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Business Brief: Print Media Engage Readers With Live Events

John Burr
Diners eat at the first-ever Sunday Supper event, held by Edible Northeast Florida at Intuition Ale Works

The year-old Edible Northeast Florida magazine is launching a series of events called Sunday Suppers.

In this week’s “Business Brief,” analyst John Burr tells WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo, the suppers are part of a growing trend among print media companies to try to engage readers beyond the page or computer screen.

Burr attended the first-ever Sunday Supper event in early June at Intuition Ale Works, which lent a folksy, fun vibe to the evening, he says.

That’s exactly what Edible Northeast Florida publisher Amy Robb was going for.

“We wanted everything that we’re doing with Sunday Supper to be very approachable so everybody felt welcome. We wanted it to feel like a big community event,” she says. “We plan to expand to different locations. We might be at farms, we might be at parks, we might be at restaurants, we might be at community centers. Who knows what the future will hold.”

Burr says the magazine, like other print publications that hold events, is trying to build its brand in the community, as well as take advantage of benefits like building relationships with corporate sponsors who could become advertisers; encouraging subscribers by offering special event-related perks; and perhaps the biggest of all: earning revenue by charging admission.

Burr says his former employer, the Jacksonville Business Journal, is a titan among media-hosted event planners. Annual award events like 40 Under 40 have the added benefit of encouraging reader engagement by soliciting nominations. And live events made the Journal about 25 percent of its annual revenue, he says.

For a newcomer like Edible Northeast Florida, Burr says, the main goal is to raise its community profile.

“And we want to do that by making our events very inclusive. We want people to feel they’re very approachable and accessible, and it’s a way, obviously, for us to get the magazine into the hands of readers and try to make the connection between the ideas that what we’re talking about, as well as what we’re celebrating here tonight,” publisher Robb says.

Burr says print media are actually late to a trend that commercial broadcasters have been using far longer. Think pop radio stations’ holding nightclub events, he says.

And it’s not just commercial broadcasters either. Listeners to 89.9 WJCT might be familiar with the station’s Generation Listen events aimed at drawing in young public media fans. The next event, Camp Listen, is Friday, June 24. RSVP here to attend.