Mollison out to evangelize manufacturing

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If manufacturing needs a cheerleader, it has found one in Teri Mollison, recently named group publisher of Penton Media's manufacturing, supply chain and metals groups.

Since joining Penton's IndustryWeek in 1999 and more so now that she is responsible for 10 titles, Mollison has found herself repeatedly talking up the value of pitching products and services to manufacturers through trade magazines.

"I go crazy when people tell me that manufacturing is dead," Mollison said. "We can't survive without the products those companies churn out. That [Penton] is their source of information is a very powerful opportunity. What would the world be like if there wasn't anybody around to make manhole covers?"

In addition to IndustryWeek, Mollison now is responsible for the titles and related media of American Machinist, Cutting Technology, Gases & Welding Distributor, Welding Design & Fabrication, Logistics Today, Material Handling Management, Forging, Foundry Management & Technology and Metal Producing & Processing magazines.

When she arrived as director of advertising and marketing for IndustryWeek in September 1999, Mollison found that despite the title's strong reputation, its editorial quality was unfocused and its look uninviting. The publication was redesigned and editorial content on manufacturing was strengthened. And the old tagline, "the management resource," was nixed in favor of "leadership in manufacturing."

"We needed to evangelize manufacturing as a sector," said Mollison, who was promoted to publisher a year after joining the company. "If we can help advertisers and marketers understand the importance of manufacturing as a profit to their businesses, then we'll get the business by default. We don't have to sell IndustryWeek, we have to sell the manufacturing sector."

This year, group revenues at IndustryWeek will rise 20% and display ad pages should be up 40 pages when compared with 2003, she said.

The other publications now under her direction have credibility in the marketplace and longstanding reputations, but some need to be shaken up and repositioned, she said. Already, Mollison is surveying readers and tinkering with the product to better leverage the brands. For instance, a Web site redesign of American Machinist should be completed by December.

Product additions are on the drawing board as well, similar to what she's done at IndustryWeek. In late September, IndustryWeek published a custom e-newsletter, titled "In the Boardroom," co-produced with Needham, Mass.-based software company PTC that printed in several languages. It also launched Smart Manufacturing, a conference for small and midsize companies that was held in Florida in June and will be expanded next year.

"[Sometimes] you've been dancing the same dance so long, you don't think that there may be some different music we should be playing right now," Mollison said. "I'm hoping to introduce a different drumbeat." M

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