Susan Hassler: Editor-In-Chief, IEEE SPECTRUM
Hassler spearheaded the overhaul of the publication and, more recently, has helped IEEE Spectrum transition to a greater emphasis on the Web.
IEEE Spectrum used to have its bailiwick pretty much to itself. But when the late nineties brought a newsstand full of new Internet-oriented magazines, the membership organization for engineers turned to Susan Hassler to make its flagship publication stand out again.
Hassler has done just that with two waves of massive editorial improvements, the first in 2001 and a design-oriented tweaking in 2004. The redo has been a huge factor in boosting membership to about 350,000 from about 280,000 five years ago, says publisher Jim Vick. Internal studies have indicated a positive response.
Hassler’s challenge was to make IEEE’s emphasis on the technology itself relevant to a wide range of readers, who tended to be narrow by discipline. "The magazine had drifted into being stodgy and even overly technical. It hadn’t had a design makeover in 15 years," Hassler says. She added more accessible coverage and a slick new design that helps the magazine make it to many newsstands. Now, IEEE Spectrum’s competitive set is more Scientific American and Popular Science than the dry trade books of yore.
Yet, the association has had to abandon a strategy that it hatched just a little over a year ago to greatly boost non-member readership. That’s because of a major shift in advertising revenue toward the Web;both IEEE’s site and competitors;that greatly accelerated last year.
So now, Hassler essentially is in the middle of another editorial overhaul. IEEE Spectrum spent about $1 million between 2005 and this year launching Web-only content, prodding editors to blog and produce podcasts, and beefing up its online job board as Web postings bleed classified-ad sales from the print magazine.
"We have to keep following the money as it moves through these different media," Hassler says.
VITAL STATS: Membership in the association for electrical and electronic engineers has surged by about 20 percent to about 350,000 since the magazine launched an editorial makeover.