Scratch ’n Sniff!

One magazine, multiple points of creative engagement.

Convene is the magazine produced by PCMA, a nonprofit professional organization for the organizers behind the millions of conferences, conventions, trade shows, and corporate events held around the globe each year that drive economic and social transformation. It’s the goal of our bimonthly magazine to showcase innovation in the way that events are designed and executed, and that emphasis on creativity is reflected in the look and feel of our publication. Not only is every cover an original illustration we commission in collaboration with our design firm Point Five Design, but we try to offer our advertisers—primarily destination marketing organizations and convention centers—unusual ways to capture our readers’ attention.

Our July/August 2023 issue is wrapped in a bellyband, provided according to our specs by Visit Tampa Bay, the destination’s convention and visitors bureau. We make it a point to not coordinate the cover art with the bellyband design because we don’t want to give the false impression that the advertiser had any control over the illustration or the cover story. Plus, the bellyband is meant to stand out, not blend in. Print advertising is an important revenue stream for PCMA, but we keep our editorial and artistic integrity intact.

We used to publish a standalone sponsored directory with our August issue but decided in leaner times to combine the two in one issue. We make a distinction between the regular issue and the directory by giving the latter its own back cover with an illustration by the same front cover artist and printing the entire section in a reverse or upside-down orientation.

In other issues, we offer advertisers their own four-page reverse cover package. The advertiser provides the cover art to look like its own magazine issue, and we write and design the inside sponsored content. I shamelessly stole this idea from a home decorating magazine years ago. What we love about this upside-down approach: It’s an ad revenue opportunity for which we don’t incur extra production, paper, or printing costs.

Lastly, we have a fun scratch-and-sniff insert provided by Visit Seattle in this issue.

With these creative print and finishing options, we always consider cost vs. revenue as well as desired impact for the advertiser, according to our global vice president of business development, Marco Bloemendaal, who added—because he knows how to keep us editors happy—“while focusing on the reader experience.”

Michelle Russell
Editor-in-Chief, Convene, PCMA