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Tony Silber

When Pr People Do Their Organizations A Disservice

Tony Silber Editorial - 10/13/2006-02:00 AM
I should have been tipped off when the assistant kept e-mailing me. A few months ago, a very professional and pleasant woman e-mailed me about lunch with a corporate communications chief at one of the big New York consumer-magazine companies.

As it turned out, the communications person had to reschedule once and I needed to reschedule once, and the assistant did a great job of being the intermediary.

I don’t have a huge ego, but all along, I was kind of feeling that the contact should have been direct. Why did we need an intermediary? I call CEOs directly every day. In the public-relations business, it’s all about a one-to-one relationship, right? And I’m the editor and publisher of the magazine, after all.

So anyway, we schedule the lunch for this afternoon. After passing through the Midtown Manhattan office-building security, I went to a very nice private dining room. Where I waited. I waited 10 minutes. Then the corporate communications chief and a PR assistant came in and greeted me. Very pleasant.

But: They had no idea who I was, really. They were not familiar with Folio:. They didn’t know our mission. They didn’t know our circulation. They didn’t know at least one of the senior executives in their own company.

The lunch was great, but the conversation was awkward. "Do you cover what’s going on in digital," one of them asked me. About 45 minutes in, I started picking up the conversational cues that the meeting was over. I obliged. Fine by me.

The corporate communications chief and the PR assistant then left without shaking my hand or showing me the way out. I was left standing in the room. Clueless? Rude?

Hmmm. I thought these meetings were about establishing relationships.

Tony Silber

A Blogger Departs...And Another Emerges

Tony Silber emedia and Technology - 10/06/2006-02:00 AM

Cruising the magazine-industry blogs the last several days and came across some interesting things, as I always do.

Paul Conley wrote a terrific item on e-media ethics on October 3, riffing off a recent Folio: magazine article, but also updating a recurrent theme on his blog. In the past he has covered this topic extensively, including September 25, August 23, , and November 15, 2005.

It wasn’t so much as the fact that he referred to a story of ours. Conley—more than ASBPE or ASME, in my opinion, has been really working the ethics issue, taking offenders to task and laying out a reasoned, and unwavering direction for those grappling with what is acceptable and what is not online.

Meanwhile, a b-to-b blogger of significance, David Shaw, appears to have gone dark. His blog at B-Or-Not-to-B is gone after sitting dormant for a month and a half after a post about Penton Media in mid-August. I e-mailed David a while back, and there was no response. If he’s stopped blogging, he’ll be missed. David is one of the astute observers of this industry.

Meanwhile, I like what I see from American Business Media’s Sara Sheadel on ABM’s Mediapace blog. I think she’s posted only three times, but each combines insight, wit, a clear, clean writing style and a point of view. Plus one of her posts had video. Nice work to Sara at Mediapace.

Tony Silber

Engaging With The Brand: A New Paradigm

Tony Silber emedia and Technology - 10/06/2006-02:00 AM

I was really happy yesterday when I wrote a story about Bob Sacks’ speech at the Western Fulfillment Management Associations Circ Day LA. I wrote it seated at the table before and during Sacks’ speech. I hope I didn’t offend my tablemates, but then Sacks told me Walter Winchell (the famous 20th century gossip columnist) would not have been worried about offending his tablemates. And then, thanks to the magic of wireless Internet access, I e-mailed it back to the office and out it went, less than an hour later, as part of yesterday’s Folio: Alert. Later that day, Brad Stauffer, a prominent Los Angeles-based publishing figure, e-mailed me saying how cool it was to see that story turned around so quickly.

Actually, four people yesterday told me that when they get our newsletter, they open it immediately: They never wait. Rich Murphy from BPA said the “Folio: Alert is like candy: "Tastes great!” He and others said they like that they always get fresh, insider-y news that gives them an edge in their businesses. Of course, that’s all music to my ears, but that’s not why I’m writing this. I think it is fascinating how people are engaging with the Folio: brand differently. The newsletter and increasingly, the Web site, is the front door. It’s where people go first. Then they read the magazine. There’s a shift going on from print to e-media, and we’re feeling it right here at Folio:. The challenge is to change as our readers’ information habits change. As Bob Sacks said yesterday, “Print is not as dominant as it was. Now it has rivals.”

Tony Silber

Circ Day La: Role Model For A Successful Regional

Tony Silber Audience Development - 10/06/2006-02:00 AM

I only spent part of the day yesterday at the Western Fulfillment Management Association’s Circ Day LA, but it was clear that there was a buzz and vitality in the room. Held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the event attracted about 175 circulators, other publishing professionals and about 15 supplier companies mostly from California. But to me there seemed to be a sense of camaraderie at the event that demonstrates the strength of regional events. (Actually, 175 attendees also demonstrates the strength of this particular event—that’s a good turnout.)

As someone about to put on the 2006 Folio: Show in two weeks—by far the largest single magazine-industry event as measured by attendees and exhibitors—I also recognize the value of smaller, intimate regional events. Done well, in the manner of the CRMA, or the Magazine Association of the Southeast, these events provide professional development, networking and esprit de corps for large and especially smaller players in a particular section of the country.

Tony Silber

Feedback On Our Private Equity Feature

Tony Silber M and A and Finance - 09/28/2006-02:00 AM

I think we struck a chord with our August-issue report on how private-equity is changing the magazine industry. I’ve gotten a bunch of correspondence on the package, including at least a couple of letters to the editor that we published in September. And I’ve received a bunch of more incidental comments as well, including one that pointed out that a deal we described as an early home run was better described as a bloop single.

But positive or negative, it seems to me that the piece found an audience at all levels: Among the rank and file, which suffers the anxiety of M&A, and the layoffs when they occur, among the bankers who transact the deals, and among the CEOs who execute them. And there is no question the market is Hot.

And speaking of those CEOs, a thought occurred to me that I left out of the editors note for that August issue: When you as an executive sign up to work with private equity -- such as Bob Krakoff at VNU or Paul Mackler at Cygnus -- the CEO, even as the high-profile frontman, even as someone who gets wealthy if things go right, remains an employee, serving at the pleasure of the PE firm.

Tony Silber

Digital Workflow Challenges: The View From The Spectrum Conference

Tony Silber Design and Production - 09/28/2006-02:00 AM

Notes from the Spectrum Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, where IdeAlliance

convenes print-production executives each year from agencies, vendors and publishers to work through production challenges:

First thought: Even through the digital workflow promised at its inception eight or nine years ago to be faster, less-expensive, more flexible, it never promised to solve the problem of standards for advertising, and sure enough, it’s still a big problem. What’s happened is the bugs and glitches from the film-production process have morphed into the bugs and glitches of digital production.

In many instances, the problems are the same, just caused by new processes. That’s ironic. The challenges are universal: Whether a small boutique agency or Draft FCB, a small printer or R.R. Donnelley, a regional publisher or Time Inc., the problems come down to poor color reproduction, proofing, odd cases of logos dropping out and more.

Hearst’s Jerry D’Elia had it right in a session on liability when he said, “One of the greatest frustrations I have is when people say the file was ‘technically okay,’ but something happened in the RIP.’ No one is responsible, and I’m stuck with a makegood.”

Nan Gelhard, ad manager for Summit Racing and a moderator of one of the panels, said that “the hurdles to workflow are human ones,” but I think that’s only partly true. Training is important, but the larger hurdle is this: Overcoming the hodgepodge of ever-changing, narrowly applicable standards that create a cacophony in the market.

As long as there is no ironclad standard overseen by an organization like IdeAlliance, applicable throughout the supply chain, you’ll have fonts bitmapping and logos inexplicably dropping off an ad. More...

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