Hearst Exec on Great Ideas in an Age of Disruption

For the magazine publishing giant, print was and still is the foundation of their company and they’ve never felt the need to apologize for that.

“Great ideas do get funded.”

That guiding truth has helped Michael Clinton, publishing director for Hearst Magazines, to steer the brand through the digital disruption and into their new and exciting opportunities.

Clinton spoke to Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni recently about the current state of his company, and what the future holds.

“It continues to be a very topsy-turvy time in the business world at large–all business, all media. You may have read recently that Amazon is buying Whole Foods, so you’re getting all sorts of interesting acquisitions and partnerships and all of that,” Clinton explains.

“You know, in the midst of it I think that we continue to have a very strong point of view about our business,” he continues. “Obviously, we believe in our core product—which is print. Why do we believe so strongly? It’s because the consumer believes so strongly in it.”

Hearst has seen first-hand the voracious appetite of its readers for print. Their newly launched Pioneer Woman title can’t stay on the shelves, and they’ve gone back into a second printing just one week after it launched.

The publisher is also behind the newly re-launched Airbnb title that leverages digital data collected by the company to help create its feature editorials.

Rather than panicking about the state of print and pouring its focus into digital – as so many misguided publishers have – Hearst never backed down from what it knew to be its backbone. In the process, they leveraged technology to support their print core in innovative – and lucrative – ways.

“You know, you have to figure out when the marketplace is shifting. For example, it was shifting to mobile first,” Clinton explains. “It was really great [for us], because we were right there at that moment with all our technology and our digital team. So, it’s capturing the shift at the time that it [the current trend] begins to get stale and [the new trend] begins to gain momentum.”

Regardless of the prevailing mindset, or the technical advance of the moment, Clinton reminds us that great ideas do indeed get funded.

“You know, create and sell,” he states.

The best advice I’ve read today. Create and sell.