IRMACON2023 will be held at the stunning Embassy Suites by Hilton in downtown Portland. This historic hotel is centrally located in Portland, within a 10-minute walk of Lan Su Chinese Garden, Voo Doo Donuts, Powell’s Books, and Pioneer Courthouse Square.

  • Emphasis on member connection to strengthen relationships that we can count on year-round
  • Intensive workshopping and dedicated roundtables in smaller groups around specific, urgent topics brought by our members. Focus on troubleshooting and creating actionable ideas to return home with for every member.
  • Perennial conference favorites, such as ‘Hits & Misses’


6:00-8:30 PM
Welcome to Portland: A Stumptown Synopsis
Hosts: Kelly Mero (Publisher, Arizona Highways, President IRMA) and Joyce Byrne (Executive Director, IRMA)
Keynote Remarks: Sam Stites, Portland Monthly

First-time visitor to Portland? Portland Monthly’s Sam Stites dishes on how to see the Rose City like a local and sheds some light on the inner workings of one of North America’s most interesting city mags.

Sam Stites is Portland Monthly’s travel and outdoors editor, and a veteran reporter for Oregon Public Broadcasting and several papers.


8:00 – 9:00 AM Breakfast

9:00 AM  Welcome from IRMA, Kelly Mero (Arizona Highways, President, IRMA) and Andrea Etzel (KANSAS! Magazine, CPC Chair)

9:15 AM Connection Exercise
Host: Dianne Davis (TulNet)
The popular annual meet and greet speed-style.

10:00 AM Break

10:15 AM Hits and Misses
Host: Andrea Etzel (KANSAS! Magazine, CPC Chair)

A representative of each member magazine presents specific examples, big or small, on any topic, to show what has gone well in the past year–and what hasn’t. You’ll learn a lot and take away some great ideas. Take good notes and plan to follow-up after the session.

11:45 AM IRMA Luncheon

1:00 PM Service, Storytelling, and Wildsam: A Reinvention Case Study
Host: Annie Stoltie, EIC Adirondack Life
Speaker: Zach Dundas, Managing Editor, Wildsam

The Wildsam approach to travel content involves reassessing the relationship between expertise and storytelling, service and narrative that has long characterized most guidebooks (and plenty of magazines). Zach Dundas, managing editor of the Austin-based travel brand, discusses how the nature of digital content informs Wildsam’s print field guides, how reader expectations are evolving in place-based media, and how to go about doing an old thing in a new way.

2:00 PM How to Redesign a Magazine on the Cheap
Host: Emily Stone, Editor in chief, Texas Highways magazine
Speaker: John McCauley, Art and Photography Director at New Mexico magazine; Shelly Bryant, Kansas! magazine, Mike O’Leary, Down East magazine

Back in the old days, a redesign meant bringing in an external consultant, dedicating months to planning and discussing options, buying new fonts, updating the logo….redesigning was a production. Few publications have the money for that these days, but magazines still need to evolve to stay current—a fact more important than ever given how accustomed readers are to the pace of change in the digital world. So, how do you update the look and tone of your brand without breaking the bank? What are some of the small changes you can make that have a big impact?

3:15 PM Break

3:30 PM Operational Pain Points and How to Solve Them
Host: TBA
Speaker: Lisa Heyamoto, Director of Programming and Member Education at LION: Local Independent Online News Publishers

While you may think you don’t have time to take on more work, to focus on strategy, or to grow your business in new ways, you may be wrong. Perhaps it’s how you’re going about your work that’s holding you back from sustainable success. Lisa Heyamoto, Director of Programming and Member Education at LION: Local Independent Online News Publishers, joins us to share some insight on how to rethink your operations so that you can free up your time—and mind—to make your business stronger.

4:30 pm How We Do It: Podcasts
Host: TBA
Speakers: Michelle Kelly (Editor, Cottage Life magazine), Karen McColl (Editor, Yukon North of Ordinary magazine), Robert Stieve (Editor, Arizona Highways magazine)

Join IRMA colleagues as they share their experiences with launching a successful podcast. In this panel discussion, we will discuss the nuts and bolts of what’s required, including software and equipment; how to leverage your loyal brand audience on a new platform; insider tips on how to approach lineups and scripts; and ways to save — and make! — money as you go.

5:45 PM Unplugged Time – Do your own thing, or join a group in the gathering space

5:45 PM Unplugged Roundtable on Mental Health in Our Workplaces
For people leaders: How are you managing your team in stressful times? Have you implemented anything in your workplace to address mental health concerns? How do you motivate your staff when anxiety is high and there’s always so much to do? Come meet your peers and find out what’s worked for them.

7:15 PM Unplugged Dinners in the Downtown Portland area


8:00 – 9:00 AM Breakfast

9:00 AM Across the Multifaceted Universe
Host: Brian Kevin, EIC Down East magazine
Speaker: Anja Charbonneu, Founding EIC and creative director, Broccoli Magazine

Anja Charbonneau understands that community is the backbone of any publishing venture. The indie mag Broccoli, which she founded in 2017, today connects a community of smart, creative cannabis lovers through a “multifaceted universe” of events, books, newsletters, podcasts, merch, and more. How has that universe evolved? How has its expansion affected revenue and staff resources, and what place does the flagship print product hold in it? Charbonneau discusses all this, plus her love of “left-of-center editorial concepts,” the challenges of distribution and fulfillment in a small shop, and more.

10:00 AM Taking The Temperature on Social Media: Live-Polling Q&A
Host: Andrea Lin, Publisher, Texas Highways magazine

What do we really need to care about in the contemporary social landscape? Which platforms are you committing more resources to, and from which are you pulling back? What platforms and strategies are driving engagement? How about revenue? How much staff time are you devoting to dancing on TikTok? IRMites will answer these questions and more in a live-polling exercise that guides a discussion about what’s valuable and what isn’t in the world of social in 2023.

11:00 AM Newsletters and New Audiences: Bryan M. Vance from City Cast
Host: Michelle Kelly
Speaker: Bryan M. Vance, Director of Newsletters at City Cast

Newsletters continue to be a key driver of website traffic and advertiser revenue for publishers. Plus, they are an incredibly useful way to get your brand in front of new audiences—new audiences who will eventually fork over cash for your premium products. But how do you find those new audiences? How can we grow subscriber lists beyond the audiences who already know about us? In an on-stage Q&A with Cottage Life editor Michelle Kelly, Bryan M. Vance, director of newsletters at City Cast, a network of city-based podcasts and newsletters in 11 markets across the U.S, talks about how his company is thinking about efficient subscriber acquisition.

12:00 PM IRMA Luncheon

1:15 PM The Future of Paper: Challenges Facing the Industry and What it Means for Publishing
Host: TBA
Speaker: Toni McQuilken, Senior Editor, Printing Impressions

Frustrated watching your printing bill going up, up, up? The rising costs of producing magazines impacts everyone on the team, and just like contraction of our industry impacted theirs, so too will the tide run the other way. In her recent reporting for the trade mag Printing Impressions, print-industry journalist and editor Toni McQuilken lays bare the challenges facing the commercial printing industry, from labour shortages to supply chain disruptions and everything in between. Join us for an illuminating look at our biggest suppliers and what the future looks like for them — and us.

2:15 pm How We Sold/How We Executed It
Host: Ed Graves
Speaker: Brian Kevin, EIC Down East; Tina Stevenson, Bermudian magazine; Kathe Lemon, Avenue magazine

Sponsored content, or SponCon or branded content, can be the cornerstone of a successful revenue strategy for publishers. But it’s also a big leap from selling traditional advertising. How does a publisher get in on the action? How do you run an in-house content studio efficiently while maintaining editorial integrity? In a small shop, who does the work? What are prospective clients looking for from, beyond leveraging your highly engaged and loyal audience? IRMA colleagues will walk through the workflow of some of their more successful paid-content projects, from the client pitch through carrying out creative.

3:15 PM Break

3:45 PM

4:45 PM IRMA AGM and Close of IRMACON2023

5:45 PM Break

7:00 PM IRMA Awards Dinner and Presentation