Flash Communications

Tales from a student-PR agency at Kent State University

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Magazines succeed – and slip up – across social media platforms

Magazine Journalism Major Kelli Fitzpatrick evaluates the social media efforts of top magazines

Magazine Journalism Major Kelli Fitzpatrick evaluates the social media efforts of top magazines

As a magazine journalism major, I love the world of magazine media. Whether it’s in print, on an iPad or online, I consume magazine content every single day. The method I most frequently use to gobble up celebrity, fashion, food and culture news is social media. I follow many of my favorite publications on Twitter, where I watch tweets roll in by the minute. Today, most magazines have accounts on many platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. I’ve looked into my three favorite social media sites to uncover how magazines are using their accounts to promote their brands with style—or are struggling to do so.


Doing it right: @slate, 780,000 followers. Slate, a daily online magazine, seems to have mastered tweeting new original content every few minutes with funny, catchy headlines. “Does Pope Francis support gay civil unions?” and “Reminder: 10 percent of people will believe anything” are just two gems to attract readers to slate.com to read more. @slate also retweets followers who share Slate stories, putting on display the articles that actual readers are enjoying.

Needs some work: @marieclaire, 1.45 million followers. Fashion mag Marie Claire regularly commits a Twitter crime: way too many repeat tweets. I understand tweets roll in so fast that a media account must repost links to keep its content near the top of followers’ feeds. But Marie Claire goes overboard in repeatedly pushing its content. Case in point: the early-morning celebrity news on March 6th was Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s setting a wedding date. @marieclaire posted a link to its news article six times, each with a different paparazzi shot of the notorious couple, between 6:24 and 7:06 a.m. Maybe I’m biased because I am anti-Kardashian, but this incessant coverage was nauseating.


Doing it right: Entertainment Weekly, 1.7 million likes. Entertainment Weekly uses a combination of horizontal photos and links to content and to other Facebook pages to make its posts pop on the Facebook news feed. EW’s albums of “exclusive” photos and videos make visiting this page worth your time.  Regular posts tote exclusive content on EW.com, with heavy emphasis on daily TV and movie news.

Needs some work: Seventeen Magazine, 2.4 million likes. The fashion magazine of my youth struggles to stay relevant on the Facebook news feed, with its first offense being a boring profile picture. Instead of updating its photo to the month’s cover star—as most magazines do—Seventeen uses its plain pink logo, which gets fuzzy in thumbnail form. The page could also do more to liven up its posts. Seventeen doesn’t use nearly enough photos, leading to plain posts with simple callouts such as “How to shop smart online and avoid counterfeit sites.” I know the 17-year-old version of myself wouldn’t be persuaded to click that link, making the post a failure.


Doing it right: Vanity Fair, 50,000 followers. Vanity Fair creates an eclectic, enticing array of 43 boards. With a total of more than 1,300 pins, the magazine presents a smorgasbord of topics: The VF Oscar party, retro photos from the magazine’s 100 years of production and even a “Classy Cats” board of celebrities with their felines. The entertaining mix doesn’t stop there: “Style in the Streets” features street style on celebrities and normal folk alike; “Vanity Table” delivers food pics; and “Office Treats” shows off goodies enjoyed by the editors in their New York City office.

Needs some work: Reader’s Digest, 6,400 followers. With just 11 boards, Reader’s Digest has a good start but needs to step it up to make it in the world of Pinterest. The “Quotable Quotes” and “Fun Food” boards seem to be the most shareable. But outdated boards such as “Christmas Crafts” from 2012 drag down the account because it has so few other boards to explore.

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How to Save Face… Book

Robert Checkal, Flash Communications internGuest Blogger: Robert Checkal, social media guy, Flash Communications

Once upon a time Flash Communications had a group on Facebook. It was before the dawn of fan pages and it was… lacking. Times were tough and no one could really maintain it. But, Flash Communications’ recovery is finally on track. However, it really is a lot of work to ensure myself and the other students are creating valuable content for our end user. That’s where the always lovable, sometimes laborious PR plan comes in. We’ve put together a plan with objectives, promotional tactics and even monthly content ideas.

To be honest: Facebook fan pages aren’t relevant to the end users unless there’s something of value on them for the target audience.

Too many companies have them because they assume simply having one will somehow increase sales. Just because you’re online doesn’t mean you’re valuable.

So the focus ultimately comes back to the audience. Being intuitive enough to determine what content users would appreciate and being able to make adjustments as needed can be cumbersome. But stay on it!

Here are three tips for keeping up with your audience to make your content valuable:

  1. Engage a discussion! Obviously, people like to add their input. You could be loaded with content, but you don’t know what people like until you ask questions. Even if it opens you up to criticism, it’s an opportunity to continuously improve.
  2. Be transparent! People want to see other people succeed. When you put a face behind your people, you aren’t left with the cold, meaningless company logo; you’re left with warm personality from the very basic core of your organization’s structure. Yes, this means photos and videos. Don’t be scared; show some color!
  3. Talk about industry topics! Every industry is going through the same thing, so why not converse about it? What’s working? What could be better? If you’re the conversation leader, people have a reason to come to you.

Finally, monitor your Facebook regularly. Ask people what they want, and give them the things they want but didn’t think to ask for.  Good luck to you, and if you want to see how we’re doing it at Flash… uhh… click on Flash.