Redan Publishing Returns Sesame Street to the Printed Page
This interview is a part of a larger feature documenting some of the most exciting magazine launches and relaunches of the past two years. Click here to view more interviews with publishers of newly launched or relaunched titles.
Print magazines rarely have more than one life, but Sesame Street Magazine -- a Sesame Street Workshop brand that lost its print arm in 2008 -- is getting a second shot. Redan Publishing, which licenses popular brands for its educational children's magazines, breathed new life into the magazine, publishing the first issue in December 2013. The six-issue, bi-monthly magazine is gradually building a subscription base through thoughtful relationships with schools and highly selective newsstand distribution. Redan Publishing's well-established consumer database -- built from its 10 other children's titles -- is also a crucial part of the magazine's success.
Following, Jessica McKnight, head of Redan's sales and marketing in North America describes how Sesame Street aims to engage a digital-native generation with print.
Why did Redan decide to relaunch Sesame Street in print?
At Redan, our philosophy is to produce magazines that provide entertainment and education for children, and to have a product that the parents are happy with. Sesame Street was of course the perfect fit. When you think about it Sesame Street can be seen as the original learning-based brand. We thought that it could have success again as a print magazine with our design and distribution.
What is your business strategy?
Our business model is unique in the fact that we are not a typical ad-driven magazine. Our revenue comes primarily from subscriptions and newsstand sales. We have to find a strong foothold in retail and build subscriptions. We utilize subscription agents who are important for getting us into schools. We also strategically place the magazine at retailers where we know we have an audience as opposed to oversaturating and overspending. It can take a while to be successful in this but we believe it will be successful for Sesame Street because of the brand's following.
What was one of the most difficult parts of the print launch and what did you learn form that process?
With this launch and with any launch it's the initial cost, which can be very daunting. It's hard to determine what return you are going to get on your investment. It is very easy to be swayed by the lure of high distribution by buying into all the promotions at retail. You have to pick and choose your promotions very carefully and be strategic as opposed to all encompassing.
How did you narrow down what promotions you wanted to do?
We are lucky in that we have 10 other children's publications that we've been printing and publishing for a long time and had a lot of trial and error. We can look at those and compare with Sesame Street. We have Thomas and Friends, which has a similar age group and types of characters, and we can look at what worked with that title and focus on where to start. It's very data-based.
What is the key to getting children interested in a print product when they might be more inclined toward digital?
With children, you have to keep it interesting. Some other magazines may be more story-based, some others may be picture-based. In our magazines we start with a story; we have a workbook; we have posters; we have a section for drawing. I think that you have to keep their interest and with print that may be difficult if the content is very similar.
Related story: Mr. Magazine's Take on the Latest Consumer Launches