A few days into the New Year and already a string of Hearst Magazine titles have new publishers.
Shortly after revealing that longtime Cosmopolitan publisher Donna Lagani was stepping away from her role as publisher of Cosmopolitan after more than 20 years to take up a position within Hearst Foundations, the philanthropic arm of the broader corporation, Hearst Magazine’s is moving a number of other publishers around.
Nancy Berger, most recently chief revenue officer at Marie Claire, will take up the publisher mantle from Lagani, becoming publishing director and chief revenue officer of Cosmopolitan, Seventeen (now essentially online-only) and Women’s Health. Meanwhile, Blair Hecht has been named publisher of Marie Claire, moving from her position as associate publisher of Elle. Kevin O’Malley, currently publishing director and chief revenue officer of that title will also add Marie Claire to his purview.
Additionally, Jennifer Bruno will become publishing director and chief revenue officer of House Beautiful, Veranda, a title she oversaw some years ago, and Elle Decor, in addition to her oversight of Town & Country. She replaces Kate Smith, who is retiring at the end of March.
All of the changes come a few months after new magazines president Troy Young initiated the first wave of brand shifts, on the editorial side as well as the business side, and fit with his plans to streamline the sales and marketing side of Hearst Magazines as the company forges ahead with an aggressive digital-first strategy. However, all of the new publishing leads will report directly to Michael Clinton, president of marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines.
“We have extraordinary talent within our organization — Nancy, Jenn, Kevin and Blair are true brand leaders, with imagination and determination that inspires teams and drives business forward,” Clinton said. “This is the moment for them to have an even greater impact, sharing their expertise and innovative thinking across our brands.”
He added that Lagani and Smith are “two of our industry’s shining stars” and wished them well.
Cosmopolitan in particular has been going through some changes as of late, as Berger comes in as publishing director not long after Jessica Pels was named its new editor in chief, replacing Michele Promaulayko after a two-year stint atop the masthead. Pels got the job after a run as digital director, where she successfully revamped the brand’s digital and social footprint.
As for Lagani, who although she came into Hearst during the heyday of print magazines was a big booster of tech-forward experiments and projects at a magazine she seems to have a genuine affection for, she said she’s looking forward to moving her attentions to philanthropic efforts within Hearst.
“I’ve had the absolute best job on the planet for more than two decades…Now, after a ‘fun and fearless’ career generating revenue and profits, I feel truly blessed to work with the Foundations,” Lagani said.
Veranda, too, has seen a few changes in addition to Bruno coming in to lead the publishing side. Steele Marcoux, previously style director of Country Living, another Hearst title, recently came in as editor in chief of the interior design magazine replacing Clinton Smith, who last in September left the magazine after five relatively lackluster years. The print-side closure of Redbook also came through in the fall changes.
In addition to the editorial and now publishing changes, it seems likely there are even more to coming to Hearst this year, as can be expected under new leadership. In a note to staff at the start of the new year (titled “Evolving with purpose”), Young pointed out what most in the industry already know: “The media ecosystem is evolving. In a sea of choices and pocket-sized distractions content has to be smarter than ever to earn attention.”
He added that 2018 had seen Hearst “aggressively” evolve toward a connection with digital and with advertisers that have moved from “mass to relationship marketing.” It also led to the further monetization of elements of Hearst Magazines, like putting some content behind a strict paywall, as in the case of Charles P. Pierce’s popular political columns for Esquire and an extensive push of e-commerce. Hearst Magazines sold around $200 million in merchandise last year and launched Hearst Product Studio in order to make its own goods, like a yoga mat that offers some custom content through Amazon’s Alexa speaker.
“In the new media landscape, our brands and broad print distribution are not enough,” Young wrote. “The Internet requires media companies to build direct, personal relationships with readers. Our ability to capture interaction data at scale, turn it to insight and leverage it broadly across our organization will define our future success.”
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