Posts Tagged ‘Alliance of Area Business Publications’

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Florida Trend (www.floridatrend.com)

Issue reviewed: August 2010, Vol. 53, No. 5

  • Published in St. Petersburg, Fla., by Trend Magazines Inc.
  • Circulation: 150,000; Monthly website hits: 80,000
  • Average issue reading time: 72 minutes

Audience

  • professionals and executives in Florida
  • HHI: $295K; half are millionaires
  • average age: 54
  • travel and dine out 1.5 times per month

Overall Editorial

The content is strong. It focuses on business and leisure throughout Florida and is very readable and reader-friendly. Copy blocks are short, even in longer features, and the subject areas are so diverse that almost anyone could enjoy this magazine for a quick read. In the opening pages, it toots its own horn a little (which is perfectly fine when deserved!) and points out that it has just won nine awards from the Alliance of Area Business Publications, including best regional business magazine in the nation. That sounds like quite an honor!

Overall Design

The design is simple and beautiful. Throughout, the color palette is black, red and light gray with occasional pops of color. The sidebars are neatly separated by a black bar, and the longer sidebars or sections have a folder tab top as well.

Cover Design and Blurbs

The cover design is clever. The special section for this issue is Florida’s Best Companies To Work For 2010, and the cover is a bold red background with a coffee cup with the special section name on the side of the mug like a logo. (The coffee has cream and syrup or cinnamon in the shape of a smiling heart.) To go with the theme, bullet points about the section are listed next to the mug (Keeping Employees Happy, Unusual Benefits, etc.). Two of the blurbs at the top of the page are intriguing (Oil in the Court and Thanks, Celine). Trendsetters is not.

Editor’s Note

This one I have to do twice because it’s the publisher’s note in the beginning (Up Front) and the editor’s note in the back (Editor’s Page). The publisher, Andy Corty, wrote Thanks for Asking, is a straightforward assessment of the State of the Magazine, basically, one of the most talked-about topics in the industry. Corty says industry people keep asking him if Florida Trend will survive this monumental change in the media that’s rolling in like a large wave that you could see from a great distance. Speaking to his business readers, he addresses the current circulation, content, advertising and digital topics that make up the business, and he only quickly glosses over “While our revenue has nudged down…” However, his point is taken, which is that the company is boosting the digital size of the business and working to make sure the print side remains strong, despite the industry’s woes. His New Year’s Resolution Update, that I assume he runs at the end of each month’s column, is personable and very likely helps hold him accountable: It’s the dreaded go-to-the-gym-and-lose-weight resolution, which he tackles with honesty. He only made it to the gym four times.

On the Editor’s Page, executive editor Mark Howard discusses What I Learned on My Summer Vacation. The title led me to believe he was talking about his current summer, but he’s jumping in the wayback machine to discuss his first summer job in the late 1960s. This column likely resonates with the Florida Trend audience, which is mostly made up of people who were coming of age in the ’60s and ’70s like he was and who likely had similar feelings about racial injustices at the time, which he only alludes to but sets the tone for the whole article. His article is simply a collection of stories of people he met and worked with back then, but these people come to life on the page. Excellent storytelling. I will go to bed tonight thinking of the man who threw himself on the dud grenade and hoping he has had an amazing life.

Departments and Columns

The departments are arranged into Florida Life, which is then divided into Lifestyles, Dining, Getaways, Icon and Trendsetters, and Around the State, which begins statewide and then delves into each region of Florida. A few other departments scattered throughout are the publisher’s and editor’s notes, a Tallahassee Trend section, and Of Counsel, a department that addresses state law. As discussed in the overall editorial and design sections, these departments are very readable and well-designed. You can easily slip in and then slip right back out if you’re not interested. A really cool sidebar treatment in the departments involves a triangle dip in the line, much like a heart monitor when your heart stops beating for a second then resumes. The Icon department is very nice: It’s a one page interview facing a full page photo of the subject. The interview skips the questions and only shows the reader the first person explanations he shared. In this issue, the interviewee was Ed Price, a former state senator and past president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Features

The greatest feature in this issue is the cover feature special section, Florida’s Best Companies to Work For 2010. The list part could absorb you for hours if you wanted: It lists the companies (divided by size) in order from the highest rank down, and it includes the number of employees, new hires, the industry and benefits, such as 401(k) funds and telecommuting options. After the three pages of Consumer Reports-type lists, it moves into related features, including Lessons from the Best, Practicing What They Preach and Best Practices. Possibly the best part is four pages of Why I Work Here, which is an employee’s point of view about what makes the company great. Each of these features focuses on teaching the reader better ways of doing business.

Use of Photography

Most of the photos are set-up shots, well-posed and well-lit. There are a couple of photos that are below par, a mugshot on page 40 and a stock photo on page 54. Those are two minor blips on an otherwise strong photography portfolio for a single issue. I especially like the photo, almost treated like a feature photo with a pull-quote in it, on page 20 of Larry Langebrake. It’s unusual to see that photo treatment in a department page.

Use of Illustrations

Florida Trend relies very little on illustrations, at least based on this one issue. I only found one, which was an artist’s rendering of a building, likely provided by the building owner. I will have to look for additional issues to see if the magazine uses them at all.

Relevance to Intended Audience

I imagine this magazine is well-targeted. It provides not only a strong focus on business across the state, but also leisure activities for its readers, who can likely afford the luxury. It talks numbers a good bit (demographics, property values, tax levies), but it’s not so heavy that one would call this purely a business magazine. It has a very human focus, punctuated with numbers that add credibility and speak to a businessperson’s sense of spreadsheet adoration.

Integration with Website

One great thing that FloridaTrend.com does is archive previous articles and sort them by industry and by region, so a subscriber can easily find the precise information he or she wants. Just to point out, though, you don’t have to be a subscriber to access these articles. Another good thing is that you can immediately see when you go to the website that it is the same issue you’re looking at in your hands — you’ll immediately recognize the cover and the Florida’s Best Companies to Work For 2010 logo. The left side of the page features headlines that are too recent to be included in the magazine, making the website relevant to the magazine’s audience on a more timely basis.

Flow, Story Hierarchy

The flow of Florida Trend is very smooth. I felt like I knew where I was going before I got there. The magazine opens with the publisher’s note, guides the reader into the Florida Life section, which eases the reader into the regional sections, which are easily skippable if you don’t feel they apply. By the time you get to the cover feature, you’re sucked in for 33 pages of related content, including targeted advertising, for the Best Companies section. Once you leave that special section, you only have the Tallahassee Trend spread followed by the state law single page and the Editor’s Page. It is this exact flow that a website cannot achieve because it cannot guide you through the different parts that make up the whole.

Paper Quality

Lastly, the paper quality was good. A little gloss, but not too much. The magazine is saddle-stitch, which is the best option for magazine with 80-something pages.

Overall Opinion

I give Florida Trend an A for readability, engagement and design. I will definitely pick up another copy, even though I’m not a member of the magazine’s target audience. It was interesting enough that I think I would find great nuggets of information in future issues. And I’ve bookmarked FloridaTrend.com because I feel like it will be a great resource as a fellow Floridian.

Did you agree or disagree with anything I said? Please comment. I’d love to hear from you!

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

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