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Back in 1996, during the earliest days of the web browser, the magazine-business B2B magazine, Folio:, featured a youthful-looking custom publishing “pioneer” named Rex Hammock on its cover as part of a story on the nascent move by custom magazine companies into digital media. Earlier this week, 20 years later, the author of the first story, Tony Silber, caught up with Rex for an update on whatever happened to that thing called the internet.
Here’s Tony’s introduction to the updated Q&A with Rex. The full story can be viewed here.
In September 1996, nearly 21 years ago, Folio: published a cover story on the state of custom publishing. The article was organized as a quasi-Q&A, posing 10 questions custom publishers were asking themselves at the dawn of the digital age as their businesses were fracturing. Suddenly alien ideas like HTML — and alien platforms like Compuserve and America Online — were emerging, and print-based media services firms were worried about the impact on their business.
The article asked several custom-publishing sources to provide answers for each question. The most prominent of those sources was Rex Hammock, owner of an eponymous custom content agency, and one of the pioneers in a nascent market — using high-quality content in a magazine format as a communications vehicle for marketers. Hammock is also the founder of Rexblog.com, which goes back to the year 2000, and has been consistently and faithfully maintained in all those years — a rare accomplishment by itself, without even considering that it’s also been a media-business thought leader all that time.
Recently, Rex suggested to me that we revisit that Q&A, and try to make sense of the questions and answers from the nineties and seek their corollaries for 2017. The frequently fascinating results follow.
Continued | Foliomag.com
Happy Valentine’s Day! For the folks here at Hammock headquarters, today started like any other Tuesday. Well, that is, until a special visitor dropped by the office around 9:30.
If you know me at all, then you know I am a hardcore Nashville Predators fan. On the windowsill behind my desk, I have three signed hockey pucks, a miniature autographed helmet, a miniature autographed hockey stick, a sticker and two bobbleheads.
So imagine my surprise and excitement when Gnash—the Predators’ lovable saber-tooth tiger—entered the building dressed as Cupid. There was no doubt who he was coming to see—after all, who at Hammock loves the Predators more than me, right? It turns out my husband, Stephen, arranged this dancing/singing telegram more than a week ago. He called Natalie, our office manager, to check my calendar and make her aware that someone was coming by the office.
Gnash danced as Frank Sinatra serenaded me from an iPod. He gave me a bag of Predators goodies, a box of chocolate, Popcornopolis popcorn and a Hat Trick bouquet (three red roses). We tried dancing, too, but I have to be honest: Dancing with a saber-tooth tiger can be a bit difficult. I have to say, though, that this may be my favorite gift ever. Stephen has never been able to surprise me with a gift, so this was the best.
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t spend all of our time at Hammock Headquarters in downtown Nashville. When we’re not in the office, you can often find us spending time outdoors, watching a sporting event or catching a concert at one of many Nashville music venues.
Before and after hours, our fearless leader Rex enjoys riding his bike to and from the office. “I try hard to do it at least twice a week,” he says. “In 2017, my goal is three. I started doing this about four years ago and it has become a part of my life—a good part. And certainly one of the most fun parts—except when people blow their car horns at me.”
But Rex isn’t the only one who enjoys being outdoors. Our designers, Kerri and Lynne, both love staying active outside. Kerri likes to hike nearby parks and walk and run for exercise. In the summers, you can probably find her relaxing by the pool or spending time with her husband. Lynne enjoys biking with her friends, and she’s also an avid swimmer. Speaking of swimming, Lena does it weekly with a local swim team. She hasn’t competed yet, unless you count competing for craziest person ever by doing a polar bear plunge (water temperature: 38 degrees).
Before 2016 gets too far in the rearview mirror, we wanted to reflect back on some of our favorite entertainment picks from the past year. Here are a few of Hammockers’ recommended movies, TV series, books and (since Hammock HQ is nick-named Music City) concerts of 2016.
John’s top movies were “Hell or High Water” and “A Man Called Ove.” He also loved HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Netflix’s “Flaked” and BBC’s “Fleabag.” From 2016’s reading list, he enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, but he also recommends Thomas Mann’s classic Buddenbrooks, and a Pulitzer Prize winner, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
Kerri’s favorite movies were “Moonlight,” “Nocturnal Animals” and “Hell or High Water.” She also became a “Game of Thrones” fan, managing to watch all six seasons in 2016. Her concert highlight of the year was seeing Todd Snider at the Ryman Auditorium for his 50th birthday.
Emily’s favorite show of the year was Marc Cohn, famous for “Walking in Memphis.” “He played at City Winery, a great, new-ish Nashville venue that’s perfect for singer-songwriters like him,” she says. Besides regular check-ins on Nashville’s music scene, Emily has also lately been on an Ernest Hemingway kick.
Happy New Year! After fortifying ourselves with a little more coffee than usual (was New Year’s Eve really only three days ago?), we at Hammock gathered today at our weekly meeting to reveal some of the gifts we received and fun stuff we did over the holiday break.
Puppy love was the theme of Christmas for many. Emily, while admittedly not a dog person, enjoyed snuggling with her family’s bichon puppy all week. Megan (see left) was thrilled to find out she’ll get to bring home a Maltipoo puppy in February. Natalie‘s new German shorthair pointer puppy proved to be the family favorite despite chewing the household’s shoes. John found out his beloved Portuguese water dog is not actually a Portuguese water dog—it’s a poodle, discovered thanks to a friend’s insistence on—and gift of—a DNA test (see right).
We laughed until our sides hurt when Julia told us about accompanying a friend to see a Nashville cat show sponsored by The Cat Fancier’s Association. Because of her, we’ll all dream of bejeweled cat palaces full of fluffy and temperamental Maine Coons.
Kerri spent the break seeing Oscar-buzz movies like Jackie, Moonlight and Nocturnal Animals. Jamie traveled to see family in Los Angeles and toured Griffith Park (see right) and other locations from the movie musical La La Land. Taylor, a New Orleans native, enjoyed a Christmas lunch with friends at Antonie’s, a famous Big Easy landmark.
Some of us were more active than others: Lena braved the Polar Bear Plunge, Steve took advantage of the warmer-than-normal weather to plant trees and bushes around his house, and Rex skiied the slopes of Vermont. (We’re happy to say the boss came home with all limbs intact.)
However you spent your holidays, we hope you had a blast and have returned refreshed and ready to take on your corner of the world!
We had seven trips to the Final Four and four trips to the finals before we won it all. We just kept working very hard at it. We made our own breaks. We had to really visualize ourselves that entire time getting to the top of the mountain, and we finally did.
Pat Summitt, the winningest basketball coach in NCAA Division 1 history, passed away today, June 28, 2016, at the age of 64. The head coach for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols for 38 years, she retired with a record of 1,098–208. She led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA championship titles, and they were the runners-up five other times.
Summitt was known for her stony glare on the court sidelines, but players remember her for the impact she made on their lives, education and athletic careers. In addition to her coaching record, Summitt also boasted a 100 percent graduation rate among players.
In the March/April 2003 issue of American Spirit, which Hammock publishes with our client, The Daughters of the American Revolution, writer Dennis McCafferty spoke with Summitt about her life, accomplishments and coaching philosophy. Continue reading:
Natalie Willis is the first smiling face you see when you emerge from the elevators at Hammock headquarters. As manager of administration, she handles ad sales, production and circulation for various publications, assists the CEO and COO, manages accounts payable, helps with budgeting and expenses, is responsible for events … basically she keeps the office humming in every way imaginable.
Where are you from originally and where did you grow up?
I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My parents were missionaries during the few years of my life, and we moved around during my preschool years. I lived in Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee before we settled in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, where I started second grade and attended college.
Where did you go to college and what was your degree?
Taylor Zimmermann, project manager at Hammock, is a big part of the management team for H2U’s monthly newsletters, is in charge of magazine ad tracking and approval, and is responsible for social media marketing for Hammock. (Though not an official part of her job description, she’s the primary reason CEO Rex Hammock gets his assigned writing in on time.) Taylor cheers for the Crimson Tide, knows all of New Orleans’ nooks and crannies, loves traveling and (shhhhh!) is a hula-hooping champ.
Where are you from originally and where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in New Orleans. I grew up in a part of New Orleans called Metairie.
Where did you go to college and what kind of degree did you get?
I went to the University of Alabama and graduated with a marketing degree with a concentration in global business.
What did you do before coming to Hammock?
Megan Hamby, writer/editor, graduated in 2011 from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in journalism, and like every good new journalist, she got a job in retail. Before landing at Hammock, she also spent a couple of years in book publishing. Our early bird millennial recently regaled us with a few details about her life:
What is the first thing you do when you wake up and/or get in the office each morning?
I’m always the first person in the office. I could be an awesome employee and get the coffee started every morning, but I haven’t figured out how the coffeemaker works. The first thing I do is check emails and make a to-do list for the day. I get more done in those first couple of hours than I do the rest of the day.
Today is a bittersweet day for Hammockites, as we bid a happy retirement to Bill Hudgins, a brilliant writer and editor and equally brilliant friend. After graduating from Columbia University in 1972 (get him to tell you a story about NYC in those days!), he honed his ability to file tight, smart stories on deadline at newspapers such as the Birmingham (Ala.) Post-Herald, Cleveland (Tenn.) Daily Banner and Nashville Banner. His next career turn was into public relations when Rex Hammock recruited him to join Buntin Public Relations, then a start-up subsidiary of the Buntin Group, a regional advertising and marketing firm.