The 60-second interview: Katherine Nicholls, Niche Media CEO

CAPITAL:When Greengale Publishing acquired Niche Media Holdings, you said in a press release that the acquisition “puts Niche Media in an enviable position to make decisions quickly and invest in growth markets and opportunities.” Does that mean Niche Media, which publishes 11 city-specific magazines, will be launching new glossies in other cities?

NICHOLLS: The answer is yes, and Niche Media is launching its first new city title in five years this September: Austin Way. The long term goal is to continue to grow in the U.S., but also abroad. What we do is very unique and we see opportunities to take our model to cities around the globe. Our magazines align sophisticated local content, that has a lens of consciousness, to the affluent and aspiring consumer of luxury. We are exploring possibilities as we speak, so stay tuned…

CAPITAL: The Hamptons print market is a crowded one this time of year, including competitors like Beach and Avenue on the Beach. How does Niche Media’s Hamptons stand out?

NICHOLLS: A crowded market with new magazines launching is a really good thing. This means the Hamptons are doing well and that print is doing well! The first way we stand out is size; Our July 4th issue was over 425 pages! I challenge you to find any other regional or national magazine that produced something of that scale all summer. Memorial Day was also huge, and our weekly issues between these holidays are robust and growing in popularity. Samantha Yanks’ editorial content is beautiful and compelling and our Debra Halpert and her publishing team is in itself a local business that operates in the Hamptons 365 days a year. After 36 years, Hamptons magazine is part of the fabric of this community.

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CAPITAL: Is local advertising even across Niche Media’s titles, or have some of your markets fared better since the financial downturn in 2007?

NICHOLLS: The ideal mix for our magazines is when 50 percent of our revenue comes from local brands and businesses and 50 percent comes from the national or global brands. This creates the optimal environment for an upscale regional publication. With 11 cities, some are always going to be growing faster than others. For example, Ocean Drive is in itself an economic indicator of the boom that is taking place in Miami, driven by real estate and foreign investment. Our summer issue, not normally considered a high season in Miami, is almost 300 pages, and a powerful marketing vehicle to reach buyers of real estate. Philadelphia Style is one of our most successful titles, driven largely by its success across a broad range of categories in the local market. The magazine’s style and sophistication are highly appealing to the reader and advertiser alike.

CAPITAL: You spent about 20 years in the luxury wine and spirits business. Indulge us with the analogy here, but how is a luxury magazine like a fine wine?

NICHOLLS: That’s an amazing question and while I’ve never thought of it this way, winemaking and magazines are very much alike. The French word “terroir” when applied to winemaking reveals how the specific natural environment and elements impart characteristics and flavor to the wine. Terroir in this case is soil, climate and topography (flat lands or hillsides). Terroir is fundamentally important to our magazines, as each must be a true reflection of that local environment. No two of our magazines are alike because no two of our markets are alike. Even the short distance between the Hamptons and Gotham results in a totally different magazine experience—like the distinctive left and right bank regions within Bordeaux. That’s Terroir! And now you’ve made me thirsty!

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