Interview Q&A with Rich Tehrani, president and group editor-in-chief, TMC

Public Relations for the Telecommunications, Wireless and Networking Industries

Interview Q&A with Rich Tehrani, president and group editor-in-chief, TMC

Welcome to PR Vibes, created by Calysto Communications to provide you with key insights into the publications and events in the telecommunications industry. Today, we’re featuring a short interview with Rich Tehrani, president and group editor-in-chief of TMC. TMC launched Internet Telephony in 1998 to focus 100% on IP telephony. The magazine provides its audience of decision-makers information regarding the purchase of equipment, software and services and offers content from solutions-focused editorial to reviews on products and services from TMC Labs.

To help you better understand Internet Telephony’s focus this year and in the future, we asked Rich to share some of his insight on the magazine and on the future of the telecom industry in general. Enjoy!

PR Vibes Interview Q&A

1. What is the editorial mission of the publication in the next twelve months? Has that changed and why?

Our editorial mission for the next 12 months continues what we started when the publication was launched in February 1998 – to help buyers evaluate IP communications products and services.

I think the evolution of the magazine has been driven by the increased sophistication of our readership – and the amazing level of innovation in the marketplace. Back in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the magazine was all about finding VoIP solutions that not only lowered costs but also provided an acceptable level of quality. Issues like interoperability and voice quality drove much of the content.

As the market evolved and new solutions beyond simple voice have emerged, the topics we cover have changed, but not the concept of how we cover them.

Today, we help service providers evaluate opportunities like FMC and triple play; we show enterprises how to select and deploy unified communications, mobility solutions and open source; we uncover opportunities for resellers; and we keep the developer community informed about the applications that are in highest demand.

We see the fruits of that faith. Internet Telephony is clearly the leading magazine in the IP communications space with more advertising and more total pages than any competitor. We have assembled a group of columnists that represent the widest range of viewpoints in the industry. We have expanded our own testing facilities to become the leading resource for reviewing IP communications products and services, and we have assembled the industry’s best editorial team, one with more experience in this space than
any other.

Personally, I am thrilled that in 10 years, Internet Telephony has become the  leading magazine in the communications space – having taken on publications that are more than a century old. The magazine continues to be the thickest in the market, and its market share continues to grow.

In addition, our company’s investment in TMCnet has returned nicely as our web revenue has been growing at a staggering pace. I recently announced in my blog that TMCnet’s audience growth in the last two months alone more than doubled the traffic of all IP communications sites combined!

2. How long have you been at the helm of this organization?

When I was nine, I worked in the mailroom at TMC. Every summer and holiday you would find me stamping envelopes and lugging boxes. When I was 15, my parents bought me a Commodore 64 for Hanukkah. A few months later, a computer consultant came to TMC and installed a computer but never got around to programming it. I quickly realized I could outsource my job if I did the programming myself. Thankfully, the office computer ran in BASIC, the same language I learned on the Commodore 64.

About three months later, I had the necessary programs up and running, and we had automated. It was at this point I realized the power of technology and was hooked forever. From there I held a number of positions at TMC until I became group editor-in-chief and president about ten years ago.

3. Who is the key target audience?

In general, the target audience for Internet Telephony is anyone evaluating, purchasing, selling or supporting IP communications products and services. Current readership breakdown is 36% service provider; 36% enterprise/ government; 28% reseller/developer/manufacturer.

Currently, Internet Telephony enjoys an international readership in excess of 225,000 individuals every month.

4. What do you see as the most impacting technology/trend for the next 12 months?

There are two answers here.
1) In the communications space, there are a number of trends we will continue to cover such as mobility, WiMAX, SOA, p2p, unified communications and more.

2) In the publishing space, there is a trend toward moving online, community building and lead generation.

5. What expertise does the editorial staff (including freelancers and columnists/bloggers, etc.) bring as a group to TMC’s products, including webinars and podcasts?

We feel we have assembled the absolute best roster of communications and technology writers and editors both in print and online. We count 68 on our editorial staff, including in-house and featured contributors, international freelancers and featured industry columnists/experts/bloggers. Some of our best known writers include: Jon Arnold, Patrick Barnard, Tom Cross, Bob Emmerson, Greg Galitzine, Tim Gray, Richard Grigonis, Tom Keating, Gary Kim, Erik Linask, Peter Radizeski, Art Rosenberg, Tony Rybczynski, David
Sims, Tom Wheeler, Ron Gruia, Michael Khalilian and Charlotte Wolter. We believe no other media company has such a list of top thought leaders covering the markets for them, and we continue to hire the best talent and make these thought leaders available on podcasts and webinars to help our quality content transcend print into other types of media.

6. What are some of the key topics you plan to cover in 2008?

As usual, we look forward to covering the broadest spectrum of subject matter in IP communications. This includes such coverage as IMS, fixed mobile convergence, billing, IPTV, and WiMAX, as well as SOA, Web services, unified communications, the advent of open source telephony, security, mobility, and so much more.

With our vast editorial resources, you’ll find that we cover every niche in the market. And while today’s hot coverage areas will no doubt change in the months ahead, rest assured that we’ll be on the cutting edge of the most important developments that our readers across the wide swath of IP communications are most interested in.

7. How does Internet Telephony try to distinguish itself from other industry publications?

First and foremost, we were the first publication covering IP communications specifically. As such, we remain the longest-running magazine in the space. Second, our dominant market share defines us as the main advertising vehicle for companies selling IP communications products and services. In terms of editorial coverage, I repeat our mission to help companies select and buy products. By creating an editorial environment focused on solutions, we place our readers in the frame of mind to evaluate these solutions while they are reading the magazine. This helps make the advertising messages in the magazine more relevant and, therefore, more effective for our clients.
Finally, TMC Labs has been reviewing industry products and services for over a decade and distinguished itself as one of the first places buyers turn to when making purchasing decisions.

8. Do you offer events or other special services that help to make you unique?

As the publisher of TMCnet, the most-visited Web site in the world focused on IP communications, TMC can offer custom integrated marketing campaigns encompassing print and online elements. Clients can combine branding, thought-leadership and lead generation marketing efforts to accomplish all of their goals.

Our trade shows and conferences – Internet Telephony Conference & Expo – are among the most recognizable in the world and among the best-attended in telecom, and they have been experiencing healthy growth across the board. The hallmark of TMC’s trade shows is our ability to bring buyers and sellers together – helping exhibitors generate greater sales at our events than at any other competitive show. Our show management team is constantly getting “rave reviews” from the vendors they work with and from the
conference attendees who come to learn about the industry. Our Web events (webinars) team is growing, and we have recently begun to see the return on the investment we’ve made in that space as well, with a series of very successful and well-received online seminars. Most important, the number of repeat customers who sponsor live and web
events continues to be very high, which we believe is the best sign that we are meeting/exceeding customer needs.

9. What is the most popular section of your product family and why?

Our Website, TMCnet, is enjoying tremendous readership, with as many as three million unique visitors reading the site in a given month. On average, more than two million people visit TMCnet every month. Our surveys tell us that the most popular sections of the magazine are the product reviews, the industry news and the feature articles. Case studies also rank high with our readers.

10. What do you like most about your position?

I am never bored. I manage editorial direction, talk with industry thought leaders and most important, I get to see my team excel professionally as part of a fast-growing media company team.

11. So what’s keeping you up at night?

How we can do better. Grow faster. How to always over-deliver for our readers/attendees and our advertisers/exhibitors.

12. If you weren’t in telecom, what would you be doing?

It is tough to say, but I could imagine having started a dotcom or software

13. Who do you consider a role model or inspiration?

My father, who launched TMC in 1972. He learned English at age 20 and decided to launch a publishing company some years later. He reminds me that anything is possible if you keep your unwavering focus on your goal.

14. What was the last book you read?

The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, by John Battelle.

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About Calysto

Founded in 1999, Calysto Communications is a full service public relations firm focused solely on the specialized needs of the telecommunications, networking security, and wireless industries. Unlike general technology PR firms, Calysto leverages its deep industry knowledge and intimate relationships with market influencers to deliver Calysto clients unmatched industry mindshare, analyst coverage and media publicity. Calysto has
extensive experience preparing companies for a liquidity event. Calysto works with start-ups as well as public companies, helping them deploy new technologies, gain leadership positions and influence editorial opinion to positively affect their bottom line. Some of our current clients and past experience includes Broadwing Communications, Level 3 Communications, TELLABS, Telica (sold to Alcatel-Lucent), VocalData (sold to Tekelec), SPIRENT, Metasolv (sold to Oracle), Cbeyond, ADTRAN, Qpass (sold to
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