In the midst of many changes at Atlantic Media comes news that The Atlantic Monthly publisher Elizabeth Baker Keffer is stepping down to head up Atlantic Live, the company’s new-ish events arm. An 18-year Atlantic veteran, Keffer was in marketing and sales before helping launch the events programs (run as part of the advertising department) when David Bradley bought the company in 1999.
“The events business has been at the center of a lot of advertising growth over the past 10 years,” Keffer told us. “Three quarters of our top advertisers have a strong event relationship with Atlantic—a big part of their annual commitment to us involves events produced by us. The event revenue is now about 20 percent of the total advertising-supported revenue, and it's growing quickly. It’s seven figures and it’s profitable. It signals that we want to have a real focus on continuing to grow events.”
The Atlantic Live division launched last year, and until recently was run by Jennifer Swint. Keffer decided to take on the position because she had helped found the department—and because a move to New York with many other Atlantic Media employees wasn’t in the cards.
Atlantic Live produces three types of events: branded events that purely entertain business partners or readers; added-value events that tie into an overall advertising commitment; and fee-based sponsorship events that are produced for clients who don’t advertise with the company but who want access to Atlantic Media’s audience and content. Clients include Maybach, G.E., Booze Allen Hamilton, DHL, Lexus, and Boeing.
Atlantic Live is set to produce roughly 120 events next year, and Keffer estimates 50 percent will take place in Washington. “We have a really great footprint in Washington, thanks to our many publications, and we’re able to draw speakers, members of Congress, trade-association executives, lobbyists, think-tank members, etc.,” she said. “We’re at that nexus to help advertisers produce targeted events to get visibility with congressmen and women—decision makers in Washington. The sweet spot for us is 25-to-75-person thoughtful conversation events, be it a speaker panel or an intimate dinner.”
In her new role, Keffer says she’ll be focusing on growing the business by “developing new event concepts, developing partnerships, and working with senior clients as they develop ideas and as we bring proposals to them.” Atlantic Media currently partners with the Aspen Institute to produce the Aspen Ideas Festival, which last year garnered nearly a dozen sponsors whose fees were a straight revenue source for Atlantic. Keffer says she hopes to develop similar partnerships.
Keffer will maintain her publisher role until a replacement is found, which is likely to be in February or March.