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Exclusive: Rodale Forms New Digital Squad

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Men’s Health and Prevention publisher Rodale has created a new digital team and named its apps guru Matt Bean to a new position, reflecting its view that once-exploratory digital products have become a high-growth business for the company.
 
Bean, 32, is now associate vp of mobile, social and emerging media, reporting to Ken Citron, COO and CIO. He’ll work with a newly created general digital management team to align mobile and social media efforts with the company’s business objectives. He’ll also work on the company’s mobile, gaming, video and social media initiatives.
 
Rodale is the latest traditional media company to organize itself around digital product development for the iPad and other mobile platforms, as print ad revenue softens.
 
Bean said the changes would let Rodale better coordinate best practices that have come out of its individual brands.
 
“We’ve always known digital was important,” Bean said. “We’re making it a part of the company’s DNA now. We haven’t hired 20 developers like Hearst has. We’ve worked closely as a team, finding the best solution for our brands. That isn’t going to change. What is going to change is the prominent role [digital] has at the company.”
 
As brand editor at Men’s Health and Women’s Health, Bean launched more than 40 mobile apps and oversaw the company’s first iPad apps as well as its first videogame, YourShape: Fitness Evolved.
 
The iPad isn’t the only area of digital focus for the company. Along with the reorg, Rodale released its first e-book-only title, The Six-Pack Secret, under the Men’s Health brand, for $9.99. Bean pointed to e-books, as well as other higher-priced mobile apps like its $8 Cook This Not That!, as a big part of Rodale’s strategy in 2011.
 
“I’m not interested in putting out $1.99 apps anymore,” he said. “You want to maximize the number of people you reach. You also want to complement the products you have elsewhere. With 350,000 apps in the [Apple iTunes] store, it’s a risk to develop a $2 app and accomplish both of those goals.”
 
Relatedly, Rodale named three execs to new roles, reflecting their involvement with the general digital management team: Sean Nolan was promoted to vp, general manager, Rodale Digital; John McCarthy was named svp, circulation and audience development; and Todd Leiser was appointed svp, business intelligence. All report to Gregg Michaelson, president of integrated marketing and sales and CMO.
 
Finally, James Kreckler was promoted to vp, digital sales, reporting to Mary Murcko, evp, group publisher.