Carol Smith, longtime publisher at Hearst magazines including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire, is leaving the company amid a reorganization of Hearst’s advertising business, WWD has learned.
A Hearst spokesperson confirmed that Smith will continue through a transition period and leave at the end of March.
Hearst is shifting its advertising division to an industry-focused model, organizing sales around sectors including beauty and wellness, fashion and luxury, finance and tech and home and design. It is a move that many other media organizations have employed amid ongoing economic headwinds exacerbated by declining advertising revenue.
“As the media business continues to evolve, we will double down on our investment in future strategic areas to evolve how we operate,” said Hearst Magazines President Debi Chirichella in an internal memo to employees. “For our advertisers and partners, we will lean into innovative solutions and create compelling avenues for audience engagement. We will be an even better and more agile partner to our clients, offering holistic solutions for a data-driven world.”
Sources say the realignment will result in layoffs. A Hearst spokesperson declined to offer specifics about job losses at the company.
Smith was elevated in 2019 to publishing director of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Marie Claire when veteran executive Kevin O’Malley retired. At the time, she had been publisher at Harper’s Bazaar since 2011. Smith also ran Elle and Elle Décor for several years prior.
She was the founding publisher of Parenting magazine, which was later acquired by Time Inc. She was also the founding publisher of Vibe, which is now owned by Penske Media Corp., parent company of WWD.
The departure of Smith is one of the highest-profile departures at Hearst since Chirichella took over as president of the magazines division in November 2020. She previously was at Prometheus Global Media Group, briefly at the-then Fairchild under Condé Nast, where she worked for seven years.
In a statement to WWD, a Hearst magazine spokesperson said of Smith: “Carol has made tremendous contributions to the Magazines division over the years and we thank her for her strong leadership, passion and drive.”