Business at “Leisure”

Editorial, ad sales, and audience distribution.  Those are the three legs of the stool that make a successful magazine.  Denise Koff, the Vice President of Client Services at Leisure Media 360 in Roanoke, told our class that if any one of those three legs does not hold up properly, the stool (or magazine) will fail.

Koff & LauraLeisure Media 360 publishes high-end regional magazines including, but not limited to, Blue Ridge Country, The Roanoker, and Bridebook (my personal favorite!).  Liz Long, a writer and social media expert who moved her way up from a receptionist at Leisure, claimed Bridebook as her baby.  It is an annual publication that essentially serves as a glorified bridal announcement.  I found this idea genius, because the magazine becomes a glossy must-have keepsake for Virginia brides.  The magazine is full of authentic peer-to-peer communication, where brides give first-person advice and tell their wedding stories.  Long said this personal touch is very characteristic of what Millennials want in a magazine.

Liz LongMany of the Leisure Media publications have different business models.  “There’s not one right way to get revenue,” Koff said.  She said that The Roanoker is driven primarily by ad sales.  The urban subway model, where magazines are distributed by hand to commuters waiting for the subway, and custom publishing model are also popular options.  Leisure partners with ABC Virginia to custom-publish a magazine called Spirited Virginia.  Koff stressed that none of these models are successful without multi-media strategies to accompany them.

Koff’s conversation was extremely relevant as she touched on several of the points mentioned in class and the David Sumner chapter “The Magazine Century.”  Like in the reading, Koff said general interest magazines are falling off rapidly and have turned into special-interest or niche publications.  Likewise, as Professor Cumming mentioned, she said everything must have journalistic integrity.  Advertisers should not ever be allowed to pay for editorial, although sponsored content is a good alternative if it is clearly labeled.  She ended with insight that any magazine dealing with luxury is “in” right now—a good sign for us I think as we venture to create a high-end publication about the ever-so-trendy craft beer and wine industries.

— Laura Waggener

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