How Top Media Execs are Strategizing for the New Year

In his 2019 Magazine Manifesto, Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni stresses the importance of boldly facing your challenges. 

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself,” he writes, quoting industry analyst and strategist Mark Caine.

And surely, magazine media brands continue to face challenges. Yet there are brands that are thriving in this environment, and the staff from Folio: recently published their compilation of executive perspectives, to help us understand what media leaders are strategizing for the new year.

“Our sense of the market is that most media publishers will continue to struggle around advertising-related issues in both print and digital,” notes Eric Zinczenko, COE of Bonnier. “The ad metrics and the stories we all read in 2018 about the health of other media companies are enough incentive for us at Bonnier to show more urgency against our strategy to diversify and build new businesses outside of the traditional media model.”

One of those strategies was the launch of Outdoor Life’s direct-to-consumer product lines. They also launched podcasts, grew their events footprint, and launched a consulting business from their Working Mother title. 

“Fund what’s working, harvest what’s not” is Zinczenko’s mantra, and it’s helped them deliver in a challenging environment. 

For Elizabeth Bramson-Boudrea, CEO and Publisher of MIT Technology Review, 2018 was a “transformative” year. 

“We are ambitious and optimistic about the future for MIT Technology Review. Yes, the media industry is challenged due to the collapse of the advertising market; however, we have been investing in our other business lines for more than two years and now, at last, those investments are bearing fruit. These include subscriptions, licensing and syndication, and events.”

At the base of their success is a commitment to quality content — a pre-requisite for any kind of paid content model — now under the direction of their new editor-in-chief Gideon Lichfield. 

“Our site traffic hit all-time highs (surprising even us!), at a time when many other publishers faced big traffic dips due to Facebook’s algorithm,” she tells Folio. “Our journalists published work that was both high-impact and leading-edge, and our audiences noticed. We are also profoundly aware that we are at the center of the zeitgeist.”

Quality also remains center stage at Time Out Group, as CEO Julio Bruno explains.

“We have transformed Time Out into a global media and entertainment business, but one thing hasn’t changed: our high-quality professional content about the best things to do in cities remains at the heart of everything we do,” Bruno tells Folio. This is what allows us to successfully diversify our iconic brand across digital and physical channels, and in particular, Time Out Market plays an important role in driving further growth.”

So while “challenges” might be first on the lips of many when talking about the magazine industry, it’s all about innovation and growth for brands that refuse to accept the status quo. There are massive innovations happening in big data, artificial intelligence, consumer relations and lead generation that can be adapted to your business model for new ideas and insights. It’s a fantastic time to be in this crazy industry, and I hope you find a fresh spark of innovation in your new year.