State of Publishing – Where do we go from here?

State of Publishing – Where do we go from here?

The COVID State of Mind

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone’s life difficult to one degree or another. There’s almost no industry left untouched in its wake. For us in the advertising and media world, we are confronted with the question: What is the state of publishing? Furthermore, how will this impact our long-standing relationships with readers, other brand’s & businesses? To answer this question & hopefully spark a continued conversation, we welcome DJ’s close friend, Michael Aaron to the show. The two discuss the state of publishing and well, frankly, the world at the moment in a delightful conversation between friends.

Welcome, Michael

Michael Aaron is the editor and publisher of QSaltLake. He has been active in Utah’s gay and lesbian community since the early 80s and published two publications then and in the 90s. DJ & Michael met through NEMA, an organization to which they both belong. You can read more about Michael’s career in publishing here

Michael & DJ’s friendship as they describe in the show, blossomed almost instantly when they met at a conference of publishers. This network & friendship is the type of relationship that helps young & experienced professionals learn and grow throughout their careers. The two discuss, at various points in the show, the importance of maintaining professional relationships.

State of LGBTQ+ Publishing

COVID-19 has left many advertisers pulling their campaigns amid the uncertainty which has forced publishers to learn to adapt. In the LGBTQ+ world of media the retreat from advertisers couldn’t have come at a worse time. This community sees the highest engagement with readers leading up to and during Pride. With some publications losing a tremendous amount of revenue from advertisers, where can they go for help? 

DJ & Michael answer with strategies that many different businesses can adopt to weather this storm & adapt for the future. The duo explain the importance of communication, timing, and strategic planning to adapt to the “new normal”.

Show Updates

Returning listeners will be delighted to know that we’ve ventured into the world of video! From now on, most shows will be filmed and added to our youtube channel! As always you can find past episodes on our website or any major streaming platforms.

State of Publishing Transcription

You’re listening to the DJ Doran show. I’m your host DJ Doran. And today in the studio, I have one of my dearest and most


sweetest friends.


In the LGBT publishing world, we’ve been we hit it off from day one, I think the first hour of us meeting we connected and, and because of our mutual love of sexual innuendo and inappropriateness and saying what we think we bonded immediately and it’s been like that for what, two and a half years now, Mike, Natalie’s maybe.


I don’t know my mother might not be listening. So it might be okay.


Three years for God’s sakes. So, Michael, before we get into the compensation that we’re going to talk about, tell everyone a little bit about what do and what your role is.


So I am the founder and publisher of Salt Lake magazine. And we’ve been doing this for this is our 17th year actually our birthday is coming up at the end of the month. And, gosh, in a couple couple days now that’s fun. And we’ll celebrate it all by ourselves. So, but yeah, I’ve been I actually started magazines back in the early 90s. In fact, I had one newsletter II kind of thing back in the 1980s. So I’ve been doing this a little bit a little while. Mostly it’s me and up to six other people at any one time. Now it’s just kind of me and part time designer and a part time editor.


So I’m Michael being the publisher to Salt Lake is also a member of the National equality media Association, which is NEMA We’re both members of that organization. And that’s sort of how we met. And that’s sort of how we’ve become friends. So NEMA is the nation’s only, not for profit media Association, would that be the right way? Publishers Association, that’d be the right way to describe it. It’s been around for about six years. And Michael is on the board of directors as well as, as well as some others. So, um, let’s talk a little bit about the current state of publishing. Right. So that’s what this show is about current state of LGBT publishing. So I just, I downloaded a few things, and I was I was perusing through this but one of the things that that that this COVID-19 a crisis has done is really hurting small, local and regional publication. So how has it affected you and how is it affected key Salt Lake.


So the last issue that we put out was the April issue and we We found out the way we go to press on Tuesday, we found out on Monday that Salt Lake City was being basically shut down that all. All restaurants were now going to be bound takeout. Only that a lot of our coffee shops and the bars and everything were just shut down the very next day. And so here I was basically sending files to the press saying, Okay, here we go. And then come to find out and remember, wait a minute 80% of our distribution is that all of these places that are being shut down. And so the firt I mean, I spent the entire day going around and calling plate places who will actually distribute us who don’t normally do so. So we found a number of grocery stores to distribute us we found a number of restaurants that yes, they do have our publication in their in their body but we actually specifically asked them hey when people call or do an online order can they put in those notes a please leave us a cue Salt Lake in the bag as well. And we got about I don’t know, seven or eight different restaurants that are doing that and what we do is we trade social media with them saying hey, you know we’ll if you go and and buy from this place they’ll give you a que Salt Lake magazine. And we so we did we went on we went after we printed we of course we couldn’t print the entire run that we would normally do. But we we went on to social media and said okay, here’s the here’s the 40 places where you can get a physical copy of Salt Lake magazine.


So I’m gonna I’m going to be that awesome is brand you could ever have and I’m going to ask you to hold up your current issue the front cover of your curl to Salt Lake is that No,


that’s not the right one.


What’s the one we’re doing right? Oh no, we haven’t printed that that one goes out tonight


to look there’s me right over here. So where where are you? there right there in the


It’s the second time I’ve ever been on my magazine. That’s hysterical.


Anyway, they the current issue that’s being printed has like a French Bulldog and drag holding a martini glass which Oh my Yes.


Oh, this is the this was the first dish first. That error was on the cover. I figure out a free hundred 11 issues I could have to that I have me on the cover somewhere. So listen, you can


go to what is the web? What’s your website Miko where they can use salt lake calm to Salt Lake calm, you can go on the new issue that’s coming out. You can go to the website and download the digital version right the PDF version and and check it out because You know, the next thing I want to talk about is why Why are local and regional LGBTQ publications so important with so many dying and even the Nationals dying? Why are local and regionals so important?


Well, before I get into that I do you want to say that our current issue with the online issue has we would normally get about 3000 4000


I hope you can edit that out.




my god, you’re




All right. Okay, here we go. No, sorry. Normally our issues that are online, are read between byebye baby 3005 thousand people, our pride issues are read by eight or 9000 people. And so we put out a big appeal saying, hey, you wait, if you can’t go get our magazine, please at least read us online. We have over 17,000 reads on this current issue in what, three or four weeks that it’s been out.


So awesome.


So what that means to me is we have a community that does want to support an LGBTQ publication. And they want to read the information that’s in it, I think. Right, it was, I think it’s important that that we have our own voice, that we have our news told to us in our own voice. I think it’s important that we have content that other publications, you know, the more mainstream publications just don’t really care about. So you know, the fact that the UTI AIDS Foundation has been doing a lot of their support groups and one on one count By zoom and on by other means, is important to us. But it’s not important to the general readership of maybe the Salt Lake Tribune. So go ahead, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, it’s very important for us to to keep our own brand and our own voice. And you know, this similarly to, you know, the black community has their own magazines, the senior community has their own magazine, the Latino community has their own magazine. And it’s very important that we see ourselves reflected in our own publications. Sure.


Now, I want to ask a couple of tough questions. And one of them is, you know, print advertisers traditionally paid more than digital advertisers. So how do you translate a recurring cash flow for for let’s say, a small publication, a local publication, but if you’re not printing their advertising, do you find that there? You know, I know when this first happened, we talked and we talked with several other publishers and and they were Seeing that print advertisers were pulling their ads because most of their ads were were event focused. And as all these events started to get canceled, they didn’t want to obviously advertise. So that is the first wave of loss that you feel that a publication filter and COVID How would you translate digital advertising to recover that revenue?


So I actually don’t believe today that we can I think that we’re like shifting gears because of all of this, people understand that they may need to read things online versus actually walk out and grab an issue. And it’s more about the advertisers understanding that, yes, you know, eyes on on the screen with your ad are just as valuable or maybe even more so than eyes on a page and it’s getting the advertisers to understand that. That being said, I have no intention of not going back to print. Once things open up again. We, you know, we did have we lost about 60% of our advertisers for this issue that suddenly wasn’t going to go anywhere. Because we had, I don’t know about eight advertisers who were, who were advertising an event that was going to happen. And they either didn’t know what was going to happen, or they just knew it wasn’t. So.


But you know, those, those will come back and they are going to need to advertise that, hey, here’s the new date. And here’s where the tickets are and everything. So we know that we’ll come back. But we have every intention of going back to print the second that we have the ability, you were just telling me the other day that you were able to apply for and receive some of that stimulus money which is designed to help publisher stay afloat, but what about the publishers that that haven’t been able to, to have that they just feel a loss of their revenue?


Yes, they did. Yeah, they definitely need those publishers definitely needed. To reach out and find places that will do grants, and it will do loans. Facebook is doing some grants locally, our chamber or Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce just did a round of grants. But of course I didn’t hear about till I was over. But these are the things that we need to do is reach out and find where those grants are. There’s more out there, but I stuck my head, I don’t remember where they are. But well, if you there


is money available, right? If you go to the NEMA Facebook page, that’s national inequality media Association, a lot of links to these resources are published there. So but I want to read something to you that I saw on publishing executive this morning, and I thought that it was really apropos to this conversation. I’m going to hold up the page. Hopefully it shows that headline, I don’t know if you can you see that.


Just stop moving. I like it.


Yeah, and go ahead and lift that up a little bit. The level Word didn’t show up all the pandemic and beyond. The reason I’m very skeptical about online only publications is that we know that there have been local publications that have gone online. And frankly, I’ve been underwhelmed with their success. And even though they can charge a lot less money for a full page ad,


I just don’t see that that’s translating into actual brand buys. I want to read something, Michael, that from this article that I highlighted that I think is exactly what you’re saying. And so this is in the publishing executive article, it says how to publishers need to adapt their digital content strategies right now. And it says my biggest suggestion would be to produce and distribute an actual edition, print edition that maintains a curated, packaged and delivered essence of that print version because readers are comfortable with that type. Have trustworthy content experience and it better reflects the brand of most publishers. And I think that, that you can you can do that in your digital in your digital version of your publication. But, but really what people trust is the print version.


It’s I agree with. I agree with that. And I also agree that the online version that looks and I’ll say feels with air quotes similar to that, I think those are are what going are going to be successful for us. Mind you, we’re very successful now on our website, just doing banner ads, and announcements of events online here but but I agree with you that the reader does need to see something now as silly story.


I happen to be married to a millennial.


And we get thousands of magazines distributed, you know, dropped off right here on our door. So, and the second he sees our publication is ready, he goes into his room, he brings up his tablet and he reads the entire thing on his tablet even though there’s a stack of them right here with him he just walked right past them to get there. And that’s just the way I think the younger people especially are wanting to interface with our content. And you know, the fact that we can not only have a still photos and stuff in our publication online, we can put video on there and I’m and I am hoping the next couple days but when we have our live version on you’ll see that we we asked for people are doing a pet edition so that’s why the dog with the martini and the and the rainbow flag. Cape is our


cover asked me he said is my cover gay enough?




Barely, barely.


We have had a pet pet cover that had unicorns and rainbows and pansies on it. So it doesn’t beat that one. But you know, there are there are things there are hooks that we can do for advertisers and hooks that we can do for our readers that it can make the experience of a an online version of our print media that much more interesting and much more more compelling. Because you can just click on an ad and either it will go to their website or it can even make a phone call, you know, call this number boom, they’re on their cell phone. We know about


those numbers, those kind of wrong numbers.


This to Michael is that you make a really valid point is that those of us publishers, especially in LGBT, plus media, that are inventive, creative, flexible, and think outside the box that are going to be the ones that survive this crisis, the old ways of doing business and publishing are over. And there’s a new paradigm that is emerging. I will say that one thing that I can say with confidence is that in the old way you would print the magazine as your as your leader, that was the number one thing and then you would add your digital content as an added value. And I think that that is changing. I still think that people want print, but I think that digital is now emerging as the leader. And that print is now your added value. That’s the sort of like, Hey, I don’t I read my content on a tablet or a phone but I still I want the magazine now. I’m old enough. I know it doesn’t look it but I am old. I like to read books. And if I if I turn the camera around, you can see that I have a library in my studio with real books because I like the smell of the pages. And I like the look and feel of it and I sit in my chair and I read a book. I still haven’t completely gotten accustomed Reading books like on your iBooks you know, even though it’s so convenient, but I do get my news from my tablet, my phone more than anything else, any other source, right? So, publishers that recognize that whether you like it or not, it is a reality that is that is happening. And I think that is a that is a fundamental change. So, the other beautiful thing about digital is just like this podcast that has we’re doing it video and audio, you can share that on your website and you can, people can interact with it, people can comment on it, people can share it, people can click it and like it and all those different things. And that is the, the it’s so much easier to have an interactive experience whereas a page, you can’t really do that. And also the shelf life of a video and audio content last much, much longer. So, for this podcast, you can listen to it, you can listen to it again, the video you can listen to it, it can be shared, you know, multiple times. And so you your content has a longer shelf life. So I like those parts of it. I just, I think it’s too early to tell whether or not this new paradigm will translate into enough revenue to keep a lot of publishers going.


I think it will and I because frankly, I have been reducing the number of copies that I actually print over the top last time or because I do have an average of three or 4000 sometimes 5000 viewers readers, per issue and so I can still tell people, you know, that I have X amount of people who read your, my publication, and I don’t have to print as many because of that. However, you know, when I distribute every month, they are all gone. So they are all being picked up. So there are a number of people, you know, like you who like to pick up a piece, you know, a physical piece of the magazine that they can touch and feel Yeah, I’m sorry. What you did say was I was very true where sometimes the digital is being the front line of the of the ad sales. We have a publication in New Jersey, who does exactly that, that he kept getting phone calls, he kept making phone calls and asking people Hey, what do you advertisement? Well, we’re not doing prints well. Okay, well, what about doing our online stuff? Oh, yeah, we’ll do that. And then I’ll you know, I’ll throw in the print ads for you, you know, as a value add, so it’s completely backwards from what it was a couple years ago.


Well, also on a digital on the digital side, you can add several ads as they drill down on the same page. Whereas on the print version, once you fill up the page, as you know, it’s filled right, so you have the opportunity to sell more and to make more through the volume rather, if you’re taking a discount in the pricing. Now, this brings me up to another point and this is something that that I can tell you that I’m working on is creating a a to get ahead of the of the curb of this digital content offering and how do we as LGBTQ plus publishers sort of unify and make our voice. You know, I often say that individually we are a squeak but together, you could be a roar and how do we take the economic impact that we have on LGBTQ in LGBTQ media and get brands and advertisers on a local, regional and even a national scale to take us seriously? And, and and how do we how do you accomplish that? And what are your thoughts about that new landscape? What does that look like for you guys?


Well, what I see is we absolutely cannot be, you know, Salt Lake, you know, with our 10 to 18,000 run, publication, running out and trying to find advertisers of any size can’t find fortune 500 advertisers to care about us. However, we are a part of an organization or part of a group that can combine together. And we now suddenly have Martin you know, 25 markets, you know, in the country that we can print an ad in, or and or do other online things as well, then suddenly, as you say, we can start to roar.


Right. And I think that is a, I think we’re gonna see, I think COVID-19 as horrible as it’s been, could end up being a blessing in disguise specifically for our industry, because it’ll force us to unite in order to survive. It’s not just now uniting for money and to have greater revenue. It’s uniting to survive. And once we unite to survive, then we realize I think that many publishers will realize that that singular voice can have an impact can make an inroad and can get get some results. And I I wrote in a column that I’m working on right now that says, you know, the old ways of doing business are dying and And we have to make way for a new paradigm and LGBTQ plus media. And that is that is a larger and more robust digital presence as well as a revised slimmed down and, and an efficient print print process. Now, you know, I was talking to someone earlier that there’s only one or two national LGBT publications left and that’s out an advocate there and you don’t have to be a rocket science scientist to what to see what you read in the news to know that they are probably not too much longer for this world. And things don’t change and I don’t think they are changing fast enough. And, and so what that’ll do when those two national publications go away, there’ll be a complete vacuum, I think in the first time, right, that I am aware of, they will not be a national LGBTQ publication.


Right. I mean, advocates been around since I mean the 70s. It was very much more locally. focused on San Francisco back then. But it’s been around for a very long time, and it was a bi weekly, and you could, you could get a subscription. And it was, you know, you talk about how they’ve had everybody’s had to morph and, and become the new thing. You know, they made all of their money off of what they call the pink pages, which was the classifieds, and


obviously classifieds or have, you know, left way early, and so they’ve had to dodge and, and move around just like everybody else and find different ways of making money. And so, yeah, for the print advertising definitely cannot be the one basket, we put all of our eggs, not anymore. I completely agree. And I think that after this COVID-19 crisis is over. I think that’s going to be the new reality and those of us that are forward thinking to get ahead of this digital wave that is coming up. I think behind it, I don’t think it’s crested yet. I think are going to be the ones that survive and thrive going forward into into the next phase of LGBTQ plus publishing, so Mike, you know, Oh, go ahead.


And I truly hope that, you know, some of those who are very much struggling, especially in smaller towns, you know, populated areas like like us will at least sit back for a while before making a decision on whether they’re going to move forward. I do think I agree with you completely, that there is a way that we can find new monies for them. And if they can just stick it out long enough to at least stay in business for a while, you know, a lot of these publications, this is not a person’s main way of making money and making a living right. And I hope especially those people will at least keep their product alive long enough to find the new way that we’re going to be doing this.


Michael, what advice would you give you know, we’re older we’re the old guard, right?


Come on older older.


We’re the seasoned guard.


Kind of German. Hello, I’m the season guard.


never heard that before.


Never heard that before. I don’t want to dominate or anything. But


the, the, what advice would you give to younger LGBTQ plus publishers? Or would be publishers or journalists coming up behind us, because they’re the ones that are going to take over when we’re when we’re out of the picture. You know, like many of us, many of us, I will tell you add this to it. Many of us are one or two people operations, you know, we don’t have like a huge staff. So there’s not like a mentorship program in our organization. But what do you say to someone who says, Hey, I want to, I want to start in a publication about my generation, right? Like you did, and and many others did, right.


I think actually, the younger people will know better than we do, because they know what they like to interact with. They know how they like to get their content. Whether that might be from, you know, YouTube stars or, or memes and then Tick Tock lately, I mean, a lot of them are getting their their news from places like that, you know, most Americans say they get their news from a late night television shows, which is mostly comedy based, but they throw a bunch of news in there and just make fun of the news. That’s where they get their news. And so to know that and to know where the younger people are getting their news is to be able to accommodate how they’re going to present their news that way.


To add to that question, what organizations would you recommend to a young up and coming publisher or, or somebody starting a magazine, whether it’s online, whether it’s print or whatever, tell them tell a little bit about where you think they should affiliate themselves with to help, you know, sort of nurture what they’re doing?


Well, of course, I’m going to say quality means dot org.


I think I might say that the reason the reason is, is we do have a number of people in various stages of their publications who come together. And, you know, every time we have a conference, I have learned so many things, I don’t have time to go through and actually act on all of them. But eventually I do. And some of them are immediate, just put down everything and do this, do this to make your publication thrive. And frankly, I think I’m here in part because I have been able to organize with those people and share those stories. I also think it’s important to be a member of your own local Chamber of Commerce. First off, there’s your you know, you have a business, a group of businesses who might advertise in your publication, but more importantly, you’re supporting your local community, your local business community here, and that’s important and then there’s the national LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce as well that meets yearly. And they are massive. They are a huge group there. They bring in thousands and thousands of people to their national convention every year. And they have a method where you can you and other businesses around you can certify that you are an LGBTQ owned organization owned and operated organization. Those are important things to do. Definitely the national must be engaged journalists Association would be a place I would go. And that’s mainly to align yourself with people who can provide your content and who have ideas on what your content should be about. So those are some of the places I would absolutely absolutely become become part of.


Well, I’m gonna, that’s perfect. And I think that those are great recommendations, but I want to add a story I want to add a story of how I became how I came to be a part of NEMA. Right. So I’m an unlikely member of neem. I’ve been a member now for three years since I’ve known you but I first I first heard about NEMA through the publisher in in Minneapolis, Steven and and so Steven invited me to come to Denver, Colorado to attend the conference. I never heard of NEMA nor many of the publishers there. And I I decided to go and my husband said to me, then said okay, just go there. Be quiet and just listen and


listen, for the laughing.


You read in the face but


about to burst.


So I went to Denver and at first I was listening and learning There’s air quotes learning. And then I met you and then met some others and and I was like, wow, they’re a lot more people similar to me than I thought I thought I was like all by myself. So when you say you recommend that young publishers join NEMA, I’m telling you that my experience at even at my late stage of life was Wow, I suddenly feel camaraderie with all these other publishers that are dealing with the same things. I’m dealing with payroll, accounts receivable, deadlines, finding good help the universal thorn in everyone’s flesh together. You know,


and you thought I was gonna say something else I know.


And, uh, and so, what NEMA did for me was immediately make me feel part of something, part of a group and the wealth of information just from meeting these people and sharing my story and listening to their stories, was was uplifting and supportive was very, I mean, if nothing else, that’s what was great. And that’s what made me want to join NEMA. And I’m still a member of NEMA. Three years later because I believe in that camaraderie and at the conferences that Michael, you alluded to those conferences were fun. I mean, I remember I remember, oh, my God, I could tell you so many dinner, you know.


But we just had fun at dinner. And it was, you know, talking and sharing and I left the ice. I get goosebumps right now just thinking about it. And the founder of NEMA, Jerry Cunningham, who’s also the publisher of out front in Denver, you know, exposed me to the to what it was like to be part of a supportive group, not a competitive group. And I think that’s important is that everybody in NEMA everybody at that first conference and ever since, have always been willing to share share their experiences and their knowledge freely and without hesitation. And, and I think that is so important and and I hope that whoever if there’s a young publisher out there listening or considering being in an LGBT publishing that they they reach out to Michael and the board of directors or whoever the membership people are to align themselves with with NEMA and it doesn’t have to be print you could be you could be a digital content creator, you can be a blogger, you can be an influencer. Anyone that creates LGBTQ content should be a part of NEMA. And it’s a great environment to to foster and grow new talent and new ideas and new enterprises and the wealth and strike that the breadth, depth and wealth of experience within Nima itself is its number one asset for anyone and if I would have known about NEMA years Prior when I first ventured into publishing, jeez, all the heartache I probably would have still gone through, but at least I


could go through it with everybody else.


But I would have learned so much because those conferences are not just about getting together and having a good time, every conference that I’ve been to, we’ve had the the NEMA has had speakers talking about new trends and innovations and publishing and ways to monetize what you already have ways to improve your both print and digital component of what you’re doing. So it’s, it’s a great organization to, to be a part of, and I’m going to put it up on my website, I’ll put a link to membership or to email to NEMA so that anyone that hears this podcast and wants to to to become a member of NEMA that they will be able to reach out to to the organization. So that’s awesome. Oh, go ahead. Um, you know, one of the things that


I got out of the conference is what I and I’ve talked to many people, in fact, almost all of them since The first thing they get out of this is, oh, I’m not the only one who has no idea what I’m doing. And that’s a big thing to at least understand that you are not alone in your desperate tries to do you know, two clues together, you know with band aids and paperclips a publication, and since we started going, I started going to the name of conferences and meeting all of these people. I mean, I begged for years for an organization that would allow me in, I mean, there was a a gate background check. But there was there was, you know, a National Gay publication group, but you had to be in the top 25 markets, you had to publish weekly. I mean, they had all these restrictions that you that I couldn’t do. I mean, I was publishing bi weekly. You know, in in salt lake city with a population you know, about 3 million people. You know, in our entire metropolitan area, and maybe not even that maybe 2 million people. So, you know, I was little I was a big fish in a little pond, but I was still a little fish. And right and then, but now all of a sudden Jerry came, you know, called me up out of the blue, and to me out of the blue. And he said, hey, we’ve got this organization of gay publishers, and I want to invite you to and I said, Where do I sign? I didn’t I didn’t even listen to his spiel. I didn’t even have to. He did it anyway, but I had been just bagging for something like that. And when it finally came around, I had to be part of it.


Excellent. I want to I want to bring up a point that is something that I think is really interesting, is you know, you brought up this this other organization where you had all these bigger players and they were in the top 25 markets or whatever it was at the time were 12 markets. So the whatever it is, but in this new paradigm A lot of the nationals are gone frontiers magazine right in Los Angeles has gone, you know, left the big vacuum on the on the west coast. As the market starts to condense and condense and condense where people are reading national news, I believe that regionals and locals are going to reassert themselves as the go to to find out what’s happening in your community. Right. The National, the National publications, if they survive, will report what’s happening on a broader scale in the country and around the world. But really, I want to know what’s going on in my community. Like I live in Chicago, we’re based in Chicago, I want to know what’s going on here. You know, what’s happening here? What about pride events and market days that are here in Chicago? What’s that happening? How is it affecting me in my, in my daily life? I think that the comment that you made earlier is that if publishers can just hang on, I think what will happen is we’re being forced to confront somebody Things that may not have worked as well as in the past. And we’re now making those adjustments and part of that adjustment is a leaner, more efficient print version, new ways to distribute maybe through a paid subscription, or, you know, or a different ways to offer a free distribution at like you said at grocery stores. And, and then secondly is have our online presence now one thing you said a while back that I remember you said, you know, you went to social media and you started blasting out, hey, we’re not gonna be here here here anymore. But you can find us here you know, your social media user website to communicate with your, with your readers and that can drive traffic and that eventually will justify you asking for advertising revenue for your website.


You know, and something else that you know when the the inevitable happens in our national publications are gone. You know, I basically never do national news on our website. Or in our magazine other than a page of briefs? And I think it’s going to for a while anyway, while this shifts gears, I think it’s going to be asked up to us to put out national news as well. So we are to you guys do save, in my opinion,


my honest opinion. I think it’s going to be up to local and regional publications to save LGBTQ media. I believe that I agree. I completely agree. Because when these nationals go away, as you said, there’s going to be a huge vacuum, and people are going to look to see what’s happening in their communities. And not every community has a gay publication, or crash strike that LGBTQ plus publication, you know, so. So in those markets, like even Salt Lake City, Nashville, Phoenix, you know, some of the not top tier markets, but important markets without those local publications, you know, Echo magazine and Phoenix out and about Nashville in Nashville. And now in Portland, The Mexico you know, without those publications, the local LGBTQ plus community is not going to know what’s going on in their community if the national magazines are gone. And I think that I think that is the future. And I also believe that if these publications can utilize social media to keep the lines of communication open, I think that’s going to be important. I want to talk about I want to talk about advertising a little bit because this is the lifeblood, this is this is the real, the sore spot for many publishers. The a lot of LGBTQ publications rely on pride advertising, right? To to, to provide a majority of their income for the year, right. Because every brand, every agency, all of a sudden becomes gay centric in June, like, you know, we don’t shop in July or September only in June. I don’t travel any of those months. That’s a whole other story. We can talk about after this. But with the law with the advent of COVID-19, and the loss of events, specific advertising, many publishers are not going to get their pride advertising as usual. So what would you say to those publishers if you were sitting at a roundtable on what they can do to convince advertisers to stick with them?


And what I would ask the other advertisers and other publishers are what are your ideas to still move forward? It was important to those organizations to say that they were LGBTQ friendly businesses that they felt important that it’s that we are an important part of their own communities, have their have their own businesses, and they still need to be able to do that. And one thing is, I’m sure you’re aware that there’s a national and international worldwide attempt to put together a pride that is all online for the day of text me on my birthday of June 27. I just happens to be a hand. And I think it’s important that we still have a pride month. I know other publications are working on that saying June is pride month or whether we’re having a pride or not, and, and trying to put together a pride package for them that will align with this global attempt to do this. That’s one option of doing that. Because everybody knows June is Pride Month. And like I said, whether it’s an actual event or not, shouldn’t really matter to those advertisers. Right?


pride is a feeling it is a it is it’s not a specific thing. It’s a it’s like this is our pride month is how we feel this month. we’re recognizing, you know, we’re working people that came before us this year. is we’re celebrating the strides that we’ve been able to make up to this point. It’s a feeling. So one of the things that I’ve always talked about is, is, in the law, if you have a loss of event specific advertising, now’s a good time to pivot to talking to these brands and agencies and say, Okay, well listen, you need to still maintain a level of communication with with the community. And you can do that through print, and maybe in a diminished way, but you can certainly do it a lot further through digital and you can do it through website advertising, podcast, um, sponsorships.


Like that, that I thought that was good. I thought


that was awesome. And the pregnant pause was Yes. You know, I think that is there’s a lot of advertising right now on on the television that says, hey, we understood your request. We get what you’re going through. We’re going through it too. We’re still here. We think we’re all important. We’re going to get through those together. And I think there’s that kind of messaging that can happen towards the LGBTQ community that needs to happen. And it and I think, yeah, it’s a little more difficult to sell that because it’s a lot more talking than just Hey, brides coming up. You want to get an ad? Yeah. Yes, it’s more selling a concept that hasn’t been done before. And, frankly, I think it needs to happen. And frankly, I think it needs to happen to have been happening all along. And and July and August and September and October, November, December, because we’re not like you said, we’re not just gay in June, you know. So, those are the important things is that the message that needs to get out is that yes, you will, we are community is very important to them. And there are XY and Z examples of why that might happen. And they need to put it out in June, July and August and September.


That’s right. And I I read something that I was trying to look for while you were speaking and and I was listening to you that I thought was so Oh, here it is, I want to read this. I want to read this. somebody posted this today and I thought this was so apropos it says this is from john Rosenberg, who is the creative marketing director of diviner of insights. And it says I respect the brands that demonstrate their commitment, rather than just say it if we’re quote unquote, in this together then show the consumer how you’re supporting them. And then and, and the communities that they love. Right? What what it made me realize is that this is a conversation that you can have is that a brand, you know, can’t just say, Hey, we’re gonna pull all of our ads because the events got canceled and we’re going to put our outreach to the LGBTQ plus community and Consumer on hold, and then expect that there’s going to be any sort of brand loyalty, they need to demonstrate not just by saying we’re all in this together, they need to demonstrate it through their actions that they are and that and one way of doing that is to support LGBTQ plus publications that are the direct conduit to the market that they seek to reach. You know, one of the things you and I have talked about on many occasions, and that is that, you know, you can, you can blast out your message and hope that you’re going to reach the LGBTQ community through mainstream media. But the best and most efficient and most effective way to reach that market is through a local LGBTQ publication or podcast or social media or influence or website or what have you. And that’s what they need to do. And that’s what publishers need to do. They need to start that conversation now. In a hit in, in preparation for pride to say, listen, there may not be a private parade. It may not be in Chicago market days. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t reach that consumer because everyone is buying online. My own husband is, does that, you know, it’s like, Jeff Bezos is like a bazillionaire. Now because of the COVID-19 COVID-19 thing, but it doesn’t commerce isn’t stopping. And I just posted an article today that I saw in Forbes and I want to read it to you. So let me just pull it up here really quick that I thought was great. This is about travel. Right. So a lot of people were saying that Oh, travels, it’s gonna take forever for a travel to come back. Right. But a new survey taken by overseas leisure group, which is a luxury travel operator in 34 countries, said that American consumers under lockdown are ready to start planning for future travel now, right. And so, what I have been saying and I’m gonna say this to you And I’m sure you’ve heard me saying is that while a lot of, of publishers and I’m speaking, speaking specifically to LGBTQ plus publishers are, are sort of being crushed under the weight of, of what’s happening as a result of COVID-19, I think we should be planning for what we’re going to be doing once this is over. Because those of us that, that keep our heads about ourselves and can keep afloat and prepare ourselves and position ourselves to come out of the backside of this that you will be in the best position to win those dollars start to flow. And one of the things that I’m personally doing on several things is I’m reaching out to brands and agencies and saying exactly what I just told you. We’re gonna remember if you didn’t support us, if these are all just words, that’s fine, but you need to take some action. So let us start to talking now about what we’re going to do together when this is over, because it will be over, believe it or not,


you know, they advertisers are forget very quickly that the time to advertise is when you’re down. And the time they always advertise is when they’re up because then they have all kinds of money. Oh, yeah, let’s Well, we’ve got money, we’ll go ahead and advertise. But no, the important part is to do it while you’re down. And then you bet. What that ends up doing, hopefully is brings you business now when you are struggling for it. So the advertisers I’ve talked to locally and I did have you had to did have to pull just because they had to cut they’re there. You know, they’re, they’re making no money. They’re still there. Lisa is still going to happen, whether the lease payment is going to happen, whether they’re making money or not those kinds of things so they did have to pull. But the first thing they said was the second we can open up again. We are in and we’re going to of course because we No, we need to fill these seats up again.


Well, here’s the thing, that’s great to hear. Because, you know, this is also part of why it’s so important to maintain communication. So that there’s no big gap in, in, in, in between your last communication and the current communication. So when they’re ready to it’s just a matter of Hey, okay, we’re ready. You’re ready. That’s great, let’s move forward. But I also want to say this that I think that is, I think is is apropos and that is, you can be having this conversation now you don’t have to wait you can be having this conversation now. And it doesn’t have to be print advertising, you use social media or website or or any other, you know, any of the other digital platforms that you can be be promoting them on doesn’t cost you anything to put their banner ad on the website. Right. You know what I mean? Right? You know, and so if you can maintain that connection to them, they will remember it. Secondarily is I believe that LGBTQ consumers, according to the CMI survey are super loyal, brand loyal. You know, and all of that. So if these brands, if these advertisers demonstrate through their actions that they are supporting a, either an LGBTQ publication or community by advertising, then when it’s time to, to purchase a product or service, I think the LGBTQ community is gonna remember that and we’ll give them the benefit of that loyalty, then reap the benefit of that loyalty. This also comes to a, you know, another point that I want to ask you about and that is, in a small, how do you how do you in, in a smaller market like Salt Lake City, how do you coalesce the support of a whole community when you have in a crisis like this now? I know that during the HIV crisis, they called it the gay disease, right? Okay. The Gay plague. So during COVID-19 you know, how how are you personally? Handling, how you’re covering COVID-19.


So our coverage is more about what you can be doing while you’re sitting in your house and how you can support and connect to your community. So there are a number of arts organizations that are being very creative and do and actually going ahead and producing the play or whatever it was they were going to be showing, and finding ways that they could work out all the contracts that they could at least show it online for two weeks. And of course, that means your publication your your LGBTQ publication needs to put it out to the community that yes, this is going to happen. And here are the times and how you can you can go ahead and watch that. We have to be very creative, in basically every aspect of our business right now. And as they’re being creative, we have to be creative in ways that we can help promote them. We’re lucky here in Salt Lake because we have a very active community. You know, we’re this little tiny those great big red sea. And so we’ve we understand the concept of being the underground and and all of that, to the point where we have become a salt lake city you cannot be mayor without putting the LGBTQ electric. And in fact we just our lesbian marriage just was replaced by another very much an ally just this year. So you know we’ve we’ve had gay and lesbian and bisexual leaders in our community who you know, elected officials in our communities since the 90s. And that’s because we have a community community that does talk to each other. And so yes, if we’ve forgotten for some reason for a difficult time, they’re going to you’re going to be forgotten in the future as well. People have long memories about these things. I


want to ask you I know this is you probably heard this question 100,000 times. How does my Mormon I was just gonna say how does an LGBTQ publication that community survive in the, in the center of Mormonism?


Frankly, the way Mormons are, is mostly they’re very nice to your face. And mostly, they want to kind of believe what you’re saying and, and they want to be, they want you to be a part of their community. Mostly. You do have


a bucket, do you ever get over pushback or overt? Anything?


You know, we always thought we were going to, and Gosh, like I said, I’ve been doing this, you know, the 80s and definitely from the 90s on never really had a problem. We had a pushback on one cover of our magazine back in 1992. And, frankly, I probably deserved that. I had a you know, a a sketch of a pregnant woman who wasn’t wearing any top and and yeah, that was kind of a little bit too much for them. But I, you know we are published in a very Mormon town are actually printed, I should say in a very Mormon town, just over the border in Idaho. never had a problem with them. And in fact, they’ve just, I mean, the driver will come down and you’ll say, Oh, I love your publication because you’ve got that drag queen on the last page and I just love reading all of her stories and like, some of those are so risky, I can’t believe


but I’m gonna I’m gonna sort of sort of probably push the envelope here a little bit, but you know, I have seen those videos.


I don’t know what you’re talking about. I can’t


I just gonna I’m just gonna say, Yes, I have a new affection for some Mormons. Let’s just say


those videos. I was like, What is he talking about? You know, and the other the other thing is, there are there is a tremendous number there are tremendous whatever group of people in the LDS community that is just really, really wanting to love their sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, they, you know, whatever the people at the head say they have his big gun. Those are the old people and you know, they’re 90, so they’ll probably die tomorrow anyway. And so, these are the people who are going to move that church forward. And yeah, it’s gonna be a very slow ride and it has been a very slow ride. But frankly, I’ve gotten zero pushback from the LDS Church. In fact, I’ve had many conversations with their PR people, and they’ve been very good to work with


and effected that that that interest Yeah.


now and I’ve have had really good conversations with there was a local group that You know, believed that, you know, they could change you to being a straight, straight guy and marry a woman and you know, and all that stuff and, and frankly, I have really good relationships with some of the most ultra conservative anti LGBT, what we consider anti LGBT people in the valley. And frankly, they’re really not the evil people that people will scream about. And you will, you will never hear or read anything in our publication where there’s name calling about something. Yeah, if they say something bad we can say yeah, that was stupid. But they’re not stupid once they said this.


Sorry. So I’m gonna throw you a bone here. This is the final segment here, but I this will be something fun for our listeners, Donald Trump.


I was going to tell you all about my my Clorox


mule here. That is was just sitting there drinking. It was delicious. I want


to just talk about a broader sense. I want to talk about it. I want to talk about credibility. Right. So media credibility, specifically, and this is a lead into a future show that I’m working on about media credibility. And I think that, and I always say this, and I’ve said this in the past is that credibility in media is one thing. It’s falling. It’s trusted, less than, than Congress in some cases, but an LGBTQ plus media especially, I believe, that we are held to such a higher standard, right? So how do you as a as a public as a publisher, make sure that you get it right when you were putting about hot button issues? Like, like COVID-19? Right, right. What are the facts? And I know you and I’ve had this discussion online several times, and we don’t always agree, but I am a Facebook certified infectious disease specialists.




All kidding aside, though. But on a


graduated from Trump University, yes.


on a topic like this, I just had this conversation the other day is Kudu, you know what, who do you trust? You know, right? Who do you trust? For every thing that you want every narrative that you want to put out there, you can find a graph, you can find a statistic that supports that. But where where do we get accurate information? If you can’t get it from like, I won’t mention names but some people don’t trust the CDC or even who anymore if you can’t get it from there. Where does someone like me who’s like stuck in the house with Joe for now? Five weeks? I want to know when the end is I want to know what I can do, you know, not to get it. And by the way, just an FYI, to our listeners, I am one of the high risk group people. I’m 59. I have type two diabetes, thank god I’ve been I’ve never been really sick. But But I don’t want to be sick. So I’m, I’m practicing social distancing. I’m wearing a mask. You know, now it’s mandated no annoyed. I don’t Have you heard that as of May 1, if you go outside, you have to wear a mask? Well, and and so I’m thinking to myself, where am I getting this information? Where can I get information where I have a trusted source? Right? So I don’t watch the Trump briefings anymore, believe it or not, I don’t watch them because they’re so painful number one. And number two is I don’t really want to get in the middle of a political fight. I don’t want to hear from politicians. I want to hear from medical professionals that say, Okay, here’s what’s happening. This is what’s going on. This is what you need to do to protect yourself. And if we do this, this will happen and blah, blah, blah, blah. So how in your publication I know that you report on on this, how do you make sure that you get it right that you’re giving? Not? up not biased information, not ideologically? Uh, you know what I mean, how do you just say, Okay, listen to folks, here’s the truth. And here’s my real facts. You don’t you may not like them, but here they are.


So, so me Imagine doing a publication in our community back in the 80s and 90s. There were, you know, back then if you if there was a story about, you know, a gay person did this, they would always have to go over to the eagle forum and ask what Gail, Rosita is our local Eagle pert, you know, Eagle forum person was what she thought about that. And something you know, when we are putting out information, that’s something that we can say, Okay, here’s where we start. We’re not where everybody else says where you have to give, you know, what would they consider both sides? We know the other side is wrong. We know that yes, love equals love. We know that we absolutely have the right to live our lives the way we want, especially behind closed doors. And so that’s where we started. So you what some people might call a bias is what we already know is true as a human unity that they’re going to have to keep catch up with. And so that has followed us up until today, you know, where you have to find the information and remove the politics from it. So our information that we put out from, you know, about COVID-19 and people who have HIV and AIDS that came from a, an agreement we had with paws magazine, that they have the information from the right sources, and I didn’t have to go out and find, you know, I pull politics out of it, because I found somebody who had who understands the health and medical part of all this. You know, the other things that we’re focusing on right now really has more to do with, you know, this event is not going to happen, and here’s where it is, you know, here’s what’s going to happen in the future, and all of that, but as far as when it really comes down to like the And everything. We folk we partner with national organizations, national media publications, who can do it better than we can?


So you’re not recommending anyone drink bleach.


Oh, I should stop doing that.


Well, the point, the reason why I make I make that point, I know it’ll make a little bit of a gesture. But the reason why I make that point is as a publication, especially in the art community, trust is key. It’s Paramount, you have to trust the source. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna end this conversation with this thought and that’s something that came to me a while back and I know you think that I am, I’m maybe a little bit lean to the right. But the truth of the matter is, is I lean towards the truth? A little bit, you know, I hate bullies on any level from the left or the right. And I’m trying to navigate in the middle and sometimes you’re in a, I find myself in a no win situation. As if someone called me a fucking creep who takes pictures good. As I was taking pictures of people in the park, who weren’t social distancing, working out on the workout machines, you know, or I disagree with Governor Pritzker and I do a little bit of homework about my favorite Mayor to hate and that’s de Blasio in New York. And, and, and so, but Trump is is a different animal he is. He’s crazy. I mean, I’m trying to I’m doing my absolute best to try and find something that I can hang on to you that says, okay, you know, it’s it’s getting harder and harder. But here’s the thing. My my thought is, is I don’t give two shits about politics right now. I could care less about any election or any politics or any of that. One of the things that I’m going to say and this is my political rant for the day is the first and foremost obligation of any government is to take care of its fucking people. And the fact that they’re fighting over money or these big corporations are getting large shares of the money or the democrats are stuffing The cares act bill or the republicans are doing this or whatever pisses me off. So what I, I sort of wonder like when I read my news, I try and read it, read a cross section and and say okay, that’s not true. That’s not true. That’s not true. Here’s something I came up with. When I grew up many years ago. My, you probably remember, my parents watched Walter Cronkite. Oh, yeah, right. You remember him? I remember my parents, like whatever he said was the truth. Like, totally trusted him. He was beyond reproach and everything and what have you. I think that nowadays we don’t have that. We don’t have somebody that we trust. So you listen to anderson cooper who’s very hot by the way and I met him in person, talk about one thing or and then you listen to Fox News. And, and and it sounds reasonable, but then you researching like, oh, that does that’s not 100% true. And then you talk to this person that’s not 100% true. It’s a little bit of pieces. Make sense, but we don’t have that. trusted source. And my question going back to you is how do you? How do you as a publisher, make your publication? a trusted source? And your response is correct. Did you get accurate information? You get accurate information. But I’m telling you to watch these people protesting to, to open up things and not wear masks and whatever, they don’t get it.


Right, don’t get it.


That’s not cool.


And if I could add one more layer to one more level to that, that is to be careful with headlines. Every republican every publication, right, left, middle, or whatever. I’ve seen do these horrible headlines where they say, so and so says this, and you actually read the article. And so the headline is, is just overly dramatic is Yeah, yeah, we’re going to be here until 2022. You’re not gonna be able to get out of your house until 2022 because I thought that what you said, and then you read it read the story that they wrote themselves. You read, wait a minute, maybe he didn’t really actually say that. But you know, people headline serve, that’s how they get most of their information. Daddy, what else read the headline and believe, okay, that’s what that whole story is about. And all it does is cause fear. All it does is cause a lot of angry and thanks between our communities. And to be honest with your headline, I think is is so important. And I’m thinking, I don’t see our media doing it for a long time.


I agree with you and one, I’m going to end this with this intellectual laziness. We are our consumer of news of sound bites and talking points we don’t want in the point to wrap up my conversation about Walter Cronkite. We don’t want to do any homework, right? But we don’t have a Walter Cronkite because I remember my dad saying, Well, I don’t have to find out about this because he should he already he already did that work. And so he’s telling me the summary of what the story is. We don’t have that. We have presenters, news presenters, that that really just want to grab us and they want to get an emotional response. And so I, I, I see that there is a huge need for intellectual integrity in the way we’re reporting what we’re writing about to one thing to editorialize because that’s your opinion you can have it whatever you want but when you’re reporting what is the accurate facts, the facts are are in just you know, indisputable it You may not like it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a fact. I think that LGBTQ media number one is held out to a higher standard to make sure we get it right. We have to get it right. Because the minute we don’t get it, right, we’re immediately labeled as biased or what have you. And, uh, and I’m, I think in today’s environment, where everyone has a voice, I mean, anyone can post anything on social media. Anyone, you know, can can have an opinion and it can be go viral. So there’s no vetting. There’s no anything. So it’s a race to the bottom, if you will, right. I personally would hope that LGBTQ media would resist that. And really, this is our opportunity. In my view, this is our opportunity to stand up and shine and say, Hey, this is what everyone else is doing. But we’re providing you real information. Because Michael, I’ll tell you and this is this is deadly serious. I still don’t know what the hell is going on.


Right? I don’t I don’t think anybody actually knows what’s gonna go on. All they have is the idea of what they think might happen.


Well, I don’t know what the hell’s going on. Like I asked, okay, if you don’t beginning they said, Oh, only hospital workers have to wear a mask. Well, if it’s dangerous enough that they have to wear a mask. Why shouldn’t I have to wear a mask? And when Since when is Walmart Home Depot, and Benny’s liquor store considered essential businesses. If they’re open wire, other small businesses close like I don’t, there’s a lot of disconnect there. Second thing is is like this. I don’t feel I get well, I definitely don’t feel like the government has really done a even an adequate job of saying, Hey, this is what’s going on, and this is what you should be expecting. So that breeds fear. I I don’t I want to make sure that you have enough toilet paper. I still don’t understand the whole toilet paper hoarding. Yes. I mean, I don’t get that. But the. So I think that’s the problem that I have is if you asked me on a serious level, what is COVID-19? What is why why are we so fearful? Why, why is this so much more fear? Why are we so much more fearful of this in any of the other hundreds of COVID




Chrome, I’m sorry, Coronavirus is out there. And I was just telling producer Nick that I think one of the things that I sort of come upon is it’s not the virus that bothered me as much because the people that risk that could get the buyers would be at risk in a lot of other things. It’s just that if they get it, it’s like 10 times It’s worse than a regular flu. But the thing that scares me is the contagiousness of it is I know, stop. There’s no stop. So I’m planning on getting it. I hope I just get it and I don’t have any symptoms. You know, but but I’m not taking any chances. I think that’s the problem. The problem is the contagiousness of it. There is no stop. And now we have to wait until hopefully they have a you know, they have a


vaccine. But now


I am.


I think that the reason why I wanted to have you on here, I know when I asked you, you said well, what am I going to talk about? This is what we’re going to talk about is what is our role in our communities when national sources of information is so convoluted and so all over the map, this is an opportunity for you to speak to your community and say hey, this is what you need to do to be prepared and this is the real information don’t listen to politicians or anything listen to this is it and I think that is the value and will be the ongoing value of local and regional media in my opinion. So we’re going to close here and one thing I’m going to say I want to tell my readers that I love this man we have been spirit animals since the day we we met we don’t agree on just about anything political nothing. But yet he’s still agreed to come on my show. I want to make sure that I give a big shout out to Michael Aaron the publisher of to Salt Lake and if you have the opportunity to pick up his current edition and his new edition that’s coming out soon with the awesome principle dog and drag on the front cover the pet issue. Make sure you go to Salt Lake calm is that right Michael? That’s correct. Salt Lake calm. And if you’re an advertiser in Salt Lake or the surrounding areas and you hear this podcast for some reason, you know, maybe all two or three of you better listening. If you have a few extra bucks, make sure you support Michael Aaron and to salt Throw some advertising on their website or social media and he would be wonderful to work with. I’m sure he would take care of you. So, Michael, thank you so much for agreeing to be on the podcast. When one this is edited, and producer Nick will edit it and make it look all pretty and smart. I’ll send you the link and feel free to use it and you can absolutely earn stuff and whatever. And I will do the same thing and I’ll link back will link back and forth. All right, I do have


I do have one thing I


have to say, Oh, no, wait a minute, should I be girding myself for it.


And that’s the way it is. Done.


I’ll see you soon love you.


Take care. Bye.


Thanks for listening to another edition of the DJ Doran show. You can find us on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts SoundCloud podematic stitcher and all the other major podcasting sites just search for the DJ Doran show.

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