100-page magazine celebrates Galveston's 175th anniversary

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Sean Ireland

The Galveston County (Texas) Daily News celebrated the start of 2014 by publishing a magazine celebrating Galveston's 175th anniversary – a special publication that topped $40,000 in gross revenue.

The 100-page, perfect-bound magazine, which was beautifully designed by The Galveston County Daily News' Melissa Rivera, the advertising features editor, was distributed to subscribers as well as sold over the counter. It was unveiled at a communitywide celebration at which hundreds of people, including city, county and chamber of commerce leaders, kicked off what will be a year-long celebration for the city. The magazine will be featured at celebratory events throughout the year.

"We are thrilled at the response and support from the community," said Debbie Keith, advertising manager for The Galveston County Daily News. "To be able to produce and deliver such a quality and timely product for our community is truly rewarding."

The magazine was the result of about five months of planning. The Daily News' editorial staff had planned a project to celebrate the anniversary, and when the local chamber of commerce approached the newspaper also looking for a way to mark the occasion, the staff quickly realized the publication had remarkable potential.

The editorial department worked on the project for several months. The advertising department concentrated its sales efforts in December. Keith admits it was a hectic time, with holiday sales coinciding with magazine sales, but the enthusiasm from advertisers made it work.

"The sales reps were going crazy, but it was an easy sell," Keith said. "The chamber sent out an email blast to members, and we just had folks calling in. It was way bigger than we thought. The businesses wanted to be in it because the shelf life [of the magazine] is so long, and they are so proud of their city."

Keith, who has been with The Daily News for 20 years, said publishing projects like these tend to work well in Galveston because of the civic pride people have. "Galvestonians love [the city] and are faithful to it and support it and support the newspaper," she said.

That level of support often still surprises the staff, such as with the newspaper's work chronicling Hurricane Ike, which left widespread damage in Galveston and Houston in September 2008. Right after the storm, The Daily News produced a book about it and the city's recovery. A year later, it did a magazine, and then another piece three years after the storm. Gradually, advertising support for each succeeding project had fallen away to the point that the third-year project had been a newsprint section.

After a year off, in 2013, the newspaper planned another project on the five-year anniversary. Keith said some advertising representatives were uncertain that they would be able to sell it. They were pleasantly surprised when sales "the fifth year went crazy because people wanted to see what had happened over the years."

It was a great lesson about the power of positive thinking when it comes to the success of special projects. "If you can get the sales people on board, they can sell it," Keith said. "You have to get them to believe. For us, the [five-year] section about Hurricane Ike got them to believe [in the potential of the 175th anniversary magazine]."

Samples of the magazine are available to any SNPA member for the asking – just drop a request to debbie.keith@galvnews.com. Keith can be reached at (409) 683-5240.

The Galveston County Daily News is owned and operated by Southern Newspapers Inc.

Galveston, niche

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