After all, she sat across from magazine sales reps for years as an ad agency executive and an advertiser, and she sold newspaper space. Now, as the newly appointed exec VP-marketing for Magazine Publishers of America, she'll become the industry's head cheerleader in the ad community.
"I've worked with magazines from all sides of the marketing desk," Ms. Miller, 52, said last week. "I've seen how well magazines produce results in this complicated media marketplace, and I'm passionate about leveraging their impact with advertisers."
Ms. Miller joins MPA in New York July 14 after about a year as senior VP at Media Passage, a developer of media planning and placement software for ad agencies.
It's not surprising MPA looked outside the industry for a successor to James Guthrie, who left in April to become exec VP-marketing and sales, Petersen Publishing Co. Mr. Guthrie had joined MPA in 1987 from president of the New York ad agency then known as John Emmerling Inc.
A DIVERSE BACKGROUND
"We were looking for the best person in terms of having a broad marketing perspective . . . and an ability to position magazines," said Donald Kummerfeld, MPA president-CEO. "We think Chris is first and foremost an outstanding marketer."
Ms. Miller's background is indeed diverse. She held several political jobs in Washington before earning an MBA from Harvard University. Armed with that, she joined Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1978, rising to VP-account supervisor. In 1983, she became exec VP-managing director of the New York office of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos.
She left the agency business in 1988, landing at New York Newsday as VP-marketing. She switched career gears again in 1993, joining Bloomingdale's as exec VP-marketing. After two years there, she ran her own marketing consultancy before joining Media Passage last year.
"It helps me relate to ad agencies and to clients," Ms. Miller said of her winding career path. "That's critical to understanding how to make smart media decisions."
SUCCESSOR TO KUMMERFELD?
At MPA, Ms. Miller will oversee marketing, promotion, research, new media, franchise development and corporate communications. And, although she's new to the magazine business, she's already talking the talk.
"My role is just to keep in the forefront of advertisers and ad agencies the power that magazines have to create brand franchises," Ms. Miller said.
There has been some speculation that Mr. Guthrie's successor would also be in line to eventually succeed Mr. Kummerfeld.
Ms. Miller said that never came up during the hiring process. But Mr. Kummerfeld, 63, said that while he has not announced a timetable, "You can expect that in the not-too-distant future I'll be retiring."
"Of course a person in [Ms. Miller's] position would be a logical candidate for the job," he added, "but the board of directors is not going to automatically anoint someone."