Johnson Publishing COO Cheryl Mayberry McKissack Speaks Confidently About ‘Jet’s Transition To Digital

May 9, 2014  |  

News that Jet would transition to a digital-only format had many thinking fondly about the digest-sized magazine that they’d grown up seeing around the house. Despite the iconic nature of the print publication and the nostalgia it can incite, Johnson Publishing is confident about the move and all the potential that comes with it.

“We’ve been looking at this for a long time,” Johnson’s COO Cheryl Mayberry McKissack told us in an interview. When you consider the costs involved — paper and postage, for instance — there’s a logic to the move. And not only is the magazine planning on moving many of its most popular columns — Beauty of the Week, Black Love, and Jet Life, among them — to the digital format, but being online opens doors for other creative content. During our phone call, McKissack talked about bringing new video and 3D animation to the site, and creating more campaigns and activities between the readers and the publication’s advertisers.

Jet underwent a redesign a year ago and that will also be going to the online format, something that, McKissack says, “you can easily convert.”

Something that can’t so easily be converted are readers. According to McKissack, Jet has “700,000 loyal subscribers,” a number that hasn’t declined lately. There are some who are tied to their print magazine and won’t want to make the digital shift. For those readers, they’ll receive a copy of Ebony magazine on a one-for-one basis to finish out their subscription.

For everyone else, there will be the option of checking out the free content on the Jet website. There will also be more opportunities for viewing and sharing the content that Jet has amassed over seven decades. The site will also offer the option to purchase these items through the Ebony Jet e-commerce channel. The Jet magazine app will be available for a fee.

But still, some may have the idea that Jet is something you see your older relatives reading, not something to flip through on your iPad.

“That’s the good thing and the not-so-good thing about being around for a long time,” McKissack says. “You can remember it on your mom’s coffee table. But Jet has been skewing younger for many years. Mitzi [Miller, the former Jet editor who’s now the editor of Ebony] is in her 30s and it hasn’t been led by someone older for a long time.”

McKissack also points to the covers as an indication of the 30-something skew: Omari Hardwick, La La Anthony, Queen Latifah, and Chiwetel Ejiofor are just some of the big names that have appeared on the cover lately.

“So there’s a conversation about the business as a whole having a portfolio of products and services that are relevant,” McKissack says.

Will you be following Jet to its online-only format?

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