Jottings from a pop culture junkie

Ira is a journalist, author, consultant, frequent guest speaker, and educator. His expertise is the intersection of marketing, pop culture, consumer trends, retailing, and consumer products licensing and merchandising.

Ira’s career as a professional journalist began in 1970 as a contributor to the Village Voice’s Riffs column of pop music criticism. He was chief pop music critic for the New York Post for 12 years. And he has contributed to Rolling Stone, the Sunday New York Times, American Way, the Soho Weekly News, High Fidelity, and many other newspapers and magazines. There are few musicians who were performing from 1970-1990 that he didn’t hear and review. While contributing to the New York Post, he also wrote a column about personal computers that ran alongside Dear Abby in the 1980s.

He wrote “The Electronic Mailbox,” a book about the wonders of e-mail, in 1987, and travel guides to New York, Montreal, and London (the latter together with Rodney Burbeck) for Fodor’s.

Through EPM Communications, Inc., a company he founded with his wife and business partner Riva Bennett to publish Entertainment Marketing Letter, he published more than 40 research studies on various aspects of consumer behavior, licensing, and other subjects. Titles include “On-Demand Marketing & Advertising,” “How Americans Use Social Media,” “The EPM Fad Study,” and “TLL Sports Licensing Report.” He was publisher and executive editor of The Licensing Letter for 25 years, becoming a sought-after spokesperson for the business of licensing who has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, and other broadcast media, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and other publications.

Ira also developed the first conference on entertainment marketing, serving as a catalyst in forming a community out of the entertainment companies, brand marketers, and promotional agencies that use sponsorships, product placements, contests and sweepstakes, and other marketing techniques to promote film, music, TV, video games, and other entertainment, and to leverage entertainment to promote consumer brands. In its 18 years, the conference featured speakers including Sir Bob Geldof, the late Shari Lewis, Richard Belzer, and leading marketing executives from AT&T, CBS, Coca-Cola, Disney, McDonald’s, and more.

Ira and Riva sold the company’s assets in 2012. Today, Ira continues to deliver keynote addresses about consumer trends to trade associations, marketers at consumer goods companies, and others; educates C-level executives about the benefits and realities of licensing as a business tool; and conducts competitive research for those in the licensing business. He is at work on books about consumer trends and marketing.

An adjunct professor of marketing at New York University, Ira and Riva live in Brooklyn, NY, where their adult children come home for BBQ (Ira’s forte) and cheesecake (Riva’s beats Juniors’ any day!).

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