Editor & Publisher Changes Edit So It Can Continue To Publish
This isn't lost on E&P publisher Chas McKeown, and it clearly doesn't cause him to lose much sleep at night. "Considering that we're a 14,000-circulation trade magazine that started in 1884, I think we're doing pretty well for ourselves," he says. "We're the best at what we do, and we own our industry."
Still, as a result of its recent slate of changes, E&P stands to become considerably more interesting to the media community in the months ahead. Two weeks ago, the magazine published its first monthly issue after 120 years as a weekly; breaking news was shifted to a revamped web site, which boasts a considerably more mainstream feel than its predecessor. Inevitably, the changes include a greater range of sponsorship opportunities for marketers, endemic and otherwise.
McKeown stresses that the frequency shift and online redesign were motivated by the realities of 21st century journalism ("our editors really, truly believe that breaking news means 'now,' not waiting ten days to get your magazine," he cracks) rather than commercial considerations. That said, his pitch for more attention from the media community makes a lot more sense than, say, shelter mags going after travel advertisers.
"If you're in PR and you want to influence the influencers in this country, what do you do? You send hundreds of faxes to newsrooms, even though you pretty much know that they're not going to be seen by anybody but lower-level people," McKeown notes. "It's impossible to get your message in front of editors of U.S. newspapers, but 68 percent of them read E&P. The editors we reach are editing newspapers that reach 140 million people. If you're trying to influence editors, there is no competition."
E&P's advertisers have predominantly been newspaper industry suppliers, although the breadth of categories is slowly starting to expand. BlueCross BlueShield recently started running in the magazine, and McKeown is targeting nonprofits and advocacy organizations. "The groups we're going after are the ones that are using the New Republic and the National Review," he explains. "None of them reach even 10 percent of newspaper editors. What we have to do is go to a Freddie Mac and say 'you're in these publications that target the Beltway, but there's a world of influential people outside the Beltway.'"
On the mag's Web site, E&P is hoping to find sponsors for each of its six editorial channels; Google (business) and Hearst Newspapers (newsroom) currently hold two of the slots. Elsewhere on the site is a banner for Citibank, although McKeown doesn't specifically identify financial services companies as one of his targets. "We're a long-term sell," he acknowledges. "You don't just send a letter to somebody and get their business. We're prepared to keep the pressure on."
The mag's sales staff will be making their approaches without much in the way of the statistics marketers have come to expect. "We don't do demographics or psychographics," McKeown chirps, with something that sounds like pride in his voice. "We know where to find our readers--obviously they're at newspapers-and we know whether they're in executive management, production, or advertising/marketing. I don't see why it matters for us to know that our average reader is 5'6" tall and left-handed and makes $50,000 a year." E&P has in the past, however, tapped Scarborough to find out more about its market coverage.
McKeown is slightly cagey about plans for 2004 and beyond. "Any prediction Imake to you is going to be read by the CEO of VNU," he jokes. That said, he admits that he'd like to see more of E&P's readers migrate to the mag's web site and activate their online accounts, which would allow him to pursue more on/offline packages with advertisers. He also hopes to further explore multiplatform/multiproperty programs with VNU sister publications like Mediaweek.
Whatever change is effected, McKeown is adamant that the E&P brand will not be compromised. "Before I came here, I was always selling something to newspapers," he recalls. "When you walked in to meet with publishers and CEOs, you needed something intelligent to say about their business--and E&P has always been where you get that information." He pauses, then adds, "I guess what I'm saying is that I'd hate to be known as the publisher who killed Editor & Publisher."