100 Years Old, 100 Years Strong
Print is dead. At least, that seems to be the conventional wisdom. Local newspapers are being bought and consolidated under bigger banners, once prominent magazines are folding, and even certain online publications are suffering. But Baltimore magazine is showcasing how to refresh a brand that's a century old. WTCI chatted with Baltimore Magazine's President Michael Teitelbaum to discuss what keeps a publication fresh, how to capitalize on an invested audience, and more.
WTCI - Baltimore magazine is the oldest continuously published magazine in the country. What does it take to keep a publication like that fresh more than 100 years after it was first published?
The most important thing is to evolve with the city. As Baltimore has changed, so has Baltimore magazine. We keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in Baltimore—and give our readers a magazine that reflects the vibrancy, creativity, and ingenuity of the region and its people.
At the end of the day, we work to serve our mission, which is to inspire Baltimore to discover more, do more, and be more. If we’ve done that, mission accomplished.
WTCI - There’s obviously a digital component to the magazine today. How does the cadence of online publishing affect the print magazine and vice-versa?
Our print magazine is delivered monthly. Over the subsequent few weeks, we publish each story online separately. In addition, we publish more timely, digital-only content on a daily basis. We make our audiences aware of all our digital content via our newsletters, social media, and the newsfeeds on our website.
WTCI - Are the audiences for online and print the same?
There is overlap between our print and digital audiences, but there are also those who only read our print magazine and others who only read our online publication. Print readers skew a little older, but there are many younger readers who appreciate the joy of reading a beautifully printed magazine. Conversely, our online audience skews younger and tend to follow us on social media and receive our digital newsletters.
WTCI - The general vibe around institutional media is one of negativity, especially around staying profitable. Do you agree with that sentiment? In what ways are you innovating with your business model?
While we have our challenges, city publications like Baltimore magazine are doing far better than daily newspapers and generic national magazines. It’s not the cash cow that it used to be, but our core revenue model of advertising and subscriptions for the main magazine are holding steady. We could sustain ourselves for the foreseeable future as a print only publication, but we have diversified and continue to invest in other areas including digital, events, custom publishing, and creative services.
WTCI - You have a background in both media and marketing. These have traditionally been seen as two separate professions, but there’s a lot of cross-pollination between writers or journalists and marketers. Should we still be thinking of these fields separately?
Media and marketing are two entirely separate fields, but there is an intersection in which they meet.
Pure journalism has nothing at all to do with marketing. Our editors write about the people, places, and organizations that our readers will find interesting. And they tell these stories by doing the necessary research, interviewing sources, and fact checking their work.
Where marketing and journalism intersect is with content-driven marketing. Prior to my 6 1/2 years at Baltimore magazine, I was partner in a content marketing agency for 7 years. Done properly, content-driven marketing delivers valuable and relevant information that educates, informs, and/or entertains the consumer of that content, without being promotional. It takes someone schooled in journalism to create content that will resonate with the reader, viewer, or listener, but they also must have a mind for marketing to know how to deliver on the client’s marketing objectives in subtle and sophisticated ways.
We have pure journalists on our team, and then we have others who know how to create content for marketers. When the content appears in our print or digital publications, we label it as sponsored content. We also have our Creative Studio division that provides content marketing, design, and digital services on behalf of our clients.
WTCI - Baltimore magazine hosts its popular “Best of Baltimore” party every year, but looking at the calendar, you’re actually hosting events almost monthly. Why events? Doesn’t that require a whole different skillset than putting together a magazine?
We see events as an opportunity to extend our brand to a live audience. It started with our Best of Baltimore party which is a celebration of the people who make our Best of Baltimore list each year. Over 1,000 people get to sample food from some of our best restaurants, drink some of the best wine, beer, and spirits, and dance to tunes by our DJ and live band.
Over the years, we’ve added numerous events to bring our publication to life. To illustrate a few examples;
- The Wedding Party is an extension of our Baltimore Weddings publication.
- Women Who Move Maryland is an event that brings together female leaders in various fields.
- Best Restaurants is a multi-course sit down feast that provides the ultimate dining experience because each course is prepared by a chef at one of our best restaurants.
- Excellence in Nursing is an awards dinner celebrating those who were voted on as top nurses.
- Crab Fest coincides with our annual July crab cover story.
- Give Baltimore is a networking event with a program designed for the nonprofit community.
- GameChangers coincides with our annual publication that tells the stories of people who are creating positive change in Baltimore.
- Top Docs is an opportunity for all those who were voted on as top doctors to come together and celebrate with one another.
The short answer to your question is… yes, it requires a much different skill set to produce events. Our Events Director has expertise in this area and orchestrates the entire effort including identifying and dealing with venues, vendors, promotion, and sponsor activations.
WTCI - I want to circle back to that first question; continuous publication for more than 100 years is a big feat. Where do you want to go in the future? More digital investment? The Metaverse? Where do you go from here?
We will continue to live our mission of inspiring Baltimore to discover more, do more, and be more. We do this by letting people know about the people, places, and organizations that make our community special. Where we tell these stories will continue to evolve, but it will always have a print, digital, and live event component.
In addition, we are investing in our Creative Studio division. This division leverages our expertise in design, editorial, media, digital, and live events, and serves clients who need assistance in any of these areas.