VOL. 126 | NO. 234 | Thursday, December 1, 2011
VIP Memphis Relaunches as 4Memphis Mag Under New Ownership
By Sarah Baker
4Memphis magazine, formerly VIP Memphis Magazine, is under new ownership.
The new entity, 4Memphis Publishing LLC, is comprised of publisher Jim Walker, owner of Eden Spa & Laser and an officer with Merchants & Planters Bank; the Levy family of Oak Hall Inc.; Jay Mednikow of Mednikow Jewelers; Joel Hobson of Hobson Realtors; Judy McLellan of Crye-Leike Realtors Inc.; and Amy Howell of Howell Marketing Strategies LLC.
With the tagline “New name. Same great coverage,” the revamped magazine hits stands Friday, Dec. 2, at more than 80 distribution sites.
The road to 4Memphis’ new ownership came about when Walker, a lifetime Memphian in the residential mortgage business, called then-publisher Kat Semrau with a proposition she couldn’t refuse.
“I said, ‘Y’all have done a magnificent job of creating a magazine, but as someone on the outside looking in, you seem to be undercapitalized,’” Walker said. “I didn’t know any of the dynamics or anything else, but they obviously needed some help in selling ads.”
4Memphis was previously owned by Semrau, under the entity Southern Society Publishers out of Jackson, Tenn. Before that, Semrau owned the Memphis franchise rights to VIP Memphis Magazine, which was part of a nationwide franchise network called VIP Media Group Inc. that still exists today, including publications such as VIP Jackson and VIP Murfreesboro.
“Southern Society Publishers bought the VIP franchise originally and then dropped it in exchange for the rebranding of the magazine under its current form of 4Memphis,” Walker said. “(Kat) took it in a different direction and I loved the direction she had taken it in. As a customer, I had kind of done some decisions on where I was going to do my ad dollars next year.”
Semrau agreed, and Walker began calling his close circle of friends and business partners – all of whom have a history of advertising heavily in other “high-end” publications – to get them on board.
“Every one of them said, ‘We love the whole high-end advertising through this media and at the same time, we’d like to see improvement,’” Walker said. “I didn’t even have to go beyond my A-list.”
Walker said 4Memphis is the same upscale style of publication as it was previously – with photographs of social benefits for local nonprofits, as well as culinary, interior design and fashion spreads – except more focused on the city and its core businesses.
He plans to strengthen 4Memphis’ content by shedding light on the city’s real estate landscape, as well as Memphis’ philanthropic sector from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to Big Brothers Big Sisters and everything in between.
“There are so many great things going on in Memphis that aren’t covered,” he said. “A monthly publication that covers the nonprofit sector can dig deeper into those and write about them, and at the same time, do the same thing that the people who are going to these benefits and funding the nonprofit sector are doing.”
One aspect that will set 4Memphis apart from other publications is providing a needs list for the featured charity.
“It always amazed me you have three pages of photos of something that goes on at a Le Bonheur Club event, all we’ve got to do is drop one photo and put a needs list,” Walker said. “We’ll turn our magazine into a miniature fundraising event for every event we cover.”
4Memphis’ website, 4Memphis.com, is currently up and running, and the magazine’s December edition – which has a focus on the Enchanted Forest at the Pink Palace Museum and other charitable events that took place in November – hits newsstands Friday, equipped with “A Note From Kat,” explaining the transition.
“4Memphis has a new force of energy coming and taking my place,” Semrau said. “The people who make this energy force have always lived and been a part of Memphis, they love and admire the direction the magazine has gone, and want to keep the momentum going.”