Folio: Show Keynote Roundup: Meredith Corp., Time Inc. Executives Weigh-In on State of the Industry
Men’s Health founding editor and editorial director of Meredith Corp., Mike Lafavore shares his lessons learned in his 30 some years in the magazine industry.
The publishing business is changing rapidly and no one can say for sure where the industry is headed, says Meredith Corporation’s editorial director Mike Lafavore. In his midday keynote address to hundreds of attendees at the Folio: Show in New York on Tuesday, Lafavore discussed the eight things he’s learned in his more than 30 years of experience in the business, while also touching on the challenges of today’s industry." We are in the middle of some kind of storm and no one knows what it looks like on the other side," he said.
What Lafavore says hasn’t changed, is the fact that the reader is still in charge. As he explained his number one rule, he compared the threat of television in the 1950s, to the similar threat of the rise of the Internet and other technologies of today. "On average, consumers spend about two and a half hours a day online," he said, "and 34 minutes a day reading magazines. We’re not in the printing words on paper business anymore, we’re in the information business."
In the next five years, according to Lafavore, mobile digital devices will be the norm, where consumers will be able to carry a flexible, interactive touch screen, capable of downloading magazines to the palm of their hands with the touch of a button. "How do we compete with instant information?" he asked the audience. "Readers can decide how they want to receive their information and if we’re not willing to get that information to them the way they want it, they’ll get it somewhere else."
The speech echoed similar remarks from Time Inc.’s Betsy Frank, who addressed the issue of the print and online balance, in her keynote speech Monday. As head of a newly formed research department at Time Inc. Frank said consumers aren’t dropping print media in favor of online but using them both to serve different needs. "People are not giving up on magazine brands," she said. "Consumers don’t make either-or choices, they make choices based on content, context and experience."
Lafavore’s 8 Things He Knows About the Magazine Industry
- The reader is in charge.
- We’ll always need editors.
- There are too many magazines already, but there’s always room for another good one.
- Editorial will face increasing pressure from advertising.
- There is money to be made overseas.
- No, you can’t lower the median age of your magazines.
- You can never spend too much time worrying about the cover.
- If something works, keep doing it until it stops working.
3 Truths From Time Inc.’s Betsy Frank
- It’s All A Blur: Consumers are blurring the lines between entertainment and information.
- So What Have You Done for Me Lately?: Modern media has created consumers with short attention spans and reluctance to commit to brands;publishers have to keep that need for immediacy top of mind.
- We Face the Same Issues: While acknowledging pundits crowing about the death of print, Frank says challenges facing both print and online are very similar. "Just reading the other day that Yahoo is too slow compared to Google and this is going to cut into their advertising," says Frank. "We’re all subject to the same laws and pressures."