AMC: The Cliffs Notes Version

Annual Magazine Confab Was Lot of Work, Little Bit Festive

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NEW YORK ( -- The American Magazine Conference wrapped up Tuesday with panels and talks on video, mobile, celebrity and design -- four extremely promising areas for publishers -- before the closing event, a luncheon presentation of the best magazine covers of the year. Of course, most attendees had slipped off to the airport by lunchtime, drained by a couple of days of 7 a.m. continental breakfasts, an after-dinner "After-Party" that had gone late the night before, and a nonstop, newly compressed agenda prior to that.
Rachael Ray
Click to see video.

The whole thing began simply enough at 4 p.m. Sunday -- make that 7 for anyone just in from New York and still on Eastern Daylight Time -- with an on-stage interview with Rachael Ray. Advertising Age followed with its A-List presentation. And then, dinner! Attendees drank margaritas on the Biltmore's picturesque Squaw Peak lawn and finished the night with drinks by the outdoor fireplaces.

Miles of ground
But the back-to-back-to-back sessions that consumed Monday covered miles of ground and reminded everyone that the conference, especially this year, wasn't about sunning by the pools at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. It was about learning and networking while vacationers sunned by the pools at the spa.
Jack Kliger
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Bright and early Monday morning, Christie Hefner, chairman-CEO of Playboy Enterprises and chair of the 2006 conference, introduced Jack Kliger, president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America, who told assembled magazine publishers that they weren't afraid of digital anymore.

Then followed a panel moderated by Newsweek Chairman Richard Smith, who asked Time Inc. President Ann S. Moore and Rodale President Steve Murphy just what business they were in. That led Ms. Moore to talk about shedding smaller properties. That was followed by a panel examining breakthrough brands with Coca-Cola Co. Global Brand Director Alev Gokce and Lippincott Mercer COO Suzanne Hogan. Hearst President Cathleen Black interviewed Barnes & Noble CEO Stephen Riggio, who wants to sell even more magazines through his stores. Then Rex Briggs, CEO of Marketing Evolution, delivered some more much-needed positive news: Magazine advertising is the safest bet marketers can make.
image Photo: Doug Goodman
Barack Obama and David Remnick

Taking questions
Sen. Barack Obama gamely but thoughtfully -- very thoughtfully -- took questions from New Yorker Editor David Remnick over a sushi-and-salmon-steak lunch, making no punchy one-liners but getting a semi-standing ovation by the end anyway.

After a talk from Nina B. Link, president-CEO, Magazine Publishers of America, the crowd enjoyed back rubs from Google and Yahoo execs who promised they only wanted to partner with and help magazines. OK, back rubs is a metaphor here -- no publishers were actually caressed in the delivery of these talks -- but it felt close.

Google and Yahoo might have done better, though, to follow the digital-friendly Mr. Kliger than the guy who went on before they did: Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, who unsettled just about every hip BlackBerry addict there when he said teenagers now know e-mail is incredibly old-fashioned. (If you want to hang with the under-24 crowd, better learn IM).
image Photo: Doug Goodman
Raymond Roker

Finishing off the day
A "Festive Reception," "Festive Dinner" and the aforementioned "After-Party" finished off the day, complete with DJs like Raymond Roker, founder of URB. And, though it could go without saying even at a conference so compressed for time, the party's open bar completely finished off the coherence of a few attendees.

But they still had a jam-packed Tuesday morning to contend with, including a passionate speech from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who was not shy about laying the blame for an ill-informed populace at the feet of the press. At least New York Times reporter David Carr did his best to imitate a standup comedian during his panel on using video on magazine websites. And attendees learned celebrity journalism is not going away anytime soon.

At least by the time the departing magazine masses stuffed the few available flights out of Phoenix on Tuesday, most retained the grace to sit quietly or, even better, catch some sleep. A pause was due -- until Wednesday, when it was time once again to start preparing for the digital future.
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