Homing in on business women
Hugh Oram profiles Rosemary Delaney, publisher of Women Mean Business magazine
When Rosemary Delaney launched her Women Mean Business (WMB) glossy magazine 18 months ago, it was the culmination of a long-held dream to own her own publishing property. Delaney had been in the media business for almost 20 years, so she knew all the ins and outs, the potential that existed and the pitfalls which could threaten progress.
In her early days in media, she worked for the short-lived Century Radio, then for a free advertising paper called Dandelion, which was owned by Ralph Ingersoll - yes one and the same media mogul who had such a tangled and ultimately litigious relationship with Eamon de Valera and Vincent Jennings at the old Irish Press group.
After that, came eight years running Mac Communications, before moving to Neworld Associates branding and design consultancy, again as managing director. But always at the back of Delaney’s mind was her ambition to have her own media business.
So WMB came about in the summer of 2006. The idea had been with her for about six years, but she had kept her plans on hold as she felt the business climate was not quite right. When she did launch, she was confident she had got the timing correct.
WMB caters for business women right across the board. Delaney felt other publications simply were not carrying enough news and features coverage relevant to women working in business, whether as employees or self-starters with their own businesses. So it is simple: WMB is for females, aged 27 and over and who are in a salaried job.
Delaney would be the first to admit that publishing has been a big challenge and it is an area of business where you need deep pockets. What she has produced is a focused, niche market product that shows invention. A publisher must be both creative and commercial in what you do. Reader reaction so far has been encouraging.
WMB features include ‘Women Who Launch’. Karen Jackson, the brainchild behind Gardini.ie, the online one-stop shop for balcony needs, was asked about what made her start up in business. Other recent interviewees have included Melanie Verwoerd, executive director, Unicef Ireland and former South African ambassador to Ireland.
A key part of her success with the magazine has been building up a database of excellent writers, people like Sunday Times personal finance contributor Jill Kerby and Karlin Lillington, technology writer with The Irish Times.
Her portfolio of contributors is not limited to female writers, not because some people might say she is sexist but more because it would be a short-sighted policy. WMB is produced bi-monthly with a publisher’s statement of 7,000 copies, some through controlled-circulation subscriptions and others via newsagent sales.
She hosted a conference in the Shelbourne Hotel this month where the speakers included Jacqueline Gold of Ann Summers (see Marketing, September 2005); Danuta Gray, 02; Hilary O’Meara of Accenture; the internationally-renowned motivational speaker, Jack Black and Kristina Grimes, the Irish finalist in The Apprentice with Sir Alan Sugar. The seminar got backing from Bank of Ireland, Irish Life and O2.
Rosemary Delaney launched WMB Publishing to highlight issues affecting women right across the business spectrum. She now hopes to broaden the WMB concept by staging regular themed seminars and developing the title.
Delaney puts a lot of emphasis on networking. She developed close links with the Periodical Publishers Association in Ireland (PPAI) and chaired the grouping between 2003 and 2005. She had to gracefully retire as it was proving too time-consuming.
She is now a member of the new Press Council, chaired by ex-TCD provost Professor Tom Mitchell, with former Labour TD and media lecturer, John Horgan as ombudsman. Delaney is the only female media representative on the council and she sees it as a useful way of allowing people make a complaint about print without expense.
Delaney feels women in Ireland are under-represented in business and politics. She also says that while the media was under-representing women in business, something she is now trying to put the matter right. The recent general election did nothing to right the political wrong, so perhaps this is another career path Delaney might pursue.
Any government cabinet table could do with a woman of her organisational ability.
While Delaney has a long-held affection for print, she recognises online media and its growing influence. Newer generations coming along have a different approach to media consumption and there is no doubting the growing appetite for online.
But the emphasis is on building up her site by turning it into a wide-ranging multimedia platform. As more Irish women move up the business ladder, expect to see that reflected in WMB. While more women here are putting money into start-ups, Irish women are still playing catch-up with their American counterparts.
In the US, half of all private businesses are owned by women. If and when the trend was to take hold on this side of the Atlantic, Delaney and WMB Publishing wants to be there to capitalise on the opportunities and make maximum dividends.
Hugh Oram is a freelance writer and author of The Advertising Book - the History of Irish Advertising
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