Pioneering Publisher Satisfied Readers' Hunger

When Joe Shore purchased National Real Estate Investor in the fall of 1959, he saved the day. The original owners had run out of money after publishing just one issue and were forced to sell. Shore, a seasoned independent magazine sales representative, not only rescued NREI but he also used the book as a launching pad to acquire several other business-to-business publications that became the basis of New York-based Communication Channels.

Shore envisioned a magazine that would appeal on a national level to developers, lenders and investors. The previous owners had produced a New York-centric publication that concentrated heavily on the real estate syndication process.

“People were hungry for the national exposure about their cities through editorial content and advertising, and they were hungry for knowledge of real estate conditions and opportunities in other cities,” recalls Doug Shore, who was 13 years old when his father bought NREI. “Joe saw that industry was becoming national in scope. The jet plane had just started flying. It was becoming more and more common for people to do business on more than a local or regional scope.”

Shore wanted his readers to know about every major deal or project across the country. Editors practiced the Five Ws — who, what, why, where and when — plus how much the project cost.

It was Shore's idea to provide comprehensive city reviews, and that tradition continues to this day. Typically, he flew to growing markets such as Phoenix to drum up advertising for an upcoming city review. He hired local real estate editors to write the reviews, and readers and advertisers loved the coverage.

With NREI paving the way, Shore made several other notable purchases in the early years, including Trusts & Estates. Among his highly successful startups was Shopping Center World (now Retail Traffic). NREI, Trusts & Estates and Retail Traffic are now part of Penton Media's Financial Services Group.

By the late 1970s, pension funds and other institutional investors were becoming more active investors in commercial real estate. NREI and its sister publication at the time, Pension World, hosted a series of conferences that shed light on plan sponsors' investment strategies.

The first conference in 1981 attracted about 800 attendees. “It was recognition that we were on target with that issue,” recalled Doug, who joined NREI in 1970 as an assistant editor and worked his way up to vice president and editorial director for Communication Channels.

Real estate is notorious for boom and bust cycles, which can have an ugly trickle-down effect on magazines during the lean years. In the early 1970s, mortgage REITs got into trouble by making construction loans that soured. Meanwhile, some equity REITs overpaid for assets that performed badly.

One telling sign of the extreme distress: In 1974, NREI sold 1,200 advertising pages. The next year that number fell 50% to 600 ad pages, says the younger Shore. “A lot of the advertising had been coming from REITs that were no longer in business.”

In 1977, New York's fiscal problems and the high cost of doing business there helped prompt the elder Shore to relocate the company to Atlanta. Communication Channels, then publisher of 17 titles, was sold to Argus Press in 1981. Joe retired and Doug left to become CEO of Shore-Varrone, an Atlanta-based business-to-business media company.

At age 90, Joe now resides in Southern California. He always had an interest in commercial real estate, so much so that when he sold the company in 1981 to Argus Press the deal called for him to develop a 50,000 sq. ft. office building in Atlanta to be leased by Argus. Joe still owns the building. For a commercial real estate publisher, it was a fitting exit strategy.

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