Best in Class: What it Takes to Be Magazine of the Year – Part Two

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Quality editorial content, creating value for readers and design are just some of the attributes possessed by the 2020 Azbee Awards Magazine of the Year winners: EXHIBITOR Magazine and Security Management. Being a top-notch publication also requires the ability to navigate difficult decisions, such as the ones that have arisen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is part two of a two-part blog series that offers insights from this past year’s Magazine of the Year winners.

Security Management

Security Management was awarded Magazine of the Year in the Less Than $3 Million Revenue category. It’s geared toward security professionals of all levels—from chief security officers to career-minded security officers. Security Management is the publication of ASIS International, a professional association for the security industry.

The magazine publishes 12 issues a year with an editorial team of five. However, starting next year, it is changing its frequency to six print issues per year, heavily supplemented with timelier online content and newsletters.

“There are a number of security industry publications out there, so Security Management differentiates itself by providing deep-dive analysis on major issues that affect security professionals, going beyond technology to look at the bigger picture, and delivering actionable management guidance,” says Security Management Managing Editor Claire Meyer.

She says the magazine underwent a renaissance, both in design and tone, about six years ago. But this didn’t affect the publication’s dedication to strong reporting.

“We strive to address complicated and contentious issues—such as the effect of climate change on business continuity planning, civil unrest and protests, or the aftermath of an active shooter event—with sensitivity, accuracy and good sense,” she says. “In terms of the development of content, this has not significantly changed; however, when it comes to contributed content from ASIS International members or outside security professionals, it means we have to review submissions with a critical eye.”

Security Management builds its editorial calendar for the next year approximately eight months in advance by pulling in recommendations from a variety of sources, including its reporters’ own leads from their work through the year.

“From that skeleton, we build out our content, filling in any gaps around emerging issues or news in our departments (such as News & Trends or Cybersecurity), while the feature well remains dedicated to deeper analysis of evergreen topics, such as supply chain resilience, loss prevention or team wellness,” Meyer says.

She explains that to stand out in its field, the editorial team is particularly careful of what submissions it accepts. For example, the magazine does not include vendor-contributed content in its print issues.

Pages from Security Management magazine 03“We’re dedicated to pairing outstanding editorial with excellent art and design. This helps Security Management stand out at a glance in a pack of security publications, and many readers enjoy displaying the magazine in their offices, both as a news reference and an art piece,” Meyer says. “The long-term focus of our feature articles enables readers to refer back to their personal Security Management archives for years. We cover less of the race for the next technology trend or solution and more of the topics and issues that security leaders personally need to succeed in their professional goals and keep their organizations safe.”

Meyer says that when it comes to major news events or trends, it’s important for reporters to think honestly about how—or if—they can add to the conversation in a way that connects with their readers.

“In our reporting on election security, for example, we have had ongoing staff conversations about how this is relevant to a security audience. What can we say that isn’t already being said at a national level? What can our reader—even a chief security officer—do with the information we provide? The key here is context. As reporters who have covered security for years, the Security Management staff has the expertise and connections to add invaluable context to this conversation: the effect of mis- or disinformation on private organizational operations, political conflict in the workplace, preparing for the risk of civil unrest, nation-state interference or cybersecurity risks,” she says. “My advice is to provide what only your outlet—as a publication focused on a particular industry, profession or topic—can do. Contextualize world events and seek out connections that broaden your reader’s understanding of those issues.”

Meyer recommends that those looking to submit strong Azbee Awards applications don’t wait until the last minute.

“Take your time to think critically about your publication, what effort went into each article or issue, and how you are serving your reader. This will not only improve your Azbee Awards application, but it will help you recognize the value of your work and your team,” she says. “And speaking of your team: ask them for their input! This is a great opportunity to recognize work from throughout the year that connected with your readers as well as your internal staff. Even if not all of their recommendations become Azbee Awards submissions, it’s a good opportunity for a round of kudos and a discussion over what worked and what you—as a team—want to do more of next year.”

The application window for ASBPE’s 2021 Azbee Awards of Excellence is now open. Click here for more information.

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