June 11, 2015 Last Updated 9:33 am

Left Right Media, publisher of Citygram, expands to provide agency services to publishers

The publisher is now a recognized Adobe Design Partner and looking to attract other publishers who want to build native smartphone editions using Adobe DPS

The digital-only city magazine for Austin, Texas, Citygram was launched into the Apple Newsstand just over two years ago and continues to publish. Since its launch, the publisher Chris Perez, a former engineer at IBM, has been approached by other publishers impressed with his new company’s approach, looking for help in launching their own apps.

Left Right Media, the company behind Citygram (now a stand-alone app), is now moving into the agency business, offering design and production help to other publishers, collaborating with Walsworth Publishing on the digital strategy for both Bee Culture Magazine and Life in the Fingerlakes.

BeeCulture-iPhone6-380I spoke to Perez and Bo Duncan, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, about their efforts building an agency business that will not only supplement their own publishing efforts, but will likely become their main focus.

“As a small business owner, an entrepreneur, you have to pivot on what the response,” Perez told TNM. “Right now the response is customers coming asking me to build their apps.”

The focus is one smartphones. While Citygram first launched into the Newsstand and for the iPad, it was moving to the iPhone, then Android that drove readership.

“We know for us what drove digital edition growth was releasing on the iPhone and then releasing on Android,” Perez said.

Few publishers, Perez said, have much of a smartphone focus, and so he sees Left Right Media helping publishers, especially those who already have an Adobe Digital Publishing Suite license, produce a high quality iPhone edition to compliment their tablet edition.

BeeCulture-iPhone“They’ve paid the upfront cost of the license so they need to maximize the value,” said Perez.

“We want to work with print publications because we do believe its a great place to start (print), it offers another option,” Duncan said. “We don’t think it would be a good idea to go completely digital.”

Left Right Media is now a recognized Adobe DPS Design Agency, the first in Texas, and looking for more clients. (In addition to mobile app work, the company has also helped the magazine Life in the Finger Lakes design and build its new website.)

As for what they believe other publishers should be doing, they told me a couple weeks – before word hit that the Newsstand would be going away – that launching a stand-alone app was the way to go. Also, that an app needs to offer more than just a digital copy of the print publication.

“I think you have to offer something free for people when they go in,” Perez said. “And I think you have to be in the App Store, not the Newsstand, because no one gets the Newsstand.”

“That’s what blew me away when we first launched Citygram. I saw everyone open us up, then they said they didn’t know how to get to it,” Perez said of his talks with new readers. “Then they would open it up (the Newsstand folder) and we were the only app in there.”

“The less touches it takes to get to the issue the better.”

The original interview with Chris Perez, conducted in 2013 shortly after the launch of Citygram, can be found in the interactive eBook and print book versions of Talking Digital.

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