Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roy Reiman: Building an Empire

Earlier today, Roy Reiman, CEO of Reiman Publications, was the Keynote speaker for Journalism Week at the Meek School of Journalism. For anyone who would not know, Reiman is a Godfather of magazine innovation with his publishing empire credited with building the country’s largest, private, subscription-based publishing.

His presentation began with a picture of a Royal typewriter on a TV tray in the basesment of his family home. Time and time again, people told Reiman "you can't do that", or "It will never work" but time and time again he proved them wrong. Today one of every 10
homes in America subscribes to at least one of his magazines, none of which accepts adversiting.

To Reiman there are two factors that contribute to success

  1. Never look at problems negatively - every problem invokes entrepreurship.
  2. Creativity is the engine that powers success. It is the difference between dreams and reality.

When Reiman first quit his job and started writing in his basement, his first project went straight down the drain along with $10,000. He credited this to not testing his markets and it was a lesson in learning from his mistakes. Labeling the experience as his "master's degree in publishing," Reiman didn't stop trying and later created his first successful magazine Farm Wife News.

His publishing company went on to create other hit magazines such as
Country, Reminisce and Taste of Home. From there Reiman persued additional innovations such as his promotional t-shirt "I'm proud to be a farmer's wife" which led to an entire line of the garment production for the company.

Even in retirement, Reiman could not help himself and started a new magazine named Our Iowa. Starting from scratch and continuing with the same principles as before, his new venture boomed in business and with it he continues to push the ideas of creativity and innovation.

When asked about the uncertainties of journalism today, Reiman cites two reasons: There have been too many average writers and editors for years just getting by and publishers have allowed advertisers to dictate their content to readers. He even created an imaginary ad salesman for the company named Cal to jokingly ward off advertisers.

When it comes to magazines, Reiman believes they should be treated as welcomed friends in our homes that visit us once a month. And to Reiman, the future of magazines is clear. These "doom and gloom" times call for a "zoom" approach.

"Optimism sees its the perfect time to create," he said. "With less competition there are millions who want a good magazine because people need an escape."

Reiman ended his presentation with a simple quote: "The difference between the possible and impossible is creativity."

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