From helping to found Facebook, helping elect Obama and helping define the future of publishing, Chris Hughes has never been shy in taking on a challenge, and perhaps The New Republic is his biggest one yet.
The New Republic is one of the oldest and most prestigious US magazines. Published continuously since 1914, in recent years it has been losing circulation (like many magazines), advertising and that all important "buzz."
That was until Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and architect of Obama’s social media strategy in '08, arrived in early 2012 as the new owner/publisher of The New Republic. Chris set to work with a team to remake the magazine into a "future-focused" media venture reflecting the intersection of new media, social media and traditional media.
Given the challenges facing traditional visitor guides, published by destinations since the early 20th century, the lessons and changes facing The New Republic are timely and pertinent.
Four major highlights of the new The New Republic stand out, suggesting how any magazine or visitor guide needs to remake itself in the new media age.
Adding an Edge
Covering weighty subjects in an engaging even fun way – as Chris Hughes notes “it shouldn't be homework” – The New Republic reflects an eclectic selection of content and topics. For the latest edition this includes an irreverent look at top city lists so cherished by destinations, asking the question: "Why do we keep anointing "it" cities?
Given the challenges facing traditional visitors guides, the lessons and changes facing The New Republic are timely and pertinent.
Seamless Multi-Device, Multimedia Experience
As recent research from Google's "The Multi-Screen World" highlights, consumers are increasingly using multiple devices - mobile, tablet, desktop - separately or together. This also includes a print publication as an important part of this multimedia experience. Therefore the tight integration of online/offline content interaction is now critical. This includes deliverying content in different formats and styles for different devices (e.g. rich editorial and images for print, video and audio editions of an article online) and cross-device syncing. This allows consumers to start and end an article across multiple platforms.
Track Metrics that Matter
Hughes stresses the importance of continually measuring and managing against meaningful analytics. This includes using engagement measures (incl. Time on Site/Page Views per Visit, Shares & Comments) as far more important results than simply raw traffic numbers. Identifying even more significant goals that are strongly indicative of the most interested consumers (e.g. actual "Signals of Intent to Travel" such as checking rates/availability or viewing detailed event information) is the next, even more meaningful measure. Then use these results to continually assess and refine your publication.
Holding Onto Heritage While Making It Contemporary & Timely
The New Republic has attempted to balance this new with the old, attempting to convey both a sense of continuity and important traditions while at the same time remaking itself as still useful and relevant - a "future-focused" publication that can last another 100 years.
Put simply, this is also the challenge facing the official print visitor guide, which has also seen 100+ years of publication in some destinations - and indeed, Destination Marketing Organizations in general.
- New Republic Web Site
- New York Times Video Interview with Publisher - Chris Hughes
- New York Times Article on The New Republic's Redesign
- Reaction and Opinion on The New Republic in the Poynter Institute’s site.
- Google Research "The Multi Screen World"