Bush has revealed plans to improve Essence’s digital presence in order to combat these trends. This includes developing a stronger social media footprint, and enhancing the magazine’s tablet edition, which Bush said, “has been highly successful for us and engaging.”
She stressed that the monthly planning efforts of Essence Communications is hardly one-dimensional, and includes the many media and business arms connected with its print element. This means that, unlike many other magazines, Essence has several revenue streams, ranging from books — such at its most recent, successful picture-driven book about Michelle Obama — to the phenomenally popular Essence Festival, which drew 540,000 participants this year.
“We really do think of it in a very holistic way,” Bush said of the total Essence brand. “While there is a lot of competition out there, the quality of the various publications is very different. What Essence has been able to bring to the table is that consistent level of authority about black women, as well as a journalistic excellence that we bring to bear that not everyone has the resources to do. I feel very fortunate that we have that. That’s what really sets us apart.”
Praise for the entire Essence team
Bush also praised the “hugely passionate” team behind Essence for its ability to compete on many platforms in an agile manner, while keeping the needs of the Essence reader front of mind. Through the resources of Time, Inc. (which attained 100 percent ownership of the glossy in 2005), and the drive of the Essence staff, Bush is confident that the magazine will continue to grow, overcoming the challenges it and many monthlies are facing.
Leadership at Time Inc. is equally confident that Bush is ready to bring her vision to fruition as Essence magazine’s editorial lead.
“Vanessa’s wealth of knowledge about the Essence brand and connection to our community of nearly 10 million readers has deepened reader engagement,” commented Essence president Michelle Ebanks in a press release announcing Bush’s new position. “Vanessa is poised to deliver on our mission to help African-American women move their lives forward – not only through the magazine, but by meeting their needs across all of our branded platforms.”
A bright future for Essence — and Bush
Having put the finishing touches on the latest issue of Essence that is soon to hit the stands featuring Kelly Rowland on the cover, Bush will be embarking on an imminent vacation at the end of August with her 10-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son.
Not just the new leader of Essence, she also exemplifies that modern black woman, which has come to be embodied by first lady Michelle Obama.
Yes, Bush has her amazing career, but she knows how to balance work and family, and does so with a great sense of style — while making time for love in her life.
“I’m newly engaged and looking forward to all the excitement of not just running the magazine,” Bush told theGrio, “and working with the rest of the team on building the brand, but also taking some time to lean back a little, and just enjoy my family and have some fun, because that’s important, too.”
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb.