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New NEPA president vows to lead "members into the next generation of publishing".

Robert Williford, Pinnacle Publishing Inc. president and CEO and formerly president of American Health Consultants, was elected 2000-2001 president of the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Assn. during its recent annual meeting. He succeeds Jim Muntz of WD&S Publishing.

NEPA's new vice president is Marjorie Weiner, president and publisher, Philadelphia Division, American Lawyer Media. The new secretary is James Flanagan, president of HCPro, formerly known as Opus Communications. Newly elected treasurer is Robert K. Jenkins, publisher at Health Resources Publishing.

Williford acknowledged that while the "number of members has been shrinking, participation in national and regional conferences has been growing.

"And that's the best value in being a member of NEPA. I'm stunned when people say they're not getting enough out of it anymore. It's a constant learning experience--especially now with the impact of the internet forcing many of us to start all over again.

"I typically bring five out of seven of my employees to NEPA meetings, and it's more than worth the time and money. At Pinnacle we call it 'demystifying the process' of going online. We had revenues of $6 million last year, and we're adding $1 million to that this year based on what I learned at NEPA meetings last year.

"As president, I want mainly to encourage people to participate, to get involved. Come to the meetings. To me, NEPA is more than a name change. We're leading our members into the next generation of publishing."

He also attributed the "shrinking numbers-growing participation" syndrome to the fact that many publishers are buying up others. "Take Aspen, for example--yes, it's buying other newsletter companies regularly, but they remain members even though it's now one company membership instead of four or five. Those staff people still participate in meetings."

Asked about what efforts were being made to attract more "electronic publishers" to a group that recently added those words to its name, Williford said he will continue to try to "bring in new blood. The board and I will support key people outside the industry to come to speak [see p. 2, far-left column]. And we're looking outside the industry to forge reciprocal memberships with other organizations and to swap mailing lists with them.

"The board also approved a new dues category, First-year membership for a company with revenues under $200,000 is $195. That way, we're hoping to attract small start-ups--either, say, a one-person, one-newsletter operation or an electronic publisher new to the newsletter world."

Confronted with the limitations for vendors at the otherwise hospitable Mayflower Hotel (see lead article), the association is looking to other venues. "But reservations have to be made at least a year ahead," Williford said. "We may still be locked into the Mayflower for next year, but that hasn't been determined yet.

"And I'm a little nervous about moving the December New York meeting to Miami this year, but we do expect record attendance."

Asked what his principal priority as president would be, Williford revealed his Southern roots: "Keep the wheels on the wagon.
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jun 15, 2000
Previous Article:Conference underscores newsletter industry's keen interest in the internet--and vice versa.
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