As part of the move, Hachette also promoted Donna Sapolin, editor in chief of Home, to VP; named Marilu Lopez, creative director at Woman’s Day, group creative director; and named Sue Kakstys, the Woman’s Day managing editor, group managing editor. MediaWorks asked Ms. Chesnutt to explain the moves, the target platforms and where the group goes from here.
MEDIAWORKS: What were the specific goals of this week’s reorganization?
JANE CHESNUTT: The goals are to allow our magazines to better work together, and also to work better on a multiplatform level, to leverage all of the resources that we can so that we can better provide our readers with information in as many platforms as we can.
MEDIAWORKS: What platforms are you talking about?
MS. CHESNUTT: We’re looking at mobile; we’re looking at growing the Web site. We now have blog capability on our Web sites. I am actually doing what my Web director tells me is not technically a blog, but a special online column. It is much looser than my normal column and is not restricted in length like my regular column. It’s another deadline that I have to make, but I have to say it’s liberating. It allows me to tackle subjects that are within the sphere of the magazine that for one reason or another you wouldn’t do within the regular magazine -- whether they’re timely or more tongue in cheek.
I want to emphasize that what we are doing here is not about cost-cutting or cutting staff. It is about maximizing our resources, and as part of that we will almost certainly be reallocating our resources and we have already started that process. We have moved one of the Woman’s Day text editors to our Web staff with a new title of digital interactive editor. She will be responsible for figuring out all sorts of new ways to connect the magazine and the Web site. She will be doing a daily video tip on the Web site.
MEDIAWORKS: Why reorganize now? Why not last year or next year?
MS. CHESNUTT: Next year’s going to be late. We’re moving at warp speed. How we use information is changing practically by the minute. We have realized that we have some real rich troves of information within the magazines that we produce and we really want to optimize the value of them and amortize the cost of producing them -- so that when my food department here at Woman’s Day does a story, say, on our favorite chocolate desserts, it doesn’t just go into Woman’s Day once and be forgotten.
Our best recipes are almost always collected in a cookbook and go online. But they should be available as well in a variety of platforms so that, for example, you can go to the supermarket, think ‘What am I going to make for dinner?,’ take out your cellphone and visit Woman’s Day and find a three-ingredient recipe.
MEDIAWORKS: The average paid circulation at Woman’s Day fell from 4,239,930 at the end of 2002 to 4,015,392 in its most recent statement. What’s happening?
MS. CHESNUTT: That is, to me, a drop in the bucket. Woman's Day’s female audience increased by 2.2% from 19,800,000 in Fall 2002 to 20,243,000 in Fall 2005, according to MRI.
And I see a very engaged, active readership. We have a Woman’s Day reader panel which is made up of our most engaged readers, and we are over 100,000 on that. We use those women all the time. The whole digital/Web/net thing has really changed the way we do business here. We were ahead of the curve in some ways. We were really out there in terms of developing this reader panel for three or four years, and it just zoomed up there in membership. We use it for cover research and other sorts of research. We continue to grow it.
MEDIAWORKS: What’s next?
MS. CHESNUTT: One of our great strengths is the shelter materials we produce in this group, like Home and the Woman’s Day special-interest publications. We will be really putting some special efforts into how we produce that content and then how we use it among the magazines as well as in different platforms. Donna Sapolin, who’s been newly promoted to VP under me and had not only Home but the special-interest publications, will be taking up that part of the charge.
Pulling the magazines together gives us the strength that we didn’t have individually, in terms of vision and in terms of ideas. For Me, for example, is a small magazine. It is not going to have the wherewithal to do a show-house home like many magazines do. But Home does. You can make a For Me room within the house.
For Me is, of course, a new magazine so we continue to build that Web site. It’s fair to say we are going to be putting a lot of attention into the shelter content that we’re developing. We’ll be really looking at Home’s Web site and how we can build that into a larger broader shelter portal.