In June, David Carey will mark his fifth anniversary as Hearst Magazines president, and a New Year’s Day tradition of his (begun over a decade ago when publisher of The New Yorker) is to look back and look ahead in a letter to colleagues.
In his 2015 message, Carey acknowledged that Hearst Magazines did not escape the “roller coaster of a year” that 2014 was for the media business as the unit “experienced a mix of both growth and turbulence.”
There’s more coming in 2015 though, including the launch of a new title. Carey didn’t provide details though, only saying the company is exploring options with several joint-venture partners at the moment.
Perhaps the most notable “turbulance” was putting Seventeen under the auspices of Cosmopolitan, and how well the newly-formed Millennial Group fares under Cosmo publishing director, Donna Kalajian Lagani, and editor-in-chief, Joanna Coles, in 2015.
The overall corporate growth led Carey to declare that the privately-held Hearst Magazines “posted the best performance in the industry” in 2014. Highlights included:
- The launches of Dr. Oz the Good Life and Trending NY in the U.S. stood out, as well as a number of international launches for Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Town & Country. Extensions in the U.S. and abroad will play a role going forward.
- Editorial innovations led by Good Housekeeping‘s redesign engineered by new editor-in-chief, Jane Francisco, and “crossover content” between Food Network and HGTV. Both magazines are Hearst Magazines partnerships with Scripps Networks.
- The 147-year-old Harper’s Bazaar and the 20-year-old Marie Claire “beat their own best [advertising] performances once again.”
- The company leaned on its B2B operations which grew rapidly through both organic growth and acquisition, helping to “counterbalance the volatility of the media businesses.” (Hearst Corp. president and CEO, Steven Swartz also highlighted Hearst Business Media’s performance in 2014 in his year-end letter to employees, calling it the company’s fastest growing division.)
- Digitally, monthly unique visitors to Hearst Magazine titles doubled in 2014 (excluding December) to 112 million, and social media followers increased 90 percent to 63 million “as audiences engage with us on every platform imaginable.”
- The Nick Matarazzo-led Jumpstart, the digital marketing company tied to both Car and Driver and Road & Track, “turned in a terrific performance, by far the best in its history.”
- Cosmo‘s “24/7 English-language newsroom” providing content worldwide was made possible by the time differences between the sources in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
- O, The Oprah Magazine‘s “Circle of Friends” premium subscriber initiative, which is nearing 10,000 members at $199 per year in spite of starting “with minimal marketing” last fall. Two other Hearst Magazines (not named) will test premium initiatives in 2015.
Plenty of work awaits Carey and Hearst Magazines management in 2015, but so, too, is the celebrating, with O turning 15; Elle, 30; and Car and Driver, 60.