So, Kevin Craig, what do you do?
I’ve said this many times before – I have the best job in the industry. As Senior Vice President and Director of the Newspaper Relations Group at AMG/Parade, I represent the company on the front lines within the newspaper industry and oversee relationships with our 1,500-plus newspaper partners throughout the country. Being able to build and foster longtime relationships with our partners over the years has been incredibly rewarding both on a personal and professional level.
What products does AMG/Parade offer to newspapers?
While many recognize us as Parade Magazine, we’ve grown significantly over the past few years. Athlon and Parade came together in September 2014, which paired Parade alongside Relish, Spry Living, American Profile and Athlon Sports & Life. In addition, AMG/Parade publishes numerous Special Interest Publications each year, as well as the highly respected Athlon Sports preview guides that have been on newsstands since 1967.
And could you elaborate a little on the digital content offerings?
Our latest opportunity—and one I’m most excited about—is through our recent investment with Made In Network, a YouTube-certified video production and media company.
After two years of working with Made In Network to develop the AMG/Parade suite of YouTube channels, we began to see how forming a true partnership with them could be incredibly beneficial to both companies.
Made In Network saw value in an iconic brand like Parade and we saw how Made In Network’s success is driven by a keen understanding of how to build engaged audiences on YouTube.
Last summer, AMG/Parade made an investment in the company to form a strategic partnership, ultimately becoming the exclusive sales arm for Made In Network’s custom brand channels.
With this partnership, we recently began talking to our partners about turnkey, affordable ways to develop their own local YouTube channels in two ways: First, to drive viewers to their own video content and secondly, to provide episodic evergreen video content to keep subscribers coming back each week.
Made In Network creates original YouTube videos for AMG/Parade. Are newspapers getting involved in video through this enterprise?
We know that YouTube is the next generation of television — the future of how people, especially young people, are consuming media. Every month, more than one billion people visit YouTube to watch more than six billion hours of video.
We also knew it was not only time to reimagine our own brands for younger digital audiences, but also to offer solutions to brands that are trying to reach this same target audience.
As users drastically increase every year, it is important for media companies—like AMG Parade and our newspaper partners—to think beyond and learn about how to successfully play in the creative YouTube arena.
So in addition to managing YouTube channels and creating custom YouTube content for national brand advertisers, we are currently exploring options to help newspaper partners develop their YouTube channel subscribers. In 2019, we plan to roll out different packages that are turnkey, efficient, affordable, and most importantly provide new revenue generating opportunities for our partner papers.
So how did you get started in the newspaper/media business?
My father was a pressman for 45 years so I’ve definitely got ink in my blood! During a father and son fishing trip in Canada with a paper company back in 1990, I connected with a gentleman who put me in touch with a recruiter. This led to a 17-year run selling newsprint to many of the same newspapers I’m working with now. I learned a great lesson on this trip with my Dad. I was still at Auburn University not thinking much about my post-college days. Funny how what I considered to be nothing more than a fun family getaway turned into a job opportunity and eventually a rewarding career. I guess you never know when the camera is on!
What role has Inland played in your career, and for AMG/Parade?
Inland members—its great staff included!—have been instrumental in my career and to the success of AMG/Parade. The organization has provided a great forum for both AMG/Parade and its predecessor companies to network, learn and remain relevant since I started in the business back in 1992.
It goes beyond the annual meeting, too. The manner in which Inland has continued to evolve and innovate, such as with the Executive Voices discussion in December, says a lot about its leadership and vision. Now in its second year, I’d say Executive Voices is well on its way to becoming one of the top conferences in our business. I grew up right outside of Chicago in St. Charles, Illinois, so I always feel like I’m coming “home” during any of Inland’s functions as well!
From your perspective of providing content and products for newspapers, what observations do you have about the future of this industry?
Despite some of the noise we may hear, the fact of the matter is there are thousands of newspapers—many of whom are valued partners— that are producing important, insightful products every single day. And millions of people are reading them. An industry study recently that said 64% of all Americans read a print newspaper on a weekly basis. To me, that says enterprising journalism still exists and people still value a respected, trusted source of news. The newspaper industry may be ever-changing but it is still more important than ever.