When he graduated from college in 1983, Bob Ostrow thought he’d land a job at a magazine for stereo or auto enthusiasts. Instead, he became a telemarketer for a technology publication, Ziff Davis Media’s PC Magazine.
Twenty-two years later, Ostrow admits he’s still not particularly proficient when it comes to technology, but he knows how to position a magazine for growth. And that’s his mission as the new president-publisher of IDG’s InfoWorld Media Group.
After three years with PC Magazine, Ostrow joined IDG as the New England account manager for PC World. Several promotions later, he was named publisher of PC World in 2000.
"I know what it’s like to be in the trenches," Ostrow said. "I was one of a small [group] that positioned PC World. We took on what was arguably the titan, PC Magazine. PC World is now considered the lead book in that category by many measures."
For the 12 months, ended in May, PC World recorded an 18% increase in readership, according to Mediamark Research.
With his move from a consumer brand, Ostrow faces a new set of challenges as he oversees all sales, marketing and events for a b-to-b brand. His position is a new one for the InfoWorld Media Group and it reunites him with former PC World colleague Kevin McKean, the group’s chairman-editorial director.
Two years ago, the San Francisco-based weekly was redesigned to put a greater emphasis on in-depth technology news and product reviews. It was also in 2003 that InfoWorld began incorporating advertising into its RSS feed. This spring, it again generated buzz by changing the feed format; it is now publishing full-text feeds with ads and related links.
Ostrow said he promises more initiatives. "What much of the tech community sees from brands like InfoWorld is a print product in a challenging market," he said. "What we need to do is raise the other products we have in the market. What we want the market to see is that for the IT managers who read InfoWorld, we’re a central part of their professional life and it’s not just about the magazine."
InfoWorld’s online presence currently is considered its growth vehicle but Ostrow wants to make events a greater part of the revenue stream. A new event, a one-day Service-Oriented Architecture Executive Forum, was conducted in both New York and San Jose, Calif., in May. The response was so great that Ostrow is already planning a two-day event in New York in November to enable participants to do more networking between sessions.