What Does a Magazine Editor-in-Chief Do, Anyway?
I recently attended a Speaking From Experience lecture presented by BYOBiz: Entrepreneurship at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. Director of BYOBiz, Bob Bloch, called in lifelong friend Jessie Price, who took her experience in media selling and a passion for food and turned it into a profession at EatingWell.
Due to her positive energy, hard work, and recipe for success (below), she became the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) at EatingWell quite some time after her father originally told her out of college, “If you don’t know what you’re doing—any path will get you there.”
EatingWell, “where good taste meets good health,” has gone from a Vermont-published small-circulation magazine to a robust multi-media platform in the past decade. It combines nutritious recipes from dietitians with the best story-telling content from prestigious food-writers across the globe. It specializes in variety and diversity, featuring recipes for at-home-chefs of all skill levels and with various time constraints, stories about seasonal ingredients and meals prepared all around the world, and considers its audiences’ dietary restrictions and how the food industry affects the environment and your family. When Price became EIC in 2013, after climbing up the ladder from recipe tester to food editor, she also wanted to celebrate EatingWell‘s Vermont roots.
I can’t tell Price’s story without giving a little more background on EatingWell:
EatingWell was founded 20 years ago in Charlotte, Vermont. After shutting the door for a brief period, the magazine resumed and reassessed its business plan before increasing its digital presence in 2006. Today, EatingWell is more than a magazine. EatingWell Media Group, part of the Meredith Corporation since 2011, is a fast-growing communications company that produces an award-winning national consumer magazine, high-quality food- and nutrition-related books, a content-rich website, an engaging social media presence, e-mail newsletters, and serves content to strategic partners with other electronic media. It’s pretty incredible the leaps and bounds they’ve taken in the past decade.
Since my freshman year of college, I have said my dream job was to be an EIC of a reputable magazine, but until Price’s in-depth presentation, I never truly knew what an EIC at a far-reaching magazine did.
As EIC of EatingWell, Price is responsible for:
Being the Brand Leader. — Forecast where the brand is going and determine the style, look and tone of the EatingWell brand
Leading the Editorial Team. — Run the editorial lineup, determine issue themes, and work with the creative director to pair up the best written and visual content
Working with the Advertising Sales and Circulation Teams. — Price travels with the teams to form partnerships with various companies for advertising and distributing. Depending on an issue’s theme, she will reach out to different companies to advertise. For example, if the issue has a 12-page feature on Italian fare, she would reach out to companies that make pasta or marinara sauce.
Choosing the Cover! — The most fun part, according to Price, is when she gets to pick the most eye-catching cover image that drives the magazine’s newsstand sales. She also gets to manage cover tests on Facebook as well as a digital platform that generates a heat map of a panel’s responses to various cut-lines and features on the cover.
Reinventing the Magazine. — Price can adjust the look and feel of the magazine by suggesting reordering or redesigning pages and adjusting features. Anytime things don’t fit or feel outdated, she’s open to trying something new!
Reading Letters from the Readers. — She loves reading tenderhearted letters from the readers in response to her letter from the editor or any other features in the magazine. She really loves hearing that she’s part of a reader’s morning coffee, or inspired them to cook a featured dish and eat like a king (or queen)!
Price wrapped up her presentation with her secret recipe for success. The thing I liked most about her list was that it was original, but it’s things I’ve heard or experienced before and could really see the benefit of her message.
Jessie Price’s Recipe for Success:
Get Lucky: “Many women say that they get lucky when it comes to work,” said Price. Even in her case, it was kind of true, but not without a lot of hard work, a range of experiences and the rest of her recipe for success. When Price says get lucky, she really means: network. Leaving positive small impressions can turn into BIG rewards. Take advantage of personal connections, “Like your sister who works at EatingWell,” specified Price, who was initially invited by her sister to work as a recipe tester at EatingWell way back when while on recess from her job out west. Then, later on, she was asked back to stay on full-time by a former colleague she made an impression on. From there she gradually worked her way up the latter.
Take Pride in Your Work: I loved hearing this as something Price values. Taking pride in my work is something I’ve always had on my resume and LinkedIn ‘about me’. It’s a message I learned from my father, who always took pride in his work as an electrician. Price noted, “No matter what it is, take pride in your work.” Any line of work will teach you something, and if you do it well and are recognized, the accomplishment leads to bragging rights on your resume (or on that section of your Google+ profile you never know what to put).
Jump In and Get it Done!: Say yes to anything. No task is below you, not even scrubbing floors or toting coffee around the office. Prove your worth. Taking on the extra work will show character, drive and aptitude. “In my time as interim Editor-in-Chief I was asked to spearhead the creation of one of EatingWell‘s cookbooks,” Price recalled. “It resulted in a lot of late nights and stress, but now my name is on a couple cookbooks and I’m no longer the ‘interim‘ Editor-in-Chief.”
Get Along with People: Plain and simple, “Don’t be the pain-in-the-ass in the office.” Learn to get along with different types of people—creative or techie, serious or jokesters, introverts or extroverts.
Don’t Follow the Money: “Just get a foot in the door and work your butt off. If the money doesn’t follow, than the job offers will,” ensured Price. If you’re good at what you do, people will recognize that.
Follow Your Passion!: Do something, ANYTHING, related to your passion to put on your resume. You can’t just say “I’m passionate” about something, you have to show it with examples. For example, I’m passionate about fitness. What did I do? I got certified to instruct group fitness classes. I work part-time at a gym. I plan corporate and community wellness events. Plus, I consult for various clients that own gyms or start-up companies in the fitness industry.
Now go cook that up! Mmmm, success tastes good.