2024 Conference Speakers

Download the Attendee Guide Full Version June 3 2024 – 15MB

2024 IRMACON Schedule at a glance

IRMACON2024 will be held June 12-15, 2024 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in downtown Charlotte, NC. This hotel is centrally located in Charlotte, within steps of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Illusions. Charlotte is known for its craft beer and southern-influenced food scene, parks and green space, and vibrant neighbourhoods. Weather in June will be humid and with daily highs of 32C/89F. Things to do in Charlotte.

  • IRMACON Goals:
    – 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
    – Conference favourites like ‘Hits and Misses’

Day 1 WEDNESDAY June 12, 2024

6:30-8:30 PM

Welcome to Charlotte: The Queen City
Hosts: Kelly Mero (Publisher, Arizona Highways, President IRMA) and Joyce Byrne (Executive Director, IRMA)

Please join us for a “Welcome to Charlotte” reception to celebrate the kick-off of IRMACON2024. Have a drink, grab a bite, and say hello to meet up with your colleagues from across Canada, Bermuda, and the United States.
Location: Salon D

Day 2 THURSDAY June 13, 2024

6:30 – 8:45 AM Breakfast 

A made-to-order breakfast is served for all guests of the Embassy Suites from 6:30-9:00 AM daily in the 401 Social on the main floor of the hotel. This is free time, head down for breakfast any time you like.

Thursday morning IRMACON sessions are held in Salon A

9:00 AM  Welcome to IRMACON2024
Speakers: Kelly Mero (Arizona Highways, President, IRMA) and Michelle Kelly (Cottage Life, Conference Programming Chair)
Location: Salon A

9:15 AM Hits and Misses
Host: Lauren McKenney, Associate Publisher, Saltscapes
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.

10:15 AM Coffee Break + Sponsor Minute with SFG

10:35 AM What Ails You and How to Cure It
Host: Joyce Byrne, IRMA
Speaker: John Wilpers, Katahdin Media Management
John Wilpers has consulted for the last 14 years with media companies around the world helping them transform into profitable, energized, multimedia operations. From 2010-2021, John was the author of the annual Innovations in Media World Report published by the world association of magazines (FIPP).

In this keynote, John presents a 30,000-foot overview of the biggest challenges facing publishers today — focusing primarily on Revenue, Talent, and Audience — followed by a selection of practical, achievable, proven solutions.

11:45 AM IRMA Luncheon
Relax and get some food! Catch up with colleagues and reflect on the morning sessions.
Location: 401 SOCIAL (Main Floor)

1:00 PM One-on-one meetings with John Wilpers begin
Members who signed up for a micro-consultation with John Wilpers will begin meetings after lunch and continue through Friday.

Afternoon IRMACON sessions are held in Salon A

1:00 PM The Food Section with Hannah Raskin
Host: Andrea Etzel, Publications Manager and Editor, KANSAS! Magazine
Speaker: Hanna Raskin, Editor and Publisher, The Food Section (Charleston, SC)
The Food Section’s mission is to serve eaters across the American South by providing them with the news they need to make their meals more meaningful. It is the home of original, inclusive, and independent reporting about everything that influences how and what we eat and drink in the region today. The Food Section has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, Online News Association, New York University’s Arthur. L. Carter Journalism Institute, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals as one of the best newsletters—about food or otherwise—in the country.

Hanna Raskin joins us to share the story of The Food Section, and to provoke conversation about culinary coverage, ethics and food journalism, and more.

2:00 PM The Road to Reinvention: Redesigning Texas Highways
Host: Amy Kenny, Managing Editor, Yukon, North of Ordinary
Speakers: Andrea Lin (Publisher), Mark Mahorsky (Creative Director) and Emily Stone (Editor-in-Chief), Texas Highways
Texas Highways is debuting its first redesign in a decade, and this time everything is on the table. From logo to paper stock to frequency, the brand is being completely reinvented. Join Andrea Lin, Mark Mahorsky, and Emily Stone for this inspiring and informative hour walking us through the audience research, design and editorial ideas that will bring Texas Highways to life for a new generation of motorists and visitors to Texas.

3:00 PM Coffee Break

3:20 PM Great PR for Magazine Teams: Earning Media on a Shoestring
Host: Errol Laborde (Louisiana Life, Acadiana Profile)
Panelists: Michelle Kelly, Cottage Life; Robert Stieve, Arizona Highways; Peggy Laborde, Producer and Host, WYES-TV

Does your small team struggle with promoting your brand outside of your four walls? Do you wonder how to build relationships that get your special issues and events on the radar in local media? Wonder what makes the ideal person on your team for the job of promoting your brand?

This expert panel have spent years leading regional brands and covering regional stories, and know a thing or who about convincing media that a story is worth covering, and about how to make it a great segment.

This will be an informative panel for editors, publishers, and marketing teams handling their own PR.

4:20 PM Member-led Roundtable Discussions

Join IRMA colleagues to share your experience and learn from others in this member-led conversation. Join a table for publishing, editorial or design, share ideas and solutions with peers. Foster community and collaboration with other IRMA members and come away inspired!
Table Hosts: Manu Keggenhoff, Creative Director/Publisher, Yukon, North of Ordinary; Kelly Mero, Publisher, Arizona Highways; Emily Stone, Editor-in-Chief, Texas Highways

Location: Salon A and Salon B

5:15 PM Unplugged Time – Do your own thing, or join a group in the hotel lounge
Location: 401 Social is open from 5:00 – 11:00 PM

7:00 PM Unplugged Dinners in the Downtown Charlotte area
Join a group and give one of Charlotte’s many exciting restaurants a try.
Location: Meet in the lobby to head out for dinner with your group.

9:00 PM Jazz Club Adventure
Host: John Wilpers
Catch a show and then a green-room interview with the musician at a local jazz venue. Sign up to join this unique small group experience!
Location: TBA

Day 3 Friday June 14, 2024

6:30 – 8:45 AM Breakfast
Location: 401 Social
A made-to-order breakfast is served for all guests of the Embassy Suites from 6:30-9:00 AM daily in the 401 Social on the main floor of the hotel. This is free time, head down for breakfast any time you like.

Friday morning IRMACON sessions are held in Salon A

9:00 AM Welcome to Day Two of IRMACON!

9:05 AM So, I Bought A (Sixty-Year-Old, BELOVED, Outdoor) Magazine

Host: Annie Stoltie, Co-Publisher/Executive Editor, Adirondack Life

Mike Rogge has been in the outdoor media business for years, as a journalist (Powder Magazine, Vice Sports, ESPN) and film producer (appearing on PBS and in the Banff Mountain International Film Fest Festival).

In 2020 Mike’s company Verb Cabin purchased Mountain Gazette, a much-loved outdoor magazine that writer Dick Doworth described as “a free-form, free-spirited favourite” of western mountain lifestyle enthusiasts in the 1960s and 1970s, that had lived many lives in print and then online.

Key to the return of Mountain Gazette has been its commitment to building subscribers, expanding the brand into merch and multi-media, and eschewing click-baity gear reviews for stories about the joy of going outside. All this in a delightful design capturing the enthusiasm of the team that makes it.

In this conversation with Annie Stoltie of Adirondack Life, Mike will share the story of bringing back a 60-year-old publication, leaning into the heritage and ethos of those original issues and building a subscriber base using all the tools of the digital age.

Please note this session will be pre-recorded.

9:35 AM Keeping Up With Editorial Design Trends – Inspo for Everyone
Host: Shelly Bryant, Lead Designer for Sunflower Publishing, Kansas Magazine
Speaker: Sara D’Eugenio, Art Director, Texas Highways, and curator, @arteditdesign

What’s the secret to keeping your editorial brand fresh and connecting with readers? Sara D’Eugenio wants to share her favourite trends, spreads, and treatments from around the world of print design. When she isn’t focussed on layouts for Texas Highways, Sara is busy curating and sharing inspirational images at @arteditdesign. Identifying what’s on trend and what’s cutting edge keeps your pages relevant, and Sara will share which magazines and design/edit teams are creating looks to lead print design into the second half of the decade.

10:35 AM Coffee Break + Sponsor Minute with Specialized Fulfillment Services

10:55 AM How to Make Local Media Profitable
Host: Annie Stoltie, Co-Publisher/Executive Editor, Adirondack Life
Speaker: Ted Williams, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Queen University of Charlotte; Media Consultant and Former Charlotte Agenda and Axios Local guy

Ted Williams has a passion and a knack for building successful businesses. He founded the popular — and profitable —  Charlotte Agenda newsletter, which grew to 1,700 paid supporters and $2.2M in revenue before it was sold to Axios Local. After a stint as general manager for Axios Local, Ted is now in an advisory role and consulting and teaching entrepreneurial business students at Queens University of Charlotte. Ted believes that local news can be profitable, and in this conversation, he will share some of the secrets to building successful digital products, how to sell advertising to local retail businesses, and how to build high performing small teams.

11:30 AM IRMA Luncheon and AGM
Location: Salon D

Afternoon sessions will be held in Salon A

1:30 From Curation to Connection: A renewed view of the role of magazines
Speaker: Käthe Lemon, Avenue. Pre-recorded.

In this pre-recorded session, Käthe Lemon shares how Avenue is remaking itself as a connector rather than a curator of content, and has reinvigorated its relationships with readers, advertisers, and custom publishing clients.

2:00 The Secrets of Successful Anniversary Packages
Host and Panelist: Ed Graves, Publisher, New Mexico Magazine
Speakers: Will Grunewald, Editor in Chief, Down East; Alysha Vandertogt Senior Editor, Cottage Life; Steve Gleydura, Editor in Chief, New Mexico Magazine; John McCauley, Art and Photography Director, New Mexico Magazine

We’ve all got them: Anniversaries. But what’s the secret to keeping anniversary packages and celebrations fresh and engaging for our audience? (Not to mention intellectually stimulating for the editors and designers.) And what about brand extensions, digital programs, events and partnerships? How to know what it is, when it should happen, and how to sell it to advertisers.

This panel will look at what it takes to deliver lively and original content in Anniversary Issues, and how to generate new packaging ideas that will generate revenue and buzz for your brand.

3:00 PM Coffee Break

3:20 – 4:30 PM Member-led Roundtable Discussions

Including! Magazine Show and Tell led by Nathan Gunter, Editor-in-Chief, Oklahoma Today
Got a great editorial execution to share with the group? In this lively session for editors and art directors, colleagues will share ideas for packages and stories that really wowed their audiences. Spoiler alert: This is a great spot to pick up ideas for your own title!

Join IRMA colleagues to share your experience and learn from others in this member-led conversation.

4:30 PM Close of IRMACON2024 and Unplugged Time

7:00 PM IRMA Awards Dinner and Presentation



Thank you to Keith Whitney of Arizona Highways, for designing the IRMACON2024 logo.

IRMACON2024 Speaker Bios (PDF)

Download the 2024 IRMACON Schedule at a glance (PDF)

Meet IRMA’s sponsors