Interview: Maryfran Johnson

Last year, Maryfran Johnson left her post as editor-in-chief of IDG's Computerworld to head up TechTarget's new IT title, CIO Decisions.

Last year, Maryfran Johnson left her post as editor-in-chief of IDG's Computerworld to head up TechTarget's new IT title, CIO Decisions.

The startup will be the first of its kind to specifically focus on mid-market companies, those that fall between the Fortune 1,000 and the small-business sector. Launched this month, the magazine will look to reach chief information officers (CIOs) within IT companies.

PRWeek: Did you always want to work within the tech industry?

Maryfran Johnson: In 1989, I moved with my husband and two daughters to the Boston area and joined Computerworld as a reporter, thinking I'd add tech to my growing beat-specialty list. I still intended to return to dailies, but I got totally hooked on tech. I loved covering the industry and talking to IT people. The story in technology is always changing, always capable of surprise, and always filled with smart, impassioned people who love to talk about it all.

PRWeek: Why did you leave Computerworld to launch CIO Decisions?

Johnson: I love Computerworld and its people, but I'd been there a long time. When this chance to launch a new publication came along, it seemed like such a natural move. It's quite a challenge to help build something brand new at a fast-growing media company like TechTarget.

PRWeek: What makes the mid-market unique and specialized?

Johnson: Companies in the mid-market - which we're defining as those with annual revenues from $50 million to $2 billion - are unique in that they're growing faster than large enterprises, coping with many of the same IT complexities, but doing it all with fewer resources and greater reliance on vendors and partners.

I think the IT/ business alignment that so many big companies try to achieve is actually happening more regularly in midsize companies, where the CIOs are more likely to be reporting directly to the CEOs. These IT execs have to be both tactical and strategic, innovative but really frugal, and often a lot more creative in how they balance IT spending with company growth and business focus. But what dozens of them have told me in the past few months - as we've been researching and building this new title - is that nobody is really writing directly to them, focusing specifically on their needs, or exploring their particular issues and concerns.

What they don't see is a reflection of companies their size, or stories that resonate with their own realities as IT leaders in midsize companies. They don't see other mid-market CIOs quoted and profiled. The mid-market IT executive had no real face before we came along.

PRWeek: What kind of angles do you look for from PR people?

Johnson: Naturally, it must have a midsize company/mid-market hook to it. We seek pitches that highlight what's happening with customers and technologies at the smaller enterprises in that space. We put a lot of emphasis on vertical industries, on showing how alignment really works between IT and business, on issues around working with vendors and suppliers. Beyond that, all the big topics that enterprise CIOs are interested in - compliance, security, IT governance, enterprise applications, infrastructure, integration, etc. - also apply to our audience.

Name: Maryfran Johnson

Publication: CIO Decisions

Title: Editor-in-chief of CIO Decisions and VP of CIO Decisions Media Group

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