How to Make Money Off Free Magazines

by |
06/30/2010 2:32 PM |

Yes Darling But Is It Advertorial?
  • Yes Darling But Is It Advertorial?

How to Make Money Off Free Magazines: Vodka, Girls, Vegas, Maybachs. Plus, Lenny Dykstra!” is the headline of a recent post at the Observer which we at The L are reading with great interest. The Observer‘s Zeke Turner summarizes the tale of magazines like Trader Monthly, Dealmaker, Private Air, Corporate Leader and Cigar Report, which in last decade’s better times would provide traders, dealmakers and corporate leaders with about a half a million complimentary copies, and subsidize their existence by staging sponsored events in which traders, dealmakers and corporate leaders would soak up free vodka and marketing for the rich-people products eager to reach them.

In possibly related news, the venerable Chicago Reader is currently reporting on the firing of its longtime editor.

Interviewed for the reader’s blog, the paper’s acting publisher—an employee of parent company Creative Loafing, which bought the Reader shortly before declaring, and then emerging from, bankruptcy—expressed a belief that the future of the Reader lay with “collaboration and strategic planning” between the sales and editorial sides of the business: “The editor of the Reader has to work closely with sales to find innovative ways to take our fair share of the dollars that are shrinking and shrinking quickly.” (The Reader’s Michael Miner ads, “She promised me that she wouldn’t ‘blur’ the line between editorial and advertising, but she would ‘push’ it.”)

(The L, of course, has simultaneously become culturally relevant beyond its published writings, and weathered the current media environment, by staging events in which hipsters and writer types soak up cheap Heineken and PBR while along with marketing for the city cultural institutions and graduate writing programs eager to reach them. It’s a pretty tricking “pushing” [but not "blurring"] of the sales-editorial line, when you’re programming a film festival with guest curators that include [really quite terrific] organizations who sometimes buy ads in your magazine, admittedly. But then, it’s pretty tricky for even a pay publication like the New York Times not to gear its film reviews exclusively [and flatteringly] towards films released by studios more likely to make ad buys. The hope across the board is that one doesn’t get so creative in “blurring” [not just "pushing"] this line as to lose all credibility. And I think The L’s editorial staff is too truculent and falsely prideful to be pushed or blurred too far towards the line.)