Ms. Dillon's next job may be helping them listen to Ms. Pratt's latest reinvention-a Jane for fortysomethings with the codename "Elizabeth," currently percolating in Ms. Pratt's mind. And if Fairchild Publications decides to go ahead with "Elizabeth," Ms. Dillon could be well-positioned to pick up publisher duties for that title as well.
While Jane may celebrate youth and independence, Ms. Dillon's role at the magazine is decidedly parental. She arrived in December 1999 as part of a reorganization by Fairchild CEO Mary Berner, who had worked with Ms. Dillon while she was at TV Guide and as publisher of Glamour. Ms. Dillon, 45, says her immediate challenge was to make Jane itself grow up and convince early advertisers to return.
"My first couple of days," she says, "I called around and people said to me, `We were in Jane before, at the start, and we were going to try it, but ...' We had to make the transition from being a hot new launch to a core title."
To Ms. Dillon, that meant trading less on her editor in chief's buzz and much more on advertiser hand-holding. "No matter how fun and unique [the magazine] is, the advertising community needs someone to distill it down to its purest properties," she says. "You have to say what's the value and how you can bring that to advertisers."
It's worked-Jane's ad pages rose 9.1% in 2001, according to Publishers Information Bureau-though those gains have begun to erode, with pages down 7.8% this year through April, vs. a year ago.
Fortunately for Jane, the arch-competitor in its niche, Mademoiselle, was killed by Conde Nast Publications last fall. Jane is now in the enviable position of skewing young enough to attract hip advertisers but being just old enough to avoid the teen magazine wars. There, combatants are filled with Ms. Pratt's proteges and the readers will have been prepped for Jane's message.
New York media circles were buzzing this spring about Ms. Pratt's latest idea, "Elizabeth," which would rumble with the Seven Sisters the way Ms. Pratt's Sassy took on the formerly staid Seventeen. Ms. Pratt presented the plan to Ms. Berner, but Ms. Dillon insists the concept is still on the shelf.