New FMA Board Member Spotlight: John Sotomayor
New FMA Board Member: John Sotomayor
Title and Company: President and CEO, Sotomayor Media Creations LLC
FMA Member Since: 2008
Magazine(s): Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Embrace Magazine, and Elevate and Elevar Magazines
Circulation: Under 20,000
Target Audience: LGBTQ+ community and allies for Embrace; faith-based community for Elevate and Elevar
Frequency: Currently three times per year (July, November, February) for Embrace
Tell us about your publishing background.
I began my career in print media in 2004 as a freelance writer covering entertainment news for ETV out of my native New York. When I moved to Florida in 2005, I continued my freelance work for print newspapers and magazines under my newly established business name, Sotomayor Media Creations LLC. My clients included Florida Trend Magazine, Florida Travel & Life Magazine, The North Central Florida Business Report, Ocala Star Banner newspaper, and Ocala Magazine, among others. In 2011, I accepted the role of associate editor from Ocala Magazine then quickly rose in the ranks from managing editor to executive editor. In 2015, I accepted a job as staff writer for Akers Media Group, writing for five publications: Lake & Sumter Style, The Villages edition, Healthy Living Magazine, Welcome to Lake, and Lake Business Magazine. In 2017, I had the opportunity to launch my first magazine brand under my company name, Elevate. Having achieved critical success, I launched my second magazine brand, Embrace.
Tell us about Embrace magazine. What is your vision for the magazine over the next five years?
Based in Florida, Embrace has a national and even international reach with the mission to build bridges between the LGBTQ+ and straight communities to live, work, play, and pray together. We do that with sophisticated content that appeals to all. Our goal within the next five years is to partner with an established media group to expand our circulation and distribution to match that national and international demand. It is our goal for Embrace to be as well-known and recognized as a critically acclaimed LGBTQ+ magazine as American-based Advocate is for LGBTQ+ social issues, and London-based Attitude is for LGBTQ+ style + culture.
The magazine is part of the larger Embrace Media, which also includes Embrace TV and Embrace On-Air. Tell us a little about those efforts.
Embrace has achieved phenomenal success right out of the gate and continues to flourish, so all efforts have been focused to nurture the brand and expand it, which now includes Embrace On-Air (radio) and Embrace TV, all on our new website, embracemedia.us. Embrace On-Air is currently broadcast out of WOCA radio 1370 AM/96.3 FM in Ocala. Embrace TV is done internally, shot on location for select coverage.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Florida’s magazine publishers?
The biggest challenge I see for Florida’s magazine publishers is competition from other media outlets on the internet. Florida magazine publishers need to tap into the digital market so that their advertising campaigns include both print and digital options to reach consumers.
What are the biggest opportunities for the magazine industry?
There are new innovations in the digital magazine world that can create an interactive experience for the consumer, combining print and digital so that the two can be resources of information for the consumer, thus appealing to the advertiser. One option that Embrace has used is video embedding in the digital editions, particularly the flip book. By embedding video in ads and editorial, the consumer is drawn to an entirely new experience that is highly appealing. Generating leading content from the digital edition to the print edition could generate renewed interest in print copy purchase from younger demographics who have steered away from print. Embrace’s use of video embedding and other similar innovations has led to the brand winning Silver for Best Digital Innovator in the category’s inaugural year (2021) and winning the Charlie for Best Digital Innovator in 2022.
Why did you decide to join the FMA Board?
I believe whole-heartedly that my affiliation as a member of the FMA has molded me from a novice freelance writer from New York to a forward-thinking publisher in a span of 15 years. I have attended several conferences, entered several Charlie Award competitions, and networked with the top tier talent the FMA has to offer. All of that contributed to my success. I want to give back. It excites me to think that I am contributing to the cycle of magazine advancement on the next level whereby I assist the development and delivery of the conference sessions and vendors to help the next wave of new writers, editors, publishers, and their ilk, including designers, photographers, and management.
Tell us a little about what you like to do when you’re not working.
I believe the secret to happiness is mental, physical, and spiritual health. I also enjoy culture and the arts. And exploring. So, when I am not working, I like to find local events or take a day trip to visit a new town to explore the town’s galleries, museums, restaurants, or shops. I love movies and enjoy unwinding my day with a movie before bedtime. For physical activity, I enjoy running or cycling — taking in Florida’s tranquil nature — or working out at Gold’s Gym Ocala. I find running meditative. I prefer meditating while in motion with my eyes wide open taking everything in to sitting still with my eyes tightly shut, keeping everything out.