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Bill Mickey

How Cool Is Boston Magazine's May Issue Cover?

Bill Mickey Design and Production - 04/25/2013-15:43 PM



This is the cover for the May issue of Boston magazine. The story behind its creation is equally as awesome (the May issue was just days away from shipping when the bombs went off on that Monday; tweets and Facebook posts were employed to collect the actual shoes from runners.). Editor-in-chief John Wolfson provides the details here.



Al DiGuido

No Time to Waste

Al DiGuido Consumer - 04/25/2013-14:27 PM


As we all wait for the white smoke to appear above the Time Warner Center, it appears that many are  fixated on gaming the odds of one CEO candidate or another. Mr. Bewkes has already announced (after talks broke down with Meredith) that he wants to “spin out” the magazine assets into a separate company. Recent reports coming from Sixth Avenue indicate that the HR folks are doing all they can to retain their best employees during this period of uncertainty. Not sure how much Laura Lang (outgoing CEO) can and/or will do in the remaining months of her tenure. The departure of chief revenue officer Paul Caine (Time Inc.’s top sales producer) can’t be doing great things for customer relationships either.

For rank in file dealing with the day-to-day questions from advertisers and fellow employees, time passes painfully. Marketers don’t enjoy uncertainty, especially in a quickly changing and highly competitive media landscape. With each passing day the Time Inc. brand risks falling further back down the hill it will need to climb to regain its position of leadership in the publishing industry.

While we sit in this holding pattern waiting on this multi-billion dollar media icon to make its next move; my mind is filled with all sorts of suggestions about strategies and tactics where work can be done now in preparation for the ultimate transformation of  the company:

1. Knock Down the Walls: Undoubtedly there is a tremendous number of very bright people working for Time Inc., most of whom will be responsible for creating change under the new regime. I have no doubt that given the chance to express their ideas and thoughts these professionals have the keys to unlocking the value of the organization. My advice is to start polling the leadership team in each area of the business along with their direct reports to solicit ideas on ways that their business unit can be more profitable and grow more quickly. Having led several media organizations in my career, I never thought that any one person or leader had the market cornered on creative thinking and/or innovative ideas. Remove the roadblocks to success. How great would it be for the new CEO on his or her first day to be delivered a warehouse filled with thoughts, tactics and new product ideas from the current team of leaders, all laser focused on how they can strengthen the company’s market position and value?

2. Cure Big Data Analysis Paralysis: Time Inc. is sitting on one of the greatest customer profile data warehouses in the world, let alone the publishing industry. My counsel is to go live inside of this database right now. In the coming weeks, get focused on organizing user and prospect profiles into new marketable audience segments. Publishers have a great understanding of the legacy content intersections that have proven to be successful in drawing an audience that marketers and advertisers are willing to spend big dollars to engage. It’s time to identify new content intersections that are growing in terms of audience concentration and advertiser demand, as well as financial support. Get the audience development and editorial teams to work collaboratively on this project. Assemble the best minds in the search marketplace to help identify key words, phrases, topics,  volume metrics and audience velocity/ concentration patterns in the marketplace. Just as the cable television business has been able to build micro segments in categories like cooking, entertainment, travel, etc., by understanding  audience need and affinity, the goal of Time Inc. must be to identify a network of incremental content types and venues that will provide current readers, new  visitors and marketers with relevant platforms where they can experience a unique and compelling Time Inc. experience.

3. Trash Can Irrelevant Content: In 2013, we really don’t have the luxury of creating irrelevant content. Relevancy is defined by the level of reader involvement and engagement metrics. A failure to monitor this data and adjust our product offering to stay in tune with consumers is deadly regardless of venue (print, online, email, social media ). Today we have the tools that allow us to know much more about our content, so why not leverage these tools? I have always thought that my content colleagues would welcome this insight and accountability.

In the coming weeks, the editorial leadership inside Time Inc. properties needs to do an audit of every content connection being made with readers. The day of reckoning in this regard is coming soon, so why not be ahead of it now? We can remain in denial about this issue or embrace the publishing reality and welcome the new CEO with this level of transparency and understanding.

Without great content, we have no chance of engaging a community of readers with a shared interest. It’s pretty simple. As a content provider, if you can’t engage the community consistently, marketers and advertising dollars don’t show up. The end of that story isn’t pretty.

4. Where have all the Advertisers Gone?: It’s clear that there is a serious revenue problem at the core of this issue. No need to wait on the new leader to start addressing this issue. No doubt the marching orders for the new chief will be to focus on ways to run the business more efficiently and grow revenue in lock step. Time Inc. can increase the overall value of the organization by charting a course to grow revenue in all areas of the business.

I have never believed that we can cost-cut our way to market leadership. Revenue needs to be grown by acquiring new customers, retaining the existing customers and most importantly, figuring out a way to win back lost and/or declining customers. Everyone in sales and marketing disciplines within the company needs to begin creating a new strategy for a fresh assault on the market. Leadership should be asking for sales metrics (number of calls, conversion rates, email touch points, call reports, etc.) to understand how much time is being spent in front of customers and prospects. Start working on pipelines that track advertisers by property that have left in the last 12 months and/or decreased spending in Time Inc.'s brands. The boss is going to want to know where these dollars went and why. Be prepared for that.

A new day of accountability and focus is coming for the revenue producing side of the business. The solution to the value creation problem is in the market, so they need to have the chops and focus to get after it.

Time Inc. is a great company with an amazing legacy as a leader in the communications business. There are surely a lot of folks like myself that would truly hate to see such iconic brands decline due to lack of interest, passion and focus. Time Inc. should be saved and restored to its dominant position in the marketplace. It doesn’t need to be “packaged” for sale or merged into another media company.

There is truly no time to waste over on Sixth Avenue.



Mary Long

Launching in a Saturated Event Marketplace

Mary Long B2B - 04/23/2013-10:20 AM

*Editor's Note: This blog originally appears on FOLIO: sister site,

While the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society produces an annual tradeshow attended by more than 30,000 industry professionals, The Privacy & Security Forum was its first foray into smaller conference territory. A senior executive wondered out loud to me if we would make any money at all. Well, we did.

The event welcomed more than 250 attendees during a day and a half program with 12 sessions and 26 speakers. There was a small exhibit area where 16 sponsors and exhibitors presented their solutions.

It took meticulous pre-planning, carefully crafted content and marketing, seamless on-site management and thoughtful post-show follow-up. Here are the most important lessons we learned.

Timing is critical. There are many variables that contribute to a successful event and a lot that can go wrong. Having time on your side is a must. Four to six months in market and a couple of months of pre-production time are essential. Everything must be spot-on when you go to market. After the launch you must assess and adjust throughout the process.

In our case, we changed the date of the event three times before finally signing a venue contract. After a competitive assessment we selected a target date of late October, got bids from several venues and then had to redo the process due to a scheduled internal management meeting.

Option 2 was the week of the 2012 presidential election, a distracting time all around but especially for the key government speakers we hoped to secure who would not want to be away from the Capitol that week. Option 3 was the second week of December, a risky choice as event season is winding down and the weather can wreak havoc, but we had committed to doing this event as part of our business plan.

We knew the topic was hot and holding an event outside of the busy season could be an advantage. We decided to go for it, but had burned through a few weeks by the time we had a signed contract.

We spent even more time testing and selecting a registration system. The first one we tested was used in-house to sell paid content, but did not provide a customer-friendly experience for event registration, so we moved to another system that required the same cycle of testing but proved to be the better choice.

We had been building the event web site while all of this was going on and were finally ready to launch. We held our breath and dove in head first.

Content always rules. Stick to what you know and make sure the market wants to hear about the topic you choose. We based our choice for privacy and security on a recent reader survey.

We sent out our first announcement five months in advance of the show. At that time we had the entire agenda complete and 70 per cent of our speakers secured. Our speakers were the leading executives and government representatives that our audience wanted to hear from.

To insure that time out of the office was well spent, we upped the ante by releasing a respected industry report during a dedicated session at the event and provided the report to all of the attendees. We received 12 registrations out of the starting gate, what we thought was a very good sign for a brand new event. We felt like we had a winner on our hands.

Integrated marketing campaigns are essential. You need them to get your message out. We sent out 15 e-mails over the course of the marketing cycle to a targeted segment of our database and the same messages through our social media channels.

We also ran digital and print ads, sent out a press release through a wire service, listed the event in the ‘What’s New’ sections of regional HIMSS chapters, sent collateral to tradeshows we participated in, ran pre-show editorial on the event and offered discounts to university alumni groups, targeted associations, speaker contacts and exhibitor clients and prospects. Our messaging was tailored for the health care provider and payer audience that we built the event for.

On-site we provided plenty of Q&A and networking opportunities. Interacting is really the point of live events and this human contact and relationship building is why the event business continues to thrive in the age of web seminars, Skype, Twitter, etc.

Glitches are guaranteed on-site, so make sure your staff is professional and prepared to handle anything. Above all, don’t let your attendees know there are any problems—just solve them.

One of two key government speakers canceled two days before our event started. She was scheduled to speak the afternoon of day 2. We moved the other government speaker, scheduled for day 1, to her slot because that second afternoon needed a strong session to maintain the interest of the audience.

We asked two CIOs who were speaking in other sessions to take the first day’s morning session and provide insights into their security strategies. The session was moderated by one of our editors. We quickly printed an addendum to the agenda and announced the changes during the forum’s opening remarks. We made sure the adjustment sounded like a positive development and everything went off without a hitch.

See Also: What's Your Story?

After the event, don’t forget to thank your attendees for participating and let them evaluate their experience with one of the numerous easy-to-use online survey tools. We got invaluable feedback on topics, speakers, location and attendee testimonials. In return, we gave them the event presentations and a discount on registration for next year’s event.

Launching a new event is never a sure bet, but we beat our attendee projections by 27 percent through hard work and planning to ensure that all the parts involved in holding a successful event were moving together like a well-oiled machine.

When the event was over we received numerous inquiries from attendees and vendors alike about next year. We’ve got a few good years ahead of us with this one and have established a strong foundation from which to launch other events. This year’s Privacy & Security Forum will take place Sept. 23 and 24 at the InterContinental Boston. The topic matter will have the same focus but the facility is larger to accommodate the additional attendees, sponsors and exhibitors that we expect.

Mary Long is a marketing consultant specializing in event management and marketing, audience acquisition and lead generation. She can be reached at, on Twitter @marylongac or on LinkedIn.

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.