Yesterday morning I attended a presentation at MagNet called “Branding the Field & Stream way.” As I’m neither a hunter nor a fisher, it’s not a magazine I had had much exposure to, so I was interested to hear what its editor-in-chief, Anthony Licata, had to say.
The presentation really focused on turning your magazine into more than just a magazine: into a multiplatform brand. Some key points Licata had to share were:
• Stop thinking of your brand as a magazine – it’s more than a magazine
• Don’t make the magazine your branding hub – put the reader at the centre and all platforms (including the magazine) link to that reader
• When it comes to brand extensions (which after the first two points are perhaps misnamed), make sure they are editorially driven and true to the character of the brand
• Brand extensions should be the magazine come to life
But the best part of the talk was the two examples Licata used of multiplatform projects that had truly taken on a life of their own. The first, called Heroes of Conservation, is a program honouring Field & Stream readers who take on conservation projects in their region. Note that they managed to secure a multiyear sponsorship from Toyota for this. Each issue, three “heroes” are featured, each of whom receives $1,000 to put toward his project. Once a year, the magazine runs a (beautifully produced) feature on six finalists (picked by a panel of judges with conservation cred) and the finalists are invited to a gala where the winner is announced and awarded a (Toyota, of course) pick-up truck as the grand prize. This program has provoked amazing PR for the brand and extended its reach into new readership territory; apparently, it even helped them secure an interview with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The second program Licata discussed was “The Total Outdoorsman.” It offers readers the opportunity to compete against each other in skills like casting (as in fishing), shooting, and even (in some years) building fires.What I liked the most about this project was that they started very small – just a special issue of the magazine devoted to outdoor skills – and worked their way over many years into a huge event with a large number of sponsors. They now have a store sponsor and will be holding (I think) 50 competitions across the United States this year; top winners from each store event go to regionals and then national finals. (Apparently they’ve had the same winner three years in a row now – they featured him on the cover and I have to say, he looks pretty tough to me.) And not only is it an event and a community-building initiative, but they’re turning it into a TV show as well – and in addition to the annual special issue they now have a regular column on outdoor skills.