Hearst’s Chicken Nugget Math is Paying Off in $$

In our current climate of lockdowns, shutdowns and scaling back, this news from Hearst Magazine gives us plenty of reasons to smile.

According to Dana Neuts in Subscription Insider, the magazine publisher recently announced a multi-million dollar investment in the quality of their print titles… beginning with Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful.

According to Neuts, this massive investment is possible thanks to Hearst’s commitment to a membership and paywall program for a number of their titles; with less reliance on ad revenue and more focus on paid content, the publisher is in a good position to thrive.

You might remember earlier this summer I wrote about Hearst’s “chicken nugget math” when it comes to reader revenue, and it seems to be paying off.

“Our magazines are at the heart of our brands and our business, the foundation of our editorial mission and vision,” said Debi Chirichella, acting president of Hearst Magazines, in the September 24 announcement. “For the benefit of our audiences and our marketing partners, we’re focused on producing the highest quality print products and providing an outstanding content experience that is engaging on every level.”

For their estimated 165 million readers in print and digital each month, the publisher is promising higher paper quality and a higher ratio of editorial to ads. Some titles, Like Harper’s Bazaar, Road & Track and ELLE are also getting a larger trim size.

“Magazines are a tactile experience, and quality production is important to our readers, our creators and the marketplace. There’s no substitute for a beautiful full-page image, whether it’s a fabulous kitchen, an interesting celebrity, a craft project or the season’s accessory,” said Kate Lewis, chief content officer of Hearst Magazines.

This is excellent news for our industry and further proof that print magazines are an important experience in our digital-weary lives.

Other publishers take note. To make this pivot successful, the drumbeat continues to be clear: Connect with your readers in a deeper, stronger way and make yourself essential. And positioning your price relative to chickens nuggets doesn’t hurt either, especially now that we are getting used to the subscription model for so many of the things we use every day, from grocery deliveries to TV.

“As an avid magazine reader, I was thrilled to read this news,” Neuts writes. “While I do visit magazine websites occasionally, nothing can replace the look and feel of a magazine – the articles, imagery, even the ads are a very different experience in print, even if much of the content is the same.”

We get it, Dana, we really do. And congratulations to Hearst… and Hearst’s readers… for this big move in raising the bar on print magazines.