November 13, 2009
/ by Katrina M Mendolera
Magazines now on sale
Several magazine brands have found themselves on the buyout catwalk, trying to look their best for possible investors.
The most recent rumor supplied by Bloomberg, is that Playboy is in discussions to sell the magazine to Iconix Brand Group Inc., which owns Candie’s and London Fog clothing. Reuters reports that the iconic magazine is also in talks with Jim Griffiths, who is a former entertainment president at Playboy, and Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm. Other news alleges that Nielsen’s Business Media division is selling several titles including The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Backstage, Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek and Editor & Publisher. The Wrap reported that former Advancestar Holdings and ALM media director Jim Finkelstein is the supposed buyer.
Gossip that Time Warner would sell off its entire magazine division recently abounded. But as Crains New York Business reported, Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes debunked the story last month.
Magazines that have been sold include Media General’s Virginia Business magazine to Virginia Business Publications. In late October, Gulfstream Communications bought Grand Strand Magazine, while Connecticut-based Cottages & Gardens Publications was sold to Dolce Domum LLC; the sale included Hamptons Cottages & Gardens, Palm Beach Cottages & Gardens, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, and Westchester Cottages & Gardens. No matter what their fate, odds are these publications will share the experience of impending layoffs. Take regional titles Lake Erie Living and Over the Back Fence for instance. Both publications were recently sold to Great Lakes Publishing by LongPoint Media. Folio reported that president Lute Harmon Jr. said only half of its five full-time staffers would be retained, while the others would work as freelancers.
For public relations professionals, sales and shakeups can be frustrating, said Amy Lyons, managing director at Shift Communications. “Forming relationships with the press is part of what PR professionals do every day, so when your ‘go-to’ contact at a publication is suddenly gone, it can be harder in that you need to work through some new contacts again,” she said in an e-mail interview. “There also situations where you may have had a story in development for months with a particular reporter and now you need to start over. But at the end of the day, it’s about the story you are telling. I can have a great relationship with a reporter, but if the story isn’t strong, that relationship doesn’t matter.”
Meanwhile, BusinessWeek’s new parent has been busy. MediaWeek recently reported that Bloomberg executives plan to make the magazine “bigger, glossier and more international.” Other plans include charging for select Web content, increasing the number of pages in the magazine, providing more stories, upgrading the paper and adding Bloomberg’s name to the magazine.
Although two major business news providers share a metaphorical roof, Lyons said the biggest challenge for getting a story out there has less to do with the size or the profile of the outlet and more with the challenge of a shrinking media audience and fewer reporters. “If there’s been an editorial shakeup, see it as an opportunity. New reporters to a beat will need news sources, and becoming a dependable and reliable resource for them is a surefire way to keeping your foot in the door at the publication,” she said. “You also need to understand that that the transition is hard on the reporters as well – anything you can do to make their job easier by bringing additional sources to the table or supporting facts, all will go a long way.”
–Katrina M. Mendolera Rebecca Bredholt contributed to this report.
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