Let me tell you about the greatest guy I never met. Charlie Horton founded two trade magazines, and I had the pleasure to work on both his monthly PHCP wholesaler and contractor magazines for 20 years.
I never met the man because he died six months before I walked through the front door of his company.
But I’ve kept a copy of an Aug. 4, 1983 memo Horton mailed out to would-be advertisers to drum up business for his second magazine. It’s peppered with plenty of chestnuts on what it takes to create and run a business – particularly one that’s relatively small while going up against considerably bigger competition.
For me, I keep these four 35-year-old pages – typewritten and complete with a staple – since it clearly spells out what makes a successful B2B trade magazine, and reminds editors of what they need to do to make it so:
“Maybe something else counts – like knowledge of the industry; like constant involvement in its affairs; like continuing face-to-face encounters with thousands of its people; like an intense commitment to the progress and well-being of the industry. One hundred percent of our loyalty, 100 percent of our interest, 100 percent of our commitment is right here – and it does make a difference.”
Charlie’s philosophy has been my philosophy ever since. Editors don’t just serve as reporters, but as one-part cheerleader to the readers and one-part ambassador to the industry at large for their behalf.
I’ve written a version of this editor’s note a few times now. The first was for an entirely different industry than ours. But I’m a quick learner, and I knew I could count on Charlie’s words to guide me through.
After covering this industry for a couple of decades, I’m not a rookie, but everyone should be prepared to learn something new most every day. In the meantime, I’ll keep counting on Charlie’s words.