Author Archives: Michelle Jones

money

Readers to Make Investments in July’s Money Magazine

money.jpgMoney magazine is publishing its first-ever readers’ choice issue in July.

A readers’ choice issue isn’t quite the same thing as the reader-generated issues produced by other magazines (Wallpaper* is letting subscribers design their own covers for the July issue, for example), but then financial advice is not like travel advice. Thus, it’s understandable that Money’s July 2010 issue will not be written by readers the way, say, Budget Travel’s annual reader issue is.

Instead, Money’s editors will create an entire issue devoted to readers’ specific questions, concerns and goals.

Readers are being asked to pose questions for an “Ask the Expert” feature, and to choose which of five potential stories they’d prefer to read (about topics such as cutting your taxes, preparing for the next boom, picks from fund managers, etc.), and to share information on the most egregious credit card fees they’ve encountered. (This last one should be good.)

There’s also a chance for readers to share advice with each other. Recipe for disaster? Maybe not. The advice seems to be mainly about family financial matters: dealing with deadbeat relatives or a spouse’s credit card habit.

Magazines on New Mark Hampton Book

elle-decor.jpgLegendary interior decorator Mark Hampton is the subject of a new book, Mark Hampton: An American Decorator (Rizzoli), written by his widow, Duane.

Elle Decor magazine‘s May issue includes a mention of the book, along with a photograph from it, in the openers.

Meanwhile, the May House Beautiful magazine offers a four-page preview of the book. The excerpt showcases the Hamptons’ living room over a three-decade period: the 1970s, the 1980s and as it is today per its 1991 redesign.

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Move It Without Losing It

house_beautiful-2010-05.jpgApparently it’s time to move on. Stories on buying and selling real estate popped up in a couple of personal finance magazines this May; moving house was on two editorial agendas.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, for example, devotes its monthly “Lowdown” (the “What You Need to Know About…” column) to suggestions for shaving a few bucks from the expensive act of getting your things from Point A to Point B. Procuring your own boxes rather than buying them from the moving company, investigating your movers, and moving during the off-season (October through April) are some of the tips.

Though we’re not in the off-season now, there are still ways to make moves easier, if not cheaper.

House Beautiful magazine sat down with a 32-year veteran of the moving business to discuss everything from buying your movers’ lunch (and telling them you’re going to first thing) to what the guy hanging out in the back of the truck is up to. As for timing, this story suggests avoiding summer if possible; consider Christmastime instead.

Whereas Kiplinger’s focuses mainly on financial pointers, the House Beautiful story delves into the nuts and bolts of moving various types of items along with info on costs.

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Message of the Medium

powerofprint-ad1.jpgBy now you’ve probably seen the “Power of Print” double spread in your favorite magazines. The ad, a joint effort spearheaded by the heads of five major publishing companies (Hearst, Meredith, Time Inc., Wenner Media and Condé Nast), compares surfing the Internet to, well, surfing, and likens reading a hard copy of a magazine to a relaxing swim. Double-page spreads capture attention, especially in these times, and the “Power of Print” campaign has done just that, especially with media writers and bloggers.

The Wall Street Journal and trade journals tend to understand the logic; bloggers, not so much. Take Gawker’s Ravi Somaiya, for example, who calls the campaign the “most pointless ad in history,” because it is aimed at people already reading print. Holy missed point, Batman. Rather than preaching to the choir, so to speak, the ads are in fact targeting advertisers and media insiders to remind them that, yes, people still read print.

According to a recent survey by the Chief Marketing Officer Council, quoted in Adweek, a whopping 90 percent of respondents said they prefer print to online versions of the magazines they subscribe to and 92 percent of respondents subscribed to at least one magazine. Now, of course, polls are generally drawn from pools of people who are already inclined to think a certain way (which is the only way to explain results of some political polls), but it is worth noting–as Adweek’s Mark Dolliver did–that these respondents were not typewriter-using-and-cassette-listening Luddites.

In other words, it makes perfect sense to remind advertisers that, despite all the hype about apps and e-readers, many of us–in fact, most of us–still enjoy cozying up with a hard copy of our favorite periodicals. This isn’t to say that we don’t like being online (obviously!) or the joy of following links and clicking on videos; it’s just a reminder that we also like diving into a good issue.

powerofprint-ad2.jpgMeanwhile, a new ad in the “Power of Print” campaign debuts in June 2010 issues. I first saw it in the June House Beautiful magazine. This new ad pulls readers in by engaging them in a little interactive game, print style.

It’s sort of like graphic Mad Libs, with pictures of magazine covers inserted in the (large-print) copy with the magazines’ logo/name filling in the blanks. “From SEVENTEEN through their SUNSET years, folks are reading MORE magazines than just a few years ago,” the ad tells us.

Nicely done. As for the official “Power of Print” video, hmm. If it shows anything, it’s that the publishers are all business (and also should not quit their day jobs anytime soon–which is, one supposes, the whole point of the ads).

By the way, if the snappy “Magazines” logo caught your eye, you might have noticed something familiar about some of the letters; they were taken from the logos of eight magazines.

money

Staying Relevant at Work

money.jpgSo much for experience. These days the pressure to be young has even found its way into the workplace, and not just in youth-centric professions. While even a quick survey of women’s magazines will turn up numerous ads for “anti-aging,” “age-defying” and hair-coloring products, now men and women are being warned that growing old could cost them much more than sex appeal.

A story in Money magazine‘s May 2010 issue offers an “anti-aging kit” for one’s career, with tips on becoming versed in social media, updating one’s wardrobe and staying current on pop culture.

Some of the tips are more useful and applicable than others–getting a smartphone with a data plan, avoiding worshiping the past. Others are just silly or superficial. Even the authors admit that trying to watch some of the crap that passes for entertaining TV in order to join in “coffee machine conversation” is going to be difficult. Also, anyone who’s ever had to listen to office chatter should take exception to the encouragement of same.

The wardrobe advice here seems more sensible than the hideously inappropriate
makeovers found in women’s magazines. (The one in More magazine’s February 2010 issue, for example, was painfully ridiculous.)

Though the Money magazine article seems to fall into the well-worn trap of glorifying all that “millennials” do, it also addresses the very real issue of remaining relevant in office environments. Thinking of the story in
terms of staying up-to-date rather than merely attempting to stay young (which is impossible, of course) takes some of the sting out of how hard it can be to embrace new technologies and approaches, especially given the added pressure of doing so to save one’s job.

Unfortunately, the point that experienced workers will likely have faced–and solved–issues that may leave younger colleagues flummoxed is one that seems trumped by everything else (and that is apparently escaping the notice of employers). This is a sad reminder that just when many people are reaching a point where they’ve developed a second sense about their profession, that very experience can work against them.

Meanwhile, readers of this story may find themselves turning to Consumer Reports magazine. The editors have devoted a section of their May 2010 issue to evaluating products used to preserve the appearance of youth. These include hair-coloring products, anti-wrinkle creams and baldness remedies.

More, More, More–Magazine, That Is

more.jpgThere comes a point in every woman’s life when
she just can’t stomach one more baby shower, one more young alumni
event, or one more magazine for twentysomethings.

This may happen
on or before one’s 40th birthday (or 30th). Whenever it does, it’s time
for More magazine.

A
typical issue includes a heavy dose of fashion and beauty (it is
after all a magazine “for women of style and substance,” according to
its tagline), profiles of women 40 and older (famous and otherwise), and
a few stories on relationships, money and career, travel, etc.

While
it would be nice to see someone other than an actress on the cover
(even if the February 2010 story on Mariska Hargitay was fascinating)
the overall vibe of More magazine is one of empowerment.

Wait.
Empowerment? Do women 40 and older still need to be empowered?
Perhaps they just need to be reminded of the power of reaching a point
in one’s life when one is comfortable in one’s own skin, ready to tackle
the world on one’s own terms. (More bonus points for More magazine: the
realization that not every woman is a mother, nor that every mother
wants to be defined solely or primarily by her relationship to her
children.)

Here’s another bonus, this magazine devoted to women
of a certain age is a magazine full of ads showing women of a certain
age. This is revolutionary in and of itself; a lovely reminder that life
doesn’t end at 39.

Which brings me to my favorite aspect of the
magazine, the concept of Reinvention, Second Acts, What’s Next. Through
stories about women who’ve headed off in new directions, along with its
Reinvention Conventions held in cities around the country, More
addresses the need for continued change and updating–not just in terms
of one’s wardrobe or home decor, but also professionally and
spiritually.