“Living Intown” setting the stage for content value, engaging news audiences, and making a million.
“Living Intown” setting the stage for content value, engaging news audiences, and making a million.

Although it made up just a few sentences in our first issue, it’s a story I’ve never forgotten. 

During a tour of the Fox Theater in Atlanta, an elderly woman insisted she leave her wheelchair and walk up the steps leading to the balcony.

There, she shuffled from one seat to another – until she found just the perfect spot. Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked down on the stage below, turned to the tour guide and said, “I was here, in this very seat on Christmas Day 1929.” 

At its core, that short example in the September 2013 issue of Living Intown epitomizes what makes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s new lifestyle magazine so special: It shines a spotlight on the people and places that make Atlanta unique. It shares the unforgettable stories that shape the place we call home. And it inspires people to take advantage of all the area has to offer.

Living Intown was born from a simple question: How can we better serve high-end advertisers who want to reach a targeted, high-end audience? Since its inception, the magazine has: 

  • Generated more than US$1 million in new revenue.

  • Attracted 80 new advertisers.

  • Operate at a nearly 40% margin.

  • Maintained an 82% retention rate with our magazine advertisers. 

It’s been so successful that we’ve launched a second magazine that focuses on metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs, and we’re now producing a special summer issue dedicated to the Atlanta BeltLine – a green-space project that may be the coolest thing to hit Atlanta since the Olympics.

Along the way, we learned four valuable lessons:

 1. Let the stakeholders shape the concept: Long before the first issue ever appeared, we formed an Advertiser Feedback Council made up of key advertisers to help shape our early ideas. Those same advertisers offer ongoing feedback to help us make improvements to each issue. Turn this early stage over to the subject-matter experts and stakeholders.

 2. Focus, focus, focus: That insight from the Advertiser Feedback Council forced us to narrow our ideas on a very tight concept – in this case, go-and-do. We resisted the traditional newspaper urge to be all things to all people. We narrowed our editorial mission – and our footprint. Living Intown has a distribution of about 30,000. It’s not about size. It’s about focus.

 3. Keep expenses low: Once we settled on a concept, we organised a staff of freelancers – from the editor, to the writers, photographers, copy editors, and designers. This allowed us to keep our full-time resources focused on “Big J” Journalism. Resist the urge to turn this over to full-time staffers.

 4. Quality matters: Yes, it’s a lifestyle-oriented magazine. No, it’s not a place to showcase our hardest-hitting journalism. But the magazine still carries The Atlanta Journal-Constitution name. We hired a freelance copy editor, for instance, to copy edit and proof stories. At the end of the day, build the processes to ensure everything meets the organisation’s high standards – and does nothing to tarnish the brand.