Secrets of Top Editors…Revealed

folio_logoFrom killing your sacred cows to posturizing your cover… here’s some solid advice from top magazine editors on how to keep your title fresh and vital.

How do you keep your brand interesting and fresh, and keep your readers’ focus amongst all the competitive distractions? Bill Mickey of Folio: asked several top magazine editors for their advice on how they keep their magazines a vital read.

“One of the most important things is to try and kill as many sacred cows as possible. Never keep doing something just because that’s the way it’s always been done,” says Plate editor Chandra Ram. “This means everything from format, to art, to the focus for a particular issue.”

“When it comes to conceiving stories, or evaluating pitches, if you can’t think of a headline that would make you want to  read the piece, you have a problem,” notes Jared Holt, editor of New York. “It doesn’t have to be the headline you end up with—and it doesn’t have to be the same headline you end up using for the web edition of the piece—but it has to suggest (strongly!) the idea behind the story.”

Also regarding the cover, Holt suggests looking at this as a stand-alone.

“If a cover doesn’t feel like a poster to 88.9 percent of the people you corral in your office for a focus group—something most of them would want to see on city walls, maybe even in their living room—try one more time, if you’ve got the time,” Holt suggest, adding that “generally … the more words you need to sell a story on a cover, the less clear that story is likely to be.”

For Esquire’s  Editor-in-Chief David Granger, one key is to cause “little events,” something that’s getting harder to do in the crowded media landscape.

“We remain true to the standards we’ve established, but we also want these wonderful works to be seen and read,” Granger notes. “It’s been a while since, in very close proximity, two magazines were on the front pages of newspapers—Vanity Fair’s Caitlyn cover and New York’s 35 women. The ability to create events is still open to us. It’s incumbent on magazine editors to try to create events and for readers to take a good, hard look at what you’re doing.”

For B2B editors like Denise Dersin of Professional Builder, leveraging live events like awards and competitions is the starting point for some insider access to companies that are doing outstanding work.

“Our stories don’t come to life if we don’t see and meet with people and get out and see projects,” she notes.

What are you doing for you own title to make it an indispensable read?