Q&A with 2020 FMA Magazine of the Year
Flamingo, Florida’s only statewide lifestyle media brand
Publisher: JSR Media
Published Since: March 2016
Circulation: 20K (print) but print is suspended.
Target Audience: Adults ages 35-65, who love Florida
How did it feel to be named magazine of the year by the Florida Magazine Association?
Well, we were of course hoping to win the Charlie in each of the categories in which we were a finalist. But Magazine of the Year came as a total and very welcome surprise. It was also a much needed shot of positivity for the team after many long and challenging weeks since COVID-19 hit. It’s wonderful that our team was recognized for all the hard work and creative energy they’ve put into making Flamingo the brand that it is over the last five years.
Can you share any tips on how Flamingo Magazine has successfully built its brand and developed a loyal reader base over the years?
We have always kept our mission—to unify the state and be the destination for Florida’s greatest stories—at the center of every story we tell. Over the years we’ve placed a premium on seeking out and using Florida’s best creative talent. We strive to have every article, every column, every illustration and every photograph produced by a Floridian. You would think that would be a given when it comes to making a magazine in Florida, but when you look closely at the bylines and the contributors page of some publications, it’s not. The people who create our content are living that authentic Florida lifestyle and drawing on their own Sunshine State experiences, and that’s what makes the Flamingo voice ring true with our readers.
How is your team handling the challenges presented by COVID-19?
COVID-19 has dealt our team a huge blow. I’m sure other publishers have experienced a similar steep drop off in advertising dollars like we did. As a business owner, I completely understand it. In a time when people are making decisions on keeping their staff versus activating marketing campaigns, the choice is clear. Keep the staff and cut the advertising. But along with the decline in advertising, our distribution channels were completely disrupted, and many of those newsstands and public places where we distributed Flamingo have not come back into play yet. So to be honest, we are down to a skeleton staff right now. Many of our core people are furloughed or “in waiting” until this storm passes. Hopefully we can turn everyone back on in their original capacity sooner than later, but we just have to wait and see.
Has the current publishing climate changed your content distribution strategy?
This is where the switch to digital comes in because through all of this we continue to tell stories at the same high-quality level that we always have. We are just delivering those stories to the world in a different way than we were before. One huge benefit of pivoting away from print and shifting our focus, time and energy solely on digital is the exponential audience growth, and that has been exciting.
What are your thoughts on the future of publishing?
I think everyone will have to permanently evolve in a material way. I think magazine readers’ habits have been forced to change whether they like it or not. From the point of sale to distribution to even just conceptualizing and executing editorial content, every aspect of our businesses has been impacted by COVID. And we have to work with that reality if we want to keep producing content. Do I think there will still be a place for print? Yes, although I don’t know for Flamingo when or if we will return to it. But the world of digital storytelling is endless, from podcasts to videos to online shops to social media and the list goes on. It keeps my head spinning with big ideas at night.
To that end we’ve launched a membership drive to raise funds to offset the decline in ad revenue. Hopefully ad revenue will start to recover later this year or early next. You can check out the “Flamingo Friends” campaign at the link below. We would love any support and/or help spreading the word.
What’s next for Flamingo Magazine?
We will keep striving to be the definitive voice of Floridians and to be THE destination for the state’s greatest stories.