What Makes a Magazine ‘Hot’?

17 04 2010

Just last month, Mediaweek released their Magazine Hot List for 2010.  Included was a list of the top 10 magazines that gained above $60 million in annual revenue and 10 Under 60 list for those that gained below $60 million.  The past few years have been difficult for magazine publishing companies, due to the recession and technological outbreaks that threaten print circulations.  So how exactly is a good magazine measured and placed in a top 10 list?

Mediaweek's Magazine Hot List 2010

Since publishers are reaching beyond their magazine’s printed addition and going into other areas of business as well, magazine names are no longer based off the reputation of the printed addition.  There are several contributing factors when judging the best out there in print publications.  Mediaweek’s criteria included the number of pages and page number increases, advertising sales and the addition of new advertising accounts, and circulation sales.  Each are greatly caused by the successful innovation and use of social media.  By using different social medias, magazines are able to promote their brand and make it known that they are still out there.  Also, publishers and magazines can easily find out what  readers want, thus, making their name more appealing.

Those magazines that placed in one of the top 10 lists, have some sort of internet presence that makes them stand out, not to mention a variety of multi-platform innovations that deal with the marketing of each brand overall:

Organic Gardening – ‘WaterWorks’ project

Saveur – Editor-in-chief, James Oseland, appears as a judge for the TV show, ‘Top Chef’

People – Printed spinoffs such as People’s ‘StyleWatch’ and iPhone applications

Women’s Health – iPhone apps, online services, and ‘Are You Game?’ event

Cosmopolitan – Events such as ‘StarLaunch’, ‘Bikini Bash’, and ‘Fun Fearless Male’ competition

Sport’s Illustrated – a customizable website

Family Circle – ‘Momster’ social network

Another magazine that is taking great strides, is Esquire.  Innovations by Editor-in-Chief, David Granger, and the rest of the Esquire community include story art being placed in the white space of pages, no headlines for one issue, and a mix and match cover in which perforated-layer photographs of Barack Obama, Justin Timerlake, and George Clooney could be peeled off, giving the reader the option of combing different facial features of each.  Other innovations include turning their Megan Fox cover shoot into a film, in which they placed the video online and used stills for the article in their print edition, and a print fashion portfolio in which they put into a short film, emailed it to international fashionistas, and distributed it virally.

So it’s clear that social media plays a very significant role in promoting a magazine’s brand, eventually affecting Mediaweek’s criteria for their top 10 list.  That being said, do you think the criteria are a good choice in judging the best?  Is there any other criteria that should be taken into account?

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3 responses

18 04 2010
Amy Morgan

I think that it definitely says something that the magazines in the top 10 are ones that have multimedia approaches. The best magazines are shown to be the multitaskers. This shows that these magazines are doing well and still able to maintain both the print and digital realms of their publications. I do not know if they should change the criteria for the list just yet, but it would surprise me if in the next few years they have more categories, such as best print, best print with multimedia component, and best digital magazines with the way that the industry is going.

18 04 2010
Aaren Cecere

It doesn’t surprise me that the best magazines are the ones that have multimedia components. Today we expect our news and entertainment when we want it, not necessarily according to periodicals and if magazines stick only to their monthy publications, they will get lost – they need to be available and have new and exciting information that’s different from what the magazine itself has to offer. I think Esquire has a very different approach in their print media that will also help them stand out from the rest. I did notice that most if not all of the magazines you mentioned are very niche specific magazines, which is interesting and also goes back to the Long Tail theory that we discussed in class.

18 04 2010
Taylor Scott

I love when magazines have some sort of presence on the Internet, but it has to be something that I will actually make the effort to visit their web site for; if it’s a mediocre web site that seems thrown together then it makes me feel like I’ve wasted my time. I know that I personally follow People Magazine on Twitter because I think they do a great job of updating their status throughout the day so that I don’t have to be at a computer to find out the latest stories.

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