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Chris Wilson

Why the Traditional Advertiser-Media Sales Rep Relationship Is Dead

Chris Wilson Sales and Marketing - 04/18/2013-14:02 PM


Content marketing or advertising? This budgetary conundrum challenges not just brand marketers, but the publishers who have witnessed customers divest marketing spend from advertising and invest it into content marketing initiatives outside of their brands’ reach.
While a reduction in advertising spend poses an immediate threat to publishers, it also enables the opportunity for nimble publishers to reinvent their business model as well as their client relationships.

Publishing sales teams must change their perception of their customers’ roles, as well as their own:
• The customers of publishers are not advertisers, they are brand marketers. A brand marketer’s responsibility reaches far beyond ad buys; today’s media companies must perceive them as such and provide the solutions to support their advertising and content marketing initiatives.

• The perceived role of a media sales rep must also change in the eyes of brand marketers. This role should not be defined as a media sales rep, but as a marketing strategist. Marketing strategists think beyond their own brand and provide customers the insights and solutions to directly support their marketing objectives.

The evolution of this relationship becomes further mutually favorable when marketing services enters the equation. Publishers equipped to support the content development and media production needs of their customers are well positioned for the newest phase of media buying: Integrated marketing packages.

By including marketing services within traditional advertising bundles, publishers are able to support their customers’ content marketing initiatives while alleviating their commonly associated challenges.  Bundle pricing equates to reduced content development expenditures, a modest relief for customer budgetary concerns. In addition, access to industry editors as a component of the Integrated Marketing Package enables brand marketers to produce enough content, engaging content, and a variety of content.

Integrated Marketing Packages may even be supplemented with marketing coaching services, allowing entire industries the help needed to run successful content marketing programs.

Contrary to what some have predicted, content marketing won’t mean the end of the publishing industry, but a disruption within it; a disruption creating new opportunities and new perceptions.



PJ Gurumohan

The Anatomy of Addictive Content Apps

PJ Gurumohan - 04/16/2013-13:24 PM


We’re addicted to mobile content. We use our tablets to lull us to sleep. We use our smartphones as alarm clocks, we bring our phone to the bathroom for reading material, and we have panic attacks when we realize that we’ve left our mobile device at home or—heaven forbid—lost it. According to a poll by Time Magazine, “1 in 4 people check their smartphones every 30 minutes and 1 in 5 check it every 10 minutes. A third of respondents admitted that being without their mobile for even short periods leaves them feeling anxious.” In fact, they compare mobile content addiction to a form of sustenance and point that, “twice as many people would pick their phone over their lunch if forced to choose.”

So, what are we spending so much time on? According to a new study by Flurry, we spend 80 percent of our time inside of apps. Not all apps are created equal. Some apps we open once in a while and some we check many times a day to read or view real-time updates.

Most magazines delivered on mobile apps are in the form of PDFs which often have low star ratings based on their interactivity limitations, dated content, and a long download process. What we’re doing, the industry standard, is clearly not working. We need a new approach—realtime content apps.

Real-Time Content Apps Have 3 Things That Make Them Addictive

Let’s break down what makes a real-time content app addictive:

  • Updated Frequently or in Real-Time: The 30-day content package, delivered as a downloadable PDF, is going to become a thing of the past. In today’s world of Twitter-speed content, consumers are demanding content at a volume and pace that will only increase as new generations of young people grow up in a ‘mobile first’ world. Addiction is created when new content is available every time a user opens an app. When consumers are sustained on a steady diet of new content, they will always come back to check out what’s new, different, and fresh.
  • Highly Curated: In the web world, the name of the game is about high volumes of content with each page providing opportunities for online advertising. Search becomes how we curate self-content—how we separate the wheat from the chaff and focus in on what is of most interest to us. In the mobile world, the, “Let’s throw all of our content onto a mobile device,” doesn’t work because screen real estate is a much more precious asset. Instead, it’s up to the publisher to be highly selective and only deliver the best content to create high levels of engagement for each user. Think about it. Publishers can know who a person is, what they are interested in, where they are, and—in some cases—know what they are doing. Delivering highly curated content, and advertising, becomes a real possibility and will open up new monetization opportunities.
  • Integrated with Other Media: Flat PDF-like apps retain the elegance of the print experience, but they miss out on all of the interactive, immersive experiences that can be delivered and give content more context for a richer, more meaningful experience. An article can be accompanied by interactive maps, video, social media, commerce, and even connect to calendars, to-do lists, and more.

Area1: A Realtime Content App that is Truly Addictive
A fantastic new example of realtime content app is the free Area1 app for iPhone, powered by GENWI, which has a 5 star rating and 39 reviews currently in iTunes. It gathers interesting content from around the web with a unique content that ranges from neon waterfalls to an inside look at the Porsche Panamera hybrid. For example, in a recent article from Mashable about Ken Block and his romp through Russia with his GoPro camera, the curated includes the article a video clip from YouTube, a link to GoPro website, and bonus materials from Mashable about 10 crazy ways to use GoPro cameras.

Because of the handcrafted curated content, the daily updates, and the tight integration with other relevant digital content, it is sure to become part of your daily app addiction.

Engagement Becomes Hourly Actives. Think TV Primetime.
As opposed to the 30-day packaged PDF, real-time content apps open up new possibilities, in terms of engagement and monetization. In the “newsstand” world, engagement is a long download. In the web world, we look at daily actives, time spent, unique views, etc., and we treat every hour equally. But, in the real-time content world, we need to think of mobile users more like television viewers. Usage of each device goes in waves throughout the day and peaks at the traditional TV primetime slot—at 9pm, according to a new study by Chitika. Not surprisingly, they also found that smartphone usage is high during commuting hours and tablet usage peaks in the evening.

These trends are incredibly important for creators and curators of real-time content apps. Special content can be delivered at particular times, in specific time zones (based on GPS data), and paired with context-aware advertising. The possibilities are endless. Of course, we can’t get there overnight. As in industry, it’s imperative that we begin to experiment to realize the full potential of the realtime content app opportunity.

TJ Raphael

Easy Steps to Going Viral & Mastering the Social Web

TJ Raphael emedia and Technology - 04/11/2013-13:13 PM

Yesterday Bloomberg Businessweek reported on a brilliant idea by a Korean tech entrepreneur and magazine professional: Won Hee Chang has developed a strategy for possibly "coercing virality" on the social Web, a move that may help her Seoul-based literary magazine gain new revenue and audiences.

“Readers who share content via social media will be able to access additional articles for free,” writes Businessweek's Caroline Winter. “Content, available in English, will initially be free. When readers log on to the site for the first time, they’ll receive a certain number of points—Chang calls them ‘karma points’—which will slowly be depleted as they click through articles. To restock on points and maintain access, they will have to share the site’s stories through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s a bit like multilevel marketing—the more readers spread articles, the greater their access. Those who bristle at being asked to share content can buy points; five points will cost 99¢.”

This is an excellent concept that can extend beyond paid content models. Here are a few examples that could work:

Contests: Setting up a contest or sweepstakes can be a great way to leverage Chang’s tactic. Content providers can award readers with points for a contest or sweepstakes if they share articles. The more articles they share, the more points they earn to better their chances of winning the contest or sweepstakes prize—and publishers can get their brand in front of more readers who may not have been interacting with them on a social basis before.

Discounts: Team up with an advertiser to offer discounts or free products. Users can get access to these special offers or products by earning points for sharing out articles or sponsored content. It provides your advertising partner with instant gratification, and could be part of a larger value-add. In addition to an advertiser, a brand could use this tool to help them to boost subscriptions—the more points earned, the lower the price of a yearly print or digital subscription, incentivizing untapped leads.

Like Chang’s model, provide exclusive content for those who earn points by sharing out links. Put the threshold for points earned at a lower level: If a user shares two stories they’ll earn enough points to get access to an exclusive video, photo gallery or even the rest of a story.

Some brands are already taking steps in this direction: Entertainment Weekly rolled out 11 covers in anticipation of the new season of HBO’s True Blood last June. Before the newsstand reveal, Entertainment Weekly’s social media editor leveraged the 11 covers to gamify her Facebook posts, slowly revealing the covers and then asking users to comment to see more. It was the most viral post of the month—it drove nine times more likes, five times more comments, and 19 times more shares on Facebook than the average post. The issues also garnered the second highest number of single copy sales, likely a result of the increased consumer awareness.

This same approach could be taken, but instead of doing the reveal on Facebook for generating comments, users could get this exclusive content from the points they earn from sharing out the promotion, and brands could develop a special landing page on their own sites to reveal the, in this case, exclusive cover photos.

T.J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of FOLIO:. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael


Cristopher Levy

Platform Allocation: Key to Consumer Show Promotion

Cristopher Levy Consumer - 04/09/2013-16:00 PM


Based on my experience planning and buying millions of dollars in advertising for events, and seeing the results first hand, platform allocation—the share of dollars invested across various media platforms like newspaper, radio, TV, outdoor, digital, etc.—is the most important driver of campaign performance.

It defines who sees your messages and the size of the advertising package you deliver to them. If you get this wrong, no follow-on media buy variables (i.e. rates, placement, timing, etc.) will make much of a difference.

If you want the best results—as many attendees as possible—make sure your platform allocation syncs with the current media habits of your target audience.

Don't over-focus on "getting the best deal." Yes, that is important, but it is secondary to platform allocation. Who cares that you got a great rate on an ad purchase if you are not efficiently reaching your target set with the right media mix?

Another error to watch out for is "shiny object syndrome”—chasing the newest, coolest media. It can kill your ROI through misallocation of dollars. You need to stay on top of the latest media, but don't outrun your audience.

At the same time, if you are afraid to move out of your comfort zone and continue to invest in legacy media strategies that are now underperforming digital media, you will also hurt your ROI.

Platform allocation also affects your ability to achieve optimum reach and frequency. If you spend your dollars across too many platforms, your media buy will be spread too thin to achieve the necessary frequency to move the needle. On the other hand, if you concentrate your dollars too tightly, you will overspend on certain targets, while failing to reach other potential pools of attendees.

Finally, platform allocation can help you balance risk and reward in your media buys through diversification, especially beneficial as you spend more and more money in new digital media.



TJ Raphael

Is Mobile The Next Big Bump For City and Regional Mags?

TJ Raphael City and Regionals - 04/04/2013-13:01 PM


The mobile Web has been a challenge, to say the least, for even the largest content publishers, and when it comes to city and regional magazines, strategies range from exploratory to non-existent.

This month’s issue of FOLIO: has put a spotlight on city and regional magazine publishers and their strategies for reaching audiences, and advertisers, in the digital marketplace—our report shows that some publishers in this market are, in fact, responding aggressively to the changing marketplace despite previously held reservations. 

“Most city and regional magazines are struggling to grow digital divisions because we’ve been print publications all along,” Ralph Martinelli, publisher of New York-based 55,000-circ Westchester Magazine, told FOLIO: in our April issue. “We’re expanding our digital division into a separate entity—one of our main goals is to do a tremendous amount of daily digital-only content that does not appear in print, and we’ve brought in digital-only editors. From a sales point of view, our digital-only reps partner with the print ad reps to present complete packages that includes print, digital and events.”

The mobile, digital advertising market could be the next big thing for city and regional magazines—at least according to a new forecast from BIA/Kelsey, a local media and advertising research and consultancy firm.

The firm predicts that mobile local advertising revenues will grow from $1.2 billion in 2012 to $9.1 billion in 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate of 43.9 percent. For the total U.S. mobile ad spending market, the firm estimates this sector to grow from $3.2 billion in 2012 to $16.8 billion in 2017.

“This puts locally targeted mobile ads at 38 percent of overall U.S. mobile ad spending in 2012, growing to 54 percent in 2017,” a statement from the company says.

While search and display is top of mind, the firm notes that other areas of mobile are also growing:

  • Display advertising applied to apps and mobile Web inventory is estimated to grow from $379 million in 2012 to $2.7 billion in 2017.
  • Search will grow from $704 million in 2012 to $5.7 billion in 2017.
  • SMS messaging will grow from $101 million to $162 million in 2017.
  • Video distributed within apps and mobile Web inventory will grow from $38 million in 2012 to $515 million 2017.

Since local mobile ad revenue is estimated to account for a whopping 54 percent of overall U.S. mobile ad spending, city and regional magazines are well positioned to tap the national advertising market in ways they never dreamed of. Local communities not only trust city and regional mags, but these brands have the audience infrastructure and local knowledge to offer national ad partners exciting new options in their quest for local ad messaging.




T.J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of FOLIO:. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael

TJ Raphael

A Call for Nominations: The 2013 Audience Development All-Stars

TJ Raphael Sales and Marketing - 03/28/2013-10:13 AM


Our list of the most creative individuals in circulation, consumer marketing and online audience development is back: We’re proud to announce that nominations are open for the 2013 Audience Development All-Stars.

The Audience Development All-Stars is our supplement's annual list honoring the industry’s top thinkers that have continued to innovate on the audience front—building new opportunities in both traditional and cutting-edge customer marketing initiatives.

It might be a new approach to fulfillment, direct mail or database analytics, but the list is designed to highlight the pros who over the last year have helped keep, manage, and attract new audiences for their companies.

As we've done the previous six years, our team of editors has been scouring the industry for the brightest minds in circulation, consumer marketing and audience development—but we also need to hear from you.

We encourage you to make a submission for our annual All-Stars list by nominating yourself or a colleague. We're looking for circ and audience development pros with demonstrable success in the ever-expanding category of audience marketing and management.

These are just some of the areas of excellence we're looking for:

• Database development and marketing
• Social media audience growth and engagement
• Tablet and digital edition audience marketing
• Newsstand sales, distribution and promotion
• Fulfillment
• Online audience development
• Integrated marketing

All nominations must show demonstrable success with a new or existing project or initiative.

Join us in recognizing the best talent in our industry by submitting a nomination. Click here to make a submission.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

T. J. Raphael is Associate Editor of FOLIO:. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael.

Stephanie Paige Miller

10 Ways To Leverage Social During a Redesign

Stephanie Paige Miller Design and Production - 03/26/2013-12:31 PM


It seems like everyone is getting a face-lift these days: The Atlantic,, Redbook, the XO brand, Self. And whether you’re 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, it’s 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. It’s 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 Beyoncé and unveil your new cover on Instagram or Tumblr. You want to reach a younger audience? Activate in their channel. And make it good—don’t skimp on content.

3. Promote your Twitter content. Own a hashtag to ensure that your material surfaces. This dovetails nicely if it’s tied to a franchise that’ll work across platforms.

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 you’re 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. SELF’s 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 don’t 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 “about us” 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.

I’d 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.


Rick Ellis

Thinking Through a Marketing Automation Program

Rick Ellis Audience Development - 03/14/2013-11:15 AM


I’m 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. 
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 “renew your subscription” messages.)

Automated program option 1:
• 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.
• From the data he provided, build a logic program to determine the content that he would like most, and any other products that he didn’t ask for that might apply.
• 10 days after he signs up, send him a “best of” that content.
• 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:
• Set the subscriber score for Jimmy just like in option 1.
• Sweep the database every three weeks for demographic attributes prioritized by business value—those “hot topics” or key markets are sent before less important ones.
• 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. 
• Set a counter so he only gets each content type once as part of the campaign.
• 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 it’s still based on what he told me about himself. I like it because it’s 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? 


Robert Newman

Examining The Atlantic and The New Republic Redesigns

Robert Newman Design and Production - 03/12/2013-13:22 PM


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.

It’s 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 magazines’ 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 he’s 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 Times’s Key and Play magazines, Premiere, and more. Working out of the New York office of the DC-based biweekly, Barnett helmed February’s 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 magazine’s overall design and format.

From 2000-05, when The Atlantic was based in Boston, that magazine’s 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 magazine’s 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, “an infographic explanation of a seemingly complicated problem.”

The Atlantic’s 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, it’s all highly readable; there’s no doubt, even with the heightened design, that the text and imagery are given primacy.

Crooks says, “We 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 didn’t want the design to be a distraction or too trendy.”

The new design of The Atlantic references consumer magazines like Rolling Stone and Esquire, and Crooks readily acknowledges the influence. “Both 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.”

Crooks also reworked and reintroduced the The Atlantic’s Poseidon colophon, which was something he resurrected from earlier issues of the magazine. He describes it as “A new sexy god of the sea for the social media age.” (For those not familiar with the term, a colophon is an old-school term for a logo, or what used to be called a “printer’s mark,” that would appear on the title page or contents of a book or magazine.)

“What makes The Atlantic great is the writing and the ideas,” say Crooks. “I’ve 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. It’s something most magazines do, but it’s a new approach for The Atlantic. My goal is to make each issue a unique experience.”

Crooks has just begun to apply the new look of The Atlantic to the magazine’s other platforms. He’s working on digital projects for the websites, and of course, the iPad app. The print redesign debuted with The Atlantic’s March 2013 issue, which is out now.

A Dual Challenge at TNR

Over at The New Republic, Dirk Barnett had a dual challenge. Not only did he need to completely overhaul the magazine’s 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 year—twice as often as The Atlantic.)

“The New Republic has never had a creative director in its entire 99-year history,” explains Barnett, “so it’s 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.”

Most 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. He’s 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: “The 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.”

The New Republic’s 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 Times’s 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; it’s a testimony to the strength and elegance of Barnett’s 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 (“Original Sin”), 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.

There’s 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 (“The Republicans”), 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 magazine’s 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 “inspiring”). But moving forward, he’s got his hands on the entire brand: “The 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.”

According to Barnett, the design of the iPad version of the magazine heavily influenced the print edition: “We kept asking, ‘How will this look on the tablet?’, and many of the design elements we cooked up were driven by the answer to that question.”

That’s something I found to be true when I was working at Reader’s 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 magazine’s 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.



TJ Raphael

The Rise of First Person Storytelling

TJ Raphael Editorial - 03/07/2013-13:21 PM


When I was in journalism school (which, frankly, wasn’t 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 used—if “dire” 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 “selfies,” a general me-centric culture has come to the fore, and women’s lifestyle media outlets are certainly taking notice.

This week I wrote about the new online-only property from Say Media and Jane Pratt— When I interviewed Kate Lewis, Say Media’s senior vice president and editorial director, she outlined Say Media’s strategy for reaching their target millennial audience:

“It’s 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 beauty—it’s a number of women of all different ages and walks of life talking about what role beauty plays in their life everyday. It’s that personal, intimate, experiential thing.” is really taking this “point-of-view publishing” model to extremes. On the site’s 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. xoVain’s 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 site’s 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: “I'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.”

xoVain isn’t the only one, though. In August, Glamour magazine’s editor-in-chief Cindi Leive chatted with me about the brand’s redesign. Leive said the idea behind it came from a need to update the magazine to reflect the desires and personalities of contemporary women.

“We’re living in a culture that gives way to the rise of the personal,” she told me. “Our 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 we’ve done that in the magazine as well. What’s aspirational to women now is much more individual, personal and idiosyncratic than it may have been ten years ago.”

She added that a studio photo is “the way a still-life picture might have run in a magazine five years ago. It’s 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. We’re living in a culture of personal storytelling.”

Another Condé title, Self magazine, recently underwent its own redesign and adopted many of the same principals. Editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger told me the title “(R)eally needed to refocus the way we were talking to women.” She added: “Now we have this new voice—it’s much more conversational in tone.”, and 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 Condé 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 women’s lifestyle journalism is being transformed by a single generation—after 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.

Brian Kevin

The End of Wend

Brian Kevin Consumer - 03/05/2013-11:23 AM


[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 didn’t pop up, but instead just kind of sat there, hoping impotently that you’d look at them. A few of the most stalwart are still in circulation, of course, piling up in doctor’s 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 “Where to Eat in Shanghai Now,” “Where to Sleep in Toronto Now,” and “Where to Buy Something to Cover Up That Bathing Suit Now.” It’s 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 “authenticity” 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 weren’t necessarily professional writers or photographers. “Real people” were at the heart of each issue, explained the magazine’s media kit, “writing real stories about real adventures and real environmental issues.”

And 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 “human-powered adventure.” 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 weddings—freewheeling rides across Bhutan, Australia, Mexico, Iran. Often as not, the central feat of any given story was performed under the banner of “awareness-raising.” 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 “Best Of” lists) had no business in the feature well. The quintessential Wend story was, above all, first-person diaristic—light on reportage and heavy on personal reflection.

Whether despite or because of this idiosyncratic formula, Wend quickly acquired a small, passionate audience. The magazine’s 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 magazine’s costs kept rising. In 2011, Wend became a magazine without an office, its dwindling staff camped out in various Portland coffee shops. That year’s summer issue didn’t 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 mag’s 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. What’s more, I liked the magazine. I liked that the food column had nothing to do with restaurants and didn’t shy from gastronomic taboos like Amazonian tree grubs or stewed dog in China. I liked the clever, Harper’s-esque “Wendex” 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-Nomad’s 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 Wend’s authors for their surroundings was genuinely comforting.

Still, I can’t 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 exploits’ 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, “Dream it. Plan it. Do it.” Wend’s message, by contrast, seemed something along the lines of, “Plan it minimally. Do it without fossil fuels. Think very, very hard about what it meant.” Is there a whole magazine’s 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 “human-powered” adventure sufficiently inexhaustible as to keep the soy ink flowing, issue after issue? I’m the first to speak up for the limitless horizons of travel, but from a reader’s perspective, might not all those epic bike rides blend together after a time? Wend’s 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 “boat.” That’s 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-powered—consider Virgin Galactic’s 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 Wend’s case, insists the magazine’s founder. In Marshall’s view, ironically, it was actually the broadness of Wend’s vision that did the magazine in. According to him, much of Wend’s later inability to attract new advertisers stemmed from companies’ decisions to concentrate their limited ad budgets on vertical campaigns. In marketing-speak, a “vertical” 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 Yorker’s readers also ride bikes, and Cuisinart buys a banner on a foodie blog, even though Gawker’s readers also eat food. Wend’s 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 one’s ecological footprint is not.

It’s a conundrum that’s 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 won’t 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 out—in print, on monitors, and on tablet screens—until some publication or another discovers the magic formula: How to make a sustainable venture out of sustainable adventure.


Michael Rondon

The Media Weighs In On Yahoo's Work-From-Home Ban

Michael Rondon Design and Production - 02/28/2013-16:21 PM

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's pronouncement 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 and 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 the solutions 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 and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.