David Carey Reveals Secrets to Hearst’s Success
The secret sauce behind Hearst’s success is its drive to reinvent how it creates and distributes content, said president David Carey. "If you don’t like change; you’ll like relevance even less. The industry continues to need to evolve what it does and how it accomplishes its goals," Carey told Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni in an interview this week. He added that critical to Hearst thriving amidst industry-wide disruption is the publisher's willingness to test new models and partnerships.
Carey explained that Hearst has worked to break down barriers between brands in order to share content across platforms as well as continents. That strategic shift involved simplifying the publisher’s digital workflow so that content could be easily reused and repackaged. “That was one of the most disruptive decisions we made over the course of my career,” said Carey in the interview. He added that the decision has paid off financially and is one of the reasons Hearst has avoided significant layoffs despite industry shifts.
Partnerships are also key to Hearst’s success, said Carey. In particular, he said that Hearst’s recent partnership with Verizon on its video app Go90 will play a significant role in the company’s future. “For Hearst to now have this relationship with Verizon is fantastic, given their power.” He added that relationships with Verizon and partners like Lena Dunham and Snapchat are enabling Hearst to tap new audiences.
Following are few of the highlights from the Mr. Magazine interview. Check out the complete Q&A here.
Carey explains why Hearst prefers to launch new titles through partnerships:
“Yes, we’re talking about partners all of the time. We generally prefer the partnership model, because we do believe when two companies contribute financial resources and management talent, promotional platforms that you can use and significantly boost your chances of success. So, partnership is our preferred course.”
How Hearst shares content across brands and across countries:
“On our digital operations we figured out that scale has to be our friend, that we have too much self-inflicted complexity. The only way to make digital work is to have a giant, global content ecosystem, where content gets to travel across brand and across geography without permission, friction, or cost. And that was one of the most disruptive decisions we made, over the course of my career, but one of the biggest, because the profit growth that we’ve had from digital has allowed us to make our numbers and has taken pressure off of the organization. So, that has allowed us to avoid a large staff restructure and so on, because we’ve met our numbers for our U.S. business, largely by taking business model risks that have paid off.”
On Hearst’s partnership with Verizon:
“This new relationship with Verizon that we have is a very important one. We’ve formed this Verizon relationship that’s going to be programming content for the Go90 platform and then Verizon came into our Awesomeness business. Well, not just ours; it’s owned 51% by DreamWorks and 49% between Hearst and Verizon. For Hearst to now have this relationship with Verizon is fantastic, given their power. The credit goes to Neeraj Khemlani, who is co-president of our entertainment division and did a brilliant job on that. We haven’t worked so closely with Complex yet, but we’ve had ideas with Vice and have been discussing different things that we can do together.
We get a lot of people who knock on our door and want to co-create media with us, in what used to be only print, but now in other interesting incarnations. In digital of course, in the fall we created the new digital business with Lena Dunham around the “Lenny Letter,” which was a very successful newsletter with a clear, concise voice. We’ve created a new digital business and partnership with Lena and her production partner. . .
In just a four or five month period, we’ve partnered with Condé Nast and Verizon and Snapchat and Lena Dunham. We’ve been thinking about these pop-up magazine concepts for some time. And many people come to us because they’ve seen the great success of Oprah or Food Network and some of them have good brand recognition, but maybe not in terms of promotional resources, a real big company behind them.”