Ellen Levine, Hearst Magazines

Ellen Levine

Staying Relevant

Editors’ Note

Ellen Levine became the first-ever Editorial Director for Hearst Magazines in July 2006. She made publishing history in October 1994 when she became the first woman to be named Editor-in-Chief of Good Housekeeping since the magazine’s inception in 1885. Before this appointment, Levine served as Editor-in-Chief of two other major women’s magazines – Redbook and Woman’s Day – and as a senior editor of Cosmopolitan. While at Woman’s Day, she was also Senior Vice President of Hachette Magazines, Inc. In January 2004, Levine was inducted into the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame by ASME and the Magazine Publishers of America.

Company Brief

A unit of Hearst Corporation, Hearst Magazines (www.hearst.com), is one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with 20 U.S. titles and close to 300 international editions. The company also publishes 19 magazines in the United Kingdom through its wholly owned subsidiary, Hearst Magazines U.K.

How do you keep things so fresh, and what is the secret editorially?

The secret is to have a terrific editor at the head of each of these magazines who understands we’re in a different day and age now. You cannot ride with the same point of view, writing style, image selection, and typography as you might have been able to even seven years ago.

Some of our magazines are 140-plus years old, and we constantly freshen the voice and graphics to keep them current.

This wasn’t a priority in the past, but the readership has changed and will continue to change.

How do you maintain an innovative edge?

Everybody has to realize that change is welcome now. Women don’t want a whole different life, but the way they live their lives has changed. They want to be happy and look great, and not worry about money and have healthy families, but the way they get these things has changed. Women are the change agents today.

What will keep print successful long term?

Relevancy. People have become accustomed to the quick delivery of information. Women in focus groups tell us they don’t have enough time and they need to be better organized. If you can package the information they want in a voice that is appealing and you can deliver across many different platforms – but you maintain the overall voice for the brand you’re working on – print will stay relevant.

It’s also still important for women to be able to tear out a piece of paper and take it with them.

What is it about Hearst that has kept you there?

The people who work here are smart, and if you want to talk to the CEO, you can and he listens.

It’s welcoming and there is a high level of honesty. I feel a lot more comfortable working with people who share the same goals, and who are upfront about everything.

Hearst is part of my family.

Are the opportunities growing for women in this industry?

They are greater than they have ever been. Women just need to know themselves. One of the best pieces of advice for all of us is to know what we’re terrific at and what we’re not, and hire to our own personal weaknesses, not to our strengths.

There is a deep-rooted need for communication – this will not go away. Journalism is communication and there are many forms of it.