Seventeen in 2017: How a 73-Year-Old Publication Keeps Up With Gen Z, Politics and News Feeds

'Magazines don't drain their phone batteries'

Sources: Getty Images, Seventeen Magazine

Subscribing to Seventeen magazine is a rite of passage for many young readers. Luckily, between today’s ubiquitous variety of devices and platforms, the Hearst title has kept up with its evolving and savvy audience.

Lately, that’s meant not waiting for readers to come through their front door, but meeting them where they are.

“We’ve been able to evolve our content from just a flat article to a social-first visual version of that story,” said Kristin Koch, site director for Seventeen.com. “The instant conversations we’re able to have with our audience inform our content on all our platforms.”

Seventeen’s Snapchat Discover channel, which will begin updating twice weekly next month, saw more than 10 million monthly unique views in November. Across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and musical.ly, Seventeen has an audience of nearly 12 million. Circulation for the bimonthly print publication is 2 million. Hearst, a privately owned company, doesn’t disclose revenue figures.

“Being a teen today is much different than it used to be,” said Koch. “We’re doing deeper dives into issues teens are facing like sexual assault on campuses or bullying online. At our heart, we’re a guide to being a teen and that continues to guide us.”

Like fellow youth-focused publication Teen Vogue, Seventeen has embraced the newest wave of teen activists who care about their world and want to participate in its future.

Seventeen’s digital strategy also borrows from today’s influencer culture. Editors and writers have become personalities known for their voice and coverage area: Bullet Journaling with Noelle is dedicated to diary-keeping, calligraphy and organization; Beauty Lab, a web series that invited Adweek to participate in, which is filmed Hearst’s new production studio, tests new trends or products in the beauty world.

All of that wouldn’t be possible without the legacy print publication, which turns 74 next year. The magazine’s readership reaches nearly 5 million women ages 12 to 24 with its five issues each year, not including its special prom issue in spring.

“There’s a lot of information coming at all of us from apps and websites, and a print magazine is a much more curated experience,” said executive editor Joey Bartolomeo. “It cuts out a lot of the noise, including the noise that comes from constant phone alerts.”

Still, Bartolomeo’s team uses breaking news as inspiration for bigger issue oriented stories affecting teens across the United States. Seventeen’s mission is to “help our readers figure out who they are, embrace that and feel confident,” said Bartolomeo. She highlighted the story of a girl who protested the Dakota Access Pipeline and the transgender teen who helped educate the magazine’s audience about the public bathroom debate.

“We know Gen Z appreciates authenticity, and that’s what Seventeen is about,” said Bartolomeo.

As for the print-digital divide, Bartolomeo remains energized by one fact: “Print magazines, unlike apps, don’t drain their phone batteries. And as we all know, there’s a lot to be said for that.”

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