Jessica Pels has been named the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, succeeding Michele Promaulayko, who took up the role in 2016 and is exiting Hearst. Pels had been rumored recently to be a favorite of Young’s, who became president of Hearst Magazines in July, due to her success in revamping Cosmopolitan’s digital and social footprint, and increasing readership. A memo on her promotion noted record web traffic in May of 26 million unique visitors.
Pels joined Hearst in 2014 and became digital director of the Cosmopolitan. Before that, she worked for Condé Nast brands Glamour and Teen Vogue.
But Pels taking up the top spot is just one of many changes Hearst is making to its titles with a seeming focus on further integrating digital and print and promoting those who have shown themselves to be digitally savvy.
Steel Marcoux, previously style director of Country Living, another Hearst title, has been tapped as editor in chief of interior design magazine Veranda. She replaces Clinton Smith, who last month exited the magazine after five relatively lackluster years.
Elsewhere, Kristin Koch is now executive director of Seventeen’s web site and will oversee all content for the title, including for print issues, according to a memo, as part of the magazine’s “digital first strategy.” Koch is replacing Joey Bartolomeo, who’s leaving Hearst. Joanna Saltz, who started at Seventeen in 2004 and was most recently editorial director of House Beautiful’s web site is now editorial director of the title as a whole. She’s replacing Sophie Donelson, who is also leaving Hearst.
Changes like this have been expected at Hearst since Young was tapped to replace longtime Magazines president David Carey. Sources have said every Hearst magazine was being reviewed by Young, and his chosen lieutenant Kate Lewis, in an effort to not only suss out any remaining editorial luddites, but also those who were simply underperforming on the digital front. Revenue from digital content and video is a major area of focus for Young.
Young wrote in the memo that print magazines “will always play an integral role and we are fully committed to them.”
“The complementary strengths of our offerings are what gives us our unique position in today’s highly competitive media marketplace,” Young added. “Our teams are embracing cross-platform brand alignment, which will foster even greater idea sharing, more ambitious content creation and the development of strategic business initiatives, all of which benefit our audience, both consumer and commercial. As we continue to evolve, we will combine editorial intuition with audience insights and data to create unique and purposeful experiences for our readers.”
But Redbook is one title that does not have a print future. The title is ceasing its print publication at the start of next year, in a move that’s been rumored for some time.
“Redbook has a long, proud history of informing and enlightening its audience, and it’s been part of our portfolio for more than 35 years,” Young said of the change.
It’s unclear how many Redbook staffers will be cut, but presumably at least all of the print staff will be let go. Young thanked them in the memo for their “dedication and contributions to the magazine.”
Digital efforts are also coming more under the direct purview of some current editor in chiefs with the new changes. Richard Dorment, who in March became editor in chief of Men’s Health, will now be directly managing the title’s web site, too. Likewise, Liz Plosser, who became editor in chief of Women’s Health in January, will now oversee all digital and print content, and Ryan D’Agostino, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics since 2014, will also be taking on more digital responsibilities.
As if these changes weren’t enough, there are some shifts to the business side, as well. Pat Haegele, who serves as group publishing director of Hearst’s women’s lifestyle group and has been with the company more that 20 years, is taking on a “publishing strategy function” with her current role. Jack Essig, publishing director of Esquire and Popular Mechanics, is also taking on titles Men’s Health, Runner’s World and Bicycling, all of which were previously under the direction of Ronan Gardiner. He is also leaving the company.
“Pat and Jack have done an exceptional job during their time at the company, creating innovative, never-before-done programs for advertisers,” Young said of the remaining publishers. “They have both played instrumental roles in driving our business forward and I look forward to them doing that in an even more ambitious and collaborative way.”
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