Mr. Magazine’s 2019 Industry Manifesto is Spot On

In last year’s manifesto on the state of the magazine industry, Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni started off with a rousing declaration.

“Magazines are money makers,” he said at the time. “Their words are eloquent and resonate with what magazines are all about: an experience that transforms and transcends time and circumstances while staying honest and hopeful about the digital age we’re living in,” Husni wrote in his blog.

I loved the way he called that out then, and it’s just as true today. So I was interested to see his 2019 Mr. Magazine Manifesto, published earlier this week, which he opens with this gem from analyst and strategist Mark Caine:

“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”

Can we all get that printed on caps for 2019, please? It cuts to the root of what so many see as “wrong” with the magazine industry today.

As Husni explains, “… if magazines and magazine media had succumbed to the environment that each had found itself in several years ago; if the industry had refused to innovate and trail blaze new paths to success; if digital and print had not realized the amniotic fluid of ink and pixels that they were both destined to share from the beginning of the creative cyber revolution, the chances that Mr. Magazine™ would be here today talking about all of this would be very slight.”

Indeed, this past year proved out some of the very things Husni refers to above. This was the year the truce was officially declared between print and digital, and the two came to be viewed at marketing’s new power couple

And the brands that we see flourishing in this environment are living proof of this. Michael Biggerstaff, owner and CEO of Nxtbook Media, takes it a step further. 

“We look at publishing like a three-legged stool, you have websites, you have print, and you have digital. And they should all support each other,” he told Husni. “And one shouldn’t be shortchanged or you’re going to have a rocky stool. We look at that as an opportunity from a print standpoint to support the print product and the website. And the website can support print and digital, but we also look at it like you need to be providing something different in a digital edition. You don’t have the constraints that you do in print.”

Vicci Rose, VP and CRO of Us Weekly, is also a firm believer in the print/digital mix, and is taken aback by some of the current thinking she comes across.

“I’m a great fan of digital and I’m a big supporter,” Rose told Husni. “Us Weekly has a very sizeable print footprint with just under two million copies, 1,968,000 per week is our most recent AAM (Alliance For Audited Media) statement for the six months ending December 2017, so of course, we’re big believers in print. And I am incredulous with the number of conversations that I have with agencies and clients in acknowledging that their own research with media-mix modeling, etc. will point to a strong ROI, but it’s not in fashion, so the industry is often plagued with people who are concerned for their jobs because they’re not forward-thinking enough.”

While she remains incredulous (and rightly so, when you look at the results), there is a reason why Rose and like-minded folks are in the highly successful, highly visible positions that merit our attention. They didn’t become industry thought leaders by parroting what’s in fashion. Rather, they did so by forging ahead and refusing to be captives to their current environment. This is what separates the successful from the wanna-bes, in the magazine industry and in life.

I wish you an abundant New Year, in which you shake off the constraints you think are holding you back, and embrace the challenges ahead. Let’s make it an extraordinary year.