Jerry Powers: President & Publisher, SoBe NEWS INC.
Powers thumbed his nose at the conventional city-magazine formula and has succeeded by pursuing upscale advertisers and editorial content as well as using controlled circulation.
Jerry Powers is an iconoclast. He’s a New York City art dealer who dared to enter the magazine business 13 years ago after a vacation trip to Miami left him unimpressed with the local city magazines. Now, his Ocean Drive has an overall circulation of 65,000 in the cutthroat South Florida publishing market and Powers has established similar new titles in Las Vegas and Atlanta and partnered with fellow regional luxe publisher Jason Binn of Niche Media to offer metro magazines in Long Island, Los Angeles and Boston. He plans to add titles in Chicago and San Francisco next year as well.
While many traditional regional publishers scorn SoBe’s free distribution model (magazines are sent to specific addresses or delivered through hotel rooms and high-end local shops), Powers didn’t like the "Top 10 list" formula or emphasis on suburban mass subscribers that he found in other regional titles.
Readers are "people who like to sit and drink coffee and look at pretty people and shop," says the 59-year-old Powers. "Instead of putting some local doctor or chef on the cover, we put [supermodel] Claudia Schiffer or [celebrity photographer] Francesco Scavullo." South Beach boosts relationships with advertisers with more than 200 integrated events a year.
The content might be fluffy but the payoff is not. SoBe generated $25 million in 2005. Powers’ Las Vegas title does $8 million per year and he thinks his newly launched Atlanta Peach could be even bigger than that. However, as the regional market continues to grow, Powers will have to contend not only with sometimes partner Niche Media and luxe publisher Modern Luxury, but also traditional regional magazine heavyweight Emmis Communications.
VITAL STATS: The company posted $25 million in revenues last year, is publishing magazines in three cities, and is taking aim at many other markets.