Eddie Winner: Best Full Issue, Regional

Elizabeth Hudson, editor of Our State, knew the magazine had hit a home run when it decided to base an issue around the quest for the best Carolina burger in North Carolina. “When you run an issue about food it really resonates in the south,” she explains. “And the feedback was fantastic, of course. Everyone wanted to tell us the place we missed, the places we should have covered, their favorite burgers!”

A Carolina burger is a regional concoction, complete with cheese, chili, mustard, cole slaw and onions. “The issue started out as a quest for the best burger in the state, a natural choice for a topic,” Hudson remembers. “But the way it ended up, it wasn’t an issue about the food at all, it became an issue about the places and the communities and the people we met when we were searching for the best burger.”

Our State is a privately owned, monthly, 200-page magazine focused solely on North Carolina. “Our paid subscriber base is 150,000. Combined with newsstand sales, our total paid circulation is about 180,000 and our readership is about 770,000,” she says. “We had a 10,000 increase in subscriptions year-over-year for 2011, with an 89 percent renewal rate.”

The publication, which ran its first issue in 1933, is exploring digital options and expanding its online offerings. “We’re just really getting our feet onto the web, to enhance stories with video, slide shows and contests. We have a good Facebook presence, web newsletters and we’re really excited about rolling out a mobile edition in 2012,” Hudson says.

Hudson normally runs about five to seven features a month, and the magazine always includes a 20-page photo-essay on a North Carolina subject.

The magazine has a ten-person editorial staff, and relies on local freelancers to supply additional content. “Most issues are theme issues; when you produce a large magazine you really need something to tie it all together,” Hudson explains, adding that, “We are all about the state of North Carolina. Every issue is a celebration of the state, with beautiful photography.”