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CAREY’S UPDATE: Following Hearst Corp.’s annual memo to employees on the state of its business, David Carey, the magazine division’s president, sent out his own letter on Monday.
Carey began the note with a rousing “welcome to 2014,” but he opted to shy away from Hearst’s future endeavors, instead providing employees with a litany of accomplishments from 2013.
The executive trumpeted the launch of its newest title, Dr. Oz The Good Life, which will hit newsstands in the next few weeks, as well as the growth of its fashion magazine segment.
Despite what he called a “choppy newsstand environment,” Hearst titles such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire were able to “generate record profits,” he said, without providing concrete figures.
He did, however, highlight the importance of digital across all titles, and said that “profits” from its digital and new print products such as HGTV Magazine and Food Network Magazine together will “account for more than 30 percent of profits in 2014 in the U.S.”
In an interview with WWD, Carey declined to provide a further breakdown of that split, but he did talk about Hearst’s focus on digital verticals and noted that in 2013 the division had double-digit increases in digital revenue.
To underscore its commitment to digital, Carey said the company hired design and software firm Code and Theory to “create solutions for Web and mobile” sites of its publications, allowing for a more streamlined and seamless digital experience.
Flagship titles Cosmopolitan, Elle and Esquire will be the first to get that digital treatment. The revamp will appear in the second quarter of the year, with other titles following soon after.
Meanwhile, shelter titles Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Veranda began to show signs of life after the publishing firm decided to combine editorial and design teams in late 2012.
“For us to grow, we must be ready to toss out dated business strategies when they are no longer working,” Carey offered.
Town & Country, another publication that has been under a major overhaul, has experienced the most advertising revenue growth in 2013 relative to the magazine division’s other titles, the executive said. Without hard numbers, that statement might be a bit amorphous, but Carey gave the magazine, under the nearly three-year tenure of editor in chief Jay Fielden, a vote of confidence. Now “revitalized,” T&C will launch its second international edition within the next three months. T&C currently has just one international edition in the Philippines, but more are coming down the pipeline.
Although he did not address e-commerce in the memo, Carey said Hearst would continue to test such opportunities. At the time of its launch in 2012, Harper’s Bazaar’s Shop Bazaar joined a host of other publication-created e-commerce platforms and in 2013 turned its first profit, according to Carey.
But even the crafty executive didn’t seem completely sold on the business model, which is perhaps why he left out from the memo Bazaar’s improving fortune regarding e-commerce.
“I can’t say we’ve found the perfect model that we want to take across the entire organization,” he said. “We take it as an R&D effort.”