Canadian Magazine Industry News
14 December 2009,     TORONTO
Year end Q & A: Brian Segal
To wrap up the end of a tough year Masthead is gauging the climate of the publishing industry through a series of question and answer pieces with some of the most influential members of the business.

The first in the series is Rogers Publishing president and CEO Brian Segal.

Masthead: What measures did your company take to weather the storm?

Brian Segal: We reacted immediately to the onset of the advertising recession with cost-saving measures related to materials and our supplier partners.  As it
Brian Segal
Brian Segal
became evident that market conditions were going to be game-changing, we started looking at adapting our fundamental business model. 

We are now in the process of implementing a back-to-basics culture and a new approach to interfacing with the advertising marketplace.  You'll hear more about the latter in the new year.

As with most media organizations, we've become leaner by making the difficult decision to part ways with some talented long-time colleagues. We've removed layers of management to make our day-to-day decision-making processes faster. We've told managers to focus on two or three key priorities. 

M: How is the first quarter of 2010 shaping up for your company compared to the first quarter of 2009?

S:As I've been saying for more than a year now, none of us have a crystal ball.  It's very difficult to predict the market.  One trend we're seeing: some advertisers are waiting to see how holiday sales go before making commitments for 2010.

M:What was the highlight of 2009?

S:I'll first answer this from an industry perspective.  The Canadian magazine industry has come together to offer increased value to advertisers.  We successfully pushed for the PMB readership survey to be released twice-a-year and we implemented shorter ad-close schedules with PresseXpress. While our Rogers weeklies have always been nimble, advertisers can now count on our monthlies to put advertisements in consumers' hands in as little as two weeks.  Canadian advertisers now have one easy and accessible way to upload ads for all magazines with the new Magazines Canada AdDirect portal.  As a result of these three initiatives, we're strengthening magazines' position in the marketing mix by being even more responsive to our advertising partners' needs.

Here at Rogers, we still see solid evidence that investment in compelling content results in gains in both consumer and advertising spending.  Hello! Canada hit 100,000 weekly paid circulation this year and the magazine just published its two biggest record-setting issues in December.  The Maclean's and Hello! Canada Michael Jackson tribute issues have enjoyed combined sales of over 150,000 copies since the summer.  Flare had record-setting newsstand sales this fall following a great process of editorial renewal.  These are just some highlights.

M:What was the most challenging aspect of the past year?

S:Without question, the extremely difficult decisions relating to our people.
M:What, in your opinion will be the key to succeeding in publishing in 2010?

S:The same key to success that applies every year: investment in compelling content.  We will also have to remain agile in adapting to consumer expectations about how they get their information while demonstrating creativity in helping advertisers effectively use the magazines and other marketing tools we offer them.

M:The new federal Canadian Periodical Fund will be launched in April 2010. What effect, positive or negative, do you think it will have on your company?

S:We appreciate that the fundamental tenets of the federal policy remains to support the creation and delivery of Canadian content.  We are worried about the delays in providing details for the new program. We expect that large magazines will receive reduced funding. But at the same time we hope that this is offset by fair re-distribution to other successful magazines that help Canadians connect with one another.

— Val Maloney
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