From the Content Director: Are You Reading This?
I've been reading magazines since I was a girl, graduating through the years from Highlights to Seventeen to Glamour. Ok, maybe I also read Tiger Beat once in a while (Davy Jones!). But it was always my mother's Vogue that thrilled me most: the glossy pages of gorgeous long-legged models in fabulous locales wearing elaborate cloth concoctions. It was aspirational reading for me long before I knew what the word meant.
When I went off to college, my mother gifted me with my very own Vogue subscription, and to this day I remember my delight each month when a new issue appeared my mailbox, and how I would take it to my room, plop down on my bed, and go through it reverently, sequentially, page by glorious page.
Vogue inspired me, although not as you might expect—not to be one of those lucky beautiful models. While I certainly coveted their ability to wear such clothes, go such places, and have such incredibly long, thin legs, I knew by then that long-leggedness was never to be for me. I dreamed of other things. When I grew up, I told myself, I was going to be the editor of Vogue.
It is this early love, of Vogue in particular, but of reading magazines in general, that I believe first set me on the path toward a career in publishing and journalism. Alas, Ms. Wintour need not fear that I am in any danger of usurping her exalted position (particularly dressed as I am in Banana Republic and Ann Taylor, not Prada and Gucci). While I know now that her job is one childhood goal I shall never achieve, my love of magazines has never waned, and I am thrilled today to find myself as Content Director at Publishing Executive.
It's not Vogue, but it's not as far away as you might think. In some ways, it is a magazine about fashion and style. We do our best to cover all the topics you need to know about so that you can keep up with changing times, new technology, and a range of cutting-edge issues that help you do your job better, presenting both classics and trends with an eye toward good craftsmanship. We support you, so you can provide your readers with the content they want, and do it fashionably and with style.
We all share the same goal: to do our very best to keep our readers engaged. Yet we are a bit beleaguered by data that tells us that readers like the girl I once was are becoming anachronistic, data that says readership is slipping. There are pockets of good news, such as a recent study that indicates readership of print is up among millennials. As Scott McDonald, senior vice president of market research at Condé Nast, told Adweek, "Magazines' overall readership numbers still get negatively impacted by decline of these enormous magazines like TV Guide and Reader's Digest, but if you look at it category by category, you get a very different picture."
Our resident expert Bob Sacks tells me we've lost our way, lost our confidence. "Our entire industry is suffering from 25 years of missed information and buying into our own hype," he says in characteristically blunt fashion. Sacks thinks the decline in readership numbers is not all a bad thing if it forces us to regroup. He explains what he sees as our new accountability in a digital age: "We're reaching a plateau and a level of honest stability, instead of smoke and mirrors."
So where does that leave us? Perhaps looking at quality vs. quantity. Perhaps with a return to the foundation and the essence of what we do: create useful, interesting, practical, entertaining, informative, and high-quality content.
Why do we read magazines? We read them because they expertly and thoroughly cover the news, the world, or a specific niche in which we have an interest. We read them because they're visual, and beautiful to look at: those exotic fashion spreads; those designer-perfect home interiors. We read them because they're sitting-sized—the perfect length for a train ride home, or an afternoon at the beach. We read because they're physical, with a substantive heft but light enough to toss in a shoulder bag and tote along, with a low enough price-point that we can use them as we wish, ripping a recipe here to file away or an article there to share with a friend.
According to statistics available from the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) there is in fact cause for optimism about the future of magazines. 93% of adults read magazines, 96% of those under 35, and 97% of those under 24. Magazines reach more adults and teens than television for major target audiences, and they reach a diverse readership. And in terms of engagement, they continue to score higher than television and the Internet.
This month I renewed my print subscriptions to Elle, The Atlantic, Philadelphia, Vanity Fair, Real Simple, and of course, Vogue. The September issue should be arriving soon. I'll be waiting by the mailbox!
Tell me what you think at: firstname.lastname@example.org