The Huddle Calls the Plays

The Star Tribune appears at your front door, or when you tap your device, but do you know how it is produced? Sure, many of us in publishing, whether content creators or sales and marketing pros, can imagine how the state’s largest daily comes together. But do you know how “the news” is made? How story decisions happen? Have you been to a “news huddle”?

Star Tribune editors sit around the table at a 3:30 pm News Huddle to discuss current reporting activity and upcoming content for the paper. MMPA members sat along the wall in the open meeting room.

Star Tribune editors sit around the table at a 3:30 pm News Huddle to discuss current reporting activity and upcoming content for the paper. MMPA members sat along the wall in the open meeting room.

“The Star Tribune welcomes visitors who are curious about how decisions get made. Since the paper operates to shed light on issues of the day, we also want to shed light on our own process,” said Sue Campbell, Features Editor and MMPA Board member. “It’s great to have fellow publishers visit because they ask deeper questions – and this group in particular got a lot of conversation going.

A select group of MMPA members attended a Star Tribune 3:30 pm news huddle on Wednesday March 13. This event was the first in the new MMPA Professional Development Series. MMPA is currently planning more of these events focused on networking and learning for young media professionals. Seated along the back wall of an otherwise-open meeting room, event attendees watched 16 or 17 Strib editors discuss current website traffic and future editorial plans, including the next day’s stories.

“It was a real treat to get a look behind the scenes at the Star Tribune and sit in on the news huddle,” said Laura Burt, Editor & Social Media Manager for BATC-Housing First Minnesota. “Their crew was so generous with their time and answered all of our questions. It was fascinating to learn more about how the organization balances planning the daily stories for the newspaper with the longer lead time needed for the magazine content.”

Sue Campbell, MMPA Member & StarTribune Features Editor, leads a tour of the editorial offices

Sue Campbell, MMPA Member & StarTribune Features Editor, leads a tour of the editorial offices

The news huddle meeting was lead by Suki Dardarian, Sr. Managing Editor and V.P.; and Rene Sanchez, Editor and Senior V.P. of the Star Tribune. Editors of each section (Sports, Nation, Variety, Business, etc.) had a few minutes to share the reporting they were working on. During the huddle, Dardarian and Sanchez would occasionally press for more details, or ask for clarification on the direction of that reporting. Another version of the news huddle takes place each morning. Campbell lead a tour of the Star Tribune editorial offices, for MMPA members attending. Stopping to peer over one designer’s shoulders, attendees watched the Star Tribune’s Josh Jones organize front-page stories using Adobe InDesign publishing software. He explained the production and design-approval process as he showed us how he manipulates content on the page.

Following the educational tour, MMPA members walked next door to Dan Kelly’s pub for refreshments and casual story telling. Star Tribune editors Richard Chin and Chris Hewitt joined the MMPA crew at Dan Kelly’s after the event. “This was one of the first MMPA events I’ve attended,” said Burt, “and it was a great opportunity to meet other industry members in a laid-back environment. Plus, the beer was delicious!”

MMPA members attending: Laura Burt, Sue Campbell, Maria Douglas Reeve, Zac Farber, Suzy Frisch, Zoe Gahan, Glenn Hansen, Steve Hedlund, Sarah Jackson, Rob Johnstone, Tim Morgan, and Hannah Swan.

Changes at Franchise Times

Mary Jo Larson’s business is to know the ins and outs of businesses – well, franchises to be exact. Larson is the publisher and vice president of Franchise Times, a Minneapolis-based trade publication that covers – you guessed it – franchises. Though Larson’s work often involves telling the stories of businesses, she recently detailed some of the new changes in upper management at the Franchise Times and its affiliate publications. 

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“It’s a very exciting time here, that’s for sure,” Larson said. 

Beth Ewen, editor-in-chief for the Franchise Times for the past seven years, will be moving to Chicago for her husband’s relocation, but will still contribute to the publication remotely as a Senior Editor. Stepping into her new role as editor-in-chief will be Laura Michaels, who previously served as managing editor.  

“Beth has built a great editorial standard that will continue under Laura’s leadership, but also Laura will be able to put her own stamp on [the publication] as every editor does,” Larson said. “But it will still be the industry’s publication that people have come to expect – interesting, great stories about successful people in franchising, and a must read.” 

Mary Jo Larson - Publisher & President of Franchise Times

Mary Jo Larson - Publisher & President of Franchise Times

Franchise Times has two sister publications: Foodservice News and Food On Demand. While Nancy Monroe, who has worked with the Franchise Times Corporation for more than 16 years, steadily maintains the helm of Foodservice News, Food On Demand has seen some new leadership changes: Tom Kaiser recently became the editor of that publication. Food On Demand focuses on the intersection of food, technology and mobility, making this a perfect role for Kaiser, said Larson. 

“I think [Food On Demand] will continue to lead the way on topics of interest in technology and food-delivery in the restaurant space,” she said. “Tom has a current knowledge of what is cutting edge and the change that is rapidly happening in that space and that will be reflected in that publication and our conferences.” 

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While Kaiser will still contribute to Franchise Times, his primary focus will be Food On Demand. Though the food-centric publication is released on a monthly basis, Larson hopes, under its new leadership, there will be an increased frequency in its release.  

Although Larson acknowledged there is a learning curve in any news position, she remains optimistic for the future of the publications she helps oversee. “To have those new sets of ideas with anything keeps all of us creative and on our toes, which is good for our readers,” Larson said.

National Oil & Lube News Joins 10 Missions Media

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National Oil & Lube News ( NOLN ), the leading publication for the fast lube and quick maintenance industry, announced Wednesday that is has joined 10 Missions Media, paving the way for NOLN to expand and enhance the value it provides its readership.

“This is an exciting next step in the evolution of our brand,” NOLN chief operating officer Ragan Holt said. “We’ve spent the last 30-plus years firmly establishing ourselves as a resource to those operating quick lube and maintenance businesses. By joining 10 Missions Media and its impressive portfolio of publications, we’ll be able to build on our legacy, enhance our offerings and bring to market new and exciting products that will allow us to be successful for years to come.”

10 Missions Media acquired NOLN in a deal that closed February 1. NOLN joins a lineup of 10 Missions Media publications that includes FenderBender , Ratchet+Wrench , FIXED and MWACA Magazine.

“With the reputation and esteem that National Oil & Lube News has built over the years, we couldn’t be more excited to add the brand and its people to our team,” 10 Missions Media vice president and publisher Chris Messer said. “NOLN is a natural fit with our brands, and we plan to carry on its legacy in this industry while providing new opportunities for growth.”

Scott Tiffany and Minnesota Hockey Magazine -- Minnesota Hockey Stories, With Fighting

When the publisher of Mesaba Airlines inflight magazine paid me a couple hundred bucks to write a story about camping and canoeing on the Zumbro River, I thought I was rich. That was about 30 years ago, and I wrote those few hundred words for the thrill of the story, not for the money. I quickly earned a passion for publishing, as well as a potential for paychecks if I kept at it.

Over the years, I’ve sometimes misplaced that passion. Have you?

 Scott Tiffany hasn’t. A passion for publishing and hockey impelled Tiffany to create Minnesota Hockey magazine three decades ago. He’s managed it, fought for it, and grown it into a leading print and digital publication – all while maintaining a separate full-time career (also in publishing).

Publishing Passion

In 1988, in a marketing class at the College of St. Thomas (later St. Thomas University), professor George Masko assigned then-student Tiffany to create and market a product. Starting with a love for hockey and interest in publishing, Tiffany created Minnesota Hockey magazine.

“I was working in the newspaper industry at the time and wrote a business plan for this marketing class. My professor took me aside and said, ‘You gotta do this.’ I was more concerned about graduating from college than I was about starting a hockey magazine.”

Minnesota Hockey crew left to right: Declan Goff, Brian Halverson, Scott Tiffany, Johnny Watkins, Jeff Wegge, and Tim Kolehmainen. Missing is Bill Rossini.

Minnesota Hockey crew left to right: Declan Goff, Brian Halverson, Scott Tiffany, Johnny Watkins, Jeff Wegge, and Tim Kolehmainen. Missing is Bill Rossini.

Another group was also starting a hockey magazine. Tiffany and this group tried to work together. True to the game, the gloves came off – figuratively – and a fight ensued.

“I used my ‘phone a friend’ privilege and got pro bono legal assistance from my former professor Masko,” said Tiffany. “At about the same time I met my wife-to-be Jelaine, and she was a real rock that helped me through a lousy time. I had all sorts of offers for assistance, and in the end I took the high road and let it play out in court. I learned a lot lessons, most of which I wouldn’t wish on anybody. Greed makes people do crazy things.”

We won’t get into the legal fisticuffs; let’s just say the actions of some were considered unsportsmanlike. A settlement granted Tiffany the Minnesota Hockey title, plus content and design rights, and more. He settled into creating a respected brand for Minnesota Hockey, all while maintaining a career in the circulation department at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and raising a family. And the magazine did suffer some of the same ills of other print publications.

“When the newspaper industry was crashing in the early 2000s, and the Pioneer Press State Circulation department downsized, I thought about what I wanted to do with Minnesota Hockey. And I decided to bring back the magazine in digital format.”

Tiffany spent his time researching and learning about new media and looking for ways to build Minnesota Hockey digitally. He had “partners” that came and went along with thoughts of money and opportunities. Constant through it all, however, was his original plan for Minnesota Hockey, plus his faith in God and the support of quality contributors. What he needed now was a mechanism to reach an audience of Minnesota hockey fans.

“Our first website was going to be a one-stop shop for all things in Minnesota hockey,” said Tiffany, “but we soon realized that with a limited number of resources in people and cash, this was nearly impossible to manage. We tried, but soon saw how we really couldn’t satisfy everyone at the level we wanted to, and it was frustrating part of the journey. We had great writers and photographers, but we had a very limited audience and were getting lost in the online world. We made ourselves miserable, pleased no one and if something didn’t change, we would continue to be lost in the crowd and lose our content providers and audience.”

Tiffany’s team of contributors asked him to give print a try, again.

“One other thing to note is that during this period, my life was being consumed at work. By this time, I saw my department at the Pioneer Press shrink even more, eventually going from 22 people when I started to where I was the last full-time person overseeing the department. This is one period I would personally like a do-over on; my family time was all but taken away, and I was under incredible pressure to get the Minnesota Hockey print magazine launched.”

In March of 2015 Tiffany launched the new Minnesota Hockey print publication; it was a guide for the boys’ state high school hockey tournament. The magazine was a content hit and all of the local hotels were asking for the magazine to give to their hotel guests during tournament week.  

“In 2015 and 2016 we just did these annual state tournament guides. Everyone who worked with me on these had full-time jobs, it was a labor of love. We have great writers and photographers who are independent contractors. All except our General Manager who is retired and helps us now.

Each tournament special issue had more pages than the previous one, and more hotels for distribution. In 2017, Tiffany added another print publication, recapping that year’s Minnesota Hockey Day event in Stillwater. That issue of the magazine won a Silver Medal at the MMPA Awards of Excellence celebration.

At about the same time, Tiffany ended his long career in circulation at the Pioneer Press and moved to the Star Tribune for a position doing for the same work he’d done for more than 30 years on the other side of the river.

Tiffany, his team, and Minnesota Hockey magazine have continued publishing special issues around hockey in Warroad, St. Cloud, and the recent Hockey Day in Bemidji. With his unique experience and connections in print circulation, Tiffany has been able to spread Minnesota Hockey content and grow a faithful audience. A partnership with the Star Tribune now has Minnesota Hockey as an added value publication to newspaper digital subscribers, increasing the magazine’s audience both digitally and in print.

“Our recent Hockey Day issue covered the coldest hockey day ever,” said Tiffany, “and I was pleasantly surprised to see the magazine was selling strong at the event, as long as the product was available. Twice they had to replenish copies. That issue is now on newsstands around the state and it will be interesting to see how it sells after the event. We added 20 pages of content for our final edition.”

“Minnesota Hockey could have been at a full-time career for me at some point. But I like what I do with the newspaper,” he said, “and I’m good at it. I enjoy working with people around the state, I like the distribution business, and I like my full time gig and the Star Tribune organization now.

“We have a plan, and we have a group of great writers and photographers. So now we’re doing what we want to do, things we think people will find interesting. My role has changed a lot; instead of chasing stories I’m working on relationships and new challenges.

“People say print is dead; I don’t agree. You need to create the product that people want to keep. We keep that in our minds. We’re creating mini books with interesting stories about hockey in special regions of the state. We are not looking to report on games. You can find that on someone’s Twitter feed. We’re trying to produce keepsakes. And in the hockey world, many communities take pride in their heritage, and they want their stories told.  

“It’s more of a labor of love than anything. I started this 30 years ago. I do have other ambitions, another magazine to launch down the road, maybe after I retire from the newspaper business. But I like to work. In all this, I want to thank my family who has allowed me to reach my vision of producing a great hockey magazine for the state. I have been blessed with a great wife of 28 years, plus four super kids and two grandchildren.

Tiger Oak Media -- Locally Growing

Tony Bednar - President of Tiger Oak Media

Tony Bednar - President of Tiger Oak Media

If local is good, why not be local in multiple locales? Tiger Oak Media is working on mastery of local multiples, with focused content, an ear for audience, and EOS. We spoke with Tony Bednar, President of Tiger Oak Media, to learn more about the company’s strategies.  

MMPA: One of the biggest stories in media today is the decline of “local” journalism, from struggling local papers to hometown TV news. Tiger Oak seems focused on local/regional publishing. How is what you do different from the local news story?

Tony Bednar: I think we face similar challenges. We, however, have very targeted audiences, which helps. We remain dedicated to creating quality content.  But at the end of the day, we need to attract advertisers. It pushes us to evolve; we complement our print with digital solutions, and we build packages by listening to what our customers want. It really is a multi-media solution. We stick to our roots  but we also recognize the need to diversify.

MMPA: You started at Tiger Oak in May and were probably challenged early with shutting down Minnesota Business magazine. How difficult was that?

Bednar: It was extremely difficult. Minnesota Business has a great reputation and brand. When you went to our events – and this was an event-driven publication – it was always a high energy crowd made up of both industry veterans and younger business owners and executives. But when we looked at the P&L, it wasn’t where we needed it to be. I still think it has a lot of potential for the right person or group.  I would love to find a new home for it.

MMPA: Your experience is not in publishing. What do you bring to Tiger Oak, and what has publishing taught you?

Bednar: What do I bring to Tiger Oak? I worked for a large company, Merrill Corporation, for almost 20 years and held a variety of leadership and management roles. I bring a vast level of experience running businesses and divisions that have faced a variety of challenges. 

One thing publishing has taught me is that you need to embrace change and be willing to evolve in order to stay current and meet the needs of your readers and advertisers.  I am not sure exactly what Tiger Oak will look like ten years from now but I get excited thinking about the journey.  

I love working in a small business and having the ability to make the day-to-day changes needed to drive the business forward. We’re focused on getting back on a growth track. In tough market periods, companies that aren’t very good go away. Great companies grow and prosper.

MMPA: We’re focused on Minnesota publishing of course. How does our publishing market compare to others Tiger Oak works in? How about the overall business environment comparison? (Note: Tiger Oak Media has offices in Minneapolis and Seattle.)

Bednar: We have tough competition in Minnesota. Of course, we have tough competition in every market. Minnesota has more mature competition, perhaps, and we have to fight for advertising dollars. Honestly, to answer this question, we’d need to look at each title individually. Seattle Magazine does very well for us, No. 1 in that market.

MMPA: Tiger Oak has several “local” offices, publishing niches and markets. How do you find efficiencies that serve all of Tiger Oak?

Bednar: The short answer is EOS. We are in the process of implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System to help us run a more efficient business.  As a result, we created standard workflows and processes that allow us to better manage workloads across sites. We also adjusted our organizational structure to make it easier for us to manage expenses. As an example, we added a V.P. of Content to our leadership team. This individual is accountable for managing art and editorial resources across the organization.

Members of the Tiger Oak Media Team celebrating at the Excellence Awards Gala.  Back row L to R: Tony Bednar, Taylor Kilgore, Kelsey Copeland, Jim Younger and Kristin Mastantuono  Front row L to R: Sarah Dovolos, Emily Handy-Murphey and Maggie Kelly

Members of the Tiger Oak Media Team celebrating at the Excellence Awards Gala.

Back row L to R: Tony Bednar, Taylor Kilgore, Kelsey Copeland, Jim Younger and Kristin Mastantuono

Front row L to R: Sarah Dovolos, Emily Handy-Murphey and Maggie Kelly

We are striving to create a team dynamic that allows employees the  flexibility they need to produce their best work.

MMPA: Events and Publishing? Are they the same thing?

Bednar: The short answer is Yes. Publishing is not just magazines any more. Our niche is building a targeted audience that our advertisers want to get in front of. We can build continuity across publishing and events by focusing on the art of this idea.

MMPA: How does Tiger Oak listen for feedback and learning?

Bednar: One primary way is through our sales force, where we stay connected to our advertisers. We want our sales force to be the voice of the customer. As a business, if you listen to your audience, you’ll make good decisions. For readers, we do surveys, we look at web stats. We have a variety of ways to determine what our readers want and need.

 

90 Minutes of Baseball, Beer and More

Do you have a microphone and something to say? Do you have a friend you could argue with over beer for 90 minutes? Does your mom want to be on a podcast? John Bonnes and Aaron Gleeman, the on-air team of Gleeman & The Geek, have pondered those questions and more through their weekly podcast that’s all about baseball.

The popularity of podcasts is booming, and media organizations are using podcasts to reach audiences and to build brand followings. We talked with MMPA member John Bonnes to learn why he co-created a baseball podcast.  

Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes - Gleeman & The Geek - enjoy the microphone and each other's company at Target Field prior to a Twins Game last summer.

Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes - Gleeman & The Geek - enjoy the microphone and each other's company at Target Field prior to a Twins Game last summer.

MMPA: You’ve done more than 400 episodes of your weekly Gleeman & The Geek podcast? It must be working.

John Bonnes: As much as podcasts can work, I guess it is working. We’ve done way more than we ever thought we would do. The engagement people have with us – the intimacy – it started more quickly and is more intense than I thought it would be. People really feel like they know you when they listen to your podcast.

MMPA: What is your goal with this podcast? It sounds like just a conversation about sports and life? You’re not trying to sell anything.

Bonnes: This podcast is a separate entity from what I do with TwinsDaily.com (note: TwinsDaily.com provides “independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins” and is co-owned by John Bonnes). Aaron (“Gleeman”) is not part of Twins Daily. Our original goal for the podcast was not even monetary. We just wanted to see if we could make it interesting, a full-time baseball analytics show. There isn’t a lot of deep baseball discussion in this market. Football, yes; but not baseball. Honestly, we thought if we got 100 people to download, we’d be happy. Now we’re up to 10,000 downloads.

And we have fun doing this once a week. We started getting some advertisers – so there is a monetary element as well – or we would have burned out by now eight years into the show.

We do try to cross promote. TwinsDaily.com is one of the key places people come to download the podcast. They are separate legal entities, but they have a strong partnership.

MMPA: 90 minutes, that’s much longer than any podcast I listen to. How did you determine that 90 minutes is a good length for this podcast?

John Bonnes - Co-Owner of TwinsDaily.com and Co-Host of the Gleeman & The Geek podcast

John Bonnes - Co-Owner of TwinsDaily.com and Co-Host of the Gleeman & The Geek podcast

Bonnes: When we first started doing this, I was under the opinion that we would need to record about 45 minutes. That’s what I thought we should gear it toward. A commute-type length. But we started talking and we kept talking. There is no question that people have been happy with the length. You don’t have to listen to the whole podcast. And we’ve decided to keep it at this length. During baseball season, our show is on KFAN radio, and it’s only 45 minutes long on air, then we record another 45 off air. I think a lot of people listen to podcasts at work. And the longer the podcast is, the fewer you need to download and manage.

MMPA: And you spend the first few minutes just talking about life, not baseball. How have your listeners responded to that?

Bonnes: We go back and forth on the personal talk stuff. During baseball season, we don’t really do that. We definitely did this a lot more in the first 100 episodes. I think it was mostly a good thing. In some ways, it deepens the connection. And if you’re not a hardcore baseball person, it’s good. At first, I was trying to rush right into the baseball discussion, but the personal time is good.

MMPA: There are so many podcasts today. What’s your mission with this one? Two guys who enjoy each other and love to talk baseball?

Yes, that’s a part of it. Anyone who gets into podcasts finds that the hosts usually have something to say. They have an overall theme. They want to be heard on a certain topic. For us, it’s diving deep into aspects of baseball that are not traditionally covered. Most media feels people don’t have the attention span to talk in-depth about the free agent market, or specific roster moves, or trade details, or other topics. All of that could too often be considered boring. But we are proving that it’s not.

And we’re making money now, so it’s worth our time. If you can make money while drinking beer and talking baseball, why not? 

MMPA: Are you a fan of other podcasts?

Bonnes: I listen to about a half dozen semi-regularly. Yes, I like podcasts, for listening to detailed stuff that I don’t have time to listen to on my own. I listen to “Wrong About Everything,” local politics podcast. I listen to some business podcasts. I’ll also just do a search for things I’m curious about or interested in at a certain time. Acme Comedy Club. 538. Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Dollop – comedy/history, it’s hilarious.

MMPA: Why do you record the podcast in a bar?

Bonnes: Originally, we thought we could get sponsorships this way. And it was a little Theatre of the Mind for listeners. I do get feedback that people listening enjoy the bar locale, as if they’re sitting with us in the bar talking about baseball.

We only do the bar location in the off-baseball season. During the season, we do four different live podcasts at local tap rooms, and we have drawn about 100 to 150 people. But mostly during the season we’re recording for KFAN radio.

The value of our show to bar owners is more about people visiting in the future, not during the show. Listeners might notice that we recorded from Utepils or Headflyer Brewing in Minneapolis, and they might decide to visit. Recording in a bar does increase the difficulty, with audio issues.

MMPA: Podcasts were not nearly as well known when you began 8 years ago. What kicked this off?

Bonnes: The whole thing started when Aaron and I got into a bit of an argument, and we thought “That would be a good podcast.” And I wanted to do it in the public, not in my basement. Our original shows were recorded on an iPhone, using a splitter with two mics. We’ve moved up a bit from there.

MMPA: How do you know if you’re doing it right?

Bonnes: We do look at our overall numbers, but it’s hard to glean a lot from these numbers. We don’t get much data, really just download numbers. We don’t even know if they listened. We can see where people are from. And we listen to social media.

MMPA: You have a “real job” too, besides this podcast and TwinsDaily.com.  

Bonnes: Yes, the podcast is about a 4-hour commitment every weekend. Maybe a little bit of work during the week on scheduling. I guess you could call it a hobby or a labor of love. It takes time, yes, and mental energy.

I started blogging about the Twins back in 2002. And if someone would have said, Hey you’ll be doing this in 2018, I would have been really happy.

One of the ongoing jokes about the podcast is that Aaron Gleeman’s mom is too big of a fan. I joked that we need to have his mom on the show. So he said, jokingly, “Yes, on the 500th episode.” Ha ha. Now, we’re not too far from that.

Craft. For Craft. The How and Why of American Craft magazine.

The readers of American Craft, the magazine of the American Craft Council, expect to read stories about the creative process – both the struggles and the triumphs – and the life of artists and creators. The magazine staff is now telling its audience about the triumph of the magazine itself.

American Craft earned the overall 2018 Magazine of the Year award at the recent MMPA Awards of Excellence. Editor in Chief Monica Moses and her coworkers surely have struggles like all artists, but those are not on display in the pages of the magazine. Congratulations to American Craft for its excellent work. We spoke with Monica Moses recently to learn more about her work.

MMPA: How important is American Craft magazine to your association?

Monica Moses - Editor in Chief, American Craft magazine

Monica Moses - Editor in Chief, American Craft magazine

Monica: We’ve surveyed members on this, and the magazine is definitely the Number One benefit of membership; it’s the top answer. We have asked what type of content people are most drawn to, and they’re interested in information about artist exhibitions and events nationwide. They’re interested in artist profiles – more than half of our readers are artists themselves, so they want the life stories of other artists. Our readers have interest in travel, and we do that in every issue. The magazine is a member benefit, but we do sell in limited locations on newsstands.

MMPA: Your title also includes “Content Director” for American Craft Council. What does that encompass?

Monica: We’re making some adjustments right now to our communication and content work, but I help drive digital content and strategy, and our overall content approach. We are making efforts to re-align our content and our communications, to our marketing and our editorial. We want to ensure we’re reinforcing each other’s work through all our communication.

MMPA: You have a journalism background. How important is traditional journalism for what you do today?

Monica: I think journalism skills are paramount. In some ways, marketing is eclipsing editorial in the world today. That’s understandable, but it also presents pitfalls. I’m all about accuracy along with being meaningful and interesting. We have created significant processes to make sure our content is accurate. Because of that, we have few errors. We employ a fact checker, which many do not today. If we don’t get things right in our content, we lose credibility. My preference is always to work with writers who are experienced journalists. They need to know how to form a story arc.

They also need to know our style. We want to be conversational and plain spoken; we know that art can be off-putting to people. We don’t cover art in a rarefied way. We don’t like art speak. Our entire team is united behind this. We are insistent that our content is clear to the average reader. Intelligent but not pretentious.

MMPA: You’re an artist too?

Monica: I mess around with art. I make jewelry. I paint, and I’m taking a ceramics class. I’m also working on a wood mosaic right now. My extended family includes a lot of creative people, including writers. I think it’s in my DNA, and I was an art director and designer. The visual arts have always appealed to me.

The American Craft magazine team   L to R: Robert O'Connell, Associate Editor; Mary K Baumann [cq], Creative Director; Will Hopkins, Creative Director; Monica Moses, Editor in Chief; Megan Guerber, Associate Editor. Not pictured: Judy Arginteanu, Copy Editor.

The American Craft magazine team

L to R: Robert O'Connell, Associate Editor; Mary K Baumann [cq], Creative Director; Will Hopkins, Creative Director; Monica Moses, Editor in Chief; Megan Guerber, Associate Editor. Not pictured: Judy Arginteanu, Copy Editor.

MMPA: We’re enjoying a huge craft movement today, from furniture to beer. Do you embrace all this craft work or do you filter some out?

Monica: We are discussing this a lot today. We have had the Balvenie Distillery people at events talking about their work. We have had craft coffee makers. Craft beer is wildly popular. And we believe it’s a good time to work with your hands. We strive to reinforce that message. Many people today are glued to their digital devices, and we represent the antithesis of that. We encourage people to meet the person down the street who is creating things the slow way, by hand. We say that you ought to know where stuff comes from. Get to know the people who make things. When I remodeled my kitchen, I bought handmade lights from a craftsperson nearby and it didn’t cost much more.

Many of us of a certain age grew up with school classes such as woodworking. A contingent of people today are increasingly concerned with a lack of hand skills. And this hits all age groups. Still, the younger you are today the less opportunity you’ve had to create with your hands. We believe people should try making things with their hands. Not because it’s somehow healthier, though I believe it is, but because it is fulfilling. We think it’s important to keep the old ways alive. Yes, I’m on my devices as much as anybody. But it’s not ultimately satisfying.

MMPA: So then, digital vs. print for American Craft content?

Monica: We do spend a lot of time thinking about digital and realize that is the future. Our website is full of content. But our magazine is a craft piece too. We carefully select photos and words for each story. We choose our paper with care for the craft.

MMPA: Who is your competition?

Monica: Good question. We don’t really have obvious competition. We do compete with some of the medium-specific publications – those covering ceramics, glass, woodworking. We work to address the broad range of creativity. Within our team, we push each other to be better. We’re always challenging each other to come up with the best ideas. We don’t let each other settle. It’s not a competitive space, but we always want to improve our work.

The 22nd Annual Excellence Award Winners

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OVERALL EXCELLENCE

Association (Over 30,000)

Independent Banker Gold

UnitedHealthcare Renew Silver

Minnesota Golfer Bronze

Association (Under 30,000)

Specialty Fabrics Review Gold

Independent School Silver

American Craft Bronze

Business/Trade

EXHIBITOR Magazine Gold

Twin Cities Business Silver

Minnesota Meetings + Events Bronze

Education

Legacy Gold

St. Olaf Magazine Silver

Minnesota Alumni Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Experience Life Gold

Star Tribune Magazine Silver

Delta Sky Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

The Growler Gold

Architecture MN Silver

Lake Time Magazine Bronze

Special Interest (Over 60,000)

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Gold

Woodworker's Journal Silver

Rider Magazine Bronze

Special Interest (Under 60,000)

Minnesota Parent Gold

Midwest Home Magazine Silver

Lake Bride Magazine Bronze


FEATURE ARTICLE

Association (Over 30,000)

Viking Magazine Gold

Viking Magazine Silver

Independent Banker Bronze

Association (Under 30,000)

Minnesota Medicine Gold

American Craft Silver

American Craft Bronze

Business/Trade (Over 30,000)

Twin Cities Business Gold

Twin Cities Business Silver

Twin Cities Business Bronze

Business/Trade (Under 30,000)

EXHIBITOR Magazine Gold

Franchise Times Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze

Education

Legacy Gold

St. Olaf Magazine Silver

Medical Bulletin Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Gold

Experience Life Silver

Minnesota Monthly Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

The Growler Gold

Architecture MN Silver

The Growler Bronze

Special Interest (Over 60,000)

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Gold

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Silver

Rider Bronze

Special Interest (Under 60,000)

Minnesota Parent Gold

Midwest Home Magazine Silver

Lake Bride Magazine Bronze


PROFILE ARTICLE

Association

American Craft Gold

American Craft Silver

American Craft Bronze

Business/Trade

Twin Cities Business Gold

Beverage Dynamics Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze

Education

St. Olaf Magazine Gold

Minnesota Alumni Silver

St. Olaf Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Gold

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Silver

Star Tribune Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

The Growler Gold

Minnesota Good Age Silver

The Growler Bronze

Special Interest

Wagazine Gold

TrustPoint Magazine Silver

Midwest Home Magazine Bronze


REGULAR COLUMN

Association

Minnesota Golfer Gold

UnitedHealthcare Renew Silver

Minnesota Golfer Bronze

Business/Trade

Franchise Times Gold

EXHIBITOR Magazine Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze

Education

St. Olaf Magazine Gold

Minnesota Alumni Silver

Legacy Bronze

General Interest

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Gold

Experience Life Silver

The Growler Bronze

Special Interest

Minnesota Parent Gold

Wagazine Silver

Minnesota Parent Bronze


TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Business/Trade

Twin Cities Business Gold

EXHIBITOR Magazine Silver

Powder and Bulk Engineering Bronze

Special Interest

Snow Goer Gold

Woodworker's Journal Silver

Woodworker's Journal Bronze


HOW-TO ARTICLE

All Publications

Experience Life Gold

Experience Life Silver

Experience Life Bronze


DIRECTORY

Association, Business/Trade

Minnesota Golfer Gold

Geosynthetics Magazine Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze


SINGLE-TOPIC ISSUE, SPECIAL SECTION

OR SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT

Association

Viking Magazine Gold

Viking Magazine Silver

Independent Banker Bronze

Business/Trade

Minnesota Business Magazine Gold

EXHIBITOR Magazine Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze

Education

Legacy Gold

Minnesota Alumni Silver

St. Olaf Magazine Bronze

General Interest

Experience Life Gold

Experience Life Silver

Mpls.St.Paul Home & Design Bronze

Special Interest

Twin Cities Pride Magazine Gold

Minnesota Parent Silver

2018 Artisan Home Tour Guidebook Bronze


EDITOR’S OR PUBLISHER’S EDITORIAL

OR LETTER TO THE READERS

Association

American Craft Gold

American Craft Silver

American Craft Bronze  

Business/Trade

Twin Cities Business Gold

Corn+Soybean Digest Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze

General Interest

Experience Life Gold

Experience Life Silver

Experience Life Bronze

Special Interest

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Gold

Wagazine Silver

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Bronze


E-NEWSLETTER

All Publications (Over 60,000

Woodworker's Journal Weekly Gold

Experience Life Silver

Sidewalk Dog Media Bronze

All Publications (Under 60,000)

Minnesota Alumni Gold

EXHIBITOR Magazine Silver

Food on Demand Bronze


BLOG FOR PUBLICATION

All Publications

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Gold

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Silver

Experience Life Bronze


OVERALL DESIGN

Association, Education, Business/Trade

American Craft Gold

Minnesota Alumni Silver

St. Olaf Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Cambria Style Gold

Delta Sky Magazine Silver

Minnesota Monthly Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

Architecture MN Gold

The Growler Silver

Lake Time Magazine Bronze

Special Interest

Lake Bride Magazine Gold

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Silver

Minnesota Parent Bronze


COVER DESIGN

Association (Over 30,000)

USA Hockey Magazine Gold

Pull USA Magazine Silver

Minnesota Golfer Bronze

Association (Under 30,000)

Independent School Gold

American Craft Silver

Perspectives Magazine Bronze

Business/Trade

Illinois Meetings + Events Gold

Minnesota Business Magazine Silver

Archery Business Bronze

Education

Legacy Gold

Minnesota Alumni Silver

Legacy Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Cambria Style Gold

Minnesota Monthly Silver

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

The Growler Gold

The Growler Silver

Lake Time Magazine Bronze

Special Interest

Lake Bride Magazine Gold

Wagazine Silver

Midwest Home Magazine Bronze


FEATURE DESIGN

Association (Over 30,000)

Minnesota Golfer Gold

Viking Magazine Silver

Virginia Golfer Bronze

Association (Under 30,000)

American Craft Gold

American Craft Silver

American Craft Bronze

Business/Trade

EXHIBITOR Magazine Gold

Colorado Meetings + Events Silver

Cheers Magazine Bronze

Education

Minnesota Alumni Gold

St. Olaf Magazine Silver

St. Olaf Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Gold

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Silver

Minnesota Monthly Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

Lake Time Magazine Gold

Lake Time Magazine Silver

Lake Time Magazine Bronze

Special Interest

Lake Bride Magazine Gold

Lavender Magazine Silver

Lake Bride Magazine Bronze


SINGLE PAGE OR SPREAD DESIGN

Association (Over 30,000)

Independent Banker Gold

Minnesota Golfer Silver

Independent Banker Bronze

Association (Under 30,000)

American Craft Gold

American Craft Silver

Specialty Fabrics Review Bronze

Business Trade

EXHIBITOR Magazine Gold

Franchise Times Silver

Minnesota Business Magazine Bronze

Education

St. Olaf Magazine Gold

Perspectives Magazine Silver

NEXT: The Magazine of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Minnesota Monthly Gold

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Silver

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

Lake Time Magazine Gold

Lake Time Magazine Silver

The Growler Bronze

Special Interest

Midwest Home Magazine Gold

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Silver

Lake Bride Magazine Bronze


TYPOGRAPHY

Association / Business/Trade

thrive. Gold

EXHIBITOR Magazine Silver

EXHIBITOR Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Over 60,000)

Experience Life Gold

Experience Life Silver

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Bronze

General Interest (Under 60,000)

Lake Time Magazine Gold

Minnesota Good Age Silver

Lake Minnetonka Magazine Bronze


BEST USE OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Association, Business/Trade, Education

St. Olaf Magazine Gold

Viking Magazine Silver

St. Olaf Magazine Bronze

General Interest

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Gold

Experience Life Silver

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Bronze

Special Interest

Midwest Home Magazine Gold

Midwest Home Magazine Silver

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Bronze


USE OF DATA VISUALIZATION/INFOGRAPHIC

Association

Minnesota Golfer Gold

Minnesota Medicine Silver

Independent Banker Bronze

Business/Trade

IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems Gold

EXHIBITOR Magazine Silver

Northwest Meetings + Events Bronze


BEST USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

All Publications

Sidewalk Dog Media Gold

Experience Life Silver

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Bronze


OVERALL WEBSITE DESIGN/FUNCTIONALITY

All Publications

Experience Life Gold

Woodworker's Journal Silver

Woman Rider Bronze


MULTI-MEDIA STORYTELLING

All Publications

Woodworker's Journal Gold

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Silver

Powersports Business Bronze


VIDEO STORYTELLING

All Publications

EXHIBITOR Magazine Gold

Minnesota Alumni Silver

Experience Life Bronze


PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

The Growler

Congratulations to Our Special Excellence Award Honorees

Greg Carey Award

Gayle Golden

Gayle Golden

Congratulations to Gayle Golden, our Greg Carey Award honoree. In Gayle's role as educator, mentor and champion for magazines, she has nurtured and honed the talents of dozens of new professionals to our industry.

Hedley Donovan Award

Keith Oelke

Keith Oelke

Congratulations to Keith Oelke, our Hedley Donovan Award honoree. Through his work at Quad Graphics, Keith has been an invaluable partner to nearly all of our members. He was one of the founding members of MMPA and served on the board for six years. The MMPA has been an important conduit to support the publishing community in Minnesota and Keith has helped many members achieve their goals.

Both Keith and Gayle’s work have proven significant to our media community and we look forward to commemorating and celebrating them and their work at the Excellence Awards Gala, November 1.

MMPA Excellence Awards 2018 Finalists

mmpa aria.jpg

61 different print and digital publications will be recognized at this year's Excellence Awards Gala November 1.

Check out the list below and join us to celebrate.

2018 Artisan Home Tour Guidebook

American Craft

Archery Business

Architecture MN

Beverage Dynamics

Cambria Style

Cheers Magazine

Colorado Meetings + Events

Corn+Soybean Digest

Delta Sky Magazine

EXHIBITOR Magazine

Experience Life

Food on Demand

Franchise Times

Geosynthetics Magazine

IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems

Illinois Meetings + Events

Independent Banker

Independent School

Lake Bride Magazine

Lake Minnetonka Magazine

Lake Time Magazine

Lavender Magazine

Legacy Medical Bulletin

Midwest Home Magazine

Minnesota Alumni

Minnesota Business Magazine

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer

Minnesota Golfer

Minnesota Good Age

Minnesota Medicine

Minnesota Meetings + Events

Minnesota Monthly

Minnesota Parent

Mpls.St.Paul Home & Design

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

NEXT: The Magazine of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Northwest Meetings + Events

Perspectives Magazine

Powder and Bulk Engineering

Powersports Business

Pull USA Magazine

Rider Magazine

Sidewalk Dog Media

Snow Goer

Specialty Fabrics Review

St. Olaf Magazine

Star Tribune Magazine

The Growler

thrive.

TrustPoint Magazine

Twin Cities Business

Twin Cities Pride Magazine

UnitedHealthcare

Renew

USA Hockey Magazine

Viking Magazine

Virginia Golfer

Wagazine

Woman Rider

Woodworker's Journal

Rockin' with Randal Acker

It’s like starting an old truck, with some interviews. Pull the choke knob, turn the key, baby the throttle, ease into it. With others, it’s like pushing a button and hanging on as the engine revs, seemingly on auto pilot. And you need to shift down a gear to control the direction.

Randal Acker - President of the Exhibitor Media Group

Randal Acker - President of the Exhibitor Media Group

Randal Acker is that revving engine. He knows where he’s going and he’s happy to share that direction. The president of the Exhibitor Media Group, Randal Acker (or is it Randy, I didn’t get a chance to ask that) has been in leadership at Exhibitor for 16 years and had a five-year spell with the company in the late 90s (I didn’t get to ask about that either). For many of those years, Acker has been a teacher, literally, serving as adjunct faculty at Bemidji State University. And figuratively, Acker is a teacher in his work at Exhibitor. That’s where we started our conversation.

MMPA: Editor’s Note: I honestly don’t remember the question I asked, or if I asked one.

Acker: How do we make a difference in our career? How do we share what we know as leaders? You could live in your own little silo, or complain about quality of talent today, but why don’t you do something about it? Get into classrooms, become mentors. Help things get better. Working today is about more than a career, and that’s part of our reason to be members of

MMPA. I’m a pretty loud voice about make a difference.

MMPA: Okay, let’s expand on that, the reasons you’re a member of MMPA?

Acker is an adjunct faculty member at Bemidji State University

Acker is an adjunct faculty member at Bemidji State University

Acker: It’s multifaceted. If I have staff that want to be involved, I want to give them that opportunity. We can all get so entrenched in our own day to day, but MMPA gives you the chance to gauge work by getting feedback from a knowledgeable and professional peer group. And when your peers say, ‘You do good work,’ that has great value for morale and more.

MMPA: Let’s get to the beginning. Who is and what is Exhibitor?

Acker: Why we exist – in 1982, we started as the educational content source that helped people do trade shows and events better, because there was a great need for improvement and consistency in all aspects of events and exhibits. Lee Knight started Exhibitor Magazine in 1982 and launched the Trade Show in 1989. He did so to tell stories and share best practices. Exhibitor became a trusted and credible source of content, and the magazine helped prove the value of the trade show. It all started with that trusted and credible content. Today, trade shows are part of a $90 billion industry. It’s grown, and the people have evolved. From admins to designers into professional trade show marketers. We’re the essential education and information hub of the industry. And now we have a Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM) program, including rigorous course work to show that you’re a professional. It’s like a trade-show master’s program.

MMPA: Who is your audience, and why do they need you?

Acker: Imagine you work for a small to mid-size company, and company leader assigns you to handle a trade show, and you don’t know how to do it. You would find Exhibitor and learn how to do it right. For many companies, marketing “generalists” are often thrown into leading one or two shows per year, and they come into an event with multiple plates spinning in the air. Sure, many companies do multiple shows per year, and we can help them too.

Nobody else teaches this like we do. You can learn through the school of hard knocks or learn from our experts and our programs and our content. The CTSM program extends our content to the extreme. We’ve had people tell us, “You’ve saved my life,” from a professional perspective. We can make a difference for people. We make it strategic, it’s not just logistics, tips and tactics.

MMPA: How do you prove that worth? Or measure success?

Acker: The bulk of what we do drives toward the face-to-face experience. Whether on the website, or through the magazine, we work to prove that we are a credible source, a trusted teacher. And we value and listen to communities that help us prove this.

The voice of the customer rings loudly through our organization. We have full time editorial staff, and they go to dozens of trade shows annually. They’re immersing themselves in these marketing channels, and they’re watching, learning, building relationships personally. We also have advisory boards and councils – editorial, show, advertising, and more – and we’re always asking – What do you like about what we do? We do surveys, we’re BPA audited; listening and learning is important to us.

We always look at metrics, and we survey our audiences in a variety of ways, but it’s face-to-face community interaction that gives us great value.

MMPA: Exhibitor magazine has been named an MMPA Magazine of the Year in 2011, and in 2017. So how does digital content compare to print for you?

EXHIBITOR magazine wins Magazine of the Year at last year’s Excellence Awards ceremony

EXHIBITOR magazine wins Magazine of the Year at last year’s Excellence Awards ceremony

Acker: We’re still very tied to the print component, but everything we do in print winds up in digital. We have an international community – multiple countries – and digital delivery is the most effective for that audience. If international marketers are going to do an event in America, they look to Exhibitor online.

Both print and digital fill roles, and we learn that from listening and from surveys. We still do a print Buyer’s Guide, and we know customers value this print tool, even though we also have a mobile phone version.  

For example, it’s interesting that every show you attend has a mobile app for attendees and exhibitors. And we’ve seen adoption of no more than 40 percent of attendees using these digital tools. Mostly the digital natives are not using these one-time or one-event apps.

MMPA: How about video? I noticed – on YouTube anyway – Exhibitor has posted many videos but not consistently. Is that because of video itself, or just YouTube?

Acker: I think many people are struggling with video, from publishers to marketers. The consumers watch how-to and other videos, but it’s not always adopted or accepted en masse. When we look at that, we ask, why are we continuing to do this? Our audience currently isn’t using video enough, not consuming it in large ways, and we are doing less video for now.

MMPA: Attending a wide range of trade shows, I’m sure you go to some that are more interesting than others. Are there events you attend for personal reasons?

Acker: I restored a 1968 Camaro, so I’m a car guy. And I would love to go to SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association, an automobile aftermarket group) and look at all the cool cars. I could also just go professionally.

A lot of that show is about community. The majority of show organizers are working to build community, and we already have a community. We work hard to make a difference for that community.  

A Personal Invitation to Young Publishing Professionals!

Join us for a fun networking event at the Bull’s Horn Bar and Restaurant (an Andrew Zimmern recommended hot-spot) this Thursday, October 11.

This event is a chance to network, to hear about career building opportunities and to let the Minnesota Media & Publishing Association know what sort of enrichment opportunities would be useful to you. 

You don’t have to be an MMPA member to attend.  And there’s free food.

Come this Thursday at 5:30pm to Bull’s Horn … a great low-key location (with beer) run by award winning chef Doug Flicker and his partner Amy Greeley. 

We are hoping that folks young in their careers will attend, but in truth all are welcome.

Networking is critical both for career building and career advancement. And if you can enhance your career and have fun at the same time (there is beer), what is stopping you? If you have an interest, please accept this as my personal invitation to attend and enjoy a fun evening. (Did I mention there will be beer?).

Rob Johnstone, MMPA Board Member 

Gibson Named President of Hanley Wood Marketing

Minneapolis-based Hanley Wood Marketing has announced the promotion of Dobby Gibson to president.  

“Dobby has been an outstanding strategic leader in our development of a powerful marketing platform,” said Peter Goldstone, Chief Executive Officer of Hanley Wood.

Dobby Gibson - President of Hanley Wood Marketing

Dobby Gibson - President of Hanley Wood Marketing

“He has been at the forefront of designing and delivering high-performing brand strategy and content marketing solutions to our growing roster of Fortune 300 clients.”

As the agency’s Senior Vice President of Strategy, Gibson helped HWM broaden and strengthen its client roster, which includes FedEx, Sherwin-Williams, and 3M, among many others.

Gibson has been working directly under the leadership of Jeanne Milbrath, who recently announced her retirement as president and will be transitioning day- to-day agency management to Gibson.

Hanley Wood Marketing is one of three operating platforms working in conjunction with Hanley Wood Media and Metrostudy, a Hanley Wood residential construction data company. The marketing platform specializes in brand strategy and content marketing and is ranked as the #11 largest advertising agency in the Twin Cities by Twin Cities Business Journal.

Media People on the Move

Tammy Galvin - Publisher at Greenspring Media

Tammy Galvin - Publisher at Greenspring Media

Greenspring Media has a new leader with the announcement that Tammy Galvin has assumed the role as publisher. Galvin, who joined Greenspring in 2014, has more than 25 years of media leadership experience, developing franchise and custom publications, digital media and event solutions for some of the country’s preeminent publishers (including Lakewood and Ehlert in Minnesota). Galvin will spearhead the overall strategic plan and tactical deliverables for Greenspring’s multifaceted business. She replaces Jamie Flaws who resigned to pursue other interests.

Arthur Morrissey - Director of Marketing, Events & Partnerships at Greenspring Media

Arthur Morrissey - Director of Marketing, Events & Partnerships at Greenspring Media

MMPA is pleased to announce that Greenspring Media’s Arthur Morrissey has been named to its Board of Directors. Morrissey joined Greenspring in 2017 as the Director of Marketing, Events & Partnerships. He leads the development of strategic brand marketing and overall customer experience.  Morrissey previously worked for 11 years at Morrissey Hospitality Companies.  He’s a graduate of St. John’s University and will head the Excellence Awards committee for MMPA.  

Jared Pfeifer - Publisher at Foodservice News

Jared Pfeifer - Publisher at Foodservice News

Jared Pfeifer has joined Foodservice News as its first full-time publisher.  Foodservice News is the news and information source for the foodservice community.  

Pfiefer was Publisher, then Group Publisher for Grand View Outdoor overseeing both consumer (Bowhunting World) and B2B (Archery Business) brands in the outdoor market.  Even though most of his recent experience has been in the outdoor market, he does have an affinity for the foodservice industry. “In high school I sold knives door-to-door,” he says, laughing. 

In addition to the print product, Pfiefer will be looking for ways to increase the digital footprint for Foodservice News, adding new opportunities to help boost advertisers’ digital presence, through web banners, email offerings, social media and “native content.”

Married with two young children, Pfiefer says he doesn’t have time for a lot of hobbies, although he ticked off hunting, work and family. “I’m more excited by this opportunity than I have been in a decade of work,” he says. “Foodservice News already has a terrific team in place, and I look forward to helping grow the brand even further.”

The Evolution of Survey Research

During more than 30 years at local survey research company Readex Research, Steve Blom has had a front-row seat to the publishing industry’s seismic shifts in the way content is produced, distributed, consumed and evaluated.

Steve Blom -Director of Sales and Marketing at Readex

Steve Blom -Director of Sales and Marketing at Readex

Though much has changed since the day he started as a project director in 1987, Blom, now the director of sales and marketing at Readex, says the needs of many publishers has stayed the same. At the top of the list: the need to ensure content is valuable to readers, and to convince advertisers of the value of readers.

Blom spoke with MMPA about the evolution of survey research, and how Readex is addressing the challenges publishers face today.

MMPA: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in your field during the last three decades?

Blom: When I started here, our method was mailed surveys. We didn’t do phone surveys, we didn’t do in-person interviews. This was 1987—there was no Internet.

You roll forward a few years and the Internet appears, so we started to do online data collection as well. Most of our work was still mail, but over time, more and more work moved online.

People’s expectations or requirements as it pertains to quality research or response rate gradually changed, too. If you had called me in 1987 and wanted to do some sort of editorial study or an audience profile study, and I didn’t feel we could get a 60 percent response or greater, we weren’t even pursuing that business because we were big advocates of response. As soon as the Internet showed up as a means for capturing and executing surveys, response rates as an important attribute got pushed to the side.

Typically online surveys are going to yield a lower rate of response and in some cases much, much lower. So that was a real change in mindset. We often get 10 percent, 20 percent. Today publishers are content with that.

MMPA: With so many survey tools available today, how does Readex set itself apart?

Blom: That’s another big change I’ve seen during my time in the industry—the advent of do-it-yourself tools. As those developed, some of our traditional customers were of the mindset that they could do things in house, on their own, and what we have been left with to a certain extent are situations in which the customer needs us for an unbiased, third-party project, or the survey effort is too complicated and they can’t do it themselves.

It is when you’re thinking about more complicated methods or a mix of methods that we can provide the expertise to help. We have some people that want to do a print component as well as an online component and then they have different audiences and circulation files that fall into it. We tend to get the stuff that often times people simply can’t or don’t want to handle.

I suppose it’s much like a backyard mechanic. Some of us can change spark plugs and tires and things like that, but when it gets too complicated, you hand it over to a professional.

MMPA: Is mail still a relevant survey method today or have you moved almost entirely online?

Blom: The thing that is kind of ironic is that our mail survey business is actually growing, not necessarily in the sense of units, but in the sense of size. We do some very large mail-out works and often we’re hired by another research company that no longer has mail or print capability.

The reason mail works, in some cases, is because that’s the only way that some of our customers can get to their audience. If they have a subscriber base, for example, and they don’t have a high incidence of email addresses, mail is the only game in town. There are some of our customers who have older audiences who are just more comfortable with print.

When we’re talking about printed magazines, for example, it kind of goes without saying that there is a land address, so we know we can get to that audience. It kind of dovetails off the response rate issue as well. Typically we’re going to get higher rates of response from a mail, printed survey than we would from the equivalent email or online survey.

MMPA: What are some of the key challenges you’re addressing today, or trends you are seeing?

Blom: In some ways it’s not a lot different than it was when I started here in that many times we get hired to support sales and marketing initiatives. What that means is trying to describe and quantify the nature of the audience: who they are, what they do, what they buy. In those cases research is the foundation or the bedrock of a marketing campaign or media kits, things like that.

That continues to be something that we do frequently. I think I find a little bit more interest in what I would describe as editorial or content-based research more than what we saw many years ago. I think our core customers understand that they are competing not just with a couple of other publications in their niche, but all kinds of other communications channels that are vying for eyes and attention.

In the end, it’s about trying to provide relevant, useful content in a way in which readers want to consume it. So again, flashing back 30 years, we used to ask, “What do you want to read?” Now, it’s asking what they want to read via what channels and at what frequency.

Key challenges publishers face today are associated with the audience of interest. It used to be that we’d survey a sample of those who receive the publication in the mail. Now you have those people, and potentially people on an email list for an e-newsletter, then you have different e-newsletters. They might have some sort of contact information associated with social media.

So it’s really trying to define, quantify and conceptualize the audience that we’re trying to survey, so you can make some sort of accurate extrapolations—what those survey results mean and who specifically they represent.

MMPA: After more than 70 years in business, what does the future hold for Readex?

Blom: From the outset, we have constantly tried to think about expanding our markets. We’ve grown from fairly structured and rigid ad readership studies that were sold from a rate card to providing custom research solutions to the publishing community to conducting member satisfaction surveys for associations, etc. We’re trying not to put all of our eggs in one basket and looking at surveying a variety of markets and offering a variety of solutions.

MMPA Elects Two New Board Members

MMPA is pleased to announce it has elected two new directors to its board, effective January 1, 2019.

Ali Jarvis - Founder and CEO of SidewalkDog.com

Ali Jarvis - Founder and CEO of SidewalkDog.com

Ali Jarvis is the Founder and CEO of SidewalkDog.com. Founded in 2008, Sidewalk Dog Media is a cause-based media company with a simple mission: to promote thriving relationships between dogs, their people and the community we share.

A regular on TV and radio, Ali’s numerous awards include Woman of Influence (Pet Age Magazine) and Business Owner of the Year (National Association of Women Business Owners – MN Chapter).

As a MMPA board member, Ali will serve as liaison to the communications committee.

Paul Kolars is the Founder and Managing Partner of TriMax Direct. Founded in 2001, TriMax Direct is an outsourced data, research and marketing agency based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Paul Kolars - Founder & Managing Partner of TriMax Direct

Paul Kolars - Founder & Managing Partner of TriMax Direct

Paul has more than 30 years of experience in list and data acquisition, and he tailors custom solutions for a wide range of marketing challenges. Paul is a frequent guest speaker on b-to-b marketing and data solutions at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business and has been a presenter at a variety of marketing conferences.

As a MMPA board member, Paul will serve as liaison to the membership committee.

MSP-C Wins CMI's Agency of the Year

MSP-C, a division of MSP Communications (publisher of Twin Cities Business and Mpls. St.Paul magazines), gets a huge win as CMI's Agency of the Year.

Last week MSP-C was named the Agency of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Each year, the best content marketing projects, agencies and marketers in the industry are recognized during CMI’s Content Marketing Awards, the largest content marketing awards program in the world.

MSP-C.png

The Agency of the Year (100+ employees) award—the highest award honor a content marketing agency can achieve—is presented to the organization that has distinguished itself by creating content marketing strategies that serves as a showcase for the entire industry.

Judges look at the agency’s overall strategy, individual projects—in both print and digital—and performance over the past year, as well as the innovation behind consistent multiplatform publishing. 

MSP-C was also a finalist in five other categories:

Minnesota Brand Publishers Prosper

mmpa ENEWS BANNER HEAD-MN PUBLISHERS-2.jpg

As MMPA continues to grow by reaching out to an ever wider variety of publishing sub-cultures, brand publishing is a significant focal point. 

Our regional publishing scene is home to numerous brand publications, some produced directly by brand owners (General Mills, University of Minnesota, Target), some produced by agencies and/or custom publishers on behalf of brands (MSP-C for Delta Air Lines, Touchpoint Media for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Greenspring Media for Lunds & Byerlys, Hanley Wood Marketing for Sherwin-Williams). 

This article from FIPP, the international media member organization that has long roots in magazine publishing.  Like MMPA, they are shining a more intense spotlight on the high quality content marketing work their member companies produce for world class brands.  And, as the article points out, the print channel still has legs.

Pulp Non-Fiction

How a series of unlikely events may lead to a truly stinky outcome

While it is true that more and more of the publishing world is moving away from paper, it is also true that print remains a significant and powerful medium. And as alluded to, print requires paper. Which brings us to this remarkable tale of unlikely events.

Rob Johnstone - Publisher of Woodworker's Journal and Director of Content Marketing at Rockler Press

Rob Johnstone - Publisher of Woodworker's Journal and Director of Content Marketing at Rockler Press

Not so long ago, before the word tariff gained such notoriety, a paper mill in the great northwest of the United States brought suit against one of its prime competitors in the newsprint market, claiming that the Canadian company was enjoying unfair advantage due to subsidies from their national government. This in and of itself is not a rare event, but the outcome of the suit, that the Canadian mill was indeed at fault, was unexpected.

Meanwhile in China, the government took stock of the paper recycling industry — a primary source of paper in China — and decided that the chemicals used were detrimental to the environment. Again, an occurrence at odds with historical norms. The result being that China moved into the wet pulp market in a big way.

Canadian newsprint mills, generally annoyed with the lawsuit decision looked at the new Chinese market and found that the expense of shipping to China actually cost less via boat than shipping to the United States via truck and train, and they decided to sell virtually all their pulp to the far east. Great for China, great for Canada, bad for newsprint buyers in the United States.

Meanwhile in Siberia (yes, Siberia!) - perhaps due to the historic rise of anthropomorphic climate change or maybe it was just a fluke of nature — temperatures were extremely warm all winter long in 2017- 18. So warm in fact, that the ground did not freeze and trucks and loggers were not able to harvest lumber for paper pulp, which in turn caused a huge shortage of paper pulp on the International market. This at the same time that China decided to buy more fresh pulp ... which caused an even tighter market.

Back in the United States, buyers of newsprint took note of the situation and started buying in bulk to ensure that they had sufficient supplies. Which put pressure on an already tight market, driving prices much higher. And some companies that ordinarily bought newsprint decided to move to a heavier weight and higher grade of paper, which caused a chain reaction of companies jumping grades and driving prices higher.

So for paper in general, there have been price hikes in recent months, and another for September of $2.00 per hundredweight is in the offing. As with most commodities, these increased prices will likely lead to increased production, and prices will probably moderate in months to come. But for now, our margin suffers.

While I can almost hear some online-only publishers sniggering at traditional print publishers in the fold, I can only say this. I hope that you are not parents of very young children. Because as you know, disposable diapers are also a product made from pulp. And so the unlikely sequence of events described above will also increase the price of baby poop management. A stinky mess indeed.

Rob Johnstone is the publisher of Woodworker's Journal, the director of content marketing at Rockler Press and a current MMPA board member. 

Resources for Niche Publishers

Kim Mateus - Chief Strategy Officer at Mequoda Systems

Kim Mateus - Chief Strategy Officer at Mequoda Systems

A recent MMPA survey confirmed  that Kim Mateus' audience development  presentation was a big hit at this year's Summit in April. 

Kim works with Don Nicholas at Mequoda, and the work they do with niche publishers who are similar to so many of our own members is outstanding. 

Here's a Mequoda blog about additional information resources for niche publishers.