Here's an in-depth look at publishers who have grown beyond the newspaper, magazine, and digital article businesses they started with. They now host these top 10 must-attend live events and have a lot to teach planners about publisher event strategies.
Publishers like The New York Times and Forbes are internationally known and respected. But due to technology, these companies (and those like them) have had to adapt and evolve. Producing one of the world's most read newspapers or magazines is no longer enough, so forward thinking publishers have expanded their media empires.
This expansion has led to publisher produced live events. What may have started as a desperate attempt to diversify revenue and (for smaller companies) keep the lights on, has now turned into a viable income stream for many print media companies.
In this article, we'll take a look at 10 publishers who are crushing it in the live events department. We’ll also explain what we can learn from each as we take a closer look at these amazing corporate event ideas. Let's dive in!
Source: NYT Conferences
The New York Times is one of the most famous and distinguished publishers in the world (reaching over two million people a day with its newspaper alone) thanks in part to having secured 127 Pulitzer Prizes since it was founded in 1851.
But the NYT is more than just your granddad's favorite morning read. Like all forward thinking publishers on this list, it's also expanded its media empire into the world of live events, two of which stand out above the rest: NYT Conferences and the "Conversation" event series.
In the words of the New York Times itself, its conferences aim to “bring readers closer to our journalism through more than 100 in-person events around the world." At each of these events, celebrated speakers engage with award-winning journalists to address the wide range of most pressing topics in current news.
The NYT's "Conversations" event series is a collection of smaller events that tackle specific issues for an entire evening. For example, "Smarter Living" and "The Digital Future" are two subjects that this event series will soon explore. "Conversations" takes place in multiple cities around the world and are held on a very regular basis.
Key Takeaway: Meet your audience where they're at. The NY Times has had so much success with their live events, mostly because it understands where their target marketing is located. By creating quality event branding they know audiences will enjoy, they up the effectiveness of each new iteration and create a cohesive experience country wide.
Forbes, one of America's largest business news publishers, was founded in 1917 in New Jersey, NJ. Today, the company's magazine and online articles on subjects like technology, science, politics, and business are highly regarded.
Forbes also excels at live events. In fact, the publishers event series (aptly named "Forbes Live") has produced many must-attend gatherings, including its AgTech Summit, an event for agricultural professionals to discuss technology in their field; Under 30 Summit which brings the world's brightest "young leaders, founder, and creators together for a life-changing four days"; and CMO Summit, a marketing event which helps CMOs move from talk to action.
Like the New York Times, Forbes has a large, worldwide audience and it does a great job of catering to them with a variety of different events. But Forbes has also started to expand by offering custom events to other companies. Forbes provides the venue along with access to top speakers in order to help align their event branding with their partners’ amazing events.
Key Takeaway: Always look for areas of growth and make sure your event ROI increases with every new iteration. What expertise, relationships, and resources can your publishing company leverage to grow its reach and revenue? Perhaps, like Forbes, you have access to amazing speakers that you can help book at other events. Maybe it's something completely different. Find what it is and use it!
Like Forbes, the Wall Street Journal publishes newspapers and digital articles on business topics. It got its start in 1880 as a brief news bulletin, sent to traders at the stock exchange. It's now one of the world's largest publications with millions of readers as well as a leader in the live event space.
The Wall Street Journal hosts multiple events each year including Women In, The Future Of:, and CMO Network. Women In is an event series that addresses the challenges women face and their successes. The Future Of: is a special interview series with various business leaders. And CMO Network is a gathering of the world's most influential marketers who discuss the future of event marketing and other trending strategies.
One of the things that sets WSJ's event strategy apart from many other publisher event strategies is the fact that all of its events are exclusive, invitation-only gatherings. That's right; WSJ only opens its event doors for a select few, which is a pretty great way to implement other effective corporate event management strategies on highly targeted audiences.
Key Takeaway: Consider hosting exclusive events. While this may alienate a large portion of your audience, the folks who are invited will instantly feel a deeper bond with your publication and likely become super fans.
CNBC was founded in 1989 as a joint venture between NBC and Cablevision with the goal of making it a successful cable business news T.V. channel. The news outlet is now ultimately owned by Comcast and is worth roughly four billion dollars.
In addition to its television programming, CNBC also hosts live events like the Evolve series which explores the ways in which successful companies change, grow, and stay competitive. The publisher also hosts Delivering Alpha, an influential investor conference which features one-on-one interviews and panel discussions led by top CNBC journalists.
It's worth noting that most of the events that CNBC hosts are just a day in length or shorter. This event strategy ensures that audience members get the info they want and need without having to take a lot of time off of work or make extravagant travel plans.
Key Takeaway: Sometimes short and sweet is exactly what the doctor orders when it comes to live events. You don't need to make each of your gatherings a large blowout. Quickly delivering quality information to your audience is often more than enough. In fact, in some situations, it may be the best option!
Bloomberg "delivers business and markets news, data, analysis, and video to the world." The publisher was founded in 1981 by Michael Bloomberg and is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
As far as events go, Bloomberg has a lot to offer both in America and numerous other countries around the world. One of its more popular events is Sooner Than You Think, the company's flagship technology series with annual editions in America, Europe, and Asia.
Sooner Than You Think attendees gather to discuss technology and its critical role in our private lives, finance, government, retail, and a whole lot more. Event goers also have the opportunity to connect and network with their peers.
Like all good events, Bloomberg makes sure that each of its gatherings feature amazing speakers. For example, the 2019 London event will host leaders from Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, and more.
Key Takeaway: The more noteworthy and respected your keynotes are, the more likely your audience will want to come. And while it may be costly to bring in world class speakers, the extra tickets you'll sell should offset the additional expense.
Dow Jones considers itself the "ultimate source for business news and data." Originally founded in 1882, the publisher is actually the current parent company of the Wall Street Journal (mentioned earlier) but, since it hosts its own events as well, we've included individual entries on this list for each.
Speaking of events, the most well-known gatherings under the Dow Jones umbrella (besides the WSJ events) are the Barron's Conferences. These invitation-only events are very highly rated — 95% of attendees say the conferences are worth the investment — and they teach guests top business strategies while also including plenty of networking opportunities.
Key Takeaway: People ultimately attend business conferences to grow their careers. For many, networking opportunities are vital to climbing the corporate ladder. Make sure your events include ample networking time for your guests.
7. Ad Age
Source: Kairos Production
Ad Age, a New York based publisher, produces blog articles, social media posts, email newsletters, a bi-monthly print magazine and live events for marketing professionals. The company was founded in 1930 as Advertising Age. The name was shortened in 2017.
The events that Ad Age hosts are varied and include industry conferences like Ad Age Next, an event that has hosted speakers from companies like Google, CBS, and Viacom; award shows like the Ad Age Small Agency Conference and Awards which shines a light on successful small marketing companies; and webcasts like Why We Buy, an online event that discussed customer loyalty.
We particularly like how Ad Age uses a bunch of different event types to reach their target audience. From big-time conferences to digital gatherings, Ad Age knows how to deliver the right information the right way.
Key Takeaway: Digital events like webcasts and webinars aren't just poor replacements for in-person gatherings. In fact, they may be a superior way to deliver information to your audience - depending on your target market and current company situation. Seriously consider the validity of an online event when assessing your potential publisher event strategies.
Chief sustainability officer from @KeringGroup “Sustainability is not about doing one-off collections, it’s embedding sustainability into the entire supply chain.” Public and private sector need to work together. #FTLuxury @ftlive pic.twitter.com/G2PKHIGevt— Harriet Agnew (@HarrietAgnew) May 21, 2018
The Financial Times has an international audience and covers business and economics topics in its print and digital newspaper. Its readership is one million subscribers strong and the publisher is worth over one billion dollars.
But what about events? Financial Times has plenty of stimulating conferences hosted all over the world. For example, the 2019 FT Business of Luxury Summit was held in Madrid and educates attendees on staying agile in a fluctuating environment. And the FT Future of News Summit, held in New York City, discussed the risks and opportunities facing the media.
Financial Times live events work hard to produce one of a kind interviews, presentations, and debates — the kind attendees can't find anywhere else — for their audience of astute professionals.
Key Takeaway: It's important to find a unique angle for your events. If every conference your publishing company hosts is the same, run of the mill conferences your audience is used to seeing, they won't feel compelled to attend your get-together.
CoinDesk is by far the youngest publisher on this list, but that doesn't make them any less deserving of their position here. Founded in 2013, CoinDesk publishes news on cryptocurrencies and produces one of the largest annual events in the field, Consensus.
Consensus is the digital currency event to attend if you're at all interested in Bitcoin, Litecoin, and the rest of the cryptocurrencies on the market. At Consensus, attendees learn about crypto, blockchain, and how these new technologies are shaping our world. They also have a chance to network with other digital currency enthusiasts.
Since cryptocurrency is still rather new and distrusted by many people, we appreciate how hard CoinDesk works to get big-name sponsors to help legitimize its conference. Mega corporations like Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon sponsored the 2019 event.
Key Takeaway: Quality sponsors can do wonders for your event and (almost) every conference your publishing company hosts should have at least a few. The right sponsors will help your events thrive financially and lend them credibility, just like CoinDesk's sponsors do for its Consensus conference.
10. The Atlantic
Founded in 1857 in Boston, MA, The Atlantic started as a cultural commentary magazine. Towards the end of the 20th century, the publication hit hard times and was forced to evolve, becoming a general editorial magazine targeted to thought leaders.
Today, The Atlantic is thriving. Its magazine sells well, its website is incredibly popular, and its events are well-respected. In fact, some of the guest speakers and interviewees at Atlantic Live events include household names like Bill Gates, John Legend, and Mark Zuckerberg.
One of their more recent events is Pulse: The Atlantic Summit on Healthcare which brought together the brightest minds in the field to discuss "what it will take to advance the health of all Americans."
And while the live conference has already come and gone, every session is available to watch on The Atlantic's website. This is definitely one of our favorite publisher event strategies!
Key Takeaway: Not every person in your audience will be able to attend your events. But by recording them and making them available on-demand, you'll be able to deliver your experiential marketing to anyone and everyone.
Main Takeaways: How to Plan the Perfect Publisher Event
The publishers listed above all excel at live events. Each has worked hard to craft memorable experiences and produce get-togethers that people enjoy attending. Now your publishing company can do the same! Just make sure you follow these two "golden" rules:
- Focus on your audience. What do they want and need? How can you better serve them with your live events? Perhaps they're looking for short events near their home town or conferences they can attend from the comfort of their own living rooms. Or maybe they want the opportunity to network or learn from the top speakers in their field. Either way, it’s important to always put your audience first. If you do, your live events will flourish.
- Be vigilant. The best publisher event strategies are constantly looking for ways to grow, opportunities to stand out and be unique, and new sponsors to connect with. If your publishing business decides to host live events, keep an eye out for any advantage you can use in your company's favor.
While you’re gathering the information needed to plan the perfect publisher event, consider using event software to help organize, measure, and assess every aspect of the process.