BtoB

Panel addresses need to overcome business publishing's novelty in some parts of the world

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Working on different continents, with different target audiences and different local issues, the five publishing executives at this month's ABM/FIPP World Conference 2008 session titled “Making Magazines Hotter Than Ever” all agreed on one thing: Extending an existing publishing brand into new channels, both online and off, is the name of the game. In some places, the newness of business publishing is itself a problem. “There's no magazine [in our markets] with more than 10 years of history,” said Marcelo Burman, CEO of Compania Editora de Revistas de Centroamerica, a four-year-old media company based in Costa Rica that operates in eight countries in Central America and the Caribbean. The company acts as the exclusive distributor for a number of offshore titles and also produces its own magazines covering general business, construction, IT and logistics. “There's no tradition of magazines,” Burman added, noting that the local ad agencies, unconvinced of the value proposition, invest only 2% to 2.5% of their media spending in magazines. Demonstrating the value of print and events to these clients has been critical, he said. Pat Davis Szymczak, publisher and editor in chief of Oil and Gas Eurasia, used her presentation to convince the mostly U.S. audience about the opportunities in far-away places such as Siberia. “There are 45,000 Americans living in Russia and 250 American companies listed with the American Chamber of Commerce,” said Szymczak, an American who has lived in Russia for 14 years. “There's plenty of business out there,” she said, adding that Russia, a massive federation of states stretching across 13 time zones, is enjoying a 7% annual growth in its GDP. Szymczak, who is chairwoman of the marketing committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, did concede there are plenty of obstacles in the country, too, starting with “the absence of an advertising, marketing and private business culture for 70 years.” “There are only two or three legit b-to-b publishers,” she said, noting that her 12,000 circulation, ad-supported business title became, in 2005, Russia's first to be independently audited by BPA Worldwide. Like Burman, one of Szymczak's key tasks is to educate the market about the value of business advertising. “We plan to release a guide that interprets BPA results,” she said. “I love to call them not just growing economies but the "leapfrogging economies,' ” said Chander M. Rai, president-CEO of Cross Border Media, which helps media companies enter India, a country with a 17% growth rate. While much of the ABM/FIPP conference emphasized the shift from print to digital, Christopher Strobel, managing director of Strobel Verlag, a 137-year-old, family-owned German publisher, made a case for print, which he called a “400-year-old success story” that would go on for some time. “Tradition has value,” he said. “Trust, reliability, continuity, emotionality.” The session was introduced by David Klein, publishing and editorial director of the Ad Age Group of Crain Communications Inc., which publishes BtoB. The ABM/FIPP World Conference 2008 was a joint effort of American Business Media and FIPP, the International Federation of the Periodical Press. M
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