Deluxe print performance at The Dallas Morning News
FD Luxe Editor Rob Brinkley believes in print.
He doesn't ignore social media or the latest apps; a staff member is assigned as digital producer. But he's convinced that the print medium is crucial to the successful reinvention and growth of the high-end lifestyle magazine published by The Dallas Morning News.
"No matter all the excitement about digital and social media, [to] this particular reader, who loves luxury and loves their city, print, especially, is still relevant," Brinkley said.
"We're this pocket of energy in the print world, when a lot of print is gone. I also love that The Morning News believes in it."
|Twice a year (December/January and June/July), a combination issue is published. This is the brand-new issue.
Since an overhaul and relaunch of the magazine in April 2012, FD Luxe has seen revenue gains. In October it was named "Best Niche Product" in Division 3 of the Society for Features Journalism annual contest.
"Our revenue is plus 12 percent in 2013, the first full year after the relaunch, and we have many new national and local luxury advertisers who want to be part of the product," said Rich Alfano, the magazine's group publisher.
As a niche product, Brinkley said, FD Luxe is "definitely going for a really, really affluent audience." Some 95,000 copies are distributed monthly. About half are delivered with Sunday editions of The Morning News to specific ZIP codes. The rest is delivered in bundles to shops, restaurants, designer showrooms and other places in affluent neighborhoods. Free-standing paid copies are being tested in airports, bookstores and newsstands.
|The biggest issue of the year in 2013, with a theme of fashion.
FD, as it's known in Dallas, began as a midweek section in the newspaper in 1978. Until the most recent makeover, it emphasized fashion; FD stood for "Fashion Dallas." Sometimes other topics were included, such as automotive and architecture, but the targeted audience was women ages 20 to 30, Brinkley said.
Today FD has evolved into FD Luxe, a perfect bound monthly with a minimum of 100 pages.
"It was predominantly women's fashion. But the beautiful thing about the perfect bound is that it allowed us the pages to tell more stories, Brinkley said.
"We're doing a lot of art coverage. Art is extremely important to the reader, our reader. We're doing a lot more men's, more food, more wine, more travel, more automotive, a great mix. It's a lot of fun."
|This issue was a home-design theme (so, they tipped a Mies van der Rohe "Barcelona" chair over on its back).
Brinkley said two other baseline editorial requirements help make the magazine work: an all-Dallas staff and his insistence on finding new ways to tell stories. Although issues are themed, the magazine isn't padded with canned content.
The staff numbers five full-time and one part-time employee. Other contributors include freelancers and some newspaper writers looking for more space and more elaborate presentation for their stories. The perfect bound magazine format allows for photography and layouts that may not translate well to a small computer screen, Brinkley said.
A current example of the result is the in-depth story in the December-January issue, posted at fdluxe.dallasnews.com. The provocative headline, "Dear God: Is Dallas society ready for Fellowship Church's sex-loving, million-dollar minister?" clearly signals readers that what's coming is not the average church pastor profile.
"I challenge the team all the time to reinvent the way we're going to do a certain story," Brinkley said. "Reinvent the certain category. Let's not ever do anything standard. Let's not phone it in. Let's not fall back on certain ways of telling a story.
"Every issue, we try to turn it all upside down and tell a story a different way. And I think that would work in any city. I especially love that it works in print."
The next big thing for FD Luxe is the relaunch of The Texas Wedding Guide, which The Morning News bought last year. It's scheduled for the end of December and will now be renamed, "FD Luxe: The Wedding Edition."
Brinkley said the new wedding guide will be sold on stands only for $5.95; 30,000 copies will be distributed statewide. The relaunch has been received so well that some of the space in the special advertising section that was planned as advertorial was sold as ads instead.
The Wedding Edition will consist of two sections: the first portion will have regular FD Luxe editorial content and ads, while the back will be a special advertising section. Ads in the front portion sold out before the staff could even create a media kit for The Wedding Edition.
Scheduled stories include the pros and cons of common-law marriage and a male couple who asked for gifts of money donations so they could have a child via a donor and surrogate.
It's the first time FD Deluxe has branched out, Brinkley said.
Rob Brinkley's email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Jane Nicholes is a freelance writer and editor based in Daphne, Ala., and a former editorial writer for the Press-Register in Mobile. Email her at email@example.com.)