The New Genius

Creating A Buzz

Tina Brown

It's a waste of four letters. Naming Tina Brown's new magazine Talk is an extraneous effort. "Most people I know are simply calling it `Tina Brown's new magazine,' " reports public relations expert Anthony Mora, CEO of Anthony Mora Communications in Los Angeles and author of The Alchemy of Success: Marketing Your Company/Career Through the Power of the Media (Dunhill). "[In the film business,] that's the kind of billing usually reserved for big stars and major directors. Somehow, she's managed to get her name above the title."

In fact, 45-year-old Brown's name belongs above the title. Nowhere else in the kingdom of magazines is an editor's profile as significantly--and profitably--tied to her product. Tina Brown isn't simply a genius at branding. Tina Brown is the brand.

How big an accomplishment is that? Just try naming a half-dozen other magazine editors off the top of your head.

Brown's editorial talent is undeniable. Although she's drawn plenty of fire for being a provocateur (think Demi Moore naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair--vintage Brown), she never throws a party to which nobody comes. Her four-year stint at Britain's Tatler--begun in 1979 when Brown was only 25 years old--saw a 300 percent rise in circulation. During the eight years she held court at Vanity Fair--from 1983 to 1992--circulation at the magazine quadrupled.

But it was as editor of the New Yorker that Brown found her groove. "Not everyone liked what she did at the New Yorker, but she created a lot of furor," says Mora. "And that translated into a very high profile. She was quite visible as editor of Vanity Fair, but she developed a very clear persona as editor of the New Yorker."

In her new incarnation, as chair and editor in chief of Talk, the mystique has only intensified. Brown is the center of everything current, stylish, literate and fresh. "It's not just that she goes to the right places," says Mora. "It's that a place becomes the right place because she is there."

If it were possible to deconstruct that magic and to distill that formula, everyone could be prom queen. Until then, entrepreneurs can take a page out of Brown's book. "In the new millennium, the cult of personality will be more important than ever," says Mora. "People who can create a buzz for themselves--in addition to their products or practices--will have two areas they can promote," with potentially potent results. Talk's premier issue sold out of its initial 1 million copies and had to return to press for an additional run of 300,000--evidence that "Tina Brown's new magazine" really is more than just Talk, Talk, Talk.

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This article was originally published in the January 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The New Genius.

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