Generating excitement among readers and advertisers
Magazine for seniors offers community alternative
When was the last time you heard anyone in the newspaper business say this?
"It's so fun."
Brenda Bennett said just that – more than once – while talking about the magazines she's created for five Georgia community papers in and around Conyers, north of Atlanta. In particular, she said she loves to work on Generations Magazine, which caters to readers aged 50-plus.
"The advertisers are looking for something new, so I thought this would be a great niche publication," said Bennett, regional sales manager for the SCNI newspapers in Conyers, Covington, McDonough, Jackson and Jonesboro. "I thought if I were in a senior's shoes, what would I want?"
The papers publish weekly or two days a week and have a combined circulation of 11,000. They serve an area with a high number of seniors. Generations is inserted into the papers twice a year and posted on their websites. Another 1,000 copies are distributed to salons, spas, hospital waiting areas and other places where seniors might pick them up. Advertisers also get a certain number of website impressions depending on the size of the print ad.
In the second year of the magazine, it's generated $43,606 in revenue. An anchor advertiser is Ingles Markets, a grocery retailer that supplies recipes. Other advertisers are sought out according to the stories that will be running, but the stories are written independently of who bought an ad, Bennett said.
Stories are short, lively and full of art. Bennett and two ad reps sell ads and she uses a stringer for the local news copy. A profile of someone prominent, recognizable and over 50 makes up the cover story and cover art for each edition.
"These people are looking for excitement that is relative to their needs, whether it be a connection for Social Security, insurance, health, food, road trips – they are just wanting something new," Bennett said.
In addition to the profiles, stories have been done on a nearby "adventure" resort, a small town famous for its buttermilk pie, home security, gun safety, home remodeling and changes in taxes and Medicare. An exercise piece focused on yoga for seniors, and a fashion story looked at how to find comfortable shoes as seniors deal with changes in their feet.
Acknowledging the ongoing decline of print, Bennett said a niche publication like Generations offers advertisers a fresh choice over the usual special sections that tend to be repeated everywhere, every year.
"All newspapers do 'Readers Choice.' We do it every year," she said. "We've been doing it for 30 years. And we just keep doing the same things. We just keep going to the advertisers wanting them to participate in the same things."
Generations is an 8 ½ by 11 glossy magazine that is intended to look like a magazine, not like part of a newspaper, Bennett said. "I think the key to the success of the book is that we're reaching outside of our media markets and looking for stories and travel ideas and food, and it also helps to have a major retailer in the mix."
Bennett's magazine printer passes along niche publications from newspapers outside her immediate region, and she adapts ideas that might work. A guide to physicians is another magazine that appears three times a year and continues to be a success. The guide has 16 photo slots on the cover; the first 16 doctors who sign up for an ad get one of the photos along with an advertorial the size of their ad.
Bennett will try a similar guide to attorneys during 2019 and will change the publication cycle of Generations so the second issue comes out in November when people are considering health insurance and Medicare changes. She's not afraid to try something new, but she's not afraid to the abandon an idea either.
"Just keep trying new things, and if you fail, fail fast and get on to a new project," Bennett said.
Community papers must be willing to make connections between advertisers and stories that readers want, she said.
"If you can connect the dots between the advertiser and that market, you've got a winner."
For more information, contact Brenda Bennett at Brenda.email@example.com.
Jane Nicholes is a veteran journalist based in coastal Alabama and is a regular contributor to SNPA. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.