Editor-in-Chief, Director of Publications ﾕ American School Board Journal
He oversaw the merger of the National School Boards Association’s magazine and newspaper, and prepped the staff for a major shift in responsibilities.
Founded in 1891, American School Board Journal, owned by the National School Boards Association, is the oldest continuously published education magazine in the U.S. But in recent years, the title had begun to show its age. Circulation was flat and ad revenue was declining. In 2005, consultant Ralph Monti of Special Interest Media suggested shorter articles, a redesign and a new hybrid distribution model that combined ASBJ’s 30,000 paid circulation with sister newspaper School Board News’ 21,000 controlled circulation.
In 2006, the long-time publishing director retired, and Glenn Cook was promoted to publishing director and editor-in-chief. “I was told, ‘You’ve done a lot of these things successfully, now let’s take the next step,'” he says.
The new distribution model is intended to make ASBJ more competitive with b-to-b magazines in this space. “Our CPM was so high, and we straddle that association/b-to-b market,” says Cook. “We’re not underwritten by the association and we’re competing with all these b-to-b’s that just give it away for free. I think we can show our edit is as good or better.”
But convincing the staff was the biggest challenge. “We had to convince people they didn’t have to write the definitive 3,000-word tome,” says Cook. Every staff member received a new title and a new workload, such as senior editors spending 85 percent of their time with the magazine and 15 percent with the Web site and other publications, such as newsletters.
This spring, Cook will oversee a redesign of the Web site (www.asbj.com), which hasn’t had any major tweaks since the late Nineties. The new site will include blogs, and online-only content. Part of the redesign will include a drive for online subscriptions. “We’re not a member-driven pub, we’re a circulation-driven pub,” he says. “We want to engage readers more and have them provide us with more ideas and direction for content.”
ASBJ is also being validated by its peers. Last month, the magazine took first place for a series called “Katrina’s Kids” from the Education Writer’s Association, and is a finalist in nine categories in the Association of Educational Publishers annual contest, including “Whole Publication/Most Improved.”
Since the repositioning, ASBJ is seeing a slight uptick in advertising and won first place from the Education Writer’s Association.