After Friday, I was a little disappointed with what BlogHer08 had to offer so far. I'd gone in 2007 and found more content to connect with (and more delicious food in Chicago!), and I felt a little lost. The swanky Westin St. Francis is big and beautiful, but a little of the close-knit bond of sisterhood was lost in its labyrinthine halls.
But then Saturday came and BAM! hit me like a hammer.
The morning's keynote absolutely fired me up. The subject was, "Hybrid Media," which is a bit cryptic, but was all about taking magazines and TV shows into the online world.
Among the round-table of successful women was Stacy Morrison, Editor-in-Chief from Redbook, and let me tell you, she totally kicked ass! Stacy really came out there on stage with complete honesty and transparency--she says she has "No personal boundaries at all"--and I loved that about her so much that I think I will become a Redbook subscriber. Seriously.
So, about Stacy: Redbook is a magazine that's been around for 104 years, so she had a lot of tradition and "that's the way we do it," mentality to deal with when, three and a half years ago, she was brought in to take Redbook "digital," whatever that meant.
This was all so new that there were really no rules, except one: don't piss off the loyal base of existing Redbook readers, over 10 million women, when you go online.
Stacy decided if she was going to do this, she was going to do it right, and she changed Redbook's online site, which was really not much to begin with, into a full blog platform. It still has two of the longest running online fiction blogs today.
Stacy felt it was important to be honest and open, which is very scary to the "old media" crowd. As she put it, even today old media wants to "find the answer and keep it," rather than going open platform and sharing information. But still, she says she was never told, "No, you can't do that." Sometimes, a lot of times, she had to wait and wait and wait to cut through the bureaucracy and the red tape of yanking Redbook into the digital world, but she was allowed to do it, and that's one thing she loves about her job and her company, that Hearst (the publishing company that owns Redbook) allowed her to experiment and find out what works in what she dubs, "The era of mistakes."
Originally, Redbook's blogs were on iVillage, but, again, Hearst likes to own what they can, so, as Stacy says, they hired bright young people with, "Designer jeans and complicated hair," to run everything on their own platform.
Now, Redbookmag.com is the second-largest magazine web company (of course, Oprah is the first. Naturally!). And, even with all the changes Stacy made, there has been no drop-off in readership or subscriptions, which is simply amazing, since the magazine is often seen as family-friendly and even a little too conservative, while the website is anything but that!
Stacy even has her own blog, in which she is extremely open. But she doesn't share everything about herself, not because she is ashamed or wants to hide, but because she respects the women readers who helped to put her where she is with their dedicated readership, and she doesn't want to offend them by going over the top talking about, for instance, all the sex she is having with her boyfriend these days.
By the way, Stacy asks that we occasionally buy a magazine, too, to help pay her salary! ; )
Along with Stacy on the stage were Essence Communications Director of Digital Development, Lesley Pinckney, and Bravo TV's Senior VP of New Media and Digital, Lisa Hsia.
These two women also made incredible headway in taking their networks digital. For example, Bravo had one of the first interactive polls for its Project Runway show, and 92% of the audience answered the poll! That's an amazing percentage, when even 10% feedback is considered a good response.
When asked if they used Twitter, Lesley Pinckney, who has worked on the Academy Awards, confided that, "Time Warner would like to OWN Twitter." She was also quite candid about the "Bullshit" one had to go through to introduce new technology.
As these women noted, "Every Monday you are either the hero or the goat," because of the risks they each take to make things happen. And yet they all agreed that they love their jobs and the ability to take those risks is a key factor in making their work so rewarding.
Talk about motivation!