Ban the word like: look for what works

Today is the day to receive the presentations of my students at UEL of the audits of the magazines they have chosen to audit.  And I have banned a word: like.

Too many communicators use that word when making a judgement.  Cover meetings with publishers ring with the phrase: “I like that”, or “I don’t like that”.  This goes for any form of communications.

What works?

Instead we should see what works or not in all communications.

Take magazines.

Does the cover work? Does it use the full range of cover innovations to entice the browser to buy and the regular buyer has their choice of magazine endorsed?

A cover that works becauses it uses the tools of cover design

Does the front section deliver what the cover promised?  Many front sections don’t deliver.  Watch browsers at the racks and see how many times a potential buyer puts a magazine back on the rack because the front section failed.

Do the paper and the online editions work together?  Does the paper edition encourage people to go online and does the online edition drive subscriptions for the paper edition?

What about the pace of the paper edition?  So many editors forget that the pace needs to be kept up without those sagging parts into which they shovel the bits they are not interested in.

What does it make the reader feel? What does it say about the reader?

Now here are two big questions about the magazine, online and on paper:

  • What does it make the reader feel?  We need to get our magazine into the hearts of readers in order to make them work.
  • What does it say about the reader?  How can the magazine help the reader recreate their identity in this complex world of shifting values?

Readers “own” magazines

I’ve relaunched magazines and had readers write in asking “what have you done to my magazine?”  What a lovely question: they think it’s their magazine.  It belongs to the publisher but they think it’s theirs.   That’s the reaction you can get when you understand what your communications make the readers feel and get into their hearts.

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