St. Joseph Restructures Women's Titles
St. Joseph Media has announced what president Douglas Knight calls “a complete structural change” for its women’s publications in a continued attempt to make them less reliant on the legacy advertising approach.
The Toronto-based company announced Monday its women’s group, which is comprised of Fashion, Men’s Fashion, Weddingbells, Mariage Québec, Glow, Pure and Canadian Family, will utilize insights gained from its two-year-old content unit, Strategic Content Labs.
“We’re taking our largest group and creating a structure where we can provide solutions across the entire media ecosystem – [such as] creating more events and social media programs,” Knight told Marketing. “It’s a big structural change for how we approach the evolution of a traditional and very successful media brand.”
Knight said the focus was now on evolving its magazine brands across multiple platforms, pointing to the success of titles like Fashion in maintaining its print audience while simultaneously increasing its social media traction and successfully launching events such as the Toronto Fashion Week Awards.
“You’re not going to see dramatic changes to the print magazine per se, but what you will see are changes to how that magazine’s brand is deployed across all the platforms – the events we do, what our social media strategies look like,” said Knight. “We’ve been doing a lot of that, but this will accelerate it and take it to another level.”
There is a degree of urgency behind the move, with Knight saying 2016 had produced a decline in traditional advertising even more precipitous than the one experienced by publishers during the punishing 2008-09 recession.
“The general direction is not a huge surprise, but the downturn in Canada is much bigger than it is in the U.S. [where pages ad are down approximately 7% year-to-date],” said Knight. “The collapse in 2008-09 was the biggest we’d seen, but 2016 is even bigger.”
Knight said St. Joseph’s advertising pages as measured by MediaRadar had fallen approximately 17% year-to-date, though he noted those declines were less significant than some of its larger publishing counterparts. “We’re better than the other guys, but I’ll tell you, being down 17 points is not exactly good news,” said Knight.
Knight said the company’s forays into areas such as custom content are offsetting the declines in traditional advertising, which helped hasten the decision. “We know the other stuff we’re doing is really working, so how do we accelerate it for our traditional media brands,” he said.
The company also announced Jacqueline Loch, who joined the company last year as vice-president, content solutions, will head up the women’s group, taking over from former senior vice-president Lilia Lozinski.
Lozinski joined the St. Joseph team in 2001, when it acquired the former Multi-Vision Publishing – of which she was one of three founding partners. She began serving as SVP and group publisher of the company’s style group by 2006, assuming responsibility for the company’s women’s portfolio in 2008.
“I swear to God, Lilia is one of the best publishers I’ve ever worked with – she is an outstanding publisher,” said Knight. “What we need now is somebody with Jacqueline’s media ecosystem and content creation experience, which is different than the skillset of even the very best traditional publisher.”
Knight said last year’s decision to make former vice-president of digital Ken Hunt publisher of Toronto Life was a decision that “worked out extraordinarily well,” paving the way for incorporating more digital expertise into its senior management roles.
Loch joined St. Joseph from TC Media, where she worked as VP and group publisher for its English brands. She has also held several senior roles at Rogers Media, including leading the in-house strategic creative team for its brand portfolio across print, digital and broadcast.
She is also a board member of The Content Council in New York, and a frequent speaker on branded content initiatives, having created multi-platform solutions for a wide range of clients including Dior, Hudson’s Bay Company, L’Oréal Canada, Walmart and Canadian Tire.
Doug Kelly, currently senior VP and managing director of Strategic Content Labs, now assumes responsibility for the women’s group’s custom publishing projects, which include Expressions Acura Magazine.
It joins a group of existing custom titles including the Birk’s title 1879, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority’s Away Magazine, and CAA Magazine in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Asked what constitutes success for the new venture, Knight said it was about ensuring St. Joseph continued to attract advertiser investment in non-print channels.
“If you look at advertisers’ overall spending, it’s not declining,” said Knight. “What’s declining is their investment in traditional print advertising. What they’re doing is taking their budget and spreading it across the entire ecosystem, and we have to make sure that we have solutions for them.”