This morning I attended a “Breakfast with a Leader” gathering organized by Magazine Publishers of America. The guest speaker was Cathleen Black, president of Hearst Magazines. She drew quite a crowd. Hearst has some of these well-known titles: Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s BAZAAR, O, The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, etc. (a total of 18!).
She is a great speaker and shared some interesting insights. One I thought was particularly notable is that she had gone back to her notes from a speech she gave five years ago and realized how little attention was paid to the web back then. And how today’s internet megatrends – MySpace, Google Video, YouTube, etc. – have profoundly changed the landscape of magazine publishing. She said that magazine companies need to become “nimble” in order to meet the challenges of this new world.
Of course, the word “nimble” has been used to describe one of the key advantages of the internet – where, I would argue, it is much easier to be nimble. It will be interesting to watch how a large company like Hearst Publishing achieves nimbleness. (OK, that may not be a word, but I’m sure you know what I mean.)
I also like this comment from her talk: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”