Who Michele Promaulayko
Current gig Editor in chief of Cosmopolitan and editorial director of Seventeen
Previous gig Editor in chief, Yahoo Health
Adweek: Right around the time that you were named editor of Cosmopolitan, E! began filming a docuseries about the magazine, So Cosmo [premiering Feb. 8]. What was it like getting this huge job and then immediately being on a reality show?
Michele Promaulayko: It was next-level insane. It was kind of just a trial by fire, you just get thrown in. That's Cosmo—everything's done in big fashion—but it was kind of crazy.
Did you know that you were going to be part of a TV show when you signed on to become editor?
Well, it's funny … Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I knew about it from having read about it, but it wasn't something that factored largely into the conversation. So it was a little head-spinning, but it's such a great opportunity for our brand and also for the brands that work with us. And, I mean, what brand wouldn't die to have this? But it's a lot in your first eight weeks. It's not like they were following me around all the time—I'm peripheral [to the story]—but they were here.
You recently spent a year and a half at Yahoo. How does that experience factor into what you're doing at Cosmo, where the digital and print sides are mostly separate?
One of the things that we're doing is trying to create a little bit more fluidity between the two sides. They've been siloed for good reason. [Digital] needs to produce the abundance of content that they're producing and not be beholden to what we're doing. But we now want to help them produce content, so we're being all trained on the CMS. We have a close relationship; we talk to them all the time, we're planning stories to do together.
What did you learn working for a digital-first brand that you're applying to your new role?
One of the things I learned is how to look at a conversation or a news story that's happening and figure out what germ you're going to take from it and what you can expand on that hasn't been talked about enough. When I was working for Yahoo Health, there might be a story that on the face of it didn't seem like a health story, but if you dug down you could find something about it that was related to health. The ability to generate ideas at the drop of a hat is something that's always going to be important for content creation no matter where that content is going to live.
What kinds of changes are you bringing to Cosmo as far as editorial coverage?
I want to bring my authority and experience in wellness to the pages of Cosmo, not just because it's my experience lately but because it's such an important topic to millennial women and to everybody. The wellness coverage will be more 360, so mental health in addition to fitness, nutrition, sexual health, et cetera, because our readers tell us all the time they're looking for ways to decompress. So that's definitely an area of expansion.
From Helen Gurley Brown to Joanna Coles, Cosmo is known for having editors with very strong points of view. What do you want your Cosmo to be known for?
You know, that's a great question. I think that relationships have never been trickier to navigate than they are now with the advent of apps and even the increased acceptance of sexual fluidity and expression of that. And Cosmo has always been first and foremost a relationship guide. So while there are a lot of other peripheral things I want to do, if I can be a go-to guide for young women to help them navigate healthy, satisfying relationships, I would think that would be a huge accomplishment.
This story first appeared in the January 16, 2017 issue of Adweek magazine.