quarantined

Samir Husni: I read your editorial in the May issue of Better Homes & Gardens, which included a lot of hopeful and encouraging words to your audience, so during this pandemic, what’s the role of a service journalism magazine? How are you shedding some light for your readers on this tragic topic? Stephen Orr: Meredith has a range of titles, and as editor in chief of Better Homes & Gardens and overseeing about 12 of our brands we’re in the business of inspiring people, lifting them up and educating them in a very positive manner. We’re not all covering hard-hitting, investigative stories that are about troubling things. Some brands do amazing investigative journalism about subjects. PEOPLE, for instance, comes to mind. But for the most part, magazines like BH&G are service journalism, and we are in the business of trying to make people happy. We’ve always done that and now with all the uncertainty and anxiety that just floats through the air so thickly, it’s even more important than ever to inspire people and make them happy. Samir Husni: What is the message you have for your audience when they read your editorial in the May issue or pick up any one of your magazines? What are you trying to tell them? Stephen Orr: When I thought of my neighbors as I wrote that editorial, and I was thinking about them obviously as I walked by, it touched my heart because I can imagine all of those families; all of those single people; all of those couples; all of those elderly people, doing the things that made them happy. We’re quarantined here in New York and every day I’m doing things that make me happy. We all have our own repertoire of activities that we do to make us happy, hopefully. That’s one way to combat certain aspects of feeling down.

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On the other hand, you run out of those activities and projects, and that’s why media in all its forms, and particularly magazines, are providing inspiration for something new. Magazines serve the function of giving people fresh content and keeping them happy, because surprise and delight is the goal of all of our magazine brands at Meredith. Samir Husni: As you’re trying to surprise and delight your audience, it’s been said that nobody needs a magazine, you have to make people want it. What makes Better Homes & Gardens more wanted during this pandemic? Stephen Orr: I love cooking. For me, I can rest on cooking very easily, and I don’t use many recipes. In my ordinary preCovid life, I didn’t use recipes, unless I was baking. Now I find that I’m looking for recipes more because I’m tired of my way of doing it. I’m cooking three meals a day, and I’m looking for new ideas. That’s what we’re bringing people… the newness and the novelty. The surprises of things that you didn’t think of yourself. When I can pop into a search bar on Google and look for what I need, I’ll get it, but I’ve said it before, the best editors give their readers what they want before they know they want it. And being slightly ahead is helpful. It’s hard right now to give people what they want in advance because the future is uncertain, so that is a challenge for content creators like myself. We want to hit in the right spot, and as I wrote in my ed-letter, we’re planning content a year out and we don’t know what that future looks like. So, that’s a big challenge for all of us right now. And that’s why digital and video are very important. We can be immediate on those platforms.

here in New York and every day I’m doing things that make me happy. We all have our own repertoire of activities that we do to make us happy, hopefully. That’s one way to combat certain aspects of feeling down. On what makes BH&G more wanted during a pandemic: I love cooking. For me, I can rest on cooking very easily, and I don’t use many recipes. In my ordinary pre-Covid life, I didn’t use recipes, unless I was baking. Now I find that I’m looking for recipes more because I’m tired of my way of doing it. I’m cooking three meals a day, and I’m looking for new ideas. That’s what we’re bringing people… the newness and the novelty. The surprises of things that you didn’t think of yourself.

Samir Husni: How are you operating everything during this pandemic? Stephen Orr: The Better Homes & Gardens team has been awesome, and all the editors that I work with and their teams

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On how BH&G is operating during the pandemic: The Better Homes & Gardens team has been awesome, and all the editors that I work with and their teams have been amazing too, especially about realizing that it’s a new day, at least for now. We don’t know about forever. But something positive that forces our hand is that we’ve been needing to work in new ways for a long time. The magazine media world, particularly in print, and in digital and video too, has been needing to dismantle old ways that are based on the past. Perhaps, you might say, the glory days of the New York magazine scene. And the efforts, money and budgets that went into that. This crisis forces our hand to do things in new ways that’s current with media consumption habits of our next generation audience, who are used to more offhand, casual Snapchat, TikTok, DIY content.

have been amazing too, especially about realizing that it’s a new day, at least for now. We don’t know about forever. But something positive that forces our hand is that we’ve been needing to work in new ways for a long time. The magazine media world, particularly in print, and in digital and video too, has been needing to dismantle old ways that are based on the past. Perhaps, you might say, the glory days of the New York magazine scene. And the efforts, money and budgets that went into that. This crisis forces our hand to do things in new ways that’s current with media consumption habits of our next generation audience, who are used to more offhand, casual Snapchat, TikTok, DIY content. Our editors, producers, and everyone working remotely, are making their own videos. I’m going to be making one that announces the launch of BH&G’s “America’s Best Front Yard” contest.. You just have to jump in and do it yourself. And it makes a product look different. Just watching newscasters from home these days, it’s interesting and not that strange to look at. In the old days we would have thought that was crazy, but now we’re used to it because we’re all doing Zoom meetings regularly. Our expectations have changed and needed to change, and it will give content creation a much-needed rattle to start working in those new ways we’ve talked about. Samir Husni: One thing that has surprised me during this quarantine/social distancing directive is I texted my 127 students and 120 of them answered me back and said what they miss the most during this pandemic is the personal interaction between classmates, walking on campus, being physically present. And this is the generation that most would think would treasure today’s “isolated connectivity.” But because it’s no longer a choice, they seem to miss the old ways. Do you think that we’ll see a day where people are truly hungrier for the printed magazine? Or will it be all digital from now on?

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Stephen Orr: I’m a big fan of multiplatform content, the multiplatform brand, and how that works across each channel, but you’re exactly right. Humans are social creatures; we’re that way, we’ve had good success as a species because of that, and even though we drive each other nuts, we work together. To borrow a Joni Mitchell line: “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”. And that’s what this crisis is doing. It’s making everyone reevaluate priorities; it’s making people reevaluate their previous lives when it comes to what they put their efforts into. And it’s making people reconnect. It also exposes a lot of social problems, a lot of inequities. It exposes problems people have in their home lives, for better or for worse. This is a transformational event for our global society. And media plays a big part in that , from the hard-hitting investigative journalism of the highest order to the everyday joy, inspiration and lifestyle service that our Meredith magazines bring every month to readers and the content they access on all the platforms we offer. They can have it; however and whenever they want. But you’re right, now, during this period, they have much more time to read or flip through a magazine. And I believe people are enjoying those slow joys more, and it’s up to the future to decide how much that will continue.

On whether he thinks after this pandemic we’ll see a time when readers are hungrier for a print magazine: I’m a big fan of multiplatform content, the multiplatform brand, and how that works across each channel, but you’re exactly right. Humans are social creatures; we’re that way, we’ve had good success as a species because of that, and even though we drive each other nuts, we work together. To borrow a Joni Mitchell line: “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”. And that’s what this crisis is doing. It’s making everyone reevaluate priorities; it’s making people reevaluate their previous lives when it comes to what they put their efforts into. And it’s making people reconnect.

Samir Husni: What’s your message to the millions of readers that Better Homes & Gardens has, both in print and digital? If you had one thing to tell them, what would that message be? Stephen Orr: Be optimistic, because we have to be optimistic. Even though right now it’s extremely challenging, especially in New York City; it gets more challenging by the minute and the news is frightening. We all have to find ways to be happy and some days it takes more effort than not, but I’m very happy I’m in the business of bringing people joy. I recognize that even in my own neighborhood there are

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On his overall message to his BH&G readers during these uncertain times: Be optimistic, because we have to be optimistic. Even though right now it’s extremely challenging, especially in New York City; it gets more challenging by the minute and the news is frightening. We all have to find ways to be happy and some days it takes more effort than not, but I’m very happy I’m in the business of bringing people joy. On anything he’d like to add: One thing I have not done but is on my to-do list for the next couple of days is, we have an online archive and I’m going to look at how Better Homes & Gardens, which is nearly 100 years old, handled times of extended crisis in the past. I’m going to look at what we did after Pearl Harbor; how we handled the wars; how we handled 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, and all sorts of things that predate me here. And I believe that will be inspiring. We’ve done this before in various versions, so I think media will do it again.

people who have lost their jobs, who will lose their jobs; there are people who are struggling with their housing situation; there are beloved restaurants closed. I urge people to look for ways to help. If I complained about anything, my parents would take my head and literally point it toward someone who needed help. That’s how I was raised. One way that Meredith is trying to help is by bringing everyday joy to people and now all of us are trying to get behind causes that are beginning to emerge during this crisis and mobilize our audiences to help others. That’s one of the socially human things that we do so well; we want to help. And that’s what I think is important: optimism and our natural tendency to help. Samir Husni: Is there anything you’d like to add? Stephen Orr: One thing I have not done but is on my to-do list for the next couple of days is, we have an online archive and I’m going to look at how Better Homes & Gardens, which is nearly 100 years old, handled times of extended crisis in the past. I’m going to look at what we did after Pearl Harbor; how we handled the wars; how we handled 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, and all sorts of things that predate me here. And I believe that will be inspiring. We’ve done this before in various versions, so I think media will do it again. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Stephen Orr: I have been so impressed with the nimbleness of our teams. Our teams in Des Moines, Iowa, where I’m normally based, but I’m now here in my previous home in New York under quarantine until who knows, and I deeply value the teams in Des Moines, the teams in New York City, the teams in Vermont, the teams in Birmingham, Ala. Everybody is figuring it out on their own, they’re not waiting for someone to tell them what to do. They’re figuring out the best solutions for their brands and jumping in and solving

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that. So, that’s been great.

On what keeps him up at night:

We are producing our magazine seamlessly at Better Homes & Gardens, because we have talented, resourceful and tenacious editors in production and the art department, and everybody is just moving pages every day. I closed the magazine on my cell phone. I did it all with PDF’s and that worked great. What is worrisome to me is the future of creating content and visual content, meaning photography. Photo shoots right now are incredibly hard because of the physical proximity of unrelated people. That’s what we’re working on right now, and even with that, we have viable solutions coming up where people are shooting at home; people are working with teams, it might be a husband and wife team, where she’s a stylist and he’s a photographer or vice versa. That’s what’s keeping me up at night a little bit, though I know that we’re going to solve that problem. We just need to be flexible; we need to compromise; and we need to keep the quality up, and we have to solve that problem first and foremost in the coming months. Getting the new imagery together for all platforms: video, digital and print. I know we’ll do it. It’s inspiring to see people solve that problem.

What is worrisome to me is the future of creating content and visual content, meaning photography. Photo shoots right now are incredibly hard because of the physical proximity of unrelated people. That’s what we’re working on right now, and even with that, we have viable solutions coming up where people are shooting at home; people are working with teams, it might be a husband and wife team, where she’s a stylist and he’s a photographer or vice versa.

Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

Gemma Peckham

Global’Publisher & Editor In Chief of Executive Media “All we can do in a situation like this is stay the course, that’s important.

Stay the course. During a pandemic, that is very sound advice, indeed. And Gemma Peckham, publisher and editor in chief at Executive Media Global, is planning on taking it and holding steady and strong. From Rova magazine, a travel title for the perpetual RV person, to a brand new launch getting ready to hit the market called Oh Reader, for reading enthusiasts everywhere, she and her Australian-based company, Executive Media Global, are determined to not only hold strong, but build up their portfolio of titles as they move forward. I spoke with Gemma recently and we talked about the launch of the new “Oh Reader” and how “Rova” was rolling along during these uncertain times. While she was of course realistic, she was also hopeful about the future of magazines and magazine publishing. Samir Husni: You have a bimonthly travel magazine called Rova and you’re getting ready to launch a new magazine, Oh Reader. How are you functioning as a magazine editor/ publisher in the midst of this pandemic? Gemma Peckham: The last few weeks in particular have been – it’s a matter of making decisions about what’s going publishing during a pandemic

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On how she is managing a travel magazine, Rova, and launching a new title, Oh Reader, during a pandemic: The last few weeks in particular have been – it’s a matter of making decisions about what’s going to work best for the business. So, it’s been tough trying to figure out the best way. And because the two magazines are at such different stages, we have to give them considerations from different points of view.

to work best for the business. So, it’s been tough trying to figure out the best way. And because the two magazines are at such different stages, we have to give them considerations from different points of view. With Rova, for example, we did discuss skipping an edition; we talked about combining an edition so that we would have a double edition later on down the track. But after conversations that I’ve had with professionals in the industry, for our subscribers of Rova, our loyal readers, I didn’t want them to have to wait for the next edition. I didn’t want to disrupt the continuity we have going with it. Obviously, print bills and other things are an issue because of lower advertising, just people not spending, they’re not actually paying their bills at the moment because they’re saying that they don’t have the money. But we’re continuing with whatever newsstand circulation we can get, which is a lot lower than it was before because of, obviously, Barnes & Noble and the other bookstore closures. That has significantly reduced the newsstand circulation. We are going to be selling preorder copies online, which we haven’t really done before. We’ll ask people to purchase them ahead of time, so that we can factor that into the print order and we can get them straight out from the printer. And we’re actually reducing the page extent from 96 to 80 as well. All of those decisions were made between myself and the president of the company, who’s in Australia. It’s hard because we don’t know what we’re going to be able to sell, in terms of preorders; we don’t know how many people will be actually going to stores to pick up magazines and that’s really affected our advertising sales as well, because a lot of our advertisers are concerned that their ads won’t be reaching anywhere near as many people as they were before. So, that has really been a struggle. Having said that, we’ve actually had a few inquiries from advertisers recently about getting into the June edition for

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summer. It’s difficult, because the news is showing people that the country is going to be open again in a month or so, which I don’t necessarily believe is the case, particularly being here in New York. It doesn’t feel like a possibility for us, at least. But I do think there are people who are planning still for editions down the road, maybe summer, into fall. All of that is a long-winded way of saying it’s a difficult time and it’s a time where you have to make decisions without really knowing what the outcome of those are going to be, because it’s such an unprecedented circumstance. And with Oh Reader, it’s a magazine we were set to launch in June. We were going to do a launch party in New York City, invite all of these bloggers over, obviously we can’t do that now. And also just launching into our whole marketing strategy, which was to go into bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, because it’s a magazine about reading. Without any of those stores currently accepting magazines, we didn’t think it was the right time to do that. So, we’re still going to proceed with our June launch; we’ll do a digital edition and a print-on-demand run for anyone who has preordered it, anyone who has already subscribed and then we’ll actually do a harder launch for the September edition. Hopefully. I had already gathered all the content for Oh Reader, and it’s all such great content that I don’t want to do a disservice to the authors by only publishing online. I also don’t want to put off the publication date, because we’ve had all these plans in place. And I think some good could come out of keeping the launch in June. If we make it available online, hopefully it will generate some interest through the online channels and social media. We will print as many copies as we need to and we’ll print promotional copies as well to send out to advertisers. There could be some good to come out this, for sure. And

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On how easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home: We actually have an office in Manhattan, where myself, an editorial assistant, and our sales staff work together. So, as soon as all of this stuff happened, I instructed everybody to work from home. It’s changed in terms of our physical location, but it’s lucky that we can do most of what we do from any location that has Internet. I’m very used to collaborating with people who aren’t necessarily in front of me, so it’s been an easier transition for me, I suppose, than maybe for other publishers.

we’re just excited to get it launched as well, because it’s a fun magazine. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home? Gemma Peckham: We actually have an office in Manhattan, where myself, an editorial assistant, and our sales staff work together. So, as soon as all of this stuff happened, I instructed everybody to work from home. It’s changed in terms of our physical location, but it’s lucky that we can do most of what we do from any location that has Internet. I’m very used to collaborating with people who aren’t necessarily in front of me, so it’s been an easier transition for me, I suppose, than maybe for other publishers. And also, larger publishers, because we’re so small we can kind of mover around and it’s not too difficult for us. The location has changed, but I’m still able to do everything I was doing before and sales is a fun-based job so I can keep making those calls. Samir Husni: Do you think Rova is more relevant today than ever before because of this pandemic or will it be better after? Gemma Peckham: I think after is what we’re looking at because initially I thought it would be great for people who are out on the road, not great, but they’re in a situation where they can move their vehicle somewhere and stay there to ride out the pandemic. But a lot of state parks and RV parks are closing down, so they’re actually saying the opposite, now they’re scrambling to find somewhere to stay, all these full-time RVers, because they don’t have a permanent place of residence. So, I think in terms of those readers they’re a little bit displaced at the moment, they’re not necessarily planning

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more travel, they’re planning to stay still. But on the other side of that, and this is something we’ve seen previously, once all of the restrictions lift, I think people will be much more likely to be traveling domestically than internationally. Road trips as opposed to air travel will become a lot more popular.

On whether she thinks the RV travel magazine, Rova, is more relevant today than ever before because of this pandemic or there will be a better time for it after this is over:

We have a magazine in Australia that’s similar called “Caravanning Australia” and directly after 9/11 the popularity and the sales of that magazine just shot up. It was a really big time for us at that publication. And part of its success was that road trips and travel became more prominent and the way people preferred to travel because of the fear around air travel.

I think after is what we’re looking at because initially I thought it would be great for people who are out on the road, not great, but they’re in a situation where they can move their vehicle somewhere and stay there to ride out the pandemic. But a lot of state parks and RV parks are closing down, so they’re actually saying the opposite, now they’re scrambling to find somewhere to stay, all these full-time RVers, because they don’t have a permanent place of residence.

So, we’re hoping that out of this will come a bit of a surge in domestic travel, and more interest in what we do. Samir Husni: Tell me briefly about the new magazine, Oh Reader. Gemma Peckham: I’m always trying to think of new magazine ideas. We’re trying to build Executive Media Global to a point where we have a number of publications that work for us. I always think of things that appeal to me, obviously, because the more interested I am the more likely it is that it will be successful because you need to have that passion for something. I was looking around and reading a lot of books, looking for magazines that were related to the book industry, reading as a lifestyle. Most of the magazines that I could find, things like Bookforum and a bunch of other publications that were… I mean, they’re great for what they are, but they’re book reviews, author interviews, and all of that is fantastic, but there was nothing that spoke to me as a reader, with the kinds of things I like to do and think about when it comes to reading.

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On the new magazine Oh Reader: I would say that it’s a magazine for people who like to read. The tagline is “For The Love of Reading.” And it’s about the way that people interact with books and literature. Rather than having book reviews and interviews and things like that, we have stories about how a particular book has shaped somebody’s life or how reading has helped someone come through a difficult situation.

I would say that it’s a magazine for people who like to read. The tagline is “For The Love of Reading.” And it’s about the way that people interact with books and literature. Rather than having book reviews and interviews and things like that, we have stories about how a particular book has shaped somebody’s life or how reading has helped someone come through a difficult situation. We have some humorous pieces as well. There’s a mother who’s writing an article about the five stages of grief, when she realizes her child doesn’t like Harry Potter. It’s just the way people interact with books and are inspired by literature. There are so many people who love to read; if you get on Instagram, Books Hashtag Instagram has 30 or 40 million hashtags and they’re people who love to show off their bookshelves and what they’re reading, they love to discuss what they’re reading and there wasn’t a magazine that really catered to those people. So, we wanted to fill that gap, keep people inspired and connect them as well, because it’s such a huge community of readers. I think that we can tell them each other’s stories to keep them connected and interested. Samir Husni: Why do you think the magazine as a platform is still relevant today? Gemma Peckham: That’s a really good question. For Oh Reader, it’s really based on my own experience with reading. Obviously, I’m coming from a unique standpoint in that I am a magazine publisher and I love to read books, so I automatically put those things together. But I think when you listen to readers talking, part of what they say they love about reading is holding the book and turning the pages. Many are reluctant to start reading with technology because they just love that experience with the paper. This magazine will only work in a printed format because that’s what this particular passionate segment of the market is into, that’s what they’re going to want to read.

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We’ll obviously have a digital edition as well, but I think the printed product is, for this particular audience, unique. It’s one of the only sectors where you can say people will definitely want to read this on paper as opposed to digitally. More broadly, obviously there has been a lot of talk about the death of the magazine and the death of print publishing. I can see the point a lot of people are trying to make with that, but I also see that people are reverting to authenticity and they’re going back to more analog methods of interacting, such as magazines, just because we have screen fatigue. I have three screens in front of me right now and I can’t wait to get away from them to read my books. The information overload that we have, because of all of these screens coming at us is really causing people to want to detach from that a little bit. And I think that’s helping, particularly niche publications, where people are escaping to something that they love, a hobby or pastime, and they can get away from all these screens and they can relax.

On why she thinks the magazine as a platform is still relevant today: That’s a really good question. For Oh Reader, it’s really based on my own experience with reading. Obviously, I’m coming from a unique standpoint in that I am a magazine publisher and I love to read books, so I automatically put those things together. But I think when you listen to readers talking, part of what they say they love about reading is holding the book and turning the pages. Many are reluctant to start reading with technology because they just love that experience with the paper.

Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and do you think anyone could ever prepare for something like this? Gemma Peckham: No, you can’t prepare for it. Who would have thought a couple of months ago that this would be the situation that we’re in. The news is changing every day, they don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. They’re realizing things about yesterday that are not correct. All we can do in a situation like this is stay the course, that’s important. I’ve been doing a bit of research about crises in the past, things like the recessions and the Depression, and you have to have confidence in what you’re doing and in moving forward, knowing that this will end at some point, and making sure that you still have something that you’re

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On whether she had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic and if she thinks someone could prepare for something like it: No, you can’t prepare for it. Who would have thought a couple of months ago that this would be the situation that we’re in. The news is changing every day, they don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. They’re realizing things about yesterday that are not correct. On what keeps her up at night: That’s a pretty loaded question at the moment. (Laughs) There’s a lot actually, from a personal perspective. I’m thinking about my family back in Australia and when I can see them again. Just when things might get back to a point where we can see our loved ones and give them a hug.

focused on. You can’t prepare, I don’t believe, but you need to stay true to the ethos of the publication. We’re making alterations, but we can still keep true to the core of what it is we’re trying to do. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Gemma Peckham: That’s a pretty loaded question at the moment. (Laughs) There’s a lot actually, from a personal perspective. I’m thinking about my family back in Australia and when I can see them again. Just when things might get back to a point where we can see our loved ones and give them a hug. Professionally, I’m thinking a lot about just the future of all of these publications we’re doing. Also, the new endeavor that we’ve taken on, which is Mag Box, a box of five magazines that includes other Indie publishers who have collaborated with us, we’re just trying to get that moving. You get online, buy the bundle and it’s delivered to your house. It’s very early, we only launched it last week. We’re excited about it. But honestly, I have had quite a few nights recently where I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about what’s going to happen tomorrow and how will I take the next steps forward. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

Sherin Pierce

Publisher of The Old Farmer’s Almanac “The Almanac deals with the essentials of everyday life, whether there’s a pandemic or not… and that provides comfort and security. ”

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has seen more crises in its 228 years than many of us have even thought of. Yet, it has survived and not only that, but thrived over the years. Sherin Pierce is the publisher and has held that position for over 25 years. And over the years, The Almanac has not remained stagnant, it has expanded to include The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids, The Garden Guide, and a series of cookbooks with themes that resonate with Almanac readers, such as Comfort Food, Everyday Baking, and Cooking Fresh. The magazine knows how to survive and realizes we are all in this together, for sure. I spoke with Sherin recently and we talked about the deep trust The Almanac’s audience has for its content and how even a pandemic can’t break that confidence or take away the safe place many people feel about the publication. Because it’s a given, The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a special publication and one that has proven itself over the years, even during life changing events such as this pandemic we’re all experiencing. Just know The Almanac is with us through it all. publishing during a pandemic

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On the amount of crises The Old Farmer’s Almanac has already seen: Yes. It passed through the War of 1812, the Civil War, they went through both World Wars, I and II, The Korean War, the Vietnam War, they’ve been through the Flu pandemics, H1N1, so yes, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has survived quite a lot. On how the publication is operating during t his pandemic: The 228th edition, the 2020 issue came out in September, 2019, so we were through with the greatest sales months, between September and January, and by the time the pandemic hit the majority of the sales were complete. So, The Almanac has one print publishing event and that got us through that period of time.

Samir Husni: You’re the publisher of the oldest continually published publication, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is almost 228-years-old. So, this title has seen its fair share of crises, correct? Sherin Pierce: Yes. It passed through the War of 1812, the Civil War, they went through both World Wars, I and II, The Korean War, the Vietnam War, they’ve been through the Flu pandemics, H1N1, so yes, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has survived quite a lot. Samir Husni: Tell me how you’re operating during this pandemic? Sherin Pierce: The 228th edition, the 2020 issue came out in September, 2019, so we were through with the greatest sales months, between September and January, and by the time the pandemic hit the majority of the sales were complete. So, The Almanac has one print publishing event and that got us through that period of time. What we do is be on a daily basis and daily contact, 24/7, with our readers. We have our online, almanac.com; we have our social media, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest; we have our newsletters, which have gone up from 339,000 to 550,000 subscribers, so with all these daily points of contact, we’re able to continue publishing on a daily basis to stay in touch with our customers until the next print event comes up on September 1, 2020. However, even though one would think after January, once a year changes, people would lose interest, but because of the gardening information and the weather information, you see another resurgence of sales as people are planning their planting and want to do their research on frosts and things like that. This year, because people are home, there’s such an extraordinary interest in gardening, and the sales of The Almanac, both online and the print version, most importantly the print version, have just continued going.

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When I say the print version, because we’re in places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace and True Value, that are essential businesses and still open and keep the product until the next issue comes out, that’s where we’re seeing all the sales. For us, it’s always a balancing act, we want to make sure that we’re providing online information, but we drive people to buy the print edition as well. And that’s really important for us. Samir Husni: How is The Almanac today, in the midst of this pandemic, as relevant or even more relevant than ever before? Sherin Pierce: First of all, because The Almanac deals with the essentials of everyday life. It tells you what time the sun is going to set; what time the sun is going to rise; what the phases of the moon are; what the rhythms of nature are. And whether there’s a pandemic or not, those things are going to happen in any event. And that, kind of, provides comfort and security. That no matter what’s going on, there are certain rhythms of nature that will always happen. And we’re there to guide you through that. Also, with the areas of interest with The Almanac, like astronomy, of course gardening, food, the weather, and now with Kids, we’re providing that comfort and credibility. What The Almanac has is incredible trust from our readers and that is something that we have earned. You can’t buy that. You have to earn it day-by-day, year-by-year; you have to earn that trust. And in times when there are a lot of insecurities and stress, people want to come back to something that provides them that comfort and gives them information to help them through these periods.

On how The Almanac today, in the midst of this pandemic, is as relevant or even more relevant than ever before: First of all, because The Almanac deals with the essentials of everyday life. It tells you what time the sun is going to set; what time the sun is going to rise; what the phases of the moon are; what the rhythms of nature are. And whether there’s a pandemic or not, those things are going to happen in any event. And that, kind of, provides comfort and security. That no matter what’s going on, there are certain rhythms of nature that will always happen. And we’re there to guide you through that.

For instance, in terms of food, we’ve gone back and curated recipes with fewer ingredients. Not recipes that require tons of esoteric ingredients, more like things that you have in your pantry, the basics. This is the reality; here are some of the recipes: five ingredients, eight ingredients,

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On how their work environment has changed with the pandemic: Working in Dublin, New Hampshire, we were already hyper-connected by technology. That’s the first thing, because you can’t publish from a remote region without having all that. As we could see what was starting to happen, we were able to move everyone back home remotely with VPN abilities, so that the editors could go into their servers and work.

things you already have in your kitchen. Even give people a list of substitutions or a list of what they should have in their pantries during this time. This is some of the levels of information and advice that we offer our readers. In gardening, I think the main thing people are interested in is vegetable gardening, but maybe they don’t know how to do it. So taking them A through Z, whether it’s a small space, container gardening, because a lot of people live in apartments, they don’t have a lot of space to garden, so we’ve taken that back to wherever you live, here is a way you can grow something of your own. People want that self-reliance and sustainability. We’ve started a gardening webinar and it’s on Hydroponics, how to grow indoors with lights and everything. We’re hoping people will enjoy attending it. Samir Husni: How has your work environment changed with the pandemic? Sherin Pierce: Working in Dublin, New Hampshire, we were already hyper-connected by technology. That’s the first thing, because you can’t publish from a remote region without having all that. As we could see what was starting to happen, we were able to move everyone back home remotely with VPN abilities, so that the editors could go into their servers and work. And they’ve been very innovative, the editors, because sometimes moving large files are difficult and they have evolved a way of fact-checking and passing things around electronically. And also using Dropbox more than depending on servers. Our OFA digital editor has worked remotely from both the U.K. and now Indiana for the past seven years as has the assistant digital editor who works remotely from Boston. Add to that our almanac.com programmer who has worked remotely for 24 years and our PR folks on Bainbridge Island Wash. who have worked with us since 1993. We have made

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these relationships work and now we are all doing it. We have a lot of Zoom meetings as well. We have our editorial meeting, but we’ve also used Zoom and Teams to connect with one another. So, creatively, how we’ve responded besides just the mechanics of creating and moving files around and doing the work that needs to be done, we’ve also used that as a way to brainstorm about new products, about how we should update things online to reflect what’s happening. You have to evaluate what’s happening in the moment and speak to that right away. And we can do that every day with our online presence, so we’re not stuck in this old publishing model. Through social media and online we can talk to people each and every day. And for people who want to buy our products, we’re able to sell to them through our ecommerce operation, especially the print product. You can buy all of our stuff online, digital and print versions. I think that ecommerce component has been really important for us. Samir Husni; Do you think that once this pandemic is behind us, you’ll go back to the way you conducted business before? Or do you envision remote working replacing the office?

On whether she thinks things will go back to the way they were once the pandemic is behind us: It will never be the same. However, we can take it and incorporate it into the future of our business. We live in area where the weather can be terrible. Huge snowstorms. So, yes, we can work from home those days. If there is a resurgence of the virus, we know we can go back, but what we’ve learned now and have responded to is the way we have been communicating with our people on a daily basis. That’s something that we’re going to keep moving forward with, we have to be aware of what’s happening on a daily basis.

Sherin Pierce: It will never be the same. However, we can take it and incorporate it into the future of our business. We live in area where the weather can be terrible. Huge snowstorms. So, yes, we can work from home those days. If there is a resurgence of the virus, we know we can go back, but what we’ve learned now and have responded to is the way we have been communicating with our people on a daily basis. That’s something that we’re going to keep moving forward with, we have to be aware of what’s happening on a daily basis. And part of our mission is to give people our products in the way they want them. A lot of people still want the ink on paper product. They still want that. In fact, soon I’ll be meeting with Fry online to go through our whole

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On whether she had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic and if she thinks someone could prepare for something like it: Not a pandemic. I always thought that there would be an economic downturn. So, in the back of my mind I was always preparing for that and making sure that we had different channels of distribution, different ways of serving our customers. We’re not wedded to big advertising dollars, that’s not what we do in print.

publishing schedule because it’s coming up. This month we print the calendars. After all these years, people still want the paper calendars. Then in June, we print the different versions of The Almanac. That hasn’t changed. You can also provide extra information around The Almanac philosophy electronically. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and can you prepare for something like that? Sherin Pierce: Not a pandemic. I always thought that there would be an economic downturn. So, in the back of my mind I was always preparing for that and making sure that we had different channels of distribution, different ways of serving our customers. We’re not wedded to big advertising dollars, that’s not what we do in print. The advertising actually comes from online now, we do far better than. But again it’s not a reliance on one single thing. You have to minimize your risk, that’s one thing we’ve learned. You can’t depend on newsstand or bookstore sales or your online, you have to develop a lot of different things and sometimes it’s hard to do that. The Almanac for Kids, for instance, we had a lot of pushback about it and now here we are, 16 years later, and we’ve built a nice little publishing program. We print about 225,000 of those every two years and for a book that’s a pretty sizeable print order. Things are not always going to go up, up, up. You’re going to have challenges and pushbacks. After 228 years, one thing you can be sure if is you’re going to have pushbacks. (Laughs) And maybe that’s just the cautiousness in me, I try to anticipate what will happen, but no way did I imagine a pandemic.

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But we always try to do what our founder told us in the first edition: We strive to always be useful with a pleasant degree of humor. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Sherin Pierce: Thoughts about people’s health, consumer confidence and what the state of affairs will be in the next six months as we move toward the fall and if there will be a resurgence of this. Our staff is so flexible and so innovative. For instance, with our newsletter we started a Sunday edition recently to calm things down. Instead of during the week, when it’s a certain format, a boom-boom-boom. But on Sunday, you can sit with your cup of coffee and read it. We don’t mention Coronavirus or anything. If you looked at The Almanac from 1860-1865, you wouldn’t have known there was a Civil War going on.

On what keeps her up at night: Thoughts about people’s health, consumer confidence and what the state of affairs will be in the next six months as we move toward the fall and if there will be a resurgence of this.

You still have to tend to your farms and grow your crops; you still need to know about the weather. So that’s what we try to do. We don’t ignore facts, but we try to give you a safe place. Samir Husni: Thank you

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CHAPTER THIRTY

David Pilcher

VP for Sales and Marketing for Freeport Press “Our workforce is doing well; they are adapting like champs and doing their usual great work.”

A major part of the magazine and magazine media industry is the ink on paper and the manufacturing of the magazines. In addition to the interviews with the creators of the magazines and magazine media, I decided to reach out to the printers of the magazines, those who actually take the creative work of the magazine creators and make it a reality, i.e., print it and deliver it through the different distribution channels to the readers. David Pilcher, is owner and VP of Sales and Marketing at family-owned print business: Freeport Press. The printing company identify itself as “a nationally-recognized leader in the print production of high-quality niche publications and catalogs, Freeport Press has been in continuous operation at our centrally-located facility in New Philadelphia, Ohio, since 1880.” While adhering to the recommendations of the CDC and the World Health Organization, Freeport Press continues to operate in a manner to “to ensure Freeport Press takes every necessary precaution to protect our associates and each other from the spread of this virus, and not contribute to a spike in COVID cases.”

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On operating during a pandemic: Our primary concern right now is the health and safety of our associates and taking excellent care of our customers. On ensuring safety at the workplace: We are working to ensure Freeport Press takes every necessary precaution to protect our associates and each other from the spread of this virus, and not contribute to a spike in COVID cases.

On the impact of the pandemic on printing: We’ve had some projects reduced or canceled… However, we are also seeing many publishers getting creative. We’ve printed some special issues, with limited runs to make them more collectible..

I asked David my usual Publishing During A Pandemic questions, and his answers were reassuring, to the point, with a touch of hope and reality mixed together… to quote David, “Healthy people and healthy businesses are both needed to ensure the long-term viability of our business.” And all Mr. Magazine™ can say in response to that is Amen! Samir Husni: Considering all that is going on, how is Freeport Press operating during this pandemic? David Pilcher: Our primary concern right now is the health and safety of our associates and taking excellent care of our customers. Healthy people and healthy businesses are both needed to ensure the long-term viability of our business. Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what the steps you are taking to social distance and ensure all are well at the workplace? David Pilcher: We have seen a glimmer of hope over the last week. Forecasting models now predict that the country may need fewer hospital beds, ventilators, and other equipment than previously projected and that some states may reach their peak of COVID-19 related deaths sooner than expected. While this is good news, we all need to be very aware that forecasting models are just that — models. They will continue to shift and change as data continues to flow into them. For our part, we will continue to follow the recommendations of the CDC and the World Health Organization, along with our state and local authorities. We are working to ensure Freeport Press takes every necessary precaution to protect our associates and each other from the spread of this virus, and not contribute to a spike in COVID cases. We are all working diligently to maintain a safe distance between each other at our manufacturing facilities. We’ve also implemented these precautionary measures to stay as safe as possible:

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• Temperature checks for anyone entering the building at the beginning of each shift • Single-use restrooms • Reinforcing proper hygiene regarding hand washing • Single seating in the cafeteria

On any shortage in ink or paper: No. Paper and ink are still in ready supply

• Modifying breaks so fewer people are in break rooms at any given time • Thoroughly cleaning equipment and providing the necessary sanitizers • Remote work assignments and teleconferencing whenever possible, especially for our non-production team members •No customer or supplier visits to our offices or production facilities We’ve been successful in keeping everyone healthy so far. And we know a continued focus on safety is vital, especially as people come out from the lockdown and get back out in public. We’ll continue to be vigilant to protect our team members and our customers.

On whether you can ever prepare to such a crisis: A business should always be prepared for the worse because it will always be unexpected. Financial stability and healthy relationships are vital. This is how you prepare for the unexpected.

Samir Husni: What is the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, mailing, etc.? Any change on the print schedule from your clients? Skipping issues, reducing print run, etc. David Pilcher: Absolutely. We’ve had some projects reduced or canceled. Yet I don’t want that to sound worse than it is. Sportsbooks, event-related literature, city/regional magazines and similar publications are suffering the most, which would be expected during something like this. However, we are also seeing many publishers getting creative. We’ve printed some special issues, with limited runs to make them more collectible. We’ve had regional publishers print features about their city stepping up to the pandemic – especially healthcare and frontline workers – and these are popular with their readership. We see a focus on restaurants to get the word out, with takeout menus to publishing during a pandemic

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On his message to customers: I’ve seen a lot of messaging around about print being an “essential business” and how printers are open and here to help businesses get through this. That’s absolutely true.

help their eateries survive. So many of our customers are adapting and finding incredibly creative ways to support their communities through this. Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, workforce? David Pilcher: No. Paper and ink are still in ready supply. And our workforce is doing well; they are adapting like champs and doing their usual great work. Our primary focus is to keep them healthy and safe. Samir Husni: Did you ever, in your nightmares or dreams, ever think of such a situation and can you ever be prepared for such a thing? David Pilcher: You and I are both old enough to remember 9/11 and the resulting downturn of the economy. A business should always be prepared for the worse because it will always be unexpected. Financial stability and healthy relationships are vital. This is how you prepare for the unexpected. In times like these, we realize just how important it is to have solid relationships with your bank, with your vendors, and with your customers. And with your employees as well; I’m really, really proud of how our team has responded to this challenge. Preparation begins with trust. When we trust each other to do the right thing, we know we can work together to get through it. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees and clients? David Pilcher: I’ve seen a lot of messaging around about print being an “essential business” and how printers are open and here to help businesses get through this. That’s absolutely true. More importantly, I believe, is direct communication with your employees and your clients. Everyone is worried

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about something, and probably needs more than just a general “we’re here for you” message. Strong leadership and communication are what makes a business truly “essential.” Make sure you are addressing the needs of each part of your business and the challenges that still exist – both internally and externally. Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? David Pilcher: Their perspective. I believe the offline format of magazines makes them unique, of course. But besides ink on paper, magazine publishers offer a unique view of whatever subject they are covering – and that’s something their audience adores and craves about them. That in-depth perspective where readers can learn something new about a topic they are interested in from a voice they already trust. We need that more than ever right now.

On any additional words of wisdom: I recently saw an interview with Simon Leslie of (INK) that discussed using the proper language to create the right narrative. Are we creating stories of hope or fear? The same information, worded differently, can create positive or negative tones.

On what keeps him up at night: My cats usually.

Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? David Pilcher: I recently saw an interview with Simon Leslie of (INK) that discussed using the proper language to create the right narrative. Are we creating stories of hope or fear? The same information, worded differently, can create positive or negative tones. You’re still communicating the same information, yet it can leave the reader feeling positive, hopeful. It’s a very timely perspective that, I believe, is worth sharing. Samir Husni: And my typical last question, what keeps you up at night? David Pilcher: My cats usually. Samir Husni: Thank you

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CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

Joel Quadracci CEO of Quad

“I’d say that people need to understand that as we come out of this, everyone’s going to be looking at how they should do things differently.”

Quad is an American printing company based in Sussex, Wisconsin. It was founded on July 13, 1971, by Harry and Elizabeth Quadracci. The company has 39 printing facilities in the United States, as well as facilities throughout Europe, Canada, and Latin America. Joel Quadracci is Chairman, President and CEO of the company today and has been running the company during this tragic pandemic with bold, yet sure steps. Joel says that you cannot be afraid to be bold and fast and not scared to pull really tough levers early in a situation. As long as you’re honest and communication through all channels is open and key to the process, making resolute and often hard decisions comes a bit easier, especially when those decisions are based on the good of the company. I spoke with Joel recently and we talked about a few of the decisions he’s had to make during this pandemic, especially when it comes to the importance of keeping his staff and employees safe and the company secure. “There’s a lot of actions we’re taking and we’ve been very flexible in terms of not being scared to go there, maybe in some cases, a little bit too far, because you are going to the point it hurts. publishing during a pandemic

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On operating during a pandemic: Our primary concern right now is the health and safety of our associates and taking excellent care of our customers. On ensuring safety at the workplace: One of the latest things we’re doing to protect our employees is, now that the CDC wants our employees to wear masks, you can’t find them. Meanwhile in the last couple weeks, some of my people came up with their own prototype of a mask that we can do on a web press.

The future is unknown right now in this situation, so you just have to assume that the worst is happening and you don’t know how long it’s going to be with us, therefore err on the side of dealing with the crisis as it is and make really bold moves.” A future that may be unknown indeed, but Quad is dealing with it boldly and surely. Samir Husni: Considering what is going on, how are you doing and how is Quad operating during this pandemic? Joel Quadracci: Relative to what’s going on in the world, I’m doing pretty well personally. The company is very focused and doing a lot of things during a tough situation, but hanging in there. We have done a lot of aggressive things and we have done a lot of them very early. I guess being in the printing industry you’re used to having to react to tough things. I think we’ve learned that you always want to get ahead of things and be aggressive. We obviously have never seen a situation like this, but we’ve dealt with situations where we had to react very quickly. We actually started in February, pushing two thousand people, within a three day notice, to work from home. And part of that was because we wanted to start heeding the safety warnings as soon as possible. And we wanted to test our idea for structure, to see if it crashes with all these people working virtually. And it ended up working quite well. I think on average we have around 3,800 people working from home and we are using a lot of technology to do it. And it’s working very well. I’ve had to tell a lot of people that for the next 12 weeks they were on furlough, because when an economy just quickly shuts down, people stop marketing. And the biggest hit so

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far has been on the retail side with retailers not doing retail inserts. Just look at all the department stores that had to close overnight. We knew that was coming, so we started getting ahead of it. We’ve actually furloughed a few plants as well, just shutting them down for a couple of weeks here and there, depending on the schedule, just to get the cost down. There’s a lot of actions we’re taking and we’ve been very flexible in terms of not being scared to go there, maybe in some cases, a little bit too far, because you are going to the point it hurts. The future is unknown right now in this situation, so you just have to assume that the worst is happening and you don’t know how long it’s going to be with us, therefore err on the side of dealing with the crisis as it is and make really bold moves. Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what steps are you taking to social distance and ensure everyone at the workplace is safe? Joel Quadracci: That would be a lot of the back office, customer service, accounting, finance, IT people, those types of positions. And the reason you do that is because those are the people who work closely, physically close, to each other, with cube setups and office environments. On the floor of a printing plant, we are sort of naturally socially distanced. Specifically in our platform where we’ve done a lot of automation over the years. In finishing, where you typically see a lot of concentration on our large perfect binder doing a magazine, we have automation there and we’re not using that many people. The people are very spread out on the floor and we’ve really enhanced all the safety measures that the CDC has to do. One of the latest things we’re doing to protect our employees is, now that the CDC wants our employees to wear masks, you can’t find them. Meanwhile in the last couple weeks, some of my people came up with their own prototype of a mask that we can do on a web press. Basically you run it through

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On the impact of the pandemic on printing: It’s sort of a mixed bag. I mean certainly it’s down, whether you are talking ad pages, or what we’re seeing is a lack of visibility because everyone’s trying to understand when the pandemic is going to end.

a printing machine with inline finishing to create a mask. Recently, we started up the presses. Now we are in the midst of wrapping up the printing of hundreds of thousands of them. We will be able to distribute them to all of our plants hopefully by early next week. I’ll be getting masks to every plant so that every employee on the floor has multiple masks they can use, because as you know these masks have a lifespan. So, that’s a big deal because of everyone in this economy dealing with the mask situation. We found some material that has never really been used for masks, but it’s a great filter and we can get it in rolls. We combine that with regular paper and we’ve created a mask that works. And so, each part of the business has it’s different challenges with how you manage the COVID-19 virus. On the floor it’s going to be how do we get people masks and make sure we’ve got enough hand sanitizer, and make sure people are following the social distancing. Samir Husni: What is the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, mailing, etc.? Any change on the print schedule from your clients? Skipping issues, reducing print run, etc. Joel Quadracci: I’ve seen other interviews with some of the publishers in the group. It’s sort of a mixed bag. I mean certainly it’s down, whether you are talking ad pages, or what we’re seeing is a lack of visibility because everyone’s trying to understand when the pandemic is going to end. When you want to understand what’s going on in the economy, it’s constipated and the comeback is not going to be like a light switch, it’s going to be slow. I can’t start printing until an advertiser wants to give a publisher pages and so it’s going to be an interesting unwinding of this, but meanwhile what we’ve seen is people cutting back on the number of issues, some temporary, some will be permanent. I get the feeling that there are also some decisions being made that were decisions that were ultimately going to get made anyway, but this was a good excuse to move on them now.

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We saw some spikes in certain parts of the newsstand side, especially in grocery stores. My wife comes home with magazines every time she goes to the grocery store because everyone is just dying for content while they are sitting around their house, which I think is a good thing, but on the other hand no one is really going to airports right now and so we’ve seen that spike kind of erode a little bit. We do a lot of high volume magazines between Hearst, Meredith, Condé Nast, National Geographic, and I think everyone is just trying to be creative, trying to manage it as they can and yet I think no one really has great visibility and that makes it hard to manage.

On any shortage in ink or paper: No, we haven’t had any problem there. As you know, we manufacture our own ink…

Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, etc.? Joel Quadracci: No, we haven’t had any problem there. As you know, we manufacture our own ink and we control upstream supply chain for ourselves, where we source directly to pigment providers. We even manufacture some of the other components. We’ve been able to maintain good control there. I’d say that distribution has been interesting because we get stuck in sort of a global economics of trade right now in distribution where, for instance, if we are going to the west coast from the Midwest oftentimes we are using train cars and containers and things like that and everything is a little bit disrupted because you have containers stuck in the wrong places and you’ve got disruption in distribution in general so that’s been an interesting thing to follow. It’s certainly not a shortage, so no, I can’t think of anything where we’ve had a shortage of much other than visibility. Samir Husni: As printers you are always prepared for a crisis, but did you ever, in your nightmares or dreams, ever think of such a situation and can you ever be prepared for such a thing? Joel Quadracci: You’d never believe it. I decided to watch that series Pandemic that came out ironically just before all this happened. I’ve watched the bird flu and I’ve watched

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On whether you can ever prepare to such a crisis: I think it’s less about preparing for the actual “what happens,” and more about having a communication style and network within the culture of your company.

the situation in China. You logically understand how people would be concerned that some pandemic could happen, but then you emotionally never believe it. You think, that’s never going to happen in my lifetime. I get the reasons why they worry, but then you see this happen and the pace at which it happened. You never thought you’d see something like this. We were getting ready for a recession, I think everyone was kind of anticipating something was coming, but when you see full brakes on everything within a week, no, I never would have thought we’d see something like that. Samir Husni: And can you ever prepare for such a thing? Joel Quadracci: Yes, you can. I think it’s less about preparing for the actual “what happens,” and more about having a communication style and network within the culture of your company. It allows for people to drop everything and shift gears rapidly. Quad’s a very strong culture. It’s a very nonhierarchical culture. I wear the same uniform that the people on the floor wear and I had already started doing video blogs a bit ago on and off, but now I’ve ramped it up because the technology has changed so much. Every week or multiple times a week, I’m now doing some sort of interview with someone, but then just telling it like it is. I don’t go out there and do a video blog that’s scripted where I’ve got things I have to say that have been vetted by everybody. I actually just wing it and do it in one shot because it’s real and I know our business and I know what we’re doing, so I just tell it like it is. When we say I need to furlough a lot of people, like tomorrow, we are honest with them. We opted to tell them it’s a longer time that we were originally thinking versus a shorter time because we want them to be able to plan in their own personal lives and we just try and be very honest and also be very fast about it. You can never prepare for what kind of disaster is coming. Everyone does disaster planning, but when it comes, the disaster usually comes in some other form than your

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scenarios. But if your corporation is used to pulling levers fast, and you are able to communicate very quickly, not just about what lever you’ve pulled, but the why you did it and be credible about it, you will have the following. There’s a lot of people I’ve seen pulling levers. One of my executives has a husband who works at an industrial company in Milwaukee and he got furloughed and his notice was on his way out the door. They handed him a letter that said “you’re being furloughed indefinitely” and it was not even signed by an individual, it was signed by the HR department. That was the explanation. With us, we told everybody that we’d be doing it, it’s coming. When we did it, we told people what was happening, we kept in touch with them. Layers of communication allows you to do a lot. When you are in my position, you’re the one who’s saying we are going to charge the hill or we’re going to jump behind these barriers to defend ourselves. That’s only good if you turn around and see that the troops are following you and following what you say and if they actually believe in it. Because if it gets really insane, like it is now, you need the buy-in for it to happen. To me, the way organizations need to be prepared for any type of disaster is how you should run your business day-byday. I think a lot of learning experience will come out of this for a lot of companies about how they could have really been much better, and we realize now that we weren’t as good as we should have been. It’s spurring a lot of thought on our side even though we think that we are really good at it. But what is our learning now and how can we use this to be innovative in the workplace and be innovative in how we communicate on a going forward basis. Samir Husni: Briefly, if you were to send a sound-bite to your staff and clients, what would be your message? Joel Quadracci: First of all, communication is key, not just to my internal staff, but what I really wish we could have more

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On his message to staffers and customers: First of all, communication is key, not just to my internal staff, but what I’d really wish I could have more of from our customers right now is true communication.

of from our customers right now is true communication. They may not have the visibility I want, but it might be more than they are giving me now. And for us to be able to react and be of service to them is so important. Also in the future, trust your vendor and bring them into the circle as the crisis unwinds and how tell them how you are thinking about it. We can handle the bad news, but it’s hard to handle the bad news if it comes last minute when you’ve known about it for several weeks. We are all trying to plan through this. I think at a certain point right now, in this industry, is respect your supply base because it’s been in trouble. I think that unfortunately we just saw that LSC filed for bankruptcy Sunday night, which was – I don’t know if it was somewhat expected, but I think it was really sped up, and there’s a whole lot of printers in trouble. We are doing everything to make sure that we maintain a good balance sheet and get through this to the end, but it requires a true honest dialogue and communication between customer and vendor. I say that for the paper companies. I say that for the distributor. Everyone right now needs to know what you are thinking even if it’s not great news. The sooner you can let us all in on that, the better. I got a pilot’s license when I was in high school. I flew for quite a while, but I haven’t done it lately. The one thing you learn from anybody who flies in an airliner, no matter how long the runway is, you’ll typically see the pilot use every inch of it. They’ll pull to the end of the runway, even if it’s a 20,000 foot long runway and the plane only needs 3,000 feet. The reason they do that is because on takeoff, if something goes wrong the runway behind you that you didn’t use is not usable. That’s the point of being bold and fast and not being scared to pull really tough levers early in a situation, even when you don’t know how long the situation is going to last or what the turnaround is going to be, because it’s about protecting your company for the future. If that means you cause a lot of

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uncomfortable pain early on for your employees personally, it’s probably the right thing to do for the business so that everyone has the strength to weather the storm. Samir Husni: Anything you’d like to add before I ask you my typical last question? Joel Quadracci: Just that, in disruptive times, at least in any kind of disruption I’ve ever seen, it has always been an opportunity for the world to rethink how they do things. In our case, how they use media. I’d say that people need to understand that as we come out of this, everyone’s going to be looking at how they should do things differently. The world will go for a reset on a lot of different fronts, whether it’s how people use telecommunications now or having fewer people working. But in terms of the magazine industry, I think it’s an opportunity – or it might be a missed opportunity –to really recalibrate the world on the importance of ink on paper. I don’t know about you, but I watch four different news channels and look at ten different news sites just to try and triangulate on what’s actually true and what’s really happening. Having good content in the future might be a great opportunity.

On any additional words of wisdom: Just that, in disruptive times, at least in any kind of disruption I’ve ever seen, it has always been an opportunity for the world to rethink how they do things. In our case, how they use media. I’d say that people need to understand that as we come out of this, everyone’s going to be looking at how they should do things differently.

I think the magazines that have great content can really use it to their advantage now and everybody should really be, as an industry, pushing forward when we come out of this because marketers out there, consumers of content, are all going to be going through some sort of reset in behavior, whether they overtly know it or not. So you’ve got to be in front of everybody with why this is an important medium. One of the things that is going to come out of this is, everyone learned, those who have had to work out of their homes for a long time, they’ve learned to slow down again. The pace at home, even though you are working hard, it’s still a different environment, so you feel like you can slow down and you start remembering things you want to do again and

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On what keeps him up at night: I think it’s sort of the obvious, the coronavirus, and the safety of my employees

get hold of doing some things in between calls, whether it’s hobbies or whatever. I think that people will kind of slow down again and consume content, not just news content, but other content, sort of closer to the old world where we spent a little more time just relaxing and enjoying it. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Joel Quadracci: I think it’s sort of the obvious, the coronavirus, and the safety of my employees. We had our first death of someone who got coronavirus. He didn’t actually get it in our plant, he was off for a couple weeks. But that’s close to home. Beyond that, it’s a bit about the ecosystem we plan and the point that I was just making. Our successful futures relies on the successful management that all our customers do in managing through a crisis. I would hope that through this that trust between all the parts of the ecosystem only increase, because we need to be a healthy ecosystem to do it. One part can’t be healthy without the other. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

Mike Ragsdale Founder Of 30A

Will Estell Editor In Chief/ Director of Publishing, The 30A Company. Beach Happy Magazine: A new title bringing the voice of hope & optimism during a pandemic.

Mike Ragsdale

The 30A Company and the nationally distributed travel publication, Beaches, Resorts & Parks have merged and created a new title called Beach Happy. The moniker alone makes you smile. And we can all certainly use something to smile about in these uncertain times. Mike Ragsdale, founder of 30A and Will Estell, former founder & editor-in-chief of Beaches, Resorts & Parks and now editor in chief/ director of publishing, The 30A Company have joined forces, and between the two of them have big plans for their new magazine, even during a pandemic.

Will Estell

According to the Beach Happy brand and motto, “30A is the official and original BEACH HAPPY brand. Inspired by a two-lane road that meanders along Florida’s Gulf Coast, 30A shares eco-friendly products and stories that celebrate our small beach town way of life.” Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t have said it better himself. In fact, I didn’t have to. I spoke with Mike and Will recently publishing during a pandemic

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On launching a new magazine during a pandemic (Mike Ragsdale): I’ll be honest, I am an optimist and I believe and have believed for a long time now, more than a decade, that we are suffering a mental health crisis in our nation, and perhaps in other parts of the world as well. I’ve been trying to sound the alarm, at least among my peer groups and our audience, that we have a lot to be happy about and we have a lot to be optimistic about. So, we’re promoting the agenda that news isn’t always negative, it doesn’t have to be.

and we discussed this negativity and doom and gloom that seems to permeate our world today. From Mike’s observation, we’re getting too much toxic information, even during a pandemic, and our brains are in overload. Beach Happy magazine and the brand itself are here to uplift and give us hope and optimism with stories from beaches around the world, not just that two-lane road on the Florida Coast. Will joins Mike’s sense of buoyancy and exuberates his own optimism by not allowing negativity to enter his thoughts very often. And while this may seem like an inopportune time to start a new print magazine, even one with an extensive digital reach, Mike and Will suggest we all have faith and just “Be Happy.” Samir Husni: You’re launching a new magazine during a pandemic, what are you thinking? Mike Ragsdale: I’ll be honest, I am an optimist and I believe and have believed for a long time now, more than a decade, that we are suffering a mental health crisis in our nation, and perhaps in other parts of the world as well. Despite living in the greatest time in human history and despite the fact that so many amazingly good things are happening in the world despite the current circumstances, we’re seeing an alarming increase in depression and suicides. I believe personally it’s because about 10 or 15 years ago, we began consuming information at a rate that our minds simply aren’t accustomed to. We are absorbing so much negativity and bad information and stressful, anxious information that, despite the fact that we live in the golden era of humankind, we’re increasingly depressed and increasingly suicidal and anxious. I believe that we’re going to find in the years ahead that consuming so much information, good, bad, indifferent, consuming so much information is skewing our worldview and it is causing a great deal of suffering.

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I believe it is going to be akin to the ‘70s and ‘80s when people began to come to the realization about the health risks of smoking and then later with fast food consumption or foods that haven’t been grown under the right circumstances which causes heart disease and other health issues. So, I think consuming so much information as we do today is like eating one Big Mac after another. And we’re going to realize that the mental toll it’s taking on us individually and collectively is immense. I’ve been trying to sound the alarm, at least among my peer groups and our audience, that we have a lot to be happy about and we have a lot to be optimistic about. So, we’re promoting the agenda that news isn’t always negative, it doesn’t have to be. But unfortunately, and you know this as well as I do, no one writes about the millions of planes that land safely, they write about the one that had the issues. And that’s the nature of where we’ve come with news. And news has really stopped becoming news, it’s more entertainment. It’s no longer Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather talking for 22 minutes a night and that’s it. When I was growing up the news that we were consuming had to be bundled within 22 minutes of time. And if it didn’t make that cut, then you never heard about it. But now we hear about every single awful thing because we’re in a 24/7 news cycle. And not just that, we have pushup notifications and breaking news alerts, so we hear every awful thing that happens. So, Beach Happy the brand is something that we’ve been promoting internally. And then when Will comes along with this publication that has this great distribution and great reach, it just seemed like a perfect marriage for us and to say, let’s take what we’re already doing on the digital side, kind of a bastion for optimism and positivity, and let’s reach all new audiences across newsstands.

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On how he went from selling Beaches, Resorts & Parks to 30A and then becoming editor in chief of the new magazine (Will Estell): I’m kind of married to this thing and I tell you, there have been times when it would have been a lot easier to jump ship, to sell it out. We had offers in the past to buy Beaches outright that I probably would have gone along with, but this just seemed like the perfect opportunity and I’ve always been a huge fan of the 30A Company, literally going back to Mike’s early days with the company some 10 years ago. I was donning the stickers on my car and wearing the first T-shirt and all that.

We’re already doing the work of content writing; we’re already doing the work of photography and content creation, we might as well add an additional platform. And Will has really been brilliant in the way he has architected his business, in that it doesn’t require as much overhead as the more traditional publications, so we don’t view it as a risky proposition at all. We view it perhaps as the perfect message at the perfect time. And we certainly wouldn’t wish ill on anyone else who is on the newsstands, but we also know the impact on those companies that have massive overheads, so we’re lean and mean and we’re looking at it as an opportunity to present a platform for happiness and positivity. Samir Husni: Will, I read the press release and you sold your Beaches Resorts & Parks to 30A Company, which Mike heads, so people might think you’re jumping ship. But then when I finished reading the press release, you’re editor in chief of the new magazine. Can you explain what happened? Will Estell: I have managed through four different iterations of Beaches Resorts & Parks and of course, you were familiar with the magazine when you tracked it that first year. In 2013, you named us the New Launch of 2012, with the highest newsstand sell-through at the time, and the magazine continued to do really well. There were four different iterations of ownership, including one period where I solely owned it on my own, which by the way, was not an easy thing and not the way I would ever want to go again. You know though, I’m kind of married to this thing and I tell you, there have been times when it would have been a lot easier to jump ship, to sell it out. We had offers in the past to buy Beaches outright that I probably would have gone along with, but this just seemed like the perfect opportunity and I’ve always been a huge fan of the 30A Company, literally going back to Mike’s early days with the company some 10 years ago. I was donning the stickers on my car and wearing

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the first T-shirt and all that. I’m a lot like Mike in that I’m an optimist too, so I saw this as a great pairing. Actually, we’d been talking about this, I guess our first conversation was about the potential of 30A doing the magazine, probably about six years ago. But then we really got serious about this around last June and again talked about it. I can’t think of a better entity to be able to acquire the Beaches Resorts & Parks magazine than 30A. I’ve worked for quite a few publishing companies outside of partnerships of my own, some large companies and some small companies in the past, and I’ve never had the ability to work for a company that had a magazine that already had a brand and a consumer reach that 30A does already built around it. So, we’re super-stoked about what we think this can do and the people it can reach. And that’s part of the opportunity. Will had newsstand reach; he obviously had decades of print experience that we did not have. But we did have 1.5 million social media followers; we’ve got a quarter-million newsletter subscribers; we have orders that are being shipped to all states every day out of our fulfilment warehouse. So, we have the ability to take Will’s newsstand reach and combine it with our digital audience.

On when the first issue will be launched (Mike Ragsdale): We were planning to launch in mid-May and it will be a quarterly publication at first, and so the issue would have been on newsstands in June, July and August, with a followup issue in the fall. We’re not going to deviate from that path very far. We’re waiting really until May 1 to make the decision. We’re going to be prepared to go to print on May 1, but if circumstances call for us to wait a few more weeks so we’ll know a little more, then we may push it back.

Mike Ragsdale: As Will and I were working through this, we realized we have an audience size that very few people can touch. There are some companies out there that have big established, decades’ worth of audiences, but to be able to come in with Issue One and have a print reach that Will has and have a digital reach of 1.5 million fans is a great platform to build upon. Samir Husni: When will the first issue be released? Mike Ragsdale: We were planning to launch in mid-May and it will be a quarterly publication at first, and so the issue would have been on newsstands in June, July and August,

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with a follow-up issue in the fall. We’re not going to deviate from that path very far. We’re waiting really until May 1 to make the decision. We’re going to be prepared to go to print on May 1, but if circumstances call for us to wait a few more weeks so we’ll know a little more, then we may push it back. But we’re not going to push it off more than a month. One way or another we’ll be in May or June and we’re just waiting to see what happens with COVID-19 and the travel restrictions. To us, and this is why it’s important that the launch isn’t really predicated on the physical; in my mind, again, Will comes from a little bit of a different place with the prior magazine, it really was focused on a lot of destinations, and we’re certainly going to have destination information in the magazine, but it’s as much or more about lifestyle. In a regular week, the 30A brand; we do not think of ourselves as a travel or tourism brand. We’re a lifestyle brand that keeps people in touch with the beach when they can’t be there. So, whether you want to talk about Margaritaville or Disney World, you can’t be at Disney World every week. Our target audience is not people who are here on this beach and it’s not people who are coming to this beach next week. Our target audience is the people who wish they could be on the beach, whether it’s this beach, Key West, or whether it’s a fantasy beach in their mind. So, we’re all about reaching that person who’s landlocked, wherever they may be. We want to reach that person who is having a tough time, be it their mortgage, boss or because they’re freaking out about the pandemic, we’re about giving them a moment of vacation in their minds, even if they can’t be on vacation at the moment. And that’s really what we build our products around. We have 30A Radio, which plays uplifting beach music 24/7; we have recycled apparel, shirts, hats, drinkware; we have all these things that I liken to Corona or Red Stripe, no one drinks Red Stripe beer because it’s great beer, they drink it because it mentally transports

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them to an island, Jamaica typically. And never mind that it’s brewed in Pennsylvania. It’s a way for them to step away from the pressure of their jobs or anything that is stressful, it enables them to take a beach vacation. And Beach Happy, the magazine is the same thing. It’s really not about booking immediate plans and coming down to spend a week with us in Florida, we want to bring stories to people that make them happy and make them smile, give them a little bit of relief during what can only be described as some of the most stressful times we’ve seen as a nation in recent memory. Samir Husni: How are you going to take this large social media base, the radio base, the merchandising, and curate all of that onto the pages of a printed magazine? Will Estell: That’s something that we’re still working through, but the positive aspect is that we do have to be concerned about that. In other words, those things exist, so this magazine is not in a startup phase, standing alone, and having to go out there and find Reader One from Day One. It will be more of a pairing of both sides, where the other side of the 30A Company, be it the apparel or the decals, or people following the website to find events; all of that will promote the magazine just as the magazine will promote all of that.

On how they’re going to take the large social media base, the radio base, the merchandising, and curate all of that onto the pages of a printed magazine (Will Estell): That’s something that we’re still working through, but the positive aspect is that we do have to be concerned about that. In other words, those things exist, so this magazine is not in a startup phase, standing alone, and having to go out there and find Reader One from Day One. It will be more of a pairing of both sides, where the other side of the 30A Company, be it the apparel or the decals, or people following the website to find events; all of that will promote the magazine just as the magazine will promote all of that.

So, we’re being careful within the magazine not to let it come off like a glorified marketing piece or a catalog, if you will, for the 30A Company, but instead to, obviously, show a lot of what we offer and to show what the 30A Company is about, while also integrating that with everything else that has to do with the beach too. I think in a lot of ways the magazine will be a lot like any other travel magazine, except beach-oriented, it won’t be a heavy push on necessarily promoting only 30A, just the beach in general. I don’t think we’ll have to do a whole lot different than if we were just launching any travel magazine.

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On whether the creation of 30A was a walk in a rose garden for Mike or he had some challenges along the way (Mike Ragsdale): It’s interesting, I’ve had a couple of really amazing successes and I’ve absolutely buried those with the failures I’ve had in business. I received my master’s degree in advertising and public relations, but I couldn’t get a job, despite sending out all of the resumes I could send and doing a few interviews, but I just wasn’t able to secure anything. So, I became an entrepreneur by accident and out of necessity to pay the bills, scrounging to stay afloat.

It just has the backing of the rest of the brand behind it. I would also say that obviously, a lot of people who would know about this or hear about this might think that we’re ignoring the fact that we’re a publication that’s launching in what could be deemed a bad time, if nothing else than economically speaking, because it’s no secret that advertisers aren’t jumping through hoops with any publication right now to put ads out there. But we do believe that the lifestyle surrounding the beach will be something that comes back quicker than anything else in our current economic situation. So, we made that commitment to go ahead and put that issue out like Mike told you, however, we think as soon as everything opens up, advertisers are going to want in the issue. We don’t have any doubts about people buying the issue, but back to Mike’s point about the timing being potentially better than ever, I think after all of us have been cooped up for 30 to 45 days, we haven’t left our homes and we haven’t taken vacations, we haven’t even been able to walk in a store and buy our favorite apparel or anything, everyone is going to be ready for some good news and nothing is better to some people than the whole lifestyle surrounding the beach. Samir Husni: Mike, was creating your company 30A just a walk in a rose garden for you or did you have some challenges along the way? Mike Ragsdale: It’s interesting, I’ve had a couple of really amazing successes and I’ve absolutely buried those with the failures I’ve had in business. I received my master’s degree in advertising and public relations, but I couldn’t get a job, despite sending out all of the resumes I could send and doing a few interviews, but I just wasn’t able to secure anything. So, I became an entrepreneur by accident and out of necessity to pay the bills, scrounging to stay afloat. The first business I started was a success, it still took seven

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or eight years to build it and to exit at the right time, but it was a trial by fire and a wonderful thing to experience as a young person, the ability to grow a company from a literal idea into 70-person operation, then to be able to sell it. It was awesome. But it was also a curse, because as a young arrogant person who went through that process, you think that was easy, I’ll be able to do that easily enough again. But the reality is that’s not how entrepreneurship works, you can have the best business plan in the world, you can have the best minds and a great idea, but it just doesn’t always work. I spent the next 10 years just absolutely striking out, having failure after failure. And although it was painful and demoralizing to go through, it also enabled me to understand what things I’m good at and what things I’m not. And to stay away from the things I’m not good at and recruit other people. A great example, there’s not a chance in the world that I would have gotten into the print business if Will was not staying on. This merger would not have happened if Will’s experience wasn’t part of the package, because I don’t want to go in and learn a business; I can’t learn his 20 years of expertise myself. I don’t have that kind of time or inclination. I have learned some important things and what I have learned is to focus on what I do very well and what I don’t do well, either stay away form or partner with someone who does do it well. And Will certainly does print publications well. In some ways we’re really looking at Beach Happy as a cooler, hipper version of some of the more traditional publications, such as Coastal Living. I’m not knocking Coastal Living, but one of the things that we’re doing is integrating our audiences. We’re making it more fun, some of the themes we might have are : Five Beach Beers You Need In Your Cooler This Summer. Fan comments: If This Were Your Beach Ball,

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On anything they would like to add (Will Estell):

What Would You Name It? That way, we make our fans some of the stars in the new publication.

The only thing I would add is for all the negativity and all the doom and gloom that’s talked about in the industry, and I know you’re a huge advocate for the growth and continued success of magazines, what we’re doing with this and what a lot of the companies that have learned to survive are doing is we’re finding new ways to get our message out, still be a magazine, but do it in different ways.

It’s not a catalog; it’s not a 30A mouthpiece, and it’s not even about the particular stretch of beach we live on. I tell our team all the time, we’re like Coastal Living, we just happened to headquartered on a beach as opposed to being headquartered in Birmingham, Ala. But being on our beach doesn’t mean we can’t share incredible stories from Bali or Turkey or Ecuador or other beaches around the world. Samir Husni: Is there anything either of you would like to add? Will Estell: The only thing I would add is for all the negativity and all the doom and gloom that’s talked about in the industry, and I know you’re a huge advocate for the growth and continued success of magazines, what we’re doing with this and what a lot of the companies that have learned to survive are doing is we’re finding new ways to get our message out, still be a magazine, but do it in different ways. And one of those is all the ways we have of reaching people through digital means. It’s no secret that Beach Happy magazine will reach a lot more readers digitally than in print. Although we hope to grow the print way beyond what I ever had with Beaches Resorts & Parks. I’m saying all this because everyone in the industry, no matter what point they’re at, whether they’re an editor in chief or writer coming right out of school or a publisher in the business for 20 years, everyone has to rethink how we’re doing things. I would love to hear an end to the doom and gloom and just have more people think about new ways to do stuff. And that’s with every industry, not just magazines. We’re thinking positive; the sky is the limit. We believe this publication can do better right now than it would have done 10 years ago. And I think more people in our industry need to have that kind of mindset with what they’re doing.

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Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you both up at night these days?

On what keeps them up at night (Mike Ragsdale):

Mike Ragsdale: Right now, of course, I’m concerned during my waking hours about the fact that we have a business that’s struggling like everyone is. Our three stores are closed; our 380 wholesale partner stores are closed; our digital advertisers, from restaurants to rental companies are shut down. And so we’re not expecting to see them paying any bills.

Right now, of course, I’m concerned during my waking hours about the fact that we have a business that’s struggling like everyone is. Our three stores are closed; our 380 wholesale partner stores are closed; our digital advertisers, from restaurants to rental companies are shut down. And so we’re not expecting to see them paying any bills.

We just launched this new endeavor, which again might seem like strange timing, but as Will said, this has been in the works for a very long time. We looked at it and we could have all walked away, but the reality is the world needs optimism. I’m not saying that in some philosophical, mumbo-jumbo kind of way, I’m saying just like fast-food found an anecdote by offering organic, free-range healthy alternatives, we’re going to be one of the first movers in providing a healthy information alternative to all of the toxic news and information that we consume every, single day. This is an immense business opportunity. We’re going to start to see that information is causing slowly and in small bites, in fact, so slowly we don’t even realize it, to affect our minds. Once those studies start to come out, once we realize the suicides and depression are related to the ingestion of information, people are going to be unplugging. We’re already seeing that happen on our own, but they will be seeking healthy sources of information. And positive sources of information. So, we view Beach Happy as being right in that first mover just as if someone was coming out with the first free-range organic product on the grocery aisle. We’re going to be one of those first movers to give people a sense of hope and optimism and a sense of escapism on a crowded shelf, competing with people who are peddling in scandal, sensationalism and division.

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On what keeps them up at night (Will Estell): I do not lay in bed and worry about things. I don’t lay in bed and worry about the fact that the world has stopped spinning for a period of time right now. I don’t worry about the fact that we’re not out selling advertisers left and right. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about those things, but I have learned to be more solution-oriented in my thinking than problematic. It takes the same amount of energy to find a solution than worry about the problem.

Will Estell: I go to bed at night and many times lay there for about two hours. The last time, for example, that I looked at my phone this morning was about 2:00 a.m. and I fell asleep right after that. But all that to say, I do not lay in bed and worry about things. I don’t lay in bed and worry about the fact that the world has stopped spinning for a period of time right now. I don’t worry about the fact that we’re not out selling advertisers left and right. Now that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about those things, but I have learned to be more solution-oriented in my thinking than problematic. It takes the same amount of energy to find a solution than worry about the problem. So, I stay up at night, but I am brainstorming mostly. I’m thinking of a new article to write or a new way to reach people or how to do something no one else has done, even within our industry. Coming up with something that hasn’t been done does occupy my thoughts. You will never find a piece of negative information within the pages of Beach Happy. There will not be an interview where we put someone down. And I think people are ready for that. And that’s what keeps me up at night. If there’s any negativity in my world right now, even with what we’re going through with this pandemic, it would be that I have three children, one in Atlanta, Georgia, one in Birmingham, Ala. and one that lives with his mom in Oxford, Ala. And the only thing that does keep me up at night from a negative standpoint is the fact that I haven’t been able to see them through this for about six weeks now. Other than that, nothing negative on my part. Samir Husni: Thank you both.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

Eric O’Keefe Founder & Editor of The Land Report Magazine Eddie Lee Rider, Founder & Publisher of The Land Report Magazine During a pandemic, The Land Report Magazine publishes its largest issue ever.

Eric O’Keefe

Even during a pandemic, people are investing in, buying and maintaining land. And The Land Report is the magazine that profiles passionate landowners, identifies investment opportunities, explains ways to improve and conserve land, provides legislation updates, and highlights outdoor gear and equipment. I spoke recently with Eric O’Keefe, editor and founder and Eddie Lee Rider, publisher and founder of the brand and we discussed the operating of a brand during the pandemic.

Eddie Lee Rider, Jr.

For the most part, both the powers-that-be at The Land Report told me that business as usual has been the norm for them, except for the event space, which of course isn’t happening right now. But the hopes are that the events will be back up and going very soon and The Land Report can get back to 100 percent, because after all it is the magazine of the American Landowner. In fact, The Land Report just uploaded their latest issue with 160 pages plus covers, “the largest ever for us,” says Eddie. publishing during a pandemic

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On how The Land Report has been operating during the pandemic (Eric O’Keefe): I don’t mean to sound unrealistic, but it’s been better than ever. From the editorial side, everything can be done from layout assignments, proofing, production, all of those elements can be done from home. Eddie, I’ll invite you to talk about our sales numbers. On how The Land Report has been operating during the pandemic (Eddie Lee Rider): From last spring to this spring, we saw an increase in our ad revenue of a little over 75 percent, closer to 80 percent actually. It’s been remarkable. We have two full-time employees, everybody else connected with the business is a contract employee, freelancer or independent rep. Our business has not changed at all during this situation.

Samir Husni: How has it been publishing The Land Report during the pandemic? Eric O’Keefe: I don’t mean to sound unrealistic, but it’s been better than ever. From the editorial side, everything can be done from layout assignments, proofing, production, all of those elements can be done from home. Eddie, I’ll invite you to talk about our sales numbers. Eddie Lee Rider: From last spring to this spring, we saw an increase in our ad revenue of a little over 75 percent, closer to 80 percent actually. It’s been remarkable. We have two fulltime employees, everybody else connected with the business is a contract employee, freelancer or independent rep. Our business has not changed at all during this situation. The land business has been extremely resilient. It is the ultimate social distancing, to have a piece of land, to have a cabin, to have a ranch, somewhere you can grab the kids and the family dog, grab some groceries and get out of Dodge for a few days or weeks if you can. Our clients are having a lot of success in this environment and it’s proving itself in our advertising numbers. Eric O’Keefe: One thing to keep in mind is that we’ve been through the Great Recession of 2008-2009, we saw the dotcom bubble burst in the late 1990s, we’ve seen a whole wave of magazines come and go, we’ve seen a lot, and so much of it in my opinion is the fickle finger of fate. Are we in the right niche at the right time? And that will determine quite often whether one succeeds or fails. Right now when people are looking to shelter in place and they want to do it in a manner that gives their families an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and be healthy, that falls right into our laps. We have an article on social distancing in Montana. Some of our biggest advertisers, our best sources of anecdotal data are in Montana and they have certain markets where there’s no inventory available anymore. They have completely sold

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out. So I say that to compare to the Great Recession 10-12 years ago when you were actually seeing brokerages take it on the chin and brokerages and land-related advertisers are base, and they took it on the chin in 2008 and now they are seeing an acceleration of business. There are all sorts of numbers to support it, leads, web traffic, as well as sales. So, I really feel that we’re fortunate in that regard. Samir Husni: You deal with something tangible; you deal with land. Why do you think The Land Report as an ink on paper platform is relevant, since everyone can do everything virtually these days? Going out and actually experiencing the land in person isn’t the same as a virtual tour of that same land, is it the same for the printed magazine experience? Eddie Lee Rider: Our demographics skew toward an older reader, our average reader the last time we did some surveys was 62-years-old. They like a print product. And our distribution lends itself to print in that we have teamed up with Sandow Media to distribute our publication through Signature FBOs (Fixed Based Operation) across the country. We have targeted those private jet terminals in highlytrafficked areas that meet our demographic: Rocky Mountain states, Southeast, Northeast Corridor, and Texas, that’s where you can find our publication, especially now when the commercial air traffic has been so reduced, private air traffic is still moderately healthy. I believe the print product is extremely relevant for us and our audience.

On why The Land Report in a printed format is relevant during these uncertain times (Eddie Lee Rider): Our demographics skew toward an older reader, our average reader the last time we did some surveys was 62-years-old. They like a print product. And our distribution lends itself to print in that we have teamed up with Sandow Media to distribute our publication through Signature FBOs (Fixed Based Operation) across the country. I believe the print product is extremely relevant for us and our audience.

Eric O’Keefe: With the addition of drones, you can take a virtual tour, it offers a real opportunity from a seasonal standpoint, if you’re looking at beautiful meadows in the middle of winter when it’s a snow filled Colorado ranch…so now you have to actually see what the ranch is about. So, I think it’s been a tool for that. Also one of the things that we do is we profile individuals who have a passion for a certain piece of property.

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That could be something historic in Mississippi, someone could be multigenerational on a plantation, someone could be multigenerational in a New England small town. One of the things that we do, which is unlike anyone else in our space, is we have strong editorial content. There are a lot of magalogs out there that produce ad after ad after ad, and quite honestly, we know them all. And some have told us that they don’t want editorial. They want a picture book for then people to go to the website and do exactly what you’re talking about. I’ll share another profile; it’s a $70 million piece of property that has just come to market in Virginia. It’s 7,000 acres between Charlottesville and D.C. And it’s gorgeous. It was assembled by a very passionate land steward. It is immediately adjacent to the first city of Washington and the nation, that George Washington himself actually surveyed in the 1740s. That can’t be so effectively communicated in a normal page view. Forgive me for going off base here, but in the 1950s TV really accelerated. And the movie industry saw it as a threat. Suddenly, movies were trying to distinguish themselves. You had two and three hour movies, things like that. And you had all those multi-surround sounds and other items. I don’t see the online as a threat in that fashion. I see it as an enhancement. If you’re building a case for yourself to buy a piece of property, you’re going to look at the broker’s webpage, you’re going to read more about it in The Land Report, and then you might go to USDA figures online or take a look at what sort of values have been developed over the years by Mississippi State. That’s one of the things that we really have in our favor is that land as an asset has been tracked, it’s values have been tracked by all of these state colleges, so we don’t have to replicate that information. We don’t have to say “according to a Land Report study,” it’s all out there. And these are

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top-tiered schools, so we can then use that to make our case about land’s resilience. When you’re looking at land for the most part, you want as many inputs as possible. And we’ve established ourselves as a key input. Samir Husni: What are some challenges you’ve had to face during this pandemic and how did you overcome them? Eddie Lee Rider: The first for me as publisher and head marketer of the publication was how do you get your editorial product, your advertisers’ marketing, into the hands of the most qualified potential investors and buyers? We tried the newsstand and that wasn’t a fit; you’re not going to generally find someone in a typical Barnes & Noble who is looking for a $3 million ranch. We’ve gone through different phases. After 11 or 12 years, we’ve found a really great formula of these private jet terminals, a data base that has evolved over those years, rural land professionals that can refer each other back and forth. The Wall Street Journal and other papers that can do home delivery of our magazine in key markets from time to time, depending on what issues we’re doing. For instance, the Texas issue that just came out, that was home delivered via The New York Times weekend newspapers in Houston and Dallas to select high net worth zip codes.

On any challenges they’ve had to face during the pandemic (Eddie Lee Rider): The first for me as publisher and head marketer of the publication was how do you get your editorial product, your advertisers’ marketing, into the hands of the most qualified potential investors and buyers? We tried the newsstand and that wasn’t a fit; you’re not going to generally find someone in a typical Barnes & Noble who is looking for a $3 million ranch.

We’ve also developed a relationship with companies that put on conferences for family offices. Wealth management companies; we distribute our publication at those events. So, it’s really evolved into this mix of where can we get our publication into the most prequalified hands? And I think that our advertisers see that effort from us and they see the results from their phones ringing. Eric O’Keefe: And I’d just like to follow-up on your point, Eddie. We have a major client, a very well-known player in the industry, whose point is his company spends millions every year on marketing. And they know that two-thirds of

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On any challenges they’ve had to face during the pandemic (Eric O’Keefe): I’d just like to follow-up on your point, Eddie. We have a major client, a very well-known player in the industry, whose point is his company spends millions every year on marketing. And they know that twothirds of their closed transactions will come from their own Rolodex. And his point to me and Eddie is how do I find that last 10 percent, and that’s where we come in. We are the ones who have created a distribution model that has effectively provided a portion of that 10 percent to get the client the right eyeballs on that property. And at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about, getting our magazine into the right people’s hands.

their closed transactions will come from their own Rolodex. And his point to me and Eddie is how do I find that last 10 percent, and that’s where we come in. We are the ones who have created a distribution model that has effectively provided a portion of that 10 percent to get the client the right eyeballs on that property. And at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about, getting our magazine into the right people’s hands. Our goal is to educate individuals on the attractiveness of land as a long-term investment. That’s really what we’re about. What we focus on is finding those stories that show how people have pursued and developed a strategy with their land and what kind of returns they’ve enjoyed with their land. And there are all sorts of effective strategies for preserving wealth via land that may not be available to you via your house there. It may not be available to you via your financial assets, but land on the other hand can be managed very effectively, in terms of minimizing estate taxes and lowering value. I’ll give you an example, conservation easements, which could benefit a family that has income through another source; a 1031 exchange, which is basically when you sell a piece of income-producing property like land, you’re not taxed if you buy another larger parcel. These are not available to people who normally invest in markets. And yes, you have a downside to land. Probably the most obvious one is ill equity, you can’t buy and sell tens of thousands or even 10 acres quickly. Land is typically established as an anchor for a portfolio. It’s not meant to day trade. This market and what’s been going on with the pandemic, one of the reasons why it’s fascinating to me from a transaction standpoint is some people are actually trying to liquidate some of their more valuable property so that they can go into the equities markets because the opportunities were so great there.

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And they can get back into the land, but the stock market was down at 17,000 after being close to 30, and you just knew it was going to come back. From my standpoint, Eddie elaborated on getting it into the right hands and yes, we made all sorts of direct mail pitches that were complete belly flops, just negative responses. But from the editorial side, it is such a rich, uniquely American asset. I was talking with someone recently and before women got the right to vote they could own land. What’s the first asset that a freed slave could own? They could go west and they could own land by the Homestead Act. There are just so many elements, older elements and newer ones. Eddie and I are constantly getting stories of who’s buying what great pieces of property. When we launched you may have seen our stories on Ted Turner and then John Malone became the nation’s largest landowner. Now you have people like Jeff Bezos who is launching his rockets from his 400,000 acre ranch. Another land story. So, what are you going to do on your piece of land, that’s my approach. Are you going to launch rockets or raise elk or are you going to fly fish or track migrating birds? And the fact that Eddie and I have, what we call “permission givers” in terms of a Jeff Bezos or a Ted Turner, some of these very large operators that get us eyeballs, makes it very easy from the editorial side.

On whether there are any changes in store for them beyond the pandemic (Eric O’Keefe): I think it’s business as usual for us. When I look at all of the elements, whether it’s the marketing side – we never took up your brilliant suggestion. You had said that this magazine was made for a trade show. And something that included a lot of land-related vendors. And we never went that route. I think what you will see more of from our standpoint is, we’ve had some exceptional success with Land Report broker events by invitation only.

Samir Husni: As we look beyond the pandemic, any changes in store or will everything move forward in the same way? Eric O’Keefe: I think it’s business as usual for us. When I look at all of the elements, whether it’s the marketing side – we never took up your brilliant suggestion. You had said that this magazine was made for a trade show. And something that included a lot of land-related vendors. And we never went that route. I think what you will see more of from our standpoint is, we’ve had some exceptional success with Land

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On whether there are any changes in store for them beyond the pandemic (Eddie Lee Rider): We have an event scheduled for the middle of July. These events are paid for by a single broker or brokerage and they hire us to do an event where we develop an invitation list of other brokers that have their own deep Rolodexes. We fly everybody into a location that’s normally a 24 to 48 hour event. We cover all of the accommodations and transportation. We have photographers on the ground, videographers. We get content for the magazine. By touring the property it creates a networking event, nobody else in our space is doing it. We’re averaging maybe one event per quarter.

Report broker events by invitation only. So, we’re going to do more of our events, where we actually go and preview a property with brokers. And we show them what’s coming to market or what’s on market. Those will obviously take place more frequently, but other than that, I think it will be business as usual. Eddie Lee Rider: I totally agree. We have an event scheduled for the middle of July. These events are paid for by a single broker or brokerage and they hire us to do an event where we develop an invitation list of other brokers that have their own deep Rolodexes. We fly everybody into a location that’s normally a 24 to 48 hour event. We cover all of the accommodations and transportation. We have photographers on the ground, videographers. We get content for the magazine. By touring the property it creates a networking event, nobody else in our space is doing it. We’re averaging maybe one event per quarter. These events us with content and help us to create working events for our brokers who many times know about each other, but they’ve never really met. We bring them in from all over the country. It’s a very successful model for us. Samir Husni: My typical last question, what keeps you both up at night these days? Eric O’Keefe: On my part it’s always accuracy. The magazine has to be 100 percent spot-on and because it’s land, a lot of the minutiae is buried in public records. Fortunately, more of them are coming online and you can access them, but we’re the authority and we need to be 100 percent accurate. So that’s what keeps me awake at night. Eddie Lee Rider: For me, I’m always worried about how do I get my advertisers’ marketing into the right hands. I mentioned that we have these relationships with these event companies, and obviously they’re not having events right

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now. They can’t meet in person. So, they’re meeting virtually. I’m reaching out and asking if we can get a mailing list of the people who will be attending the virtual conference and can we get a magazine into their hands? Can we partner more with papers to do the home delivery? I’m constantly obsessed with how I get my marketing partners’ messages into the right hands. And that’s what keeps me up at night, but I think we’re doing a job of overcoming that. Samir Husni: Thank you both.

On what keeps them up at night (Eric O’Keefe): On my part it’s always accuracy. The magazine has to be 100 percent spoton and because it’s land, a lot of the minutiae is buried in public records. Fortunately, more of them are coming online and you can access them, but we’re the authority and we need to be 100 percent accurate. So that’s what keeps me awake at night. On what keeps them up at night (Eddie Lee Rider): For me, I’m always worried about how do I get my advertisers’ marketing into the right hands. I mentioned that we have these relationships with these event companies, and obviously they’re not having events right now. They can’t meet in person. So, they’re meeting virtually. I’m reaching out and asking if we can get a mailing list of the people who will be attending the virtual conference and can we get a magazine into their hands?

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CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR Eric Schurenberg CEO Mansueto Ventures, Fast Company & Inc. “We just had a really strong start to the year and advertisers stuck with us rather than pulling out because of the crisis..”

Two titles that have their finger on the pulse of all things business, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, are staying trueto-form during this pandemic: they’re standing shoulder-toshoulder with their readers. Eric Schurenberg is CEO of Mansueto Ventures, home of Fast Company and Inc. I spoke with Eric recently to discuss this tragic pandemic and what it’s doing to our nation and the world, both health-wise and economically. And while Eric remains optimistic about our economic future, he does believe that the quicker the pandemic is over, the sooner our economy will be able to rebound. He said that he is hoping for a V-shaped recovery rather than a U-shaped as many economists call them: “I’m hoping for a V-shaped recovery and I think that the odds of that remain better than even as long as things are resolved quickly.” But Eric also puts a lot of faith in the readers of his products, the entrepreneurs who he believes will find the innovative solutions to get our country back on its feet promptly, and the small business owners who are the backbone of our financial system. publishing during a pandemic

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On how he is operating during this pandemic: We sent everyone home on March 11, so a few days after your school did. We’ve been working from home since then. Occasionally, people ask when I think we’ll go back and of course, no one knows, we’ll be out indefinitely. Certainly not this month. Like everybody else, we’re doing a lot more Zoom meetings and doing less email and more Slack, and reviewing other technology platforms that might make remote working easier and getting advice in that regard.

Samir Husni: How are you operating during this pandemic? Eric Schurenberg: We sent everyone home on March 11, so a few days after your school did. We’ve been working from home since then. Occasionally, people ask when I think we’ll go back and of course, no one knows, we’ll be out indefinitely. Certainly not this month. Like everybody else, we’re doing a lot more Zoom meetings and doing less email and more Slack, and reviewing other technology platforms that might make remote working easier and getting advice in that regard. The events business, of course, was the most hard-hit and most directly hit. We had high hopes pinned to our activations in South By Southwest (SXSW), where we were setting up content panels and keynotes and everything like that, activations, for both Inc. and Fast Company, and they were very popular. There was a lot of interest and sponsors and registrants, and when that went down, that was a blow. On the other hand, I’m so glad that we didn’t go because that would have been terrible now that we understand how widespread and communicative this disease is. We managed to rotate most of the sponsors from South By into another platform, either postponed events or digital events or other media, like a page of the magazine or a place during conventional advertising on Inc.com or Fastcompany. com, so while it was a blow, we didn’t go down to zero. In the meantime, we’ve been having significant success with our digital events. Recently, we had a Town Hall, we called it, about the “CARES Act” and how business owners can access that money that the government made available to small businesses to help them preserve payroll and get loans to get through this emergency. We’re doing that in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. We’ve maxxed out at 10,000 registrants for both of the weeks that we’ve done it and basically have had to turn people away at 10,000. Inc.’s largest physical event, the Inc. 5000, runs around 2,000

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people, so this is a multiple of that event, in terms of its attendance. Interest and sponsors is running strong, so that has been a success story for us in the wake of the crisis. Samir Husni: You’re one of the few CEO’s who came out from the editorial ranks, not from the business ranks. During this crisis, has being from that side of the magazine world helped you at all in your role as CEO? Eric Schurenberg: It’s different. Better in some ways, not better in other ways. I think that the Town Hall thing was an example of one of the ways in which it helped. I had contacts at the Chamber of Commerce dating back to my days as editor, so I communicated with a partner over there and conceived how the town halls might work the way an editor might conceive them. So that was a big success. But I have really good editors in charge of both Inc. and Fast Company, and anything I do as editor in chief without portfolio, if you will, is on top of what they do there. They’re totally competent and wonderful editorial leaders and it’s not like they need my help. Samir Husni: Have you made any decisions in terms of the publishing schedules or frequencies, are you continuing to publish the print editions as usual or you’ve had to make some changes due to the pandemic? Eric Schurenberg: We’ve made no changes, and so far the one issue for each brand that we’ve closed since the emergency hit has been above goal. That could be a reflection of the fact that we just had a really strong start to the year and advertisers stuck with us rather than pulling out because of the crisis. Or it could be that budgets that were set for live events have moved to print partly, some of that money has moved to print. But so far, so good on the print side. Samir Husni: You deal with the business, with the economy, small businesses with Inc., the economy as a whole with

On whether being from the editorial side of the magazine business instead of the business side has helped him as CEO during this crisis: It’s different. Better in some ways, not better in other ways. I think that the Town Hall thing was an example of one of the ways in which it helped. I had contacts at the Chamber of Commerce dating back to my days as editor, so I communicated with a partner over there and conceived how the town halls might work the way an editor might conceive them. So that was a big success. On whether he’s had to make any changes to his publishing schedules due to the pandemic: We’ve made no changes, and so far the one issue for each brand that we’ve closed since the emergency hit has been above goal. That could be a reflection of the fact that we just had a really strong start to the year and advertisers stuck with us rather than pulling out because of the crisis. Or it could be that budgets that were set for live events have moved to print partly, some of that money has moved to print. But so far, so good on the print side.

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On how he views the relevancy of Inc. and Fast Company magazines today during this pandemic: The magazines and the titles, we are certainly magazine brands, and paper is not the only way that we convey information and serve our readers. But I would say that the brands are more important than they have ever been and you can see that just in the kind of contact we have with our readers. As I said, the town halls we have to help people understand how to get loans from the government help people with small businesses, assist entrepreneurs in getting loans from the government, these have been huge successes. And we’ve drawn in people from all over. And what that says to me is when you’re in distress, as many small business owners are now, you turn to the brands that you trust most. And for many small businesses that’s Inc. and Fast Company.

Fast Company. And two of the main topics that the world is talking about right now is health and the economy. How do you see the relevancy of those two magazines now, during the pandemic, and as we eventually move out of the crisis? Eric Schurenberg: The magazines and the titles, we are certainly magazine brands, and paper is not the only way that we convey information and serve our readers. But I would say that the brands are more important than they have ever been and you can see that just in the kind of contact we have with our readers. As I said, the town halls we have to help people understand how to get loans from the government help people with small businesses, assist entrepreneurs in getting loans from the government, these have been huge successes. And we’ve drawn in people from all over. And what that says to me is when you’re in distress, as many small business owners are now, you turn to the brands that you trust most. And for many small businesses that’s Inc. and Fast Company. Fast Company’s traffic on Fastcompany.com has been as much as 80 percent above its usual pace. People are truly finding the information they need, the comfort, and the advice that they’re looking for at this time. Samir Husni: As a journalist and as a CEO, have you ever envisioned, even in your worst nightmares, anything like what is happening today with this pandemic? Where the entire country and basically the world has shut down? Eric Schurenberg: In many ways I think that 2008 was worse for the industry, just because the financial system was in danger of collapse. And I don’t think we’re there yet. We know that many people are out of work and many industries are hugely challenged, but we also know that this will end. And that the infrastructure itself is not threatened if it ends within a reasonable amount of time. So unlike the financial crisis in 2008, where people were discovering how rickety the financial system was, how overleveraged and how it was

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balancing on the head of a pin and no one knew that before, and wasn’t really sure of what it meant, those were scarier times. You remember, for example, the stock market went down for more than 20 percent three years in a row during that crisis as more of a financial weakness became evident. Today, the stock market went down dramatically right away and then began to rebound. Now the stock market obviously is an imperfect measure of the health of the economy, but it is a good measure of the state of mind of investors. And I think what you’re seeing is a sense that this catastrophe is serious, but it’s circumscribed. We know what’s causing it and we know that it’s going to end within some timeframe that we can imagine. It’s awful for some industries and in many ways the entire economy will be changed, we know that too and we can’t exactly predict how it will be changed, we just know it will happen. I also think it’s a lot easier to imagine how things will return to a semblance of normal and that will happen in a matter of months, not years. Samir Husni: What message would you like or are you already communicating to your employees, your readers, and your advertisers? Is there any specific message? Eric Schurenberg: The message that I would send to the readers and the sponsors of Inc. is what’s contained in my CEO letter, which is published on Inc.com and Fastcompany. com. And the gist of the message was on the Inc. side, that we have stood by small business owners and fast-growing entrepreneurs for 40 years and we will stand by them now and do whatever it takes to help them through this crisis. No one understands them better than we do. And when we get to the other side of this, Inc. will be there with them once again.

On whether he ever envisioned something like this happening, even in his worst nightmares: In many ways I think that 2008 was worse for the industry, just because the financial system was in danger of collapse. And I don’t think we’re there yet. We know that many people are out of work and many industries are hugely challenged, but we also know that this will end. And that the infrastructure itself is not threatened if it ends within a reasonable amount of time. So unlike the financial crisis in 2008, where people were discovering how rickety the financial system was, how overleveraged and how it was balancing on the head of a pin and no one knew that before, and wasn’t really sure of what it meant, those were scarier times.

On the Fast Company side, it’s the same message for that different audience. We have helped define a cadre

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On any message he has for his reader, advertisers or staff: The message that I would send to the readers and the sponsors of Inc. is what’s contained in my CEO letter, which is published on Inc. com and Fastcompany. com. And the gist of the message was on the Inc. side, that we have stood by small business owners and fast-growing entrepreneurs for 40 years and we will stand by them now and do whatever it takes to help them through this crisis. No one understands them better than we do. And when we get to the other side of this, Inc. will be there with them once again.

of creative, innovative, tech-forward, socially-conscious businesspeople who imagine a future of business in which all of those characteristics come to the fore. And we know that those characteristics will help people succeed during this terrible crisis. And that Fast Company will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those readers, helping to imagine a better future. To my employees the message is, what we have always done at Inc. and Fast Company matters now more than ever to our readers. They are looking to us for information, validation, for recognition of the sacrifices they’re making and for reassurance that they’re not alone. That they have Inc. and Fast Company standing right beside them as they find their way through this. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Eric Schurenberg: The biggest worry is that the recession will be deeper and longer than I think it will be. I’m not an economist in any way, and most economists are wrong anyway in their prognostications as we know. If this is longer and deeper than I now imagine, then that would be bad. Economists talk about U-shaped recoveries in which there’s a long period where the economy is in a depressed level. And V-shaped recoveries, where the economy rebounds promptly off a low point. I’m hoping for a V-shaped recovery and I think that the odds of that remain better than even as long as things are resolved quickly. I also have tremendous faith in the creativity and power of innovation of entrepreneurs, and in the kind of people who read Fast Company and Inc. I think that they are going to come up with a solution. And if it’s not a vaccine, it’ll be achievements. And before that they will find a way to manufacture the tests in the volume that we need and get them distributed in the way we do. Entrepreneurship is the vehicle for delivering innovation in a dynamic economy, I’ve

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seen it happen many times before. And I know our readers at Inc. and Fast Company, and I have a lot of faith that a solution lies with them. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On what keeps him up at night: The biggest worry is that the recession will be deeper and longer than I think it will be. I’m not an economist in any way, and most economists are wrong anyway in their prognostications as we know. If this is longer and deeper than I now imagine, then that would be bad. Economists talk about U-shaped recoveries in which there’s a long period where the economy is in a depressed level. And V-shaped recoveries, where the economy rebounds promptly off a low point. I’m hoping for a V-shaped recovery and I think that the odds of that remain better than even as long as things are resolved quickly.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

Liz Vaccariello

Editor In Chief, REAL SIMPLE Magazine “When you make a magazine, it’s important to look around and realize how much of what we do is relevant in the best of times, and also during the worst of times.”

Nothing has been “Real Simple” of late. Not the news; not the world we live in; not the way of life we all knew and quite possibly took for granted. Nothing. Nothing that is, except that loyal and trusted friend we all call REAL SIMPLE magazine. Even during a pandemic, REAL SIMPLE has stayed true to form by giving us useful and helpful tips that are “simply” what we need at this uncertain time we’re living in. The May issue offers “Life Made Easier” by showing us how to Get It Done while we have quite a bit of time on our hands. It’s, as Editor in Chief, Liz Vaccariello calls it, “a serendipitous connection.” I spoke with Liz recently and we talked about this bit of serendipity that REAL SIMPLE has with its readers. While the world may seem like its spinning out of control, REAL SIMPLE, the brand, keeps us focused and alert to what is really important: our friends and family and keeping them safe and as happy as possible. Samir Husni: Has it been “REAL SIMPLE” or tough operating during this pandemic? publishing during a pandemic

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On if it has been “Real Simple” or tough operating REAL SIMPLE during the pandemic: It’s been both. It’s been “REAL SIMPLE” because at the end of the day, life is about our families, our homes, the spaces around us, feeling at peace and finding a way to discover happiness. It’s about making a good dinner for the family; it’s about loving my dog more than I ever have before. Those are “REAL SIMPLE” things. At the same time, this is a very complicated time because uncertainty is complicated. On how easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home: One of the many surprises about working from home has been how much more connected I feel with my team. We are having Webex staff meetings at the beginning of every day instead of once a week.

Liz Vaccariello: It’s been both. It’s been “REAL SIMPLE” because at the end of the day, life is about our families, our homes, the spaces around us, feeling at peace and finding a way to discover happiness. It’s about making a good dinner for the family; it’s about loving my dog more than I ever have before. Those are “REAL SIMPLE” things. At the same time, this is a very complicated time because uncertainty is complicated. We’re all working remotely. We sorted all of those things out very quickly and we’ve all had to adjust. Change is often complicated. Samir Husni: How easy, hard, or disruptive was the move to working from home? Liz Vaccariello: One of the many surprises about working from home has been how much more connected I feel with my team. We are having Webex staff meetings at the beginning of every day instead of once a week. I speak with every member of the REAL SIMPLE team by phone one-on-one much more regularly. Whereas before in the office this one-on-one communication was less, I’m getting to know people even more. I’m calling them up and asking them how they’re doing; how their family is doing. There has been a higher level of connection in some ways. Samir Husni: Do you think in the six or so weeks we’ve been dealing with the pandemic, it’s going to force you to change the way you do things once it’s behind us? Liz Vaccariello: So much has changed, but so much is the same. When I’m working on a print product, I’m working with paper, so I often want to see a layout on paper. Right now, we don’t have that luxury. Everything has gone electronic, which I think is a good thing in terms of ecology and the environment. If we print less paper in our daily work lives, that’s better.

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When I’m shipping the magazine, there is this need and desire as an editor in chief to see that one page, that one layout, on real paper. Even though you’ve seen it on your screen a hundred times, the experience of the product is paper. It’s holding it in your hands. I look forward to getting my final proof on paper and bringing out my red pen again. Samir Husni: Do you think readers will feel the same? Yes, they will see REAL SIMPLE online and they will see a PDF edition, but it’s not the same as when they get their copy in the mail and actually hold their ink on paper magazine? Liz Vaccariello: That’s been one of the delights of this entire experience and I can talk about it in terms of advertisers, readers and staff. First of all, in terms of the staff, when the May “Get It Done”-themed issue came out, it was about the little projects on your to-do lists that you’ve been meaning to get done for the last year and that you seem to never get around to. This came out and I called the Production team and asked them to send me two big boxes of the issue. Then I went to Staples with my mask on, I bought envelopes, my own set of office supplies, and then I mailed a copy of the issue to everyone on my staff. I sent a quick note that read, “Liked your story on dusting,” or “Glad we ran this photo,” or something personal about something they had done with that issue. I was surprised at how touched they were. I wanted them to see the issue. I almost teared up. We’ve been apart and we’re making this magazine that lives and breathes and exists in people’s hands. To see it and hold it was a point of pride.

On whether she thinks once the pandemic is behind us the way things are done might change or be influenced by the pandemic: So much has changed, but so much is the same. When I’m working on a print product, I’m working with paper, so I often want to see a layout on paper. Right now, we don’t have that luxury. On whether she thinks readers will be ready to get back to a “normal” mode of operation: I always post the cover of my editor’s letter on my Instagram and social media feeds, and I often hear from readers that way and I watch our REAL SIMPLE feeds. Readers are also excited to get the issue in the mail. It’s this treat that arrives. Bless the U.S. Postal Service. (Laughs)

We also did a mailing to some of our advertisers in which we provided a digital edition of the issue to people so they could see it. We also continue to mail boxes of magazines that Meredith publishes to our biggest clients and they receive these issues with a note that reads: Happy Reading. And our partners are thrilled because there is something very special and magical about the print edition.

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On whether she ever imagined she’d be working during a pandemic: No, not at all. I’ve read stories about epidemiologists and global health experts warning about a global pandemic and I watched SARS carefully years ago. There’s a certain element of humanity that believes it’s not going to happen to us, or it’s not going to happen in the United States, or the people in charge are on top of it and they would never let it get out of hand. On any additional words of wisdom: It’s been heartwarming for me to look around at the publishing industry, not just REAL SIMPLE and not just Meredith, but all of our colleagues. When you make a magazine, it’s important to look around and realize how much of what we do is relevant in the best of times, and also during the worst of times. No matter if it’s 9/11 or if it’s a global pandemic, people care about their happiness and their families.

I always post the cover of my editor’s letter on my Instagram and social media feeds, and I often hear from readers that way and I watch our REAL SIMPLE feeds. Readers are also excited to get the issue in the mail. It’s this treat that arrives. Bless the U.S. Postal Service. (Laughs) Samir Husni: You’ve been editor of Prevention magazine, Reader’s Digest; you’ve seen it all in terms of categories, from health to making life easier. Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic? Liz Vaccariello: No, not at all. I’ve read stories about epidemiologists and global health experts warning about a global pandemic and I watched SARS carefully years ago. There’s a certain element of humanity that believes it’s not going to happen to us, or it’s not going to happen in the United States, or the people in charge are on top of it and they would never let it get out of hand. To your point, I was at Fitness magazine during 9/11. The world can change in a day and that’s what happened here. It’s nice to be able to tell my daughters, who are 15, that this feels like we’re in this pit of something truly awful, and yes, the world has changed, and life will change, but there is hope. Life will go back to normal — a new normal. We will get through this. So yes, there is something to be said for being an old lady like me who has seen it all. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Liz Vaccariello: It’s been heartwarming for me to look around at the publishing industry, not just REAL SIMPLE and not just Meredith, but all of our colleagues. When you make a magazine, it’s important to look around and realize how much of what we do is relevant in the best of times, and also during the worst of times. No matter if it’s 9/11 or if it’s a global pandemic, people care about their happiness and their families. They want to find ways to be healthier; they want to find ways to simplify their lives; they want to see the world,

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whether they’re able to travel at that moment or if they want to travel vicariously through others, and so the nature of magazines is to transport our readers. To make our readers’ lives a little better warms my heart. We’re not curing brain cancer, but we do improve people’s lives. It shows by how excited they are when the magazine arrives in their mailboxes. Our April issue of REAL SIMPLE was the “spring-cleaning issue, spring clean your life.” It hit newsstands on March 20 and people have asked if we knew something, and of course, we didn’t. However, what we do organically is perfect for the times. When you look at the brands in the magazine industry, they all have that serendipitous connection right now with their readers. This is exactly what readers need at this moment. And that’s why I love this brand.

On what keeps her up at night: People who interpret dreams and who charge for it could probably make a killing these days. (Laughs) I will just say that the metaphors of my dreams are quite something. It’s about stress; it’s about, yes, we’re going to come back, the economy is going to come back someday, but we might be in this for a long slog.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Liz Vaccariello: People who interpret dreams and who charge for it could probably make a killing these days. (Laughs) I will just say that the metaphors of my dreams are quite something. It’s about stress; it’s about, yes, we’re going to come back, the economy is going to come back someday, but we might be in this for a long slog. So, keeping me up at night is how long the pain is going to be for Americans, for my family, and for my readers. For people who are buying food and trying to put dinner on the table, and who want to maybe make their homes look a little better, or they want to take a trip. I want those people to have that ability sooner rather than later. I’m hopeful, though there is uncertainty. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

Thomas Whitney

President of Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company “Focus on your content! Now’s the time to build your brand.”

For more than 140 years, Democrat Printing & Lithographing Company has offered quality printing services. Over the decades, the family-owned business has grown with the times and kept abreast of the many changes in technology and services. Today Thomas Whitney serves as president of the company and takes his heritage very seriously, especially during the pandemic. I spoke with Thomas recently and we talked about this tragic occurrence that is affecting both the public health and economy of our nation. Thomas said that the number one priority is the safety of his employees and that Democrat has no intention of closing or slowing down. They are onboard to help their clients in any way they can and will stand behind that promise. “DP&L’s greatest strength has always been our customer service. We take great pride in the relationships we’ve built with our customers. These relationships are what have kept our doors open for 149 years. We consider our customers as partners and we’ll do anything in our power to support them. Even if it doesn’t make sense financially, we’ll find a way to help our customers in times of need as any true partner would.” publishing during a pandemic

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On how Democrat is operating during this pandemic: Carefully. On the steps Democrat is taking to ensure all personnel still working in place are safe: When we first understood the threat of COVID-19, we immediately took steps to protect our employees. All office non-essential office personnel have been working from home for the last several weeks. Plant production staff have been provided with face shields, masks and hand sanitizer. We have also implemented a social distancing policy.

On the impact the pandemic has had on Democrat’s printing schedules: The impact on our customers has been mixed. Our estimating team has been flooded with requests for reduced press runs, page counts, cheaper paper, etc. Anything to save costs. Our revenue has taken a hit, but nowhere near as bad as I expected.

Samir Husni: How is Democrat operating during this pandemic? Thomas Whitney: Carefully. Samir Husni: Since you can’t print from home, what are the steps you are doing to social distance and ensure all are well at the work place? Thomas Whitney: When we first understood the threat of COVID-19, we immediately took steps to protect our employees. All office non-essential office personnel have been working from home for the last several weeks. Plant production staff have been provided with face shields, masks and hand sanitizer. We have also implemented a social distancing policy. It’s very easy for us to distance ourselves. Our equipment is big and we operate with small crews. We’ve almost always social distanced, though we’ve never realized it. Whether it has to do with Company policy or not, I will say that everyone is certainly more conscious of their health and cleanliness in the facility. Samir Husni: What is the impact so far on the publishing frequency, printing, mailing, etc.? Any changes on the print schedule from your clients? Skipping issues, reducing print run, etc. Thomas Whitney: The impact on our customers has been mixed. Our estimating team has been flooded with requests for reduced press runs, page counts, cheaper paper, etc. Anything to save costs. Our revenue has taken a hit, but nowhere near as bad as I expected. At the same time, we’ve had an influx of requests from publishers looking for stability. The mega printers have been moving publishers from one facility to another, which is nothing new. Since the pandemic began, this has been happening much faster, and in greater volume. DP&L only has one plant, and we’re not closing it.

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We’ve had a few magazines decide to push their monthly titles into the next month. Many publishers have been looking for ways to right size their printing costs to their revenue or projected revenue. From what we’ve seen, City and Regional pubs have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. It’s even worse on those in parts of the country with the highest infection rates. Most of their advertising revenue comes from local retail shops, dentists, cosmetic surgeons, and restaurants. Many of which are closed. Their problems are compounded if their distribution is free, on public racks at their advertiser’s businesses. Free city regional pubs that mail seem to be doing much better. For the most part, and depending on their industry focus, B2B publications have suffered far less during the pandemic. Most B2B magazines are 100% subscription based. B2B publishers with titles focused on non-essential industries have been concerned that their mail won’t reach its destination, or that the mail will go to a closed business. We’ve helped several publishers refine their lists and to make sure they’re not wasting money on postage, but we’ve always done that.

On whether he’s seeing any shortage in ink, paper or workforce: We haven’t seen any shortages of paper, ink, or any other materials that we need to produce magazines. Freight companies have tightened up a bit. Many aren’t guarantying on time delivery, or they’ve frozen refunds for late deliveries. FedEx and UPS both announced that they no longer guaranteed on time delivery for small parcels. Most of our parts suppliers are doing fine.

DP&L’s greatest strength has always been our customer service. We take great pride in the relationships we’ve built with our customers. These relationships are what have kept our doors open for 149 years. We consider our customers as partners and we’ll do anything in our power to support them. Even if it doesn’t make sense financially, we’ll find a way to help our customers in times of need as any true partner would. Samir Husni: Are you seeing any shortage in paper, ink, workforce? Thomas Whitney: We haven’t seen any shortages of paper, ink, or any other materials that we need to produce

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On whether he had ever imagined something like this pandemic ever happening: Never in my wildest dreams did I think something like this would happen. Not in my personal life, nor in business. Tornadoes and earthquakes; sure. A deadly virus; only in the movies. And, as such, I never thought of what it could do to our country, our economy, let alone what it could do to our customers and our company. On what message he is communicating with his clients and employees: The message to both our employees and our customers is the same. DP&L is still alive and well. We will do everything within our means to help you during these challenging times. Focus on your work and your families. Most importantly, stay healthy. This too shall pass.

magazines. Freight companies have tightened up a bit. Many aren’t guarantying on time delivery, or they’ve frozen refunds for late deliveries. FedEx and UPS both announced that they no longer guaranteed on time delivery for small parcels. Most of our parts suppliers are doing fine. Some equipment support companies aren’t doing well which concerns me. DP&L, like most of the printing industry, has had a very hard time finding the skilled labor that we need for years. With the amount of plant closures and layoffs of late, I expect that to change for the printing companies that survive. Samir Husni: Did you ever in your worst nightmares think something like this would happen? And can you ever be prepared for such a thing? Thomas Whitney: Never in my wildest dreams did I think something like this would happen. Not in my personal life, nor in business. Tornadoes and earthquakes; sure. A deadly virus; only in the movies. And, as such, I never thought of what it could do to our country, our economy, let alone what it could do to our customers and our company. The best preparation for any catastrophe in business is liquidity. And, in a scenario like the one we’re currently in, the more cash you have, the better you’ll be able to weather the storm. Unfortunately, there aren’t many companies that can operate for months with no money coming in. Hopefully, our government’s relief packages will come quickly and stabilize the economy. Samir Husni: What message are you communicating with your employees and clients? Thomas Whitney: The message to both our employees and our customers is the same. DP&L is still alive and well. We will do everything within our means to help you during these challenging times. Focus on your work and your families. Most importantly, stay healthy. This too shall pass.

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Samir Husni: What makes magazines and magazine media relevant today? Thomas Whitney: I think magazines are more relevant today than they’ve been in years. We live in a world of social distancing. A world without handshakes. Most Americans are home and have been for weeks. Who knows how much longer that’s going to last? In general, Americans have a lot of time on their hands, and they need and crave entertainment. The content that lures people to magazines, is desired more now than it has been in years. People still love the products we produce. They still want the connection they get from the printed piece. And, probably now more than ever. Especially if it show’s up in the mail. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Thomas Whitney: Focus on your content! If your magazine has been devastated by this pandemic, use this time to create new and more relevant content with staying power. Now’s the time to build your brand and strengthen the relationship with your audience. There is a tremendous amount of demand for everything right now. Once businesses reopen, advertisers will be fighting to get the word out that they’re back in business, and they’re going to pay the most to advertise with the best. And we hope you’re with Democrat Printing when that happens! Samir Husni: And my typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Thomas Whitney: The uncertainty of the economic damage that this pandemic has done to our economy, and ultimately our collective industry as publishers and printers. However, I really try to not let things that are out of my control cause me to lose sleep. Samir Husni: Thank you.

On what makes magazines and magazine media relevant today: I think magazines are more relevant today than they’ve been in years. We live in a world of social distancing. A world without handshakes. Most Americans are home and have been for weeks. Who knows how much longer that’s going to last? In general, Americans have a lot of time on their hands, and they need and crave entertainment. On any additional words of wisdom: Focus on your content! If your magazine has been devastated by this pandemic, use this time to create new and more relevant content with staying power. Now’s the time to build your brand and strengthen the relationship with your audience. On what keeps him up at night: The uncertainty of the economic damage that this pandemic has done to our economy, and ultimately our collective industry as publishers a

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CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN Troy Young President of Hearst Magazines “We have to be more innovative than ever.

I reached out to Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines, to see how Hearst was managing during this tragic and uncertain time. As we continue to see the gloom and doom in the news media, and very rare mention of anything uplifting or positive, Troy and his team are determined to shed some bloom and brightness with quality content. The glass can be viewed as half full as easily as it can half empty, and Hearst is pushing forward with serving their customers where they are and via any platform they like. I spoke with Troy very recently and we talked about how magazines and magazine media content is more relevant today than ever before. People are looking for valued and trusted information from those credible brands that they have come to know. Troy pointed out that in one month alone, the Hearst Magazine brands published 1,900 healthrelated articles. Amazing indeed. Trusted content will always come from trusted brands‌ Samir Husni: There’s so much doom and gloom taking place currently, not only in the world, but in the media circles. How are you as president of Hearst Magazines operating the company during this pandemic?

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On how Hearst Magazines is operating during this pandemic: The first thing we had to do is move our workforce into collaborating and connecting in an entirely new way. Fortunately,— because we have a fairly large composition of very technically sophisticated workers, be it engineers or digital editors — it’s been relatively seamless. And, we have been using digital tools to connect with each other for a while now, so the transition to working remotely has been less disruptive than you’d expect. I’ve heard that from many others too, so I think the world is adjusting well.

Troy Young: The first thing we had to do is move our workforce into collaborating and connecting in an entirely new way. Fortunately,— because we have a fairly large composition of very technically sophisticated workers, be it engineers or digital editors — it’s been relatively seamless. And, we have been using digital tools to connect with each other for a while now, so the transition to working remotely has been less disruptive than you’d expect. I’ve heard that from many others too, so I think the world is adjusting well. We’re starting to see some of the challenges though, in terms of the effect it can have on mental health. We’re seeing the challenges of parents who are having to balance managing a school in their home and doing their work simultaneously. These types of changes are concerning given that they have the potential to put more stress on our employees. The other question is how — during these unusual circumstances — do we move bigger projects forward and implement bigger initiatives that we were planning. How do we get those going. I think this might be a little harder to do in the remote workforce. On top of that, we have real challenges across the industry. We have a varied portfolio, from women’s services to luxury to men’s publications, but some of those worlds are being hit tremendously hard — fashion and luxury, in particular. It will impact everybody’s revenue in the industry. I’ve spoken to many across the magazine industry and the sentiment is pretty consistent, this is going to be a really challenging time. Our point of view is that the effects of coronavirus will accelerate trends that we’ve already been working on for quite some time. And those trends are managing rate bases more aggressively: growing our digital business, growing consumer revenue, becoming a leader in the commerce space and further developing our video production capabilities. But those are challenges that we were facing before —they are now just coming at us really fast.

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Samir Husni: When the pandemic is behind us, do you think there’s a possibility that, as in education, where universities are rethinking how they’re teaching online, considering how well your teams are working remotely, do you think there will be a pause for reconsideration of the traditional office environment? Troy Young: I’m actually hopeful that we can use this as an opportunity to create some more lasting change. One of the bright spots for many people and for many senior executives is — for example — how efficient we can be when we create a virtual meeting. We set up a Zoom link and five people can be looking at each other and we can run a very productive meeting in 25 minutes. That gives us more flexibility in a lot of ways, in terms of our personal lives and our professional lives. So, I do think some of the learnings will rewire how we think as workers and certainly as a media company. And some of those will be really positive. Samir Husni: Are you thinking of changing any publishing schedules, any frequencies for the print products? Are you concentrating more on digital or is everything for now still status quo? Troy Young: What’s really important to me is wherever we’re creating a product —whether it’s a print, digital, video or experiential product — it has to be a great product and consumers have to value it. I think you’ll see us look critically at frequency across some of our titles, as we’ve been doing for a long time. We made the decision to change frequency on Esquire months before the pandemic crisis — you may see more of that. Some of these changes may be short-term, given the lack of ad-demand right now, some may not be. But what’s really important underneath all of it is that you still create a product that the consumer really desires.

On when the pandemic is over if he thinks there will be a pause for consideration in the traditional office environment: I’m actually hopeful that we can use this as an opportunity to create some more lasting change. One of the bright spots for many people and for many senior executives is — for example — how efficient we can be when we create a virtual meeting. We set up a Zoom link and five people can be looking at each other and we can run a very productive meeting in 25 minutes. That gives us more flexibility in a lot of ways, in terms of our personal lives and our professional lives. On whether Hearst is considering any publishing schedule or frequency changes: What’s really important to me is wherever we’re creating a product — whether it’s a print, digital, video or experiential product — it has to be a great product and consumers have to value it. I think you’ll see us look critically at frequency across some of our titles, as we’ve been doing for a long time. We made the decision to change frequency on Esquire months before the pandemic crisis — you may see more of that.

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On whether he had ever envisioned a crisis situation like we have today and how he might have prepared for it: I don’t know if you can prepare for it, but I feel like the fundamental structural transformation that we have gone through in magazine media was hard work and we had to make a lot of hard decisions. To an extent, that prepared us for the next set of hard decisions that are coming at us so quickly because of this pandemic. But, I don’t think any of us could have seen this coming as quickly as it did and as aggressively as it did.

Samir Husni: Did you ever, in your worst nightmares, envision a situation like this? And how do you prepare for it? Troy Young: I don’t know if you can prepare for it, but I feel like the fundamental structural transformation that we have gone through in magazine media was hard work and we had to make a lot of hard decisions. To an extent, that prepared us for the next set of hard decisions that are coming at us so quickly because of this pandemic. But, I don’t think any of us could have seen this coming as quickly as it did and as aggressively as it did. Samir Husni: In the midst of all that’s happening, why do you think that magazines and magazine media are relevant today? Or are they relevant today? Troy Young: I think that we should separate two sides of magazine media: What is the content and how is it being packaged and distributed? To me, magazine media never goes away. And to me, magazine media is not the news. It is point of view; it is passions; and it is perspective; and it moves in and around the news and the things that people care about, but it brings more perspective to that conversation. And that’s what is so wonderful about it. And all of the journalism that surrounds it. I think that will persist. How a model of delivering that content on the printed page in a package through a set of distributors and retailers and how that gets reshaped are different questions. But I believe there will be demand for the printed product for a long time and it will hold up better in some categories than others. I think it holds up really well in shelter and fashion. And in other places like lifestyle media for men and in health — we see a strong demand and consumers really like the product. It’s changing and as it changes, our job is to evolve how we distribute content. And if you look at what magazine publishers have done over the last decade, we’ve become

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incredibly nimble at creating content for ten different distribution points. And creating multiple different types of content from short Tweets to new video formats to online features — and we still continue to produce magazines. I think our industry is really resilient, and our job as leaders is to follow how consumers want to consume our content. Samir Husni: Is there any message you want to send to your staff or your readers or to your advertisers during all of this? Troy Young: The first thing for our advertisers right now is we’re thinking about them, because I know that their businesses are incredibly difficult. And whether you’re in retail, luxury, fashion, beauty, or the automotive space, your business is facing many significant challenges. As a partner, I’m worried about them and their businesses and want to know how we can help them. The second thing that I would say is, I just looked at our March digital performance — in terms of the content we created and how it was read, and I can tell you that people still want to hear from us. The distribution of our content continues to grow; year over year we’re up. Our teams have been incredibly responsive. Last month, we published 1,900 articles around Covid-19, but found different ways to talk about it that was relevant to our different audiences. And we’re seeing people want to consume lifestyle content because in some ways it’s an alternative to just the relentlessness of hard news. So, people want our content, they love our brands. And figuring out how we deliver against that and how we pay for it is one reason why we’re going through a period of so much change. Samir Husni: What do you tell your team every time you meet for a meeting? What’s your message of encouragement? Troy Young: It’s time for us to be leaders. We have to be

On whether he thinks magazines and magazine media are relevant today: I think that we should separate two sides of magazine media: What is the content and how is it being packaged and distributed? To me, magazine media never goes away. And to me, magazine media is not the news. It is point of view; it is passions; and it is perspective; and it moves in and around the news and the things that people care about, but it brings more perspective to that conversation. And that’s what is so wonderful about it. And all of the journalism that surrounds it. On any message he would like to send his advertisers, readers or staff: The first thing for our advertisers right now is we’re thinking about them, because I know that their businesses are incredibly difficult. And whether you’re in retail, luxury, fashion, beauty, or the automotive space, your business is facing many significant challenges. As a partner, I’m worried about them and their businesses and want to know how we can help them.

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On what he tells his teams when they get together for a meeting: It’s time for us to be leaders. We have to be insanely creative in how we work and how we understand value as we’re creating. We have to be more innovative than ever, and there are going to be times that it’s really hard. We need to fuel that emotion and then move on. On what keeps him up at night: What keeps me up at night is that, as a society, we need to stay connected to our better angels. Cuomo said it best, and I totally agree: How do we keep positive; how do we keep helping one another. And I worry sometimes that in a crisis like this, we can let it get the better of us. And I think that we have to be like that on every level. With our families; with our coworkers; and in society. And if I worry

insanely creative in how we work and how we understand value as we’re creating. We have to be more innovative than ever, and there are going to be times that it’s really hard. We need to fuel that emotion and then move on. And, most importantly, we have to care for our coworkers. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Troy Young: It’s so funny that you ask that, Samir, because our executive team meets every morning at 9:00 a.m. and sometimes we talk about a broad range of things. This morning, it started with how many people right now are waking up in the middle of the night? And I made the joke that maybe we should shift the call to 3:00 a.m. But what keeps me up at night is that, as a society, we need to stay connected to our better angels. Cuomo said it best, and I totally agree: How do we keep positive; how do we keep helping one another. And I worry sometimes that in a crisis like this, we can let it get the better of us. And I think that we have to be like that on every level. With our families; with our coworkers; and in society. And if I worry about anything it’s, how are we reacting to these challenges and are we staying positive? Samir Husni: Thank you.

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CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

Blaise Zerega

Managing Editor of Alta Magazine “We’re leaning into and embracing what that idea of adding value to the content means.”

Alta magazine is a quarterly journal dedicated to California and to celebrating California’s culture, issues and allimportant history. Unfortunately, like everyone else in our country and most of the world, the Alta team has been dealing with and operating around COVID-19. William R. Hearst III is the founder and publisher of the magazine and certainly knows his way around the world of print, but when facing a pandemic, many things had to change and we all had to learn to adapt. Blaise Zerega is managing editor of Alta and isn’t a stranger to magazines either, having helped lead such titles as Wired, Conde Nast Portfolio, and Forbes. I spoke with Blaise recently and we talked about how things were being handled during this life-altering pandemic. The things that have remained the same for the Alta team, such as working remotely, and the things that have changed, the closures of bookstores and newsstands. Blaise is into the smart, timely essays that Alta does so well, both in print and online. He said enabling his readers to think more broadly about a topic is definitely a goal. And with the Alta content, that would seem to be no problem. publishing during a pandemic

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On how he has been operating during the pandemic: In some ways, as a quarterly, we have a different experience than a weekly or a monthly, but in many ways it’s the same. When the pandemic hit and shelter-in-place was announced, we were embarking on the production of our summer issue. We quickly had to put on hold any story that required onsite reporting, travel, photography, which of course, are all the tools of magazine-making.

The brand is timely and most certainly innovative, as he explains that the magazine is coming out with a science fiction cover package, which gives an opportunity to bring in new fiction from some really great writers. And right now the truth seems stranger than most science fiction, so good storytelling is a definite escape we all need. Samir Husni: How have you been operating a quarterly print magazine during this pandemic? Blaise Zerega: In some ways, as a quarterly, we have a different experience than a weekly or a monthly, but in many ways it’s the same. When the pandemic hit and shelter-in-place was announced, we were embarking on the production of our summer issue. We quickly had to put on hold any story that required onsite reporting, travel, photography, which of course, are all the tools of magazinemaking. We basically sat back and asked, “What are we going to do? What is our issue going to look like? What can we put out that is in keeping with our focus on the big pictures?” Sometimes my boss, Will Hearst, jokes that we cover the past and the future, but not the present, (Laughs) but we do strive to be timely and relevant. What we ended up doing was basically tearing up our issue and produce a summer reading issue. Initially we thought it would be a departure, sort of a one-off, but now as we’re producing it, we’re thinking that this might be where Alta should have been all along, which is a journal of Alta, California, our magazine’s title. As an example, we’re scrapping the sections, the typical magazine sections. Instead, we’re going to be more of a journal, so it will be a great read from beginning to end. We’re going to do more poetry and I’ll tip my hand here, we’re coming out with science fiction as a cover package, which gives us an opportunity to bring in new fiction from some really great writers, as well as the classics and some really smart essays on the genre, how it’s sort of a first draft

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history of science fiction in many ways. It seems on one hand, because we’d been thinking about doing science fiction for a while, suddenly it seems smart and relevant. Lawrence Wright, when he sat down to write his book that’s out now about a virus and a pandemic, that was like two years ago, who would have thought? And now his book is well-timed. I think that we’re experiencing a little bit of that same coincidence or serendipity. But like any other publication, our chief concern is the safety and health of our team and our audience. So that has driven a lot of our schedules in how we’re producing the magazine. We are a remote staff already, so that wasn’t terribly new. Except that we do get together frequently with our boss, Will Hearst, to put the covers out on the conference room table and I definitely miss that. So, that has been a big change, and not just the physical touching of paper, but of being in the room, there’s only so much you can do with Zoom holding stuff up. Samir Husni: Since your publication works remotely anyway, has it been fairly seamless to continue working from home even though many things have changed, such as traveling and photography? How have you been handling those other issues?

On being a remote staff anyway, but handling other issues during the pandemic: Some of the other issues we’re dealing with are, even though we’re a remote staff, we do depend on getting together quite often to meet face-to-face. We were already on Slack and we’ve now added Zoom to the mix. But the copy editors, they want the paper still and so we’re trying to figure out how we get printouts for proofreading. You can proofread on a screen, but at the end of the day, it’s a paper product that we’re producing, so we want to see that paper to proofread.

Blaise Zerega: Some of the other issues we’re dealing with are, even though we’re a remote staff, we do depend on getting together quite often to meet face-to-face. We were already on Slack and we’ve now added Zoom to the mix. But the copy editors, they want the paper still and so we’re trying to figure out how we get printouts for proofreading. You can proofread on a screen, but at the end of the day, it’s a paper product that we’re producing, so we want to see that paper to proofread. So, we’re basically working with drops, someone drops it off at someone’s house. We just coordinate runs that way. From a business perspective, all of our revenue is really about

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On whether he had ever thought of working during something like a pandemic and if he thinks someone could prepare for something like it: No, I did not prepare for a pandemic. I had no idea it was coming. When 9/11 happened, I was in San Francisco at Red Herring, and then when I went to Portfolio, a lot of people from The Wall Street Journal were there. And they had continued to put out issues during 9/11. So, I heard their stories and how they did it. On why it is important to continue to have the ink on paper product in the hands of readers during these uncertain times: One of the things that we went through as we put together the lineup, we went through various versions of what we were going to be putting out in July, and it forced us to answer those questions: what is the value that we’re giving our readers, our members? What’s the experience that we’re going to provide them.

subscriptions. So, that has been strong and growing. We actually just raised our prices at the first of the year, so that feels like we’re in a good place financially. We’ve added some things to the mix like other publishing enterprises where we’re doing virtual events. We just had one recently with Susan Straight; it’s called “Alta Asks Live.” We did another on true crime. And that’s been a lot of fun. And I think that’s going to be a real evolutionary cycle of change for publishers, doing more virtual events. The question is, is it a short-term change or is it here to stay? I think it’s going to be here to stay. Samir Husni: Did you ever imagine that you would be working during a pandemic and do you think anyone could ever prepare for something like this? Blaise Zerega: No, I did not prepare for a pandemic. I had no idea it was coming. When 9/11 happened, I was in San Francisco at Red Herring, and then when I went to Portfolio, a lot of people from The Wall Street Journal were there. And they had continued to put out issues during 9/11. So, I heard their stories and how they did it. In San Francisco, we’ve had earthquakes and people have put magazines out running power cords through ceiling, things like that. So, you have to react, but at the end of the day, a lot of editors have learned to have a book excerpt in your back pocket and some spare stories. But with this, we really had to scramble and make lemonade. And definitely for a quarterly, we’re on a different frequency and different deadlines than a daily or a weekly, so I don’t pretend that it’s the same. But there are a lot of similarities there. Samir Husni: Why is it important to continue to have the ink on paper product in the hands of your readers during these uncertain times? Blaise Zerega: One of the things that we went through as we

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put together the lineup, we went through various versions of what we were going to be putting out in July, and it forced us to answer those questions: what is the value that we’re giving our readers, our members? What’s the experience that we’re going to provide them. And more than ever, we realized that we want to weigh in on this in a smart way, in a very evergreen way, but not with endless shelf life, and smart analysis of the people’s issues and ideas of California and the West. And the pandemic is one of those factors, no doubt. But we’re not going to be able to cover the Coronavirus news cycle as a quarterly, but it will inform our coverage.

On any challenges he hasn’t been able to easily overcome during t he pandemic: The biggest things aren’t on the editorial and the production side of things. Yes, our printer announced bankruptcy, but that’s not going to change anything because of Chapter 11 and so on. The biggest challenge is the newsstand and the bookstores.

What it has done is we are publishing more online, more original content, and so we’ve done essays. We have a great essay by Dean Kuipers, who wrote The Deer Camp memoir. It turns out he and his wife own a farm in Los Angeles, yes there’s a farm in Los Angeles (Laughs) digging in the dirt, getting your hands in there, and growing your own food kind of farm. And that is an essay that’s just perfect for the time we’re living in now. And it enables our readers to think more broadly, such as hey, it’s hard for me to plant those tomato seeds on the windowsill, or Historian Bill Deverell from USC, who wrote a really smart essay about how in California we have a cycle of racism and violence every time there’s a disease outbreak. There’s always scapegoating and so on and we need to break that cycle. Something that people are keenly aware of, but now have an opportunity to do so. So, we’re doing it in a way that’s not breaking news, to be clear, but exposing these ideas and new ways of thinking around the virus and what comes next, in the magazine, I think the science fiction is a good bridge for that. Samir Husni: Have you had any challenges that you haven’t been able to easily overcome during this pandemic?

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On any additional words of wisdom: The great thing about magazines is it’s a collaborative effort. It’s a team effort. You get an exchange of ideas; you pound a table; you raise your voice; the best stories get into the lineup; the best layout, that kind of stuff, in a very collegial way though. My advice or instinct is you have to find a way to replicate that and Zoom is one way, just whatever you have to do. That’s what sets magazines apart.

Blaise Zerega: The biggest things aren’t on the editorial and the production side of things. Yes, our printer announced bankruptcy, but that’s not going to change anything because of Chapter 11 and so on. The biggest challenge is the newsstand and the bookstores. And again, Will Hearst gets a lot of credit for this, when Alta was starting he recognized that bookstores would be a great place, a great vehicle, to sell the magazine. It’s a really smart, literary/culture magazine, so let’s roll it out to the bookstores. We all know that the newsstands have shut down and the bookstores have shut down too, Barnes & Noble has shut down. So, that’s the challenge for us. And that’s going to change. So, one of the things that we’ve done in a quick way is put up a store on our site and we’re selling single-issue copies. Something we would have never predicted we’d be doing. We’re selling them at the newsstand price, which is $10. To subscribe to the magazine it’s $24. So, it’s a good subscription tool. Samir Husni: Any additional words of wisdom? Blaise Zerega: The great thing about magazines is it’s a collaborative effort. It’s a team effort. You get an exchange of ideas; you pound a table; you raise your voice; the best stories get into the lineup; the best layout, that kind of stuff, in a very collegial way though. My advice or instinct is you have to find a way to replicate that and Zoom is one way, just whatever you have to do. That’s what sets magazines apart. Teamwork makes the dream work. (Laughs) There’s no “I” in team. And I believe that. That comes from taking care of your team too. Making sure people aren’t nervous and to help them bring out their best, you have to make sure they’re safe and healthy. Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night? Blaise Zerega: As someone who has been in the industry for

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a long time, with magazines you buy paper, you add a value to the paper and you resell the paper. And that value is the stories, that’s the magic. So, what does that look like coming out of the pandemic? Do we need to change? What are people going to want? And I believe, this is heresy to say it to you even, but I’m wondering if the monthly magazine is now really imperiled. Is it going to survive in its current form? Vogue is a bellwether, it’s doing a combined issue for the first time. The newsstand is in trouble, advertising is not coming back. So, where does paper go? I believe strongly that at Alta we’re at a pretty interesting place. We’re the Journal of Alta California; we’re quarterly. And I think that our frequency suits us well. It suits the time well; what we’re trying to do. We’re going to make our next issue perfect bound as well. Have cover stock and more art. We’re leaning into and embracing what that idea of adding value to the content means. Let’s make it really worth the paper it’s printed on so people want it on their bookcase.

On what keeps him up at night: As someone who has been in the industry for a long time, with magazines you buy paper, you add a value to the paper and you resell the paper. And that value is the stories, that’s the magic. So, what does that look like coming out of the pandemic? Do we need to change? What are people going to want? And I believe, this is heresy to say it to you even, but I’m wondering if the monthly magazine is now really imperiled.

And this is only our 12th issue, if we were a monthly, we’d be one-year-old. And we’re all having fun. There are these moments of joy and creativity that are unparalleled. Samir Husni: Thank you.

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Publishing During A Pandemic In-depth interviews with magazine and magazine media makers: March 2020 to August 2020. Stephen Bohlinger

Lucy Kaylin

Susan Borison

Bonnie Kintzer

Chris Carpenter

Steven Kotok

John Cimba

Simon Leslie

Andy Clurman

Bernie Mann

Steve Cohn

Paul McNamee

Vanessa Coppes

Meaghan Murphy

Shannon Cummins

Eric O’Keefe

Arianna Davis

Doug Olson

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano

Stephen Orr

Philip Drumheller

Gemma Peckham

Will Estell

Sherin Pierce

Sid Evans

David Pilcher

Bill Falk

Joel Quadracci

David Fry

Mike Ragsdale

JD Heyman

Eddie Lee Rider Jr.

Sue Holt

Eric Schurenberg

Joe Hyrkin

Joe Stella

Jayne Jamison

Liz Vaccariello

Kent Johnson

Thomas Whitney

Dave Jones

Troy Young

Katriina Kaarre

Blaise Zerega

Profile for School of Journalism and New Media

Publishing During A Pandemic by Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni  

Inside the great minds of magazine and magazine media makers. Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni, Ph.D., founder and director of the Magazine Inno...

Publishing During A Pandemic by Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni  

Inside the great minds of magazine and magazine media makers. Samir "Mr. Magazine™" Husni, Ph.D., founder and director of the Magazine Inno...

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