NOVEMBER 19, 2013
Started in 2008 by West Virginian Nikki Bowman, New South Media, Inc. specializes in all things West Virginia. With five regularly published magazines and one more in the making, New South Media is thriving in the ever-changing magazine industry.
Each magazine published under New South Media contains it’s own unique style, however Bowman described each magazine’s overall mission as “an attempt to change the perceptions about West Virginia, and show all that’s worth being proud of as a West Virginian.” Bowman emphasized the idea that before West Virginia can move forward, it must first abandon the preconceived stereotypes.
Before starting New South Media, Nikki Bowman worked as an editor for several magazine firms in Chicago, Washington D.C, and Mississippi. However, after being an editor for a large industry, Bowman realized that she could start her own magazine firm. By being the owner of her own company, Bowman could make all the decisions for herself, a privilege she had not previously experienced.
According to Bowman, 80% of magazines fail within their first year. For the magazines that survived the one-year mark, 80% of those will fail after the second. “It’s not a very predictable venture,” says Bowman. In order to ensure success, Bowman talked to anyone and everyone that would offer feedback for her proposed magazine company. “I talked to focus groups, religious groups, advertisers; anyone who would listen.” After a full year of planning, Bowman released her first magazine: WVLiving.
With the technology boom in full effect, magazine firms have been forced to react accordingly. “It’s no longer good enough to take print magazine and put them into digital format,” stressed Bowman. New South Media is now producing podcasts, imbedding videos, and making the overall experience more interactive. However, Bowman firmly believes that the print magazine will never go away. “People like to handle print version; it’s just a completely different experience.”
“We exist because of the support from our readership and our advertisers. I think people had an emotional response to ‘WVLiving’ because they were very proud of West Virginia.” -Nikki Bowman, New South Media
Like any publication company, readership is key. Without a vested audience, one cannot expect to stay afloat in the magazine industry. Bowman attributes her success to finding a niche in the market. “No one was doing this sort of thing before ‘WVLiving,’” explains Bowman. Before ‘WVLiving’ and New South Media’s other publications, West Virginia didn’t have a magazine that solely focused on the state itself. With over 11,000 fans on Facebook, New South Media is well on its way to continued success.
Even though New South Media is written in and about the state of West Virginia, all of their publications circulate throughout the world. Recently, New South Media partnered with Apple and Kindle, allowing their magazines to be bought and read online. Countries like India, England, and Germany make up a large portion of the overseas readership. The outside readership of New South Media is integral to the company’s overarching mission: changing the perceptions of West Virginia.
This coming January, New South Media is planning to launch a new publication. This magazine, titled “West Virginia Focus,” will bethe sixth magazine published by New South Media. In describing the new magazine, Bowman likened it to a two-sided coin. “If you’re looking at a coin and ‘WVLiving’ is one side, which is everything to be proud of, there’s also another side to that coin. There are issues as business owners, as West Virginians, that we need to address as a state in order to move our state forward.”
“[WVFocus] will be more of a toolkit on how you grow businesses because I firmly believe that the future of the state lies in us being able to train and teach people to be entrepreneurs.” -Nikki Bowman, New South Media
Of New South Media’s publications (‘WVLiving,’ ‘WVWeddings,’ ‘WVOutdoors,’ ‘Morgantown’, and the Sports Travel Guide’), ‘WVFocus’ is perhaps the most unique. Highlighting issues such as fracking, education, and local businesses, ‘WVFocus’ hopes to build a better state one issue at a time.
With New South Media approaching five years of business, it’s safe to say that Nikki Bowman and the rest of her staff have made it in the magazine industry. Bowman’s ability to create an original product has not only provided a career, but it has also been instrumental in the rebranding of West Virginia.