ABM kicks off yearlong centennial celebration

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New York—American Business Media officially kicked off its yearlong centennial celebration on Thursday with a pledge to help its members address myriad challenges, from monetizing rich data and developing vertical search tools to entering overseas markets.

ABM President-CEO Gordon Hughes II and Hugh Roome, president of Scholastic International and 2005-06 chairman of the ABM, outlined the association’s strategy for 2006 and beyond at a morning news conference. About 25 people attended the event at the office of Scholastic International.

“This is an organization in transition,” said Roome. “We’re dealing with the potency of digital media, search will be a terribly important tool in the future, and government affairs and the effects of postal rates will be critical functions.”

Roome also discussed plans to help ABM members penetrate international markets. The organization will sponsor trips to Brazil in March and to China in October, and a similar fact-finding mission to India is tentatively planned for early 2007.

“The 20th century was the American century, and the 21st century could very well be the China-India century; and ABM very much wants to be a part of that transition,” Roome said, adding that for ABM members there is burgeoning potential for global partnerships and licensing deals, particularly in Brazil.

With a growing number of marketers shifting ad dollars to the Web, ABM aims to help its members effectively integrate print and online sales efforts. Asked about the challenge of breaking down the ad sales silos that are the norm in b-to-b publishing, Roome said, “It’s moving much faster than we expected. The print guys know how to sell pages really well, but they don’t want to be left behind selling page views.”

Hughes added: “A lot depends on the advertiser. The client no longer wants to see six or seven people, but one or two people who can come in, ascertain their needs and come up with an entire package.”

Hughes also said ABM will work hard this year to raise the level of discourse between edit and sales. “Church and state do need to talk,” Hughes said.

All of ABM’s events this year, from the 52nd Jesse H. Neal Awards in March to the Top Management Meeting in November, will be thematically tied to the centennial celebration.

Also, ABM is partnering this year with Everybody Wins!, a nonprofit organization that reaches out to children in need to provide one-to-one reading assistance. Under the partnership, Hughes and a handful of other top b-to-b media executives will each adopt a middle-school student to teach him or her about magazines and publishing.

—Matthew Schwartz

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