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September 22, 2021

Publishing News

Fortune Names First Female Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell, who since 2016 has been editor-in-chief of Business Insider, has been named editor-in-chief of Fortune. She is the 92-year old brand's first female EIC. In her new role, she will oversee all the content on Fortune’s multimedia platforms—including the magazine, the website, our newsletters, our executive conferences, video, podcasts, and our new Fortune Connect platform for next-generation leaders. Fortune’s former editor-in-chief, Clifton Leaf, is stepping down from the role. Deputy editor Brian O’Keefe has served as acting editor-in-chief in the interim. WSJ: Shontell's hire is "a bid to expand the business magazine’s online readership and revenue"... Fortune has about 40K digital subscribers -- "a fraction" of its total 500K paid circulation, which has shrunk about 30% since 2016, per ABC data... [CEO Alan] Murray said Fortune expects to turn a profit this year and generate about $100M of revenue, close to a third of which will come from digital subscriptions and digital advertising. Print advertising and subscriptions account for close to one-third, as does the company’s conference business, Murray said. Shontell said she sees possibilities to bolster Fortune’s digital business, including striking deals to syndicate Fortune articles outside its paywall on websites such as Yahoo or MSN and launching an e-commerce initiative, which could include reviews, guides and other product-focused articles. She said that increased digital readership could be monetized through additional programmatic, or automated, advertising on the magazine’s website"... The Wrap: "Fortune, which was purchased by Chatchaval Jiaravanon in 2018, expects a 74% increase in digital revenue in 2021 compared to 2020 and a 121% increase since 2019. The site launched a redesigned print magazine, website and app last year"...

Opinion: Former Ebony Exec's SEC Charges Shouldn't Hinder Current Relaunch
MediaPost's Rob Williams writes: "The Securities and Exchange Commission this week charged several people, including the former owner of Ebony,with raising money for marijuana businesses and using the funds for other purposes. The worst part about the case is that it comes at a time when the magazine is looking to rebuild its brand under a new owner. Willard Jackson, the former CEO and part owner of Ebony, was among those accused of participating in a crowdfunding scheme that raised about $2M to buy real estate to lease to cannabis growers. Instead, they diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars for their personal benefit, according to the complaint. Jackson was forced out of Ebony Media last year after its board had accused him of unapproved financial transactions and trying to take control of the company. Creditors later forced the publisher into bankruptcy, an unfortunate setback for the storied publication that chronicled the experiences of generations of African Americans... It’s too early to tell whether the SEC’s case will ever go before a jury, or more likely, be settled out of court. The outcome shouldn’t tarnish Ebony, which former NBA star Junior Bridgeman last year acquired for $14 million.
His daughter, Eden Bridgeman Sklenar, leads the venture, which also includes Jet magazine. Since relaunching this year, Ebony’s expansion efforts include a partnership with Bloomberg Media to create original content and cross-promote it through digital channels.
As major advertisers and agencies pledge to allocate more of their media budgets to Black-owned media, Ebony has an opportunity to boost revenue by expanding its audience and rebuilding its brand."

People en EspaƱol's Virtual 'Festival En Casa' Returns
Release: People en Español's Festival En Casa event, timed during Hispanic Heritage Month, will be virtual again this year. It is scheduled for Oct. 15 (7-9 pm EST). Speaker topics will include film, television, beauty, community initiatives, and health and wellness. Interviews will include television host Don Francisco and actor/activist Roberto Manrique, and actor/producer Guy Ecker. TV presenter Alejandra Espinoza will offer beauty tips, and actress Dayanara Torres will offer Latin recipes. Singer/composer Elysaniji and actress/singer Marjorie de Sousa will be among the performers.

Reliance on Social Media for News Down Slightly
MediaPost: 48% of media consumers say they "regularly" get news from social media-- down from 53% in 2020,according to a new Pew Research study...The social media report had 11,178 panelists responding out of 12,632 who were sampled, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points. The survey was conducted from July 26 through August 8, 2021.Facebook continues to command a high level of U.S. adults as the place where they “regularly” get their news -- now at 31%, down from 36% in 2020. Regular usage is defined as getting news content “often” or “sometimes.” Among other social media platforms, YouTube is next, with 22% of all U.S. adults who are regular users of the site for news. This is followed by Twitter at 13%; Instagram, 11%; TikTok, 6%; Reddit, 7%; LinkedIn, 4%; Snapchat, 4%; WhatsApp, 3%; and Twitch, 1%.Looking at the overall percentage of those who used a social media site -- for any reason -- Twitter gets the best results for news consumption, with 55% of its users saying they regularly used the platform to get their news, followed by Facebook at 47%, Reddit with 39% and YouTube at 30%"...


Retail News

Albertsons Launching Livestreamed 'Shoppertainment' Video
SN: "Albertsons Cos. has partnered with immersive video specialist Firework to enable “shoppable,” TikTok-like video content across its online retail properties.Plans call for Albertsons to use Firework’s “shoppertainment” platform to begin deploying short videos and cooking experiences on the websites of its more than 20 supermarket banners, with expanded offerings and content rolling out in 2022, Redwood City, Calif.-based Firework said Wednesday. The technology is designed to bring online shoppers a community-oriented experience via shoppable short-form and livestream video. The nation’s second-largest supermarket operator, Albertsons marks the first U.S. grocer to adopt the Firework platform, Firework noted. The Boise, Idaho-based retailer operates 2,278 retail food and drug stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under such banners as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market. “This partnership is an important step in Albertsons Cos.’ digital transformation journey to redefine customer engagement in the grocery retail space,” Chris Rupp, chief customer and digital officer at Albertsons, said in a statement. “This isn’t just about creating new ways to feature our products. This is about bringing delight and inspiration to digital shopping to make online experiences as fun as discovering new products in our stores,” he added. Firework’s platform enables users to create, host and curate immersive short-form and livestream video on any website. That capability, the company said, allows any retailer, direct-to-consumer brand, media publisher or business to own, engage and monetize a community around short-form video. Firework reported that its short-form, shoppable videos generate 30% add-to-cart rates, versus an industry standard of less than 8%, while live shopping on a website boosts purchase completion fourfold.The “swipeable, shoppable” interactive technology lets consumers engage directly with brand and product videos, Firework said. At the same time, on-site hosting gives businesses direct access to consumer data and monetization opportunities from their shoppable video content. Retailers, too, can sell “digital shelf space” — in the form of video ads — to brands that they carry, creating another revenue stream, Firework added"... Grocery Dive: "Albertsons wants to replicate the immersive experience it presents in its physical stores to people who shop online, company officials said. The goal is to present people with customized videos, including livestreams, that motivate them to make purchases by introducing them to products, highlighting recipes and showing them how to prepare and store items they buy, according to the grocer."While the pandemic allowed for rapid acceleration of both development and adoption of digital for groceries, we are seeing stickiness in customer behavior, especially when they are presented with the right experience and content on digital platforms," Usman Humayun, Albertsons' vice president of digital marketing and omnichannel growth, said in emailed comments"...

Retail Workers Face Growing Threats of Violence
RetailWire: "Disturbing stories about customers confronting retail employees, sometimes violently, have been unfortunately growing in frequency in the U.S. for a number of years, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. One reporter recently attributed this escalation to an old retail truism she finds ill-suited to today’s world. The retail mantra that “the customer is always right” has led to a sense of entitlement sometimes culminating in violence, journalist Avery Hartmans argued in a recent Business Insider article. Hartmans retells a series of alarming pandemic-era anecdotes about retail employees being threatened, assaulted and even killed over mask mandates. The article draws a connection between’s “Customer Obsession,” an ethos which focuses operations on customers getting exactly what they want, when they want it, and some shoppers’ dangerous sense of being unable to do wrong while in-store. While customers defiant over mask mandates are an ongoing source of retail-related violence, there are other examples of customers becoming violent over not getting what they want... The growth of organized retail theft is yet another source of potential violence against retail employees"...

Former Apple Retail Exec Touts 'Commerce at Home'
RetailWire: "Ron Johnson, the former CEO of J.C. Penney (that didn’t go well) who also ran Apple’s retail business and was vice president of merchandising at Target (two resume burnishers), thinks the retail industry is moving toward a major disruption arising out of technological advancements and a subsequent shift in the way consumers shop. He calls this paradigm shift “commerce at home” in an opinion piece published yesterday on Fortune. Johnson’s current venture, Enjoy, has been described as a “Genius Bar on wheels.” He called Enjoy “a personal commerce platform” when he launched the company in 2015... He thinks that stores will become less relevant as retailers are able to offer customers “the products they love accompanied by a high-touch, in-home experience tailored just for them.” He doesn’t believe that consumers will have to keep making the choice between convenience, a major benefit of current online shopping, and high-quality experiences, typically associated with stores. Commerce from home represents a logical progression from where retail stands now," he contends...


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