Corner Office: Maria Rodale on Thriving in Times of Change
The following article originally appeared in the spring issue of Publishing Executive magazine. Read more articles from this issue here.
The narrative of the magazine industry is starting to sound like an underdog story of triumph akin to Rocky or Rudy or Remy from Ratatouille. Despite pundit prognostications and being counted out of the Digital Age, 2014 was a successful year for many magazine publishers.
Health and wellness purveyor Rodale accounts for one such success story. In spite of challenges faced by the industry, Rodale had a fruitful 2014, expanding its digital and ecommerce business, extending its global footprint, and outperforming the industry in some core areas. Bicycling and Women's Health magazines were named to AdWeek's Hot List, the company reached The New York Times bestseller list with Thug Kitchen and The Bulletproof Diet, and the company grew its branded events businesses.
In 2015, Rodale looks to reinvent some of its pages from the past. In April the company launched the first issue of Rodale's Organic Life, previously titled Organic Gardening, which holds the distinction of being the first national title launched by Rodale in 1942. The Organic Life launch aims to capitalize on the growing consumer interest in healthy living.
Chairman and CEO Maria Rodale attributes a good deal of the company's success to its ability to change quickly, which was particularly advantageous as it positioned for a post-recession rebound. "We're a small enough company that we're nimble. We aren't afraid to make changes fast. There's not a lot of bureaucracy to muddle through. So we made a lot of the really tough decisions right when the recession hit, whereas a lot of our publishing competitors are only now just making some of the changes they should have made."
Following Maria shares further insight on Rodale's resilience and the strategy behind the launch of Rodale's Organic Life.
Denis Wilson is the content director for Book Business and Publishing Executive as well as the FUSE Media and FUSE Digital Marketing summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims 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.