Destination: International Expansion
Just try telling George Green, president of Hearst Magazines International, New York, that launching an overseas edition of a periodical takes intense advance research, multiple visits to the country of interest, a staffing mix of editors from here in the States as well as abroad, and a whole lot of control. The attempt would be futile. For the past 17 years, Green has been in charge of signing agreements for international editions of Hearst magazines—of which there are 176—all over the world, and he’s been extremely successful at it. What’s his strategy?
“I go out to the JFK airport, fly to the country we’re interested in, and find out who is doing what to whom,” he says. “Sure, I read the papers to find out what is going on where, but I don’t think it needs to be so complex.”
While he concedes there is a little more involved between concept and implementation of an international edition, he sticks to his guns on the rule of simplicity. And he’s not the only one. Joe Kita, vice president of editorial for Rodale International, New York, reveals that Rodale learned quickly how much more effective a simpler model is.
‘Get on a Plane and Go’
So what exactly does it take to launch an international edition? Green’s first step is to know the market he’s about to enter. He says he reviews advertising expenditures in terms of cosmetics and fashion in various countries and reads the newspaper. “But do I spend a lot of money doing it? No, I don’t. I just get on a plane and go,” he says.
“The thing is, research is like looking up at the peak of a mountain and deciding to climb to the top,” he adds. “You establish base camp, you start up the sheer face of the wall, struggling and sometimes retracing your route. And, after that long, arduous climb, you finally reach the peak. You stand there, taking in the magnificent view from the summit, proud of your accomplishment, until you turn around and realize there is a ski lift on the other side.”