CEO, Johnson Publishing
Weâ€™re trying to re-establish, reaffirm and revitalize these brands. We hired Amy BuBois Barnett, the former deputy editor-in-chief of Harperâ€™s Bazaar, as the new editor-in-chief of Ebony and weâ€™re re-positioning and modernizing the Ebony brand.
People may worry about how existing readers will respond but my number one priority is to find people who love these brands. We have a great group of people whoâ€™ve been here for a long period of time and what weâ€™re doing is sprinkling them together with our new team so we donâ€™t lose sight of where weâ€™ve been, but are able to leap forward and get to the next level for these publications. We brought in Rodrigo Sierra as our new chief marketing officer, we brought in a new head of media sales and a new head on our cosmetics side of the business.
We are working hard on our circulation and I expect to return to our rate base in 2011. Weâ€™ve given a lot of thought to the fundamentals of the business. Weâ€™re making sure our fundamentals are strong and weâ€™ve built a frame for that next level. Weâ€™re not trying to be fancy-first.
It can always be disruptive as you build a new team. In many respects, people are having to get used to new executives. There is a very big challenge with how do you lead during transitional times and provide an environment in which people can do their best work?
Recently weâ€™ve experienced the sale of our ChicagoÂ headquarters. There are a lot of changes happening at theÂ same time yet weâ€™re continuing to publish a monthly and a weekly.
Weâ€™re increasing our sales staff in New York City. This is one of first times weâ€™ve increased the sales staff there and the new head of sales will be located in New York. You will also see us increase our editorial presence on the East Coast.
I donâ€™t really see the rise of digital, social media and bloggers as disruption, I see it as part of the creative process. I view them as other distribution channels for our style and who we are. There is an Ebony style, there is a Jet style and we need to be sure we are moving in the direction of ensuring we make a play in those various forms of distribution.
Weâ€™re not fighting the bloggers, we welcome the bloggers. Instead of thinking, â€˜Oh, what was it once,â€™ weâ€™re excited about what it can be in the future. If we can be a conduit for others, whether it be a consumer products company or someone that is just trying to get a better sense of African Americans or a multicultural audience, weâ€™re delighted to be part of that partnership.
Right now itâ€™s so busy because weâ€™re looking to upgrade both magazines plus the cosmetics line without losing the rich history thatâ€™s been established. In no way do I want anyone to think that weâ€™re walking away from our history. We want that old excitement back. We have to remain focused on what weâ€™re trying to achieve as a unit.