ABM strategic plan critiqued by Spring Meeting attendees

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Scottsdale, Ariz.—A two-year strategic plan, "Building the Next 10 Years," unveiled this week at American Business Media's annual Spring Meeting, elicited a variety of reviews.

Captains of b-to-b publishing said the strategic plan would help educate ABM members on how to navigate a rapidly changing media environment.

Bob Carrigan, president of IDG Communications and a member of ABM's executive committee, said some b-to-b publishers are still largely focused on their print products and need guidance on how to properly invest more in digital media and other media platforms.

Mitch Rouda, president of Hanley Wood e-media, said ABM's strategic plan is the right step in helping business publishers "understand the playing field and then develop products that suit it."

One of the strategic plan's central tenets, emphasizing the role of editors as "brand stewards" across multiple content platforms, attracted special attention.

"The good guys will recognize this; those who don't will fall behind," said ABM President-CEO Gordon Hughes II.

Tom Temin, exec VP-editor in chief at PostNewsweek Tech Media, said the idea was logical "if you accept the premise, which I do and our company does, that the bond with the reader is the most important ingredient to being a good advertising medium, and you accept the postulate that nobody should know the reader better than the editor."

Temin noted that at PostNewsweek the organizational structure has supported such a premise for a number of years, with the editor and publisher on equal rungs reporting to a common corporate owner.

A similar structure is in place at Wicks Business Information. "We're managed right now by publishing teams, so editors are equally important to publishers," said Doug Manoni, CEO of Wicks Business Information.

"You have to create an environment where the business interests are shared mutually," added John Whelan, VP-group publisher, Wicks Business Information. "And we've found that every time you put a straightforward business condition to the teams, they respond as teams very well."

Jason Young, president of Ziff Davis Media’s consumer/small business group, said, "The challenge really is human capital—how many editors out there have the skill set to do it."

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