Ebony to Be Rejuvenated

Linda Johnson Rice of Johnson Publishing Co., left, visited Harvard University two weeks ago to discuss Ebony’s business dilemma. (Credit: Keith Bedford/Boston Globe)

*Ebony is considering reviving the print edition of Jet magazine for millennials. The publication went out of print in 2014 and transitioned to digital-only format.

Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co. and daughter of founder John H. Johnson, outlined some of the plans to rejuvenate Ebony two weeks ago before students at Harvard Business School who used Ebony as a case study in dilemmas facing black businesses.

Steve Rogers, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, invited Rice to speak for his new course, “Black Business Leaders and Entrepreneurship.”

After her appearance, Rogers told Journal-isms, “The students stood up and gave her a standing ovation. . . . all of us wanted to make investments.”

Below are the plans, confirmed in an email from Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, CEO of the renamed Ebony Media.

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Per journal-isms:

· “We are considering repositioning Jet for millennials with a focus on entertainment and having limited newsstand publication ..much more digital content,” McKissack wrote.

· Ebony has launched partnerships with such high-visibility firms as the Apple technology company. “Apple is an advertising client and we partnered with them in 2016 for an Apple/Ebony Black Hollywood Oscar event,” McKissack said. “This event honored the best Black films of 2016.”

· Producing special-interest issues that are not so dependent on advertising revenue. In December, Ebony published a commemorative edition on the Obamas that sold for $10.99. McKissack said the company was committed to five additional projects, the second of which will be on newsstands March 14. She said she could not disclose the subject matter.

· Adding blue-chip advertisers. “We continue to expand our advertisers which include blue chip accounts as well as adding broadcast to our events,” McKissack said. “For example, we expect to add a broadcast component to our 2017 Power 100 event. We are offering our clients 360 [degree] programs which include print, digital, events and activation. Our participation at SXSW, Power 100 are examples of these offerings.” The latter are references to the huge South by Southwest festival held annually in Austin, Texas, and the “Ebony Power 100” event, held last year in Los Angeles, honoring “the world’s most inspiring African Americans.”

· Hosting events at the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. “We just honored the impact of HBCU’s [historically black colleges and universities] on Pro Football with an event over Super Bowl weekend” in Houston, McKissack said. “We provided a special recognition for Troy Vincent, EVP of football operations for his contributions both on and off the field. We had over 1,500 attendees!”