Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gary Ross's Alberta Magazines Conference Keynote

The 2012 Alberta Magazines Conference marked the first time I got to attend the event and actually sit in a session and learn something, instead of being the organizer. I gotta say, being an attendee is much more enjoyable!

So I was happy to take in Gary Ross's keynote luncheon address, "Style Needs Substance: In Defence of Content." Here's a recap of his talk.
  • Editors will never be obsolete (phew!). They are needed to sort through the growing amount of crap that is posted everywhere--separating "the pepper from the flyshit."
  • Editorial budgets are on the way down, and editors are repeatedly asked to do more with less.
  • The preoccupation with SEO and how content will be delivered has taken away from the content itself.
  • What gets delivered is more important than how it's delivered. (Hear, hear!)
  • We're getting confused about what is excellent writing vs. what gets the highest Google ranking.
  • The tricky part is that editorial excellence costs $.
  • New York Times is an example of a publication that went big on content and won. Went from near bankruptcy to success.
  • If your mag's business plan includes excellent content, you will see it in brand revenues.
So what should publishers/editors do?
  1. Define what excellent content is for your magazine. You need to know what's great to recreate it over and over again.
  2. Identify the best mags and figure out what is good about them. Then, copy them. Examples: GQ, New Yorker, Wired. Create your own iterations of old ideas.
  3. Bring the world into your office. Invite anyone you want to chat with to lunch at your office--mayor, business leaders, important people in your magazine community. They'll usually say yes. It's amazing return for the cost of a few sandwiches.
  4. Get out of your office. Go to events, lunches, conferences. You'll be surprised who you might meet.
            -- Colleen Seto