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David Parry, President & CEO, A360 Media & Accelerate360, To Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni: “People Are Reconnecting With Print Media.” The Mr. Magazine™ End Of The Year Interview…

December 23, 2020

“Magazines have always been, and continue to be, a great source of comfort for consumers during the most difficult of times. There is something out there for everyone, no matter your interest: celebrity, lifestyle, home, fashion, food, whatever special interest you may have. Your favorite magazine relates to you like a good friend, it shares your interests in the most authentic and authoritative way.” David Parry…

“There is a personal connection that readers have with magazine brands and that brand equity presents myriad opportunities to grow and diversify those brands. Expanding brands with experiential platforms, single-topic issues, audio platforms, and more feature-like video content allow magazine brands to build on what they have been doing for years, engage people deeply. That is an incredibly valuable foundation to be able to build on.” David Parry…

Bloom in the Midst of Gloom and Doom … Magazine Media 2021  Part 7: David Parry, President & CEO, A360 Media & Accelerate360.

David Parry, President & CEO, A360 Media & Accelerate360.

2020 is almost behind us with a brand new year just waiting in the wings expectantly. The hope is there for a return to normalcy, a return to sanity, where life doesn’t seem quite as different and complex as we all have recently experienced. With this in mind, Mr. Magazine™ offers up his end of the year interviews with presidents and CEOs of major magazine media companies to get their take on what they feel 2021 holds for each of their companies and magazines in general. Our next magazine media president has arrived. Please enjoy…

Accelerate360 is one of the leading wholesale distribution companies in the United States that provides turnkey solutions for retailers and brands. The company manages merchandising programs, featuring more than 600 SKUs in general merchandise and health and wellness, for national and regional grocers, and is the largest periodical distributor in North America delivering magazines to more than 55,000 retail locations weekly. But like everyone else during 2020, A360 found itself dealing with a pandemic, which presented challenges that the company used its experienced leadership to help handle.

That experienced leadership starts with President and CEO, David Parry, who has previously served as President and CEO of The News Group U.S. (TNG), after serving as President and CEO of MagNet, an international data management company. I spoke with David recently in his first interview since he became CEO of A360 Media. It was informative to hear from a man who has experience both in the distribution side of magazines and magazine media, and now also in publishing.

So, please enjoy the seventh and final installment of the Mr. Magazine™ end of the year (2020) interviews with David Parry, President & CEO, Accelerate360.

But first the sound-bites:

On the biggest challenge that A360 faced in 2020 and how the company overcame it: On the distribution side, I’ve got more than two decades of experience and have seen my fair share of challenges. This year definitely posed some new challenges. However, I was able to leverage my experience and ensure that all of our clients and retailers were able to receive publications without disruption and done in a way that adhered to the new COVID guidelines. Also, as we navigated the challenges, we were also able to communicate to our clients all of the potential sales advantages that the COVID environment created.

On the future of print in a digital age: I love digital and the print and digital pieces of our brands, when working together, help to deepen that bond for the consumer. Digital is a powerful tool for breaking news or providing that first piece of insight or inspiration that leads to delving even deeper in the magazine format that provides all of the details and depth. It’s an important collaboration that deepens the experience with all of our brands.

On whether print is still the major source of revenue for the company: Yes. This year, it represents 60% of A360 Media’s revenue, with 40% being digital. Two years ago, digital was just 10%.

On his thoughts on the future of magazines and magazine media: There is a personal connection that readers have with magazine brands and that brand equity presents myriad opportunities to grow and diversify those brands. Expanding brands with experiential platforms, single-topic issues, audio platforms, and more feature-like video content allow magazine brands to build on what they have been doing for years, engage people deeply. That is an incredibly valuable foundation to be able to build on.

On how he feels about diversity and inclusion within companies: It’s a topic amongst our senior executives every week, every day. We’re going to see more diversity in the workplace, but we have to also find ways to ensure that we are diversifying the talent pool so we can do so. We have to find ways to encourage students from all backgrounds to explore publishing and media as a career path for them. I think everyone is focused on tackling the challenge and because of that, meaningful changes can be made.

On whether he sees a bright side coming out of 2020: COVID has parked us in our homes and given us a chance to reunite with some of the things that we’ve lost touch with. I’ve watched my kids, and they’re in the 23 to 33-year-old range, I’ve watched them read magazines and books incessantly because they just couldn’t bear to watch television all of the time. Too much bad stuff going on; too much of the repetitive stuff being reported. People are reconnecting with print media.  

On what makes him tick and click: I believe in the product. So I spend my time thinking how do I preserve this; how do I grow it; how do I take advantage of it; how do I build an enterprise out of it? I’m a cup-half-full guy and I’ve been that way my whole life.

On how he unwinds at the end of the day: I exercise. That’s how I keep safe.

On what keeps him up at night: We are moving in so many directions right now, I want to make sure we are focused on the right opportunities. It’s a good worry to have actually, we have so many opportunities, I worry about missing one.

And now for the lightly edited Mr. Magazine™ interview with David Parry, president & CEO, A360 Media.

Samir Husni: You’re now the new CEO of the former American Media, now A360 Media. And 2020 has been one of the toughest years ever on all fronts for the media industry. You’ve been a CEO on the distribution side of the business for many years and now you’re the CEO on the publishing side. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in 2020 and how did you overcome it?

David Parry: On the distribution side, I’ve got more than two decades of experience and have seen my fair share of challenges. This year definitely posed some new challenges. However, I was able to leverage my experience and ensure that all of our clients and retailers were able to receive publications without disruption and done in a way that adhered to the new COVID guidelines. Also, as we navigated the challenges, we were also able to communicate to our clients all of the potential sales advantages that the COVID environment created.

In regard to A360, I was the distributor for these publications for 25 years, I know the celebrity titles which account for 70% of the business revenues and distributed the monthly titles like Men’s Journal as well. While I may be a bit more unfamiliar with the advertising and publishing aspects, I am learning at an accelerated clip thanks to A360 President Chris Scardino.

Samir Husni: Magazines have always played a positive role in times of crises throughout the ages, as opposed to newspapers and television that are usually the bearer of bad news. Do you think  magazines are a Prozac for society? And what do you see as the future of print in this digital age? Is it all going to be SIPs, like the majority of Meredith’s magazines or Topix Media or Centennial? 

David Parry: Magazines have always been, and continue to be, a great source of comfort for consumers during the most difficult of times. There is something out there for everyone, no matter your interest: celebrity, lifestyle, home, fashion, food, whatever special interest you may have. 

Your favorite magazine relates to you like a good friend, it shares your interests in the most authentic and authoritative way.

I love digital and the print and digital pieces of our brands, when working together, help to deepen that bond for the consumer. Digital is a powerful tool for breaking news or providing that first piece of insight or inspiration that leads to delving even deeper in the magazine format that provides all of the details and depth. It’s an important collaboration that deepens the experience with all of our brands.

For example, if Princess Kate is seen shopping for her children, you may see a social media post about it. One of the celebrity weeklies might have an image on the cover with further insights about where she went and what she bought, how she engaged with the store staff or other shoppers, giving a deeper picture of the whole experience in a 1,000-word article. 

So, in our view, the future is not SIPS. Those are one-time experiences. Our strategy is deepening the embrace of digital and using it to bring the story to life across all platforms.

Samir Husni: Is print still the major source of revenue for A360? 

David Parry: Yes. This year, it represents 60% of A360 Media’s revenue, with 40% being digital. Two years ago, digital was just 10%.

I believe that in 24 months’ time, we will be at a 50/50 balance of print and digital revenue much like many of the other publishers are seeing, or driving towards. 

Samir Husni: You mentioned that changes are on the horizon in terms of distribution, distributing direct from wholesale to the consumer, in addition to the retailer and the businesses. What other changes do you see on the horizon concerning magazine media? 

Davis Parry: As I mentioned above, there is a personal connection that readers have with magazine brands and that brand equity presents myriad opportunities to grow and diversify those brands. Expanding brands with experiential platforms, single-topic issues, audio platforms, and more feature-like video content allow magazine brands to build on what they have been doing for years, engage people deeply. That is an incredibly valuable foundation to be able to build on. 

Samir Husni: How do you feel social responsibility, diversity and inclusion is going to impact magazine media and how are you dealing with it in your own companies?

David Parry: It’s a topic amongst our senior executives every week, every day. We’re going to see more diversity in the workplace, but we have to also find ways to ensure that we are diversifying the talent pool so we can do so. We have to find ways to encourage students from all backgrounds to explore publishing and media as a career path for them. I think everyone is focused on tackling the challenge and because of that, meaningful changes can be made.

Samir Husni: Do you see any areas of “Bloom” in the midst of this gloom and doom ?

David Parry: COVID has parked us in our homes and given us a chance to reunite with some of the things that we’ve lost touch with. I’ve watched my kids, and they’re in the 23 to 33-year-old range, I’ve watched them read magazines and books incessantly because they just couldn’t bear to watch television all of the time. Too much bad stuff going on; too much of the repetitive stuff being reported. People are reconnecting with print media.  

Samir Husni: What makes you tick and click?

David Parry: I believe in the product. So I spend my time thinking how do I preserve this; how do I grow it; how do I take advantage of it; how do I build an enterprise out of it? I’m a cup-half-full guy and I’ve been that way my whole life. 

Samir Husni: How do you unwind in the evenings after you’re done working?

David Parry: I exercise. That’s how I keep safe. 

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

David Parry: We are moving in so many directions right now, I want to make sure we are focused on the right opportunities. It’s a good worry to have actually, we have so many opportunities, I worry about missing one. 

Samir Husni: Thank you. 

    A Mr. Magazine™ Editorial

    The “Bloom” in the midst of gloom and doom. Magazines and magazine media have mainly focused on the positive and been an advocate for easing the pain and stopping the hate, seeking to help their audiences both in print and online. For these uncertain times and an audience that is constantly bombarded with bad news, magazines are like trusted friends that you can visit with while they console and encourage you in the midst of a pandemic and social and racial conflicts. 

    2020 is almost behind us with a brand new year just waiting in the wings expectantly. The hope is there for a return to normalcy, a return to sanity, where life doesn’t seem quite as different and complex as we all have recently experienced. With this in mind, I offer up my end of the year interviews with presidents and CEOs of major magazine media companies to get their take on 2020 and what they feel 2021 holds for each of their companies and magazines in general. 

    Keeping the faith, easing the pain, stopping the hate, spreading the love and hoping that this too shall be behind us.

    Here’s to a healthy and happy 2021

    Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D.

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