Despite the industry’s renewed interest in custom titles and talk of turning a corner, Hearst is folding its 7-year-old custom publishing unit
into the Hearst Group
, its integrated sales and marketing division, FOLIO: has learned.
The announcement was made internally on Friday (Oct. 14), according to a source familiar with the situation. Hearst began its custom operation in 1998.
Michael Hurley, the unit’s director and publisher, is leaving the company; Jeff Hamill, SVP of the Hearst Group, will be overseeing the business side. “Much” of HCP’s existing staff will make the transition, according to a Hearst spokesperson.
Hearst has six current custom publishing projects;including Thomasville, Kitchen Aid and Procter & Gamble;under contract, and the company will continue them, according to the spokesperson. “We're going to be focusing on existing advertisers with Hearst magazines, rather than soliciting non-advertisers for custom publishing projects,” she said.
At one time, the Hearst Custom client roster included Biography, Microsoft, Nike, Wal-Mart and Yahoo!, and as many as 28, according to the company’s Web site.
“The custom-publishing business improved on the strength of new accounts and greater cost efficiency, and we hope to turn the corner in 2005,” reads a message
on Hearst’s corporate site. Unfortunately for Hearst, it seems the turn ended up as a hairpin;one the company couldn’t quite pull off.