MPA IMAG Conference Stresses Organic Growth, E-media and the Power of Edit
Opening keynote speaker John Griffin, CEO of National Geographic Magazine Group placed e-media at the center of his discussion on media trends, noting that this year consumers will spend 50 percent more time reading Internet stories, spending more money on their monthly Internet connection than they will spend on print magazines and newspapers combined. "It’s not about content, it’s about access," he said.
Griffin said the cycle of leadership sequence begins with the best editorial. From there, publishers should focus on getting the most subscription and the most single copy sales at the highest prices, followed by the most ads sold at the highest prices. The cycle finishes off with the best research and leadership programs. He said independent publishers should be leaders in their markets by setting big goals. "You are worth what you tell people you are worth," he said.
The opening panel also touched on circulation issues, community development, staffing, and e-media ventures. Panelists included Susan Caughman of New Hope Media, Eric Rayman co-founder of Budget Living, and Tom Winsor of Belvoir Equine Group. Moderator Bradford Fayfield, founder of Storm Mountain Press in Colorado, asked each panelist the one thing they would do differently if they could: "Build a community-based Web site earlier on," said Caughman; "Hold circ down. We didn’t have to grow so quickly," said Rayman; "Spend less time thinking and more time taking action," said Winsor.
Later, attendees broke up into discussion groups, covering topics such as building community through events, promoting risk taking, staffing challenges, Web redesigns and rising production and mailing costs. "Use events to quantify who your readers are and who your sponsors’ buyers are," said Andrew Clurman, group publisher and COO of Active Interest Media.
After lunch, sessions began with The Nation publisher emeritus Victor Navasky’s nostalgic speech on his journey through the magazine industry. As the founding editor and publisher of Monocle in the sixties to his last 30 years at The Nation and experience as the Professor Delacorte at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Navasky playfully touched on issues such as "be nice to your postmaster," "overpay your writers" and "undercapitalization."
The day concluded with panels on the importance of the publisher-editor relationship and editorial leadership for a multi-channel brand. Panelists said the roles of both publisher and editor are changing and editors need to be concerned with the business side of publishing, and know how to get information on the Web.
Panelist Steve Hedlund, president of Elhert Publishing Group, noted that the Web is all about packaging and said incorporating online video in Web sites can be used to target enthusiasts. "The challenge is how do you get two different media to share one voice," he said. "Print should reinforce what you’re doing online and online should reinforce what you’re doing in print."