Wendy Riches

Meredith Publishing Group

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Although Meredith Corp. cultivates a fairly quiet image from its home base in Des Moines, Iowa, it generates enough activity to match or exceed many other publishers. Out East, consider the example set by Wendy Riches, who runs Meredith Publishing Group's integrated marketing and interactive media divisions.
Wendy Riches, exec VP-integrated marketing and interactive media, Meredith Publishing Group

"I love change, and for the second half of my career I've been something of a change agent," Ms. Riches says. "Today is all about restless innovation."

Of course, it's easier to be a change agent when one has a résumé like Ms. Riches'. Her CV is a cocktail of publishing, journalism, fund-raising and agency experience.

Arthur Selkowitz, former chairman-CEO at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, says he hired Ms. Riches from Hasbro when he realized the ad business was evolving toward broader marketing communications services.

"She had to overcome a lot of entrenched points of view and attitudes, but she had a mission," he says.

Taking custom publishing, a lucrative but staid business, to "the next level" at Meredith sounds a little daunting, but Ms. Riches got hooked on the idea and wound up hiring new specialists in direct marketing, Hispanic marketing and other fields. "Custom publishing is in a good place, but it could be in a better one," she says. "There are areas such as cross-selling and up-selling, which you can do in custom publishing so long as you do them in a very brand-literate way."

"She comes across as this marvelous charming sort of English schoolmarm, but she's a tiger underneath," Mr. Selkowitz adds. "She was really ahead of her time, and what she's doing at Meredith is ahead of her time for media publications."
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