A NY Times article recently noted that lifestyle magazine Southern Living announced it would be bringing in some new blood to the 56-year-old publication versed in southern recipes, decorating tips and practical advice.
Jenna Bush Hager has been added to the roster as an editor at large, an attempt to draw in young, southern readership.
In a world where publication is starting to feel, well, antiquated, a large publication trying to pull in younger readers is not uncommon, nor is it a new story. In this world, many swipe rather than leaf through the pages of their favorite mag and many pubs are looking for ways to keep their print alive.
In the story, the Times mentioned another publication and this one set my heart aflutter – the stately, young Garden & Gun.
I am by no means a southern girl, believe me. When working on designing a hyper-local magazine for my former employer, I discovered Garden & Gun. Around that time, it’d won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence. So I checked it out.
What I found was an example of how print gets it right. It’s why I’ve given subscriptions to the magazine as gifts and have one myself.
Covers draw the eye: from dutiful canines to decadent pecan pies and cocktails so sinful you can practically taste the syrupy bourbon. A flip through the pages and you’ll find interviews with literary voices of the southern states, profiles of cities like Knoxville, Little Rock and Greenville, an interview with Morgan Freeman, profiles of pioneers of environmental change and musicians like Mumford and Sons. One issue can give you travel ideas for an entire year.
The writers have a connection to their coverage area. They know the south. They love it. They think you will too. Columnists include Julia Reed and Roy Blount Jr. and dog lovers will relate to the “Good Dog” column, telling heartfelt stories of man’s best friend. And true to its name, there’s plenty to learn about hunting and even a little fly fishing. It’s not my thing, really, but I still read it…
Because Garden and Gun isn’t trying to reach a demographic. It’s trying to reach a reader. Someone who can appreciate a hot summer day, that place on a back road with the best barbecue in town and the perfect song to pair with the perfect afternoon. It is so in tune with its readers, some pay up to $500 to be a part of the Garden & Gun Club.
To be successful these days, it’s not enough to just know our business. We have to know our respective cultures. Therein lies the key to a good product – even a great one like G&G.