The Mandel Blog


What a Magazine Means in a Digital World

As we embark on a new chapter at Mandel Media Group, complete with a company website and social platform, I thought it would be apropos to write my first blog post about what it means to be a magazine in our digital media world. Truth is, in 2013 there’s nothing unique about a rep firm building a website and promoting its services. But what I think is interesting is the reasoning and timing behind it. It had virtually nothing to do with the brochure features and copy in my drop-down menu, and everything to do with capabilities with social media. With few resources, tech knowledge or time, I’m able to share my views (and my publisher’s) with thousands of media and marketing influencers, instantaneously. Tapping into WordPress, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter….I have created an on-demand, 360 degree view of MMG and our clients.  Pretty cool for a small player to have access to such technology and platform.

So, how does a consumer magazine, with virtually unlimited resources and talent, make the necessary pivots to remain relevant in such a fast moving and ever changing media landscape? As Jim Taylor, former VP and Publisher of Town & Country once said, “as long as there are coffee tables, there will always be magazines!”  Surely a catchy statement, but more importantly there is a lot of depth, too. What Jim was inferring, is that if you are willing to showcase a T&C issue on your coffee table, you are 100% connected with and believe it enhances your image. To this consumer, that magazine is as important as any home furnishings, artwork, photos, or any other aspects of your home in identifying who you are, and what you stand for.  Back to media, this underscores that a well conceived brand will always persevere and reign supreme relative to pure metrics and efficiencies in evaluation. There will certainly be natural ebb and flow….but strong brands, and in general, effective branding does matter.

Also interesting is the consumer appeal of magazines post recession and digital disruption from the late 2000′s. This was a fascinating and scary time for our industry.  We experienced precipitous drops in advertising, magazines stalwarts were shut down, iconic publishers from the industry were nixed….even a website named became trendy and popular (they boastfully chronicled the magazine shutdowns of the day, insinuating complete doom for the medium).  Fast forward to 2013, while advertising is recovering at a slow but steady rate, and publishers continue to search for their 2007 cadence and footing, consumers have clearly spoken out about the brands that they value and demand. In particular, consumers have spoken up with regard to their personal attachment of their favorite magazines, and the lengths they’ll go to receive, read and grow with these important brands. Consumers believe that the advertising component of a magazine which they love, actually enhances the overall experience and product. Unlike TV, radio, and the Internet, a magazine without advertising is actually a detractor. Pretty compelling statement to be able to share with confidence.

David Carey, Hearst Magazine’s President, was recently interviewed by Peter Kafka with All Things Digital. It was a very revealing and interesting interview. For me, Kafka was quite direct and somewhat flippant with his sweeping assumptions and statements about the state and future of the print magazine business (it did level off eventually)….but Carey, quite methodically, countered with several impactful statistics supporting the magazine industry in a digital age, such as:

  • 96% of women 18-24 read magazines
  • In 2012, the Fashion/Beauty advertising category was at its all time highest
  • 50% of magazine readers follow their magazine or editor on Twitter

While all three bullet points are massively important stats in conveying the strength and relevance of the magazine industry, in particular the third, as we are discussing the organic connection between print and digital/social. A magazine has one of the most iconic and important branding assets, one that truly differentiates it from all other media, built in to its construction….its front cover. Take for example Lewis Dvorkin, the Chief Product Officer of Forbes Media, who continues to innovate and perform years ahead of his competition with his brand’s digital approach…putting its authoritative journalism in the center of a social media platform…and with his first-to-market BrandVoice blogging program of native advertising. Dvorkin is regularly referencing their nearly 100 years of iconic Forbes covers as inspiration. ‘Making’ the Forbes cover is synonymous with success and achievement, a treasured moment in history and career for business leaders from Warren Buffet to Sean Parker. The cover is not only the ‘front door’ for the magazine brand, but most highly valued asset across all media….something that is simply not available for internet, tv or radio brands.

So, thanks for reading my first newsletter about this exciting and fast changing industry that we all love.  I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Oh yea, PS…the most recent post of was November 2010!