Magazines and Magazine Media: A Global View

As I’ve said in the past, the idea that digital media was born into this world to destroy print is preposterous. Yes, you heard me, preposterous. The conspiracy theory just doesn’t wash here. The two platforms are mutually conducive to complementary experiences for the one group of people who matter in this quandary: the audience. And to be truthful, the initial introduction of print and digital was rocky, to say the least. It was daunting for digital and frightening for print, since most of the human race was spouting digital’s prowess over legacy media, which was a hard thing for the pixels to undertake singlehandedly and a totally unnerving thought for the print component. And finally, the magazine media industry has started to figure out a way (or ways) to reintroduce the two properly and they’re working on it diligently.

So, what does all of the above mean for magazines and magazine media? Where is the industry heading in 2018 and beyond? Both good questions, right? Well, here’s another one: what is the state of magazine media right now in this digital age? To answer those questions (and many others) you’d have to ask people in the know; the ones who have a global perspective on this industry we call magazine media.

In order to delve beneath the surface of what appears to be and discover what really is, Mr. Magazine™ asked two people who run a couple of the largest magazine media associations in the world: Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of the MPA – The Association of Magazine Media and James Hewes, president and CEO of FIPP – The Network for Global Media, to take the mic and the stage on April 17, 2018 and give us the lowdown from their perspectives. What resulted is the opening evening of the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT (Amplify, Clarify, & Testify) 8 Experience, where Print Proud Digital Smart becomes more than just a 21st century mantra.

Since 1919, MPA – The Association of Magazine Media has been the primary advocate and voice for the magazine media industry, driving thought leadership and game-changing strategies to promote the industry’s vitality and increase its revenues and market share. MPA represents 200 domestic, associate and international members and is headquartered in New York City, with a government affairs office in Washington, D.C.

And FIPP – The Network for Global Media represents more than 500 content-rich companies or individuals involved in the creation, publishing or sharing of quality content to audiences of interest. FIPP exists to help its members develop better strategies and build better businesses by identifying and communicating emerging trends, sharing knowledge, and improving skills, worldwide.

And the two visionaries that head up these highly esteemed and important media advocates are powerhouses of knowledge and experience when it comes to magazine media’s print and digital futures. Mr. Magazine™ spoke with Linda Thomas Brooks in an interview not long after she was appointed president and CEO of the MPA and she was adamant about the conjoining of print and digital, and about her views on both:

Linda Thomas Brooks to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “I didn’t come here because I’m anti-digital. Digital does some things really, really well. But digital media doesn’t do everything really well. And as advertisers, and again what we’ve seen in conversations last month, consumers have realized that too, and there has to be a mix. So, I’m not here because I’m anti-digital; I’m not here because I’m a Luddite. Many of our magazine brands have fantastic digital properties. But those properties, and that’s why I mentioned the research that we’re looking at right now, resonate more in the marketplace because they’re tied to a magazine brand. That brand, whatever format that it’s on, print, digital, mobile, social; whatever, that brand name is a sure cut to quality to consumers. They know that they can trust it wherever it appears. And so what I want to do is validate the business model that perpetuates those brands, because the quality in those brands is really what this whole thing is about.”

And in a recent interview with James Hewes that I did, James confirmed his own stance on the exciting time we live and work in when it comes to the many facets of print and digital:

James Hewes to Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “I fervently believe that this is the most exciting time in history to be working in this industry. From the outside looking in, people may think it’s crazy, why would someone go and work in the publishing industry generally, and I’m not just talking about print, but publishing in media generally. And I say to them, are you crazy? This is an absolutely fantastic time to be working in it, because publishing companies are now exposed to such a broad range, a huge variety, of business areas that in the old days you would never, ever have gotten exposure to, whether that’s e-commerce or social media or social influences, whatever you want to think of, as a new business area that they’ve gone into. And at the same time, we get to play with magazines, which are really fun and really a fantastic industry in their own right. So, all I would say is this is an incredibly great industry and I’m still really excited to be a part of it.

And their credentials to validate these points are impeccable:

Linda Thomas Brooks has an impressive background in media, having served as executive vice president and managing director of GM MediaWorks, where she built the GM Media Lab, and in leadership roles with innovative companies such as GearDigital and The Martin Agency. She has spent her career at the intersection of media, consumer behavior and technology. She has developed media and marketing strategies for many well-known brands and companies, including General Motors, GEICO, The American Cancer Society, Johnson & Johnson, Kaiser Permanente and Experian. Her experience serving both businesses and consumers covers a wide-range of media disciplines and capabilities, including digital and emerging media; data and analytics; media strategy, buying and planning.

Brooks has also received numerous industry honors, including Advertising Age Women to Watch Award, Advertising Women of New York Impact Award for mentoring and 100 Leading Women in North American Automotive Industry. She was also initiated into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement for early career achievement.

James Hewes has been a director of the FIPP Management Board since October 2015 and has been involved with FIPP since 2004 when he was working in the international publishing industry for BBC Worldwide. More recently he has been interim CEO for The Art Newspaper and lead consultant with his own business focused on project management for the media industry.

Beginning his career at Barclays Bank as a business consultant, Hewes worked across BBC Worldwide and BBC Magazines from 2001 to 2012 building a track record of success in marketing, digital and print publishing, events and international business development. He was the launch publisher of olive magazine, and grew BBC Magazines’ licensing portfolio from eight to 55 editions including 20 editions of Top Gear Magazine. He was also a key member of the team that sold BBC Magazines to private equity in November 2011 for £120m. He subsequently became publishing director for Top Gear, Good Food, Easy Cook and Lonely Planet Magazine, responsible for the brands across print and mobile applications as well as a director of the BBC Haymarket Exhibitions joint venture.

As publishing director of Dubai-based Gulf News Publishing until 2016, he had responsibility for more than 30 product areas, including digital across mobile, websites and apps, live events, magazines, books, newspaper supplements, content marketing and contract publishing. He launched new brands across digital, live events and print including http://www.gntech.ae and Citizen K Arabia and the launch of the group’s first consumer title in Arabic – wheels Arabic.

So, if you want to if you want to succeed in today’s world in the magazine business, you have to be Print Proud & Digital Smart. It’s not a choice, it’s an absolute. And if you want to hear and learn more about this highly evocative concept, make plans today to join us in Oxford, Miss. for the ACT 8 Experience, April 17-20, 2018. You won’t be disappointed.

To register for the ACT 8 Experience click here. Space is limited and only the first 100 registrants will be able to attend.

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