Relish Ups Rate Base To 9 Mil. Circ

Relish, a monthly magazine covering American food and communities, is raising its rate base by 50 percent to 9 million, effective January. The first-year growth of Relish, delivered with newspapers around the country, is instructive. It suggests that business models other than traditional ones may be more efficient, including bundling magazines with other content for free, ad-supported distribution to consumers.

Dick Porter, CEO of the Publishing Group of America, Relish's proprietor, boasts: "The print industry overall has taken such a beating in the press, with magazines folding, Time Inc. selling off a bunch of magazines. But we feel great about this distribution channel. There is growth here, and people still read."

At present, Relish is distributed nationwide, from tiny 1,000-circ periodicals to larger newspapers in Seattle and Fort Worth. Porter says newspapers in Galveston, Texas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Norwalk, Conn. will begin carrying the glossy monthly, buttressing current distribution in "300 strategic markets."

Porter says there's considerable interest from advertisers, recalling that "Unilever and Kraft were both with us from day one." Significantly, Kraft is increasing its ad investment in Relish at a time when it's generally cutting back on magazine spending. Porter explains: "If you add up all the food magazines, I don't think you get 9 million circulation combined. What would it cost Kraft, when you add up all those food magazines? For an advertiser, it's great reach."

Asked about the magazine's feel, Porter says Relish's mission is to celebrate Americans' love of food and to celebrate communities. He says the pub reaches out to a range of readers with a friendly, neighborly tone. "It's not celebrities, like Martha Stewart, so it just makes it more accessible and fun."

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