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TJ Raphael

The Rise of First Person Storytelling

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

 

When I was in journalism school (which, frankly, wasn’t that long ago), my professors decried what was thought to be a golden rule, one that I have broken several times already: Do not write in the first person. I, me and my are words that should not be used—if “dire” circumstances do present themselves, it is suggested that writers like this reporter find ways to get around it (hint).

With the rise of millennial audiences, the proliferation of social media and the advent of “selfies,” a general me-centric culture has come to the fore, and women’s lifestyle media outlets are certainly taking notice.

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

“It’s the story of real women, living their lives and sharing their experimentation and rituals...Our whole reason for being is to create what we call point-of-view publishing, which is a unique, special and personal voice in the digital space. That is what appealed to us on this unique take on beauty—it’s a number of women of all different ages and walks of life talking about what role beauty plays in their life everyday. It’s that personal, intimate, experiential thing.”

xoVain.com is really taking this “point-of-view publishing” model to extremes. On the site’s homepage, a rotator prominently displays images of not models, but the editors (a lot of whom resemble models, which could be another post all together). The bylines are first names only, and many of the stories center on the journalists themselves.

One prime example is this post. xoVain’s 20-something beauty editor, known only as Annie, writes that the staff suggested she go partying, which she did until almost dawn (see her actual text to her friend that was embedded into the article, time-stamped 4:44 AM), and then document her experience using a new beauty cream from the site’s launch sponsor that is designed to refresh the face even after the longest night of partying, supposedly.

Annie took and embedded a few before photos at home, some during pics while she used the cream en-route to the office on the subway, and the final product as she strolled up to work. Annie is the subject of this story and the product review is just folded in.

The post has 157 comments, with one commenter saying: “I've been on the fence about buying this, and I now think I just might ... It's hard to do things when you're hungover. It's hard to put makeup on in the subway. Mixing the two is a nearly impossible task...that I'm faced with...a lot. Thank you, Annie. Thank you.”

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

“We’re living in a culture that gives way to the rise of the personal,” she told me. “Our readers care about celebrities, but we also showcase clothes in the fashion pages featuring our own editors. I see our fashion assistants walking around the office looking amazing in an outfit they put together themselves at home. We started taking pictures and posting them to our website and we saw readers really responding to them, so we’ve done that in the magazine as well. What’s aspirational to women now is much more individual, personal and idiosyncratic than it may have been ten years ago.”

She added that a studio photo is “the way a still-life picture might have run in a magazine five years ago. It’s all of the context and story surrounding [a] bag and the personal elements of it [that make it more successful]. It gets five times as many comments or re-pins or notes than the more antiseptic shot from a studio. We’re living in a culture of personal storytelling.”

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

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 Condé Nast in December 2012, where she was managing editor of (you guessed it) Self, and previously held an editorial management position at (surprise!) Glamour.

It seems that women’s lifestyle journalism is being transformed by a single generation—after all, it does take three to make a trend. Maybe this is the new, new, new journalism Tom Wolfe could have never imagined?


T.J. Raphael is the associate editor of
FOLIO:. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael.

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Brian Kevin

The End of Wend

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

 

[Editor's Note: This post is reprinted with permission, originally appearing on World Hum, a site dedicated to travel storytelling.]

Back before there were travel blogs, there were travel magazines. In a nutshell, these were blogs made out of paper that came in the mail each month, glossy pages covered in ads that didn’t pop up, but instead just kind of sat there, hoping impotently that you’d look at them. A few of the most stalwart are still in circulation, of course, piling up in doctor’s offices and the foyers of small-town libraries, and those travel mags that remain can be sorted into two basic categories.

Magazines in the first category feature a woman on the cover who enjoys traveling the world in her bathing suit. These publications are intensely focused on the present moment, forever proclaiming “Where to Eat in Shanghai Now,” “Where to Sleep in Toronto Now,” and “Where to Buy Something to Cover Up That Bathing Suit Now.” It’s no use consulting such magazines about where to eat or sleep later on. They will not be able to tell you.

In the second category are publications concerned not with vacations but with travel as a transcendental bridge between cultures. These mags are different from their cousins in that they privilege “authenticity” above style and are conscious of the serious social and environmental issues facing our planet. Also, they are probably going to fail.

One such magazine was the adventure-travel journal Wend, which quietly expired almost a year ago, but has yet to receive a proper eulogy. Founded in 2006 and independently published in Portland, Oregon, Wend was a not-altogether-intuitive combination of formats both old and new. Like a magazine, it was printed on paper. Really nice paper, in fact, made from locally sourced and sustainably harvested trees, covered in biodegradable soy ink. Like a blog, however, Wend welcomed contributors who weren’t necessarily professional writers or photographers. “Real people” were at the heart of each issue, explained the magazine’s media kit, “writing real stories about real adventures and real environmental issues.”

And at the outset, Wend got off to a real good start. Founder Ian Marshall was a former ad and marketing guru for the short-lived, but much-beloved Blue, another indie adventure-travel mag that ran for 33 issues around the turn of the aughts. Marshall and his skeleton staff at Wend put out a handsome, photo-heavy quarterly with an emphasis on “human-powered adventure.” Early features followed climbing expeditions in China, river-surfers in Namibia, and adventure-racers in Patagonia. A few key motifs resurfaced throughout every issue: the sacredness of various landscapes, the willful abandonment of carbon-fueled transport, the search for enlightenment abroad. Wend covered transformative, long-distance bike rides like People covers Kardashian weddings—freewheeling rides across Bhutan, Australia, Mexico, Iran. Often as not, the central feat of any given story was performed under the banner of “awareness-raising.” Kayakers circled Newfoundland to raise awareness of oil slicks in the Atlantic; hikers traipsed the globe to call attention to HIV in Africa.

Profiles were rare to non-existent, and service-writing (like destination round-ups or “Best Of” lists) had no business in the feature well. The quintessential Wend story was, above all, first-person diaristic—light on reportage and heavy on personal reflection.

Whether despite or because of this idiosyncratic formula, Wend quickly acquired a small, passionate audience. The magazine’s revenues doubled annually in its first three years. By 2009, it was available on newsstands and checkout racks at every REI, Whole Foods, and Eastern Mountain Sports across the country, not to mention the usual slate of chain and indie bookstores. In early 2010, its print circulation topped out at a respectable 135,000 readers per issue. To hear Marshall tell it, though, this is where things plateaued.

Circulation and ad dollars faltered over the next two years while the magazine’s costs kept rising. In 2011, Wend became a magazine without an office, its dwindling staff camped out in various Portland coffee shops. That year’s summer issue didn’t hit newsstands until October. Then, last January, Wend put out one last issue, updated its website for another few months, and finally went dark, leaving contributors unpaid and subscribers uninformed as to the mag’s fate. (The website, scrubbed of any mention of the magazine, re-launched in December as a newsy blog to very little fanfare.)

Full disclosure: I wrote for Wend on two occasions and was paid for my work each time. What’s more, I liked the magazine. I liked that the food column had nothing to do with restaurants and didn’t shy from gastronomic taboos like Amazonian tree grubs or stewed dog in China. I liked the clever, Harper’s-esque “Wendex” on the opening pages, which managed to drop some startling eco-stats in a format that was piquant rather than preachy. I even liked the relentlessly contemplative nature of the feature stories. Every issue was like Chicken Soup for the Gnarly Eco-Nomad’s Soul. Sure, the broth was a bit thick with profound personal revelations, but with other publications dishing out only a thin gruel of glorified itineraries, the earnest reverence of Wend’s authors for their surroundings was genuinely comforting.

Still, I can’t help wondering what the demise of Wend says about the conscious-activist-adventurer niche to which the magazine tried to lay claim. Wend had a conflicted relationship with the more mainstream, consumer-oriented aspects of travel and the outdoors. Its average feature story tended to fall on a spectrum somewhere between commendably self-reflective and irritatingly navel-gazing, as the authors both reported on their far-flung exploits and wrung their hands over the same exploits’ impacts on the environment. A world-class heli-skier bombs an Alaskan peak while contemplating the petrol-powered vehicles that enable her lifestyle. Slackliners in Scotland bolt a new route on a locally beloved spire, then brood over whether their actions constitute vandalism.

The conventional goal of a travel or adventure publication is to inspire its readers to get up and go (and thereby spend). As the tagline of yet another defunct glossy, National Geographic Adventure, once urged, “Dream it. Plan it. Do it.” Wend’s message, by contrast, seemed something along the lines of, “Plan it minimally. Do it without fossil fuels. Think very, very hard about what it meant.” Is there a whole magazine’s worth of audience out there for this kind of moral cud-chewing? Do armchair travelers really want to ponder the consequences of their actions, or are they simply wondering Where to Kayak in Ecuador Now?

For that matter, are the possibilities for “human-powered” adventure sufficiently inexhaustible as to keep the soy ink flowing, issue after issue? I’m the first to speak up for the limitless horizons of travel, but from a reader’s perspective, might not all those epic bike rides blend together after a time? Wend’s talented former editor Kyle Cassidy says that while he sometimes turned down a pitch on the basis of its carbon footprint, the magazine never wanted for content.

All the same, the occasional Wend story was edited to downplay the necessity of motorized transport. Mentions of car travel, for example, were cut when possible, and in one of my own pieces, a gas-powered motor launch became a more ambiguous “boat.” That’s a legit editorial call, of course, but it also suggests that every so often, the pursuit of a good yarn required expanding the boundaries of the mission statement. The frontiers of travel and adventure, moreover, can seem decidedly non-human-powered—consider Virgin Galactic’s space tourism, micro-submarines in the Mariana Trench, or Austrian guys jumping out of high-tech capsules in the stratosphere. Might devotion to eco-principle so narrow the scope of acceptable content that it alienates potential readers?

Not in Wend’s case, insists the magazine’s founder. In Marshall’s view, ironically, it was actually the broadness of Wend’s vision that did the magazine in. According to him, much of Wend’s later inability to attract new advertisers stemmed from companies’ decisions to concentrate their limited ad budgets on vertical campaigns. In marketing-speak, a “vertical” ad campaign is the sort that focuses only on a targeted niche of consumers. So Trek advertises in a bike magazine, even though the New Yorker’s readers also ride bikes, and Cuisinart buys a banner on a foodie blog, even though Gawker’s readers also eat food. Wend’s ads were heavy on outdoor clothing, footwear, and beer, but bigger-fish clients like ski brands and kayak manufacturers were harder to land. Snowboarding and whitewater paddling are exploitable vertical niches. Simply wandering the world in a way that minimizes one’s ecological footprint is not.

It’s a conundrum that’s bigger than just Wend. In an era of specialization, travel media appeals, by its nature, to an audience of passionate generalists. The world may not have been ready for an eco-conscious, obstinately self-aware adventure magazine, but Wend won’t be the last ambitious venue for travel writing that struggles to find a foothold in a fractured media landscape. The arc that Wend followed is likely to keep playing itself out—in print, on monitors, and on tablet screens—until some publication or another discovers the magic formula: How to make a sustainable venture out of sustainable adventure.

 

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Michael Rondon

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

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

Bureaus, correspondents, freelancers--journalists and media-types have always worked remotely. Reporting on location is glamorized, exotic datelines accentuated. More than the flash that comes with it, remote work is a necessary part of journalism.

That's part of the reason Yahoo's pronouncement that it would end work-from-home arrangements drew skepticism from the journalism community in particular this week. While on-site reporting and working from home are different, the lines can blur when it comes to journalism.

Take Quartz, The Atlantic's new global business site. Editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney has 12 editorial staffers working from the group's home office in New York, but his team extends to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, London, Paris, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Thailand and soon, Hong Kong. Many of those reporters operate out of home offices.

"It's a great advantage," he says. "We're able to be a global, 24/7 news organization serving an international readership."

Technology--instant messaging, Google Hangouts and shared documents are among the solutions Delaney has implemented--has allowed Quartz's staff to stay connected in spite of the disparate locales and time zones.

Yahoo is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world though. They can figure out IMing. It's the loss of intra-office relationships that's their main concern, according to the company's internal notice leaked last Friday.

"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings," the memo reads. "Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."

Delaney admits the value of those "interactions and experiences" but believes they happen online, if slightly differently.

"There is a shared buzz around the office when you meet at the coffee machine," he says. "A lot of it carries over to IM though, particularly since we have a group chat that's exposed to everybody. There's something that could potentially concern just two people, but then winds up spilling out into the group chat and other people weigh in on it and follow up. The benefits of having a geographic spread and of having those serendipitous interactions where they live is a huge advantage and far outweighs the individual collisions in a single workplace."

Considering the nature of the job--highly digital and web-focused--and the institutional memory of remote work in journalism, media members might simply be better suited for the task than others.

Like Delaney, Macy Fecto, executive vice president of human resources and administration for business media publisher Access Intelligence, the parent company of Folio:, says that working from home is a plausible solution for journalists in today's business environment.

"Today's media lends itself [to remote work] better than ever," she says. "Because we work in a medium that is so digital, we're all used to that. Media has a slight edge over other industries, having people who can make the most of the various tools available that allow you to work from home and allow you to do so successfully."

Michael Rondon is an associate editor for FOLIO: Magazine. You can reach him at mrondon@accessintel.com and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.

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Stephanie Paige Miller

Beyond the Big Three: New Social Networks for Publishers

Stephanie Paige Miller Consumer - 02/25/2013-16:19 PM

 

Social media is a direct extension of your editorial voice and brand. For many, your publication doesn’t exist outside of the social world—until they find you in it. For instance, I was introduced to the Pulitzer Prize-winning site Pro Publica via Tumblr. Their “Officials Say the Darnest Things” Tumblog is focused and funny. Now I’m hooked.

Think of social as the front porch to your brand: It should have curb appeal and be inviting.

While it’s important to stay active within the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest), there are untapped audiences for content publishers in the social universe. Consider activating one of these “new” social media communities as you build your online strategy.

Some of these may not be for all of you, but the idea here is to think of unique avenues for growing your audience. 

Google+
The value in Google+ is its SEO benefits. The Google +1 button (think of it as a Facebook “like” that won’t share directly in your social stream) can lead to a better page rank.  When people +1 a Google+ post or +1 a piece of content from your website, it increases the link's potential for a high CTR, which leads to more social shares and amps up your search rank.

The bottom line: Start a Google+ profile for your publication so that it works in tandem with your traditional SEO strategies such as link building, relevant keywords, and URL structure, all of which have a more direct impact on search. 

Your To-Do List:

  1. Start and maintain a profile
  2. Add +1 buttons to your Web site
  3. Try a Hangout on Air (live-streamed on your dot com) with editors or contributing experts


Foodily

The beauty of Foodily, a food with friends social network where you can find and share recipes across the Web, is that it’s focused and niche. It’s a forum for food enthusiasts, registered dieticians, chefs, party planners and restaurateurs to have conversations about cuisine.

Food isn’t a main focus of your editorial strategy? Consider starting a profile anyway. For instance, if you’re a ski magazine, your compilations could focus on comfort food, après ski bites and Hot Toddy’s for the cabin. If you’re an automotive publication, think of top meals for tailgating.

As an official Tastemaker, SELF updates its recipe lists regularly and hosts focused discussions with our food editors and contributing experts. And like Pinterest, all recipes link back to the original source, so referral traffic is an ROI.

The bottom line: Join Foodily to have a presence in an emerging social community and introduce your publication to a new audience in an unexpected but on-brand way.

Your To-Do List:

  1. Start a profile, then download the free iPhone-only app
  2. Search for recipes by filter (low-carb, gluten-free)
  3. Engage: Ask a question and update your status with what your editors are cooking
  4. Explore other Tastemakers such as Cat Cora and Wolfgang Puck


Instagram

The photo darling of the social media set, Instagram is a great vehicle for visual storytelling. It allows mastheads to come to life, and the app puts a face on the wizards behind the curtain: your editors. There are contests and hashtag campaigns that publishers can execute, but for those just starting out, keep it simple. That’s what readers want. 

The bottom line: Mobile is arguably the number-one social trend of 2013. It’s a vital way to extend your brand. A must-do.

Your To-Do List:

  1. Download at the App Store. No more than two editors should have password access, for security reasons and for content continuity
  2. Have a point of view when snapping photos
  3. Leverage in-book franchises to create a 360-reader experience. SELF initiated the #UpNOut movement centered on a.m. workouts.  The story ran in print, there were weekly posts on Self.com and engagement via Instagram and Twitter 
  4. Don’t feel the need to dress up every photo, frame, filter and fade it. Less is more. Sure, you can enhance the photo to make it presentable, but be authentic

What new communities are you excited about? Respond below in the comments section or Tweet me @StephaniePaige.
 

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TJ Raphael

T Magazine Gets Heat From Readers On Lack of Diversity

TJ Raphael Editorial - 02/21/2013-16:14 PM

 

The New York Times’ style magazine, T, was reintroduced to readers this Sunday with a new look and feel. It has been redesigned, and its newly tapped editor from The Wall Street Journal, Deborah Needleman, has already gotten some feedback from readers, though not in a good way.

Several readers contacted the Times saying they were disappointed at the lack of diversity among the pages of the new magazine. The publication itself conceded this fact:

“(M)any readers found one aspect of the magazine disturbing – its lack of people of color. Indeed, there could be no argument; it was overwhelmingly white,” wrote the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, in a post online. One reader commented that she in fact saw “only one African-American and one Asian-American among the thousands of models in the ads.” She added, “T doesn’t look like my neighborhood or America.”

Is this really a surprise? No. Especially considering what the fashion landscape looks like: According to Jezebel, the models included at shows during the Fall 13’ fashion week events are getting whiter, making up about 82.7 percent of all models. Asian models were the second most represented group with 9.1 percent, black models at 6 percent and Latina models with a mere 2 percent.

Fashion and magazines clearly intersect in a variety of ways—fashion pubs not only cover all the happenings at fashion week, but also include the designer’s clothes, and models, in their advertisements. A lack of diversity in represented ethnic and racial backgrounds could eventually hurt publishers in a serious way.

Publishers are struggling at the newsstand, as the latest numbers from the Alliance of Audited Media shows. By having the majority of photo subjects in the pages of a magazine be Caucasian, the magazine industry, and specifically women’s magazines, are already hurting their soon to be newly defined base.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.

The Census Bureau says the Hispanic population will more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic, up from about one in six today.

The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population will rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.

The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of the nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.

It’s not 2060 yet, but demographics online have already changed. Last week, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report that shows non-whites are more active in social media—68 percent of blacks use social media, 72 percent of Hispanics and 65 percent of whites. When getting more specific, 26 percent of blacks use Twitter, 19 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of whites. Minorities also use Instagram more, with 23 percent of blacks using the platform, 18 percent of Hispanics and just 11 percent of whites.

While many Hispanic publications saw drops at the newsstands (like their non-Hispanic counterparts), just as many saw double-digit subscription growth: Meredith’s Siempre Mujer magazine increased its paid subscriptions by 11.9 percent, Cosmopolitan En Español increased its paid subscriptions by 99.9 percent, Poder Hispanic posted a 36.5 percent gain in paid subscriptions and Vanidades saw a 28.4 percent jump in the number of paid subscriptions, and newsstand sales increased by 18.6 percent.

If magazine-media is supposed to be one of the most cutting edge and dynamic industries, why is there a serious lag in even playing to a changing audience? My advice to T and to you would be to learn your new audience, and learn it quick.
 

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

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Baird Davis

When Will the Newsstand Canary Croak?

Baird Davis Sales and Marketing - 02/14/2013-14:33 PM

 

For the last five years publishers have been digging ever deeper in the newsstand coal mine, seemingly blind to the dangers that lie below. The canary hasn’t croaked, but it’s clearly breathing harder.

Publishers, naively waiting for good news from the top of the mineshaft, keep bemoaning the reasons for this calamitous bit of bad sales luck.

The recent newsstand sales figures for the second half of last year from AAM were indeed grim. It has been reported that the decline in unit sales was 8.2 percent from the year previous. But a more measured review, one that includes the sales of titles that reported sales a year ago but are no longer being published, shows that performance was measurably worse.

See Also: AAM: Newsstand a Drag On Circ as Digital Rises

It reveals that unit sales were down 9.3 percent and revenue off 8.2 percent. But even these numbers don’t fully demonstrate the level of performance.

Because of a reporting date anomaly nearly all the weekly frequency publications reported sales for 27 issues. However, they are being compared to 26 issues from the previous period. If the extra issue for the top 11 weekly publications is excluded from the calculations the unit sales decline would have been 10.2 percent. This, perhaps, represents a truer picture of newsstand sales performance in the second half of last year.

 


[Click image for larger version.]

 

Well, as they say, stuff happens. If that were only the case an isolated ten percent decline wouldn’t be so worrisome. But let’s not forget this performance closely mirrors what has been happening on the newsstand for the last five years:

Unit Sales: Down 44.9 percent, 11.2 percent annually
Revenue: Down 38.0 percent, 9.1 percent annually
Total Paid Circ: Down 14.9 percent from 277.6 to 236.1 million
Single Copy Circ: Down 44.7 percent from 48.8 million to 27.0 million
Single Copy Circ as a Percent of Total Circ: Down from 17.7 to 11.8 percent

Has it ever been clearer that the newsstand canary is in extreme danger of croaking?

What’s my point in stretching this analogy? I believe publishers, to some great extent, remain in denial concerning the depth and seriousness of this precipitous decline. Let’s be realistic here. In the last five years there has been a sea change in technology and how people consume media. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman indicated, in speaking about all businesses, 9/11 and the Great Recession have disguised the effect of these changes.

The business of magazine publishing is being seriously altered. Management emphasis has shifted to cope with the changes of an increasingly digital world. One manifestation of these changes is the rapid ascendency of replica circ. Its use nearly tripled in the last year—from 2.8 million circ to about 7.6 million circ, an increase of about 4.8 million. This increase, interestingly enough, compares pretty closely to the 3.6 million decrease in newsstand circ for the same period. It’s now a good bet that replica circ is cannibalizing newsstand sales.

Nothing can be done to halt the advance of these technological and consumer involvement changes to the magazine business. But what publishers can do, if they really want to preserve the newsstand channel, is to concentrate their efforts on cooperatively working with its wholesaling and retailing partners to fix the inherent inefficiencies of channel operations.

But time is of the essence. The canary’s breath is running short.

 

Baird Davis is a senior consultant with Circulation Specialists.

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Bill Mickey

Adding Video to Your Sales Pitch

Bill Mickey Sales and Marketing - 02/12/2013-14:09 PM

 

Bonnier's Popular Science is taking the venerable sell sheet one step further by including a video of the magazine's editor-in-chief Jacob Ward describing the upcoming issue's content highlights, marrying that with the magazine's pertinent demos. The sales team uses the video as an email enticement or brings it on a live sales call to add a dash of editorial celebrity when Ward himself can't come along.

The idea came to Michael Gallic, associate publisher, marketing, the technology group, as Ward was taping his customary video introduction for the magazine's tablet version. Why not just ask Ward to hang around for another five or ten minutes to create a 90-second highlight reel of the upcoming issue? The first video sell sheet was created at the end of last year for the January/February issue.

"We're always looking for new ways to help the reps to get to the advertisers," says Gallic. "The standard way is the issue sell sheet—a PDF which gives an overview and relevant statistics, but in the video you're hearing about the content live from the editor and you can see the stats pop up. He's an engaging, personable guy who brings the editorial to life. Who better to hear what the issue is about than the editor himself?"

While they may not actually win the sale, anecdotally Gallic says the videos have been useful hooks to get the brand noticed. "The face-to-face calls are more difficult to get, but these video sell sheets are not only helping getting the call but getting the call back."

The team uses Adobe's After Effects to edit the videos, and Gallic adds that, with a slightly different content spin, they're morphing into a useful consumer marketing tool as well—particularly as a newsstand driver. "We'll run them on the website to drive people to newsstand. They're taking on a life of their own," he says.

Here's a video of Ward highlighting the upcoming May issue:

 

 

 

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Bill Mickey

The FOLIO: 100: A Call for Nominees

Bill Mickey Consumer - 02/07/2013-14:13 PM

 

 

The nomination period for the FOLIO: 100 is now officially open!

Yes, you read that right—we're expanding the magazine industry's best-known and most prestigious list of innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers and disrupters from 40 to 100. The more the merrier.

Starting now you can help shape the list by nominating a colleague—either at your company or at another one—that has made a meaningful, quantifiable impact on a specific product, group, company or even the market at large.

"Quantifiable impact" is the key phrase—this isn't a popularity contest, anyone from inside the org chart can make this list, just be ready to back up your nomination with some solid supporting info, which you can do here.

Remember, not every FOLIO: 100 list-maker is a top executive—innovation and constructive change often comes from the front lines and the trenches, let's be sure those folks get their due, too—from editors to publishers to sales, audience development, design, production and digital. All across consumer, b-to-b, regional, enthusiast and association publishing—big and small.

And now with the expanded list, we can include an even more diverse range of deserving go-getters.

Click here to fill out our easy nomination form. Nominations are due by March 4.

Here's last year's FOLIO: 40 to get you inspired.

We'll announce the 2013 FOLIO: 100 in April. Submit your nominations now and good luck!

 

 

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Greg Levitt

For Publishers, Social Media Trumps Search

Greg Levitt Audience Development - 02/05/2013-11:34 AM

 

Online publishers of all stripes have invested heavily in search to drive reader acquisition. With a market size approaching $3B in 2013, the SEO industry has thrived on the data feedback loops created by analyzing the keywords that users enter into search engines before arriving at their sites or competitive sites. Yet despite continued growth in user search activity and increasingly sophisticated keyword analysis tools, 2013 is shaping up to be the first year that social media eclipses search as the leading source of referral traffic to publishers. How could this be?

Two parallel trends are driving this sea change. The first is Google’s recent shift to encrypt search keywords for a significant segment of search referrals. This move—followed by corresponding browser updates in 2012 by Firefox, Safari on iOS, and now Chrome to use Google SSL search by default—means that up to 39 percent of keyword data has vanished from publisher analytics systems. Less keyword data means fewer content insights, and fewer content insights means lower ROI from SEO. As publishers recognize lower yields from their search strategies, many will moderate their investment in this channel leading to reductions in search referral traffic.

The second trend is the torrid growth of user-powered content sharing on Facebook and Twitter that has turned a trickle of social media traffic to publisher sites into a flood. It’s worth noting that social traffic is not a new phenomenon—consumers have been sharing web content and URLs with friends and colleagues via email since the first Mosaic browser was released in 1993. What has changed is the way that social media sites structure and amplify a person’s network connections. The New Yorker article URL that was emailed to 10 friends back in 2005 would today be posted to 500 friends on Facebook and 1,000 Twitter followers. And as the Likes, Shares, and Retweets pile up, the reach and traffic impacts get magnified.

For example, The Atlantic recently reported statistics that measured social sources as 18 percent of total referral traffic across a basket of premium publisher sites. Search represented 22 percent of referral traffic. For an increasing number of publications, including The Atlantic, social traffic already far exceeds search in importance. As the quantity of search keyword data continues to decline—and as the quality of social analytics continues to improve—it’s not hard to imagine a tipping point occurring in 2013 where much of the time and resources currently spent against SEO will transition over to optimizing social channels.

A major wildcard impacting the relative importance of social traffic versus search is the steady growth in mobile content consumption. Specifically: Will mobile devices expand the overall amount of sharing and search behavior, or simply cannibalize existing desktop behavior? comScore’s November 2012 Search Query Report showed volumes declining by over 6 percent versus October 2011 on desktops. While growth in mobile search volumes offset those declines, the trend is clear: Consumers are substituting desktop queries with mobile queries. On the other hand, social network usage on mobile devices continues to explode, even as desktop-based usage also increases.  According to a recent study by Nielsen, time spent on social media increased by 68 percent YOY on mobile devices versus a 24 percent increase on desktops.

What can publishers do to tap into this trend? With social media on track to surpass search, 2013 is shaping up as a pivotal year when social networks leapfrog search algorithms as a more important source of user traffic. Publishers have an opportunity to gain insight into what content is being shared the most, as well as what types of articles drive the most referral traffic, in order to continue to grow their readership and engagement levels.

 

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Robert Newman

Are You a Cover Junkie?

Robert Newman Design and Production - 01/31/2013-10:49 AM

 

Days before last week’s debut of The New Republic’s redesign, its new cover was posted and circulating around the web. The buzz was on, and people were tweeting and commenting on it before the magazine itself was even available for viewing. Today, every editor and art director thinks about creating a magazine cover that can go viral, that will work at multiple sizes on a wide variety of displays and platforms and create hype. Along with this, websites like Coverjunkie, NASCAPAS, and others are now providing a visual forum for magazine covers from all over the world to be displayed and distributed.

The Coverjunkie site just celebrated its second anniversary. It was launched in late 2010, the brainchild of Dutch art director Jaap Biemans [pictured below], who has done cover designs for the weekly Intermediair and the glossy, Vanity Fair-like Hollands Diep, before moving over to art direct Volkskrant Magazine, the weekly magazine supplement of a large Dutch newspaper (it’s basically The New York Times Magazine of the Netherlands). Biemans recognized early on that for many publications, the days of covers getting “heat” on the newsstand were a thing of the past. To date he’s posted over 11,500 covers, and Coverjunkie has become a daily must-destination for magazine art directors around the world.

Biemans interned at a design firm in NYC in the late 90s, and that New York experience has informed his design and editorial sensibilities. And while Coverjunkie has a definite global reach, he has a big soft spot for very American style-magazine cover design, as well as for the funky, gonzo-style designs of altweekly newspapers like The Village Voice.

What sets Coverjunkie apart from other cover sites is both the quantity of posts, and the fact that it’s well-organized and highly searchable. Biemans collects covers by publication, theme (9/11, split-run, premier issues), and art director, and he also publishes complete credit information, a rarity. His tastes are very egalitarian; there’s a healthy mix of consumer, mass market, enthusiast, trade, city and regional, and altweekly covers, with selections from Italy, England, Germany, Russian, and of course, The Netherlands. He also has a strong social media presence on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, which helps spread the Coverjunkie cover selects fast and far.

Coverjunkie is a one-person labor of love for Biemans, but it’s a project that is helping to redefine the essence of how magazines design and promote their covers. In a recent interview, Biemans gave the lowdown on how he puts the site together, and what makes a good Coverjunkie cover.

Why did you start Coverjunkie?

Biemans: I wanted to celebrate creativity in magazine design, to spread the love for ace cover design. And it was also a response to the “print is dead” statement, which I think is a lot of rubbish! I think a cover is more than just about selling itself, it’s also a reflection of our visual culture. On Coverjunkie you can see this reflection from all around the world, as well as from different decades.

How do you find the covers you post?

Biemans: I browse the good old newsstand and look online and on Twitter. Right now I get 10-15 covers a day by email, some good, some bad. The best thing about Coverjunkie is that some mags send me hard copies. I love that; it gives me a fab feeling. 



How do you select what goes on Coverjunkie?

Biemans: Posting everything would be impossible; I get too many covers sent to me. I post the most creative ones, the remarkable ones, the covers that stand out. The hardest part about Coverjunkie is editing the covers and then telling art directors that their covers are not creative enough, and that I can’t post them. I try to email everyone to explain. I hate disappointing people because I know they’re trying to create sweet stuff. But again, I have to be rigorous; when there are weak covers on the website it loses its strength. 



What makes a good magazine cover?

Biemans: It’s the creativity that counts. My motto on the site is “covers that smack you in the face or that you want to lick!” I think the ace cover contains news, a vibe, and creativity. Most of the covers have only two out of three of these ingredients. But when it carries three out of three you have an epic one. For many magazines, newsstand used to be the big indicator, but it's increasingly not that important, at least not in the U.S. I think a cover these days is more about making a statement instead of selling. It’s about creating a vibe that the reader likes (or maybe dislikes). A magazine cover is part of a brand, a very important part because it has a soul and it can give feeling and depth to a brand.

What magazines do you think consistently do the most interesting or memorable covers?



Biemans: I definitely prefer magazines that use a different approach with each cover, who use their cover design to make a statement or to spark and surprise their readers. I like The New Yorker when they put newsy items on their covers. And I think The New York Times Magazine and New York rock it hard. Bloomberg Businessweek, they’re crazy, and what I like about them is that creative director Richard Turley and his team take charge and are very brave. I love all the altweeklies from the U.S., like SF Weekly and San Antonio Current! They don’t have big budgets but they create extraordinary stuff. There’s Spanish Metropoli, Texas Monthly, Vice, IL from Italy, Wired from the U.S., UK and Italy, Suddeutsche Zeitung Magazin from Germany….

What advice do you have for editors, art directors and others to create great magazine covers?




Biemans: Three things: guts, guts, and guts. Mix that with talented designers with soul and a fab editor to create the best headlines. I’m a strong believer that creativity brings great pleasure to readers, whether it’s on an iPad, website, magazine or even cellphone. I don’t care as long as it’s well-designed and made with soul.
 

 

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Bill Mickey

Moving from 'Magazines' to 'Media'

Bill Mickey Consumer - 01/29/2013-16:18 PM

 

Any company that's grown up targeting the magazine business the past few decades has no doubt had to come to terms with the new media landscape, particularly if its name is directly tied to print media.

Heck, we're mulling through this now with FOLIO:, which is still "The Magazine for Magazine Management."

The main associations that serve the industry have already rebranded, as did ABC recently.

MagazineRadar, a data service that has helped magazine publishers know more about brands and the people that buy them, got caught in the same dilemma. It's just rebranded itself as MediaRadar. Not a particularly big stretch, but it's definitely symbolic of the changes happening all around us.

As an example, the company has been tracking just over one million brands that are buying online ads and in the process of doing so has uncovered some interesting patterns in how those digital buys overlap, or don't overlap, print.

"The number-one discovery was the size of the online ad market is much larger than we understood," says co-founder Todd Krizelman. "If we just look on the consumer side of MPA titles, out of the people who buy MPA magazines, only a third of those are showing up on [the brand's] website. We're 20 years into the web and only one-third are buying on the same set of websites."

Surprisingly, there appears to be very little overlap, or integrated sales, going on.

In the third quarter of 2012, for example, MediaRadar found that about 9,000 brands advertised in the MPA-member consumer magazines it tracks. There were 12,000 brands that advertised on those titles' websites. But only 3,000 were integrated buys—leaving about 9,000 advertisers that were only buying digital with those brands.

There are some brands that have done particularly well through integrated buys, but that discrepancy is one reason digital-only publishers have done as well as they have, says Krizelman. "One of the reasons they've been successful is not that they've stolen clients, but exploited the knowledge that there's thousands of advertisers that buy only online."

 


 

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Roy Beagley

Telemarketing: A Splendid Circulation Source

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/24/2013-16:12 PM

 

Talking to your customers is always a good thing, and at the moment telemarketing seems to work very well for many publishers—but be careful as you can overstay your welcome.
 
Avoid the temptation to ask your customers everything in one go. This will confuse some, annoy others and may result in an order not being completed. This is true for both paid and controlled publications, but for different reasons. If someone is receiving a magazine free of charge it is reasonable to elicit some information from him or her; this is the reason they are getting the magazine free, after all.
 
However, if you ask too many questions it may result in a firm but call-ending hang up. Ask the subscriber if you can send a follow up email with some more questions that it would be useful “for us to know, so that we can serve you better.” If they say yes, the telemarketing company can probably send the email out straight away.
 
If the person you are calling has paid for a subscription, be careful when asking for information. Many subscribers feel paying for a subscription also pays for their privacy. However, people are also very flattered when you seek their advice or opinion, so how you phrase your question can be the difference between getting the information you want and the aforementioned call-ending hang-up. Flattery is almost always a good thing.
 
When choosing a telemarketing company, take time to review the references you got from them. Talk to people in the industry to see if they have an opinion. The company you choose is going to represent you in a one-to-one conversation with either your subscribers or prospects—this will reflect on your company so choose wisely.
 
There are very few methods of promotion where we have direct interaction with our customers or prospects. Telemarketing is one, and you only get one chance to make a good first impression—do not let price be the only factor that dictates your decision. There will always be at least one caller who complains, that is normal. If you are conducting a large program, probably more than one complaint will be received. Calmly call the account manager at the telemarketing company, have them review the call with you and make a decision together on how to resolve any issues.
 
If you are prospecting for new orders, review the results the telemarketing company sends each day and after a few days of calling, prioritize the calling so that you can get the maximum number of orders for the least amount of money—especially if paying by the hour. Ensure you key each list correctly and that you do measure like for like. Comparing a list that has a 30 percent conversion with 5,000 names called cannot really be compared to a list that has a 10 percent conversion but only 1,000 names called. Many a bad decision has been made on too little information.
 
For many years, telemarketing was considered the “bad boy” of circulation. Nobody really wanted it on his or her Publisher’s Statement. Now, just like black coffee, eggs, chocolate and red wine—all in moderation, course—telemarketing has a good reputation and can be a splendid source of circulation and revenue for publishers.


 
Roy Beagley is Director of Publishing Services for Tyson Associates Inc. Roy started his career at The Economist and then The Spectator in London. He moved to the United States in 1992 and since then he has worked with Tyson Associates handling many controlled and consumer publications. He is editor of Circspot.com, a website for circulation and audience development professionals.

 

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