By: Caysey Welton
Bauer Media Group has made no secrets about its love of print magazines. Evidence of that is its continued commitment to the newsstand and its aggressive strategy to keep launching new magazines. Over the past few years the company has been more than bullish about introducing new titles, which has worked out pretty well for them. Brands like Closer and Simple Grace, for example, have thrived on newsstands and gained recognition among industry pundits. But last year the company targeted an audience that some might think wouldn’t be all that interested in an old-school medium like print—female teens and tweens.
Last year, Bauer Media Group launched five newsstand titles specifically for that audience, and added to a portfolio that already included four magazines for that segment of readers. So what is the company going to do for an encore? Well, we caught up with editorial director, Brittany Galla, to find out and learn more about the audience she serves.
min: Tell us about some of your big wins over the past year and how you’re building on that momentum in 2017.
Brittany Galla: Without a doubt, 2016 was a big year for us! In one year, our team launched five new magazines: Puzzle Fun, J-14 Decorate, Star-tastic Coloring Book, Girls’ World’s Bake It Up and Dot Dot Dot (on top of working on our four other publications, J-14, QuizFest, Girls’ World and Animal Tales).
J-14 Decorate was even selected as one of the 30 Hottest Launches by Samir Husni, which was a big win for us— and a welcomed surprise!
Launching so many magazines successfully in 2016 gives me confidence that we can do the same in 2017 and still succeed in the market.
min: What are the unique challenges do you face reaching your audience in a progressively more digital age?
Galla: There’s no doubt that our older tween and teen audience are plugged in on their phones. They get their news on J-14.com and follow all their favorite stars on social media—they are the most clued in audience we’ve ever had. It’s impressive, but I find the digital age to be incredibly helpful to me—and the team—to connect with our audience in ways we were never able to before. In a matter of seconds, I can get instant poll results on a poster, see what my readers are wearing to school that day (thanks to Instagram), see who they’re tweeting about and growing more interested in, and all in all, have this vital pipeline into what they’re thinking and doing at any moment. I love corresponding with our readers on social media and email—it’s a sense of a community.
So I don’t see this digital age as only a challenge; I see it as an opportunity to use different outlets to really connect with my readers, who always are at the forefront of my mind.
min: How have your readers changed in recent years?
Galla: I touched on this earlier, but we are definitely seeing our audience be completely in-the-know when it comes to celebrities. Thanks to social media, they’re able to see celebrity photos and entertainment news a lot faster than it was 10 or even five years ago. For this reason, we have to be really on the pulse with what we do, coming up with new and creative ways to present celebrity news in an entertainment-centered title like J-14.
And I think for Girls’ World, we’re seeing a lot of readers who are passionate about the world around them and what they can do to make it a better place. Whether it’s the current political atmosphere or just a feeling of girl power in general, our readers are really responding to empowering and meaningful content—and that’s really inspiring to see.
min: Conversely, what has remained a constant?
Galla: Teen and tween girls have always been savvy. They don’t like to be tricked and they’ll turn away from a magazine that tries to talk down to them. That’s why I’ve always seen a magazine like J-14 as the cool, big sister to readers—not the annoying know-it-all sister.
I also think our readers’ optimism has remained a constant. They pay attention to the news and they realize we’re living in a particularly volatile time, but they look to our magazine to be an escape, and we’re proud to provide that. It’s even an escape from the drama in their personal lives.
Bullies might be in their school hallway and on their Snapchat account, but the bully doesn’t follow them when they sit down to read our magazines. So I think they still look for that loyal escape, that friend, and I’m happy we can be that for them.
min: Young people have so many distractions in their lives now, and several ways to consume media, how does print fit into that equation? Is your audience as passionate about ink and paper as they are digital mediums?
Galla: Social media is great, but you can’t print out a poster of your favorite celebrity or TV show/movie from your phone that’s going to be good quality. Even with a computer and printer it’s still going to be smaller paper size and not great. With our magazines, posters are a huge sell for us that our audience is still very passionate about. They love tearing them out and putting them on their walls or lockers. We get tons of photos of girls whose rooms are decked out with our posters.
Besides posters, we worked really hard on our magazines to give readers content that is unique to paper and not something they can get online as quickly.
So for example, in J-14 Decorate, you’ll see pages like beautiful gallery wall images that they can assemble into a gorgeous gallery wall for their rooms with our directions, and grid sheets where they can actually “play designer” and fit furniture different ways in a room. And in Bake It Up, you’ll find cut-out recipe cards, helpful conversion charts for the kitchen and even placemats for them to use.
min: What has you excited about magazine media in 2017? And more specifically, the brands you oversee?
Galla: Creativity! Magazine publishers are truly thinking outside of the box for 2017, and that’s exciting to see. We’re seeing new avenues to reach our audiences, as well as connect with audiences we haven’t reached before. Specifically for the brands I oversee, I’m excited to continue our growth and reach even more readers this year.