October 3, 2011

Romenesko+ Misc.
In a letter sent this morning to all Hearst Magazines employees, president David Carey says tomorrow’s HGTV Magazine tryout “is a testament to our conviction that every sector, every corner of the magazine industry, and every part of our company, is ripe for fresh thinking” and that “our philosophy that risk is necessary for both growth and continued success remains one of our core beliefs.” He also says in his letter that starting with Good Housekeeping, and soon Woman’s Day, Hearst Magazines is rebuilding all of its digital publishing with HTML5. More from Carey after the jump:

From: David Carey
Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 09:30:10 -0400
Subject: A Letter from Hearst Magazines President David Carey

Dear Colleagues:

Tomorrow is an important date for Hearst Magazines—350,000 copies of the first test issue of HGTV Magazine will hit newsstands all around the country, the most recent example of our strong commitment to the future.

Of course we hope that HGTV Magazine goes smoothly from test to launch, but the very fact that we’re creating yet another new product, based on a very smart concept, is significant. It is a testament to our conviction that every sector, every corner of the magazine industry, and every part of our company, is ripe for fresh thinking. Our philosophy that risk is necessary for both growth and continued success remains one of our core beliefs.

As the U.S. segment of our industry gathers for its annual American Magazine Conference tomorrow in New York, and as the 38th FIPP World Magazine Congress gets under way October 10 in New Delhi, I want to update you on our accomplishments so far in 2011 and preview what lies ahead.

In the last few years, we’ve set our goal to be “the magazine company of the future.” Today, thanks to our global acquisition of Lagardère’s Hachette titles and our successful diversification strategies in digital publishing, marketing services and e-commerce, we have made giant strides toward achieving that goal. In fact, we can say it: “The Future Is Now.”

With our sights now set on becoming a ubiquitous presence in print, on the Web and on handheld devices, we must accelerate on all fronts. We have been looking forward to this moment.

To maintain the quality of our products and of our brilliant and able team, we must constantly identify new, smarter ways to create and distribute our media. We must continue to optimize our existing print businesses—tweak frequency, upgrade paper stock, both increase and decrease various rate bases as we invest in new areas of growth. We must evolve our business models and carefully manage our spending levels.

I am proud of what we have done to become a true multimedia company in this new age of digital delivery and of our progress in erasing the lines between our traditional roles. We are clearly stretching our capabilities, allowing us to achieve greater results in every one of our branded businesses.

We all agree it’s a lot easier to innovate when the wind is at your back, but the economy today is choppy and is likely to be for some time. So even as we hope for stronger U.S. and global economies, we must plan accordingly and keep up the momentum we’ve generated.

Even with these pressures, you have maintained your focus as we race to innovate, and I appreciate that. I’m grateful for your confidence in our goals and strategies, and for your help in evolving our company. But we need even more of your energy and creativity.

Our corporate position is UNBOUND—in how we see the world and drive growth. Good news is already abundant. For instance:

— With the acquisition of the Hachette titles, which is all but closed except in China, Hearst became the largest U.S. monthly magazine publisher and among the world’s largest. Size is often the enemy of innovation—but not here. Many of our plans for streamlining our publishing and workflow were under way well before this acquisition; not only have they smoothed the integration of our new titles, they are critical to our efforts to realize important synergies.

— Our commitment to global publishing is without peer. In addition to the nearly 100 titles we acquired from Lagardère, we have five new international editions on the launch pad, including Esquire Philippines, launching this month; Good HousekeepingSouth Africa and Middle East; House Beautiful Brazil, debuting in November; and Harper’s Bazaar Brazil, coming in March.

—Marie Claire, Esquire, Food Network Magazine, ELLE, Seventeen, ELLE DECOR and Veranda have delivered strong ad revenue gains over 2010. And we are bringing more imaginative and multifaceted programs to our clients than ever before. Overall, our core U.S. magazine businesses have gained advertising and circulation market share during a tougher than expected second half of the year for the industry.

— On the marketing services front, iCrossing has solidified its dominance in search, made great progress securing digital agency-of-record opportunities and is gaining widespread recognition for its “brands as publishers” platform. The company just completed theacquisition of Wallaby Group, a distinguished digital marketing agency serving Latin America and Spain, which will expand its international capabilities.

— Our industry-leading position in tablets and e-reading is producing strong growth. Last week, the headlines were all about the new Kindle Fire—and Hearst titles were used extensively throughout the presentation that Jeff Bezos gave. We were also pleased to announce that we now have 300,000-plus paid e-subscribers and single-edition buyers each month—a number that is increasing rapidly. We’re also experimenting with new tablet-only brands on the iPad, with CFG (Cosmo for Guys) being but the first.

— Until now, digital publishing has been geared to the computer. But in the world of tablets, there’s no need for a mouse; you touch the screen to tap, swipe and zoom. So, starting with Good Housekeeping, and soon Woman’s Day, we are rebuilding all of our digital publishing with HTML5, the latest advancement in structuring and presenting content for the Web.

—All aspects of our digital media business have strongly advanced this year—page views, CPMs, sell-through and socialmedia metrics—propelling Hearst Digital Media to its best year ever, with more growth and innovation to come in 2012.

— Our 19 U.S. titles are constantly pushing the boundaries of their brands. For instance, this September ELLE introduced Go Shopping!, an advertiser-branded “storefront” within the interactive version of the ELLE iPad app’s table of contents. In November, Marie Claire introduces a new print and digital supplement, MarieClaire@Work, filling a need in the market for stylish working women. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

— And we can’t forget our breakthrough new e-commerce relationships with jewelry site Hearts On Fire, as well as with J.C. Penney Inc. for men’s site CLAD and gift site Gifting Grace, as we add more to our commerce and content experience.

— We’re working with Cooking Channel on two shows based on our branded magazine content. Our first project with Mark Burnett, Pretty Amazing, chronicled the search for Seventeen’s first-ever reader cover star. Marie Claire and Project Runway just wrapped filming of the ninth season. And I’m pleased that the new line of Good Housekeeping e-cookbooks is very popular in the iBooks store (recently, four of the top sellers were GH titles).

— Our media brands also produce incredible, high-touch live events, including ELLE’s Women in Hollywood; the Esquire Apartment; the Country LivingFair in Ohio and Atlanta; Designer Visions with House Beautiful, Veranda and Town&Country; O You! in Atlanta; and the ELLE DECOR Miami Concept Apartment, among others.

— And CDS Global is enjoying a solid year and is on the front lines of broader industry efforts to bundle print and tablet subscriptions. I’m pleased to report that CDS Global just completed an important acquisition: PayDQ, a technology company that will further its push into financial transactions on the Web.

It’s always exciting when people working in different parts of the company innovate and their innovations not only fit together, they become a significant new source of power and growth. That’s what is happening at Hearst Magazines.

As this year approaches its close, and 2012 beckons on the horizon, our strategy remains constant: create fresh ways to express our brands, diversify our product range into more and more digital areas, streamline our businesses to free up resources for more innovation and assist our key asset—you, our talented team members across the U.S. and in more than 80 countries around the world.

There’s no doubt that we are stretching our capabilities, mindset and potential via acquisitions, brand extensions, and the creation of entirely new businesses. It’s incredible to watch. Let’s keep it going.

“The Future Is Now,” indeed!

My sincere thanks to all of you,

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From 1999 to 2011, Jim Romenesko maintained the Romenesko page for the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based non-profit school for journalists. Poynter hired him in August…
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