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Technology and Contacts Assist in Managing Industry Change

By Michael Lotti

Q&A with Aileen Hough, circulation manager, CSC Publishing

Aileen Hough has old school credentials. She’s been with the same company for 20 years and remains committed to print publications. But she’s new school as well. She manages circulation for a number of e-publications and is excited about the publishing possibilities that the Internet has opened up.

Q: For which CSC magazines do you manage circulation? How long have you been doing it?

I manage all seven of CSC's magazines. When I started 20 years ago, we had one magazine and were starting the second. Now my department supports four print and three e-zines, an e-newsletter, and conference and educational webinars. Almost anything that touches our readers goes through our department.

Q: What’s the best part about working for a trade magazine (or several of them)?

It’s very rewarding to have readers say that the magazine is important to them. I like being successful in connecting people with helpful content.

Q: What’s the worst part?

The worst part of any job these days is the pressure. I don’t know anyone in any line of work that isn’t constantly attempting to do more with less. Everyone is working harder, smarter, longer. There is not as much of a line between work and the rest of your life anymore.

Q: Where do you see trade magazine circulation in a few years? In 10?

Print will NOT go away in the next ten years. That being said, I do think people like me will embrace more mobile and digital materials. Those that figure out a way to finance this development will come out of the next decade stronger. Magazines and newspapers will continue to close and merge, many elements of the process will continue to change, but those having a strong message and bringing something valuable to an audience will survive.

Q: What are the big challenges facing CSC?

Smaller publishers are especially challenged with a tough economy, tighter ad dollars, and a million people wanting a share of those dollars.

Q: How do you keep on top of the changing world of publications?

My vendors and suppliers help me figure out and understand options. Other publishing friends are also a great asset. I’ve learned a great deal from MMPA events and my friends in MMPA. I read industry journals and newsletters, spend a great deal of time online, attend webinars, and take classes as often as I can. 

Q: What circulation journals/writers/blogs do you read regularly?

I read Folio, B2B Media Business, Publishing Executive and Audience Development. I keep on top of what BPA/ABC and USPS publish. I follow too many online newsletters to count. I belong to many Linked-In groups like Friends of MMPA and Circulation Professionals.

Q: Any gizmos or apps that you can’t live without?

I think (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) that my iPad is something, quickly, I can’t live without.  My whole life in one place and it’s the size and weight of a single magazine. It’s pretty amazing.

Q: Anything else you want to share?

The way I look at it, we can embrace all the changes and challenges facing the industry and benefit, or complain and miss out. I’ve chosen to embrace. A mentor at one of my first jobs told me, “You will go far in this business. When there is a problem, you are like a dog with a bone. You just keep at it until you have figured it out.” I laughed at the time, but those who know me would probably say, “That’s Aileen.”