Publishing’s Phoenix: U.S. News & World Report Emerges With a New Set of Wings, Part II

U.S. News & World Report was one of those magazines that had always just been there—packed into the stack of mail in the mailbox, on the coffee table at the doctor’s office, at the newsstand, being read on the train on the way home from work. The day in Fall 2010 when the venerable magazine announced it would cease publication (a process that was a year or two in the making) was a tough one to stomach. Publishing was in trouble. And it wasn’t just newsweeklies and newspapers. We were all in this boat together, and we watched as one of our industry’s flagships went down. (Or so we thought.)

Even the U.S. News and World Report staff—from top to bottom—may have thought it was the end. About half of the 150-person staff was let go. “For those of us who have been with the brand, you know six, seven, eight years ago, those were challenging times,” says Kerry Dyer, U.S. News & World Report’s publisher. “When U.S. News was down in ad pages, it was the beginning of the talk that was going on about whether U.S. News could survive. There was also talk about print surviving. That, I can tell you, was challenging. If you’ve lived on both sides of it, you know the feeling, and we certainly at U.S. News know that feeling, and we’re not looking back.”

But it wasn’t the end. It wasn’t a death. It was the beginning of a rebirth—one that is not only inspiring in its positive outcome, but also packed with lessons for us all, in free and paid content, in building digital audiences and successful products, in brand expansion, revenue diversification, e-commerce, lead-generation and more. Here is the story of U.S. News & World Report’s resurgence, as told through a two-part interview—Part I with U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly, and Part II with Publisher Kerry Dyer, shown here.

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Part II: Interview with Kerry Dyer, Publisher, U.S. News & World Report

mediaShepherd: What is the brand’s largest source of revenue?

Kerry Dyer: Right now it would be display advertising—single source [online].

mS: What is its fastest-growing?

Dyer: That’s a good question. It’s all growing pretty fast. We don’t disclose specific figures either on growth or percentages, but display advertising is among the fastest-growing; licensing; as well as lead generation. All three of our main revenue streams are growing at a very healthy and very consistent rate.

mS: What are you finding that marketers are looking for today from U.S. News? Have things changed in recent years?

Dyer: Well, there’s been a lot of talk in the press and the media/advertising press of a changing consumer, and changing advertising needs and wants, but having been in the business for about 30 years, over half here at U.S. News and the other half at a large ad agency in New York—Young and Rubicam—honestly, I don’t see a lot changing.

In the end, marketers are still looking for finding the right audience at the right time and the right place that will engage with their messaging, and to find a need and a want for the right service. Fundamentally, that is the essence of advertising, and it really hasn’t changed all that much in my estimation.

mS: U.S. News moved into e-commerce with entities such as the Best Cars site, where U.S. News gets revenue when people buy cars through the site. Is this something new?

Dyer: It’s realtively new in the scheme of existence of U.S. News. We’re 80 years old. The U.S. News Best Cars site is about 5 years old, …

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