Word with the 2019 Winners: Professional Builder magazine

Professional Builder received the Magazine of the Year award during the 2019 Azbees for the Over $3 Million in Revenue category.

Earlier this year, the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) honored Professional Builder magazine as Magazine of the Year among publications of more than $3 million in revenue.

Professional Builder Editorial Director Denise Dersin leads the publication’s team, which consists of Editor-in-Chief Rich Binsacca, Senior Editor Mike Beirne, Senior Editor Nigel Maynard, Content Manager Ingrid Bush and Designer Larry Nigh. Binsacca says the publication is also planning to add an associate editor to its team, as well. Beirne and Nigh work in the publication’s office in Arlington Heights, Illinois, while all others on the team work remotely.

Binsacca adds that the publication also receives some contributions from well-known and respected subject matter experts and seasoned freelance journalists.

Professional Builder magazine
Professional Builder magazine

He says the editorial team all communicates frequently via phone calls, emails and text messages to share ideas and to update each other on the status of the production cycle.

“We are a tight group with decades of collective magazine and housing industry knowledge and experience,” Binsacca says. “As such, we trust each other and collaborate effectively to deliver a high-quality magazine every month, as well as maintain a robust website and growing social media presence.”

I connected with Binsacca to learn more about Professional Builder magazine and what sets it apart from other publications.

Smalley: What’s the history of Professional Builder?

Binsacca: Since 1936, Professional Builder has been a leading B2B content provider for the U.S. housing industry, delivering award-winning content in print, digital, video, email, social and in-person channels. We manage and produce several annual programs and events, including the National Housing Quality Awards, The New American Home, Forty Under 40, Women in Residential Construction, Housing Giants (ranking the largest U.S. home builders by annual revenue), Top 100 Products and our Builder of the Year. We are one of two national monthly magazines in our space competing for the same audience.

Smalley: How has the magazine changed in recent years?

Binsacca: What few changes we’ve made have been incremental: Greater emphasis on fewer, larger images (and less text) for architectural design features; exploring and exposing our readers to innovative business practices; incorporating more data into our editorial planning and reporting; and leveraging our content (and developing or finding additional content) to post across multiple digital platforms. Our readership is not especially open to change; a lot of what we publish is basic “blocking and tackling” content that helps our readers improve aspects of their business operations and profitability, and we take their needs and that responsibility seriously. We are launching a redesign or refresh of our print magazine and website in 2020, but the bulk of the content will remain the same.

Smalley: What are some unique things your brand does to try to stand out?

Binsacca: As much as our readership wants and needs basic business information, we try to interject innovation where we can. For instance, stories of home builders effectively leveraging proven if underused technologies and data-driven strategies to solve relatable challenges. We also work to get more construction-related (how-to) content into the magazine, led by a monthly column and supplemented by occasional feature articles on specific construction techniques. And, as mentioned earlier, we showcase great housing design with big, splashy, colorful photos that compel readers to pay attention and perhaps inspire them to integrate those design ideas. Our challenge is always to keep readers engaged, feeling valued and heard, and satisfied with our content.

Smalley: What advice would you give to ASBPE members about creating strong editorial content consistently?

Binsacca: Know your brand, which is to say, have an intimate and accurate knowledge of your audience and what they need and expect from you and deliver it. Apply skilled graphic design to your articles and work collaboratively—editors and designers—to showcase your work and compel your readers’ attention. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope for your readers, but also make that content accessible and relatable if your audience is not especially forward-thinking or change-oriented. Write less, but more effectively; let images and graphics help tell the story.

Smalley: What advice would you give to ASBPE members on submitting Azbee entries? What are mistakes to avoid?

Binsacca: Follow the application directions. Only submit your absolute best stuff—the articles or issues or posts you’re most proud of. Craft a story to describe each submission: Why you did it, why it mattered and why audiences should (or did, if you can qualify and quantify it) get value from it … but also have some fun with it. Get a little creative and show some personality in your submission narratives that reflects your brand.

Azbees open on Nov. 1. Start thinking about content you’re most proud of to submit for the 2020 Azbee awards!

Megan Smalley

Megan Smalley is associate editor for the Recycling Today Media Group at Cleveland-based GIE Media Inc. She focuses on writing, editing and podcasting for Recycling Today magazine. She has been with GIE Media since 2017 in several positions, including associate editor for Lawn & Landscape magazine and managing editor for Recycling Today magazine. She has been working in B2B media in the Cleveland area since 2014. She received a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University in May 2014.

Smalley previously served on the executive committee of the ASBPE National Board of Directors, and she is involved in ASBPE’s social and website committees.

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