Wish you could have been there!

by Jim Elliott

Mr. Magazine™ has done it again: Dr. Samir Husni’s ACT Experience events are getting better each year.  For the publishing leaders who attended ACT 3 at Ole Miss in Oxford, MS in late October, it was a chance to share ideas and to assess the current state of affairs in a unique, intimate setting.  It was great to talk with some of the biggest names in publishing in the lecture halls and at dinner side by side with highly engaged university students.   This year’s theme was, “Never underestimate the power of print in a digital age.”  

The attendees clearly believe in traditional magazines: no one talked about getting rid of ink on paper. Many speakers did talk about interesting ways to leverage their brands into new areas, including digital and mobile platforms.  Several shared their thoughts on how best to achieve a balance between digital and print.  There were a couple of digital-only publishers, but most presenters showed how they are integrating their new businesses with their print products.

It was my privilege to share the lectern with Bill Pollak, former CEO of both ALM (formerly American Lawyer Media) and the ABM (The Association of Business Information and Media Companies).  Our presentation was entitled, “What is the Power of Print in Today’s Advertising & Sponsorship Environment?” Here is a quick overview of the highlights:

  • Yes, some magazines are way down, or out.  However, to give current events some historical perspective, magazines are the last medium to be added back in a recovery.
  • So, all is not lost.  Not by a longshot.  There are many bright spots:  PIB shows some strong categories.  And, even when a category is down, there are often one or two books doing just fine within the category.
  • B2B publishers, especially, have found new sources of revenue to replace the old “free subscription, 100% dependence on advertising model.”  Trade shows now bring in more revenue than print.
  • Print advertising used to be the center of a limited group of revenue activities.
  • Now publishers are increasing their focus on the brand and leveraging their brands across a wider spectrum of opportunities.
  • These new pieces fit differently for all brands, and it is vital to find the right balance.
  • Print is still important: there are very few digital-only successes.
  • There are many pitfalls to avoid and sales challenges to overcome.
  • Many brands are getting it right: Marie Claire, Christian Science Monitor, Access Intelligence (Folio:, min), ALM.
  • In our conclusion, we suggested getting started now, and pointed out “buy or build” strategic options including outsourcing, acquisition, and licensing as well as DIY.

We were very pleased by the way our talk was received, and we are glad to share it with you. You can see our presentation at www.jamesgelliott.com/news.