Posts Tagged ‘Men’s Health’

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Today was a rough day in the office. Not rough compared to high-pressure environments with screaming bosses and slamming doors, but rough in the sense that we were almost there — and then we just weren’t.

We were supposed to send all our files to the printer today. We were pretty close to sending most of them; that is, until we placed the pages on the wall. We have a process with the magazine I work on in which we place all the finished pages, including ads, in consecutive order up on the wall so we can pick up on any color clashes or facing-page problems. Today, once the pages were up, we could see that five features in a row had the same basic design. Title on the left, photo on the right, secondary photo at bottom left. Awful. Ugly. Unimaginative. We had to act.

This evening, I sat back to ponder what I learned and what others could take from it. Here’s what today taught me:

Think of the flow. Will your reader flip from page to page without realizing he or she has moved on to another story? Are your features different enough to make the reader pause and consider each story? Going from page to page, does it feel as if the magazine is building to a crescendo? Make sure each part of the magazine functions as it’s supposed to, guiding the reader to the next page and delivering a treat for each page turn.

Imagine you’re the reader. Publishing professionals sometimes forget that the readers are not pros at the printed page, but rather sponges of the subject. Strive to please your most discerning reader, but realize that the average reader won’t look at each page and criticize the colors, the photo composition or the editorial style. The reader wants to be drawn in with a captivating headline, strong graphic, compelling entry points and a story that appears easy to read — or easy to ditch if it doesn’t measure up. Focus on those elements first and foremost.

Fantasize about what would make the page perfect. Picture having all the resources in the world to put this issue together — huge budgets, ample staff and tons of time. And ask, what would make this page awesome? I try to visualize what’s the best our designer can do with the material he has. If he needs more photos, copy, illustrations or charts, I need to conceptualize those and find or create them. Sometimes I ask, “What would Men’s Health do?” (Or, insert other great men’s mag like ESPN The Magazine or Time.) Then I think, could I imagine one of those magazines running the photo or layout or headline we’ve got? If not, it’s back to the drawing board. They do better, and so can we.

Ultimately today, we ditched one story, found an illustration for another and created a new primary photo for another. It helped tremendously. We’re not done yet, but I guarantee this issue will look better because of these changes, and I think our readers will appreciate it.

What do you do when faced with crunch-time publishing problems?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review