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exploreMedia Creates Niche in Publishing Arena

February 2013

By David Zaslawsky

Photography by Robert Fouts

When Pam Mashburn was trying to teach her teenage son how to drive she ran into some obstacles – the same obstacles most parents face: How do you teach your teenagers to drive?

One of the first issues she ran into was that her son was texting – as many teens do – while he was riding in the car and not paying attention to where their school and church are located.

“I thought that this was going to be really easy and after almost getting killed three times – it was really hard,” Mashburn said. “I think it’s the most dangerous job as a parent.”

It’s a job for which parents are ill equipped, so Mashburn sought help. “ ‘OK, dad, how do you teach someone to drive a car? Because I obviously don’t know how to do this,’ ” she recalled.

Now Mashburn was already talking to the next driver in the family. One thing led to another, and Mashburn, who is publisher of exploreMedia, launched a magazine for parents of teens called Potential.

“It’s for parents trying to get their kids ready for college,” Mashburn said. “There are publications written for teenagers, but not for parents of teenagers. You go out there and look on the Internet and there is so much (information). There are a lot of scams out there and it’s really hard to know what to trust.”

The magazine made its debut in October and is mailed to about 4,200 families in the Montgomery area. It will be published six times a year and is just one of four publications her company produces.

Mashburn’s company, which has three employees and recently moved into office space off Atlanta Highway across from Walmart, publishes Know the Community, Montgomery Visitor Guide and Selma Visitor Guide. The Montgomery Visitor Guide is for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Convention & Visitor Bureau and unlike most visitor guides is produced twice a year. “We try to make it more seasonal,” Mashburn said. There is a different cover each quarter.

When it comes to Know the Community, it was also a case of one thing leading to another. What started out as helping Realtors stage homes and then collecting information on public and private schools evolved into an annual publication for newcomers. Mashburn said the area has about 4,000 newcomers annually and about half of those are military, who attend classes at Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex.

“We go to five military events each summer and we give them our guide and put together some welcome bags,” she said. “We work on penetrating the entire newcomers’ market. I have a base pass and ask what do they need to make them (military personnel) really feel welcomed.”

In addition, the company is in its second year of its “Warm Welcome Montgomery” program, which is similar to the Welcome Wagon program. Mashburn uses four greeters to visit newcomers with the Know the Community publication and a goodies bag with products and coupons. The greeters visit 400 to 500 families a year.

“Every time I saw a business need, I started filling it,” said Mashburn, who has engineering degrees from Georgia Tech and Purdue University.

The company’s revenue growth has been phenomenal, increasing 500 to 600 percent since its inception in 2006. That growth led Mashburn to seek office space. She needed a site for her graphic designer and some space for the greeters to pick up the goodies for the welcome bags.