Magazine and media executives are pushing the envelope and discovering big and incremental successes every day. Here, we profile some who are currently exploring promising strategies that just might land them on our FOLIO: 40 list next year.
His ouster as Time Inc. CEO after less than six months is one of the most dramatic stories of the year. In uncharacteristically blunt language for this type of move, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said that Griffin’s leadership style “did not mesh with Time Inc.” (many reports say Bewkes and Griffin never meshed either), while Griffin blamed “entrenched interests” at the company. Now the focus is on where Griffin will land next.
The same could be said of Cathie Black, who left her 15-year position as president of Hearst Magazines to become chancellor of the New York City school system in November, only to be dismissed on April 7. Will Black look to return to a stellar media career? Or will she look to return to Washington, D.C., where she had a very successful run as a lobbyist when she was CEO of the National Newspaper Association?
Roger Friedman | CEO, Lebhar-Friedman
Lebhar-Friedman was long considered one of the best-run independent b-to-b publishers. But at the close of 2010, in a move that was representative of many b-to-b executives who made aggressive M&A deals between 2005-2008 only to watch returns collapse along with the economy and covenants become unmanageable, CEO Roger Friedman had to sell flagship brand Nations Restaurant News as well as the Dowden Health Media unit he bought for an estimated $40 million in order to square the company with creditor GE Capital. “Profitability was never the question,” according to Friedman. With that in mind, how does Friedman build the company back up in its remaining markets?
Desiree Rogers | CEO, Johnson Publishing
The game of musical chairs that defined consumer publishing leadership in 2010 included former White House press secretary Desiree Rogers succeeding Linda Johnson Rice (whose father founded the company in 1945) as CEO of Johnson Publishing. Rogers took over a company that’s seen a significant advertising and circulation slide in recent years. Can new blood turn Johnson Publishing around?
Sharon Rowlands | CEO, Penton Media
In March 2010, Penton Media emerged from Chapter 11 after a pre-packaged reorganization designed to reduce the company’s debt by $270 million. Rowlands immediately launched a repositioning effort for Penton, attempting to improve sales and looking for acquisitions to expand the portfolio. That started with the purchase of Lebhar-Friedman’s Nation’s Restaurant News, with Rowlands saying Penton is looking to buy more print, event, digital and data assets across a variety of markets. In March, the publisher bought online marketing firm EyeTraffic Media, and hinted that it would soon be announcing a significant corporate shift toward marketing services.
Apple’s iPad dominates the tablet market, and most likely will for some time to come. That’s a huge opportunity for publishers, but not the easiest one to navigate thanks to many of Apple’s policies. But Android-based devices have given the iPhone a run for its money in the smartphone category, and experts are expecting a glut of tablets by this time next year. If they gain more than just a toehold in the tablet market, prices could fall, leading to wider consumer adoption and more publisher-friendly policies could become the norm.