Monday, August 15, 2022

Oxford’s Steve and Linda Green Rule Global Pizza Magazine Empire

Despite 17 years of success in the publishing business, PMQ Pizza Magazine remains a mystery to many in Oxford. “A pizza magazine? What, you write about pizza?” is the common refrain for those not familiar with the work of Steve and Linda Green.

Steve and Linda Green
Steve and Linda Green

But the name is quite familiar to pizza restaurant professionals around the world. The Greens publish a total of three pizza industry magazines in the U.S., China and Australia. The original American version has a national circulation of more than 40,000 pizza restaurant owners and operators. Every issue is devoted to helping pizzeria operators make more money, with articles focused on pizzeria marketing, culinary trends, state-of-the-art technologies and profiles of successful operators. It’s a formula that continues to work, as PMQ has kept growing even while many trade magazines have shrunk or gone out of business in recent years.
However, publishing was not new to the Greens when they launched PMQ in 1997. Longtime Oxonians may recall their TV Tempo weekly guide, published in the 1970s and 80s, and the Oxford Green Pack, which provided coupons in the mail from 1991 to 1997.
Steve, a marketing whiz and former Domino’s Pizza franchisee in New York, California and Picayune, Miss. In 1996, he left his family in Oxford for a six-month consultancy in Seattle, where he helped set up Cyber Slice, the first online ordering company for the pizza industry. He was in Seattle when Steve Jobs, creator of the software used for the program, ordered the first pizza via the Internet. “Steve Jobs predicted that ordering online would be a big deal,” Steve Green said.
PMQ Pizza Magazine
PMQ Pizza Magazine

Steve knew that the pizza industry presented a big opportunity for an entrepreneur with the right idea. At the same time, the Greens were happy in Oxford. Steve earned his MBA at Ole Miss and didn’t want to move away.
“What can you do if you love Oxford and want to stay here, but you don’t work for the university?” After checking out a pizza-related trade show in Columbus, Ohio, Steve and Linda began to think about taking Steve’s pizzeria marketing expertise to the next level. Pizzeria operators often came to Steve for sales and marketing ideas, so he decided to share his thoughts with a small group of people who signed up for a newsletter. Although other publications already served the pizza industry, none of them focused on marketing. The Greens knew that many operators were hungry for moneymaking ideas. Before they knew it, PMQ Pizza Magazine was born.
“Steve started without me, and then I closed Green Pack and sold ads for him at PMQ,” Linda said. “Now we bring in money from all over the country to Oxford. You don’t need to be located in a major city to publish a magazine. And there are a lot of good writers here. We love Oxford.”
Humble Beginnings
PMQ began in the Greens’ living room, with Steve managing the content and Linda handling ad sales.
Brian Hernandez makes pizza in the office kitchen.
Brian Hernandez makes pizza in the office kitchen.

“We never thought about turning it into a magazine, but as more and more people asked to subscribe to our newsletter, we realized we were getting a big response,” Steve said. “So, by October 1997, we decided to publish a full-blown magazine.”
After a few years, they hired Tom Boyles, who became their first editor-in-chief. Boyles was a senior journalism major at Ole Miss when he heard Dr. Ed Meek, publisher of HottyToddy.com, talk about the magazine industry in one of his classes. At the time, Meek published Nightclub & Bar Magazine, a highly successful national trade publication for the nightclub, bar and restaurant industry. After class, Boyles cornered Meek in the parking lot, hoping to land a job with Nightclub & Bar Magazine. The company was fully staffed, but Meek passed Boyles’ resume to the Greens.
PMQ Pizza Magazine
PMQ Pizza Magazine

“While finishing up school, I had envisioned myself being on cool assignments for Rolling Stone and hanging out with rock stars or out on a dig in Egypt on assignment for National Geographic,” Boyles recalled. “The idea of a pizza magazine was as foreign to me as reconstructing a DNA model for a dinosaur. But Steve interviewed me at his dining room table and I was hired as the new editor-in-chief on the spot.”
For a while, the three-person team worked out of the Greens’ living room, where Linda would greet them with morning coffee and Boyles’ desk was a ping-pong table. Soon, however, they moved into a small office with two phone lines and Internet dial-up.
Initially called Pizza Marketing Quarterly, or PMQ for short, the magazine moved to a bimonthly publishing schedule in 2003, changed its name to PMQ Pizza Magazine in 2005, and began publishing 10 times a year in 2010.
World Travelers
As PMQ’s popularity began to rise, Steve came up with a new marketing idea inspired by the hit movie “Dumb and Dumber.” The scene featuring the Swedish Bikini Team gave him the idea of creating the U.S. Pizza Team, consisting of both accomplished pizza chefs and talented dough-spinners performing high-energy, acrobatic-like promotions set to popular music.
Bradley Johnson Competes Freestyle Acrobatics at Work Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy.
Bradley Johnson Competes Freestyle Acrobatics at Work Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy.

Today, the U.S. Pizza Team travels all over the world for competitions in the culinary and acrobatic pizza arts. After going through trial competitions throughout the U.S., winners earn all-expense-paid trips to compete in the World Pizza Championships in Italy every spring. In 2010, the USPT represented Oxford in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and has been featured on local and national morning talk shows, including The Today Show in 2008.
PMQ staff members often travel with the USPT and even make occasional international trips to learn about the pizza industry in other countries.
“Within four years of being hired by the Greens, I had traveled around the world a few times, eating pizza for a living,” Boyles said. “PMQ grew from an 86-page magazine that was published four times a year to more than 100 pages published 10 times a year, with Australian and Chinese editions published four times a year. We have come a long way from working off of ping-pong tables in the living room.”
US Pizza Team
US Pizza Team

Boyles left PMQ to become publisher of PMQ Australia in 2007. Liz Barrett of EatingOxford.com took over the reins at that time and then rejoined the team as an account executive in 2012.
“While I never got to hang out with rock stars or see the pyramids, I did get to visit Rome, see the Coliseum and the Italian countryside many times,” Boyles said. “I saw Germany and rode the Eurorail through Switzerland, had a few beers in Dublin, Ireland, and visited New Zealand and Australia. Never did I dream that moving to Oxford, Mississippi and taking a job for a pizza magazine would lead me down the paths I have walked. It has truly been one of the greatest rides of my life. And now that I am back with the Greens and the PMQ family, I am sure there is more to come.”
The Greens love to travel, too. Steve said he has been delighted to expose his family, including daughters Caroline and Missy and son Chris, to international opportunities while meeting and working with so many great people all over the world.
Dave Sommers' Largest Dough Stretch as Italian Prince Emmanule Filiberto looks on.
Dave Sommers’ Largest Dough Stretch as Italian Prince Emmanule Filiberto looks on.

For Linda, it’s especially rewarding to hear that a pizzeria operator has found success by reading and learning from PMQ. PMQ’s Think Tank, an online forum started in 1998, also helps to connect pizza industry professionals around the country. Today the site continues to grow, with more than 2,400 users who share business tips and exchange ideas for increasing profitability and making better pizzas.
One of the worst economic downturns in history couldn’t slow the Greens down. When the recession hit in 2008, many print publishers began to scale back, cutting pages and laying off staff. The Greens took the opposite approach, expanding PMQ to offer more articles and adding a video component, called Pizza TV, to their website. The company recently hired a social media director to focus on its Facebook, Twitter and Google+ platforms and launched Pizza 360, the pizza industry’s first online talk show, in late 2013. The company’s thriving website gets 26,000 unique visitors a week and 13,000 industry professionals subscribe to This Week In Pizza, PMQ’s weekly newsletter.
While the magazine will continue to evolve, the Greens said they plan to keep working at it for a long time and hope that PMQ will outlive them. For now, though, they remain active publishers working every day at the office along with about a dozen local employees.
VIDEO: PMQ Company Tour

 
VIDEO: US Pizza Team at the 2013 World Pizza Championship in Italy

 
Patrick Maggi and Wilhelm Rodriguez compete in Italy.
Patrick Maggi and Wilhelm Rodriguez compete in Italy.

PMQ Cheese Pizza Team at Prosciutto Factory in Parma Italy.
PMQ Cheese Pizza Team at Prosciutto Factory in Parma Italy.

Scottish Pizza Artist Domenico Crolla, Steve Green and Brian Hernandez in Italy.
Scottish Pizza Artist Domenico Crolla, Steve Green and Brian Hernandez in Italy.

USPT Greg Spaulding and Leonardo Giordano confer at World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy.
USPT Greg Spaulding and Leonardo Giordano confer at World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy.

– Written and contributed by Melanie Addington 
 

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