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Time to amplify new conversations we’re having in the marketplace – St. Joseph Media’s new president

Douglas Kelly has been named president of Toronto-based St. Joseph Media, replacing Douglas Knight, who retired in July after a decade at the company. Kelly joined St. Joseph Media three years ago to lead the company's custom content division; prior to that, he was he was editor-in-chief and publisher of The National Post. We spoke to him about the new role, and what he has in store for the next year.

 

Fashion Magazine header ()

St. Joseph Media, a division of St. Joseph Communications, is a Toronto-based company that publishes multiple titles including Fashion, Weddingbells, Quill & Quire, and Toronto Life, among others.  

Below, Kelly answers some questions about his new role and what he has in store for the next year.

Congratulations on being named the new president of St. Joseph Media Group. Why did you sign on for the role?

I’ve been at St. Joseph Media for three and half years now. I joined the company to form a new custom content operation, Strategic Content Labs. It was kind of like creating a startup within an established media company.

The new business has done very well, securing a number of major clients from across various sectors. It provides an array of content services, both in association with our magazine brands and without. And, we have done a lot of great work that I am very proud of. But SCL is not just a division — it’s an approach to the market that we have extended to our brands, such Toronto Life, Fashion Magazine and Weddingbells. My new job is an opportunity to further strengthen our roster of premier media brands as we continue to grow Content Labs.

 
Douglas Kelly ()
 

As well, there’s some really smart, talented and creative people that I enjoy working with here, and leading the group as president is a real honour. The group here includes the senior management team at Media that is made up of Jacqueline Loch, VP and group publisher of Women’s Brands; Karl Percy, general manager and VP Finance; Duncan Clark, VP strategic development; Ken Hunt, publisher Toronto Life; and Darlene Storey, VP consumer marketing and production.

***Jacquie Loch, VP and group Publisher of St. Joseph Media, will be at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017 in London, where she will explain how FASHION turned the traditional ad model on its head. Sign up to join her at the Congress, here***

How has your experience in the Canadian media industry shaped your perspective?

Prior to joining SJM, I was editor-in-chief and publisher of The National Post, where I was involved with numerous transformative initiatives, including groundbreaking work in content marketing that helped cement my vision of the opportunity at St. Joseph.

I’ve been a reporter and a senior editor, editor-in-chief and then a publisher. Having seen editorial budgets shrink as traditional ad revenue has fallen, I see content marketing as a way of creating great new content and keeping media brands relevant to their audiences and to advertisers, but under a different funding model. Ultimately, there are three requirements for great content: if it’s of value to the audience; if it provides a valued audience for an advertiser or client; and if it reinforces the brand. 

What is on your agenda for the year?

We have identified a number of internal services that we want to establish almost as standalone businesses that support the work being done by Strategic Content Labs and the media brands. Services such as events, multimedia production, digital products and retail services are all important to future growth and could all be discreet operations and eventually staffed as such.

As well, I’d like to continue to look for new opportunities in the larger marketplace and jump on them. One of our best, new products is Passport 2017, which we built for the federal government as an app to drive participation around Canada’s 150th anniversary. It’s been a great success by almost every criteria and we hope to extend the essence of what we have created to any number of applications. We need to do more needs and product identification and build against those opportunities.

How will you lead change internally at St. Joseph's? 

Well, for starters I am keeping my old job as the head of SCL, as well as taking on my new position. Having multiple responsibilities is nothing new to this company. St. Joseph Media has a flat management structure and people are constantly being asked to pitch in on any number of things. This keeps us nimble and able to react to a changing marketplace. I think it’s important to lead by example and show employees how remaining flexible can lead to a more dynamic work environment and experience for everyone.

St Joseph media tablet ()

 

 

How do you see the company's business model evolving?  

SCL has been strong from the beginning, and it has increasingly occupied a larger and larger chunk of our revenues.  But at the end of the day, whether it is SCL or any of our media brands having conversations, it’s about understanding what clients need, coming up with creative ideas to support those needs, and surgical execution. We are always happy to take traditional print and digital advertising, but we need to amplify the new conversation we are having with the market.

What is the company strategy into the future? 

I want to stay close to the needs of the marketplace. The work we do requires a lot of listening and understanding of client needs and a deep knowledge of the market trends. Top drawer execution across our editorial, creative, technical and analytic services is critical to success.

Media spend isn’t going down, it’s shifting. And we have to remain nimble enough to follow the money and be a leader in the services we provide.

Also, I want to work more closely with the divisions of the larger St. Joseph Communications entity, that includes a large print operation and retail and brand photo and video services. Put it all together and St. Joseph offers an impressive array of services.

What lessons, insight or advice would you share with other publishers? 

Understand your skillsets, appreciate the value of those skills in the marketplace and build around them. For our brands, and for Content Labs, our skillset is journalism and being able to make and sustain strong connections and relationships with audiences. Once you establish that trust, you can change peoples’ minds and transform brand perception.

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