It seems like everyone is getting a face-lift these days: The Atlantic, WSJ.com, Redbook, the XO brand, Self. And whether youâre hitting refresh on a legacy brand or a newer dotcom, the redesign and relaunch of a publication is a big deal.
Social media is a powerful channel to communicate and share your new, highly visual story. You can use your social channels to protect the integrity of your brand while disseminating your new look, fresh voice and updated content.
Plus, itâs a plum opportunity to build some major brand cred.
Here are 10 ways to leverage social media if or when your brand redesigns:
1. Start a Thunderclap. Itâs like a social flash mob. Sign up in advance and the program will share your celebratory message via Twitter and Facebook. Your followers will create a social tidal wave by tweeting/posting one message at the same time. Incentivize your followers like W did for their 40th Anniversary.
2. Give social the exclusive. Think like BeyoncĂŠ and unveil your new cover on Instagram or Tumblr. You want to reach a younger audience? Activate in their channel. And make it goodâdonât skimp on content.
3. Promote your Twitter content. Own a hashtag to ensure that your material surfaces. This dovetails nicely if itâs tied to a franchise thatâll work across platforms. 4. Use Vine to capture behind-the-scenes snippets from the relaunch. Quirky moments that inspired the creative direction; art installations that influenced a clean, uncluttered, cover. Or try focusing on one theme: Glamour emphasizes fashion, VH1 opts for music over reality show content.
5. Have a consistent dialogue. Now is the time to be overactive and accessible. As the feedback (positive and negative) rolls in, respond. Tell commenters that youâre the same brand but have an updated image. Then provide a link to compelling or service-driven content. Are you seeing your brand tagged (@PopularSciene, @TeenVogue) on Instagram? Visit as many profiles as possible and return the love with a heart or a comment. Notice re-pins coming from the same people on Pinterest? Follow them back. Comment and re-pin THEIR content onto your boards.
6. Creative should be consistent, too. SELFâs Twitter backdrop is a compilation of the pillar categories that define our new look. Like the pages of our relaunch issue, our Google+ profile is highly visual, featuring a large, updated cover photo. 7. Take the road less traveled. Ditch the Facebook chat. Try Spreecast to deliver a smart roundtable discussion with celebrities, experts or editors included in your new issue. WSJ has a smart, informed channel on the live stream video platform and owned the space during New York Fashion Week 2013. 8. Get your editors and publishers involved. Use this as an opportunity to put a name and face to your experts via social. Include @ mentions of your editors in tweets. Encourage them to opine on topics within their beat. Have them RT content within their sphere of coverage. Like point-of-view publishing, readers like to connect with real people, not omniscient brands.
9. Establish a Google+ profile three months prior to the relaunch. Post once a day. Repurpose content from Facebook if you donât have the bandwidth for original. The goal is to improve your search results in time for the launch--when you need all the eyes you can get.
10. Tidy up your social bios. Go ahead, flaunt your makeover. You look great. Include messaging within the âabout usâ section of each channel. Take inventory. Use this is an opportunity to freshen up your mission statements. Re-title and give your Pinterest boards a description. Update your You Tube channel.
Iâd love to hear from you. In your opinion, what brands have done it right? Have you seen any social media fails? As a reader, what would you like to see? Tweet me @StephaniePaige.
Iâm spending some time thinking about how I might create a marketing automation plan for new subscribers to my brands. See if you think this makes sense: I want to feed these newbies related content and products based on what I know about them, beginning as soon as is reasonable after signup. I know it all comes down to testing and reviewing the analytics, but there are a lot of layers to think about, so what do you think of these two potential testing plans:Goals: Increase traffic to the website and signups to other products after initial subscription.Â Method: Automated email messages timed to blast at specific intervals.Scenario: Jimmy signs up for one of my brands, completing a lengthy form and telling me about himself and his company. (Currently I just send him what he asked for and occasionally send him other offers blasted manually, along with the eventual ârenew your subscriptionâ messages.)Automated program option 1:â˘ After initial signup, create a subscriber score for Jimmy. This initial scoring will be based his demographic criteria, number of products he signed up for, etc.â˘ From the data he provided, build a logic program to determine the content that he would like most, and any other products that he didnât ask for that might apply.â˘ 10 days after he signs up, send him a âbest ofâ that content.â˘ 20 days after he signs up, send an offer for products that he should like based on his criteria.Add to his score based on his response to those steps.Automated program option 2:â˘ Set the subscriber score for Jimmy just like in option 1.â˘ Sweep the database every three weeks for demographic attributes prioritized by business valueâthose âhot topicsâ or key markets are sent before less important ones.â˘ After every database sweep, send content to Jimmy that matches one of the attributes he indicated on his form (over and above the products he asked for) along with a related product offer.Â â˘ Set a counter so he only gets each content type once as part of the campaign.â˘ Add to his score based on his response to the entire campaign.Option 1 is more thoughtful and would require a big emphasis on analysis and judgment calls as to what the logic program would send to Jimmy. There are a lot of data modeling and industry/product variables to consider with this one.Option 2 is more of a trolling-the-waters-to-see-what-gets-Jimmy-to-bite approach, but itâs still based on what he told me about himself. I like it because itâs simpler, with fewer variables, less modeling and this approach gives me a lot of chances to get in front of this guy with topics that he indicated interest in. I have some concerns about this plan sending too many emails though. If I do it wrong I might end up having Jimmy tune me out or worse, unsubscribe altogether.What do you think, anyone doing something like this out there?Â
Several years ago the American Society of Magazine Editors held a panel discussion that talked about the role of design and art direction in magazines. The general consensus was that it was important, but not essential. The evening ended with one of the participants rattling off a list of magazines that were considered great (and at the time, successful), but that basically looked bad.Itâs doubtful you could have that discussion today. Case in point: The Atlantic and The New Republic, two traditional, text-heavy magazines not historically known for strong visual identities, recently hired young creative director stars, with extensive consumer magazine experience, who have redesigned and visually energized both publications. For past redesigns, both magazines hired outside design studios to revamp their looks, then handed them over to in-house art directors who were given limited scope in what they could accomplish visually. Not anymore. The Atlantic and New Republic redesigns were both done by their new creative directors, and the magazinesâ visually-savvy editors have given them the directive to make the visuals and the design an integral part of the brand across multiple platforms.Darhil Crooks is the new creative director at The Atlantic, hired in August after crafting a masterful redesign at Ebony. Crooks has extensive experience at consumer magazines like Esquire, and heâs brought that sensibility to his work at The Atlantic. Meanwhile, The New Republic reached out to Dirk Barnett, the former creative director at Newsweek, who has a lengthy pedigree with Maxim, Blender, The New York Timesâs Key and Play magazines, Premiere, and more. Working out of the New York office of the DC-based biweekly, Barnett helmed Februaryâs complete visual transformation, changing everything from the logo to the paper stock.Previous New Republic art directors Joseph Heroun and Christine Car produced some memorable covers and brought some strong illustration into the magazine over the past decade, but it always felt like they lacked the commitment from the editors to extend their talents to the magazineâs overall design and format. From 2000-05, when The Atlantic was based in Boston, that magazineâs art director Mary Parsons (now at The American Prospect) helped build its reputation as a home for powerful, well-crafted illustration. A redesign by Michael Beirut and Pentagram in 2008 brought some much-needed modernizing and impact to the magazineâs design, but it never felt fully realized and executed after the initial excitement of the new look wore off.Enter Crooks and Barnett, who with the support of smart, forward-looking editors (James Bennet at The Atlantic, new owner Chris Hughes and editor Franklin Foer at The New Republic) have brought new visual visions to their magazines that are crisp, energetic, holistic, and very 21st Century.For The Atlantic redesign, Crooks tweaked the logo and inside typography, and added and revamped a number of columns and departments. There are new, visually-driven sections: By Design, a design solution column, and Chartist, âan infographic explanation of a seemingly complicated problem.â The Atlanticâs new look is bright, engaging, modern, and very accessible. There are lots of graphic points of entry, elegant use of typography, rules, and white space, and smart illustrations. Most importantly, itâs all highly readable; thereâs no doubt, even with the heightened design, that the text and imagery are given primacy. Crooks says, âWe wanted to do something that was energetic and had more visual impact, that was more reader-friendly, with added entry points and color. At the same time, I wanted to do something that was on brand. I didnât want the design to be a distraction or too trendy.âThe new design of The Atlantic references consumer magazines like Rolling Stone and Esquire, and Crooks readily acknowledges the influence. âBoth those magazines cover such a range of topics and visual approaches, and it all seems to work together. They are also examples of magazines that are able to take complicated, serious topics and make them visually entertaining.âCrooks also reworked and reintroduced the The Atlanticâs Poseidon colophon, which was something he resurrected from earlier issues of the magazine. He describes it as âA new sexy god of the sea for the social media age.â (For those not familiar with the term, a colophon is an old-school term for a logo, or what used to be called a âprinterâs mark,â that would appear on the title page or contents of a book or magazine.)âWhat makes The Atlantic great is the writing and the ideas,â say Crooks. âIâve tried to make the art as visually interesting as the text it illustrates, and the design to keep the readers in the story and turning the pages. Itâs something most magazines do, but itâs a new approach for The Atlantic. My goal is to make each issue a unique experience.âCrooks has just begun to apply the new look of The Atlantic to the magazineâs other platforms. Heâs working on digital projects for the websites, and of course, the iPad app. The print redesign debuted with The Atlanticâs March 2013 issue, which is out now.A Dual Challenge at TNROver at The New Republic, Dirk Barnett had a dual challenge. Not only did he need to completely overhaul the magazineâs look, but he had to do it with a format that accommodated a bi-weekly production schedule and a small staff. (The New Republic comes out 20 times a yearâtwice as often as The Atlantic.) âThe New Republic has never had a creative director in its entire 99-year history,â explains Barnett, âso itâs exciting to have this opportunity to bring a strong visual language to the brand. Frank Foer and Chris Hughes understand that smart design equals great business. Chris started Facebook, and that has one of the most iconic design voices in recent history. Our focus right now is building up a memorable brand experience.âMost notable of the changes to the magazine is the heavier cover stock and inside paper (not to mention a liberal use of metallic ink). Gone is the dry, dutiful old feel of The New Republic, replaced with a look that is contemporary, engaging, and sometimes even fun. The design is modern and digital-feeling, and the new logo is bold, built to work well across platforms large and small. Barnett mixes this very contemporary design style with analog imagery, like the calligraphy for The Mall section opener, and many illustrations with a hand-drawn feel. Heâs added white space, texture, and variety to the front of the book. There are nods to some of the things that Bloomberg Businessweek has done so well, most notably on a recent double-page chart devoted to Charles Schumer, with what seems like hundreds of little black and white headshots. The senior U.S. Senator from New York has never looked cooler, or more interesting.Barnett explains the new design: âThe New Republic has extremely rich, smart content, and our overall goal was to meet that with very smart design and art direction. We are just trying to have some fun, and do some great work when we can.âThe New Republicâs back section is highly formatted to deal with accelerated publishing deadlines (Barnett points out that this section closes before the rest of the magazine). The section begins with a splash page that features a beautiful full-page illustration of an ampersand, done with a handcrafted feel, in the way that The New York Timesâs T magazine used to open its feature well each month with a variation of the distinctive black letter T. Many of the back-of-book pages are full text with no entry points; itâs a testimony to the strength and elegance of Barnettâs new design that even those pages look graceful and inviting.The feature design is much more freeform and expansive, a place where graphic statements are being made. The almost all-white two-page spread opener of the cover story in the February 25 issue (the second of the redesign) features a giant two-word headline (âOriginal Sinâ), a very short subhead and byline, and no image. Through pull quotes, sidebars, timelines, and photos, Barnett moves the reader through the features, even the very text-heavy ones, with expert precision. Thereâs a new approach to the cover design, too. In the past The New Republic covers have been strongly illustration-based. But the first three issues of the new look featured a powerful, intimate portrait of Barack Obama by photographer Chris Buck, an all-white homage to The Beatles White Album LP (âThe Republicansâ), and a gorgeous, futuristic type treatment by typographic illustrator Sean Freeman.Like Crooks at The Atlantic, Barnett has redesigned and reintroduced a colophon to The New Republic. The magazineâs classic sailing ship logo has been brought up to date and appears as an accent throughout the magazine. I sense a battle of the magazine colophons in the near future, or perhaps a new category in the publication design competitions.The New Republic website redesign was done by Hard Candy Shell, with some input from Barnett (he calls their work âinspiringâ). But moving forward, heâs got his hands on the entire brand: âThe four of us in the art department really operate as an in-house design studio. We design the magazine, the tablet, maintain the look and design of the website, the signage and collateral for our events, etc.âAccording to Barnett, the design of the iPad version of the magazine heavily influenced the print edition: âWe kept asking, âHow will this look on the tablet?â, and many of the design elements we cooked up were driven by the answer to that question.âThatâs something I found to be true when I was working at Readerâs Digest: the iPad app oftentimes informs the print edition, both in design and in the general way that the magazine is put together. The Atlantic and The New Republic have both made smart moves by hiring creative directors who not only have been able to completely overhaul their respective magazineâs visual identity, but who also understand the new nature of graphic branding, and who can extend those new visual identities across multiple platforms in an exciting way.
When I was in journalism school (which, frankly, wasnât that long ago), my professors decried what was thought to be a golden rule, one that I have broken several times already: Do not write in the first person. I, me and my are words that should not be usedâif âdireâ circumstances do present themselves, it is suggested that writers like this reporter find ways to get around it (hint).
With the rise of millennial audiences, the proliferation of social media and the advent of âselfies,â a general me-centric culture has come to the fore, and womenâs lifestyle media outlets are certainly taking notice.
This week I wrote about the new online-only property from Say Media and Jane PrattâxoVain.com. When I interviewed Kate Lewis, Say Mediaâs senior vice president and editorial director, she outlined Say Mediaâs strategy for reaching their target millennial audience:
âItâs the story of real women, living their lives and sharing their experimentation and rituals...Our whole reason for being is to create what we call point-of-view publishing, which is a unique, special and personal voice in the digital space. That is what appealed to us on this unique take on beautyâitâs a number of women of all different ages and walks of life talking about what role beauty plays in their life everyday. Itâs that personal, intimate, experiential thing.â
xoVain.com is really taking this âpoint-of-view publishingâ model to extremes. On the siteâs homepage, a rotator prominently displays images of not models, but the editors (a lot of whom resemble models, which could be another post all together). The bylines are first names only, and many of the stories center on the journalists themselves.
One prime example is this post. xoVainâs 20-something beauty editor, known only as Annie, writes that the staff suggested she go partying, which she did until almost dawn (see her actual text to her friend that was embedded into the article, time-stamped 4:44 AM), and then document her experience using a new beauty cream from the siteâs launch sponsor that is designed to refresh the face even after the longest night of partying, supposedly.
Annie took and embedded a few before photos at home, some during pics while she used the cream en-route to the office on the subway, and the final product as she strolled up to work. Annie is the subject of this story and the product review is just folded in.
The post has 157 comments, with one commenter saying: âI've been on the fence about buying this, and I now think I just might ... It's hard to do things when you're hungover. It's hard to put makeup on in the subway. Mixing the two is a nearly impossible task...that I'm faced with...a lot. Thank you, Annie. Thank you.â
xoVain isnât the only one, though. In August, Glamour magazineâs editor-in-chief Cindi Leive chatted with me about the brandâs redesign. Leive said the idea behind it came from a need to update the magazine to reflect the desires and personalities of contemporary women.
âWeâre living in a culture that gives way to the rise of the personal,â she told me. âOur readers care about celebrities, but we also showcase clothes in the fashion pages featuring our own editors. I see our fashion assistants walking around the office looking amazing in an outfit they put together themselves at home. We started taking pictures and posting them to our website and we saw readers really responding to them, so weâve done that in the magazine as well. Whatâs aspirational to women now is much more individual, personal and idiosyncratic than it may have been ten years ago.â
She added that a studio photo is âthe way a still-life picture might have run in a magazine five years ago. Itâs all of the context and story surrounding [a] bag and the personal elements of it [that make it more successful]. It gets five times as many comments or re-pins or notes than the more antiseptic shot from a studio. Weâre living in a culture of personal storytelling.â
Another CondĂŠ title, Self magazine, recently underwent its own redesign and adopted many of the same principals. Editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger told me the title â(R)eally needed to refocus the way we were talking to women.â She added: âNow we have this new voiceâitâs much more conversational in tone.â
xoVain.com, Self.com and Glamour.com are incredibly similar. To be honest, the sites look almost identical. Which, I guess, is not really a surprise considering that Lewis came to Say Media from CondĂŠ Nast in December 2012, where she was managing editor of (you guessed it) Self, and previously held an editorial management position at (surprise!) Glamour.
It seems that womenâs lifestyle journalism is being transformed by a single generationâafter all, it does take three to make a trend. Maybe this is the new, new, new journalism Tom Wolfe could have never imagined?
T.J. Raphael is the associate editor of FOLIO:. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael.
[Editor's Note: This post is reprinted with permission, originally appearing on World Hum, a site dedicated to travel storytelling.]Back before there were travel blogs, there were travel magazines. In a nutshell, these were blogs made out of paper that came in the mail each month, glossy pages covered in ads that didnât pop up, but instead just kind of sat there, hoping impotently that youâd look at them. A few of the most stalwart are still in circulation, of course, piling up in doctorâs offices and the foyers of small-town libraries, and those travel mags that remain can be sorted into two basic categories.Magazines in the first category feature a woman on the cover who enjoys traveling the world in her bathing suit. These publications are intensely focused on the present moment, forever proclaiming âWhere to Eat in Shanghai Now,â âWhere to Sleep in Toronto Now,â and âWhere to Buy Something to Cover Up That Bathing Suit Now.â Itâs no use consulting such magazines about where to eat or sleep later on. They will not be able to tell you.In the second category are publications concerned not with vacations but with travel as a transcendental bridge between cultures. These mags are different from their cousins in that they privilege âauthenticityâ above style and are conscious of the serious social and environmental issues facing our planet. Also, they are probably going to fail.One such magazine was the adventure-travel journal Wend, which quietly expired almost a year ago, but has yet to receive a proper eulogy. Founded in 2006 and independently published in Portland, Oregon, Wend was a not-altogether-intuitive combination of formats both old and new. Like a magazine, it was printed on paper. Really nice paper, in fact, made from locally sourced and sustainably harvested trees, covered in biodegradable soy ink. Like a blog, however, Wend welcomed contributors who werenât necessarily professional writers or photographers. âReal peopleâ were at the heart of each issue, explained the magazineâs media kit, âwriting real stories about real adventures and real environmental issues.âAnd at the outset, Wend got off to a real good start. Founder Ian Marshall was a former ad and marketing guru for the short-lived, but much-beloved Blue, another indie adventure-travel mag that ran for 33 issues around the turn of the aughts. Marshall and his skeleton staff at Wend put out a handsome, photo-heavy quarterly with an emphasis on âhuman-powered adventure.â Early features followed climbing expeditions in China, river-surfers in Namibia, and adventure-racers in Patagonia. A few key motifs resurfaced throughout every issue: the sacredness of various landscapes, the willful abandonment of carbon-fueled transport, the search for enlightenment abroad. Wend covered transformative, long-distance bike rides like People covers Kardashian weddingsâfreewheeling rides across Bhutan, Australia, Mexico, Iran. Often as not, the central feat of any given story was performed under the banner of âawareness-raising.â Kayakers circled Newfoundland to raise awareness of oil slicks in the Atlantic; hikers traipsed the globe to call attention to HIV in Africa.Profiles were rare to non-existent, and service-writing (like destination round-ups or âBest Ofâ lists) had no business in the feature well. The quintessential Wend story was, above all, first-person diaristicâlight on reportage and heavy on personal reflection.Whether despite or because of this idiosyncratic formula, Wend quickly acquired a small, passionate audience. The magazineâs revenues doubled annually in its first three years. By 2009, it was available on newsstands and checkout racks at every REI, Whole Foods, and Eastern Mountain Sports across the country, not to mention the usual slate of chain and indie bookstores. In early 2010, its print circulation topped out at a respectable 135,000 readers per issue. To hear Marshall tell it, though, this is where things plateaued.
Circulation and ad dollars faltered over the next two years while the magazineâs costs kept rising. In 2011, Wend became a magazine without an office, its dwindling staff camped out in various Portland coffee shops. That yearâs summer issue didnât hit newsstands until October. Then, last January, Wend put out one last issue, updated its website for another few months, and finally went dark, leaving contributors unpaid and subscribers uninformed as to the magâs fate. (The website, scrubbed of any mention of the magazine, re-launched in December as a newsy blog to very little fanfare.)Full disclosure: I wrote for Wend on two occasions and was paid for my work each time. Whatâs more, I liked the magazine. I liked that the food column had nothing to do with restaurants and didnât shy from gastronomic taboos like Amazonian tree grubs or stewed dog in China. I liked the clever, Harperâs-esque âWendexâ on the opening pages, which managed to drop some startling eco-stats in a format that was piquant rather than preachy. I even liked the relentlessly contemplative nature of the feature stories. Every issue was like Chicken Soup for the Gnarly Eco-Nomadâs Soul. Sure, the broth was a bit thick with profound personal revelations, but with other publications dishing out only a thin gruel of glorified itineraries, the earnest reverence of Wendâs authors for their surroundings was genuinely comforting.Still, I canât help wondering what the demise of Wend says about the conscious-activist-adventurer niche to which the magazine tried to lay claim. Wend had a conflicted relationship with the more mainstream, consumer-oriented aspects of travel and the outdoors. Its average feature story tended to fall on a spectrum somewhere between commendably self-reflective and irritatingly navel-gazing, as the authors both reported on their far-flung exploits and wrung their hands over the same exploitsâ impacts on the environment. A world-class heli-skier bombs an Alaskan peak while contemplating the petrol-powered vehicles that enable her lifestyle. Slackliners in Scotland bolt a new route on a locally beloved spire, then brood over whether their actions constitute vandalism. The conventional goal of a travel or adventure publication is to inspire its readers to get up and go (and thereby spend). As the tagline of yet another defunct glossy, National Geographic Adventure, once urged, âDream it. Plan it. Do it.â Wendâs message, by contrast, seemed something along the lines of, âPlan it minimally. Do it without fossil fuels. Think very, very hard about what it meant.â Is there a whole magazineâs worth of audience out there for this kind of moral cud-chewing? Do armchair travelers really want to ponder the consequences of their actions, or are they simply wondering Where to Kayak in Ecuador Now?For that matter, are the possibilities for âhuman-poweredâ adventure sufficiently inexhaustible as to keep the soy ink flowing, issue after issue? Iâm the first to speak up for the limitless horizons of travel, but from a readerâs perspective, might not all those epic bike rides blend together after a time? Wendâs talented former editor Kyle Cassidy says that while he sometimes turned down a pitch on the basis of its carbon footprint, the magazine never wanted for content.
All the same, the occasional Wend story was edited to downplay the necessity of motorized transport. Mentions of car travel, for example, were cut when possible, and in one of my own pieces, a gas-powered motor launch became a more ambiguous âboat.â Thatâs a legit editorial call, of course, but it also suggests that every so often, the pursuit of a good yarn required expanding the boundaries of the mission statement. The frontiers of travel and adventure, moreover, can seem decidedly non-human-poweredâconsider Virgin Galacticâs space tourism, micro-submarines in the Mariana Trench, or Austrian guys jumping out of high-tech capsules in the stratosphere. Might devotion to eco-principle so narrow the scope of acceptable content that it alienates potential readers?Not in Wendâs case, insists the magazineâs founder. In Marshallâs view, ironically, it was actually the broadness of Wendâs vision that did the magazine in. According to him, much of Wendâs later inability to attract new advertisers stemmed from companiesâ decisions to concentrate their limited ad budgets on vertical campaigns. In marketing-speak, a âverticalâ ad campaign is the sort that focuses only on a targeted niche of consumers. So Trek advertises in a bike magazine, even though the New Yorkerâs readers also ride bikes, and Cuisinart buys a banner on a foodie blog, even though Gawkerâs readers also eat food. Wendâs ads were heavy on outdoor clothing, footwear, and beer, but bigger-fish clients like ski brands and kayak manufacturers were harder to land. Snowboarding and whitewater paddling are exploitable vertical niches. Simply wandering the world in a way that minimizes oneâs ecological footprint is not.Itâs a conundrum thatâs bigger than just Wend. In an era of specialization, travel media appeals, by its nature, to an audience of passionate generalists. The world may not have been ready for an eco-conscious, obstinately self-aware adventure magazine, but Wend wonât be the last ambitious venue for travel writing that struggles to find a foothold in a fractured media landscape. The arc that Wend followed is likely to keep playing itself outâin print, on monitors, and on tablet screensâuntil some publication or another discovers the magic formula: How to make a sustainable venture out of sustainable adventure.
Bureaus, correspondents, freelancers--journalists and media-types have always worked remotely. Reporting on location is glamorized, exotic datelines accentuated. More than the flash that comes with it, remote work is a necessary part of journalism.
That's part of the reason Yahoo'sÂ pronouncementÂ that it would end work-from-home arrangements drew skepticism from the journalism community in particular this week. While on-site reporting and working from home are different, the lines can blur when it comes to journalism.
Take Quartz, The Atlantic's new global business site. Editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney has 12 editorial staffers working from the group's home office in New York, but his team extends to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, London, Paris, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Thailand andÂ soon, Hong Kong. Many of those reporters operate out of home offices.
"It's a great advantage," he says. "We're able to be a global, 24/7 news organization serving an international readership."
Technology--instant messaging, Google Hangouts and shared documents are among theÂ solutionsÂ Delaney has implemented--has allowed Quartz's staff to stay connected in spite of the disparate locales and time zones.
Yahoo is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world though. They can figure out IMing. It's the loss of intra-office relationships that's their main concern, according to the company's internal notice leaked last Friday.
"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings," the memo reads. "Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."
Delaney admits the value of those "interactions and experiences" but believes they happen online, if slightly differently.
"There is a shared buzz around the office when you meet at the coffee machine," he says. "A lot of it carries over to IM though, particularly since we have a group chat that's exposed to everybody. There's something that could potentially concern just two people, but then winds up spilling out into the group chat and other people weigh in on it and follow up. The benefits of having a geographic spread and of having those serendipitous interactions where they live is a huge advantage and far outweighs the individual collisions in a single workplace."
Considering the nature of the job--highly digital and web-focused--and the institutional memory of remote work in journalism, media members might simply be better suited for the task than others.
Like Delaney, Macy Fecto, executive vice president of human resources and administration for business media publisher Access Intelligence, the parent company of Folio:, says that working from home is a plausible solution for journalists in today's business environment.
"Today's media lends itself [to remote work] better than ever," she says. "Because we work in a medium that is so digital, we're all used to that. Media has a slight edge over other industries, having people who can make the most of the various tools available that allow you to work from home and allow you to do so successfully."
Michael Rondon is an associate editor for FOLIO: Magazine. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.
Social media is a direct extension of your editorial voice and brand. For many, your publication doesnât exist outside of the social worldâuntil they find you in it. For instance, I was introduced to the Pulitzer Prize-winning site Pro Publica via Tumblr. Their âOfficials Say the Darnest Thingsâ Tumblog is focused and funny. Now Iâm hooked.
Think of social as the front porch to your brand: It should have curb appeal and be inviting.
While itâs important to stay active within the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest), there are untapped audiences for content publishers in the social universe. Consider activating one of these ânewâ social media communities as you build your online strategy.
Some of these may not be for all of you, but the idea here is to think of unique avenues for growing your audience.Â
Google+The value in Google+ is its SEO benefits. The Google +1 button (think of it as a Facebook âlikeâ that wonât share directly in your social stream) can lead to a better page rank.Â When people +1 a Google+ post or +1 a piece of content from your website, it increases the link's potential for a high CTR, which leads to more social shares and amps up your search rank.
The bottom line: Start a Google+ profile for your publication so that it works in tandem with your traditional SEO strategies such as link building, relevant keywords, and URL structure, all of which have a more direct impact on search.Â
Your To-Do List:
FoodilyThe beauty of Foodily, a food with friends social network where you can find and share recipes across the Web, is that itâs focused and niche. Itâs a forum for food enthusiasts, registered dieticians, chefs, party planners and restaurateurs to have conversations about cuisine.
Food isnât a main focus of your editorial strategy? Consider starting a profile anyway. For instance, if youâre a ski magazine, your compilations could focus on comfort food, aprĂ¨s ski bites and Hot Toddyâs for the cabin. If youâre an automotive publication, think of top meals for tailgating.
As an official Tastemaker, SELF updates its recipe lists regularly and hosts focused discussions with our food editors and contributing experts. And like Pinterest, all recipes link back to the original source, so referral traffic is an ROI.
The bottom line: Join Foodily to have a presence in an emerging social community and introduce your publication to a new audience in an unexpected but on-brand way.
InstagramThe photo darling of the social media set, Instagram is a great vehicle for visual storytelling. It allows mastheads to come to life, and the app puts a face on the wizards behind the curtain: your editors. There are contests and hashtag campaigns that publishers can execute, but for those just starting out, keep it simple. Thatâs what readers want.Â
The bottom line: Mobile is arguably the number-one social trend of 2013. Itâs a vital way to extend your brand. A must-do.Your To-Do List:
What new communities are you excited about? Respond below in the comments section or Tweet me @StephaniePaige.Â
The New York Timesâ style magazine, T, was reintroduced to readers this Sunday with a new look and feel. It has been redesigned, and its newly tapped editor from The Wall Street Journal, Deborah Needleman, has already gotten some feedback from readers, though not in a good way.
Several readers contacted the Times saying they were disappointed at the lack of diversity among the pages of the new magazine. The publication itself conceded this fact:
â(M)any readers found one aspect of the magazine disturbing â its lack of people of color. Indeed, there could be no argument; it was overwhelmingly white,â wrote the Timesâ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, in a post online. One reader commented that she in fact saw âonly one African-American and one Asian-American among the thousands of models in the ads.â She added, âT doesnât look like my neighborhood or America.â
Is this really a surprise? No. Especially considering what the fashion landscape looks like: According to Jezebel, the models included at shows during the Fall 13â fashion week events are getting whiter, making up about 82.7 percent of all models. Asian models were the second most represented group with 9.1 percent, black models at 6 percent and Latina models with a mere 2 percent.
Fashion and magazines clearly intersect in a variety of waysâfashion pubs not only cover all the happenings at fashion week, but also include the designerâs clothes, and models, in their advertisements. A lack of diversity in represented ethnic and racial backgrounds could eventually hurt publishers in a serious way.
Publishers are struggling at the newsstand, as the latest numbers from the Alliance of Audited Media shows. By having the majority of photo subjects in the pages of a magazine be Caucasian, the magazine industry, and specifically womenâs magazines, are already hurting their soon to be newly defined base.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.
The Census Bureau says the Hispanic population will more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic, up from about one in six today.
The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population will rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.
The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of the nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.
Itâs not 2060 yet, but demographics online have already changed. Last week, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report that shows non-whites are more active in social mediaâ68 percent of blacks use social media, 72 percent of Hispanics and 65 percent of whites. When getting more specific, 26 percent of blacks use Twitter, 19 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of whites. Minorities also use Instagram more, with 23 percent of blacks using the platform, 18 percent of Hispanics and just 11 percent of whites.
While many Hispanic publications saw drops at the newsstands (like their non-Hispanic counterparts), just as many saw double-digit subscription growth: Meredithâs Siempre Mujer magazine increased its paid subscriptions by 11.9 percent, Cosmopolitan En EspaĂąol increased its paid subscriptions by 99.9 percent, Poder Hispanic posted a 36.5 percent gain in paid subscriptions and Vanidades saw a 28.4 percent jump in the number of paid subscriptions, and newsstand sales increased by 18.6 percent.
If magazine-media is supposed to be one of the most cutting edge and dynamic industries, why is there a serious lag in even playing to a changing audience? My advice to T and to you would be to learn your new audience, and learn it quick. Â
T. J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of FOLIO: Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael.
For the last five years publishers have been digging ever deeper in the newsstand coal mine, seemingly blind to the dangers that lie below. The canary hasnât croaked, but itâs clearly breathing harder.
Publishers, naively waiting for good news from the top of the mineshaft, keep bemoaning the reasons for this calamitous bit of bad sales luck.
The recent newsstand sales figures for the second half of last year from AAM were indeed grim. It has been reported that the decline in unit sales was 8.2 percent from the year previous. But a more measured review, one that includes the sales of titles that reported sales a year ago but are no longer being published, shows that performance was measurably worse.
See Also: AAM: Newsstand a Drag On Circ as Digital Rises It reveals that unit sales were down 9.3 percent and revenue off 8.2 percent. But even these numbers donât fully demonstrate the level of performance.
Because of a reporting date anomaly nearly all the weekly frequency publications reported sales for 27 issues. However, they are being compared to 26 issues from the previous period. If the extra issue for the top 11 weekly publications is excluded from the calculations the unit sales decline would have been 10.2 percent. This, perhaps, represents a truer picture of newsstand sales performance in the second half of last year.
Well, as they say, stuff happens. If that were only the case an isolated ten percent decline wouldnât be so worrisome. But letâs not forget this performance closely mirrors what has been happening on the newsstand for the last five years:
Unit Sales: Down 44.9 percent, 11.2 percent annuallyRevenue: Down 38.0 percent, 9.1 percent annuallyTotal Paid Circ: Down 14.9 percent from 277.6 to 236.1 million Single Copy Circ: Down 44.7 percent from 48.8 million to 27.0 million Single Copy Circ as a Percent of Total Circ: Down from 17.7 to 11.8 percent
Has it ever been clearer that the newsstand canary is in extreme danger of croaking?
Whatâs my point in stretching this analogy? I believe publishers, to some great extent, remain in denial concerning the depth and seriousness of this precipitous decline. Letâs be realistic here. In the last five years there has been a sea change in technology and how people consume media. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman indicated, in speaking about all businesses, 9/11 and the Great Recession have disguised the effect of these changes.
The business of magazine publishing is being seriously altered. Management emphasis has shifted to cope with the changes of an increasingly digital world. One manifestation of these changes is the rapid ascendency of replica circ. Its use nearly tripled in the last yearâfrom 2.8 million circ to about 7.6 million circ, an increase of about 4.8 million. This increase, interestingly enough, compares pretty closely to the 3.6 million decrease in newsstand circ for the same period. Itâs now a good bet that replica circ is cannibalizing newsstand sales.
Nothing can be done to halt the advance of these technological and consumer involvement changes to the magazine business. But what publishers can do, if they really want to preserve the newsstand channel, is to concentrate their efforts on cooperatively working with its wholesaling and retailing partners to fix the inherent inefficiencies of channel operations.
But time is of the essence. The canaryâs breath is running short.
Baird Davis is a senior consultant with Circulation Specialists.
Bonnier's Popular Science is taking the venerable sell sheet one step further by including a video of the magazine's editor-in-chief Jacob Ward describing the upcoming issue's content highlights, marrying that with the magazine's pertinent demos. The sales team uses the video as an email enticement or brings it on a live sales call to add a dash of editorial celebrity when Ward himself can't come along. The idea came to Michael Gallic, associate publisher, marketing, the technology group, as Ward was taping his customary video introduction for the magazine's tablet version. Why not just ask Ward to hang around for another five or ten minutes to create a 90-second highlight reel of the upcoming issue? The first video sell sheet was created at the end of last year for the January/February issue. "We're always looking for new ways to help the reps to get to the advertisers," says Gallic. "The standard way is the issue sell sheetâa PDF which gives an overview and relevant statistics, but in the video you're hearing about the content live from the editor and you can see the stats pop up. He's an engaging, personable guy who brings the editorial to life. Who better to hear what the issue is about than the editor himself?"While they may not actually win the sale, anecdotally Gallic says the videos have been useful hooks to get the brand noticed. "The face-to-face calls are more difficult to get, but these video sell sheets are not only helping getting the call but getting the call back."The team uses Adobe's After Effects to edit the videos, and Gallic adds that, with a slightly different content spin, they're morphing into a useful consumer marketing tool as wellâparticularly as a newsstand driver. "We'll run them on the website to drive people to newsstand. They're taking on a life of their own," he says.
Here's a video of Ward highlighting the upcoming May issue:
The nomination period for the FOLIO: 100 is now officially open! Yes, you read that rightâwe're expanding the magazine industry's best-known and most prestigious list of innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers and disrupters from 40 to 100. The more the merrier.Starting now you can help shape the list by nominating a colleagueâeither at your company or at another oneâthat has made a meaningful, quantifiable impact on a specific product, group, company or even the market at large."Quantifiable impact" is the key phraseâthis isn't a popularity contest, anyone from inside the org chart can make this list, just be ready to back up your nomination with some solid supporting info, which you can do here. Remember, not every FOLIO: 100 list-maker is a top executiveâinnovation and constructive change often comes from the front lines and the trenches, let's be sure those folks get their due, tooâfrom editors to publishers to sales, audience development, design, production and digital. All across consumer, b-to-b, regional, enthusiast and association publishingâbig and small. And now with the expanded list, we can include an even more diverse range of deserving go-getters.Click here to fill out our easy nomination form. Nominations are due by March 4. Here's last year's FOLIO: 40 to get you inspired. We'll announce the 2013 FOLIO: 100 in April. Submit your nominations now and good luck!
Online publishers of all stripes have invested heavily in search to drive reader acquisition. With a market size approaching $3B in 2013, the SEO industry has thrived on the data feedback loops created by analyzing the keywords that users enter into search engines before arriving at their sites or competitive sites. Yet despite continued growth in user search activity and increasingly sophisticated keyword analysis tools, 2013 is shaping up to be the first year that social media eclipses search as the leading source of referral traffic to publishers. How could this be?Two parallel trends are driving this sea change. The first is Googleâs recent shift to encrypt search keywords for a significant segment of search referrals. This moveâfollowed by corresponding browser updates in 2012 by Firefox, Safari on iOS, and now Chrome to use Google SSL search by defaultâmeans that up to 39 percent of keyword data has vanished from publisher analytics systems. Less keyword data means fewer content insights, and fewer content insights means lower ROI from SEO. As publishers recognize lower yields from their search strategies, many will moderate their investment in this channel leading to reductions in search referral traffic.The second trend is the torrid growth of user-powered content sharing on Facebook and Twitter that has turned a trickle of social media traffic to publisher sites into a flood. Itâs worth noting that social traffic is not a new phenomenonâconsumers have been sharing web content and URLs with friends and colleagues via email since the first Mosaic browser was released in 1993. What has changed is the way that social media sites structure and amplify a personâs network connections. The New Yorker article URL that was emailed to 10 friends back in 2005 would today be posted to 500 friends on Facebook and 1,000 Twitter followers. And as the Likes, Shares, and Retweets pile up, the reach and traffic impacts get magnified. For example, The Atlantic recently reported statistics that measured social sources as 18 percent of total referral traffic across a basket of premium publisher sites. Search represented 22 percent of referral traffic. For an increasing number of publications, including The Atlantic, social traffic already far exceeds search in importance. As the quantity of search keyword data continues to declineâand as the quality of social analytics continues to improveâitâs not hard to imagine a tipping point occurring in 2013 where much of the time and resources currently spent against SEO will transition over to optimizing social channels.A major wildcard impacting the relative importance of social traffic versus search is the steady growth in mobile content consumption. Specifically: Will mobile devices expand the overall amount of sharing and search behavior, or simply cannibalize existing desktop behavior? comScoreâs November 2012 Search Query Report showed volumes declining by over 6 percent versus October 2011 on desktops. While growth in mobile search volumes offset those declines, the trend is clear: Consumers are substituting desktop queries with mobile queries. On the other hand, social network usage on mobile devices continues to explode, even as desktop-based usage also increases.Â According to a recent study by Nielsen, time spent on social media increased by 68 percent YOY on mobile devices versus a 24 percent increase on desktops.What can publishers do to tap into this trend? With social media on track to surpass search, 2013 is shaping up as a pivotal year when social networks leapfrog search algorithms as a more important source of user traffic. Publishers have an opportunity to gain insight into what content is being shared the most, as well as what types of articles drive the most referral traffic, in order to continue to grow their readership and engagement levels.