The American media is notoriously bicoastal and famously obsessed with bad news, all of which gave Dan Hammond an idea: Why not create a weekly supplement for newspapers that would focus on the good news of life in America’s small towns? He launched American Profile in April 2000. Today, it is distributed in more than 812 newspapers with a circulation of 4.2 million.
Chairman, president, and CEO, Publishing Group of America
FROM DAN’S ORIGINAL ENTRY:
Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
American Profile, a weekly, national newspaper magazine that features only the “good news” of life in America’s hometowns, does what no other medium has done — target and reach people in smaller hometowns across America. Prior to American Profile, most community newspapers did not have access to the established Sunday national magazine supplements found in larger cities. Existing magazines’ distribution structure was limited and their editorial content didn’t embrace hometown interests and values. Our challenge included developing a distribution method that would allow us to deliver our product to thousands of community newspapers for insertion virtually any day of the week-anywhere in the country, convincing national advertisers that American Profile is a viable, unduplicated medium that would allow them to reach hometown Americans that represent $344 billion in retail spending power, and raising funding to get the magazine up and running.
What was your moment of truth?
For nearly a decade, we did our homework talking with advertisers, publishers and market researchers about the viability of reaching out to America’s hometowns through a newspaper magazine. The results were very encouraging: (1) 83% of direct response advertisers and 50% of consumer product and retail advertisers expressed desire to advertise in the magazine (2) 100% of percent of print media advertising specialists believed that advertisers would respond favorably (3) Informal and in-person interviews with community newspaper publishers yielded positive feedback. After also determining that the logistical and operational issues of distributing the magazine had been solved by the advent of new technologies, I left my full-time job in 1998 to create the media company that would distribute American Profile. This also meant seeking venture funding during a time of dot.com frenzy and online media hype. We had to justify to investors why this print medium deserved their attention while demonstrating that America’s small towns were thriving in a high-tech society. The moment of truth came when we received our first round of funding from Megunticook Management and I realized the dream was actually going to happen. (The exact date? 9/19/1999)
What were the results?
American Profile launched in April 2000 exceeding projections for advertising from major national brand advertisers and distribution with a circulation over 1.2 million. It is considered the second largest publishing launch in U.S. history. Industry expert Samir Husni named American Profile top magazine launch of 2000 (one of only twelve to ever receive it, and in our case a tie with Oprah’s O). Today, the magazine is distributed in more than 812 newspapers with a circulation of 4.2 million (readership of 12 million) and has attracted more than 40 major national advertisers. It ranks as the fourth largest weekly magazine and 10th overall in circulation, and is the subject of a case study used in the annual curriculum, at Harvard.
What’s your parting tip?
A quote from Walt Disney….”With hard work, dreams really do come true.”