The May 25 issue of Newsweek marks the magazine's rebirth in both content and strategy. It includes a heightened focus on analysis, less space for news recaps, and a new layout. Its business model is also revamped, with plans for cutting guaranteed circulation from 2.6 million to 1.5 million by next January and raising subscription and newsstand rates. For the subjects of articles, the changes mean more thorough examinations in the magazine, stories with a longer lifespan online, and a more targeted audience.
“Although it's important that we're Newsweek, and the title suggests we're looking at the news of the week, we need to be of the news, not imprisoned by the news,” says Mark Miller, the magazine's editorial director. He adds that photography and graphics will also play a bigger role in storytelling.
“We're being creative with the ways to treat issues,” he adds. “There are a number of ways to look at stories – short-form stories, photos, [and] graphics.”
Therefore, PR pros will have to further analyze their pitches to Newsweek, Miller says.
“Sending us an idea about a potential expert is probably not that helpful,” he notes. “We're looking for ideas that are more fully formed,” such as an argument on a topic or how a new product addresses a larger issue.
“We need people to think more creatively about how to tell stories,” he says.
Bill Zucker, MD of the media practice at Burson-Marsteller, says an emphasis on analysis could mean fewer Newsweek placements for clients, but a more in-depth look when they do come through.
“It should be an opportunity to [get] a story that, in the end, will be a high-quality story with a lot of opportunity to deliver a message,” he says.
Newsweek.com also underwent a facelift on May 15. It now features aggregated content from other outlets. There are also highlighted comments and questions from readers both on the site and a Newsweek Twitter feed. Zucker notes these more interactive components could give a client's story legs.
“The strategy that we put together for a story and delivering a client's message won't end when the magazine hits the newsstands,” he says. “There's more opportunity to leverage a client's story online.”
Kathleen Deveny, assistant managing editor at the magazine, explains in a May 18 issue article that the smaller audience will whittle the Newsweek circulation down to a “more devoted, slightly more affluent audience.” Some PR pros deem the smaller circulation an asset.
“It's on some level micro-marketing,” says Nick Ragone, SVP at Ketchum. “The world we live in is a more diffused media world. For the right brands, it's going to be more targeted and right for them.”