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'NRN's' Larranaga to focus on Web 2.0, events expansion

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After only five months on the job, Tom Larranaga, named in January as publisher of Nation's Restaurant News, has big plans to enhance the foodservice media leader. Already a must-read for restaurant operators, ranging from the biggest chains down to the mom-and-pop corner diners, NRN's future under Larranaga's guidance will include a greater push into expos and events, selective acquisitions and Web 2.0 community-building, among other initiatives. “It's for both branding and lead generation,” Larranaga said. “Ultimately, we want to build our community. Getting the interaction is the first step. We hope to leverage that into lead development and a concrete value proposition for NRN.” In addition to its weekly newspaper, NRN already generates 12 different e-newsletters that augment its NRN.com online presence. Larranaga—who succeeded Alan Gould, NRN's publisher for 14 years—also wants to revisit the viability of a digital edition. He has introduced a new online recruitment site (NRNJobPlate.com), and eyes a soon-to-be-launched sourcing engine for the foodservice industry. Larranaga's name for it: Anything4Restaurants.com. “With menu labeling, nutritional requirements and a focus on green products and sustainability today, there's no place where restaurateurs currently can go to find products based on a multitude of filters,” he said. “Anything4Restaurants will provide that in addition to the kinds of product marketing and ratings you see on sites like Amazon. It has the potential to be a real game-changer.” NRN hasn't been a slouch with events. Its annual Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference is 50 years old, and it already stages a foodservice technology expo as well as a half-dozen custom events per year and the usual lineup of awards programs. But Larranaga wants to extend NRN's face-to-face activities with new, home-grown shows as well as through select acquisitions. He's already launched a new distance learning product aimed at multiunit restaurant managers called Multi-U. “We just have to focus on events more as a core business rather than ancillary to our flagship magazine,” Larranaga said. “Not to diminish the value of branding that events give us, but I also see them as a big profit center.” To beef up the staff, he has already brought aboard a new national sales director, Chris Keating, a veteran publishing director, from CMP Media; and he plans to add a new executive director of marketing and a director of events. Larranaga himself is a veteran of b-to-b media. He joined Lebhar-Friedman in 2006 as NRN's associate publisher and national sales manager. Previously he served six years with Advanstar as a group publisher of its pharmaceuticals books (BioPHARM International, Pharmaceutical Executive and Pharmaceutical Representative), and before that held publisher and sales positions with Bill Communications and Miller Freeman.
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