Whether as a print magazine or a digital brand, Newsweek is a name consumers worldwide can recognize—and, more importantly, trust. That was the driving force behind IBT Media’s decision to buy Newsweek when it was a digital-only publication, and to revive the print edition in 2014. And it’s why the company is now rebranding itself as the Newsweek Media Group in a broad reorganization.
The move caps off a globally focused strategy shift that’s been in the works since last year at IBT Media, whose brands include International Business Times, iDigital Times, Latin Times, Medical Daily and, of course, Newsweek. Over the summer, following several rounds of major layoffs at Newsweek’s U.S. office, Dev Pragad—formerly head of IBT Media’s U.K. and EMEA operations—moved to IBT’s New York headquarters to serve as global CEO. In January, Alan Press, a veteran of The Economist who spent nine years overseeing marketing for the brand’s American businesses, joined IBT Media as president. The following month, Newsweek U.K. eic Matthew McAllester was upped to the new role of global editor, also working out of New York.
As the business consolidated its many regional operations, it only made sense to place them under a name that was more globally recognized. “IBT and its family of digital brands have a massive footprint,” said Pragad, referring to their combined reach of 100 million people. “But Newsweek is something quite different. It’s a brand that people recognize around the world, and it’s incredibly influential and trusted. We want every one of our brands, whether it be Newsweek or IBT or Medical Daily, to reflect those values of trust and integrity.”
Added Press, the company’s president: “No one has heard of IBT Media, which doesn’t necessarily surprise me, but when I say Newsweek, the reaction is, ‘Oh my god, where have you been?’”
Under the new structure, Newsweek will be the mass-market brand, covering everything from current events to politics to tech to finance, while the media group’s niche digital brands will focus on their specific areas of expertise and share content with one another as needed. (That also means that IBT will narrow its broad coverage back down to business.)
“I think Newsweek has the opportunity to own ‘smart’ in a digestible fashion,” said Press. “We often think about how we can appeal to the reader in their living rooms and the boardroom. It’s Newsweek that appeals to them in their living rooms, and IBT and some of these other vertical publications that appeal to them in their working life.”
Live events will be a major focus at the rechristened company. Launched in February, Newsweek Events will hold eight events this year and has designs on bringing its events around the world. The company will also host conferences through Structure, the tech events business that IBT Media Group purchased from GigaOm when the publication shuttered. In keeping with the company’s global strategy, the goal is to aggressively expand all of these events businesses around the world.
This year’s first event, which took place in London and focused on fintech and AI, drew a notably younger crowd than your average finance conference, noted Pragad, who said Newsweek Media Group is decidedly millennial-focused. “We’re not necessarily courting the c-suite,” he explained. “In terms of content strategy, it’s about serving millennials as professionals. They are the people who are disrupting business … and looking at things in a fundamentally different way, and we want to leverage that to gain an advantage over the market.”
As far as what’s next for Newsweek specifically, Press expects to invest in growing its reach across platforms, including print—a small but profitable business, with subscriptions priced at more than $100 a year. “We can make money with it in print, so why wouldn’t we invest in print circulation? I think we could probably expand it by several hundred thousand [subscribers] globally,” said Press. “But we are a digital-first company, and I think that is one of the things that drew me to this model.”
The team is also looking at how to potentially bring back Newsweek’s digital paywall, which was taken down in 2014, as well as introducing paywalls at the other niche brands. “We need to experiment with leveraging the balance between reader experience, advertising dollars and generating subscriptions,” he explained. “It’s a hard balance.”