"As our ad base is growing, we insist on keeping a strong eye for maintaining a clean and readable magazine; we always keep our readers in mind. For example, we try to group the smaller, fractional ads together, usually in the marketplace section," Ebert concludes.
Practical editorial, including "how-to" articles, combined with controlled advertising (Texas Parks & Wildlife sticks to a 25/75 ad-edit ratio), is an award-winning recipe for the publisher. The International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) named the publication the "1999 Magazine of the Year," in addition to honoring its staff with awards for art direction and editorial quality.
"What I've come to understand about our readers is that they want the publication to be strongly skewed editorially. For that reason, I have fought strongly to maintain our ad ratio. We will never (exceed) 25 percent in advertising. The agency is very supportive of that, and from the feedback I hear from our readers, they're supportive of that decision, as well," Ebert explains.
Besides the design and circulation changes, Ebert was also instrumental in modifying production and manufacturing. Prior to 1998, the publication's creative and production duties were outsourced to a Texas-based creative agency. Ebert saw several flaws in outsourcing these tasks and considered in-house production.
"I was able to see two benefits (to bringing creation and production in-house)," Ebert explains. "We would have far greater creative control and the ability to truly meld the creative and editorial together. … The other benefit was cost. By bringing production in-house, we actually reduced our costs."
With change came capital expenditure considerations. Ebert purchased several Mac G3 workstations, which, she says, was a relatively insignificant purchase compared to other overhead concerns such as additional salaries, employee benefits and additional office space.
Because the publication operates within the state agency, the number of full-time employees is restricted. The staff, including Ebert, consists of less than a handful of members: Managing Editor Mary-Love Bigony, Circulation Director Susanne Harm, Art Director Mark Mahorsky, Photo Editor William Vincent Reaves and Senior Editor Dick Reavis complete the masthead.