Monday, January 02, 2006

Meeting recap: Yoga for Editors

At the chapter’s first event, editors were urged to stay flexible.
By Jessica Harper

Adept at stretching their minds, business publication editors need to circulate that energy inward and prepare to hold multitalented positions, according to several publishing executives at the ASBPE Kansas City Chapter’s first meeting. Succinctly put, “Stay flexible, and don’t complain,” said Bill O’Neill, executive vice president of Vance Publishing, Lenexa, Kan.

Echoing his sentiments were three other panelists:
  • Becky Turner Chapman, publisher of Thomson Veterinary Healthcare Communications, Lenexa;
  • Dennis Triola, group publisher in the entertainment technology division for Primedia, Overland Park, Kan.;
  • and last-minute panelist Cameron Bishop, chief executive officer of Ascend Media, which recently announced the acquisition of Overland Park-based Atwood Publishing and Las Vegas-based Gem Communications.
About 55 editors, publishers, and advertising executives from area trade publications attended to get a take on the state of the business press. Two main themes prevailed: diversifying revenue streams and learning content creation.

Diversifying streams
Using both reader and advertiser avenues, companies are developing new routes of revenue, especially in Internet-related technologies, tradeshows, and supplemental publishing. About 10 years ago, Thomson Veterinary’s two publications accounted for approximately 80 percent of the operation’s revenue. Now, they bring in 50 percent, while diversified revenue streams — an annual tradeshow, meetings and events, book publishing, list business, Internet ventures, and others — account for the remainder.

Turner Chapman said expanding to new products achieves three main goals:
  • It ensures the publications uphold editorial integrity when the market is tight and advertisers want more;
  • it helps maintain jobs; and
  • it takes the original property to the next level.
Because readers develop personal relationships with brands, those products can be positioned to branch out.

Publishing companies can gain on two sides because they have an information product, and they also have an audience that is a product. Partnering with clients fosters an environment where publishing companies can “do more with the same amount or less,” Triola said, to establish beyond traditional print. “Reprints, supplements, advertorials, and special events — these are the types of payoffs where everybody wins,” he said.

Creating content
When working with newer products or traditional print, editors have to filter it down to the essential for their industry. “It’s not about driving eyeballs,” O’Neill said. “It’s about driving the right eyeballs — knowing your readers and advertisers.” As trustees of the relationship, O’Neill said editors must determine how to subset their audiences to create value by asking what readers are consuming and how are they doing it.

Once editors know these answers, they can package and deliver content in new formats to select markets. “We make money if our readers, or content users, make money,” Bishop said. “[It has to be] faster, simpler, easier, and better to enhance their careers.” Packaging content in new ways ties into diversifying streams. Together, the two themes will work to sustain and grow publishing businesses, while catering to content users. Although Bishop emphasized “the tangible feel of print is not going to go away,” the word from the panel is to be prepared for new positions.

Photo: Panelists stressed the importance of new products at the Kansas City chapter’s first event.

No comments: