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Skodzinski: Are you currently doing any virtual events (webinars or trade shows)?
O'Connor Abrams: We held eight webinars last year around the ground-breaking research, "The New Face of Affluence." The Dwell Insights Group, which houses this research panel, will conduct a dozen webinars for design professionals and many more for many of the nation's leading consumer brands who want to know a great deal more about the "New Affluent" and their consumer behavior.
Skodzinski: You also sell homes. Can you comment on that initiative?
O'Connor Abrams: Starting in 2005, we chose a few select architects and manufacturers to sell homes, thus creating the Dwell Homes Collection. This turned out to be far more complicated than we imagined, but we have learned a great deal and sold 52 homes since the program was introduced. We have been pleasantly surprised by the continued sales in what has been the worst housing market in 50 years.
Skodzinski: Where is Dwell Media investing most heavily?
O'Connor Abrams: We have added the most resources (human and capital) to our digital offerings and that will continue this year. We have also created a vice president level that did not exist until October 2010. This streamlined our operation and put even more emphasis on the cross-platform integration.
Our most recent announcement is the hiring of an industry veteran to the position of Dwell's vice president of audience development. Now all departments in Dwell Media are responsible for all Dwell-branded platforms. We are in a perfect position to grow our existing platforms while continuing to innovate in new areas—all of which are being welcomed by our total audience of 2 million design professionals and consumers.
Even More Interesting Stuff
Skodzinski: Has your role as president changed in recent years?
O'Connor Abrams: I am most certainly spending more time in business planning for our newest platforms, but I still stay in the field among our clients and our audience, because this is where I get my energy!
Skodzinski: What is something your company did right to survive the recession?
O'Connor Abrams: We set out to be a media company, so as not to be dependent on print only. We focused on a community of people and endeavored to know more about them than anyone else. These two things gave us the resilience and the foundation to not only weather the recession but thrive in the recession, because innovation was less expensive and our competitors were busy cleaning up bigger print messes.