Show Notes: Making the Rounds: MPA, ACT 3 and MediaNext
The fall and early winter were a busy time for magazine shows, with AMC 2012, MPA's Magazine Media Conference, taking place in mid-October in San Francisco, "Mr. Magazine" Samir Husni's ACT 3 Conference a week later, sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., and a Superstorm Sandy-rescheduled Folio: MediaNext conference in New York this past January, all garnering strong attendance and presenting forceful thinking about the state of the industry. Here are just some of the many highlights.
MPA: Magazine Media Conference
✔ Michael Clinton of Hearst, Chairman of the MPA, kicks off the show by saying magazine publishers should be “paper proud.”
✔ MPA President & CEO Mary Berner eschews conversation about doom and gloom, “demise and death,” and claims magazines as “powerful arbitrators of taste, style and influence” who can overcome digital disruption.
✔ Paul Bascobert, President of Bloomberg Businessweek, says it’s all about building engaged audiences and building the brands. Businessweek Editor Josh Tyrangiel says “we’re competing in an attention economy.”
✔ Adam Lashinsky of Fortune magazine and author of “Inside Apple” talks about his journey into the secretive world of Apple insiders.
✔ Ed Knudson of Digimarc and Morgan Guenther of Next Issue Media discuss new products and describe magazine readers as “sharers.”
✔ Patricia Fox of Yoga Journal and Michele Promaulayko of Women’s Health create programs and “challenges” that have ramped up the complexity of ways for readers to engage and feel like they’re getting value. Using social media is “part of the modern skill set.”
✔ National Geographic’s “Digital Nomad” Andrew Evans describes how he captures his globe-trotting on his iPhone and posts his adventures on Twitter. He’s the first writer to pitch an entirely digital story. He went from Washington D.C. to Antarctica on public transportation and live tweeted his journey.
✔ VC genius Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, says this time period in technological development is special due to the presence of three platforms: cloud computing, mobile and social, all of which he calls transformational.
✔ Dr. Jeffrey Cole of the Center for the Digital Future at USC has been studying media use around the world for twelve years, and foresees huge changes: possibly the demise of PCs, and Amazon expanding into same-day delivery, putting drugstore chains out of business—and eventually even selling automobiles!
✔ Food & Wine’s Christina Grdovic talks about building and monetizing events, including the New York City Wine & Food Festival that attracted 60,000 attendees. People’s Karen Kovacs discusses relaunching mobile and building a custom app.
✔ Russ Grandinetti, VP, Kindle Content, says Amazon wants to do for magazines what it did for books. He has learned from his experience with the Kindle Fire what an interactive magazine experience should be: customers like when it’s really simple to buy things, and when the content is there in the morning and they don’t have to look for it.
✔ Pamela Maffei McCarthy of the New Yorker: So what is a magazine now? The answer: “a crucial mass of writing, pictures, very often subject-specific. When it’s good it’s shot through with a distinctive sensibility and voice. Once we assembled these things in one place and shared with readers at one time on a regular schedule. Now there are a dozen ways we share it and we share it 24/7. The challenge is to hold it all together when we cross platforms.”
✔ Attendees take field trips to Twitter and Facebook, getting inside peeks while drinking blood orange vodka cocktails!
Magazine Innovation Center: ACT 3
✔ The Conference theme, “Never Underestimate the Power of Print,” says it all!
✔ Rebecca Darwin, President & CEO of Garden & Gun magazine, describes lessons she’s learned as a magazine entrepreneur, including “go with your gut” in terms of what you publish, decide what you want to be and stick with it, get as much advice and you can and then do what you think is right, surround yourself with good people, and be honest with yourself, your employees, your advertisers, and, most of all, your readers.
✔ Kevin P. Keefe, VP, Editorial of Kalmbach Publishing Co. describes very carefully focused and targeted niches, a deep knowledge of readers’ interests, and a diverse array of product, including print, online and events. In the video series “Cody’s Office,” Model Railroader associate editor Cody Grivno has become “a rock star.”
✔ Ali Ghanbarian of SOMA magazine started as “a bored engineer looking for something different to do” and blossomed into a restaurateur and the publisher of one of the most influential magazines for the “creative community.”
✔ Jamie Pallot talked about creating multimedia projects at Vanity Fair. He says the magazine is “a hotbed of idea sharing and generation, watching news, making contacts.” As far as access, “doors fly open for them.” They have a great stable of writers, and great editing and design. Tom Stoppard even sent him a note about the copyediting!
✔ Carla Kalogeridis of Association & Media Publishing describes the journey many associations take to become publishers, which was not part of their original mission.
✔ Lisette Heemskerk of the Netherlands’ Linda magazine brings an international perspective. Know your DNA, she says. List your values and characteristics, and if something doesn’t match these values, don’t do it. Be good and know what’s good. Within your limitations is a world of creativity but there’s “no shine without friction.”
✔ Consultant William Pollak says magazines need brand consistency and someone has to be the keeper of the brand. Advertising expert Jim Elliot describes the appeal of short-term commitment media: “now online you put money in today and it can be up tomorrow.”
✔ Magazine maven Bo Sacks says “our problem today is that the change hasn’t finished” and Folio’s Tony Silber reminds us that this change we are experiencing will still be going on and taking shape for a long, long time to come.
✔ Sara Domville, President of F+W Media, says they create niche communities for passionate enthusiasts and that, out of the content from their online communities they have built a strong and extensive program of online education.
✔ Shelley Jones Jennings, VP Digital at Black Enterprise, draws participants to their events by extensive, and very successful, use of gamification. Brent Pearson, CIO of UBM Electronics says they’ve had great success merging offline and online events.
✔ James Bankoff of Vox Media asks: how do we reinvent editorial products in the same way technology is reinventing things?
✔ Dan Roth, Executive Editor at LinkedIn, stresses their commitment to generating original content and building communities led by thought leaders (who include President Obama and Richard Branson).
✔ Brian Kelly of U.S. News & World Report says they’re not a magazine anymore; they’re a news and information brand.
✔ Mr. Magazine Samir Husni laments: “I have never heard any industry talk so much about its own demise!” He emphasizes that if one magazine dies it doesn’t mean the end of magazines. His studies prove just how many new magazines are constantly arriving on the scene. It’s all part of the normal magazine lifecycle. PE