She has the top job at one of the world's top magazines - and we were lucky enough to receive some of her career advice and insight into the business. Marie Claire's Editor-In-Chief Anne Fulenwider shares some savvy counsel on staying relevant and thriving in the ever-changing modern publishing world.
How did you get your start in the industry and what’s been your path to the position you currently have?
I got an internship at George Plimpton's magazine, The Paris Review, through the literary magazine I had worked on in college. They'd posted an opportunity in our office. I'd applied and there hadn't been anything immediately open when I got to New York. I kept in touch with them and when something opened up I jumped. Then one day two of the three editors left (one on maternity leave, the other on book leave) and two of the interns (myself included) got promoted. I got a job as George's assistant, which in the quirky environment of The Paris Review also meant I was an Associate Editor at the quarterly. I did everything there from answer the phone and the door to chop carrot for cocktail parties to transcribe interviews, read and recommend short stories, and help George finish his book about Truman Capote. It was an amazing experience and an invaluable window onto New York and the publishing scene.
When the Capote book was done, I wrote to the former Review editor who had left to have a baby, who was then writing book reviews for Vanity Fair, and asked her to put the book in Vanity Fair. I also wrote “PS, now that the book is done, I’m kind of out of a job. Do you have any ideas?” And she put me in touch with her editor at Vanity Fair, who hired me in a sort of non-specific intern assistant role. I stayed at Vanity Fair for the next ten years and did almost anything they asked— starting off answering the phones again and ending up launching the Fanfair section and becoming a senior editor. I thought I’d work there forever but I got a call to come interview for the executive editor job at Marie Claire. I immediately fell in love with the culture and energy of the place, and the mission to empower women. I was sold. I interviewed on a Thursday and accepted the job on a Monday. I left briefly to take an amazing opportunity to be Editor in Chief of Brides at Conde Nast, and came back a year later when I was offered the top job at Marie Claire.
What have been some of your career achievements you’re most proud of?
I’m very proud of what what we’ve done at Marie Claire to highlight women’s achievements across a multitude of industries. I’m thrilled that we’ve turned Marie Claire into the place where influential women come together to share ideas, something we brought to life at 30,000 feet this year for our our first ever Power Trip— a 36 hour pop-up conference that took place in part on a plane from New York to Sand Francisco and really disrupted the idea of the women’s conference. And I’m incredibly proud every day to come to work with an amazing group of women and men to bring this brand to life, and to be part of an international network of 34 international editions of Marie Claire, empowering women and celebrating fashion and beauty around the world.
How is an editor’s role different than it was 10 years ago?
Well I wasn’t an editor in chief ten years ago, but when I asked one of my favorite bosses from over the years, Graydon Carter, if he had any advice for me when I first became an editor in chief, he said “Your first year in this job will bear no resemblance to my first year.” He was being funny, but he was right— when he and I both started out there was no digital component to the business. Now of course we are bearers of the brand’s voice and ethos across a variety of platforms.
What are some of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the magazine publishing industry in 2016?
All content providers in 2016— and I include digital-only properties, TV, movies, music— we are all competing for our audiences' increasingly fractured time and attention.
How is Marie Claire adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape?
What matters to me is that we are consistent in our voice and message across all our channels, and treat each platform— be it print, TV, the website, the Instagram feed, Facebook page, or snapchat, as its own medium, with its own quirks and best practices- we want to express Marie Claire at it best on each one. Because in the end, they’re each just another way to make our readers happy and make sure we are giving them the content they crave.
Will we still see printed magazines in a decade from now and if so, why?
Yes! Our readers spend time with a magazine in ways they don’t with any other media. It’s the most luxurious medium and print is very important for fashion, as it's still the most impactful way we can interpret fashion trends.
What are some of your current projects that you’re excited about?
I'm very excited about our Next Big thing series which, was a new concept we launched in January. We are doing panel discussions, new sections in-book and working on other activations to showcase the news innovations across fashion, beauty, wellness, technology, and career.
We are also expanding the amazing Power Trip into a series of dinners. We just had one honoring one of the producers of Hamilton, Jill Furman, and we had some of the most amazing women in NYC in attendance! I think now more than ever, in this digital age, there is a new significance attached to live events— to meeting in person and convening a group of like-minded, dynamic women who may never have met one another otherwise.
Advice you can pass on to people aspiring to a career in publishing?
As with any industry, reach out to everyone you know with even the most tangential connection to the industry and buy them coffee. Keep in touch with them. Follow every tidbit of industry news. Being informed and connected are the two most valuable assets in media. Also, especially for women— stay in the workforce. You’d be surprised what happens when you just keep showing up, do your best, and stay curious.
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