Sarah Murphy was getting used to being asked when she'd return to the consumer press.
It's a logical question. After all, before jumping into trade publishing three years ago when she joined Fairchild Communications' WWD Media Worldwide, she was beauty manager at Vogue, worked in sales and marketing at Food and Wine and GQ, and helped launch Talk magazine in 1999.
But with her June promotion to publisher-beauty and marketing for WWD Media Worldwide, Murphy thinks her feet are planted in b-to-b.
"The titles are really strong," Murphy said. "I'm not positive that I could go back. Women's Wear [Daily] is such a dynamic property. When I think about the structure of a monthly [consumer] magazine, it doesn't sound so appealing anymore."
When Murphy joined the company in July 2001 as publisher of WWD's Beauty Biz, the magazine was a hybrid trying to attract both consumers and industry insiders. She streamlined the magazine, which is published nine times a year, and refocused its content for the retailer and manufacturer communities. The retooling has paid off. The magazine's revenue grew 69% in 2004's first half compared with the year-earlier period, according to Edward Menicheschi, WWD Media Worldwide's president.
Murphy plans to experiment with some of her marketing successes from Beauty Biz, whose marketing she will continue to oversee, and see if they will work for Women's Wear Daily, Beauty Report International and Children's Business. One such success has been the publication of "It" lists of important people such as beauty editors at consumer publications, public relations executives and Wall Street analysts.
At Beauty Biz, the issues were well received from both a circulation and advertising standpoint. People on the lists read the issues, and advertisers trying to reach that group of decision-makers found it a good medium in which to run their message, she said. The first list-of publishers and editors in chief at top beauty, fashion and lifestyle magazines-will be published in WWD during September under the "WWD on File" logo.
Murphy's challenge in her new role will be to demonstrate to marketers that WWD's publications continue to influence a retail industry that has been hammered by consolidation and that its titles are "must-reads" for executives in discount chains as well as tony department stores.
"Certainly, we influence Wall Street in terms of giving the industries we cover context," Murphy said. "Now we routinely talk about that in our marketing materials.
"We're talking about a publication that's almost a century old," she said. "We're starting from a position of strength, [but] we've certainly had to work hard to tell our advertising constituency that we're getting to all those senior-level retailers."