Monday, September 6, 2010

Magazine Publishers: Asleep on the Job?

With all of the stumbles the U.S. magazine industry has made the past few years, it's encouraging to hear that some publishers are looking for outside help on a major strategic issue.

I'm referring, of course, to employee naps.

A recent BusinessWeek story noted that the latest trend in employee perks is napping, with Google's corporate headquarters offering "futuristic napping pods." Some firms have opted for a napping chair that "looks like PacMan with a really long tongue." (Sounds like an English bulldog to me. But where are you supposed to put the tongue? And what if it starts licking you as you doze off/)

"Other companies have outsourced their daytime sleeping solutions," the article informs us. "Yelo, a napping spa in midtown Manhattan, has provided its services to Hearst, Newsweek, and Time Warner. It offers naps in a 'cocoon-like' treatment room in which clients can adjust aromatherapy, sound, and lighting" (but, alas, not advertising CPMs or newsstand sales).

What the article doesn't tell us is the name Yelo has given to its treatment rooms: YeloCabs. Somehow when I think about what relaxes me, a Yellow Cab in Manhattan doesn't come to mind.

Nor does the article tell us whether the snoozing at Newsweek will continue under new owner Sidney Harman. You might think a 92-year-old man would understand the need for an occasional 40 winks, but clearly Harman thinks the magazine's management has been asleep at the wheel: "Newsweek managed to insulate itself from all the opportunities to expand its mark. Newsweek should be in numbers of businesses it's not in now," he recently told The Wall Street Journal.

With Newsweek reportedly losing millions -- $28.1 million last year -- methinks Harman will want the staff (or what's left of it) to do more selling and less napping.

And as for Time Warner, it seems that someone in that company's accounting department has been dozing (or maybe smoking something) as well. How else could it conclude that Time magazine, which is as advertising-anemic as its archrival Newsweek, will "earn a profit of more than $50 million this year"?

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