David Carey is Excited about 2013

It’s 2013, and David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, is excited. In a memo to staffers, Carey lays out the plan for the company in the coming new year, and highlights some things that have gone right.

The memo is massive, so we pulled some notable items out. After the highlights you can read Carey’s entire letter.

  • Hearst Magazines now has an impressive 800,000 monthly digital subscribers
  • Esquire is going to announce a “bold new partnership” that “will dramatically expand the Esquire franchise”
  • HGTV Magazine continues to be a hit, and will get bumped up to 10 issues per year
  • International business grew by 50 percent in 2012
  • Cosmopolitan for LatinasDelish and ELLE Accessories are all upping their publishing frequency this year, though no specifics were given
  • Hearst Magazines International is planning an additional 12 launches this coming year

Dear Colleagues,

Happy 2013! Welcome back after what I hope was a wonderful holiday break for each of you. If you were minding business at the office last week, I trust you also found it a peaceful place to be.

As we begin a new year, I want to take stock of our company’s accomplishments in the last year and look forward to what’s on tap for the coming one.

We have been thrilled by consumer response to the new print products we introduced, led most notably in the U.S. by HGTV Magazine and, globally, by 10 new Hearst international editions, including Esquire in Singapore and Colombia and Harper’s BAZAAR in Poland. We’re also enthused by the pace at which our content is ricocheting around an increasingly mobile world. At the end of 2011, we had 39 million monthly page views on mobile devices; by the end of 2012 that number had grown to 186 million.

But no question, 2012 will not be remembered as mellow in either media or meteorology.

Many of our businesses soared and produced record results. Others faced challenges, and the teams behind these brands have put in place fresh thinking for 2013. While in the past our businesses tended to move in unison—collectively, up or off—I believe that the variability and volatility of performance is here to stay, which puts a greater emphasis on the impressive can-do spirit and creativity of our teams.

Whether you were doing business in sunshine or in storm, so many of you pushed ahead—continuing the enormously imaginative work of expanding our company’s reach and influence. I want to thank all the teams that make Hearst Magazines great.

The barometer of our 2012 performance marked important developments. Our core print brands were honored with a raft of prestigious awards: three National Magazine Awards, total domination of Advertising Age’s A-List, including Magazine of the Year Marie Claire and Publisher of the Year Nancy Berger Cardone, numerous Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards, and an Adweek Hot List nod for HGTV Magazine.

More of our greatest brand hits last year:

ELLE had very strong growth in its first full year of Hearst ownership, gaining market share and becoming our second-largest business in the U.S.

HGTV Magazine, created in partnership with Scripps Networks, ended its first year with nearly 700,000 paid subscribers, producing average monthly newsstand sales of more than 250,000 and strong reception from advertisers. This year, the title will move to 10 issues annually.

Harper’s BAZAAR had a perfectly executed redesign that has been a hit with readers and advertisers, and Good Housekeeping introduced a new look and feel in its January issue, a front-to-back revamp driven by extensive consumer research and testing. Now under way: a dramatic restyling of Road & Track and a new direction for Redbook.

Marie Claire’s powerhouse publishing team delivered the most revenue ever in the magazine’s 18-year U.S. history.

Already the No. 1 epicurean magazine on the newsstand, Food Network Magazine had a sales jump of 18 percent last year and earned the top spot for ad pages in its category. Projected FNM circulation for 2013: 1.55 million.

In keeping with our UNBOUND positioning, we made impressive gains in digital media. By the end of the year, we counted nearly 800,000 monthly digital subscriptions in the U.S. across iPads, NOOKs, Kindle Fires and Android devices—the highest in the industry. Those subscriptions are now generating profits after 24 months of investment. And how exciting to see how this business is developing organically: More than 80 percent of our digital subscribers are new to our files, and their engagement levels meet or exceed the high levels we see from our print products.

We achieved important digital milestones all across the company:

The number of unique monthly visitors to our websites grew by more than 30 percent. Our brands have driven an explosion in social engagement with their audiences; Hearst has 7.7 million Facebook fans, 4.7 million Twitter followers and 5.5 million Pinterest followers, including the No. 1 brand on Pinterest,Harper’s BAZAAR.

Cosmopolitan doubled the size of its digital edit team in December, with the goal of reaching 20 million monthly unique visitors. The magazine also used a multi-pronged social media strategy engineered by iCrossing to welcome new editor in chief Joanna Coles: 18 million tweets announcing Joanna’s move were sent in just a few hours. (The brand is also active on the TV front: Watch for Cosmo as a star of a new Mark Burnett series debuting in February.)

Jumpstart, a key asset from our Lagadère acquisition, had the most profitable year in its history. Jumpstart grew to become the No. 3 website for auto shoppers, with more than 9.5 million monthly unique visitors.

Innovation flows in all directions in our halls: Hearst’s popular foodie destination Delish.com introduced a print special that was sold with the November editions of six titles at Wal-Mart, producing a 22 percent lift in single-copy sales.

We welcomed new faces last year and, in some cases, rearranged places. Chief Technology Officer Phil Wiser, who joined Hearst Corporation last January, quickly became a key resource for our technology teams. In addition to Joanna at Cosmo, we named three new editors in chief: Susan Spencer at Woman’s Day, Larry Webster at Road & Track and Anne Fulenwider at Marie Claire. We were also pleased to welcome Carine Roitfeld as global fashion director of BAZAAR, who, in an industry first, will create fashion editorial that will run in all 26 international editions of the magazine at the same time. This high-profile creative initiative with Carine is among my favorite rule-breakers of 2012 and paves the way for more global content sharing.

Benchmarking industry leadership took a number of creative forms at Hearst in 2012:

We created the Hearst Design Group by consolidating the editorial staffs of ELLE DECORHouse Beautiful and Veranda under Newell Turner’s leadership, bringing a streamlined, nimble, European publishing model to the U.S.

Again, in the spirit of not holding onto established orthodoxies, we changed the business models of some titles, including Woman’s Day and Veranda, shifts that have dramatically improved bottom-line performance.

You will see more brand extensions this year based on last year’s success; Cosmopolitan for Latinas,Delish and ELLE Accessories will all increase their frequency in 2013.

From its genesis as a column in Good Housekeeping7 Years Younger is now a book and a website with extensive social media presence—and the launch has been a collaborative effort across our company.

Always looking for new ways to connect with our readers, Hearst developed fresh, effective commerce initiatives last year, including ShopBAZAAR.com and the House Beautiful Marketplace, a partnership with HSN.

After a year of close collaboration, the Cosmopolitan Collection debuted in September in 700 jcpenney stores nationwide. At year’s end, consumer sales were running more than $1 million per week. (Operating as entrepreneurs entails taking chances: Our 2011 partnerships CLAD and Gifting Grace were discontinued. There will be some swings and some misses—we learn and move forward.)