In the city and regional category, online media is, oddly, off the radar. The companies that in recent years have produced fat, flush print magazines also put up brochures online and call them decent Web sites. They’ll say they’re either too busy with too-small staffs to build out ambitious Web sites, or they’re not feeling the demand. After all, e-media revenue is less than 2 percent for the category, according to FOLIO: surveys.
Not so, says Steve Churm, owner of Churm Media, a Newport Beach, California publisher of five titles for Orange County. "We recognized a couple of years ago that we were riding a wave, and that print ad sales have an expiration date," Churm says. "We needed to develop our Web sites so we could go beyond the one-dimensional content of our magazines."
What Churm and his team saw was a market increasingly clamoring for online content. On the advertiser side, he says, his small-business ad base was experimenting, and wanted more from the Churm Media channels. On the reader side, readers want real-time advice. "They want to know where to take their families on the weekends, where to send their kids to camp," Churm says. "And not just a listing-they want to see video, they want an interview with the headmaster of a school. They want video tours of golf courses. That’s how we can distinguish ourselves."
Churm Media spent more than $350,000 on its Web redevelopment efforts, including additional staff and a new content-management system. "But we were so focused on the architecture and the content that we missed the boat on the marketing and monetizing of those sites," he says. "It’s all about training, training, and training. You take an existing print staff and get them to sell this new product, and it takes time. And courage. And with some, they won’t get it."
VITAL STATS: Churm Media spent more than $350,000 on Web development efforts.