Active Interest Media's Andy Clurman on Print Schedules & Business During a Pandemic
Ingenuity and determination. Two descriptive traits that we Americans have proven over the years to have an abundance of. And during this life-altering pandemic that we’re all facing, never have we demonstrated it more, both personally and professionally. And magazines and magazine media are no different.
Recently, I spoke with Andy Clurman, president and CEO at Active Interest Media (AIM). Andy told me that his team at AIM were unbelievable, taking the work-from-home directive and running with it, coming up with creative and new ideas to keep even their events business operational (a Facebook Live team roping event) during the social distancing that we’re all practicing. From events to their print titles, AIM is moving forward during this tragedy with hope, grace, and fortitude, as Andy and his team develop an awareness for this new world we are all living in currently, while keeping the business an Active, Interest-ing Media company.
On how he is conducting business during this pandemic:
"We have a lot of people working remotely and thankfully through technology it wasn’t a big leap for us two weeks ago to ask everyone to work from home. We have a couple of essential positions where those people have to come in periodically, but so far just using all the tools we have and the ones we’ve gotten better at, such as Microsoft teams that I think are fully functioning, we’re doing good. The thing that has been most impacted is obviously our event business, which is growing to be a larger and larger part of our company. Fortunately, none of our largest marketing events are happening this time of the year, but we did have to cancel, postpone, or virtualize a whole number of events which included a boutique boat show we were doing in Seattle, a log and timber home show in Minneapolis, a number of team roping events in New Mexico, a fitness and yoga event that we were doing."
On whether they are changing or halting any of their print schedules for now:
"We have not done that as of yet. We are studying different impacts, but so far advertising has held up. There has been some cancellations, but there have been more delays, with people pushing campaigns back. At least as of the end of last week we hadn’t seen a material drop in advertising, which made us read that every issue of the moment was going to be profitable, but we’re keeping our eyes wide opened and everybody is communicating in real time what they’re seeing in our different markets. It would be surprising if advertising didn’t come down a bit."
On whether he thinks the business model will reinvent itself after the pandemic is over:
"Long before all the longer-term impacts and social changes, I think people were accelerating or reinventing the business on the fly, for example, we started an ecommerce initiative a while ago, last summer, and it’s been honestly somewhat languishing. Then suddenly when we got to the end of this year, we really ramped it up and we’re seeing signs of incredible traction. Across the company, just in the last two weeks, as we’ve been looking at what else we could do to help diversify and safeguard the business against a decline in advertising, we ramped up the ecommerce-related effort and a new product that we’re going to be bringing to the market in a few weeks."
Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. As Mr. Magazine™ he engages in media consulting and research for the magazine media and publishing industry.