Exclusive: Hearst's Michael Clinton on the Yale Publishing Course and What Today's Leaders Need
Every summer the Yale Publishing Course offers two five-day sessions for magazine and book publishers at the university's campus in New Haven, Conn. Global in scope, the course is geared to mid- and senior-level publishing professionals, with a goal of inspiring "new ways of thinking" around innovative business models and strategies, according to course Director Tina Weiner.
"As the publishing landscape continues to be in a state of ever-accelerating transition - one might even call it a revolution - I believe it is more imperative than ever for professionals to step away from their daily routine and consider the industry's challenges and opportunities from a broader perspective," Weiner says. A limited-enrollment environment (no more than 75 participants in each session) is designed to promote interactivity and networking between attendees and faculty. "This is not a conference," she stresses.
Common themes this year include, on the book side, business models for independent and niche publishers, and non-traditional ways to market and produce specialized titles and other niche products. Magazine executives can expect to hear strategies for promoting discoverability, audience development and brand extension, launching digital-only publications and developing robust websites, and models for cross-channel advertising.
Courses are taught by speakers "chosen for their proven track-records of innovation and their teaching ability … [to] give the participants the knowledge and skills they need to lead their companies more effectively in the future," Weiner says.
One of this year's speakers is Michael Clinton, president of Hearst Magazines. Publishing Executive asked him recently about his take on the course and the challenges facing leaders in publishing today.
Publishing Executive: What will you be speaking about this year?
Michael Clinton: I think that the gist of it will be the bright future of print magazines both in print form as well as on new platforms, including digital, tablet, mobile, e-commerce and experiential. We in the digital age have an opportunity to take our brands and put them across many media platforms, which represents a great opportunity for the media industry. While we do that, we expect to see our print magazines continue to thrive. So I'll talk about some examples of how all that's happening, as well as talk about some new successful magazines launches, and how the magazine industry can move along and evolve with the changing marketplace.
PE: What makes the Yale Publishing Course unique among industry gatherings?
Clinton: I think what it does is it brings not only a cross disciplinary approach to looking at the whole industry, but also a global approach, so I think its secret sauce is that it's a combination of a multidisciplinary as well as global perspective—what's happening in other markets. In America the magazine business might be a more mature business, but in countries like Russia and China there is a burgeoning industry. There's huge growth in these BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] countries—you'll see it referenced in different economic reports. In those countries the magazine format is experiencing go-go growth. So I think what the Yale Publishing Course does is bring all these different perspectives to one place.
PE: What are the primary leadership challenges in publishing right now?
Clinton: I think that it is having a broad base of skill sets. Once upon a time, whether you were on the publishing side or the editorial side, you basically knew how to produce content or sell content for print format. Now it is the ultimate multitasking [challenge] and skill set because you have to not only understand how the print world works but you have to understand how the digital world works, how the tablet world works, how integrated selling works how integrated content works, and every platform has a different set of circumstances and unique characteristics to it. So we have become multitaskers to the full benefit of the label.
The Yale Publishing Course magazine and digital publishing session takes place July 15-20. The book session takes place July 22-27.