Johnson Publishing Co. Chief Executive Officer Desiree Rogers plans Internet and mobile initiatives to create new revenue sources for the owner of Ebony and Jet magazines and capitalize on its archive of more than half a century of African-American life.
Johnson Publishing will launch a new Ebony.com website in January that may include current issues and older stories on people such as comedian Flip Wilson or Martin Luther King, said Rogers. It also plans initiatives for social networks and mobile devices, she said.
“We’re not just going to do magazines,” Rogers said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “That is not the end game.”
Rogers, the former White House social secretary and executive at Allstate Corp. (ALL) and Peoples Energy Corp., was hired as CEO of the Chicago-based company in August 2010. Linda Johnson Rice, who had been chairman and CEO, remains chairman.
Johnson Publishing is looking to revitalize and expand its brands after a JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) unit took a minority stake in July. Rice, whose father founded the company in 1942, is the majority shareholder.
Rogers helped redesign Ebony magazine this year and is working to relaunch Jet in February. She’s also hired Trenton Parks as chief information officer to help with technology initiatives.
Rogers recruited Sam Fine, a celebrity makeup artist, to help boost revenue at its Fashion Fair cosmetics unit. The company may launch its own retail stores to sell its African- American-oriented products, she said.
Johnson Publishing has “an authentic voice” that can speak to younger generations while holding on to its traditional audience, Rogers said.
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