IRMACON2024 will be held 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’

WEDNESDAY 6/12

6:00-8:30 PM
WELCOME RECEPTION
Welcome to Charlotte: The Queen City
Hosts: Kelly Mero (Publisher, Arizona Highways, President IRMA) and Joyce Byrne (Executive Director, IRMA)

THURSDAY 6/13

8:00 – 9:00 AM Breakfast

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

9:15 AM Hits and Misses
Host: Todd Goodyear (Downhome Publishing)
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 Break

10:30 AM What Ails You and How to Cure It
Host: TBA
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

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.

1:00 PM The Food Section with Hannah Raskin
Host: TBA
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: TBA
Speaker: 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 Break

3:15 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, Broadcast Jounalist

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.

4:15 PM Member-led Roundtable Discussions

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

5:15 PM Unplugged Time – Do your own thing, or join a group in the lounge

7:00 PM Unplugged Dinners in the Downtown Charlotte area
Join a group and give one of Charlotte’s many exciting restaurants a try.

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!

FRIDAY 6/14

8:00 – 9:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Welcome to Day Two of IRMACON!

9:15 AM Keeping Up With Editorial Design Trends – Inspo for Everyone
Host: TBD
Speaker: Sara DEugenio, Art Director, Texas Highways, and curator, @arteditdesign

What’s the secret to keeping your editorial brand fresh and connecting with readers? Sara DEugenio 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.

10:15 AM Break

10:30 AM TBD

11:30 AM IRMA Luncheon and AGM

1:15 PM TBD

2:15 PM The Secrets of Successful Signature Editorial Packages

We’ve all got them: editorial packages we run every year. But what’s the secret to keeping them fresh and engaging for our audience? (Not to mention intellectually stimulating for the editors and designers.) And what about introducing a new package theme or program? 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 on repeating themes, year after year, and how to generate new packaging ideas that will generate revenue and buzz for your brand.

3:15 PM Break

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

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

430 PM Close of IRMACON2024 and Unplugged Time

7:00 PM IRMA Awards Dinner and Presentation

SATURDAY 6/15

CHECK OUT / NO FURTHER PROGRAMMING

IRMA Logo Contest

IRMACON Logo Contest

HELD OVER/EXTENDED TO OCTOBER 31!

Calling all IRMA members! We want to see your designs for a special logo for next year’s conference in Charlotte, NC. The IRMA Logo Contest is a friendly competition that gives all of our members and sponsors a chance to create this special emblem.

Here’s what you need to know:

The destination for IRMACON2024 is Charlotte, NC, and we’ll be staying at the Embassy Suites Uptown.
Key Contest Dates
• Contest entry deadline: Friday, October 27, 2023  OCTOBER 31 2023!
• Winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Contest Guidelines

• The winning logo will be used to promote the 2024 conference in Charlotte, North Carolina
• Logo must be appropriate to be used in a variety of sizes for website, printed and digital materials such as a postcard, promotional literature, the e-newsletter, stickers, gift bags, slide shows, etc.
• Winner must be able to supply a high-res vector art file
• 4 colour preferred but must also be suitable for use in B&W, transparent background etc.
• Must reflect the spirit of IRMA and the conference’s location in some way
• Must include the year of the conference (2024); inclusion of specific dates is optional (June 11-15, 2024)
• Designers do not have to attend the conference to win
• All entries become the property of IRMA

Who Can Enter?

• Members and sponsors

Who are the Judges?

Your fellow members: Staci Miller (Arkansas Online), Tiffany Brett (Downhome) and Gabby Boyer (The Bermudian)

The Prizes

• Each member or sponsor entrant will receive a $50 credit* towards either an IRMA Awards 2024 entry or an IRMACON2024 registration.
• Use of logo in all IRMA materials related to the conference, the IRMA website and social channels and recognition of designer’s name
• Winner’s certificate and announcement to members of the winner
• Bottle of champagne for the table of the winning entrant (must be present at 2024 IRMA awards to win the champagne)

*One credit per individual, multiple submissions will earn one credit.

Send entries by October 27th to:
Joyce Byrne
Executive Director, IRMA
irma@regionalmagazines.org

Questions? Call Joyce 416-886-8114

Examples of previous logos

IRMACON 2019 Charlotte Logo

IRMACON2023 Schedule

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’

FRIDAY 5/5

6:00-8:30 PM
WELCOME RECEPTION
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.

SATURDAY 5/6

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

SUNDAY 5/7

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
TBA

4:45 PM IRMA AGM and Close of IRMACON2023

5:45 PM Break

7:00 PM IRMA Awards Dinner and Presentation

MONDAY 5/8

CHECK OUT / NO FURTHER PROGRAMMING