Cooking With Paula Deen More Than Doubles Rate Base After Just Eight Issues
When Birmingham, Alabama-based Hoffman Media launched Cooking With Paula Deen in November of 2005, the company felt the woman some have dubbed the southern Martha Stewart would appeal heavily to the down home audience that religiously watches her Food Network television show. It was right.
But what it didn’t count on was Deen’s popularity among those not living in the southern U.S. “We originally concentrated our direct mailing campaign to the South,” said magazine’s circulation director Silvia Rider. “Then we got all kinds of crazy complaints from people living in the West and in other parts of the country who had heard about the magazine from friends in the South, but couldn’t find it. So we went national.”
The November/December 2005 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen was launched with little fanfare. Hoffman Media did a direct mailing campaign of about 250,000 pieces, but there was no media tour and no expensive advertising, said Rider. “We did a small campaign because we didn’t really know what to expect,” she said. “The cooking category is a very crowded market. So we launched with a 350,000 rate base, which we figured was achievable. But after the first six months, we were up to a 394,000 paid circulation and by the end of last year we had a rate base of 650,000.”
Rider believes the magazine’s success is due solely to the appeal of the brand Deen has built. “Martha Stewart isn’t very personable, but readers really enjoy knowing Paula,” she said. “A lot of people believe they really know her and they can relate to her story.”
Although the magazine launched with a cooking and recipe focus, it’s branched off into decorating and shopping tips. Deen serves as the editor-in-chief and oversees every bit of content that goes into the magazine. Last Christmas, the magazine put its first special interest publication, which sold about 380,000 copies on the newsstand, which is about as many copies as the regular magazine sells, said Rider.
This year, the approximately 116-page magazine, which comes out every two months and retails for $4.99 on the newsstands (an annual subscription costs $19.99), plans to raise its rate base to 750,000. It also will put out three special interest publications – a cookbook, which is on sale now, and two holiday-related publications, said Rider. “We’re definitely amazed,” said Rider, of the magazine’s success. “I’ve done this for over 12 years and I’ve never seen a magazine come out of the gate and perform like this. They’re definitely eating it up.”