October 28, 2019

Bon Appétit: Pizza with 78 Slices

By Noelle LeBlanc, NYU MS in Publishing student

"It’s a challenging time for journalism and publishing, but it’s also an exciting time," said Adam Rapoport, Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appétit, to visiting NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students about the magazine, the changing publishing industry, and the rapid growth of the digital age. As Rapoport explained, "This industry—this company—has evolved in the past 6 years."    

Bon Appétit has a simple tagline: "Where food and culture meet." The monthly magazine features fun new recipes, wine reviews, and ideas for entertaining, to name just a few things, but the brand offers so much more. With the ever-growing demand for an online presence and social media engagement, Bon Appétit has been able to keep up with the times exceedingly well and continually expand their readership. "The brand is fun, always delicious, with a ton of personality," said Rapoport. "Our Instagram is smart and "voicy," and so are our podcasts. We look for chatty and natural writing. So much of our brand is led by the editors." (In fact, many are stars of the brand’s highly popular videos.)

The print magazine boasts 6.5 million readers with 4.6 million YouTube subscribers, 2.3 million page likes on Facebook, and 3.2 million followers each on Twitter and Instagram. The brand even has 1.5K reviews on their podcast, Bon Appétit Foodcast, and an online merchandise store that sells products like T-shirts and hats.

Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appétit, Adam Rapoport

"There are all these ways for readers and fans to receive content, and no medium is inherently better than another," stated Bon Appétit’s Editor-in-Chief. "The notion is that content can be great no matter the platform." He’s right. When you’re trying to reach a wide audience, you have to appeal to every medium, or else you’re going to be missing out on a key demographic. Going only digital cuts out those who still enjoy the print publication, but not evolving limits the opportunities for new readership. "You don’t want to not try and regret it, but you need to go into [a new product line or platform] knowing that it might not work out," Rapoport noted. "It’s like going to Vegas. You have all your chips on the wheel." Getting metrics and analytics on all these efforts is instrumental, of course, but, advised Rapoport, "Never let them dictate your creative process."

Bon Appétit shows how adaptable the brand really is with it’s extension into "sub-brands." They’re now reaching those who are looking for something on the healthier side with Healthyish and those who want to learn more about cooking with Basically.

Noelle LeBlanc, NYU MS in Publishing student, posing inside the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

But really, what’s the key detail that has kept Bon Appétit going strong? They’re focused on utilizing the strengths of their employees—and the audience can tell. Rapoport envisioned the brand as feeling authentic and like one continuous voice across all platforms. He explained that in building their YouTube presence, he thought: "Let us just put our own talent in front of the camera like we do with everything else." Putting the editors on camera has been an incredible success and has created fans and followers of newly-minted video series stars like Brad Leone with It’s Alive with Brad and Claire Saffitz with Gourmet Makes.

After listening to Adam Rapoport’s insight and touring the Bon Appétit editorial department and test kitchen with Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief, it’s easy to see how this brand has been able to continue to grow and blossom under Rapoport’s leadership "Every year there’s something new that we’re doing," he explained. "We’re like a pizza with 78 slices. It’s a challenging but exciting time."


Interested in applying to the NYU MS in Publishing: Digital & Print Media program? The deadline for Spring 2020 applications is November 30, 2019. Visit our website for more details about the program and application process.

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