The 60-second interview: Meredith Rollins, Redbook editor in chief
CAPITAL: How have readers responded to “Shop Redbook” technology, which allows you to take a picture of a magazine page with your smartphone and get a screen full of images and magazine-approved links to content?
ROLLINS: It lets them shop a bunch of the under-$50 products, which is one of our most popular parts of the magazine. They can save them to wish lists and share them with friends and get discounts and that kind of thing. We know that our readers shop on mobile, as almost everybody does, but a particularly high percentage of our readers do. It’s answering a call that they want: being able to find stuff that they love from the magazine and buy it by using their phone. It just debuted earlier this year...it’s growing.
CAPITAL: Last month, Hearst announced CosmoBody, its first online subscription video service. What might a digital video channel for Redbook look like?
ROLLINS: One of the things that we found with our readers is that they love how-to’s so much. Last September, we had a special section called “Style School” that sort of went into easy style tricks, but really a lot of basic stuff, like four different ways to tie a scarf, and different things to wear belts with….It got a great reader response. And then in May, we had “Beauty School,” which was basically the same thing, it was the basics of beauty, and that was hugely successful with our readers and also with advertisers. It was one of biggest issues of the year and actually our biggest May issue for a long, long time. So we know our readers want that information. They want how-to, tutorial content about stuff they really care about. That’s like easy beauty, how to put together a great outfit, how to make their homes look beautiful, no matter what their budget is. For me, ideally, we would have some kind of channel that really gives them that step by step information in a way that works into their lives in a really seamless way.
CAPITAL: Are the days of your “One Stylish Mother” blog over now that you’re editor in chief of Redbook? Where should we turn to for comfortable fashion tips?
ROLLINS: There’s still plenty on the website from other editors and contributors. I love doing the blog. It was something that I started up not because the web team was beating down my door. I really wanted to do it. It was really, really fun. And fashion week in February, I was blogging up a storm, and it was great. I have not done it for a while, it is true. I’ve been focused on getting my sea legs here, and I would like to think that I will go back to it...when I have a little bit more time on my hands and I’ve gotten more comfortable in the job. I was trying to figure out a couple of fall things to buy, and I was like, what did I love from the fall shows? Let me go back and look at my blog. It turns out it was actually quite useful.
CAPITAL: In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Hearst Magazines president David Carey said that magazines across the company share resources. What does that mean for Redbook?
ROLLINS: We already do because Jayne Jamison, our publisher, is publisher of both Redbook and Seventeen. So it’s worked out really, really well for us...Our September issue is up 7 percent. And she’s amazing, and she’s great, and she has a really great global view of the brand and a million and one ideas, and is a great partner for me. I think it’s just the ethos over here at Hearst. Going back to online, we do posts from Cosmo and Popular Mechanics, they take stuff from us. So there’s a real sharing mentality, and I think it works for the benefits of all the different brands.