Michael Swarr, VP of Postal and Distribution Affairs, talks about the evolution of National Geographic Magazine.
Michael Swarr, VP of Postal and Distribution Affairs:
Well on January 13th, 1888,
the original founders of National Geographic
got together to discuss the diffusion of
And they were primarily focusing on mountains,
rivers, oceans, air,
the major geographical features of the planet.
And over the years National Geographic has taken this
more towards a social environment where they
blended both human elements, animals,
plants, geographic features, altogether,
in an attempt to show how everything works together
and everything depends on one another.
Michael Swarr talks about the importance of the cover of the magazine.
The cover of the magazine.
The cover of the magazine obviously is the brand image of the journal.
Yellow border, everybody recognizes it worldwide.
One thing that we do to protect the cover,
and have since day one,
we first started out putting the magazine in an envelope,
and then we migrated to a craft wrap,
and we have since then migrated to
a poly wrap for the magazine to protect the magazine
on its way to the subscribers.
Now we don't look at the cover of the magazine
as the sole element that makes it a collectible
but it's the content that people really relate to
as far as the photographs and the research that's done
on all the texts in the magazine.
It's actually used as a resource,
or a research document,
because everyone perceives
National Geographic to be very accurate,
timely, viable piece of information.
Hans Wegner, retired manufacturing and distribution team and National
Geographic Society Sustainability Team, talks about the history of the magazine.
Well when the magazine was first published
it was really a little booklet and it was
published as an academic journal
to keep that people who are the founders
and their target audience,
which is the scientific community,
up to date on scientific discoveries
about the world.
Obviously the magazine changed
dramatically over the course of time.
It expanded its coverage to be not just interested in geography
but also interested in people, and cultures,
and artifacts, and climate, and space,
and science, and all the other things
that entailed developments of the world.
And in doing so, the magazine has increasingly become more appealing
to a larger audience.
And the appeal came in the form of publishing pictures,
the appeal came in the form of adding map data,
the appeal came in the form of being written to an audience
which is not quite as high brow maybe,
and more of a popular magazine.
And the magazine's real growth spurt came,
probably starting after the Second World War
and certainly in the 1950s
with the real boom coming in the 1960s
when there was great interest among American families
to have a journal in their household
which their children could pick up
and read and even if they couldn't read a magazine
they could look at the pictures,
and learn from the maps, and study the maps,
and in the course of that absorb information
and learn, by reading the captions, how to read.
So a big appeal and the big growth
for the magazine came in the 1960s and 1970s
so that by the mid-1980s we had reached
a circulation of over 10 million magazines.
Michael Swarr talks about the distribution process.
The distribution process has changed a lot
based on the medium in which people
are now buying products and shipping products.
Domestically we see a lot of packages coming in
through e-commerce that we have to accommodate for.
The post office is doing the same thing with their package mail.
This is a very revenue oriented mail class for them.
As far as National Geographic Magazine is concerned,
we've done a lot of changes in the international distribution side
where we do direct induction into a country
via containers on vessels.
Here in the States we tried to co-mail our magazines with other mailers
so that we can get higher densities and better presorts.
All of it is, starts out to be cost related to see how
we can blend the different mailing aspects together.
And we've been fairly successful in doing so,
enabled to remain competitive,
and a ROI that's comparable
to all of the magazines in the industry, I would have to say.
Hans Wegner talks about the advertising of the magazine.
The the advantage to the advertising sales staff
is they can now sell very specifically targeted ads
for let's say an expensive car line
to very specifically targeted households
that have an income of in excess of a certain number
because that's the audience for that model car
and that allows the advertising sales force
to go out and target and sell targeted packages
and get it delivered in a wide distribution magazine
such as a National Geographic
to very targeted audiences.
Michael Swarr talks about the changes the magazine has and will face.
The Internet and people paying bills online
has changed the first class mail environment.
The e-commerce has changed
not only the standard mail and catalogue industry
but it's also change the post office's
package delivery system.
So now the loss in first class revenue
is being partially offset by the package.
So once you feel that you have a handle
on the current medium and regulations
associated with today's mail industry
it will change.
So it's a constant flux of trying
to keep up with new technological changes.