While some associations work with custom publishers to produce their magazines, the publications they create are not marketing-based vehicles for a particular brand. To use a custom publishing study to explain habits of association magazine readers seems like a stretch. Itâ€™s comparable to a keynote at an ABM meeting presenting a research study done on the habits Conde Nast readers. I was surprised SNAP did not choose a more relevant topic for a session that sets the tone for the entire conference.
I ended up spending much of the time not in the sessions, but trolling the reception areas looking for that big story. It didnâ€™t 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, â€śCan you believe the management team at Penton is getting $12.5 million?â€ť Or, â€śDid you hear VNU may be changing its name?â€ť Etc. This is the lifeblood of a good daily in this spaceâ€”Peter Craig called our daily a â€śrag,â€ť but heâ€™s wrong.
This is especially true of the TMM, which is all about high-level networking, with a bit of content mixed in. Itâ€™s 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 didnâ€™t 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.
What the heck, rates are at historic lows, and lenders are willing too extend far out on the limb, providing much of the leverage for private-equity buyers. But some lenders are talking now about excess, about the climate not being sustainable. Once one or two loans default, they say, watch out.
Not to say more deals are coming fast: Look for Ziff Davis too be broken up in the months ahead and perhaps for Advanstar to come out again next year.
Meanwhile, some of the other blogs were weighing in on the conference, including a brief but typically insightful and humorous post from Rex Hammock and the ABMâ€™s own Steve Ennen on Mediapace.
And Iâ€™m hoping my capable colleagues Matt Kinsman and Bill Mickey will be weighing in soon on the actual sessions. More...
Even the most simple of mission statements can become muddled as we search for news and information to fill our pages, our Web sites, our blogs. And the same is true for the audience that we strive to reach. So maybe itâ€™s time we all reread are missions and take a closer look at our subscription lists, at least that what Bates-Schrott would recommend.
Aside from mission statements and audience engagement, the Folio: Show Production and Design track was filled with information about working with and selecting a printer, how to lower manufacturing costs, and how to improve your magazine right now. All of these sessions will be available Monday at www.folioshow.com/presentations for downloading.
In the meantime, here are eight tips (abbreviated) on â€śImproving Your Magazine Right Nowâ€ť offered by Jandos Rothstein, design director of Governing magazine and assistant professor at George Mason University.
1.) Simplify. Some magazines clutter pages with non-communicative elements - boxes, rules, frames and decorative standing art. Good design â€śsellsâ€ť rather than distracts from images and words.
2.) Right-size page elements. Layouts can feel disorganized or confusing if too much emphasis is given to less important elements. Placement, size, color and value decisions should be guided by the relative informational value of each element.
3.) Donâ€™t design a loaf of bread. Some magazines are like a loaf of bread - no matter where you cut them open, they offer a consistent texture and predictable sameness. Any magazine can support variety within its structure. Solving â€śbreadâ€ť design can be as simple as making sure spreads look different from one another and each spread (or page) has a main visual focus.
4.) Get the space you need. A million dollar art budget is useless without the room to display the art you purchase. Design is fueled by space.
5.) Become an art whisperer. Good design is responsive to imagery. Design to enhance rather than compete with art and photography. You cannot save bad art with design.
6.) Good photography is not always good. Looser crops, outtakes and action photos (even if they are slightly blurry) often give more insight into the subject than a perfectly lit, composed, (and predictable) portrait. Look for images that will intrigue and surprise your readers.
7.) Two clichĂ©s donâ€™t equal an original idea. If you must use stock art, use it carefully. Many stock images juxtapose to stereotypes creating a melded image. Real illustration renders insight or comments on the topic. Invest in fewers, more specific ideas.
8.) Banish your canards. Many fields have an obvious visual vocabulary (teachers = apples and bells, lawyers = scales and gavels). However, using apples in the pages of an education magazine makes the publication appear superficial. Banishing the obvious improves the thinking behind the assigned art because it forces freelancers to engage issues deeper than the magazineâ€™s demographic. More...