A very different publisher’s report

by Morton Sosland
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Once again, in the first issue of the new year, this page looks at the year past and the one ahead from the viewpoint of publisher reporting to readers and advertisers. Yes, like any annual report, numbers will be discussed but these have never been the focus of what is discussed. The main goal of this report is to affirm that, regardless of multiple economic challenges facing publishing, the continuing and expanding technology revolution that has overcome many publishers and the huge shifts in the food industries, that this company and its seven principal publications are committed to providing content our readers want and need and will use in ways that benefit them and bolster appreciation for what we do.

Nothing should be more central to the strategy of a magazine publisher than doing everything possible to help the business it serves. While we appreciate that our aspirations for the industry are tough to attain, we believe that building requires prosperity for individual companies as well as excellent relations with wholesale and retail customers. Across-the-board strength building requires constant attention. That means criticism and questioning, and also journalistic frankness, whether reporting on volatile markets or shifting consumer interest, have the upper hand.

The past year offers a single event that symbolizes more than any other the role and the responsibilities this publisher envisions for itself. This was our centrality to the hugely successful International Baking Industry Exposition (Baking Expo 2013) in Las Vegas. A constant drumbeat ahead of Expo helped build a near record attendance and at Expo three of our magazines joined in supplying the official daily publication. Beyond that, though, a broad range of print and Internet services, including video interviews, combined to make the Baking Expo the very model of effective and efficient intra-industry collaboration and communication.

Considerably smaller in numbers, but of a dimension of great importance to the overall food industry, is the annual Purchasing Seminar, which marked its 36th year. In the past five years, the number of registrants expanded from 350 to 810, with further growth likely in 2014 as a larger hotel has been selected. The seminar is unprecedented for the purchasing “power” it draws. As the value of this event increases, consideration is being given to extending into new arenas.

Without claiming universal knowledge, it seems likely that this may be the only publisher’s report across all news-oriented magazines, and even newspapers, that does not begin by noting difficulties attributed to the shift of readers from print to Internet. The Internet has been important to this company for years and its availability has been a source of strength rather than a problem.

This explains how total magazine readership has grown steadily to a total in the year now closing of 270,300, a new high. A lesser number, but one of great importance, is the count of advertisers, reaching a new peak of 781, compared with 636 in the previous year. The Internet has been the major vehicle accounting for a rapidly growing newsletter operation, with 28 such publications issued daily or weekly with a total issue count near 45 million. Achieving these circulation, advertiser and newsletter numbers is a sign of strength. That is doubly so amid the huge changes across our industries, from wholesale baking to meat packing, from retail bakeries to global grain distribution.

Striving to be a superior media company, not just as measured internally, but against the wisdom of advertisers, their agencies, and, most importantly, our readers, succinctly defines what this publisher wants. It was 92 years ago, in 1922, that this company had its start with the guidance of three founding brothers. Their descendants continue in that role, supported by a staff who happily shares the family’s pride in what has been accomplished and in what lies ahead by hard work, knowledge of what is needed and caring about the well-being of you, our valued readers.
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