Observations From Abm Top Management
Thoughts from O‚ÄôHare as I‚Äôm heading back from the American Business Media Top Management Meeting. (It‚Äôs 5:30 a.m.‚ÄĒsurprise, surprise: My flight was cancelled and spent the night in Chicago.)
First, I should have blogged AT the event, but that‚Äôs not the way it worked out. Folio: had a show daily to produce, and because of that, there was not much time for all the other things we needed to do: Pay close attention to an excellent program, develop story ideas, spend time with the many top managers and key suppliers (D+P, JEGI, RMS, Foster, Cadmus, American Press, Quebecor World, NXTbook Media, Publishers Press, Berkery, Noyes, Omeda Communications, Computer Fulfillment, CDS, ARGI, and plenty more) at the event.
I ended up spending much of the time not in the sessions, but trolling the reception areas looking for that big story. It didn‚Äôt come.
My view of show dailies is pretty emphatic: They need to NOT be about the sessions and speakers that everyone sees and hears anyway. They need to be about the buzz. They need to be conversations starters. As in, ‚ÄúCan you believe the management team at Penton is getting $12.5 million?‚ÄĚ Or, ‚ÄúDid you hear VNU may be changing its name?‚ÄĚ Etc. This is the lifeblood of a good daily in this space‚ÄĒPeter Craig called our daily a ‚Äúrag,‚ÄĚ but he‚Äôs wrong.
This is especially true of the TMM, which is all about high-level networking, with a bit of content mixed in. It‚Äôs about CEOs, CFOs and suppliers, especially bankers, brokers, lenders and private equity.
So anyway, I spend the day Wednesday looking for the next big breaking story, and didn‚Äôt get it. And near the end of the day, I reset my thinking. What ARE people talking about, if not the next big deal? And smart lenders like David VanderLugt of Goldman Sachs, Seth Rosenfield of BMO Capital Markets, David Harrington of GE Capital and others led me to the story: The world of b-to-b publishing is awash with easy money, which is helping to fuel all the M&A activity over the last year or so.