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Locally Strong

By Michael Lotti, freelance writer

Q&A with Diane Raaum.

Who says that MMPA is just for Minnesotans? Not us, which is why we didn’t hesitate to interview Diane Raaum, publisher of not just one, but three successful magazines in Wisconsin: Coulee Region Women, Coulee Region Women Business & Resource Directory, and The Wedding Magazine. Here’s what she had to say: 

Q: Briefly describe your job. What's a typical day like?

As a publisher, my job is to make sure that all of the pieces fit together for each publication, which means that I have to manage a team of talented independent contractors and work on all the different aspects of the business. Typically I am working each day with one of these people on a specific need of the business, such as sales, editorial, graphics, or billing, depending on where we are in the production cycle of a magazine. 

Q: How did you get started in the magazine business?

I previously worked for a newspaper group, but jumped at the opportunity to create four-color glossy publications.  The fact that it was a women’s publication intrigued me, also.  Women love to communicate, read, and learn from each other.

Q: What’s the best part about working in the magazine business?

Telling and sharing the stories of women in our community. Coulee Region Women magazine is a general interest women’s magazine, and our other publications focus on women’s specific needs in business, at home, or when planning a wedding. Connecting women to the community on these different levels is gratifying as well.

Q: What’s the worst part?

Deadlines–there is always one right around the corner. But they also keep me organized, focused, and don’t allow for procrastination!

Q: Where do you see the regional/local magazine industry in a few years? in 10?

The only thing I can be sure of is that it will change.  And if you sit back and don’t at least try to keep abreast of the changes, you probably won’t be around in 10 years. If I had to guess, I would say that the local movement will stay strong and that websites will develop more as companions to publications. Videos will become a more important part of websites as well, especially as a way to expand upon stories.

Q: What are the big challenges facing your publications?

The economy is still a big factor with advertisers. They are cautious with their dollars, and there is stiff competition from other media, so we make every effort to deliver as much as we can to keep them advertising and help them grow their businesses.  

Q: How do you keep your work fresh?

By reviewing national magazines to see what they are featuring and how they are designing. Our team also strives to make each publication as unique as the people we feature.

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

Our current editor, Betty Christiansen, just wrote her second book, Girl Scouts: A Celebration of 100 Trailblazing Years, and our former editor has a blog on travel A couple of other blogs that are written by local women in our area that I read are and I read Time magazine and The New York Times online to keep up on national issues.

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

My phone keeps me connected at all times to the business, so I can’t live without that! I love my kindle too. It’s like having a limitless library right at my fingertips and I can read something new whenever I want.

Q: Any basic personal details you’re willing to share?

Living in Wisconsin, I am a Packer and Badger fan.  I love to downhill ski and discover different ski hills. Last year my husband and I skied at Revelstoke in British Columbia. It has North America’s largest vertical at 5,620 feet, and it was a great challenge and a lot of fun.

Contact Michael Lotti