I last announced my retirement in a column in Air Transport World’s September 2012 issue. But things change, and as it happened I never left. So how do you write a second retirement column? I have discovered this one is more difficult to compose. I titled that first column -30-, which means the end of the story. Okay, so it wasn’t.
One of the questions I am most often asked is, “What does a publisher do?” This is a good question, because for me it has been an evolving role. Simply put, the publisher runs the business, overseeing departments including editorial, production, sales and marketing, and audience development. The publisher is responsible for the bottom line, tying everything together to provide a strategic focus. I had some guiding principles and would like to spend this final effort reflecting on those as I evolved with ATW these last 37 years.
It’s always been about the reader
In journalism school it was made clear that you have to get the story right. Readers know good from bad journalism. Good publications build a trust with their readers that they will provide truthful, accurate, non-biased and insightful information. This bond keeps the reader coming back. I know ATW has delivered superbly, but at the same time—you—our readers, have been a large factor in our success. You have been champions in letting us know what is important to you. We have periodically asked your opinions through subscriber studies or other forms of research and this has helped us publish relevant content. This is a philosophy held by every ATW editor and with your help we have produced the most amazing group of engaged readers in the business. That engagement has also contributed to making our Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards the most meaningful event in the industry.
It is also important to provide those companies investing advertising dollars in the publication a good value. We created the premier environment for engaged readers but we also made sure we engaged the right people in the right places. These two factors have been a key to the success of ATW. It is not an easy task and playing in an international arena is expensive. We have been good at understanding where the market is going and adapting to these changes. When I started working for ATW, close to 65% of our copies were delivered in North America; now it is fewer than 35%, with overall distribution matching world growth markets.
Learning to adapt
Publishing has been a fast changing business. I believe ATW has done a very good job at understanding the changes in the business and adapting to those changes, albeit sometimes with baby steps. We look at publishing and technology trends to make sure we get it right. I remember the stress of launching our first website close to 15 years ago. We were one of the first commercial aviation websites and one of the first in our company. We are a lot better now at providing and managing digital content, and will get even better. We are lucky to have some dedicated employees and people inside Penton that really understand how this stuff works and know what is needed to stay on top. I thank them.
I am extremely lucky to have worked with a lot of good people during my tenure at ATW: many good times were had. I am fortunate to have made a number of lifetime friends along the way and had the honor of meeting almost everyone ever associated with ATW. I learned something from each person and these associations made my job much easier. Good luck to those that carry on the mission. Thanks to Joe Murphy for starting ATW and Yogi Berra for the title of this page. Over and out.