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SU Innovators: How Adam Jaffe is building a powerhouse millennial media company at Mic

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We’re back again with StumbleUpon Innovators, a weekly interview series with publishers, platforms, and digital media experts. Each week we’ll investigate strategies, new tools, and trends with some of the brightest minds in the business. Our aim is to provide you with actionable practices to improve your content choices, distribution, marketing, monetization, and more. In case you missed our last edition with Alexia Brue of Well+Good, check it out here.

Q&A with Adam Jaffe, VP of Content at Mic

Please introduce yourself and your company.

Hi, I’m Adam. I’m the VP of Content at Mic where I focus on editorial operations, analytics and programming. In recent past lives I spent time doing M&A on Wall Street (imagine a much more emaciated Gordon Gekko) and writing screenplays in Los Angeles (imagine a much more emaciated Gordon Gekko, but now wearing sunglasses).
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What is Mic all about?

Mic is the leading news source and media company built for millennials, by millennials. We’re founded on a simple idea: Young people deserve a news destination that offers quality coverage tailored to them. The stereotype is that young people only want to watch cat videos, but that’s not true. We’re offering young people substantive news and perspective that they can relate to — news that speaks to them like a friend at a dinner party, not an out-of-touch or detached reporter.

Who is your audience and how do you reach them? How do you find new audiences?

Mic reaches 29 million people a month. Of those, over 80% are college educated and 60% are millennials. Mic actually has the highest makeup of millennials of any of our competitors, and we’re proud that we’re really living up to our mission in that regard.

We build new audiences by finding gaps in the marketplace and then investing there. Our recent launch of ConnectionsMic, which focuses on sex, relationships and dating, is a great example of this. We knew the market was saturated with this kind of content — but nobody was doing it with any real substance, sophistication and intelligence. In just six weeks it became our most-read section. Through IdentitiesMic we’re also the leader in women’s rights, gay rights and race coverage — a space that most mainstream media companies don’t play in or understand.

What’s your publishing and/or content marketing strategy?

Before publishing every story, our editors ask themselves, “Would I be proud to share this story with my friends at a dinner party?”. Our voice is everything, and that question helps make sure our stories are authentic, and worth being told. We’re always striving to tell a side of the story that you aren’t getting in the mainstream media, and that’s a huge part of what’s built us a loyal audience.

We also have a distribution plan for each story, which is essential. Our readers who come to Mic.com every day are a little different than our readers who visit our MicCheck app who are a little different from our readers who find us in their Facebook newsfeed, and it’s so important to think about which reader you’re writing for.

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What are you biggest challenges and how are you tackling them?

There’s never been a better time to be in online media, which means its extremely cutthroat right now. In a world where every publisher has the same story with the same Getty photo with the same headline, we tackle it by staying true to our voice. We tell the story in a way that resonates with young people, in a way that advances the conversation or takes a different perspective than what you’re reading everywhere else. The only way to stay relevant right now is to stay unique.

What are your best tips and tricks for publishers and brands?

Be authentic or GTFO. The internet is ruthless, and won’t let you get away with anything that smells remotely like bullshit. That’s especially true for brands.

Rapid Fire with Adam Jaffe

What is your media diet?

My media diet consists of our #news Slack chatroom. My guilty pleasure is The Daily Mail sidebar.

Who do you admire?

I admire writers. To go out everyday and make people care what you have to say in this world…that takes guts.

Who’s your dream client?

I think more about dream readers. I’d love it if I found out Malia Obama was a huge Mic reader.

What’s one thing that your coworkers don’t know about you?

Recently our toaster broke because someone left it on and it over-heated, but no one would confess. It was me.

How can people reach you?

You can e-mail me at adam@mic.com, follow me on Twitter at @freejaffe, or generally hang outside of La Colombe.

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