Women to Watch 2009

Mary Murcko

Senior VP-Publisher, Prevention

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Mary Murcko still has an easy, enthusiastic laugh, despite having to deal with some serious challenges and ever-increasing responsibility as her career has progressed.

Mary Murcko

Just look back to her time in Bangkok, where she learned to love a launch as publisher and general manager of the Hachette operation there. "You kind of had to have no fear, because you were doing things that no one had ever done before," she said. "You were doing an international brand in a market where all the magazines were local at that time. You had to be really clear in terms of what the brand was, who was going to pick up your brand and why you were different. If you missed any part of that, you lost it."

Ms. Murcko's experience in Thailand prepared her for her current role in another way. "When I was in Bangkok was the time the whole currency fell apart," she said. "The good thing about that experience and how I was there when it happened was that I also got to the other side. And I saw the brands that invested during that time, stayed focused during that time, ended up stronger."

Her stay there ended only when it was time for her daughter, who was born in Bangkok, to begin kindergarten in the U.S. Fairchild offered her re-entry as publisher of Elegant Bride.

Once she found her way to Rodale, she was named publisher first at Best Life, a launch, then at Women's Health, a bigger launch, and then last March at Prevention, the company's largest-circulation title and a brand with many extensions in digital, events and special publications.

"Prevention is Rodale's best example of a fully fleshed-out brand," said MaryAnn Bekkedahl, exec VP-group publisher at Rodale. "It was again a fairly easy kind of decision."

'Relevant and important'
"She is driven as the day is long," Ms. Bekkedahl added. "When she moved over to Prevention, a big brand with a lot of moving parts, I don't think she slept or ate for weeks. She got all the history, dug into financials, dug into expenses, dug into the category mix, rejiggered materials so quickly. I am consistently overwhelmed and impressed."

Ms. Murcko, 44, doesn't much worry about the future of magazines, despite the challenges from new media and, right now, steep recession. "The great thing about magazines is that they've always been changing all the time. There's a new product every single month. Digitally we put out something new every day."

"We have to be relevant and important to the consumer, but we also have to be a little bit ahead," she added. "That's going to continue to be our success in the future."