The new Adweek debuts this week with a letter from editorial director Michael Wolff promising that this "is not your father’s trade magazine."
The brand–which merges sister titles Brandweek and Mediaweek–boasts a new look in print (with a redesign from storied magazine designers Pentagram) and digital (an overhaul by agency Area 17), as well as a new crop of editorial talent focused on "high level information" and breaking news.
The staff is expanding from 30 to 50 and Adweek now features a mix of b-to-b and consumer veterans including deputy editor Chip Bayers (formerly of Newser and Wired); news editor Brian Breaker (previously of ABC News) and David Levine from American Lawyer. "The core Adweek bench remains in place but we’ve added to that a lot of other people with an emphasis on trying to reach outside of trade circles for journalists who have, number one, digital experience, and number two, are better placed to expand the sense of context we’re looking to give to our readers," says Wolff.
Wolff compares the new Adweek approach to Politico (Adweek even lured former Politico media and style editor Hillary Frey over to serve as managing editor last year, as well as former Politico reporter Gabe Peltrone). "Politico has a targeted print product and a digital side that has vastly expanded their Capitol Hill-focused audience," he adds. "The magazine will continue to have a predominately professional, targeted audience. Its core is agency people, the client side, people in media business. The site will vastly expand the audience-including the professional audience, the chattering class audience, and on top of that, a search engine audience."
Prometheus Global Media (previously called e5 Global Media), backed by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, bought the Adweek Media Group titles, along with The Hollywood Reporter and four other brands from Nielsen Business Media in late 2009. Wolff, founder of Newser and a former Vanity Fair columnist, became the second high profile appointment for the company last fall (Prometheus CEO Richard Beckman previously hired Janice Min as editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter).
Many trade and general business magazines have attempted a broader, sexier approach to their markets (FOLIO: had its own phase as a "New York media scene" magazine about 10 years ago), with mixed results.
Wolff doesn’t have any doubts. "We’re in a relatively enviable position because we have a successful publication already," he told FOLIO:. "All we’re doing is going to the marketplace and saying, ‘You were OK with a crappy product, now how can you not be even more enthusiastic about an obviously better product?’"