THE LETTER “A”

Attitude Adjustment

“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

—Herm Albright (1876–1944), Writer for the Saturday Evening Post

Anachronisms

Language hasn’t quite caught up with technology.
We need some new words for these:

Dialing a phone number

Leaving a phone off the hook

Rewinding a video

Adding leading to text

Leaving stuff on the pasteboard

Art directing a magazine

Audience

Once You Find Your Audience, Be Sure to Embrace Them

Some magazines have a pre — determined Audience. Associations often offer a magazine as a member benefit to their special interest group. Some magazines are fortunate enough to have their audience seek them out. A B-to-B about housing construction will attract contractors and suppliers who need industry news and want to advertise.

An enthusiast pub has to rely on finding readers through promotion to likely subscribers, or provocative covers on a newsstand or in a dentist’s waiting room, generating buzz through word-of-mouth, or on the Internet.

But what if the audience that finally finds your magazine doesn’t match your initial vision? Do you reinvent your magazine, or adjust your expectations?

Case in point: The publisher of a 10-year-old art enthusiast magazine, with a circulation of about 75,000, has always yearned for a well-heeled, and well-monied, reader base. The editorial content serves that small community, but it also has come to attract a much larger group of novice and mid-level art collectors who are curious about the upper-crust, but who have no delusions of joining them.

The 2002 recession meant a loss of advertising from high-end galleries. The ad sales staff sold what it could, with the result of some less-sophisticated advertisers running, uh, less-polished-looking ads. Interestingly, these new advertisers were much more relevant to the majority of the readership than the fancy galleries were. Still, the publisher remained unyielding in its vision of its desired audience and advertising base.

However, when the economy began to pick up in ’03, the high-end art dealers didn’t want to appear in a magazine with any junky ads, even though they admitted the editorial suited them just fine. It was a long, hard struggle to convince even a few of them to return. (Alas, let’s not discuss where all ad sales have gone this past year.)

What the editor knows, and the publisher refuses to accept, is that the magazine would be more successful financially if it would acknowledge its true readership — the interested and curious collector with a limited art budget — and court that much-larger potential audience.

The editorial content needs only minor tweaking to serve that readership better, though the shift might result in less prestige in the art community. This is clearly a case where the publisher, desperately searching for ways to save money in the current troubled economy, would be well served to adjust its expectations.

—Nona Mepleez

 

This article originally ran in the Fall, 2008 issue of FPO.