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 brandsâ reach.Â 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 customersâ roles, as well as their own: Â â˘ The customers of publishers are not advertisers, they are brand marketers. A brand marketerâs responsibility reaches far beyond ad buys; todayâs media companies must perceive them as such and provide the solutions to support their advertising and content marketing initiatives.â˘ 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 customersâ content marketing initiatives while alleviating their commonly associated challenges.Â 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 wonât mean the end of the publishing industry, but a disruption within it; a disruption creating new opportunities and new perceptions.
Weâre 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 weâve left our mobile device at home orâheaven forbidâlost it. According to a poll by Time Magazine, â1 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.â In fact, they compare mobile content addiction to a form of sustenance and point that, âtwice as many people would pick their phone over their lunch if forced to choose.â
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 weâre doing, the industry standard, is clearly not working. We need a new approachârealtime content apps.
Real-Time Content Apps Have 3 Things That Make Them AddictiveLetâs break down what makes a real-time content app addictive:
Area1: A Realtime Content App that is Truly AddictiveA 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 ânewsstandâ 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 slotâat 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 canât get there overnight. As in industry, itâs imperative that we begin to experiment to realize the full potential of the realtime content app opportunity.
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.
âReaders who share content via social media will be able to access additional articles for free,â writes Businessweek's Caroline Winter. âContent, available in English, will initially be free. When readers log on to the site for the first time, theyâll receive a certain number of pointsâChang calls them âkarma pointsââwhich will slowly be depleted as they click through articles. To restock on points and maintain access, they will have to share the siteâs stories through social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Itâs a bit like multilevel marketingâthe more readers spread articles, the greater their access. Those who bristle at being asked to share content can buy points; five points will cost 99Â˘.â
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 Changâs 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 prizeâand 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 subscriptionsâthe more points earned, the lower the price of a yearly print or digital subscription, incentivizing untapped leads.Content: Like Changâs 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 theyâll 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 HBOâs True Blood last June. Before the newsstand reveal, Entertainment Weeklyâs 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 monthâit 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
Based on my experience planning and buying millions of dollars in advertising for events, and seeing the results first hand, platform allocationâthe share of dollars invested across various media platforms like newspaper, radio, TV, outdoor, digital, etc.âis 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 resultsâas many attendees as possibleâmake sure your platform allocation syncs with the current media habits of your target audience.â¨â¨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 syndromeââchasing 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.
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 monthâs issue of FOLIO: has put a spotlight on city and regional magazine publishers and their strategies for reaching audiences, and advertisers, in the digital marketplaceâour report shows that some publishers in this market are, in fact, responding aggressively to the changing marketplace despite previously held reservations.Â
âMost city and regional magazines are struggling to grow digital divisions because weâve been print publications all along,â Ralph Martinelli, publisher of New York-based 55,000-circ Westchester Magazine, told FOLIO: in our April issue. âWeâre expanding our digital division into a separate entityâone of our main goals is to do a tremendous amount of daily digital-only content that does not appear in print, and weâve 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.â
The mobile, digital advertising market could be the next big thing for city and regional magazinesâat 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.
âThis puts locally targeted mobile ads at 38 percent of overall U.S. mobile ad spending in 2012, growing to 54 percent in 2017,â 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:
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
Our list of the most creative individuals in circulation, consumer marketing and online audience development is back: Weâre 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 industryâs top thinkers that have continued to innovate on the audience frontâbuilding 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 developmentâbut 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:
â˘ Database development and marketing â˘ Social media audience growth and engagementâ˘ Tablet and digital edition audience marketingâ˘ Newsstand sales, distribution and promotionâ˘ Fulfillmentâ˘ Online audience developmentâ˘ 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.
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 email@example.comÂ and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 -- Join this upcoming Folio: Webinar to discuss the survey findings, and to learn
how one publisher, Advanstar, streamlined their process to intensify the focus
on audience engagement strategies.