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Some Thoughts on a Month of Conferences – Three in fact. An ACT 4 Experience Mini-Preview by John Harrington

November 12, 2013

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Since the beginning of October, I’ve attended three major magazine related conferences: The Distripress Congress, the American Magazine Media Conference (AM2C), and, last week, the ACT 4 Experience*. At two of them, Distripress and ACT, I was part of the program. I reported on Distripress (The New Single Copy (10/14/13) and AMC (10/28/13). Each of them have elements of pep rallies, and that description is meant to be complimentary. Each of them has somewhat different audiences, and consequently somewhat different attendees, and that is something that is a little disconcerting.

Distripress is attended primarily by circulation executives. AMC draws an audience of magazine senior management, as well as editors. The ACT Experience is the most varied, international, trade and consumer, consumer marketers, print, production, and digital suppliers, financial types, entrepreneurs, and, most uniquely, students. There was a common element to each event in that they shared tremendous levels of energy, even as they each recognized that magazine media is in the midst of a period of extraordinary change. As an observer, there is a frustration that the dialogues generated are isolated, virtually taking place in silos, when there is so much that could be gained from greater sharing. Logistics would be daunting, but the rewards might be profound.

Short Notes on ACT 4: I have written before about the ACT Experience conference and last year wrote, “It is becoming one of the most important events on the magazine industry’s calendar.” A year later, I stand by that description. If there was one message that I brought back from Oxford, Mississippi, last week, it is that it all begins with print.

You could expect that message from some of the large publishers who spoke, but the one presentation that hammered that down for me was “Celebrating Magazine Launches,” a panel moderated by Tony Silber, general manager of Red 7 Media, publisher of Folio. Six new (and comparatively young) magazine publishers shared their experiences, all characterized by a remarkable level of integration across publishing platforms: print, of course, but also websites, tablets, seminars, and levels of brand extensions. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious, and they deserve a special mention. There’s more than a good chance they’ll be heard from in the future, but for what it’s worth, they were Real Food Real Kitchens, Simply Gluten Free, Cake & Whiskey, Business Black Box, Covey Rise, and Story.

(Note: I’ll be writing more about this ACT Experience in the future).■

* Distripress is the international trade group for press circulation. AM2C is sponsored by MPA – the Association of Magazine Media and the American Society of Magazine Edi- tors. ACT 4 is sponsored by the Magazine Innovation Center at the school of journalism at the University of Mississippi.

Re-published by permission from John Harrington, Editor, The New Single Copy, November 11, 2013 Volume XVIII, #17. You can reach John at jharrington@nscopy.com

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