One of the most successful media transformation stories over the past several years is that of TMB (Trusted Media Brands), originally founded as Reader’s Digest Association in 101 years ago in 1922. From a Chapter 11 filing in 2013, the company is now characterised by a resolute focus on its community-driven, multi-brand and multi-platform model.

Leading the turnaround is Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO, who will be one of our keynotes at the FIPP World Media Congress in Cascais, Portugal from 6-8 June 2023. In her time at TMB, the organisation has never been hesitant with experimentation, including on the technology side.

Bonnie recently sat down with our friends at WNIP, talking to Jez Walters about the turnaround in general and about experimenting with generative AI.

Despite news about lay-offs in Big Tech and media abound, Bonnie remains optimistic. “I’d encourage people to not get stuck in this woefulness pit about the economy and instead focus on the incredible opportunities ahead of us. Ships rise together and I’m optimistic things will get better this year.”

Discounted tickets for the FIPP World Media Congress is available until 1 February (groups of 5+ people) and 14 February (for individuals). Get your tickets now.

Here is more of what Bonnie told Jez (read the full interview on WNIP here).

You’ve been President and CEO for almost 9 years, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen in publishing during that time?

Bonnie Kintzer: That’s a big question. There has been enormous change, from the role that video plays, the power of social media, the advent of TikTok, etc. But I’ve been pleased with how we’ve harnessed these opportunities by asking, “Where do we belong? What’s our community? Where do our brands resonate?”

Taste of Home is your most profitable brand. What plans do you have for it in 2023?

Bonnie Kintzer: We are working on something called ‘Community Cooks’ where we are working to identify cooks all over the country who are doing good things. We’re bringing them in, they’re sharing their recipes with us, and we’re forging a deeper community. This also feeds into our affiliate side because our audience look to us to know what gadgets to buy, what appliances work best, etc – we have a proper test kitchen to assist us with this. It’s an amazing brand.

You’re quoted as saying you’re a “digital and video forward company”. Can you tell us a little more about what you mean by that?

Bonnie Kintzer: You have to be where consumers are. If video is the main way people are receiving information, then we will want to consider video. But people are still reading. It’s not one or the other, it’s not this or that, we will give you the content how you want it. That attitude has really helped us.

ChatGPT. What are your thoughts? And of AI in general?

Bonnie Kintzer: *smiles* You can imagine how my content leadership thinks about it! But we’re going to experiment with it, we’re going to learn, and we’re going to learn from our audience too. I’ve been on it and tried it out, both humorously and seriously, and the results were mixed – I asked it about a bug, and it gave me the correct answer, but a sixth grader could have also told me that. So, it depends, but we will experiment, we will learn and we’ll most definitely react accordingly.

Read the full interview on WNIP here.

Discounted tickets for the FIPP World Media Congress, where Bonnie will speak, is available until 1 February (groups of 5+ people) and 14 February (for individuals). Meet Bonnie and other influential media and media-tech folk there. Get your tickets now.