How involving a guest editor creates buzz, increases engagement

Guest editorship in the magazine industry is used to create a buzz – it’s often a way to garner attention. In the past, guest editorship has been often reserved for A-list celebrities. In 1997, Gwyneth Paltrow edited Hearst’s Marie Claire, and in 1998, Susan Sarandon edited it. Bono guest-edited an edition of Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair in 2007. In 2015, Michelle Obama guest edited Meredith’s More magazine.

Wired has even written about their guest editors. “Since the magazine began, there have been eight issues with guest editors, ranging from architects and athletes to game designers and A-list directors,” former staff writer Kevin McFarland wrote.

Here we look at a recent guest editorship at Good Housekeeping.

The Hearst brand partnered with Marvel Comics character Deadpool for a special issue recently. “It was a surprise and delight moment for us,” explained Jane Francisco, editor-in-chief of Good Housekeeping magazine. “As a brand, we are interested in co-creating unexpected, smart, unique experiences — this checked all those boxes!”

She explained that the Deadpool team was looking to generate some excitement for the upcoming film. “We thought it could be fun to have Wade get in on the action to help us celebrate the holidays — so we created 50,000 limited edition issues of Good Housekeeping that were distributed in eight major cities across the country as well as in Toronto and Vancouver,” Francisco said.

While inviting someone outside of publishing into a magazine office to offer their input may be exciting, staff often have to manage contributions from falling outside the brands’ values. Francisco explained that in bringing in guest editors for Good Housekeeping, there is a constant dialogue to make sure every side is covered.

Bringing in guest editors is something other publishers might think to start, if they’ve never appointed one before. “It’s a great opportunity to change things up, create new conversations and maybe even capture a new audience,” Francisco said.  “Be daring and take chances. You never know what amazing things will transpire.  No one would expect Deadpool and Good Housekeeping to make sense, but when you see our special issue — it does.”

Reproduced courtesy of FIPP, the network for global media