Going Beyond Print to Save Magazines
"We see niche as the key to long-term success," said Eric Hoffman, executive vice president and COO of Hoffman Media, which prints magazines that target the "women's market," including Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade and Cooking with Paula Deen. "With specific brands," such as Sandra Lee, Hoffman said, "we can do unique things in the marketplace, such as live events." Hoffman Media has also started a cooking club through Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade, which has an online how-to component, but also features a heavy paper-stock publication that both "helps the reader's experience" and gives them a creative higher-impact product to sell to the advertiser.
Hoffman also sees the magazine as a content delivery platform that often is a better fit for his readers than digital content. "When you think about somebody cooking, you're in the kitchen," he said. "It would frustrate me if I had my iPad and I was getting grease all over the screen, but I don't really mind my magazine [getting grease on it]. ... I think women who curl up on the couch with a glass of wine are probably doing it with a magazine and not their laptops."
Brand Key to Food Network Magazine Success
One counter-intuitive success story on the panel came from the Food Network Magazine, which launched last year based on Food Network TV channel and FoodNetwork.com, both of which are more or less free to anybody. However even though that content is out there largely for free, the magazine has found great success.
"Consumers kept saying they wanted more and they wanted it in a magazine package," said Vicki Wellington, launch publisher of Food Network Magazine. "After doing a lot of research and testing it as a consumer proposition, we put it on [the] newsstand and it blew, blew, blew off." The magazine's financial success has been significant. After starting at a 300,000 rate base, the eighth issue is already up to 1.4 million. "It's absolutely factual that print is effective," she continued. "We launched across platform [in print and on the Web]. We were able to use online to our advantage, and 50 percent of our subs came in online. So digital has been our friend, and print is very much alive and vibrant."