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Central Florida Media Group: Meeting Niche Sector Marketing Needs

June 14, 2024 News

Nelson Kirkland, the founder of the Central Florida Media Group (CMFG), recently celebrated 14 years since the startup of his business.  

A Kathleen High Red Devil and a University of Central Florida Knight, Kirkland never strayed far from Polk County. Starting his career in advertising at The Ledger, he worked his way up to publisher of the News Chief. Until the day he embarked on his own path. He then started his own business- the Central Florida Media Group

“Another year in business is a noteworthy milestone because, as anyone who owns their own business will tell you, it’s not easy,” said Kirkland, who founded the publishing company in March 2010. CFMG publishes niche products and provides social media, digital advertising and marketing services for businesses. 

Kirkland decided to start his own business after reviewing the Central Florida Development Council’s Study of Regional Impact. The study showed some sectors in the region greatly outperforming others. “When I compared this information to what was available locally for these sectors in terms of consumer content, advertising and marketing, it made a ton of sense to focus on those sectors.”  

Beginning Central Florida Media Group

CMFG started publishing the Central Florida Ag News in 2010 and the Central Florida Health News in 2011. “We also do quite a bit of custom publishing for other organizations, colleges and businesses,” he said. 

Feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Kirkland said. He describes publishing as a “labor of love,” and he’s proud of all the publications.  

“We are formally endorsed by the Polk County Farm Bureau and the Polk County Medical Association and have been for a long time. Those endorsements mean a lot to us and say something about the quality of our work. We love our farmers and ranchers who we get to focus on and share the stories about these hard-working men and women in the Ag News. We also feel privileged to get to highlight the heroic efforts of our area’s medical providers and the courageous patients in the Health News.” 
 
Celeste Jo Walls, Kirkland’s first managing editor, describes Kirkland as a “great mentor, great boss and an overall community man. He’s a voice for the community with our publications.”  

Walls left CFMG to be a stay-at-home mother to her five children. She has since rejoined the company as a contractor working on marketing and events. She said she loves the CFMG story. “I feel like it’s a story that is reflected in our community over and over again. Our story is the community story… CFMG was founded by a man who grew up in this county, went away for college, came back home and worked in his community. He worked his way up. That’s the American story.” 

Adjusting to Industry Changes

Kirkland started his business as the country was emerging from The Great Recession. During this time, the newspaper and print media industry were changing drastically.  

“Talk about terrible timing to start a new company, and one that on its surface you would look at and say the whole industry is changing – why would you start a print media company? But he did it. He started CFMG because he had a vision that a niche publication can tell the story of our community,” Walls said. “He started with what made the most sense. As an eighth-generation Floridian and farmer, he knew the importance of agriculture to the community.” 

The need remains for agriculture and health/medicine, she said. “We need to increase health literacy and raise health awareness. People need to know they need agriculture in this county, and they need to know how it works. There has never been a greater need for the publications we publish.” 

Walls sums it up: “It was Nelson’s vision and passion for the community that made the company really flourish and explode at a time when most companies were just closing their doors.” 

Growing Through the Years

CFMG started out publishing magazines, which only now represents about 25% of the company’s revenue, Kirkland said.  

“Since that time 14 years ago, Central Florida Media Group has grown into a marketing company that serves not only the original agriculture and medical/healthcare business sectors but also many other niches, such as commercial construction, automotive and industrial businesses.” 

Kirkland employs three other staff members. He also has an extended team of eight others who have “highly unique skill sets and talents to help us serve our clients well.” 
 
“Our website, digital, social and content marketing operation continues to grow at a brisk pace. Website and content marketing production falls right in our wheelhouse and is a bi-lateral skill set that is hard for other businesses to find. The success and popularity of the Ag News and Health News magazines have spun off other ventures and opportunities for CFMG, such as the niche websites, social media channels and e-newsletters that are also highly read. We have also added events to the mix, such as the Central Florida Health Expo.”

As for the future, Kirkland said: “I learned a long time ago that if you have the right talent around you, and I do, you can do pretty well. The sky’s the limit. I read that Polk County was the fastest-growing area in the United States. It’s a great place to be for a company like Central Florida Media Group and its team.”

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