Did Miley Cyrus Save The Newsstand?

You may remember that back in February, singer, former Disney star and social media queen Miley Cyrus made the cover of the March issue of  Cosmopolitan Magazine. When the issue went on sale, she encouraged her fans to spread her image all over North America’s newsstands with this Tweet to her 11 million fans:


Let me just say that one more time: 11 million fans (Currently 11.9 million fans).

Unsurprisingly, many of her fans took her exhortation to heart and went around and did this:

From: Twitter
From: Twitter

And they also did this:

From: Allieiswired.com
From: Allieiswired.com. I wonder who bought the Feature Checkout spot on that rack?

There was a decent amount of coverage in both fanzines and publishing related journals about her “takeover” of the newsstands.

Of course, we covered it at the Foredeck because we believe that not everything has to be all doomy and gloomy all the time.

So the question now is: Did Miley Ray Cyrus actually save the newsstand? Or at least the March issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine?

The answer is an unequivocal: Well, yeah…

I went old school and took a sampling of what I believe is about 45 – 50% of the Cosmo draw in the continental US.  Based on that limited data sample, I can report:

The March “Miley” issue sold about 7% more than the February issue within my sample, and:

The March “Miley” issue sold about 7.5% more than the January issue within my sample.

I’m sure the good people at Hearst already know the actual and more accurate results.

But there is a simple and obvious moral to the story:

Social media and an active fan base can help newsstand sales in certain instances. Since the “Hannah Montana” show ended, Miley Cyrus has been more famous for her hair styles and tattoos than her music and acting. That’s not a knock on her. She clearly knows how to manage her “brand” and public image and she does a good job at it. Despite the lack of TV, movie and music exposure she has 11.9 million Twitter fans and 26 million Facebook “Likes”. More importantly she  has people who will go out on their own time and do stuff for her. Like merchandise magazines. And buy them. You know, pay full, single copy price with US dollars for old fashioned media printed on wood pulp.

In other words, what Mr. Magazine(tm) calls magazines.

So imagine, even with a small niche magazine, what could happen if you merged an active fan base and a dedicated group a readers.

Spend some time on Twitter or Facebook and scroll through the postings of any bookstore (chain or indy) or major retailer. Or many magazine publishers for that matter. On the publisher side, other than a few callouts that this or that issue is on sale and this is what the cover looks like, how much single copy promoting (or subscription promoting) is going on? How about the obvious place to promote single copy sales? Bookstores?

Very little is going on. And I’ve never understand the reluctance. Are the social media and circulation silos still that hardened? How much effort or energy or even creativity does this take?

If you’re going to drop some serious promotional dollars on a special issue, why wouldn’t you make note of it on your social media feeds? At least more than once on a Wednesday at 4PM? And why wouldn’t you get with your retail partners to promote that?

If you are going to go through the time and energy to print hundreds of thousands of copies of your magazine, pay tens of thousands of dollars per issue to ship them, pay tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars to pay for premium display space, why on earth would you simply leave it to accident and chance that your audience just might, maybe, perhaps, possibly walk by a magazine rack and suddenly have an urge to buy your product? Why would you limit your audience to only people who occasionally browse a magazine rack?

If anyone has some stories about their efforts with social media and single copy sales, please ping me and let me know what happened. I’d be happy to help you publicize your story.

8 Replies to “Did Miley Cyrus Save The Newsstand?”

  1. At U.S. News & World Report, we have used social media a bit to support single-copy sales, but those efforts have been directed to sales on our web site or Amazon, not newsstands. If people are on the web, we want to take them to where they can buy either a print or electronic version of the product immediately. But I’ll bet some people who follow the links end up buying the issue from a brick-and-mortar store.

    By the way, if Miley Cyrus ever decides to further her education, how do you think our annual Best Colleges bookazine would do with her on the cover? Just askin’.

  2. Why not? It could work if she’s willing. But if you’re spending dollars printing, shipping and paying for retail space, why not see if you can move some more copies?

  3. Hi Joe, I love this piece.. You really lay out a challenge and tell everyone what they can do to improve sales and do it without spending a lot of money… Good Going!!! Love, Dad

  4. Jose,

    BWnext issue has a Pittsburgh Steeler on the cover dressed as a Mountain Man, and I alerted Steubenville(+400) Harrisburg (+500) Youngstown(+50) Altoona(+300 and keep it there) Erie(+75) and Kittanning(+75). Also Source has dealers in western PA, and L ancaster draw is + 1100 almost fainted on this one.

  5. There were a few bright spots on the newsstand. Meredith’s Family Circle and Hearst’s Woman’s Day grew single-copy 21.6 percent to 636,363 and 14.4 percent to 426,304, respectively. (One likely factor was that the magazines decreased frequency in 2012 , with the result that each issue stays on newsstands longer). Hearst’s Food Network Magazine increased its single-copy sales 10.4 percent to 483,773.

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