Sports Illustrated's Rapid Response to Coronavirus's Transformation of the Sports Scene
Adweek: "Editors at Sports Illustrated had just nearly put the magazine to bed when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11. From there, the game that pitted Gobert’s team against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed and, soon after, the NBA suspended its 2019-2020 season indefinitely. Suddenly, SI’s upcoming magazine issue, with a cover featuring an NBA star and a focus on the playoffs (which editors may use later), wasn’t very timely. “It became very clear that we had to change gears at the last minute,” said Stephen Cannella, co-EIC of SI. Major sports leagues including the NHL, MLS and MLB have put their games, if not whole seasons, on hold or outright canceled. It left SI editors tasked with piecing together a print product that would still feel fresh and relevant amid a storm that picked up the sports industry, as it had all others, twirled it around and plopped it back to ground. On top of it all, SI readers wouldn’t see the magazine until about two weeks later. “How do you anticipate a story that’s changing minute by minute and what the vibe will be in two weeks?,” Cannella said. “That’s a challenge with a monthly sports magazine, under any circumstances. The sports world can change very quickly.” SI began printing monthly earlier this year, and only recently began operating independently, after Meredith sold the former Time Inc. title in May last year to Authentic Brands Group for $110M. Under new ownership, the media organization went through a period of layoffs, in what executives later said was necessary to correct the business. A smaller newsroom staff has the potential to give the media outlet another obstacle in navigating the new normal, said Scott Rosner, academic director of the master of science in sports management program, at Columbia University. “How Sports Illustrated would’ve covered this 10 years ago as a publication is likely to be seismically different than how they’ll cover it in 2020,” Rosner said. Now, the task ahead of its staff members, as for all media organizations, is determining what level of appetite consumers will have for coronavirus-related stories versus stories not related to the pandemic. A task that can be hard to navigate, especially as traffic surrounding the coronavirus surges (SI says itself included) even though it can be difficult to monetize... For this upcoming issue, the team settled on a mix, with the cover devoted to a powerful image that shows empty stadium seating, without much text, letting the image speak for the situation... Inside, readers will find stories related to the virus, like a financial look at how the NBA will fare without the games as a revenue source and how the virus brought audiences and athletes closer together. “We are a news organization, but SI’s calling card has always been not strictly events coverage. We’re storytellers,” Cannella said. “People want to consume and hear and enjoy stories of all kinds right now.” The April issue, which closed last week and was delivered to homes on Thursday, will be around a normal size at 84 pages and 13 ad pages, from advertisers like Gatorade, Snickers, Harry’s and Skechers. A full page ad costs $100,000, according to its website. The edition had to come together mostly digitally, and using the same tools that many virtual workforces have adopted, including email, Slack and Google Hangouts, Cannella said. It’s been a process that is “not quite as seamless as it usually is,” Cannella said, with tasks that test the bandwidth of the digital tools they’re using, like photo editing and moving large files"...
Print Book Units Held Steady Next Week
PW: "After falling 10% between March 7-14, print unit sales were flat in the week ended March 21, compared to the previous week at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. A huge gain in unit sales in the juvenile nonfiction category helped to offset declines in adult nonfiction and juvenile fiction. Print sales of adult fiction rose 4%... The 66% jump in juvenile nonfiction unit sales was led by the education/reference/language segment, where sales soared 186% over the previous week. Sales of games/activities/hobbies rose 117%. Top titles were My First Learn-to-Write Workbook and Paint by Sticker Kids. The gain in adult fiction was driven by a 26% rise in the suspense/thriller segment and a 17% rise in science fiction. Units dropped 18% for graphic novels, and religion sales were off 14%. The travel segment continues to be hammered, with units down 46%, and unit sales of business/economics plunged 40%. Sales in the crafts/hobbies/antiques/games segment jumped 56% and humor sales rose 30%. Overall, unit sales of adult nonfiction were down 15%. A 4% decline in juvenile fiction included a 27% drop in the concepts category and a 16% slide in the social situations/family category."
Vogue Hires Creative Editorial Director
WWD: "While the deadly coronavirus has caused hiring to temporarily dry up in a number of industries, some recruited before the crisis exploded will still start their new jobs, but will have to do so remotely. Among them is Mark Guiducci, who is leaving Vice-owned Garage magazine after three years as editor in chief and returning to Vogue on Monday to take on the new role of creative editorial director. Although the position is new, Guiducci is no stranger to Vogue and Condé Nast. Before Garage, he was Vogue’s art editor for five years and prior to that, covered culture, entertainment and fashion at Vanity Fair during Graydon Carter’s reign. According to a Vogue rep, his position entails creating innovative ways to tell stories and engage its audiences across all platforms. While that may sound a little vague, Vogue no doubt wants him to do what he did for Garage by creating some of fashion’s most talked about moments such as the Zendaya/Simone Leigh cover... As for what all this means for Garage, the biannual art and fashion glossy of which Vice Media is the majority stakeholder, it is understood that the search is already underway for his replacement"...
Publishers Add Webinars in Response to Events Cancellations
MediaPost: "Publishers are hosting events online as the spread of COVID-19 shrinks the events business... Event planning and management platform Bizzabo, which serves publishers such as CNBC, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal, found its publishers hosted a total of 342 events last year — an average of seven events per publisher on average — and generated roughly $22M in revenue through event registrations.. Bizzabo estimates a canceled event could result in a loss of $3M. As Alon Alroy, cofounder of Bizzabo, points out: “Publishers have long been folding events into their content plans, as events are one of the best opportunities for them to form relationships with readers, sponsors, media partners and advertisers.” Quartz, for example, is now hosting a new series of live digital workshops about working remotely, called "Quartz at Work (from home)." Led by Quartz executive editor and Quartz at Work editor Heather Landy, it is attracting thousands of interested readers, according to the online business news publisher. The first workshop, “Remote Control,” was held March 19 and focused on how to be productive while working from home. It drew more than 1,400 people from 62 countries. The conversation included advice on how to adapt to a new communication style, how to stay focused and manage your time, and how to be kind to yourself, colleagues and clients in the process. “Quartz at Work (from home)” workshops will convene on Thursdays. The next workshop, “The Lives of Working Parents Now,” will be held on March 26, and address the specific needs and concerns of working parents, many now working full-time from home, with their children... The live workshop series is free to attend. Access to a recording of each session is free for those who pay to be Quartz members. Condé Nast's LGBTQ+ brand them is debuting an ongoing virtual music and arts festival today for and by the LGBTQ+ community, called "themfest." It will feature queer performers and creators, with drag performances, stand-up sets, concerts, fiction readings, guided meditations and cooking shows. "themfest" will be hosted daily on Instagram Live... The Instagram Live events will serve as a “digital space to support, amplify, and uplift the LGBTQ+ community,” according to a release"...
WWD Webinar Strategy Paying Off During Crisis
MediaPost: "WWD has run a webinar for some time, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the brand saw an opportunity to serve its audience in a way that would keep it connected it and help it deal better during a time of uncertainty.The result is a three-part webinar series called “Crisis Management and the Coronavirus,” led by WWD’s senior editorial team.Each episode features industry experts who focus on themes such as what to do with an overabundance of supply to ecommerce to what’s going on in the fashion industry worldwide. For example, WWD has offices in Milan, Beijing, London and New York, among other cities. During the first webinar, a WWD editor from Milan spoke to the audience about what’s happening in Italy amid the outbreak. “Being a B2B publication, this is a time when business is amplified by 100%,” Paul Jowdy, Chief Business Officer at WWD, told Publishers Daily. “The thing about a webinar is, you hear a voice, which makes it a little more community-driven.” He added WWD has hosted webinars in the past, but they’ve generally been sponsor or media-driven. Sponsors have been gravitating to these webinars, too, eager to connect their products with an engaged audience, but did so after seeing WWD’s ad for the series. Jowdy shared that the first time WWD ran the ad, he received about a dozen calls from solutions providers who wanted to be a part of it. Jowdy has ensured brands attached to each episode serve a specific need of the audience, with his editorial staff vetting brands that best fit the audience and worked into content in various ways.A brand might be a noted advertiser, or, if it has something valuable to add to the webinar, its content might be added to the webinar’s deck... The first webinar of the series, which took place on March 18, recorded a 70% participation rate with 1,209 registrations, double the participation WWD has seen with past webinars. Episode two, set to air March 25, has 1,473 registrations. Following the success of the first episode and the soaring registration for the second, Jowdy expects to produce a webinar weekly. WWD will also begin to produce similarly themed podcasts to accommodate those who in other time zones. The first podcast is expected this week"...
W Magazine Furloughs Some Staff
NY Post: "W Magazine has had to furlough staff amid the coronavirus pandemic.NY Department of Labor records reflect that its parent company, Future Media Group, has laid off 17 out of 58 employees. “The goal is to welcome back employees soon,” said an insider of the temporary cuts. A media source told us the mag’s digital team is still on staff, but will be working with a reduced salary and that the Web site will still be up-and-running. Future Media bought the luxury mag, which launched in 1972, from Condé Nast last June. Sara Moonves replaced Stefano Tonchi as editor-in-chief. Future Media also owns Surface magazine and Watch Journal."
DoubleVerify to Help Ad Council Extend Reach of COVID-19 Messaging
MediaPost: "DoubleVerify will use its media authentication technology to extend the reach and impact of critical COVID-19 messages being developed by the Ad Council. The idea is to inform and connect people with life-saving messages. On Wednesday, the company announced a partnership with the Ad Council in collaboration with the White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and Verizon Media, among others, have also partnered with Ad Council to offer a combination of donated media, technology, content, and services.Last week, DoubleVerify issued guidelines to advertisers on the steps they can take to adapt their brand strategies and ensure that their advertising runs on trusted news publishers' sites and publications. The initiative supports the company's mission to promote a sustainable ad ecosystem that supports advertisers and publishers. "Typically, we will remain a neutral party, but this time we felt it was important to support trusted news publications," said DoubleVerify COO Matt McLaughlin. "This time we decided to come out and provide a series of recommendations about how they can continue to monetize their news content during the pandemic"... DoubleVerify’s technology analyzes the characteristics of an ad impression in real-time to ensure compliance with a brand’s standards.When those standards are not met, the company said it will show new creative in support of the Ad Council’s coronavirus response efforts, driving the clicks to resources such as up-to-date information on the crisis."
Two-Thirds Of Ad Execs Anticipate Lower 2021 Ad Budgets Due To Pandemic
MediaPost: "More than two-thirds (68% of ad executives say they expect their ad spending for 2021 to be reduced due to the impact of COVID-19, but the most pronounced impact will be on the second quarter of this year, according to findings of a survey of more than 200 advertisers and agency executives conducted by Advertiser Perceptions last week.The survey, part of a more extensive report and the first in a series of tracking studies planned to be released every two weeks, is one of the first and most comprehensive to look at how the pandemic is impacting advertisers personally, as well as professionally. Professionally, Advertiser Perceptions analysts participating in a webinar this afternoon said the industry was caught completely off-guard by the impact of the pandemic, but effect on the ad industry has been immediate and pronounced with ad budgets already being significantly impacted in the first quarter, though the second quarter currently is expected to be the one affected most severely. [Article includes charts.] While the impact of the health crisis and the shift in consumer behaviors toward "social-distancing" has been immediate and pronounced, it has not necessarily been uniform or entirely negative. Only a third (34%) of ad executives said they've actually canceled a planned ad campaign, and only 45% said they pulled a current campaign, because of the crisis. Half (49%), meanwhile, say they have delayed a campaign until later in the year, while nearly the same percentage (48%) have "adjusted" their media mix or shifted their ad budgets among media because of it.
Hearst Mags' Digital Content Chief's Career Advice
Fashionista: ""I grew up as a magazine devotee," Kate Lewis, Chief Content Officer of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, tells Fashionista. "I loved Seventeen, Glamour, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Even before that, I read Ranger Rick and Cricket. I just grew up really enjoying the medium." Her advice for those starting out: "Take anything that you can get. I got a job at Vanity Fair, which was an extraordinary piece of luck, in the art department. Also, it furthered that whole thing of seeing how a team comes together because the art department is where the text, pictures and production all happen. That was an extraordinary experience and I was at Vanity Fair for five years. I had a tremendous experience with Graydon [Carter, Editor-in-Chief from 1992 to 2017]. I was promoted a couple of times; I had more opportunity to be at the hub of the team, so it really solidified my desire to do that.... Having a real passion for this [magazine media work] is incredibly important. You're going to work hard and you're gonna falter — and find success — and you've gotta really want this... Diversifying your skill set is really important. So playing with other types of media feels more relevant now than ever. But also those things are just in an attitude. Many of the people that appear in videos for us or even are producing them aren't actually trained in school. It's almost a little bit like your first job and say, 'yes'"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Fairway to Sell Two NJ Store Leases to Amazon
SN: "In a court-supervised asset auction, Fairway Market awarded bids for two store leases in New Jersey to Amazon and six locations in New York City to ShopRite operator Village Super Market Inc. and Key Food Cooperative member Seven Seas Georgetowne LLC.Amazon is slated to acquire Fairway’s Paramus and Woodland Park, N.J., store leases for $1.5 million, Fairway announced late Wednesday. Meanwhile, Village Super Market will pay $76 million for four of Fairway’s Manhattan stores (Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Chelsea and Kips Bay, plus the parking lot of the Harlem store), its Pelham Manor store in New York's Westchester County, and its production and distribution center in the Bronx. Seven Seas won Fairway’s Georgetown store in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a $5M bid... Fairway entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late January and, upon filing, the upscale grocer said it aimed to sell all of its stores. The successful bids account for eight of New York-based Fairway’s 14 locations... Fairway said it will continue to operate stores not sold in the auction “for the foreseeable future.” The remaining locations include one store in Manhattan (Harlem), one in Brooklyn (Red Hook), one in Queens (Douglaston), two in Long Island (Westbury and Plainview) and one in Connecticut (Stamford). Amazon ended up with two of the four stores for which it made offers. Last week, the New York Post reported that Amazon bid for Fairway’s stores in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn; Pelham Manor, N.Y.; and Woodland Park and Paramus, N.J... Earlier this month, Fairway received a $75M offer for its five Manhattan stores, Pelham Manor store and Bronx DC from Brooklyn-based Bogopa Enterprises, which operates 26 Food Bazaar supermarkets in New York City, Westchester County, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.And in January, the same day that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Fairway unveiled a $70M stalking-horse bid for its five Manhattan stores and DC from Wakefern Food Corp. member Village Super Market. Springfield, N.J.-based Village owns and operates 30 ShopRite supermarkets in New Jersey, Maryland, New York City and Pennsylvania and three Gourmet Garage specialty markets in New York City"...
Kroger Pilots Pickup-Only Store
SN: "The Kroger Co. is testing a pickup-only store in greater Cincinnati in response to higher demand for click-and-collect service during the COVID-19 outbreak. Launched yesterday, the dedicated pickup service is offered at the Kroger supermarket at 4630 Aicholtz Rd. in Mount Carmel, Ohio, east of Cincinnati. In-store shopping isn’t available at the location, as store associates are focused on fulfilling online grocery pickup orders, Kroger said. To use the service, customers order groceries online as usual at kroger.com or via the Kroger mobile app and then select the Mount Carmel Kroger as their preferred pickup location. Pickup hours at the stores are 8 am. to 8 pm daily. Though customers can’t shop inside the Mount Carmel store, its pharmacy will remain open, and they can speak directly with health care staff or pick up prescriptions, according to Kroger"...
Stop & Shop, Lidl, Aldi Enhance Benefits As They Hire Thousands
SN: "Stop & Shop said Thursday it plans to hire at least 5,000 new associates for regular part-time jobs in stores, distribution centers and delivery operations in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To help identify potential candidates for openings across all shifts and all positions, the Ahold Delhaize USA supermarket chain said it will work with the United Food & Commercial Workers and local businesses that have been forced to lay off or furlough staff. Part-time positions — which Stop & Shop noted aren’t temporary — include night crew, cashiers and porters as well as jobs in the retailer’s bakery, deli, grocery, produce, seafood and meat departments. The chain operates more than 400 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey... Lidl US announced plans to hire up to 1,000 temporary employees. Lidl said newly hired employees without health insurance will be immediately eligible for medical benefits — covering testing and treatment for COVID-19 — at no cost under what the company called a “first-in-the industry policy” with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. There will be no waiting time to receive the insurance, Lidl noted. Current U.S. employees enrolled in company insurance plans will automatically receive the enhanced medical benefits package, which waives co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles, the company said, adding that the coverage also includes virtual visits via the CareFirst Video Visit platform.s across its store network and distribution centers for a minimum of two months... Lidl operates more than 95 U.S. stores in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York... Aldi U.S. reported yesterday that, as part of its coronavirus response, it has hired nearly 7,500 employees and is “continuing to hire more each day,” including temporary positions in its stores and warehouses. Aldi said it also has stepped up support for employees through temporary wage increases for workers in stores and warehouses as well as an adjusted sick-leave policy to ensure staff stay home when not feeling well. The retailer, too, said it’s donating $1M to community organizations to support people in need during the COVID-19 health crisis"...
2 States Designate Grocery Clerks as Emergency Personnel; Some Stores Keep People 6 Feet Apart in Checkout Lines
RetailWire: "Minnesota and Vermont last week officially designated grocery clerks as emergency personnel, similar to paramedics and nurses, to give them access to free childcare. The workers range across food retailing roles, including those working registers, restocking shelves, cleaning stores and those involved in distribution. Wrote Becky Dernbach for Mother Jones, which first reported on the designations, “As they brave the daily crowds of people rushing to stock up their pantries, and risk infecting themselves through contact with so many customers, their essential role in a functioning society has become clearer than ever.” A number of retailers have temporary raised hourly pay, handed out special bonuses and/or enhanced sick leave protections as the coronavirus pandemic has led to packed stores and empty shelves. To encourage social distancing to protect shoppers and employees, many stores are restricting the number of shoppers and have signs reminding them to remain six feet apart. Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons earlier this week indicated they are installing plexiglass barriers near registers to offer protections from sneezes or coughs. Target on Wednesday said it will have greeters stationed at each checkout lane ensuring shoppers are at least six feet apart. Workers will clean checkout lanes after each transaction. The retailer has temporarily halted product returns and is not accepting reusable plastic bags, both of which could transmit the disease. Kroger on Tuesday said it is allowing workers to wear protective masks and gloves. A spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that, while Kroger supports health care workers having first access, “We are advocating to government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place in line for all grocery workers — after health care workers — to have access to protective masks and gloves.” Many workers at “essential” retailers also have to manage stressful shoppers"...
Raley's Banners, Union Reach Tentative Agreement
PG: "Following months of complex negotiations, Raley's stores operating under the Raley’s, Bel Air and Nob Hill banners in Northern and Central California have come to a tentative agreement with the union representing 4,400 of its associates.“The three-year agreement includes improved funding of pension benefits, enhanced health care benefits with no employee premiums, and significant wage increases,” noted Jacques Loveall, president of Roseville, Calif.-based United Food & Commercial Workers 8-Golden State, adding that he saw the contract as “one of our best ever, a big ‘win’ for Union members.”Loveall also said that the agreement provided workers at the three banners meaningful compensation for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as featuring a Crisis Response addendum affirming health and safety procedures to best ensure the well-being of associates and shoppers alike.Further details won’t be made public until the UFCW 8-Golden State members who would be covered by the contract have the opportunity to review and ratify it"...
Penn. Grocery Tosses $35K Worth of Produce Due to Coughing Incident
Times Leader: Hanover Township, Penn. police "said criminal charges will be filed against a woman who they say “intentionally contaminated produce/meat/merchandise for sale” at Gerrity’s Supermarket on Sans Souci Parkway on Wednesday.“The suspect has been identified and is being evaluated at a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. Criminal charges will be filed,” police posted on their Facebook page... In a post uploaded to the Gerrity’s Facebook page on Wednesday, [co-owner Joe] Fasula says that a woman... entered the store around 2:20 p.m. and proceeded to cough all over the produce section, as well as parts of the bakery, meat case and grocery. The woman was removed from the store as quickly as possible by Gerrity’s employees, and Fasula says that he’s been in contact with the District Attorney’s Office, who will be “aggressively pursuing numerous charges” against the woman. “We had no choice but to throw out all product she came in contact with,” Fasula said. “Working closely with the Hanover Township health inspector, we identified every area that she was in, we disposed of the product and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everything.” Fasula estimates that over $35,000 worth of goods will have to be thrown away"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: