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“Mr. Magazine” Samir Husni speaks at the 2012 IRMA conference at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.

I’m currently attending the 2012 International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) conference in Scottsdale. Saturday’s keynote speaker was Samir Husni (pictured above), or “Mr. Magazine.” His main points about the magazine industry are summed up below.

Print is not dead. He started the discussion by asking if any magazines profited more from digital than they do from print. Of course not a single hand was raised.

Be concerned with your audience. Make design and editorial decisions based on the demographic you’re trying to reach; or better yet the one you already know you’re reaching.

Be relevant, necessary, and sufficient to your audience.

The secrets of a successful magazine are as follows:

1. Give audiences their favorite things. Remember that you and the rest of your magazine staff do not represent the reader.

2. Humanize the brand. You can’t create a publication with one person or demographic in mind. Hone your mission statement and make the content fall in line with that mission. People, places, and products should figure prominently.

3. Dare to be different and better. Husni discussed ownership, showmanship, and membership as key elements.

He also left me, being a sports lover, with an easy-to-remember acronym: MVP. Meet and exceed expectations, validate info readers already have or know, and preview the near future for them.

Husni also stated that it drives him crazy when people say, in reference to media, that these are “interesting” times. These are intriguing times, according to Mr. Magazine.

Finally, in a cover critique, he said a reader should be able to judge a magazine by the cover. Sacrifice design for the habit of addictiveness, and be consistent issue to issue with typography and sell lines (as Husni prefers to call the text on magazine covers). Readers should know by and large what they’re getting from every issue.

What do you think? If you’re in the magazine publishing industry, how do you stay consistent? Or do you change it up on occasion? Do you think about newsstands more than subscribers? Have a look at some recent cover images from Nevada Magazine, and let me know what you think.

These are the things that try editors’ and publishers’ souls at the annual IRMA conference.

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