Archive for the ‘A Mr. Magazine™ Musing’ Category

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Garment: Where Fashion Shows Off In Print…

August 1, 2018

“Garment embraces the battle of the opposites, and this is what [mis]suiting is all about.” Thus states Editor in Chief Emma-Chase Laflamme in her Editor’s Letter of the new Amsterdam Fashion Institute’s magazine Garment.

She goes on to say, “We believe there is no better analogy to reflect the evolution and current state of the fashion industry than the suit…They say if the suit fits, wear it. Garment says, does it have to? Welcome to the [mis]suit issue.”

The annual publication from Amsterdam University of Applied Science’s Fashion Institute has been a fixture in the Dutch magazine world for more than a decade. Each issue is unique, as unique as the students and faculty who creates it.

After a short hiatus of no print issue, this summer the magazine is back in print. Frank Jurgen Wijlens, one of two editorial coaches of the magazine and the program coordinator, tells me in a note that accompanied the magazine, “Dear Samir, happy to show we were back to print. Happy readings. All the best, Frank.”

Happy readings indeed. Well designed, well edited, great photography and greater [mis]suits.

Another good example of what print can deliver that digital can’t. The sense of holding this issue of Garment in your hands, flipping the nicely sewn pages (no pun intended), is worth every penny of the 13 Euros that the magazine costs.

Want your own copy? Go to http://www.hva.nl/amfi or http://www.amfi.nl

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Magazine Media: Change Is Constant, But Consistency Can Be Crucial.

July 24, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

We all know that change is the only constant in the world that we live in, but while change brings about progress and evolution, there are times when evolvement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For instance, just ask Amazon about its not-so illustrious Fire Phone that convinced the mega company its future was not in phone technology.

And so it goes in magazine publishing too. There are reasons to remain consistent and staunch when it comes to certain things. And let’s be honest, Mr. Magazine™ is here to talk about the magazine business, certainly not cell phone technology.

Take Rolling Stone, for example. Now that the 50-year-old musical and cultural staple is under new ownership, there have been significant changes made to the title. It’s now a larger format that will publish monthly rather than biweekly. However, the man behind the magazine’s successful legacy, Jann Wenner, is still ensconced as editor and has vowed in his first letter since becoming a non-owner persona that certain characteristics of Rolling Stone shall remain eternal:

“What isn’t changing is our commitment to the integrity, honesty and quality of our journalism and to our tradition of bold, clean design and original photography. It is our intention to continue that tradition for as long as we exist.”

And Wenner went on to say:

“In my view, magazine journalism – deep reporting, with original photography and a point of view – will always have a firm place in the cultural conversation.”

And that is why Rolling Stone’s impact is globally felt. From the shores of the U.S. to the European landscape, the magazine is as relevant and effective on one side of the ocean as it is on the other.

Recently, I made a trip to the land where I was born, Lebanon. Stopping in Italy during the flight, a dramatically impressive Italian version of Rolling Stone caught my eye and my heart. Needless, to say, it came home with me. The cover was spellbinding. Jann Wenner’s belief that magazine journalism should have a point of view was driven home as I looked at the poignant and impactful Italian issue that most definitely took a verbal and visual stand.

Magazines have always been reflectors of our society at that particular time, so they’re always evolving and morphing. But there are some facets of the profession of journalism and the magazine industry that should never morph into anything other than what it has always been: the pursuit of truth and the presentation of information and entertainment. After all, that’s what magazines do best!

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands…

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Humanized Content & Your Very Human Audience – It’s Not Bots Out There Reading Your Stuff. A Mr. Magazine Musing & Revisit…

July 7, 2018

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

In the summer of 2008, I wrote an article for the magazine of the Custom Publishing Council called “Content.” And while I realize that was 10 years ago, some things never age, such as the content of the “Content” article. That’s a lot of “content” you might say, and I agree with you. But content, good content combined with experience making, is what magazines are all about and custom publishing is still just as relevant and prevalent as it was in ’08, even more so.

I recently published an interview that I did with Drew Wintemberg, president of Time Inc. Retail. The focus of that conversation was on Special Interest Publications, or SIP’s as they are called in the world of publishing. There is nothing more customized than a singular topic magazine that targets a singular-topic-interested audience champing at the bit to learn more about that singular topic. That’s a lot of “singular topics” you might say, and I agree with you. But singular topics are what custom publishing is all about, even if you’re not a singular topic brand, knowing the singular topics that your audience is interested in is vital to the success of your custom publication.

Which leads me to the real crux of having success with any type of publishing, custom or otherwise, you have to know your customer’s customer, i.e. – the audience and the advertiser. That is the true mark of a professionally marketed and targeted publication. If you cannot humanize that magazine and give it a pointed and rigorous personality, one that can carry on a particular conversation with both the audience and the advertiser, then you’re simply tilting at windmills, because a one-dimensional idea that has not been “fleshed” out isn’t going to work. Not for you, not for your advertisers, and certainly not for your readers.

Hence, the revisit of my article for “Content,” the magazine. In it I suggest 7 easy steps to know your customer’s customer. Well, actually, it’s six easy ways plus one, which is seven anyway you add it. And these are not only good for yesterday and today’s market, they’re even more crucial for tomorrow’s marketplace. They present the idea that protecting and promoting your brand properly is the future of your publication and your entire company. And there is no better way to do that than by knowing your customer’s customer. You have to understand each and every facet of your brand, from who’s buying it to who’s advertising in it.

So, come along with Mr. Magazine™ as we take a trip down memory lane and run into today and tomorrow there as well…

Mr. Custom
Samir Husni

Protecting the Brand
Six (plus one) easy ways to know your customer’s customer

The most essential objective on the mind of any marketing director or head of a company is protecting the brand. This is paramount because companies must ensure their brand is not tarnished. That challenge becomes a huge responsibility on the shoulders for any individuals launching custom publications. If you fail to understand and help promote your customer’s brand in the proper way, the only thing the future holds for you, your marketing director or your media company is disaster.

There is no better way to protect and promote a brand than by understanding the customer’s customer. Knowing the people your custom publication targets is important to your success as a custom publisher, but success can only be guaranteed if you know the advertisers that are targeting your audience as well.

One of the simple questions I always ask people is, “Who is your audience?” Without really knowing who it is you are trying to reach, it is impossible to be successful at custom publishing. When I hear clients telling me that “everybody” is their audience, I know they haven’t even begun to do their homework. Before you attempt to create a custom publication, here are six plus one easy steps to consider:

1. Know the brand. This may sound elementary, but if the brand becomes unclear or gets diluted, it will lead to failure of the brand across the board and media outlets. You must know the brand inside out, upside down, forward and backward. It’s not enough to just know the brand you are working with from a marketer’s standpoint. You have to know it from the customer’s standpoint as well. Become a user of the brand, and if you aren’t the target demographic, find someone in your company who is.

2. Humanize the brand. You know the brand front and back; the next step is to make it warmer and more approachable than a concept. Imagine that soft drink, that pair of shoes, whatever product it may be, as a human being. Is it young or old? Rich or poor? Male or female? If you have taken my advice and have worked to know your audience better, then you should be able to identify the exact demographic and psychographic information about the human being that your brand has transformed into. Who does this human being want to have a conversation with? Once you have humanized your brand, it is much easier to create a voice for it.

3. Identify the voice. By combining the vision and the value of the brand, it becomes easier to create its voice. Is the voice preaching? Teaching? Conversational? Confrontational? Storytelling? You name it. Humanizing the brand isn’t enough. You have to take it further and come to a realization of how to protect the voice of the brand.

4. Identify the prototype person (if there is such a thing). Now that you have identified the voice of the brand, you need to identify who will be carrying on a conversation with it. A good way to think about it is if the humanized pair of shoes or the humanized soft drink came knocking on the door, would you welcome it in? You have to identify who will respond to the product. It will be easier to pair advertisers with your customers if you know who is involved in this conversation and exactly what they are like.

5. Think of the conversation that will take place. Once you have the humanized brand and the prototype person that will be holding a conversation, you need to think about the conversation that will take place. What will they talk about? Custom publishing has multifaceted goals, from the creation and retention of customers to the engagement of customers. Which of these facets applies? Also, how long will the conversation take?

6. Find the addictive elements of the conversation. What makes the prototype customer ask the humanized brand more questions? What aspects of their conversation make the customer more engaged? Find out what will make that prototype customer come back for more. In this day of brand dilution, not providing your customers with an addictive, exclusive and timely yet timeless conversation will do nothing but make the engagement between the brand and the customer brief. And when that happens, customers have no other choice but to look other places for the conversation they need, want and desire.

7. And above all, a dash of good luck. Why seven steps and not six? Because I believe seven is a much better number than six. Hope your next project will excel with these easy seven steps.

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Magazines & Magazine Media: Credibility, Trust & The Art of Curation With An Added Bonus Of Sifting Through the Misinformation

June 26, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Magazines are art. Their content, photographs, typography, and design all combine together to make the artistry that propels them into that world of cultivated beauty. And if words power societies as we all know they do, then the act of putting letters together to form words should not be taken lightly. In fact, as I am writing this my thought processes are churning as I select each consonant and vowel to curate and create this Mr. Magazine™ Musing.

Magazines are curators. To be fair, magazine creators are the curators, just as Mr. Magazine™ is curator of this message. The curation of content is not something to take lightly. Not in this day and age of fake news and even faker websites that are out there among the masses of true – maybe true – no way could this be true information. And that’s why the weight of the world; the weight of people’s trust and confidence sits squarely on the shoulders of curation.

Curation is an art form. When a magazine’s team gets together to have a meeting-of-the-minds when it comes time for that all-important next issue, finding and organizing that quality content that is meant just for the readers of that magazine is vital.

Searching. Validating. Finding an expert. Summarizing and providing answers to “What’s In It For Me” regardless of what the curated material is that you’re trying to find, and then relating that information and storytelling to the specific audience is what sets a magazine apart from other more questionable content providers.

Courtesy of MPA: The Association of Magazine Media

For example, at the 2018 IMAG Conference that I recently attended in Boston, Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, talked about credibility by the numbers. It was a fascinating presentation. Linda spoke about one article that Parents Magazine ran about child disability that had hours upon hours of reporting and interviews with people who had expertise in the topic, from psychiatrists and psychologists to attorneys and child professionals, proving that thorough investigation and evaluation of research and experts produces verified and credible material that audiences can trust.

And magazines are about creating trust. Curation buffers that trust to the top of the food chain when it comes to the digestion of information. What we put into our minds eventually becomes our thoughts and ideas, so correct, true and worthy information is important to all of us.

And finding an expert to interview, to review, and validate the curation is essential to the credibility of what magazines and magazine media offer. The medium of print is a technology unto itself. As we scan the Internet for information and as we find that knowledge on some obscure website, are we sure that content has been curated through experts, reviews and validation? No, we cannot be sure of anything with random words and sentences that are pulled together in Cyberspace.

Now, most of you know that Mr. Magazine™ has and always will be a voice for print in this digital age that we live in. I don’t think that’s a beacon of surprise to anyone. However, that doesn’t mean that I am not a proponent of positivity for the power of digital information. But what I am saying with this musing is simply, there are some things that magazines do better than the Internet. And that, as always, we out here in the real world (not the virtual world) need the correct information and simple truths that proven print media has to offer.

Some of you may have heard the recent reports on the so-called “computer-generated” models that’s usage is on the rise with social media influencers, which are people who are paid to promote brands and products, and in some cases aren’t even real people. According to these media reports, with this growing online trend, some of these computer-generated influencers have more than one million followers each. The goal of these influencers is to get you to buy products or experiences, but some worry you could be misled by false images. False information from the Internet? Surely not!

Ignoring Mr. Magazine’s™ apparent sarcasm, I think it behooves us to realize that not everything we read, watch, listen to, and absorb from online sources is true and accurate, such as with “Lil Miquela,” the optical illusion model that was referred to in the media reports we were just discussing. She is an avatar designed by artists and constructed by computers. Can you imagine? She appears real and true, but in actuality is only an illusion.

Mr. Magazine’s™ email offer

And if likes and followers can’t be had by fictitious models that don’t even exist, why, you can now buy your way into online popularity. Even Mr. Magazine™ (print lover extraordinaire) receives digital offers to purchase fake and non-existent Instagram followers and Facebook likes. I recently received an email that offered me 10k Facebook likes for $70 and 10k Instagram followers for the same amount. And of course, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn were also included in my illustrious offer.

People, the lines between fiction and reality are becoming blurred. Before we know it, there will be no defining factors between truth and lies. And what are the ethical issues concerning this newfound ability to generate avatar-people? Shouldn’t we worry that deception is becoming the norm in our world?

All of this leads back to the fact that magazines produce “real human” models, “real human” information, and “real human” trust factors. The curation of honest content and factual material is a must for us in this world of fictitious people and misinformation that we live in. The art of curation has never been more important to a generation of human beings who have to sift through the mountains of media falsehoods that exist in the world today.

Until the next time…

See you at the newsstands – the real newsstands!

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Print: When You Say & See BIG…

June 8, 2018

Last week I tweeted a quote from WWD: “Melissa Jones has launched Masthead magazine, a large format, online product heavily focused on photography.” My question is, “What is a large format online?”

Well, the reaction from that tweet was hilarious. Some equated it to a “jumbo shrimp.”

So, online, the size of your media depends on the size of your screen. You can call it anything you want: large format online, jumbo format online, small format online…you get my drift, but in reality the only size online media comes in is the size of your screen, be that PC desktop or mobile phone on the go. Enough said.

In print, on the other hand, size does matter. And today I received my first issue of the extra large format Civilization newspaper that is published in a limited edition of 1000. Richard Turley, the founder, answers Linda Leven’s question, “What is the purpose of this newspaper?” His answer on page 2 of the newspaper/magazine:

Civilization – The long answer is…I was in a magazine store at the beginning of the year and looking at the few magazines and newspapers that remain. All the magazines look the same, and are more like coffee table picture books now, and as for the actual printed newspapers, well…people only read those when they get them free in hotels. So I wondered whether I could make a new one and what I missed most was a publication about New York. What New York feels like to walk around and be a part of — which isn’t just Trump, Trump, Trump, Ramen spots and lifestyle tips — that’s not what New York is to me…”

The result, an oversized publication in print that you can actually measure and regardless where you read it, it will continue to have the same size, from the physical dimensions to the size of the type. Just check the size compared to a standard sized magazine and judge for yourself…

You ask me, what can print do that digital can’t? Well, now you have one of too many answers… continue measuring and counting.

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“Two If By Sea” – L’Officiel Joins America’s Newsstands

February 26, 2018

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…

Yesterday, I visited one of my most favorite places in the world – the newsstand. As I stood there marveling at the latest new arrivals, I spotted a European title that I of course recognized, but was not expecting to see on this side of the Great Pond especially with three very prominent letters after its title: USA. The magazine in question L’Officiel.

L’Officiel is owned by Jalou Media Group, which is a family-owned media group based in Paris. With 27 international editions, L’Officiel has a presence across over 80 countries— the USA being the most recent addition to the family.

What Mr. Magazine™ found extremely fascinating about this beautiful magazine, other than its exquisite covers (yes, I said covers plural) is that as this print title came across the sea, it hit America’s shores in two different iterations. We have the same magazine, but with two different titles, something Mr. Magazine™ is quite sure has never happened before. We have L’Officiel Hommes, for the gentlemen, and L’Officiel without any designated gender for the ladies. But both magazines have the exact same content, only two different titles.

And in typical European style, this first issue is being sold at the ridiculously low introductory price of $1. So, of course, Mr. Magazine™ had to have both copies, but truthfully, I would have had to have both regardless of the price.


In Joseph Akel’s editor’s letter, he addresses the obvious question: Why launch a magazine, especially in this day and age, given the state of publishing? The resounding response in part was: the need for a voice that is informed, inclusive, and open to creative expression is needed, perhaps now more than ever.

Mr. Magazine™ couldn’t agree more…welcome to America, L’Officiel!

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After 64 Years Between The Covers – Hugh Hefner Makes It To The Playboy Cover

October 31, 2017

A Mr. Magazine Musing…

For the first time ever a man is on the cover of Playboy without a model accompanying him – and it’s the founder himself, Hugh Hefner. And Mr. Magazine™ wonders what Hef would think about that. After 64 years between the covers (no pun intended) he makes the cover, and a few extra dollars to boot.

And what would he think about those few extra dollars, considering the cover price is almost $15 (minus one penny) for the special “collector’s edition” that bears his likeness? Possibly, that he’s no different than the rest of us, worth monetarily more in death than in life.

When Cooper Hefner returned the nudity to the magazine and changed the frequency to six times per year instead of 12 and doubled the cover price to $12.99, which was the same price for a one year subscription; it seemed to be an effort to bolster a somewhat sagging framework. Plus, correct the major error Cooper thought his father had made when he did away with the nudity in the magazine.

And now with the collector’s edition, which has Hefner in profile on the cover, they’ve added the label “collector’s edition” and a few extra pages, and are charging $2 more. For the man who enjoyed being on the inside of the magazine, I contemplate what he would really think about being on the cover? And what he would think about the fairly blatant attempt to not only honor him, but also make money?

Maybe a nod of approval – after all, he always said:

“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.”

Until next time…
See you at the newsstands…