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:

from-miley-ray

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.

Miley Cyrus Saves The Newsstand!

Back in the day, you know, way, way back.  Back when we rode our dinosaurs to work and peddled our stone wheeled cars with our feet. Way back then there were significantly more than four major national magazine distributors in the country. I can think of at least nine and I am sure there are some people who could come up with the names of some more companies.

At that time, there were more than three hundred magazine wholesalers located in large and small cities around the country. Those nine (Or more) national distributors, had a pretty large pool of publishing representatives working out in the field to manage the sales of their client titles.

In those days I flew pterodactyl coach class on all my business trips and I was guaranteed to meet up with a few publisher representatives in almost all of the primary and secondary sized wholesalers I visited. The major cities may have had as many as twenty or more located both at the wholesaler level and out in the field. With a few exceptions, these representatives could give me a very comprehensive tour of the best and busiest newsstands in each town.

Natural consolidation (Some of these companies bought each other up) as well as the forced consolidation we underwent in 1995 – 1997 has pretty much dried that all up. The major wholesalers now have merchandisers who put up magazines in the largest retailers. In some cases, these merchandisers no longer work exclusively with magazines and handle other products. The remaining ND’s have some people out in the field but their numbers have significantly dwindled. Want to know what your special display looks like in the Marsh Supermarket in Indianpolis suburb of Noblesville? Most of us would have to hop on a plane and go look.

So who’s out there to move our magazines?

Apparently Ms. Miley Ray Cyrus.

Miley is on the cover of the March 2013 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. If you haven’t seen or paid attention to her since your (Now college aged children) have left Hannah Montana  far behind, you may not have even recognized the former Disney child star.

Who's this, now?

Who’s this now?

I have to give Ms. Cyrus a ton of credit. She tweeted the following to her more than 11 Million (!) Twitter fans:

From Miley RayJust to put things into a little perspective: For the past year and a half, I’ve been keeping track of the number of Twitter and Facebook followers of some major and specialty magazine publishers. At present, People Magazine has just over 4.5 million fans.

Eleven million vs. 4.5 million.

Miley’s fans have responded to her call out. These are the results:

Team MilyNYMileyUpdates USA

Miley’s shout out to her fans started on February 1st. There’s even a hashtag on Twitter, #buymileyscosmo. It’s still very active as of this writing.

Of course, Cosmopolitan got in on the action and is encouraging the fans:

Cosmo RespondsFor those of you of a certain age and level of experience in the newsstand distribution industry, do you think the old Globe vs. Enquirer checkout wars could have ever reached this level? What would the blue coated/red tied TDS guys have done?

AdWeek Magazine reports Hearst President David Carey as saying “This was a natural force from her fan base… No big company could ever pull that off.”

He’s correct. For years, fans have been spreading their favorite actor and actress covers all over the newsstand. But not like this. Miley Cyrus’ fans are clearly motivated and are doing this 21st century style.

On the other hand, once upon a time, back when Tyrannosaurus Rex  roamed the land at will, we used to have a lot of people who could have lent a hand.

Special call out to all you newsstand veterans: How many ND’s were there back in the 1970’s? 1980’s? 1990’s? Please use the comment section below to list what you may remember. I’d be interested to know how many we can come up with.

Want to check out my list of Twitter and Facebook followers vs. their paid circulation? Click on the link. Tweet Followers vs Circ011313