Alumna conquers world of big data

By Gisselle Gaitan

Catherine Hetzel • Photo provided by Catherine Hetzel
Catherine Hetzel • Photo provided by Catherine Hetzel

When journalism graduates think of the magazine industry, the only thing that may come to mind is the editorial side. The unknown side, or rather one of the lesser talked about sides in the industry, is sales and relationship marketing.

However, it is a critical part of magazine commerce and, like so many parts of the publications business today, is increasingly dependent on big data.

Catherine Hetzel, J/MS 2008, works for Meredith Corporation, publishers of Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness Magazine, EveryDay with Rachael Ray, and many others, in Database Marketing Services. Collecting data, analyzing, and integrating it into the Meredith database and leveraging it to third-party advertisers who want to reach a certain demographic are just the base of what Hetzel does.

The Jersey City resident has been in the job for a little over a year and admitted she did not think she would fall into a job that included the words “data,” as part of its title, especially because she worked for the magazines of Rodale Inc. previously and did public relations and content producing for the swimsuit company Tyr.

“I thought the word ‘Data’ sounded scary and also kind of boring,” Hetzel said.

But it’s anything but that, she emphasized.

When it comes down to it, Hetzel noted, data are just as important as the editorial aspect because data assist in “creating better content for the consumer.”

Creating better content for the magazines’ readers, primarily women, allows her and her colleagues to see how exactly women’s trends change on a daily basis and how the media world is shifting, Hetzel explained.

The media present new offerings daily and that may specifically guide consumer interest, she continued, but that is not to say that everything is computed into numbers on a screen once it’s all gathered. Hetzel uses that knowledge in a broader way to guide Meredith business leaders on what data strategy means in everything from consumer marketing to online content, engagement, and digital initiatives.

“I am not by any means a “Data Scientist,” she stressed. What she is able to do is take some of her skills such as “public speaking, marketing strategy, and sales to bridge the gap between the very complex world of data to the actionable world of editorial, advertising, and marketing.”

The skills she has developed originated at J/MS, where Hetzel said she was able to “learn about as many opportunities and professions as possible.”