“Today, I have 10 meetings — and it’s Friday,” said Kate Lewis, on a recent call from her office at Hearst Tower. Considering her workload, it’s par for the course. As the senior vice president and editorial director of Hearst Magazines Digital Media, Lewis oversees digital editorial teams across 22 global brands, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.
“All of the digital editors report up to me — there are about 200 of them in New York and 80 in the U.K.,” she said, noting she also oversees the video team, the creative team and Hearst’s 24-hour newsroom.
Since transitioning from print to digital in 2013, Lewis has contended with great transition within the industry. “I would say the biggest change has been in the distributed content landscape: Two years ago, we first launched Cosmo on Snapchat Discover — and we were just starting to put videos on Facebook. In terms of what we create every day, those kinds of changes have been significant.”
This year alone, Hearst has launched four Snapchat Discover channels, bringing its total to six and making it the largest publisher on the platform. “We’re just always keeping a very watchful eye on what we think our audience is hungry for,” said Lewis.
Lately, that has included more reporting on increasingly serious issues. “Many readers are turning to what have traditionally been considered lifestyle media sites — that have always featured real journalism, but haven’t covered the daily grind of politics — for [political] content,” she said. “So, we have made an effort to be engaged in that space to the extent that it’s right for the brand.”
Lewis walked us through a recent day in her life, which included moderating a panel on Gen Z, plotting new Snapchat editions and fleeing New York City for some much-needed R & R.
6:30 a.m: This is a rather late wake-up for me, but it is the kids’ first day of summer break — no getting them on the bus at 6:55 a.m. means no rushing! I take our spirited mutt, Huey, for a walk in the park. He’s part terrier, part a bunch of other things; I am all about adopt-don’t-shop. Back from the park, I finish my morning routine. It’s always capped with a spritz of Chloé perfume, a cherished gift from the editors at Sweet.
8:30 a.m.: I was scheduled to go to the Hermès Hermèsmatic pop-up, which is offering a free dip-dying service for the brand’s vintage silk scarves — the HarpersBazaar.com team is shooting a video there this morning. But since it’s my son’s first day of summer break, I have breakfast with him instead. We eat the banana chocolate chip muffins my daughter made earlier in the week — well, he eats them. I hate bananas.
9:30 a.m.: I check in at Fashion Culture Design’s The Unconference at The New School, where I’m moderating a panel on “What Will Gen Z Want Next.” I’ve been thinking a lot about Gen Z these days — partly because Hearst now has six brands on Snapchat Discover, partly because I have a 13-year-old daughter, but mostly because it’s still true that the kids drive culture. Before our session, the panelists and I hang out in the green room. In walls Zac Posen, who is speaking on a different panel at the conference. Small world: I went to school with his sister, Alex. It’s great to chat with him and hear the latest on his family.
10:00 a.m.: From there, I head to the speakers’ lounge and meet up with the other speakers on our panel: Jeff Staple of Staple Design, Leandra Medine of Man Repeller, Leslie Ghize of Tobe and Maria Al-Sadek of BPCM. Of the bunch, I’ve only met Leandra before, but I can tell right away the energy of this group is going to be awesome.
Jeff Staple, Leandra Medine, Kate Lewis, Leslie Ghize and Maria Al-Sadek at Fashion Culture Design (Photo by: Yvonne Tnt)
10:20 a.m.: Our panel starts. We cover a lot, including how to reach Gen Z (through chat), how they discover brands (on Instagram), and how they value quality over quantity and experience over ownership. We don’t want to get off stage when our time is up.
11:30 a.m.: I race back to the office in a taxi — because I’m wearing Diane Von Furstenberg heels and not my usual Supergas. It gives me time to plow through some morning emails as we trudge uptown.
12:30 p.m.: I rush in and go straight to lunch at the Hearst cafeteria with Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider. Anne and I were assistants together at Vanity Fair. Anne has sushi (another thing I don’t eat), and I have a spinach salad with crumbled blue cheese, which I eat every single day. Boring. We talk about our kids and middle school drama, and brainstorm ways to translate Marie Claire’s upcoming Sustainability Issue to the site. I am super excited about this issue; Mira Duma is guest editing. We also talk about MarieClaire.com’s new star columnist, Jessica Valenti, who is weighing in on the Trumps, feminism and culture.
1:45 p.m.: I get a little break here, and I check in on the sites and see what stories are spiking: Michelle Carter’s trial, North West’s fourth birthday, the fashion at Cannes. It’s very, very hard to keep up.
2:00 p.m.: I pop into my weekly meeting with Delish.com editor Joanna Saltz. We discuss the Delish cookbook project and a few new YouTube videos series she’s planning, as well as the possible launch of Delish in the U.K.
2:30 p.m.: I meet with Brooke Siegel, executive director of digital strategy. She’s headed to the Elle International in Versailles at the end of the month, so we review what she’ll be presenting. The conference brings together editors and publishers from around the world to talk about the state of the brand. Brooke will address how the digital landscape has evolved in the past two years and how Elle stays at the center of it.
3:00 p.m.: I make a mad dash to Hearst Magazines Digital Media svp and chief revenue officer Todd Haskell’s office to talk about our October trip to Milan. It’s rare we plan anything this far out, but this is a big event for us: We bring in top digital fashion editors to talk to the heads of the Italian fashion houses about what’s happening in content, video and social.
4:00 p.m.: Update from home: My daughter and two friends are back from their sleepover and they are making edible dough. Sounds disgusting, but they’re generously sharing it with my son, so there is peace. Not sure anyone’s walked Huey, though, so feverish texting ensues.
4:10 p.m.: Huey gets walked
4:30 p.m.: I meet with the senior Esquire team, including new site director Michael Sebastian, to review two of their upcoming Snapchat editions: the money edition, which launches this week, and a food porn edition, which I’m super excited about (no bananas). We also go over analytics from recent editions, and I look for takeaways to share with other Discover editors.
5:30 p.m.: Quick meeting with entertainment director Nojan Aminosharei to look over mood boards for a celeb fashion shoot we have going up on Bazaar in July. I have been sworn to secrecy about her identity. (Hint: She stars in a sexy cable show soon to return for summer.)
6:00 p.m.: I leave Hearst Tower to meet with my good friend Gillian Gorman-Round, who is the new COO of the e-commerce site Spring. We meet at Molyvos, which is nearby, for drinks and a nice appetizer of taramasalata (my favorite and hers). We discuss the kids’ summer plans and then dive into e-commerce. It’s something we’re thinking a lot about at Hearst these days, as our site Best Products has been a tremendous leader in this space. Gill has lots of insights from her time at Lucky and now at Spring.
7:00 p.m.: On the subway home to Brooklyn. I always read The Times and catch up on the day’s news. I also check Instagram and Snapchat when I am in a station and have Wi-Fi.
8:00 p.m.: Dinner. I actually cook, because it’s a Friday. Tonight it’s roasted broccoli, curried chickpeas and chard, and sautéed chicken breasts with lemon. Kids skip the chickpeas, of course. There are also rainbow cupcakes my daughter made. (There’s a baking thing with her). One hour later, we’re packing up the car and heading to the Berkshires where we have a weekend house. An hour into the drive, the kids and I will be fast asleep.