Mr. Magazine Interview Series: Brain, Child EIC on Growing Digital Footprint to Preserve Print
Following are a few highlights from Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni’s interview with Brain, Child editor-in-chief Marcelle Soviero. Initially an avid reader of Brain, Child, a literary magazine which features essays on parenting for “thinking mothers,” Soviero purchased the brand in 2012 saving it from closure. In the four years since, Soviero has worked to expand the brand by launching digital editions, growing its social media footprint, and creating a new magazine for mothers of teenagers, Brain, Teen. Here Soviero shares how expanding Brain, Child’s digital reach was necessary in order to make the print product viable and discusses the challenges the print magazine must still overcome.
Read the full interview here.
Soviero on why she purchased Brain, Child
I was a reader and a writer when my children were young. And I have five children, so I sort of grew them up with the magazine, if you will. I went to submit my writing to them one day, I’m an essayist and I have a few books, and it said that they were ceasing publication. So, I immediately called them up and told them that I wanted to buy it and asked what the picture looked like, because I still believed in the magazine.
On growing the brand’s digital footprint in order to maintain its health
It’s not easy to keep it up, but we’re healthy and have a good readership. I certainly brought the magazine into the digital age; we have digital products and our social media footprint has gone up to 190,000 likes on Facebook. When I bought it we were at 8,000, so we’ve certainly developed a wider audience using digital tools and having digital products. No question about that. I sort of took advantage of that, while still producing the print magazine.
On the strategy behind launching Brain, Teen
The biggest thing we’ve done in more recent years is as I aged out of the magazine, because Brain, Child is for mothers who have children 0-12, is I introduced a special issue for parents of teens called, Brain, Teen. Basically, for mothers like me who grew up with it and now have teenagers, I kept the product line going so that we could really meet that need. And that has been our more successful product out of the two now in the last four years. . .
It was my immediate plan [after purchasing Brain, Child]. It was the business idea that I thought of immediately to sort of bring the business up to speed. That was a big change and the design was a big change. We post edited, beautiful blog posts every day as we’ve built up this readership. Our social imprint online has become huge and I sort of tapped into that passion. As I said, we have a very large community on Facebook that’s highly engaged, compared to other sites that have a million followers. We have around 200,000. Our engagement can be as much as 100,000, which is half our audience.
On the challenge of maintaining print assets
There have been many challenges and hurdles in just supporting a print magazine with the numbers being nearly impossible. And if we didn’t have the online component, I don’t think that I could do it. Just supporting the print and production and design process and doing it well, as I said, with the best writers; the best design team and things like that, has been a real challenge to make it work.
Our readers still like hard copy. I think print is important for this kind of content to sort of snuggle up with, while you’re feeding your baby even, and just be able to read and be stimulated intellectually with a magazine on your lap.
But we have a lot of digital adopters. Our print now is really the special issue for parents of teens and our annual anthology and our magazine is more digital and online now.
Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. As Mr. Magazine™ he engages in media consulting and research for the magazine media and publishing industry.