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ALMOST GRADUATED: After a summer that saw two editors in chief get fired, lots of folks over at Condé Nast are feeling the pressure to be on their A games, even remaining editors in chief. Take Keija Minor, who is marking a year at Brides. Minor was named to the position in late September 2012, but she had a rocky start and, a few months later, did what any remedial student does to raise her grade point average — she hired a tutor, or, as they’re called when the salaries are this high, an executive coach.
Minor was previously the executive editor, the second in command, but in the driver’s seat she had a hard time making editorial decisions and managing an entire magazine staff, according to several sources. Her early difficulties led to several late-night issue closings. “A bimonthly magazine should not have late closings. There should be enough time to get everything done,” griped one source.
This story first appeared in the September 25, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Minor assumed her role at a low point for the magazine — her predecessor, Anne Fulenwider, had just defected for Marie Claire, and, after consecutive declines in advertising, Condé decided to scale back Brides’ frequency from a monthly to six times a year. The high expectations to turn around the magazine would have been intimidating for even the most experienced editor in chief, but Minor was a newcomer to a major magazine. A former corporate attorney, she’d been an editor in chief before, but at the niche magazines Uptown and Gotham.
“This is the big leagues and she just needed a little guidance,” explained a source about the decision to hire an executive coach.
But that’s not all the help Minor’s getting. At the same time, Condé artistic director Anna Wintour, who’s lent her expertise to the editors of Lucky and, more recently, Glamour, has fit Brides into her busy schedule. The young editor in chief has “completely embraced the involvement [Wintour’s] had,” said a second source. Wintour’s influence is evident in the most recent issue, on newsstands now, in tweaks to the magazine’s layout and its style section. Plus, Wintour facilitated high-end talent, like photographer Patric Shaw, who normally shoots for pure fashion and beauty magazines like Glamour and Allure and last appeared in Brides’ pages more than a year ago.
Sources say the combined influence of Wintour and the executive coach has had the desired effect, and Minor has found her sea legs. The last two closings, for issues on newsstands in September and July, were on time, for example. “There’s definitely a sense of moving forward,” said a source who was initially skeptical. Thanks to fewer issues and the introduction of digital replicas, Minor can count on some good news on the circulation front — up 4.1 percent in the first half, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. Ad pages, the responsibility of publisher Michelle Myers, can’t be compared year to year because of the new frequency, though, on average, there are about 112 more pages per issue.
Through a spokeswoman, Minor said she retained an executive coach when she learned it was one of the benefits Condé offers its management and not because of early stumbles.
“She’s believes it’s her responsibility to be a great leader for her team, so she’s open to fresh ideas when it comes to managing,” the spokeswoman said. Minor pointed out she was following in the footsteps of other successful people.
“She’d also read of many top executives who used executive coaches, including [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt and [Hewlett-Packard chief executive officer] Meg Whitman, and thought it was a great use of resources,” the spokeswoman said. Sessions with Minor’s executive coach included an initial meeting followed by two one-hour phone calls. Minor has only used two of the slots out of the six Condé allows her. “She’d like to do a couple more, time permitting,” the spokeswoman said. Wintour, of course, will continue to advise in her capacity as artistic director.