Case Studies


The TennisPro magazine turnaround is a classic example of a strategic repositioning that helped a trade association far beyond the improvement of its print publication.

When Steve took over this magazine for tennis teachers, it was primarily an internal marketing tool for its sister organization, the U.S. Professional Tennis Registry. With a very limited budget, Steve repositioned the magazine as the industry’s premier educational publication for tennis coaches using a two-fold strategy:


Put a Member on the Cover

First, he no longer had the magazine feature professional tennis players on the cover — he put an “average” tennis coach on each cover and made the main editorial feature an article on the teaching pro’s career and business. This immediately established the publication as the tennis industry’s magazine for, by and about tennis coaches.

Create Your Own “Celebrity” Experts

To increase the exclusivity (and the value) of the content, and to increase attendance at the PTRF Annual Symposium, Steve developed a stable of expert contributors in sports medicine, nutrition, sport psychology and biomechanics. By including their photos with each of their articles, Steve marketed these experts as “celebrities” in the tennis-coaching community.

This strategy had a significant impact on both the 501(c)(6) trade association and its 501(c)(3) foundation. When it came time to hold the foundation’s annual symposium, Steve invited these magazine contributors as speakers and included their photos in marketing materials, raising the perceived quality of the annual meeting and increasing attendance. More manufacturers began to buy booths at the annual trade show. Other industry organizations began to invite these expert speakers to their conferences, noting them as advisors to the USPTR, further improving the organization’s image.

The magazine’s shift from an internal marketing piece to a professional trade publication raised the stature of the organizations, attracted more sponsors and advertisers, and generated more cooperation with other industry entities. The publication eventually went from an expense to a small profit center.

Surprising Numbers

TennisPro surveyed members of the USPTA (the USPTR’s competitor association) who received TennisPro about which magazine they preferred, and more than 80 percent preferred TennisPro – even those USPTA members who were not members of the USPTR!

Georgia Defense Lawyer

The Georgia Defense Lawyer repositioning is another example of how an association newsletter re-brand helped an organization meet a variety of its goals and objectives.

Georgia Defense Lawyer was the newsletter of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, managed by volunteer committee members who took turns getting the publication out. The GDLA took the common approach of many associations, putting their president’s message on the cover each issue and news about the organization far forward in the publication. 

External News vs. Internal Promotion

Steve changed the editorial flow of the newsletter, putting professional news and information on the cover and in the first half of the newsletter, moving internal association news to the back half of the publication. In the front of the newsletter, he added news about the comings, goings and achievements of individual defense attorneys and law firms. He solicited articles from the substantive law committee chairs.

Cross-Promote Via Your Website

To drive traffic to the GDLA’s website, Steve limited the length of detailed legal articles in the newsletter to two pages, directing members interested in the topic to download more information from the GDLA’s website. This allowed the newsletter to include more articles of interest to the many members who had differing practices and information needs.

The shift in the newsletter’s editorial focus helped reposition it as first and foremost a valuable professional resource for defense attorneys practicing in Georgia. As members began to pay more attention to the newsletter and pass it on to other attorneys in their firms, attendance at GDLA events grew and membership rose.

Steve helped the publication communicate the many activities and resources the GDLA offered and Georgia Defense Lawyer won an APEX award following Steve’s complete re-design and re-positioning of the publication. During the first two years of Steve’s tenure as executive director, the GDLA set new membership records.

Professional Pet Sitter

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters published The NAPPS Network, a quarterly membership magazine. Steve helped reposition the magazine as Professional Pet Sitter, which helped better communicate to the rest of pet industry what the publication (and NAPPS) was. 

You Should Judge a Book by its Cover

Taking a page from the the TennisPro repositioning, Steve put a NAPPS member on each cover the magazine and ran a feature article on the pet sitter’s business, immediately branding the publication as the industry’s magazine for, by and about pet sitters. He oversaw the rename, graphic redesign and editorial realignment. Steve oversaw the hire of a new designer and helped secure free expert content for each issue. He also developed the publication’s print and online sales and marketing materials.

Corporate Optometrist

The recently founded American Association of Corporate Optometrists published a well-respected, peer-reviewed magazine, ElectrifEye Journal.

While the magazine contained high-quality medical and practice content, the name and content did not connect it to the AACO in such a way that the young trade association earned brand recognition from its target audience, other professional organizations and industry suppliers and vendors.

Steve worked with AACO to launch Corporate Optometrist magazine, which included medical and practice content, along with more industry and association news. The magazine immediately raised AACO’s profile in the eye care professions and won an APEX award shortly after its debut.

Putting a corporate optometrist on the cover and using the tagline, “The voice of corporate optometry” quickly gained the publication recognition as the trade magazine for the more than 12,000 U.S. optometrists managing LensCrafters, Pearle Vison, Walmart, Costco, Target and other corporate-affiliated practices.

This launch was completed in 37 days.

corporate-affiliated optometrist

Building with Components

Building with Components was born out of a desire to expand the audience of the Wood Truss Council of America, creating more potential customers for the WTCA’s members.

Dual-Audience Strategy

The magazine was a unique dual-audience experiment. The first half of the magazine targeted component manufacturers (WTCA members), with the second half of the book’s editorial aimed at contractors. This opened a new advertising category (a component manufacturer directory), with the magazine publishing six different regional editions via four-page inserts.


Despite reducing the converted magazine’s schedule from 10 to 8 issues, Steve helped the magazine double its annual advertising revenues.

Business Development Outlook

Afiniti Communications was originally looking for a managing editor to oversee the content of its magazine, Outlook. After examining issues of the magazine and discussing the publication’s current state in a crowded space (six competitors) with the company’s chairman, Steve convinced Afiniti the magazine needed a complete overhaul and a publishing director to manage all aspects of the title.


Complete Makeover Needed

Steve was elevated to director of publishing and completely repositioned the magazine, complete with new name, editorial focus and graphic design. Steve created new departments and columns, directed the building of the magazine’s first website, handled USPS and BPA audits and worked with the sales staff to re-do their sales materials.

Shortly after coming on board, Steve was named COO of the entire company and the magazine became profitable through a combination of increased revenues and decreased publishing costs.

Business Xpansion Journal

XpansionLab, a dot-com in the economic development industry, purchased two existing economic development titles and was attempting to produce the newly renamed magazines by dividing the duties among its C-suite executives. 

During Steve’s initial discussions with the company regarding their need for an executive editor, it became apparent the company needed an experienced magazine professional to direct all of the operations of their new titles, and Steve was hired as their first director of publishing.

No More Selling Editorial

The two titles XLab had purchased had poor reputations in the economic development industry and XLab was attempting to reposition them and make them respected titles in their space. Steve quickly accomplished this by creating a differentiated and higher-quality editorial product and a graphic re-design.

Working with a new managing editor (hired by Steve) and a new sales director, Steve created an editorial calendar (with special theme issues) that helped attract advertisers without selling editorial mentions.