If you follow my writing with any regularity, you know I’m a huge proponent of the audience-first ideal in publishing. Your audience is everything, and that point has been hammered home this past year. Publishers who get it — and use that relationship to become essential to their readers — have been doing well in spite of all the challenges. While other publishers, who maybe haven’t quite dialed that in, are having a tougher time.
One brand that gets it — and has for a long time — is Hoffman Media, publishers of titles like Bake From Scratch (we have back issues on the kitchen bookshelf), Southern Lady, Taste of South and other lifestyle brands.
Family owned and operated Hoffman Media is a market-leading special interest publisher. President and COO Eric Hoffman recently spoke to Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni about where they are, what they learned last year, and how they are approaching what’s next.
“We very much think that the core print business, consumers want it,” Hoffmann wrote last year as part of a series titled “Bloom in the Midst of Gloom and Doom.” “It’s an invited friend to their mailbox.”
That simple truth … that a print magazine is invited in … helped magazine publishers weather this particular storm. Hoffman also believes that being family-owned gives them a leg up when it comes to seeking a quality audience over random eyeballs.
“As you know we have a family-owned business,” he said to Husni. “… we do not have institutional investors and we frankly think that the print business managed right can still be a remarkable business to be in. Having the quality of the customers rather than the quantity is something that resonates better today than maybe ever.”
He is looking forward to the pandemic winding down so they can once again be part of the live events that have been so well received by their audience. In the meantime, they’ve added more digital content like videos, and recently announced an 11-week partnership with Williams Sonoma.
Hoffman sees brands like his playing a vital role as the industry undergoes some fundamental shifts.
“Certainly there are several brands and SIPs that have become a meaningful piece of their business and look to be doing quite well,” he said to Husni. “I certainly see them in a leadership role in our industry, both really running that business in the right way to the consumer, but also creating the narrative to the advertiser of why these niche markets actually matter, because changing the conversation with ad agencies can be difficult. And I think you need industry advocates at the top that truly believe that. So, when we see that and I think we are, that’s going to be exciting.”
Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the brand has deep roots in the South and many of their titles reflect that. As a brand, they are aware of the balance that’s needed as they celebrate the cultural influences of Southern cuisine and lifestyle, while supporting a voice of unity and working together for change.
“I believe we as a country have never been more divided, at least in recent years. So, I think there is certainly opportunities for us as business leaders in the community to carry that message. To the extent that I have the ability to do that within my role, I hope to do that in my own community,” he notes.
As Hoffman Media looks to the future, it’s their audience that matters most. And that’s no doubt why their success as a brand continues.