As our lives change dramatically we look for continuity in the places we trust. For many that is the magazine subscription delivered through their door each week, full of the positive, life-affirming content they are looking for.
As a print publisher and a content and experience business, Hearst must focus on maintaining this relationship with clients as well as readers. Jessica Saller, Head of Business Marketing at Hearst explains how they have adapted their strategy to focus on more regular and valuable communication with clients.
What made you want to work in the publishing industry
I have a tremendous respect for journalists; it’s been an honour and a pleasure to work with many of them. The media plays a vital role in modern society and I am proud to do my small part to make sure that quality journalism thrives. Magazine journalism, in particular, can bring important issues to light in real, relatable human terms, spurring groundswells of change. Of course, magazine brands also provide much needed escapism - it’s such a pleasure to lose oneself in the pages of a whimsical fashion spread!
I am unsurprisingly a massive media consumer, so it seemed only natural to work in the industry. I’ve got several newspaper, weekly news magazine and trade magazine subscriptions and even before I joined the company I read quite a few of the Hearst titles each month. I still get excited when the new issues hit newsstands.
Chart your career from the start to where you are now.
I started my career in PR at an agency in New York City where I came to understand the media landscape quickly and soon found that I was often acting as a one-woman marketing department for many of my clients, thinking about digital and social media content and strategy for them. So, it was natural to transition into marketing, first in a digital role, then as a generalist at VEVO and later leading the team at The Associated Press, before joining Hearst.
I think the red thread that has joined all of my work experience together has been that I really like to work at companies that are producing best-in-class content; it’s always easier to market what you believe in.
How have you adapted Hearst’s B2B marketing strategy as the coronavirus crisis has developed?
For Hearst, the current climate means that our mission - to help people get more out life - is more relevant than ever. Our audiences’ and our clients’ lives have all changed dramatically in the past weeks and we know that Hearst audiences continue to rely on us for positive, helpful, life-affirming and life-improving content. We know what they are searching for, what they are engaging with, what they are buying and how to support them as we all weather this difficult time, which means that Hearst is an especially valuable to partner now for our B2B clients.
We’ve adapted our business marketing strategy to focus on much more regular and valuable communication with clients, giving them up-to-date insights to fuel their business decisions as well as sending them some of the most positive stories across all of our brands in the hopes that our content can influence their personal lives in a positive way, too.
*Highlight two or three pieces of positive content that Hearst brands have created in recent weeks that have been featured in the new Positivity Post newsletter. *
There are so many good ones! A few of my personal favourites from the Positivity Post recently include:
What kind of content are you finding is getting the highest engagement?
We’ve seen a lift in engagement across the board. Traffic across Hearst UK for March is up 11% year-on-year and has seen a 12% increase month-on-month. Some of our brands like Esquire, Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Delish and Prima have recorded their highest ever audience numbers.
Positivity is more important to our audiences now more than ever and as you might expect we are seeing really high rates of engagement with our content that is most relevant to them as they now stay home. Running content is up +24%, wellbeing content is up +42%, family stories are up 72% and homes and interiors coverage is up +29%.
What industry-related thing has been on your radar?
The world seems upside down at the moment so it’s a bit hard to predict what the future might hold but my focus, and what I’m always thinking about, is how to bring Hearst, as a B2B brand, to life in a way that is meaningful for our clients.
Too often publishers can be reduced to numbers and while those numbers are important, we are always looking for ways for our clients to feel the magic of Hearst brands on a personal level. It’s really interesting to work for a company with such a wide range of brands and one opportunity for us has been to get our diverse client base engaged with more of our brands, including the ones they might not naturally gravitate to.
For example, I’m sure there are a few young media planners who may not have spent much time with Good Housekeeping, so they may not realise the wealth of informative, helpful and unique content GH produces. They may also not realise the immensity and importance of the GH audience, which has trusted the brand for decades.
Another priority is making sure the market understands the full suite of solutions Hearst offers. Over 100 years ago Hearst started as a print publisher, but today we are so much more. We are a premium content and experiences business with a range of diversified marketing services, including events, brand licensing, accreditation and content marketing, which are all underpinned by a massive digital network with a valuable data offering.
What top tips do you have for working from home?
Scheduling! After feeling a bit unmoored at first, I decided to plan out my day, hour by hour, from 7am to 9pm. It sounds a little intense, but I think it really helps to structure the days and it means that I make sure to take time away from my laptop screen. I also have daily video check-ins with my team, just to say hello and keep the feeling of camaraderie going.
What magazine would you stockpile?
Can I pick two? Harper’s Bazaar to introduce me to so many of the beautiful, interesting things in the world and Good Housekeeping to help me enjoy the comforts of my home as much as possible.