October 7, 2008

OC Metro Goes Monthly, Pushing Revamped Web Site

By Volpe, Michael

Newsletter Publisher Crittenden Breaks From Form With Soccer Site; Douglas Changes Name MEDIA & MARKETING

You may have noticed-I'm not Jennifer Bellantonio. I'm Michael Volpe. Starting this week, I'm taking over as media and marketing columnist for the Business Journal.

I plan to bring a fresh take to the column and step up the Business Journal's coverage of media and marketing.

I've spent the past year and half working at ' Crittenden Research Inc., a newsletter publisher, covering real estate development. Coming from a background of real estate . coverage, I'm relatively new to the world of media and marketing. So, I'm reaching out to everyone who has worked with Jennifer and reads the column.

Feel free to introduce yourselves. My email is [email protected] and I can be: 'reached at (949) 833-8373, ext. 236.

OC Metro Shift

OC Metro Business magazine goes monthly in September with a new look.

The lifestyle and business publication was the last biweekly at Newport Beach-based Churm Media, publisher of five lifestyle magazines and Web sites.

The company is giving up some print ad revenue by cutting an issue per month. The eventual goal is to boost online ads and cross- sell with the monthly magazine, according to Steve Churm, chief executive and publisher.

"Web revenue is never a dollar for dollar replacement for display advertising," he said. "The marketing opportunity is cheaper online than in print, so the margins are better. But it does not replace the total volume."

Like others, the print version of OC Metro has been dealing with a downturn in housing and consumer good ads that has visibly cut the number of pages in the magazine in the past year.

The revenue drop and high print, transportation and others costs have forced publications to seek refuge on the Web.

Churm Media recently relaunched its OCMetro.com Web site with video, blogs, social networking pages and stories. Churm said he sees the Web site as an extension of the monthly magazine.

"We develop our Web sites so we go beyond the one-dimensional content of our magazines," he said.

Churm Media has spent more than $350,000 on Web development efforts since late last year, including staff and content- management systems, he said.

Crittenden Starts Soccer Site

My former employer, Mission Viejo-based newsletter publisher Crittenden Research, is gearing up for soccer season with a Web publication, XK Orange.

The company in May started soccer.xkorangecounty.com, a Web site covering all levels of soccer in Orange County. The site is a shift for Crittenden, which produces real estate and insurance newsletters for subscribers.

XK Orange is going for more of a mass audience and relies on ad revenue.

The Web site likens itself to a community paper focusing on regional soccer teams and players from OC. Advertisers include McDonald's Corp. and Knott's Soak City.

"Orange County still remains one of the hottest places for soccer in the U.S.," editor Melanie Neff said.

XK Orange works with local soccer groups, including CaI South Youth Soccerwith some 120,000 members-to get the word out and expand its coverage.

The site promotes itself with e-mail blasts and fliers. XK is setting up Web portals for leagues to access XK through then- own team sites.

XK is looking to capitalize on the cultural phenomenon of soccer, targeting middleclass parents, "soccer moms" and their kid athletes.

The site gets about 10,000 hits per month, up from 5,000 in its first full month in June, Neff said. The numbers could climb as soccer season gears up, including at high schools in late November, she said.

The Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register used to cover high school soccer but have cut back amid the newspaper downturn, according to Neff.

Crittenden started a version of the soccer Web publication in San Diego in early 2007. Plans include expanding to Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

The company, which publishes 16 subscription newsletters, has been steadily growing on the Web. It recently redid its Web site to include samples of its newsletters and stepped up its e-mail delivery of its newsletters.

The company changed four of its weekly newsletters to biweekly formats, including Golf Business & Real Estate and hotel Lodging News.

Subscriptions for some newsletters are down while others are up, according to President Al Crittenden. Those doing well include Crittenden's Restaurant Insider and Retail Space News, capitalizing on real estate developers and owners looking to fill space in their centers after overbuilding during the recent boom.

Douglas Rebrands

Newport Coast-based Douglas Advisors LLC has changed its name to Douglas Strategic Communications.

The name is designed to reflect a focus on Douglas' business, strategic marketing and public relations. The company works with law firms, nonprofits, midsize businesses and technology companies.

Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, recently brought on Douglas to help revamp its image and promote the school.

Like others, Douglas uses freelancers to offer lower costs.

To drum up business, the company is working with Santa Ana's Specialized Marketing Services, a maker of marketing materials such as fliers, brochures, sales kits, tradeshow goods and other advertising tools.

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Copyright CBJ, L. P. Sep 1-Sep 7, 2008

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