When planning a debut issue, don’t let the editorial column be your weakest link
When you sponsor a launch, your goal is to demonstrate total editorial capability/resources. Obviously you want to impress readers with authoritative content produced by an industry-wise staff. Doing it right scares the dickens out of any existing competitors that have been getting by with a minimum- value editorial package. On the other hand, second-string execution by you provides the opposition with a field day in terms of being able to rip your effort to shreds.
There are dozens of factors that come into play during the launch stage. This discussion focuses on three make-or-break considerations.
- The editor-in-chief’s personal column must reflect the author’s industry knowledge. A conventional announcement of a magazine’s launch accompanied by a plea for reader feedback is unacceptable. Alert competitors can detect when an editor insufficiently grounded on the industry is faking it in terms of knowledge. A more critical practice, however, is the tendency to make unfilled promises about future editorial content. Battle-weary opponents know the value of saving the debut issue’s editorial column. Several issues down the road, they compare promises made against reality. If the publication has fallen short — as many do — an itemized failure list clearly does competitive damage.
- Content should reflect editorial connections established with leading industry authorities. This goal visibly is met via interviews with or presence of star thinkers as regular contributing columnists.
- A parting thought pertaining to the editor’s performance is whether or not the debut issue carried an important feature written by that individual.
Last but not least, remember that debut issues — and at-show issues — can be scored. I use a ten- factor system for debut issues and a 22-factor system for at-show issues.