Publishing during a pandemic
April 3, 2020
Troy Young, President, Hearst Magazines To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni On Publishing During A Pandemic: “We Have To Be More Innovative Than Ever.” The Mr. Magazine™ Interview…
In this fifth installment of publishing during a pandemic, I reached out to Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines, to see how Hearst was managing during this tragic and uncertain time. As we continue to see the gloom and doom in the news media, and very rare mention of anything uplifting or positive, Troy and his team are determined to shed some bloom and brightness with quality content. The glass can be viewed as half full as easily as it can half empty, and Hearst is pushing forward with serving their customers where they are and via any platform they like.
I spoke with Troy very recently and we talked about how magazines and magazine media content is more relevant today than ever before. People are looking for valued and trusted information from those credible brands that they have come to know. Troy pointed out that in one month alone, the Hearst Magazine brands published 1,900 health-related articles. Amazing indeed.
Trusted content will always come from trusted brands…
So, please enjoy the fifth installment of the Mr. Magazine™ series: Publishing During A Pandemic with Troy Young, president, Hearst Magazines.
But first the sound-bites:
On how Hearst Magazines is operating during this pandemic: The first thing we had to do is move our workforce into collaborating and connecting in an entirely new way. Fortunately,— because we have a fairly large composition of very technically sophisticated workers, be it engineers or digital editors — it’s been relatively seamless. And, we have been using digital tools to connect with each other for a while now, so the transition to working remotely has been less disruptive than you’d expect. I’ve heard that from many others too, so I think the world is adjusting well.
On when the pandemic is over if he thinks there will be a pause for consideration in the traditional office environment: I’m actually hopeful that we can use this as an opportunity to create some more lasting change. One of the bright spots for many people and for many senior executives is — for example — how efficient we can be when we create a virtual meeting. We set up a Zoom link and five people can be looking at each other and we can run a very productive meeting in 25 minutes. That gives us more flexibility in a lot of ways, in terms of our personal lives and our professional lives.
On whether Hearst is considering any publishing schedule or frequency changes: What’s really important to me is wherever we’re creating a product —whether it’s a print, digital, video or experiential product — it has to be a great product and consumers have to value it. I think you’ll see us look critically at frequency across some of our titles, as we’ve been doing for a long time. We made the decision to change frequency on Esquire months before the pandemic crisis — you may see more of that.
On whether he had ever envisioned a crisis situation like we have today and how he might have prepared for it: I don’t know if you can prepare for it, but I feel like the fundamental structural transformation that we have gone through in magazine media was hard work and we had to make a lot of hard decisions. To an extent, that prepared us for the next set of hard decisions that are coming at us so quickly because of this pandemic. But, I don’t think any of us could have seen this coming as quickly as it did and as aggressively as it did.
On whether he thinks magazines and magazine media are relevant today: I think that we should separate two sides of magazine media: What is the content and how is it being packaged and distributed? To me, magazine media never goes away. And to me, magazine media is not the news. It is point of view; it is passions; and it is perspective; and it moves in and around the news and the things that people care about, but it brings more perspective to that conversation. And that’s what is so wonderful about it. And all of the journalism that surrounds it.
On any message he would like to send his advertisers, readers or staff: The first thing for our advertisers right now is we’re thinking about them, because I know that their businesses are incredibly difficult. And whether you’re in retail, luxury, fashion, beauty, or the automotive space, your business is facing many significant challenges. As a partner, I’m worried about them and their businesses and want to know how we can help them.
On what he tells his teams when they get together for a meeting: It’s time for us to be leaders. We have to be insanely creative in how we work and how we understand value as we’re creating. We have to be more innovative than ever, and there are going to be times that it’s really hard. We need to fuel that emotion and then move on.
On what keeps him up at night: What keeps me up at night is that, as a society, we need to stay connected to our better angels. Cuomo said it best, and I totally agree: How do we keep positive; how do we keep helping one another. And I worry sometimes that in a crisis like this, we can let it get the better of us. And I think that we have to be like that on every level. With our families; with our coworkers; and in society. And if I worry about anything it’s, how are we reacting to these challenges and are we staying positive?
Click here for the full interview.