WASHINGTON (Sept. 17, 2014)—Over 220 media professionals from around the world descended on the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., last week for the Society’s biennial International Media Conference (#NatGeoICON). Attendees included media partners for National Geographic Channels International, National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler magazine, National Geographic Kids magazine, National Geographic Books and National Geographic Home Entertainment.
More than 60 countries were represented by programming, editorial, marketing and publishing executives from top media companies throughout Europe, Asia, Latin and South America, and the Pan-Pacific, including Abril; Adria Media; Alma Littera; Bonnier; Boulder Publishing; Burda; Fox Channels International; Groupe Prisma Media; Gruner + Jahr; IDG; Nikkei; Panini; Qingdao Publishing; RBA; Rokus Klett; Sanoma; Televisa; Touring Club Italiano; Trends; and others.
“We were happy to welcome so many of our partners from around the world this past week for National Geographic’s International Media Conference,” said Terrence B. Adamson, head of international publishing for National Geographic. “We created this biennial conference in 1999 as a way for all of us to gather in one place, share key insights about our markets and collaborate on how we can continue to strengthen our brand and resonate with our audiences across the globe. We launched our first local-language edition nearly 20 years ago in Japan, and we were thrilled to see representatives from around the world who have become passionate stewards of the National Geographic brand.”
“The National Geographic Society reached another significant milestone at the beginning of September: We launched a new edition of National Geographic magazine in Azerbaijan, so we now have 40 local-language editions of the iconic yellow border magazine,” said Yulia Boyle, senior vice president, international media, for National Geographic. “We are also incredibly proud of our brand ambassadors who publish 15 local editions of National Geographic Traveler, 16 editions of National Geographic Kids and over 1,500 books in local languages per year. We truly look at our licensees as partners, and we’ve had a very productive week discussing market opportunities and brainstorming innovative ways to engage our audiences across all platforms and to attract revenue.”
Special guests at the conference included media executives Emilio Azcarraga Jean, president, CEO and chairman of the board of trustees for Grupo Televisa; Seda Domanic, president of the Publishing Group for Dogus Turkey; and Hugo Shong, executive vice president of IDG and chairman of IDG Greater China, who addressed today’s shifting media landscape, including identifying priority markets; expanding digital presence; transitioning to new formats; building new sales channels and revenue opportunities; and best practices for content creation, advertising, licensing and brand marketing.
National Geographic Chief Media Officer Declan Moore hosted a forum with Kimberly Lau, vice president and general manager for The Atlantic Digital, and Sarah McConville, vice president of marketing and publisher for the Harvard Business Review. Key takeaways included insights on utilizing tiered digital access to transition print subscribers and creating additional revenue opportunities online; enhancing user experience with responsive design; the importance of designing toward mobile; and utilizing research and reader feedback to build intelligence on how and where users want to digest their content. The panel also touched on the use of live events to build brand awareness and relevance.
The conference hosted an abbreviated Explorers Symposium, featuring three of National Geographic’s brightest voices, who shared their research and spoke about the future of exploration. The panel featured inventor and 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jack Andraka; 2014 National Geographic Explorer of the Year, National Geographic Fellow and Director of Special Investigations for National Geographic magazine Bryan Christy; and paleontologist and 2014 National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim, who previewed his headline-making “Spinosaurus” research. Paleoanthropologist and National Geographic grantee Dr. David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, talked about National Geographic’s role as the funder and reporter of culture, science and exploration; and blogger Annie Fitzsimmons, National Geographic Travel’s “Urban Insider,” spoke about building an online brand. National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen also participated in a panel to discuss National Geographic’s role in promoting conservation through photography.
In addition, conference-goers attended breakout sessions to review key marketing and editorial projects for 2015, led by National Geographic Chief Content Officer Chris Johns; National Geographic Editor in Chief Susan Goldberg; National Geographic Traveler Editor Keith Bellows; National Geographic Kids Editor Rachel Bucholz; National Geographic Home Entertainment Vice President Patti Najda; and National Geographic Books Vice President, Retail & Special Sales, John Lalor.
Participants attended a gala at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, hosted by Mr. Lu Kang, Charge d’Affaires. National Geographic CEO Gary Knell, Adamson and Shong offered remarks. Sen. James Sasser (D-Tenn.), former U.S. ambassador to China and member of National Geographic’s board of trustees, was also present. The gala featured an exhibit of contemporary and vintage photographs, furnished by National Geographic Creative, that reflected National Geographic magazine’s coverage of China over the past century.
Attendees also participated in a red carpet event for National Geographic Channel’s upcoming special, “American War Generals,” at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.
As part of the conference, National Geographic presented awards for best practices in international home entertainment marketing; books marketing; National Geographic Kids magazine editorial; National Geographic Traveler magazine editorial; National Geographic magazine editorial; and magazine marketing.
Printed in English since 1888, National Geographic magazine, the National Geographic Society’s official journal, provides in-depth coverage of cultures, nature, science and technology through comprehensive and timely articles and legendary photographs and maps. Through its International Licensing Alliances group, the Society works with leading media companies across the globe to publish local-language editions of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic Kids magazines, as well as hundreds of book and home video titles each year. The first local-language edition of National Geographic magazine was produced in 1995 in Japan. The first local-language version of National Geographic Traveler, ” Vie del Mondo,” was published in 1987 as part of a collaboration between the Society and Touring Club Italiano.
National Geographic magazine is currently read by 60 million readers around the globe each month. In addition to English, the flagship magazine now publishes 40 local-language editions. The magazine’s most recent local-language edition launched in Azerbaijan in September 2014.
About the National Geographic Society
With a mission to inspire people to care about the planet, the 126-year-old National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Working to inspire, illuminate and teach, the member-supported Society reaches over 600 million people worldwide each month through its media platforms, products and events. National Geographic has funded more than 11,000 research, conservation and exploration projects, and its education programs promote geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.