Achieve MVP Status in Magazine Media: Be Relevant, Necessary, and Sufficient
The MVP of any magazine or magazine media company should be the audience – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And that MVP status is only achieved through the true underlying meaning of those letters when it comes to magazines and magazine media:
- M: Meet and exceed the needs, wants, and desires of your audience.
- V: Validate and curate all the information that is out there.
- P: Preview the near future for your audience to ease their anxiety about what it holds.
So the question today, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, is how can your magazine achieve that MVP status?
Simply put, by applying the three factors that will help your magazine reach an engagement level like no other platform can. Your magazine must be relevant, necessary, and sufficient. Two of the three is not enough in this day and age. You MUST achieve all three factors to survive in this pandemic era and beyond.
Being relevant is the easiest of the aforementioned three, yet it is still not easy. Relevancy is not in the eye of the beholder; it is in establishing that invisible three-fold link between the magazine and its readers, the readers among themselves, and the readers and the advertisers. All must be relevant to each other to cultivate the “sense of community” that Phyllis Hoffman, chairman and CEO of Hoffman Media, believes is especially vital right now.
Magazines today must provide their audiences with content that provides service during this pandemic – service that must go beyond delivering the news or the fantasy aspects that provided readers an escape from reality over the years. Witness Playboy, a magazine that outlived its purpose and relevancy. Who wants to be called a “playboy” anymore or live that lifestyle today? Even before the #MeToo movement, the magazine lost its relevancy in the 21st century. This is the age of service journalism and magazines should reign supreme.
I have always said and wrote that no one (well, besides Mr. Magazine™) needs a magazine, so how can necessity be a factor in the survival of a magazine? For a magazine, necessity means changing the wants and desires of audience members into needs.
Make magazine content addictive by simply being repetitive. The more you give your audience what they want, the more you will change their wants to needs. Name any subject: building abs, losing weight, cooking, crocheting, etc. Your readers want more of the same. Readers are creatures of habit, and no habit is created without repetition. As a magazine creator, you should put your creative self aside and think of your habitual readers who want more of the same, issue in and issue out.
In addition to being relevant and necessary, the magazine must also be sufficient. Provide answers that your readers can’t Google or find on any platform. As Troy Young, president of Hearst Magazines told me: “To me, magazine media is not the news. It is point of view; it is passions; and it is perspective; and it moves in and around the news and the things that people care about, but it brings more perspective to that conversation.”
In short, the magazines and magazine media must be the readers’ support system.
Ask yourself, in the midst of this pandemic, is your magazine relevant, necessary, and sufficient? It is the only way to survive this crisis and to create your MVP, your most valuable player, your reader.
Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. As Mr. Magazine™ he engages in media consulting and research for the magazine media and publishing industry.