Tag Archives: Forbes

Forbes cover Blakely

Digital now half of Forbes’ ad revenue

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Digital advertising accounted for half of Forbes’ total ad revenue for the year, reports Emma Bazilian of AdWeek.

Bazilian writes, “In the wake of a Pew report that sponsorship advertising was up 40 percent in 2012, Forbes Media is touting the growth of its own revenues—thanks, in part, to its success with native ads.

“The company achieved its best financial performance in five years in 2012, according to a memo released this morning by Forbes Media CEO Mike Perlis. Digital ad revenue, which increased 19 percent year over year, accounted for half of the company’s total ad revenue for the year, said Perlis. Ten percent of total revenue came from advertisers who incorporated BrandVoice into their buys, and by the end of this year, that share is estimated to rise to 25 percent.

“Things seemed pretty positive across other areas of Forbes’ business as well. Newsstand sales and ad pages were up 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, amid industry-wide drops in both areas. The relatively new tablet app recently broke 200,000 downloads. And in the brand extension space, Forbes’ Healthcare Summit attracted enough sponsorship dollars to break even in its first year.”

Read more here.

Forbes

Spain publisher of Forbes bets against crisis

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Raphael Minder of the New York Times writes Sunday about SpainMedia, which is moving forward with plans to publish a Spanish version of Forbes despite that country’s economic crisis.

Minder writes, “Forbes already published 26 other licensed editions of its magazine, including several in East European countries like Poland and Romania. Spain is the first foray by the family-controlled Forbes into Western Europe.

“Asked about the timing of its Spanish entry, Miguel Forbes, a family member who is in charge of the publisher’s worldwide development, said by telephone recently that ‘the time to launch is when a market is in the process of recovery.’

“The Spanish edition of Forbes, a monthly released March 6, had a print run of 65,000 copies. Neither Mr. Forbes nor Mr. Rodríguez would disclose financial details about their venture, which involves SpainMedia paying a licensing fee to Forbes based on its magazine sales and advertising revenues.

“‘Andrés has shown that he’s able to put out very strong titles with a very lean staff,’ Mr. Forbes said of Mr. Rodríguez. ‘A lot of publishers have a big staff, but it’s hard to make money when you have a large headcount.’”

Read more here.

Ben Thomas

From real estate exec to business journalist

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Brad Thomas has more than 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate brokerage business.

But more than three years ago, he switched careers and moved into business journalism.

Thomas currently writes frequently about investing in real estate investment trusts for Forbes, The Street, Seeking Alpha, and The Motley Fool. In addition, Thomas also owns a research website called The Intelligent REIT Investor.

Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree in business/economics from Presbyterian College and still lives in South Carolina.

Thomas spoke with Talking Biz News via email this week about his career switch. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.

How did your career in real estate help you become a journalist?

Real estate is in my blood. My family used to own hotels in Myrtle Beach, and as I was growing up it was always fascinating to see growth and more specifically, to see huge wealth creation in brick and mortar.  Also, my mother has been in real estate for more than 30 years and she has been a mentor to me.  So naturally, I entered college with a bias for real estate and I took as many courses that I could in finance, economics, and real estate.

When I graduated I went to work for a developer and soon we became business partners. I spent 15 years building a variety of projects that ranged from Wal-Mart anchored shopping centers, single-tenant drug stores, to free-standing auto parts stores.

That “organic” experience became extremely valuable for me as I was able to gain considerable knowledge in capital markets. That is, arranging debt and equity – building a capital model – that would in turn provide long-term value.

One of my biggest lessons of all came about during the Great Recession. During most of my early career, debt was available and my career path was trending along with the credit markets. However, 2008 and 2009 was a whole different subject. Most of the equity that I had worked years to create was wiped out. Many of the properties that I co-developed became over-leveraged as commercial property valuations dropped significantly.

So, in 2010 I had a decision to make. Try to stay in the same profession of building shopping centers or trying to guide investors down the road to wealth creation. In other words, I had to decide if I wanted to focus on real property or intellectual property.

When did you decide to start writing about real estate? What was the impetus?

One of the most difficult events in my life was unwinding a 15-year partnership. My best explanation is that it is like having 20 kittens in one room and trying to force them to line up together while a dog is standing in the same room. Of course, the dog is the economy and the kittens are the partnerships.

Unlike real estate investment trusts (REITs), partnerships are not liquid. That means that I could not get out of these deals easy. When you invest in a public security and you see the share prices fall, you can sell and move your principal into an alternative asset class (including cash). However, in a partnership the only way to sell is to find a buyer. That concept was hard pill for me to swallow.

Had I invested in a REIT structure, I could have sold shares and taken my equity in cash. But I didn’t. Instead I had one partner – which means no diversification – and I lost most of my equity as the Great Recession rolled on.

That’s when I decided I needed to become a voice for the average REIT investor.

How has your writing improved since then?

My first on-line article was published on Seeking Alpha on Dec. 14, 2010. Since that time I have written over 250 articles for Seeking Alpha as well as hundreds of other articles for  Forbes.com, The Street, and The Motley Fool.

Today I’m writing at least one article a day. I guess it’s like the saying “an apple a day keep the doctor away” but for me writing keeps my brain sharp. I have found that research is critical and I enjoy researching real estate and the more I know, the better I write.

Reading is a must. I read all of the time. Forbes, Barrons, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Time, Seeking Alpha, The Motley Fool, The Street, and others. In addition, I have also expanded my rolodex to include many industry experts including the big hitters like Donald Trump, Marty Cohen (Cohen and Steers), and Tom Lewis (CEO of Realty Income). I tell people that I’m the ultimate sponge for commercial real estate. I try to speak with a REIT CEO at least once a day and that gives me valuable “real time” intelligence that allows me to communicate effectively with my audience.

What did you do to learn about writing and about writing business journalism?

I majored in business, not journalism. I think I was a B- student in English so I never ever thought I would make writing a career. In fact, although I am a writer, I don’t consider myself a writer. I like to think I’m a REIT investor and I simply write to articulate REIT valuation and investment strategies.

Reading has helped me considerably. It keeps my brain fresh and it allows me to learn from the best experts in the world. One of my favorite books is The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. I will make sure that all five of my kids read the book before they’re 18 and as a teacher, I would strongly encourage all students to read it as well.

In fact, you could read the last chapter (chapter 20) which is called “Margin of Safety as the Central Concept to Investment”. The common thread for the book is on Graham’s principle of the “margin of safety”. In its simplest, that means you must “but low, and sell high.” But as Graham believed, all investments need some kind of buffer to protect against market fluctuations. That is one of the most — if not the most – important lessons to learn. I always make a point to define the margin-of-safety in my writing as it applies to any company that I write about.

As Warren Buffett said, “Rule #1 is Don’t Lose Money. Rule #2 is Don’t Forget Rule #1.” In short, I’m not a speculator (any more). I look for sound stocks are in Graham’s words:  “investment operations that, upon thorough analysis, promises safety of principal and satisfactory return. Operations not meeting these requirements are speculative.”

What outside of business journalism did you use for your research?

For research I use SNL Financial, NAREIT, Yahoo Finance, and Morningstar. Recently I started using FAST Graphs.  I have found that FAST Graphs provides me with some extremely important valuation charting data. I research all of my articles I usually construct my owns charts and graphs (using excel). FAST Graphs is a powerful tool and it tells me if a certain company is trading above or below (or in-line) with earnings trends. I will admit, FAST Graphs is my new addiction.

What mistakes did you make in the beginning?

My biggest mistake was not analyzing all of the risks of an investment. In other words, not focusing enough on what could happen if? As you know, there are some really good companies that have paid out dividends for a long period of time; however, the question I have trained myself to ask myself is “what is the sustainability of the business model?” Once I learned that, I have found that my readers really like reading my articles more. It’s like I tell my kids, “Don’t tell me the good news, just give the bad news.” I owe that to me readers too. They need to know the risks, as well as the returns.

For example, I really like Federal Realty (FRT), the oldest REIT in existence today. The shopping center REIT is over 50 years old and it has paid out and increased dividends for over 45 years. That’s an amazing feat! But, Federal Realty’s common shares are trading around $105 per share and the dividend yield is 2.8%. The company’s earnings multiple (or P/FFO ) is 23.2 – a very high multiple for the sector. So just because I love the track record, I cannot recommend the shares today because there is no “margin-of-safety.”

How did you start writing for Seeking Alpha?

I sent an article to Seeking Alpha and asked them if they would consider publishing it. Since that time, I have grown to become the No. 1 writer in both REITs and Finance. My articles average over 10,000 page views per article and a few weeks ago I had a record of 45,000 page views for one article. Seeking Alpha has grown in size, and I enjoy reading many of the articles written by some leading investment advisors and individual investors.

How did your writing end up in Forbes magazine?

Forbes asked me to write articles for the magazine. My first article appeared in the December 2012 edition. Forbes has an excellent reputation and the editorial staff is second to none. I have been amazed at the degree in which the company has evolved from its 100 year-old paper model to become a multi-channel brand with leading investment and leadership content. There is no doubt that Forbes has assembled some of the best experts in the industry and I’m glad to be a part of the success.

Do you think it is a conflict of interest to be writing about real estate while also involved in the real estate industry?

No. I live and breathe real estate so it’s important for me to stay actively engaged with the fast moving pace of commercial real estate. The most important thing is to disclose any relationships that could be a conflict and also disclose any stocks owned. The most important thing to me is to provide full transparency and I have found that my readers really appreciate being honest and it’s amazing to see the fruits that result from building trust.

Would you foresee becoming a full-time writer, with journalism as your sole source of income?

If you were to ask my wife, she would say that I am a full-time writer now. I work constantly and I usually get my best articles done during the weekend. Sometimes my kids help me pick out titles and I usually try to get my oldest daughter to proof read for me.  I like what I do and I think the next step for me is to increase my research platform. I am also writing a book and one day I would like to teach at the college level.  But I’m always learning and one thing I learned from Ben Graham is that “the most durable education is self education.”

Eric Savitz

Forbes tech journalist leaving for PR job

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Eric Savitz, who covers the tech industry for Forbes and who has been in journalism for nearly three decades, has resigned to accept a position in public relations.

On his Facebook page, Savitz writes, “I’m leaving Forbes to join the strategic communications firm Brunswick Group as a partner in the San Francisco office. While sad to leave behind a 29-year career in journalism, I am totally excited about this new chapter in my life.”

Savitz is the San Francisco bureau chief of Forbes, with the responsibility of leading editorial operations for the San Francisco office, while writing regularly for the Forbes web site and magazine. Eric joined Forbes from Barron’s, where he covered technology form the Palo Alto bureau since 2001.

He previously worked at Barron’s and Dow Jones from 1988-1998. Savitz also wrote the monthly Tech File column for Smart Money magazine form 2004-2006. At Barron’s, he launched Tech Trader Daily, a popular blog providing news, analysis and insights on technology investing, in 2005. He also took over the weekly Technology Trader column in 2006, while continuing to write his own blog.

Savitz has served as a copy editor at Dow Jones News Service, as well as a reporter for Dow Jones Professional Investor Report. From 1998-2001, between stints at Dow Jones, he served as executive editor of The Industry Standard, a San Francisco-based magazine covering the Internet economy.

Forbes billionaires

Billionaire slams Forbes and prefers Bloomberg

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Christine Haughney of The New York Times writes about how Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia is upset with his ranking in the new list of billionaires by Forbes magazine and says he will no longer cooperate with its rankings.

Haughney writes, “A spokeswoman for Forbes Media noted that the prince has plenty to be pleased about: his ranking rose to 26 for a $20 billion net worth from a ranking of 29 the year before for a net worth of $18 billion. The spokeswoman said it’s just $9.6 billion less than the prince claims he is worth.

“On Tuesday morning, Forbes released an article that showed just how long this battle has been simmering between Forbes and its editors. Kerry A. Dolan, who reports on the wealthy and the Forbes billionaire’s list, wrote that Forbes has engaged with the prince over ‘a quarter century of lobbying, cajoling and threatening when it comes to his net worth listing.’ Ms. Dolan added that ‘of the 1,426 billionaires on our list, not one — not even the vainglorious Donald Trump — goes to greater measure to try to affect his or her ranking.’ In one case, the prince grew so upset about a prior ranking that ‘he called me at home the day after the list was released, sounding nearly in tears. ‘What do you want?’ he pleaded.’

“Ms. Dolan said that Forbes had started to further investigate the prince’s net worth based on the guidance of former employees who noted that, based on fluctuations in his company’s stock price, that he was using the public company to inflate his net worth. In fact, the magazine tracked how the prince’s company’s stock price seems to rise in the ten weeks before Forbes locks in its values for the billionaire’s list.

“A Forbes spokeswoman said that it would continue to feature the prince on future lists. Mike Perlis, president and chief executive officer of Forbes, added that the prince had an amicable interview with Steve Forbes before a crowd of several hundred tycoons during the Forbes Global CEO conference in Dubai in October.

“But moving forward, the prince announced he would cooperate with Bloomberg on its billionaires list. Bloomberg just started publishing a billionaires’ list last March after Matthew G. Miller, former global wealth editor at Forbes Media, moved there and started tapping into Bloomberg’s 2,400 journalists to contribute.”

Read more here.

no-error-sign-md

Avoiding errors, and what to do when they happen

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The quick pace of social media and the Web have escalated the importance of getting a story right the first time and avoiding errors as a journalist, said Forbes managing editor for business news Dan Bigman in a conference call with Forbes contributors from New York Tuesday.

“Just correcting an error doesn’t necessarily correct the problem,” Bigman said. “If you fix the mistake later, it is already out in the wild and running amuck, with the quick nature of social media.”

Bigman and Forbes editorial counsel Kai Falkenberg outlined some key practices of good journalism to prevent mistakes from being made the first time around. While many of them are obvious, the topic serves as a good reminder on how to maintain credibility as a reporter and uphold the integrity of news organizations.

“There’s a mindset that people have a much higher tolerance for getting things wrong online, but that’s a misnomer,” Bigman said. “You have a real impact, good or bad, and sometimes real people get real lawyers and sue. But it’s more than self preservation.”

Bad Sources

Citing bad sources are one of the most common ways that a journalist will make an error in a story. Linking to or citing someone else is not the same thing as actually getting the story correct, Falkenberg and Bigman said in the presentation.

“If someone else is wrong and you repeat them, you just double down on their error,” Bigman said.

Avoiding incorrect sources can be done by reading multiple sources before rendering judgment, reading an entire story before linking to it and making sure that the source is current and hasn’t been corrected itself.

Bigman told a story of a business journalist who managed to tank a stock by writing about an old news story about the possibility of United Airlines filing for bankruptcy as if it were a breaking news event.

Additionally, some sources may have an agenda, and it is important to see where an organization that issues reports receives its funding.

You Didn’t Get the Other Side of the Story 

Journalists always need to ensure that they are getting the full and accurate version of every story. With sources and PR people having agendas, if a story is underreported, a journalist runs the risk of getting used and publishing an inaccurate story — even if they reported all the facts they received correctly.

Excuses like “but the company told me so” doesn’t serve as a legitimate excuse because at the end of the day, sources only want one thing. Knowing the source and trusting them is important, but a reporter shouldn’t be friends with them, Bigman said.

If a reporter cannot figure out the agenda of someone they are talking to for a story, they should step away or ask directly. Furthermore, Bigman frowns upon letting a source see a story before it is published, including quotes from the source.

“Ask specific questions to clarify a topic as opposed to sending them a chunk of what you’ve written, Bigman said. “If they’ve said something great, controversial, meaty and then you show it to them and they want to retract it, then where does that leave you?”

Not Skeptical Enough 

Dictation is not journalism, Bigman said during the conference call.

“A good source is not someone who is quotable,” Bigman said. “A good source is someone with accurate information.”

Maintaing a certain level of skepticism when speaking to all sources and researching all information is crucial, and keeping this guard will prevent embarrassing mistakes.

Rushing to Publish

General sloppiness when rushing to publish a story before competitors leads to a majority of mistakes that happen on a daily basis among reporters. Most errors are typo or numbers-related, Falkenberg said.

Bigman suggested to “measure twice, cut once” before publishing a story, meaning that a reporter should double check all numbers, read a story backwards, use spell check and get a second set of eyes to read a story.

“You can tank a stock if you get data points wrong while writing quickly,” Bigman said. “Be careful when writing about earnings of a big company, as it’s usually billions not millions.”

Writing Outside Your Area of Expertise 

When a journalist is assigned to a certain beat, they become an expert in that topic, of the people who matter in the industry and of the companies they cover. When a journalist strays outside his or her area of expertise to report a story, errors may often occur this way.

“Don’t get in the mindset of, ‘Well, this topic was getting traffic so I had to say something,’” Bigman said. “Write about what you know and don’t try to be smarter than you are.”

You Made a Mistake, Now What? 

Every news organization has its own way of handling factual and typographical errors, but Bigman and Falkenberg outlined some practices that are fairly standard across professional agencies.

For smaller typos, whether spelling or data points, the correction should be made in the body of the story, with an acknowledgement of the correction at the top or bottom of the story.

“In the correction, you just want to move forward and say what’s right,” Bigman said. “Just say that something was misstated in the previous story, don’t repeat the error.”

Falkenberg highlighted the importance of due diligence before making a correction so that the reporter doesn’t have to issue a more than one correction by getting it wrong a second time.

For more major errors, its imperative to contact an editor immediately and discuss with someone in higher authority about how to treat the error.

“We (Forbes) very rarely take down posts, and the act of taking down posts generates a lot of coverage itself and often gets magnified,” Falkenberg said. “It’s very hard to undo an error once it’s there.”

 

 

Forbes cover Blakely

Forbes has a smart business model

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Bob Garfield writes for Media Post about how business magazine Forbes has turned itself around with a new business model.

Garfield writes, “Since adopting the new model, Forbes has seen a 67% increase in unique monthly visitors. In January, according to comScore, it attracted 16 million uniques — up 26% year-to-year. Measured by trailing 12 months, digital ad revenue is up 18% since the relaunch and in 2012 Forbes had its biggest digital growth since 2006.

“Now, obviously, these are carefully chosen results — no doubt the result of some fancy cherry-picking. But never mind that. Here are the words that matter:

“‘Up’ and ‘increase’ and ‘growth.’ Oh — and according to Chief Revenue Officer Meredith Levien: ‘The company is profitable, nicely profitable and has been increasingly profitable for the past 3 years.’

“A profitable magazine with a growing audience. A growing, engaged audience. If you click on Forbes.com, you’ll see a (nearly) real-time meter of all news posts, the tally of comments and the tally of shares. The ‘shares’ is a big number — because, as it turns out, readers care about more than elegant prose and artfully constructed narratives.

“‘The thought that those who can inform are only journalists is kind of narrow, bordering on…whatever,’ says Lewis D’Vorkin, chief product officer.”

Read more here.
Forbes web

Forbes online readership up 43% in a year

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Lewis Dvorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, writes about the dramatic increase in the business magazine’s online readership in the past year.

Dvorkin writes, “comScore just released its worldwide numbers, putting Forbes at 24.5 million unique monthly users in January (the green line in the chart below), up 43% from a year earlier. The chart also shows we’ve doubled our audience since June 2010, when we started to transform Forbes.com from a Web site into a publishing platform.

“Everything about our platform is different, from the home page — the digital front door to our brand — to our unique content model. A few months back, I discussed why 1,000 Home Pages were actually better than one in the era of social media. We have 1,000 content creators — journalists, authors, academics, topic experts and business leaders — building individual brands under the FORBES umbrella brand. Yesterday, we launched new home pages, or side doors, for each of them — and our BrandVoice partners, too. These new individualized home pages serve as a jumping off point to a contributor’s posts, photos, videos, comments and more. Here’s my page. My favorite feature is the archive tab, which provides easy access to all my past posts.

“We’re never done releasing new products. Our development road map stretches into 2014. As for the new home pages, we’ll already planning new features and functionality.”

Read more here.

Forbes web

Redesigning Forbes for the digital age

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Forbes chief product officer Lewis Dvorkin was interviewed by Chris Smith of The Guardian in London about how the business magazine’s operations have been overhauled for the new media world.

Here is an excerpt:

What philosophy have you adopted to stay relevant to people’s digital lifestyles?

We have transformed Forbes.com from a website into a publishing platform. We have a core group of full-time reporters and a 1,000-strong contributor network – and all use a distributed set of easy-to-use publishing tools to create content and attract followings around their expertise. They are building personal brands under the Forbes umbrella brand. In doing so, they are making one-on-one connections with audience members — and engaging in conversation with them. Hundreds of contributors (freelance journalists, authors, academics, topic experts and business leaders) participate in an incentive payment programme – the bigger their loyal audience, the more they make. Others find reward in association with the Forbes brand. The new economics of journalism require quality, scale and efficiency. Our new model achieves all three.

How are user expectations evolving around how they manage their digital lifestyles and information?

People want to be participants and decision-makers in the news process. Social media turns everyone into an editor and many into suppliers of information. That means the audience wants its voice to be heard alongside the professional journalist. In some cases that means influencing a news page through up votes. In others, it means the ability to comment and follow a conversation just like you might follow a story. Digital consumers also want to be able to follow those reporters they respect as a first step in personalising their news experience and creating their own personal news feed to share with friend and colleagues. In all respects, they expect the news organisation to find them, rather than the other way around.

Read more here.

Forbes power

The rise of entrepreneurial journalism

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Lewis Dvorkin, the chief product officer at Forbes, writes about the rise of entrepreneurial journalism and how many of the contributors to Forbes.com are experts in the field in which they write about.

Dvorkin writes, “They share their knowledge directly with the reader. I love how Dan Bigman, a FORBES managing editor and former Times business editor, puts it: ‘If you’re good enough to quote, you should be good enough to write.’

“Digital publishing and social media have turned the economics of journalism upside down. Content is everywhere, produced by everyone, not just those who own the presses or control the airwaves or cables. That’s changed the advertising game, too. Media companies can no longer charge for scarcity. In a new world order that requires quality, scale and efficiency, FORBES is taking full advantage of Joy’s Law, one of those principles that impart either science or wisdom. This one comes from Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. He argued that in a fully networked world ‘no matter who you are, most of the smartest people work someone else.’

“For the past few years, we’ve offered the smartest people working for others — or themselves — the opportunity to be entrepreneurial journalists. Many of our 1,000 contributors have been employed by or have freelanced for the top news brands around the world. That includes national, regional and local newspapers; national and regional magazines; the big broadcast and cable television networks; online sites and radio stations. Academics from the most elite universities and learning institutions write for us, too. So do best-selling book authors, management consultants, business leaders and many others with specific expertise. I keep a Google doc open in a tab on my Chrome browser that continuously updates our contributor base. I recently counted more than 100 well-known brands associated with their backgrounds.”

Read more here.