French LLC


An interview with John French on media management, private equity,
and improving sales and revenue.

At the Magazine InnovationCenter’s ACT7 Experience in Oxford, MS in April, 2017, John French delivered one
of the best speeches I have ever heard on publishing industry issues, “Life Lessons in Adding Value.”

John is the former CEO of Cygnus Business Media, the former CEO of Penton, and the former president of business magazines and media at Primedia. John has a unique  perspective on publications now because he is a turnaround expert who does confidential M&A work as well.

He now shares his experience as an advisor to publishing executives and investors. Here is what he had to say:

JIM: What steps...

Today media salespeople need to be data-savvy because selling data about one's audience is critical to most advertising deals. Whether publishers offer lead generation or industry research, advertisers are looking for more powerful ways to connect with consumers and businesses. In this video, media sales expert and former Cygnus CEO John French explains how media salespeople can get more comfortable selling data by tying the numbers to the people and markets that advertisers want to reach.

French is co-founder of French LLC., an advisory firm aimed at helping media executives transforming their companies for a digital- and data-driven world. Have a question about media revenue strategies? Send your question to

Too many publishers approach their audience development strategy with the same old-school mindset they use to grow print circulation. They hunt down individuals that they think qualify for a particular magazine, send them a direct mail offer, and try to get them to pay for a subscription.

Today audience development is much more complex, thanks to the rise of digital media. Publishers can connect with new audiences through a variety of channels, from email to social media and online advertising, and they can personalize their messaging to the individual. It's imperative that media companies evolve their audience development strategy to keep pace with these changes. In the following video sales expert and former Cygnus CEO John French e...

Post Cygnus, John French takes what he’s learned about B2B media strategies on the road.

Unlike most CEOs who leave one private equity opportunity post-sale and wait for the next one to come around, John French has decided to take a different path. Following the divestment of Cygnus in five separate transactions over five years, French will not be looking for a job as a media company CEO—for now at least.

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A behind-the-scenes look at how the B2B media company turned itself around and sold off its assets one at a time—all while keeping its staff from running for the exits.

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At Cygnus, we see ourselves more as a technology company providing solutions in media rather than a media company seeking technology solutions. As we finish up 2012 and look toward 2013, I could not be more proud of what Cygnus has been able to accomplish. While 2011 saw Cygnus relaunch all of its digital properties, 2012 was a year when we developed and launched new lead generation products and enhanced our measurable connection between advertisers and readers.

We saw substantial growth in digital and events. However, it was clear that a few markets were still seeing the effects of the weaker economy. As advertising dollars remained tight, the development of innovative products and the use of data and analytics were more than a “valu...

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CEO & Owner


As a known leader in the B2B Media industry, John has earned his reputation by taking on challenging roles and producing results. He started his career in the Massachusetts area working for names like IDG, Penn Well, and CMP Publications. John then moved his career to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey where he worked with a number of groups and eventually became the Vice President and Electronics Group Director for Penton Media, Inc. 

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