I write about the meetings industry, so naturally, I get to attend a lot of events. It’s rare, however, that I attend a conference that’s devoted not to what I write about but to what I actually do: publish a magazine. That’s because it seems somewhat of a luxury. All of us on the Convene editorial team spend a lot of time on the road covering meetings industry events — while handling all that’s required to put out a monthly magazine in print and online.
But these days, it’s absolutely necessary. The publishing landscape is shifting rapidly — readers move between print magazines, desktops, tablets, and smartphones to consume content. And that includes Convene readers, who tell us they love bringing their print issues on planes with them as they travel on business, but are also increasingly reliant on tablets and smartphones to get their work done on the road. How are we to best meet your needs — to provide the most valuable information and insights — across these different platforms? It’s critical that we Convene editors learn how our colleagues in trade, association, and consumer magazines are serving up their content for readers, and adding social and interactive media to the mix.
With that as my goal, Monday through Wednesday of this week, I hopped on an early-morning commuter bus and made my way to Manhattan’s Marriott Marquis to attend the Publishing Business Conference & Expo, hosted by Publishing Executive and Book Business. The conference featured sessions with magazine heavyweights, including Wired Publisher Howard Mittman, Oprah Magazine Editor-in-Chief Lucy Kaylin, Forbes Chief Revenue Officer Mark Howard, and Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams (pictured above, with Publishing Executive Editorial Director Lynn Rosen at the podium).
We heard from media start-ups and stalwarts, and I came away with lots of ideas, which I’m still sifting through. I had two major takeaways, which were equally surprising and reassuring. The first is, when it comes to the digital plus print equation, even the big players are figuring things out day to day.
And the second? I didn’t expect a publishing conference to reaffirm the value of face-to-face, but speaker after speaker talked about live events featuring prominently in many of their strategies — serving to connect readers to their brand as well as to add significant revenues to their bottom line. Andy Serwer, managing editor for Fortune, said the challenge for publishers today is focus, because we are all facing “a huge variety of choices.” Fortune is focusing on its print issues, digital opportunities — and live events. “Our live-events business has gotten much bigger,” he told us. “We’re doing events in China, Europe, and throughout the U.S.”