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Agrimarketing : September 2009
50 Agri Marketing September 2009 RURAL LIFESTYLE UPDATE DEVOTED TO THE RURAL LIFESTYLER by the Agri Marketing Editors There are many excellent media options to reach the Rural Lifestyle consumer (see page 38). However, there is one publishing company whose sole focus is on that market: Ogden Publications, head- quartered in Topeka, KS. "We started Ogden in 1996 with a platform to serve audiences that are living in rural areas and to focus on their unique interests," says Bryan Welch, the company's Publisher/ Editorial Director. Ogden is owned by the Nutting Companies based in Wheeling WV, whose other holdings include community newspapers, regional phone directories, resorts and the controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Pirates. Included in the 1996 acquisition that launched the company were Grit, Capper's publications and Capper's Insurance. In 1998, Ogden launched Farm Collector magazine, two years later it acquired Mother Earth News and purchased Gas Engine. All of its publications have highly trafficked web sites where viewers can also purchase books, CDs, the Mother Earth News line of coffee and the Natural Home line of kitchenware. "Between the print and online vehicles, we reach more than three million people looking for rural American know how," reports Ogden General Manager Bill Uhler. "Each title has a unique audience that has been built through genera- tions of use. Because of that, they've grown to be some the most trusted brands in rural America." COMMON BOND "Rural Lifestyle con- sumers are a very diverse group with widely different interests," Welch explains. "However, they all share one thing: they believe in being self- reliant." So, self-reliance is the major editorial theme for each of Ogden's publica- tions but with an additional twist for each of its maga- zines. "The emphasis for Mother Earth News is living a sustainable lifestyle," Welch continues. "For Grit and Capper's, it's the heritage of agri- culture and rural living with each brand having a unique focus on their geographic and demographic roots." The approach has been work- ing. "Even in this down economy, the number for Mother Earth News' paid circulation has grown from 350,000 copies three years ago to nearly 500,000 last month," Uhler says. Nearly 75% of the subscribers are via mail subscription with the balance being sold at newsstands nationwide. LONG, LONG HISTORY, CHANGES Capper's was founded in 1879 as a weekly newspaper for farmers and ranchers and has gone through many reiterations, most recently its conver- sion last month to a four-color magazine format. Grit was founded in 1882 as a weekly newspaper featuring news items, editorials and humorous tidbits. It hit its peak number of copies at 1.5 million in 1969. In 2006, Ogden launched it in its new four-color, magazine format. Why the name Grit? Welch says, "Rural lifestyle people have it (grit) and the fiber that self-reliance requires. Think of John Wayne in the movie "True Grit." Mother Earth News is the young- ster of the group's three largest magazines launched in 1970. "We re-focused its editorial for people wanting cool ideas on how to live sustainable lives," Welch says. ADVERTISERS Welch says he and the Ogden sales force spend as much time educating advertisers about the Rural Lifestyle consumer as they do selling. "I am constantly helping companies find ways to make slight adjustments in their products to fit into what can become a new and very lucrative market for them," Welch says. "Our research shows Rural Lifestylers will pay more for a prod- uct if they think it will last longer," he concludes. "Afterall, they have a strong conservation streak in them and the last thing they want is a trip to the landfill." For more information, go to: www.OgdenPubs.com. AM WALKING THE TALK "Our readers expect genuine environmental stewardship from us," says Welch. "So, we purchased 2.4 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits which offsets two years of our electrical usage at our offices and the printing of our publications." The company has also launched www.GreatGreenCareers.com, an online job posting board. Welch and his wife live on their 50-acre farm they have affectionately named "Rancho Cappuccino" near Topeka and raise poultry, cattle, minia- ture donkeys and a host of other pets. He has a Master 's in Public Adminis- tration degree from Harvard University. AM Ogden Publication's Bryan Welch (r) and Bill Uhler. Under their management, the company has grown from 65 to 140 employees.
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