It is in tough and troubled times like these that meetings and gatherings of the members of the global magazine families are needed. Canceling a meeting or a convention may save you some money, but it is not the answer to enhancing your business model and to benefiting from the powerful collective thinking of the group.
One such convention has not been canceled and it promises to bring together a host of magazine makers from across the globe. It is the 37th FIPP World Magazine Congress that will be held in London next week.
I asked Sarah Tunstall, COO of the PPA, the association for publishers and providers of consumer, customer and business media in the UK, who was instrumental in the preparations for this conference few questions regarding the World Magazine Congress and the Magic World of Magazines.
SH: Several magazine and newspaper associations have canceled their annual conventions due to the downturn in the economy. Why do you think the Magazine World Congress decided to go ahead with its meeting?
ST: It shows the confidence and dynamism of the worldwide magazine industry. This is the largest and highest profile event in the magazine world this year, with a stellar cast of speakers. Support from delegates and sponsors is very strong. It shows that if you have a market-leading product, people will support it.
SH: What do you expect to be the take away message from the conference?
ST: There will be many messages across all publishing platforms. The key message is that magazines are the perfect vehicle for providing valuable and entertaining and trusted content to every type of audience. They do this in print, digitally, and face to face – carrying their brand values across all platforms.
SH: What are the numbers? More people attending this year than the last event? Less? The same?
ST: Numbers are, if anything, better than expected. We will have a full hall and packed break-out sessions. Direct comparison with the 2007 event in Beijing is difficult because it was in many respects a different event.
SH: The Chinese define insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results every time. What do you think the Magazine Congress is going to do different this time and what do you expect the results to be…
ST: We are aiming for the best-ever Congress – as every host nation should do. We believe that we have brought extra qualities of imagination, together with meticulous planning. The next Congress in Delhi in 2011 should take London as the benchmark and move ahead from there.
SH: Some of the speakers have just folded some of their print magazines. What do you think is the message that they will be sending the audience?
ST: No product has a divine right to make money, and all products have a beginning and an end. The history of leading magazine brands is that they are remarkably resilient, and remarkably able to evolve and develop to meet changing market expectations. Magazines continue to be launched – in print and digitally. An alert, creative magazine industry is always looking for the market gap, the market niche – and continues to find gaps and niches even in the toughest market.
SH: How do you think the conference is going to add to the amplification of print?
ST: The conference program itself – the physical program – showcases innovative print techniques some of which have been specially developed for the program and have never been used before. The message is that print has a dynamic future and continues to evolve. Watch out for copies of the program on e-Bay….