How People Magazine is keeping up with the times

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Elisabeth Hall ’18

Past the World Trade Center, down on 225 Liberty Street, is the headquarters of People Magazine (People). Behind the doors of Time Incorporated (Time Inc.) is the office of People‘s publisher, Mrs. Karen Kovacs. As the publisher of one of the most circulated magazines in the world, Mrs. Kovacs understands the rapidly changing views of modern-day readers and the difficulties that accompany a male-dominated industry. 

Elisabeth Hall '18
Elisabeth Hall ’18

As a result of the shift in reading habits in today’s society, magazines such as People have changed their visual presentations and distributions of their published stories. Because contemporary subscribers are progressively reading less physical copies, People utilizes social media platforms, such as Snapchat, to tell its stories.
With the rise of social media in the twenty-first century, Snapchat is one of the most popular ways to receive information, especially among millennials. Platforms such as Snapchat differ greatly from physical magazines regarding the graphics, featured celebrities, and advertisements. Because of the need to serve consumers of all ages, People uses new mobile platforms to its advantage.
“Desktop changed everything from print to desktop, but now the growth of mobile has changed everything all over again to how we tell the story,”  Mrs. Kovacs said.
Because People is a for-profit business, it must attain revenue to keep its business thriving. One of the struggles, Mrs. Kovacs explained, is where and how advertisements appear to the public. On phone screens, small pop-ups and banners display advertisements, but they makminimal profit compared to the large page advertisements seen in physical magazines.
“As a company right now, we are trying to figure out what we can do to make up the difference,” Mrs. Kovacs said.
People not only takes advantage of social media, mobile and desktop, and physical magazines to tell its stories, but it also uses television as a way to display more content and advertisements.
People, as well as Entertainment Weekly (EW), has recently launched an Over the Top (OTT) network. An OTT network delivers television content over the Internet.  The OTT network will appear on platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon, providing People with yet another outlet for generating advertisements, thus attaining a greater revenue.
“Ten years ago, if People and EW were going to go into television, we might have launched a cable network. Now, people aren’t necessarily launching cable networks, they are launching apps,” Mrs. Kovacs said.  
Not only does Mrs. Kovacs know the difficulty of catering to all consumers, but in a society in which men still dominate high positions in the workforce, she understands the responsibilities and importance of being a female leader in the media industry.
Ever since Mrs. Kovacs has worked for People at Time Inc., there has always been a female Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, and Chief Executive Officer. In order to continue empowering and encouraging women to strive for these high positions, Time Inc. has started a women’s affinity group called Women at Time Inc.
“We really have the goal of enriching and engaging and empowering women at the company,” Mrs. Kovacs said.
Mrs. Kovacs believes that men and women should both be supportive of a diversified workforce because it will lead to more profitable results.
“Most of Time Inc.’s magazines cater to a female consumer, so having women be a part of the decision-making process and being a part of shaping the future is good business not only because of the different perspective, but also because she is our customer,” Mrs. Kovacs said.
In order to appeal to the female customer, Mrs. Kovacs believes that females should be the dominant force in the most vital areas of the magazine publication such as social media, communications, and the written stories. A sponsor and mentor to those around her, Mrs. Kovacs is constantly collaborating with her peers and colleagues to improve and enhance People every day.
“I think the words I use in particular for Time Inc. are important: enrich, engage, and empower women here to manage their careers,” Mrs. Kovacs said.
-Karina Badey, Staff Writer