Media Business recognized outstanding executives in the b-to-b publishing world June 6 at its ninth annual Top Innovators in Business Publishing awards luncheon in Manhattan.
“Our annual Media Business Innovators Awards were created to honor those who have impacted our business in truly innovative ways over the past year,” said Bob Felsenthal, VP-publisher of Media Business and BtoB.
“In a rapidly changing environment, through some of the most challenging times in our industry's history, these executives have been both creative and successful in creating new products and services to build their audiences and generate revenue.”
Recognized as outstanding CEOs were: Doug Manoni, CEO of SourceMedia, in the large trade category; Jim Casella, chairman-CEO of Asset International, in the small trade category; and John Ridding, CEO of Financial Times, in the general business category.
“Innovation is bred into a culture,” Manoni said upon accepting the award. “We're constantly challenging ourselves and encouraging and rewarding thoughtful risk. It's about stepping outside of comfort zones. Yes, we've made some missteps, but we know that our failures will be short-term and our successes will drive our future.”
Manoni, who became CEO of the publisher of American Banker in early 2010, has added new company groups to expand digital efforts, marketing services, research and training. Digital-oriented revenue has increased about 70% over the past three years and now accounts for about 40% of the company's overall revenue.
“Innovation at our company is driven by our customers, allowing us to introduce products and services that leverage our competencies,” Manoni said. “How things begin is often different from how they turn out, but we've accomplished a lot by being nimble and highly responsive to marketing opportunities.”
Casella said the development of a strong team was a prerequisite for innovation.
“It's all about setting the climate that allows innovation,” said Casella, whose investment firm Austin Ventures acquired Asset International in late 2008 and added other properties (Strategic Insight and The Trade) as the recession worsened and skepticism over media acquisitions ran high. “Pulling back after an initial failure sets the wrong environment for the team. If you're afraid of failure you won't have success.”
Casella also advised the audience to think of innovation in global terms, and to put together teams with varied skills and experience levels.
“The team is the most critical element to success and innovation,” he said. “You always look for good people you've worked with before; that helps. Also, you want a balance of youth with good ideas and speed along with veterans. That will produce a winning team.”
Honored in the general business CEO category was John Ridding, CEO of Financial Times, who spoke via video from the company's headquarters in London.
“The idea of innovation is a powerful response to defeatism,” Ridding said. “I believe there's too much doom and gloom around the trade media. Change can be seen as an opportunity rather than as an existential threat.”
Ridding cited in particular Financial Times' online subscription paywall, based on a metered model that has been widely emulated by other media companies.
“Often there is a eureka moment,” he said of the company's metered model, “but innovation has to be systematic. It's a science as much as an art. It's about creating time and space for different teams, and accepting failure when it occurs.”
Honored as top publishing executive in the general business category was Paul Bascobert, president at Bloomberg Businessweek and head of business operations at Bloomberg Media. Michael Friedenberg, CEO of IDG Enterprise, was recognized in the large trade category, and Jim Vick, staff director and publisher of IEEE Media/IEEE Spectrum, in the small trade category.
Charles Lee, senior VP at IDG Strategic Marketing Services and IDG Enterprise Custom Solutions, was named top digital executive in the large trade category. Jeffrey Jackson, national accounts manager at Farm Progress Cos., took similar honors in the small-trade category, and Oke Okaro, global head-mobile at Bloomberg, was recognized in the general-business category.
The category of top events executive had a single winner, Rick McDonnell, president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions. The top audience development executive was Amandeep Sandhu, director-audience engagement and analytics at UBM Electronics. Named top production executive was Tom Fogarty, director-production at Vance Publishing Corp.