April 10, 2024

Inside Fortune: A Media Brand Rich With Business News

By Giorgia Rifaldi

On a mid-March day, I walked through the narrow streets of FiDi to the headquarters of Fortune Media , to meet Vice President and Executive Editorial Director of Fortune Brand Studio Megan Gilbert, who had invited our group of NYU SPS MS in Publishing students on a guided behind-the-scenes visit. 

Stretching over three floors, the Fortune offices display the history of the brand with a selection of original magazine covers, including the first-ever prototype issue from September, 1929. Fortune is a global business media company that publishes primarily in America, with offices in Europe and Asia. With daily digital content and six print issues every year, Fortune is one of the leading media brands in the business field. They have an audience of 2.3 million globally for the magazine and 28 million digital users, reaching C-suite leaders, executive level managers, business and investment influencers, as well as more aspirational audiences focused on general business. 

Holly Ojalvo, Fortune Managing Editor, explained that business news is “something people are really hungry for,” and Fortune’s large global news team supplies it in four core areas: business, tech, finance and crypto. We asked Holly how they decide what to cover in their articles, and she told us that their primary inspiration is their audience. What do they need to know? What is affecting their business? By tying these questions to Fortune’s brand identity, they manage to create interesting articles that capture the reader’s attention. 

A photo of a unicorn in a hoodie, with a photo of the same unicorn as a skeleton next to it

Our conversations with Holly was followed by a presentation from Creative Director Peter Herbert, who walked us through the stages of updating the layout of the print magazine as well as the process of creating a cover that catches the eye of potential readers and aligns with the brand’s mission.“My role is to generate new ideas,” he told us, as he elaborated on the creative process behind the cover of their latest issue “The Age of Unicorpses (Feb/Mar 24).” Drawing inspiration from the February 2015 cover for “The Age of Unicorns,” Herbert and his team decided to do a new iteration in which the unicorn is now a corpse, symbolizing the “death” or “decay” of many tech startups that once seemed promising, but are now faced with financial crises. He asked the artist to make the horn a separate element so that they could animate it for the digital edition of the issue.

Next up was our host Megan Gilbert, who answered our questions on how Fortune manages branded content. She stressed the necessity for branded content to be aligned with Fortune’s brand values. “Clients come to Fortune Brand Studio looking for award-winning storytelling that appeals to the Fortune audience in a natural way.”

The last stop in our tour of Fortune’s headquarters was the production studio. It’s where the content creation happens: the photos, videos, interviews, and social media content the brand puts out all start here. We took some time exploring the room with its state-of-the-art equipment, and then took a group photo to commemorate the fortun(e)ate experience. Pun intended. 

Overall, this visit to Fortune was an enlightening opportunity. The tour provided us with a realistic sense of how a major media brand operates in today’s constantly evolving media landscape.

The students post with Megan Gilbert at Fortune Media

Giorgia Rifaldi is an MS in Publishing student. She is originally from a small town in Northern Italy and wants to work in children’s publishing. She loves to reread Peter Pan instead of picking up a new book, has an ever-growing tote bag collection and drinks way too many matchas on the daily.

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