If there is one thing you can take away from this episode of PR Talk, it is that Eleni Kehagiaras is a print-first kind of woman. I mean it — her newspapers don’t even have websites. And in a digitally dominated media landscape where publications largely dole out homogenized content, only varying with the “takes” they provide, Eleni has made it her mission to reconnect to local storytellers with community-based businesses.
We don’t want to paint Eleni as someone who refuses to download the latest iPhone upgrade or get sucked into the Facebook wormhole, she just believes in something more. Or maybe she believes in something less — something more minimalist — a belief in stepping back from the information overload of digital platforms and engaging with the community on an intrinsically human level. I said it in the podcast, but I’ll say it here too: we are gasping for air when it comes to positive information, and publications like Eleni’s are our oxygen masks.
Eleni is staunchly addicted to people and connections, so when she heard about the possibility of creating neighborhood publications, she took up arms with N2 Publishing, a franchise-based community publishing conglomerate boasting 800 magazines across the country.
The “Living” Situation
For the past two years, Eleni has acted as sole Publisher for Portland Heights Living and Moreland Living (covering the southeast Portland community of Eastmoreland), and Co-Publisher of Irvington Living and Laurelhurst Living. Keeping in mind that Eleni is the franchise owner of her two magazines, her role as Publisher is much more involved than it sounds. Beyond dealing with logistics and coordination with her parent company (N2 Publishing), Eleni organizes all of the content to bring the magazines together. While N2 handles the printing and distribution of the magazines, it’s clear that the meat and potatoes of the business fall under Eleni’s domain.
Ideal for clients who live or work in Portland Heights or Eastmoreland: Eleni recognizes that placing absolute editorial control on top of her managerial duties would result in a humungous work-load. As a solution, she involves students and members of the community to help out by sending in pictures and guest-written articles for the editorial side, along with business referrals for her advertising space.
Eleni says she is always looking for more content about each neighborhood, so if you have a client who lives or works in Portland Heights or Eastmoreland, send Eleni a pitch. To get your event listed in her publications, you’d better get it to her at least one month ahead, but if you’re a PR professional, you should be well on top of these kinds of deadlines already!
Eleni takes thorough care in selling ad spots to the right businesses. In fact, she actually goes out and meets with neighborhood companies to make sure they do reputable work. She notes that her magazine’s reputation is on the line, so she’ll only advertise ethical businesses worthy of the referral. Eleni has even turned down advertising before because she was skeptical of their practices. If you’ve landed an ad in one of Eleni’s papers, take it as a compliment — you’re providing good service.
Beyond actually selling advertising spots, Eleni told us that she reserves one free ad per month for nonprofits. The nonprofit doesn’t even have to be based in the specific neighborhood, it just needs to have some degree of presence there, so keep that in mind, coverage-happy PR pro’s!
Eleni agrees with us that the “shotgun” advertising approach of getting your company in front of anyone and everyone is overkill. Instead, you should be focusing on targeted, hyper-localized advertising that generate quality leads, converting to meaningful and renewable sales. People don’t want to be told anything from businesses, she says, they want to know something from a business. That is what modern, digital-first advertisers are getting wrong.
“To have a source within your community where you can read and learn about your neighbors, and the businesses in front of you want to build community, it’s a whole different experience.”
Reaching Myriad Audiences in the Digital Age
Eleni takes a risk by being not just print-first, but print-only. She describes the challenge of learning how to put a publication together that suits to the 3, or even 4 different generations living in each neighborhood at one time. Eleni thinks that Millennials will “come around” to publications like hers because we (yeah, I’m one of them) have a natural tendency to want to pick things up. Eleni maintains that the younger children are really engaging with these papers too, due in part to her going into neighborhood schools so kids can partake in article projects.
Again, Eleni isn’t looking to replace digital media and she’s realistic that digital media won’t be going anywhere. Instead, she is looking to fill our nostalgic void for, and desire to return to, the community.
To those interested in getting into publishing, Eleni says that every generation is doing it in specific, different ways — like getting out there and producing blogs, vlogs and websites. Figure out what your comfort zone is and then see how you can most effectively reach people through that medium.
Eleni Kehagiaras has never thought of herself as a journalist. Her practice in writing is scientific and educational, so she admits that she needs another set of eyes on the “colorful, beautiful, fun to read,” articles. In fact, she thinks her papers function much better when she’s not doing the writing. And that’s the great thing about her operation — there are so many people helping out that they truly are community newspapers.
About the guest: Eleni Kehagiaras
Eleni Kehagiaras is Publisher of Portland Heights Living and Moreland Living Magazines, and Co-Publisher of Irvington Living and Laurelhurst Living Magazines. She holds degrees in Biology and Psychology from Portland State University. Eleni enjoyed a long and successful career in the health and fitness industry while also hosting a live daily radio show on health topics, during which time she was named one of the “Top Health Experts” to follow on Twitter by the Huffington Post. She is also Chair of Cardinal Families Health Action Network at Lincoln High School.
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