According to M. Scott Havens, the president of The Atlantic, the 156-year-old general-interest magazine, “Culture trumps strategy every day. When you have a great strategy but the wrong people, they won’t implement it.”
He was speaking at SXSWi 2014 about the business of journalism and how The Atlantic has successfully bucked the downward trend that is plaguing many traditional media publishers. The Atlantic is profitable and has expanded its offering to include digital and video formats along with live events.
“A lot of people will spend six months working on a strategy to drive the media world,” said Havens. “That’s wrong. You just need to do it.”
For The Atlantic that means keeping a steady focus on the brand values of journalistic integrity, producing high quality content that is of interest to an audience of thought leaders, having talented columnists and journalists and specialist teams for each platform. It means launching sub brands like The Atlantic Wire, giving digital content away and expanding into other business areas, such as TV and educational events.
The Atlantic’s success is based on what Havens calls t the ‘virtuous cycle of journalism sustainability’. He said, “having quality content will attract a quality audience which comes with a willingness to pay for content. Marketers want to reach this audience which drives ad revenues. That puts you in profit.”
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