I had coffee recently with Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic. I asked for the meeting on the basis that our clients might be interested in working with the magazine. Little did I know that I had stumbled on a digital supernova.
National Geographic still has superb print content. The traditional product, the yellow-framed magazine, has 38 editions in 33 languages in 76 countries, reaching 50 million readers. There is also Nat Geo Traveler magazine reaching 14 million readers, and Nat Geo Kids magazine reaching 4 million readers. The Nat Geo TV network has been part of Fox but is scheduled to become part of Disney shortly. But the shocking statistic is the rise of Nat Geo in social; the brand now has 100 million followers on Instagram, 200 million on Facebook, 43 million on Twitter.
The brand is following the new playbook for media companies in creating experiences for users. There are 540 Nat Geo trips, mostly serving a high-end clientele. There are also NG Live events in 65 cities, with over 350,000 attendees. Their advertisers include Miller Coors, Nike, Microsoft, P&G, Samsung, BMW, Nespresso and North Face.
Goldberg told me, “The reach of our multiple platforms to millions around the world coupled with the diversity of topics that we cover opens up tremendous opportunities for us to work with partners. Take our Planet or Plastic initiative. We were able to tell the story of the single use plastic crisis through arresting photos and reporting across our magazine and social channels, while also engaging consumers directly on finding solutions. We love working with brand partners who share our values and want to authentically tell stories that are aligned with our mission: To help people understand the world and their role in it as we work to keep our planet in balance.”
The broader message of this blog post is that we in communications have to reconsider our media mix, moving away from reliance on local newspapers and local TV towards integrated promotions with big global media brands such as National Geographic. It means earned creative ideas that are strong enough to merit paid support, so that we have access to CMO and CCO budgets. To pitch a story is fine; to connect in a big way across all gateways of a media property is divine.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.