years ago, ad agencies hit a rocky road and
publishers took on that role. Now, the
publishers are in trouble and the supply
chain is stepping up with the solutions and
AP: So where does that leave association publishers?
Jacobs: Association publishers are in a
sweet spot—all juice is shifting toward
niche magazines. Associations are in an
enormous position of strength. Magazines
represent private time, “me time.” There’s
a huge trend toward self-identification,
and associations provide that for their
Association magazines are the original
MARILYNN JACOBS SPEAKING AT SNAP ASSOCIATION
MEDIA & PUBLISHING CONFERENCE IN JUNE
Marilynn Jacobs will be speaking on “The Next Publishing Generation” at the
upcoming Association Media & Publishing Conference on June 3-4 at the Capital
Hilton in Washington, DC.
As Gen X and Gen Y graduate from J-school and move into the publishing talent pool, many are not aware of what associations are, much less the valuable editorial experiences that can be gained by working for an association publication.
However, these talented young professionals may very well reshape the industry as
we know it.
In this presentation, Jacobs will be joined by the Association of Corporate
Counsel’s Tiffani Alexander and Janelle Harris to help attendees discover ways to
attract and retain young professionals and explore what each generation can teach
others in an effort to move the association publishing industry forward.
For registration information, visit www.snaponline.org.
AP: What should top the to-do list for
association magazine publishers in
Jacobs: Knowing your audience. Non-profits have the highest level of audience
engagement, and that’s why they will survive. But you have to understand your
readers and your advertisers. Find out
what else they read, when they read, and
what did they stop reading when they
started reading your magazine.
The magazine as a source of aspiration
is not a role that will endure. People want
to see themselves in what they read.
AP: Considering the current economic
climate, what differences are you seeing in what’s happening in the association publishing sector versus some of
your other magazine publisher
Jacobs: Publishers want to create an
umbrella, an inclusive community, a variety of readiness, all united by a shared passion. Association passion is profound.
Association magazines are already a step
ahead because their magazines are a member benefit—sometimes even the primary
benefit. Readers come to an association
magazine as members, so the magazine
already has this halo over it. You have a
pre-built in level of engagement and buy-in that no other category has.
Associations don’t have problems with
indispensability. There’s a huge level of
AP: If that’s true, why are so many
association publications just trying to
hang on until 2010?
Jacobs: Associations need to exploit
that advantage. Some associations are
great at that, and some are still learning.
Association publishers hold in their hands
the tools to enhance the association.
If you can prove to association management the value the publication has to its
readers and members, then you will have a
better chance of getting through this year
and any other year.
AP: What’s the best way for publishers
to prove their value?
Jacobs: Talk to members. Tell your
management, “Don’t take my word for
it.” Gathering comments from the members is crucial.
AP: What advice do you have to associations about branding their publications?
Jacobs: Association magazines often
think that they have to assume the brand
of the association, but really, the association is the master brand and its publications are the “daughter brands.”
Associations need to adopt the master
brand-daughter brand strategy.
The magazine doesn’t have to have the
name of the association in the magazine
title. The conversation with members
starts on the cover. Associations have to
learn to take advantage of that.
I disagree with the theory that perception is everything. All brands have to be
real. And they have to deliver. That means
your editorial ideas have to be unique and
deliverable. Association magazines must
be able to back up their claims because
they speak to a larger relationship
between the association and its members.
As a magazine, you simply must deliver.
AP: What is the most important lesson
that association publishers can learn
from their for-profit publishing counterparts?
Jacobs: The value of audience research
because that’s the only thing that will truly
guide your future. And it can be done
cheaply—you don’t need a high-priced
research firm. Survey Monkey works just
And don’t forget to survey the magazine’s advertisers. You can’t be out of
touch with their needs. Gone are the days
of “Let them eat cake.” The next stage
will be your magazine on the guillotine.
Associations must invite people to talk
back, but make sure that you are ready to
Carla Kalogeridis ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
is editorial director of SNAP.