Posts Tagged ‘Martha Stewart’

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Today, I was fortunate enough to get to attend the Social Media Club Conference in Orlando. I have really developed an obsession over social media over the last few months — I’ve been interested in it since I first started learning about it and experimenting with it five years ago. But now I see the real possibilities it brings to people, to businesses, to causes — and to magazines!

One of the recurring discussions today was how social media builds communities around a topic of interest, whether it’s travel or culture or movies or local government. This ability to gather people based on a niche interest has always belonged to magazines — not exclusively, mind you, but it was our badge of honor, our trumpet to advertisers, our flag to hoist. When Web 2.0 came along, some publishing executives embraced it while others quaked in their boots or minimized it as a passing fad those “teenagers” cooked up. Social media is such a natural extension of magazines, and I’m glad to see many media outlets finally getting their arms around it. (Many magazines didn’t adapt and ended up losing their reader base to the magazines that went to where the readers were.)

Some good examples of magazine-created social networks/platforms are Family Circle’s Momster, How Design’s blogs and forums, Martha Stewart’s Community, O Magazine Community and National Geographic’s Blog Central. Of course, several magazines have also ventured into the creation of apps for iPhone/iPad/Android/Blackberry, including Men’s Health, ESPN the Magazine and Cook’s Illustrated.

Publishing executives don’t have to wait for their once-a-month trip-to-the-mailbox impression; they can touch their readers every week, every day, every moment the reader wants to be touched. It’s really an amazing time, an era where a publisher can create content that lands not only on the printed page, but also on a website, in a blog comment, on a forum, in a status update, inside an app, as part of a tweet, and onto the pages of an e-book. Isn’t that amazing?

What other examples do you have of a magazine that has created a successful social media campaign or platform? Does the availability of niche content online make you read printed magazines more or less?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

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Everyday Food (www.marthastewart.com/everyday)

Issue reviewed: September 2010, Issue 75

Audience

  • 75% women
  • HHI: $56K
  • average age: 44
  • 80% are principal shoppers in household

Overall Editorial

Editorial is minimal in this magazine. Everyday Food is all about recipes and trying new foods, and it doesn’t tell any stories. In fact, the only piece that offers any perspective is the Editor’s Letter, and that’s only the first paragraph. The rest just directs the reader to recipes in the issue. Each recipe, however, is clear and direct and short, perfect for the audience, which is dominated by women who want to cook quickly and easily. The other editorial is at the beginning of sections, such as In Season, which teaches the reader the basics of the food that’s the topic, how to buy and store it, and how to use and cook it.

Overall Design

The design is beautiful and simple. It has a feature that is unique: Each page is a photo, and the editorial or the recipe is made to fit inside the photo. The designers take a set-up shot of the food they’ll be talking about and they plan for the space they need for the copy. It looks very natural and is probably more difficult to execute than it looks. This design is helped by the small format of the book, which only measures about 5×7. The fonts and headlines look very much like the Martha Stewart brand; they are likely the same typeface that MSLO uses in Martha Stewart Living, on all the Martha-branded products, and on most of the website.

Cover Design and Blurbs

The cover design is simple. It’s always a beauty shot of one of the cooked items in the magazine, with a few simple typeface cover blurbs above it. To the target audience, the blurbs should be quite appealing: Muffin-Tin Pizzas should satisfy the reader looking for new ideas; Dinner Under $10 should make budget-minded readers happy; and New Kids’ Lunches is perfect for moms.

Editor’s Note

The Editor’s Letter, written by editor-in-chief Anna Last, is more of a marketing plug to entice the reader to keep turning pages than it is a true editor’s note, which offers insight about the subject and helps a reader connect on a personal level with the magazine. Called “Back Into The Groove,” it simply welcomes fall and the food that comes with it. Even though it’s a small format magazine and a recipe-heavy medium, this would be an excellent opportunity for Everyday Food to tell us who Anna Last is and draw me in to the people who work at the magazine. Because this magazine publishes all its recipes online — free — its editors should consider working on an element that may keep subscribers buying rather than just hopping onto the website.

Departments and Columns

It’s hard to tell the difference between a column vs. a section vs. a department vs. a feature in Everyday Food. Thankfully, I have the contents page to explain it to me. What’s brilliant about the sections, though, is something the reader can’t get online, which is an introduction to a food. In Season introduces tomatoes and then gives six recipes for it. Eat Smart focuses on mushrooms and their health benefits, then gives a recipe for it. Have You Tried? discusses tortillas and provides three recipes.

Features

Similar to the format of the sections, the features take an idea or a food type or a new-to-you vegetable and give the reader multiple recipes for it. In this issue, one of the features is called Saving Summer, and it’s about freezing summer fruits and veggies and includes nine pages of tips and recipes using the then-frozen goods. The same format follows for Bake Sale (cookie recipes), On The Side (accompaniments), and Muffin To It! The other feature, Grocery Bag, is a neat idea because it provides a grocery list and five nights’ worth of meals, but the grocery list idea seems like a better theory than practice. It would be interesting to know how many people actually use that part of the magazine (a pull-out list).

Use of Photography

The photography in Everyday Food is top-notch. Everything looks delicious and like something one should eat or at least try cooking. The editors are kind enough to include a photo of every food (who doesn’t like to see the food before they make it?) and a variety of set-up shots. Sometimes the food is plated, sometimes partially made or just at the ingredients stage, often cut into, and many times still in the pan. One feature in this issue shows a baker step-by-step making gnocchi; clean, simple and informative.

Use of Illustrations

Everyday Food relies on photos of real food. No illustrations needed.

Relevance to Intended Audience

I can actually speak to this one as a member of Everyday Food’s targeted audience. I have subscribed to this magazine since it first came out, and I always look forward to getting it. The recipes are uncomplicated, use foods that are easy to get, and inspire me to try foods I haven’t before. The good photography is a bonus; if it makes my mouth water, I have to try the recipe.

Integration with Website

Everyday Food’s website is really a module on the Martha Stewart website. It has all the recipes that are in the current issue and an archive of all the previous recipes. They are searchable. And the website (of course, because of its heavy-hitter ownership) is a multimedia adventure. Recipes, blogs, videos, downloadable apps, audio, daily e-mails — the reader can have whatever type of experience she would like on this website. As part of the Martha Stewart website, the reader can create collections of recipes, articles, craft ideas, videos, etc., all obtainable from any part of the website.

Flow, Story Hierarchy

The flow of Everyday Food is good, but because, as a reader, I have never been able to tell the difference between sections and features and departments, I just go from one page to the next. I never anticipate — I just turn. The back page is perfect, though, because it’s always a dessert, giving each issue a sweet finish just like a meal.

Paper Quality

Lastly, the paper quality was good. The paper is strong with a matte finish. The magazine is perfect-bound, which makes it fairly easy to hold open while cooking from it. This magazine has too many blow-in cards and inserts, though, so it’s difficult to flip through.

Overall Opinion

I give Everyday Food an A for photography, design and audience relevance. It is a personal favorite of mine, and I have always loved the creativity and simplicity of the recipes.

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

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review