Publishing in a Pandemic… True Thought Leadership from Meredith’s President


It’s become a mantra of sorts, one of those terms we use without really giving it a lot of thought. In my world view, I have some trusted industry thought leaders I turn to again and again, including Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni.  His recent interview with Meredith’s president Doug Olson is a good example of how to lead in difficult times.

“If you would have told me six months ago that in the middle of March every employee would be working from home and creating the same premium content, that we would be selling advertising, putting our magazines together, and updating our websites from our home environments, I would have said that would be very difficult,” Olson tells Husni. “But within a matter of a day or two, we had all of our operations up and running from work-from-home scenarios thanks to a talented and tireless team working behind-the-scenes to make that happen seamlessly and they continue to do so. I’m so proud to be part of this stellar organization.”

Not only are they still operational, but they are also discovering just how important their content is to their readers, and what their audience needs right now.

“I think from our perspective, our content and premium storytelling is resonating with consumers right now, even more so than usual,” Olson continues.” Our content is vital and an important much-needed escape from the current C-19 crisis.”

While many brands are racing to put out messages about the crisis, Olsen lets us know it’s okay, in fact it’s necessary, for publishers to continue to publish other content as well. Yes, everything we do is now tinged with our current reality – that’s unavoidable – but we must avoid becoming a “news outlet” in a topic in which we are not experts.

“These certainly could be described as the ‘worst of times’ in some ways,” Husni writes, noting that the world of magazines in no different. 

“With the added challenges of bookstores and newsstands temporarily closing, the already-stretched profitability of some magazine media companies has become an even thinner line of revenue,” Husni continues. “As everyone awaits the end of Covid-19 and hope that we and our friends and families stay safe and healthy, we also know that we are strong and resilient. That our country as a whole will come back and be better than ever.”

Olson agrees and is relying on the company’s “secret sauce” to continue to engage their audience. It was a little over a month ago that Meredith’s VP and group publisher Scott Mortimer spoke to Husni about the constant state of change in the publishing industry. We are all used to adapting – rapidly when necessary – to continue to provide the quality magazines that our readers rely on.

As Olsen said to Husni, “… magazine media is a challenging business. We continue to read about the doom and gloom, but we’ve proven that with a powerful portfolio and trusted premium content leading the way, you can outperform the market significantly. There are definitely obstacles ahead for all of us. It’s important for us to stay laser-focused on creating relevant and essential content for consumers and supporting our partners. That, I believe, will carry the day.”

Yes, right now everything looks dramatically different. Yet it’s more important now than ever to stay in our lanes, stick to what we do best, and help others in any way we can.

“Our message is we’re all in this together,” Olsen continues. “By banding together this country has always proven that it can overcome any situation. I believe we play a small part in that at Meredith, whether it’s a magazine, website, video, or social media, we’re going to continue to inform, inspire and entertain our audience. Together, all of us will overcome this crisis and move ahead to brighter days.’

United we stand.