Publishing Powerhouse a Conservative Success

Article excerpt

Tom Phillips, the force behind Eagle Publishing Inc., which produces the venerable weekly Human events and the Evans-Novak Political Report, talks about putting his vision on paper.

Tom Phillips launched Phillips Publishing, one of the great American success stories, in January 1974 with two newsletters, three employees and a $1,000 investment. Now Phillips Publishing International is a Potomac, Md.-based firm with 1,200 employees, producing more than 100 newsletters, magazines, newspapers, books, directories and online information services. The company closed out fiscal 1998 with $310 million in sales.

Eagle Publishing Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Publishing International, publishes the conservative weekly tabloid Human Events and the Evans-Novak Political Report. The Conservative Book Club is part of Eagle, as is Regnery Publishing, a firm created 50 years ago by Henry Regnery and one of the earliest conservative book publishers in America. Regnery was acquired by Phillips in 1993.

"I have a strong belief in liberty and in the values and ideas of the Founding Fathers," Tom Phillips tells Insight. "Because I grew up in the conservative movement of the 1960s and 1970s, I was aware that there were little pockets of conservative publishing activity here and there. I always thought there was an opportunity for a greater vision that would pull things together, specifically a multimedia publisher that could do periodicals and books, and book clubs and so forth." It's this vision that Tom Phillips has realized

Insight: What's your advice to the conservative movement about publishing, a field in which you've proved impressively successful?

Tom Phillips. I think we conservatives have the very best ideas for America's future, but I don't think we market or sell them very well. Let me put it this way: What you have to do is listen to the marketplace; you have to be very market-driven. That's some of what I bring to our company and our philosophy -- experience and talent for marketing and management that is all too scarce among conservatives.

People talk about Slick Willy being a great salesman! But basically he's a salesman of an outmoded, outdated philosophy -- if he has one, I mean. Liberalism has failed, and yet the left is always out there hustling, selling, selling -- and they have a willing media in general, a liberal media that transmits their ideas.

Rather than just saying we have the better ideas, we have to learn how to present them to the public better; and when we present them to the public, we have to present them in a way it can understand and react to positively. Then we will be far better off both commercially and philosophically.

Rather than wring our hands about the fact that we don't dominate the public media, we need to do something about it. We need to learn how to be better businesspeople, better marketers. With all due respect, all the media moguls who are liberal know how to be very good capitalists when it comes to their own businesses and pocketbooks, yet at the very same time they are spouting leftist drivel on their editorial pages!

Insight: Liberty, hard work and discipline are values that helped make America great. They are the conservative values advocated in Regnery books and in Human Events. Do most Americans still value these qualities?

TP: I think too many people have taken our success for granted. You see immigrants come to this country and many of them appreciate it more than those fortunate enough to have been born here. I feel lucky to have been born here and lucky to have found my niche in life early on. ! was editor in chief of my yearbook in high school, and I was involved in politics in my college days at Dartmouth.

So I'm appreciative of the opportunity this country has given me. I think a great deal of affluence in America has basically caused people to forget what it took to achieve it, and I think that the values of our civilization are not taught in the school systems. …