More changes may be coming soon to the halls of One World Trade Center.
With September fashion issues closed, nerves are jangled that a significant cut could be in the offing at Condé Nast that would further consolidate the media giant’s corporate structure, notably its publishing side.
Condé, like many legacy publishers, is steering the business from its print-centric roots to a digital future. This entails cutting out the hefty salaries left over from Condé’s golden years to make room for more digitally savvy — and bottom-line friendly — employees.
Insiders told WWD that management is toying with the idea of either grouping publishers by category or reducing its roster of 13 or so publishers down to about six.
There have been similar changes at rival publishers such as Hearst and Time Inc., which — like Condé — continue to deal with a new media landscape and an advertising pullback from retailers and luxury brands that hit magazines particularly hard this year.
Sources targeted October as a time when the cut could come, while others mused that it may come sooner, around Labor Day. Putting a timetable on changes at Condé Nast seems tenuous, as decisions can sometimes take shape at the last minute. This was the case last year when the company finally pulled the plug on Details, after the industry speculated for years about its demise.
Although there is much speculation on how Condé may reduce costs, there isn’t much argument that it will happen. In the case of grouping publishers, one source suggested the company could divide teams into categories such as fashion, beauty, food, travel, home and men’s. That approach is more aligned with Time Inc.’s recent restructuring where publishers sell by category and not title. Corporate odds-makers cite one possible “luxury group” as W, Architectural Digest and Traveler.
Condé has dabbled in Hearst’s group publisher model, which puts more senior publishers in charge of several titles. For instance, publisher Pam Drucker Mann oversees the Food Innovation Group, which is comprised of Bon Appétit, Epicurious, a blogger network and a branded content studio, while Susan Plagemann runs the business of both Vogue and Teen Vogue. Connie Anne Phillips, the publisher and chief revenue officer of Glamour, is also in charge of Self. Beth Lusko-Gunderman, who recently came in as head of revenue, is said to have an abrupt management style that has ruffled a few feathers at Glamour.
That tension likely isn’t a positive, as Glamour looks to rebound after a tough year. Sources underscored the importance of Glamour’s business, offering the adage that “when Glamour has a cold, the rest of the company has the flu.”
For Phillips, a Condé Nast standard bearer who collects one of those big salaries — and to some degree editor in chief Cindi Leive — the coming months are important for Glamour. In November, the women’s glossy will expand and monetize its marquee event, “Women of The Year,” which is moving from New York to Los Angeles.
Whatever the fallout, Condé’s emphasis on digital sales skills and the development of new revenue streams may bode poorly for publishers who have been unable to diversify their businesses.