Foreign Affairs Publisher Lynda Hammes Joins PubExec Advisory Board
Publishing Executive is honored to announce that Lynda Hammes, publisher of Foreign Affairs, has joined our editorial advisory board. Hammes has been a strong supporter of Publishing Executive for many years, is a frequent speaker at our events, and has been recognized as an industry leader and advocate.
Foreign Affairs recently re-launched its website, focusing on responsive design and a very image driven presentation. (Take a look on both mobile and desktop if you haven't yet.) The site's stunning use of powerful images certainly grabs your attention, but as Hammes notes, visuals alone don't take precedence over Foreign Affairs distinctive editorial content. So far, Hammes reports the re-launch has had a positive impact on engagement metrics, including subscription conversion.
In the below Q&A, Hammes reveals some of Foreign Affairs recent successes, where she sees opportunity for the business, and what she's on the horizon for the industry.
Since starting with Foreign Affairs, what improvements or changes are you most proud of making?
Hands down, I'm most proud of the recent relaunch of ForeignAffairs.com. I admire our editorial team for being imaginative enough to make a priority of visual presentation, without compromising the atomic part of Foreign Affairs: in-depth, high-quality analytical articles.
How do you expect this will have an impact on the Foreign Affairs business and audience?
Thanks to responsive design, compelling content and intuitive functionality, we are already seeing strong engagement metrics -- including subscription conversion. But the biggest impact of the redesign is one that is not visible to the outside world. Working together on an intensive agile development project of this magnitude has fully shifted our team's mindset. The "final product" that we launched is not in any way final, but the beginning of an iterative process of continuous testing and feature development.
What are your priorities for Foreign Affairs in the next 12 months?
The year ahead holds continued enhancements of ForeignAffairs.com including a few offerings that advertisers are going to love. We have set an aggressive goal for circulation, which should also see a natural boost as we position the magazine as an indispensable resource in discussion of foreign policy and the economy leading up to the election. We're also building upon flagship events like Foreign Affairs LIVE and our annual conferences with more programming at our headquarters at the Council on Foreign Relations in both Washington and New York. But my biggest priority, personally, is to do a deep listening tour of our audiences -- from our social following to our loyal subscribers to our occasional event attendees. We often make too many assumptions about our customers, and I'm looking to get some new insights from readers to challenge those assumptions.
What is the most important thing you've learned since taking over as publisher of FA?
The most important thing I've learned is from our editors: There is no substitute for distinctive content. A publisher can have the Tesla of CMSs, an elite team of developers, and a sterling brand. But to show true value to your audience, you must differentiate your content with unique and compelling ideas or you will disappoint even long-time readers. Our editors' commitment to that explains the loyalty and passion of Foreign Affairs readers, which is one of the most gratifying aspects of the job.
What excites you the most about the future of publishing?
Like anyone else, I am eager to see how Facebook Instant Articles will affect publisher business models and how reading will be transformed via wearables and how seamless micropayments may open opportunities for paid content. As millennials take over the media industry, they will embrace emerging technology in a way that traditional publishers have not even imagined. But I'm perhaps most excited to see how democratization of publishing will give a fighting chance for content-rich start-ups like Mary Review, Atlas Obscura and News Deeply to thrive.
Do you think it's important for industry leaders to share ideas and learn from one another? Why?
Undoubtedly. Like every field today, shared knowledge and experience is accelerating innovation. I am inspired every day by industry leaders I admire - whether it's David Carey on the platform mentality of Hearst and Zach Seward on the vision of the team at Quartz. I look forward to my Medium daily digest as a reliable place to get refreshing ideas from outside the traditional publishing elite.
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.