A Rolling Stone That Gathers No Moss
Blanchard says understanding the online readership was the first step in the process of recreating the online presence.
Us Weekly was easy. “It’s a 23-year-old, successful young woman who’s interested in celebrities, but [is] not a gossip-hound,” he says.
Rolling Stone, however, has been much more difficult because of the multiple generations who have read and continue to read the magazine throughout the years.
“It’s a tough brand to manage because it means different things to so many people,” he says.
Another of Blanchard’s top priorities: to reconnect the site with the print magazine. The biweekly magazine was featured on the site, but not prominently. “Online wasn’t promoting print,” he says. “Now, there’s a strong connection [between the print and online products]. … It’s a constant, regular reinforcement of the brand. … When we put Borat on the cover [of the print magazine], we had a link to the best clips from his TV series.”
Sometimes the print edition does what it does best, while the online edition does what it does best, he says. Although the approaches are different, each works in its own medium.
Earlier this year, an issue of the magazine featured a retrospective of the life of James Brown, who had taken his final curtain call from our world just a few weeks earlier. Content from the issue—with the iconic tribute cover (a keepsake for many readers) Rolling Stone magazine does best—was featured on the site. A playlist of essential James Brown songs was created exclusively for the Web site, with links to listen to the songs.
At the same time, RollingStone.com’s main feature was an exclusive package that featured the 20 best bands of MySpace. Visitors could click, listen to music and vote for their favorite band featured on the popular community Web site. It was what the Internet does best.