Agent Publishing, the country’s dominant hyper-local B2B real estate media company, has announced John Thomas, 50, has joined the firm as editor-in-chief and vice president of content strategy.
Most recently, Thomas was director of editorial content for Chicago-based Groupon Inc. Prior to that, he served as chief of editorial operations for Modern Healthcare, a publication of Crain Communications Inc. Thomas also spent nearly a decade as editor of Playboy.com.
“For more than 10 years, we’ve been providing residential real estate professionals with news and features that will help them build their careers in their respective markets,” said Anne Hartnett, co-founder and managing partner of Agent Publishing. “John’s content strategy expertise has been applied on some of the world’s most popular websites. We’re thrilled to bring his knowledge to Agent Publishing to funnel traffic to our sites and supply our readers with the most interesting and useful residential real estate news.”
The hiring of Thomas also aligns with Agent Publishing’s increased focus on expanding into new markets. Agent Publishing currently has digital media sites in five markets – Chicago, Miami, Houston, Atlanta and Boston – and plans to bring the same model to major metropolitan cities across the country.
“John’s editorial, marketing and business acumen is a great fit for our growth strategy,” said Hartnett. “With John at the editorial helm we are well positioned to take the successful model we have in current locations and enhance it as we enter new markets with the goal of actively engaging every residential real estate professional in a meaningful way.”
In his most recent position at Groupon, Thomas oversaw all of the editors, writers, producers, image designers, photographers and video editors responsible for creating all North American editorial content. He also helped integrate more non-deal content into Groupon’s social media strategy and worked with staff to refine the tone, topics and overall editorial strategy. In less than a year, traffic to and revenue from Groupon non-deal content increased significantly.
“Real estate is a fascinating industry to report on because there’s never a lack of interesting stories and people,” Thomas said. “Agent Publishing has developed a great voice to connect with that audience, and expanding the company’s national reach through colorful, insightful content is going to be both exciting and challenging. But, I’m eager to leverage my strong B2B background and experience to engage readers and take these businesses to the next level.”
As editor of Playboy.com, Thomas was in charge of all content and content strategy, managing a staff of some 40 editors, designers, producers, photographers and videographers. He also oversaw a $2.6 million content budget and helped create and develop Playboy.com’s original video programming.
Hartnett said his main responsibility at Agent Publishing will be raising audience engagement to make the company the national leader in residential real estate reporting while connecting with professionals on a local level.
In addition to launching digital media sites in new markets, Agent Publishing will begin offering new products and services including career development training for agents. Agent Publishing’s print magazine, Chicago Agent Magazine, is delivered to residential real estate agents in more than 500 real estate offices throughout Chicagoland.
Thomas holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Emory University in Atlanta. He has contributed frequently to The New York Times, Playboy magazine, Village Voice and the Chicago Tribune, and also co-edited and contributed to “A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics,” published by Loyola University’s Center for Digital Ethics and Policy in September 2014. Thomas has also been a guest lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.