Posts Tagged ‘Publishing’

I don’t like to see people get fired. Especially when I feel attached to them. When Michael Bloomberg took over BusinessWeek, I swore it off. I had gotten BusinessWeek free for three years as part of my Executive MBA program. I loved it. I would spend a couple of hours every week reading it, fantasizing about how smart I would be someday and creating a mental image of how refined I already was for reading BusinessWeek in my spare time.

So when multiple employees (many of them editorial) were let go last year, I was unhappy. I had read their stories, looked at their charts, absorbed their sidebars. I felt like this know-it-all millionaire had come into my playground and messed up the sandbox. I just was not going to play anymore.

But time has passed, and this new article has piqued my interest in the magazine once again. Richard Turley, a 30-something from Britain (a little reminiscent of Jonathan Ive, maybe?), pushed for a dramatic redesign and got it. The magazine’s creative director is daring with charts and photo shoots and concepts. I love this quote of his:

“One of the things I wanted to do was to have a magazine which you could graze. The idea that you could have two different kinds of reading experiences. One where you just flick through it. There’s a lot of ways of getting into articles, there’s a lot of things going on the page that hopefully catch your eye. So you can have a rich reading experience without actually reading the magazine. But, if you want to read the magazine, there’s a lot there to read.”

So what changed with the redesign? Everything. The covers are really intriguing — I’ve been watching them the last few months. I’ve just downloaded the new Bloomberg Businessweek iPad app that I plan to spend time with this afternoon, and next time I’m in the bookstore, I’ll pick up a physical copy. Some complaints I’ve read about it say that the magazine traded content for looks, or that the journalism has suffered so that the book will be more beautiful. I hope that’s not the case. Because now, after this year-and-a-half-or-so of being without the magazine, I want to open it again and enjoy it.

Have you seen the new Bloomberg Businessweek? What do you think of it? Click through here to see some of the more interesting pages from the past year.

Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

Update 4/25/11: Richard Turley got even more praise today by WWD Media. The entire article is here. This is an excerpt: “Turley, a quick study of the company line, explained how the open seating plan in the Bloomberg offices encourages the magazine’s art directors and editors, who sit amongst each other in the office, to collaborate. ‘Bloomberg is a very ego-flat place to work,’ he said.”

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I’ve mentioned before how enamored I am of social media. It’s something I’ve been pushing at work for ages but haven’t had a lot of buy-in. Recently, someone has come in who is as excited about it as I am, and she let me go to our company’s biggest event of the year and Tweet and Facebook about it the whole time. The result? Hundreds of new followers and serious engagement from our people. That is amazing!

It seems like I’m going off track here, but I’m not really: I work for a publishing company, and because The Sidebar Review critiques magazines, I’m going to explain why it’s important for magazines to jump into the fray. (Most already have, but I still want to share my observations.)

  1. Our community was dying to connect and didn’t really know how. We gave them the “how.”: We had about 20,000 followers on our Facebook page before our big event. They occasionally chimed in when we asked them a question or posted a photo if they felt inspired. But in the last month, we have gained 3,000 followers, and they are posting everything — photos of their fish, their boats, bass pros; comments negative and positive; mistakes they saw on our website; questions about customer service matters; videos of them singing songs they wrote; and praise for their favorite pros. We had no idea how starved our audience was for more interaction with us, with the brand and with fellow fishermen. It was beautiful.
  2. Our brand has a “face” now.: Our brand is strong, but we’ve known for a while that people felt disconnected from us — like if they called or e-mailed us, they may or may not hear back, and if they did hear back, they may or may not hear from a human. Now, our readers have a direct line to us. One asked on our Facebook page if we would allow siamese twins to fish our tournaments as a single person then combine their catch; I replied, “One tournament entry per brain.” This guy thought it was hilarious. (I thought it was mildly amusing, but he really cracked up.) I think that guy will always remember our brand for that. And that’s important because people connect with people, not businesses; we’re finally a “people” again.
  3. Our followers feel special.: One Twitter follower commented that he was getting information faster from me through Twitter than through our auto-update website during the weigh-in. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but he felt like it was. I was recapping for him in an almost-live stream what was happening on stage, and he said he felt like he was there because of me. Another guy told me he and his family were at dinner but they were all crowded around his iPhone watching my Tweets. He felt like I was catering to him and his family when they couldn’t be near a computer. How cool is that?

We are so much more than a magazine. We always have been. But now our readers know that too. And that makes me beam with pride!

Do you connect with any magazines through social media? What has your experience been like?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review

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

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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

In my very short period of time officially reviewing magazines for The Sidebar Review, I’ve noticed how strongly I felt about something and didn’t even realize it. I run across really great editor’s notes in magazines — and then I run across the ones that lack the personality, insight and appeal that editor’s notes should have. One of my favorites (which actually counted as two) was in Florida Trend, in which both editor Mark Howard and publisher Andy Corty wrote notes that made them stand out and connect with their readers. Maybe there aren’t any perfect guidelines out there for what an editor’s note should be, but here are the qualities that make me open each issue of a magazine, again and again:

  • Personality Charisma should ooze from an editor’s note. At least as much as charisma would ooze from said editor. If an editor is a rambunctious playboy or an extroverted fitness freak, that personality should shine through. Just as a quiet church mouse or introverted accountant type should pop off the page in their own editor’s note. An editor’s note lacking personality is an editor’s note lacking an audience.
  • Insight Being an editor of a magazine isn’t that hard — that is, being the person who goes through the motions of assigning, editing and re-reading. What’s tough about an editor’s job is the ability to know and comprehend the audience, the industry and the subject matter in a manner that others don’t grasp. It’s up to the editor to impart this knowledge in the editor’s note. Did a major player in the industry just get acquired? If so, what does that mean for the industry? Is the magazine’s audience part of a shift that the editor can identify? Then explain your own hypothesis about this change. An editor should feel well-versed enough with the subject to put himself or herself out there and offer personal opinions and context.
  • Story Every piece of written work is better if it tells a story. Develop the subject around yourself or your own personal experiences or observations. Make people picture what you’re saying.
  • Relevance to Issue Okra should be included in the editor’s note of a cooking magazine if it’s the special okra issue. Just as the editor’s own kitten should be mentioned if it’s the special feline edition. Relate it to the inside. But don’t be one of those editors who just list every article in the magazine in the editor’s note as if it’s some sort of prose table of contents. That’s boring to everyone. Probably the editor, too. Don’t put your audience to sleep before they’ve even reached page 10.

What qualities make you pause to read an editor’s note? Or to seek it out when you pick up a magazine? What magazine consistently has a great editor’s note?

–Tyler Reed

Editor, The Sidebar Review