ASBPE, TABPI once again offer magazine critique service

Image: TABPI/ASBPE Magazine Critique Service

Service is designed to improve publication performance at a reasonable price; deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2008.

ASBPE and Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) will once again provide a magazine critique service for business-to-business publications. Offered once a year, the Magazine Critique Service (MCS) offers objective, outside analyses from some of the most respected editors working in B2B journalism. Veteran B2B editors, designers, and consultants review your publication and tell you what you and your staff are doing right — and what you could be doing better. The critique shows the decision makers in your organization how to take your content to the next level. The cost of the service is less than typically found in the B2B publication market.

How the MCS works

You submit two recent issues of your publication. A team of editors and designers examine them. Two editors and one designer review each submission, so you’ll get a variety of opinions.

You receive a report with detailed feedback on specific editorial and design aspects of your publication. Carefully reviewing the MCS report with your entire staff allows your publication to brainstorm over what’s working and what needs improvement.

This year, FosteReprints is sponsoring the Magazine Critique Service.

View a sample report: Sample #1 (536K PDF) or Sample #2 (528K PDF).

Download the MCS order form (56K PDF).

Frequently asked questions

Why participate?

The MCS offers solid advice from veteran b2b editors, designers and publishing consultants at prices less than typically found in the b2b publication market. It can serve as a first step for smaller and mid-size magazines interested in gauging their current performance. It provides objective, outside analyses, providing insight on whether you’re effectively meeting your readers’ needs. Carefully reviewing the MCS report with your entire staff allows your publication to brainstorm over what’s working and what needs improvement.

How does it work?

You submit two recent issues of your publication, and we’ll have our team of editors and designers examine them. Two editors and one designer review each submission, so you’ll get a variety of opinions. You will receive a report detailing all the comments from the reviewers.

Who reviews the submissions? What are their qualifications?

We have an elite squad of real editors and designers who have the skills, knowledge and experience to help you create a better product. Will they all be from the biggest b2b magazines, all publications that you have heard of? Not necessarily. We’re not so much interested in “b2b celebrities” as in editors and designers who who have served as competition judges, won awards in their home countries, actively work in their professional associations: people with a passion for the b2b magazine world. The goal is to have everyday — but experienced — editors and designers giving real-world feedback. A selection of past reviewers includes:

  • Robert Freedman, senior editor, Realtor Magazine
  • Shawn Hoefler, art director, HPAC Engineering
  • Robin Sherman, former editorial director, Argus Publishing
  • Jyme Mariani, managing editor, GM Pro
  • Karen Angus, art director, GIE Media
  • Jennifer Hicks, executive editor, Foodservice Equipment Reports
  • Len Strazewski, journalism faculty, Columbia College Chicago
  • Frank Alkyer, publisher, Downbeat/Music Inc./UpBeat Daily
  • Paul Conley, popular b2b blogger and head of Paul Conley Consulting

Will the people reviewing my magazine be in a similar industry?

Chances are, no; b2b magazines can be categorized in perhaps 120 industries. Having multiple reviewers in each discipline would be a logistical nightmare. Plus, reviewers will examine the journalistic qualities of your magazine and how it serves the reader, not focus on your particular technology or industry.

Can I pick my reviewer?

Unfortunately, no. However, if you choose to participate in future years, we will work to ensure that the same reviewer does not critique your magazine twice.

What do the reviewers look at?

We have separate forms for our editorial and design reviewers. In general, individual pieces of the magazine undergo scrutiny: the cover, table of contents, features, columns, departments. Reviewers examine writing’s impact, usefulness to the reader, flow, tone, and other items. They also scrutinize use of white space, photographs, illustrations, fonts, colors, and general layout issues.

How do I implement the suggestions I receive?

We suggest that you thoroughly review the report with your editorial and design staff. There will certainly be things that you agree and disagree with. The concept of the MCS is that your report will allow you to take the first step with your staff in identifying what content issues your publication has. Perhaps you will decide that the actions required are obvious, and you can prioritize them among your co-workers. Or, you may determine that you need further help, and that hiring a consultant is a must. In that case, our staff will be happy to recommend some magazine consultants we are familiar with.

How much does it cost?

Participating in the MCS won’t break your budget. For the Standard Critique, the cost is $675 (U.S.) or $625 for ASBPE members; we’ll have three members of our team evaluate your sample issues page by page, and we’ll return the complete results to you in an electronic or binder format, whichever you prefer. To view a sample report, click here: Sample #1 or Sample #2.

What if I want more?

If you want more feedback, we also offer a Premium Critique service. For $975 (U.S.) or $925 for ASBPE members, one of your three reviewers will be a TABPI/ASBPE-approved editorial consultant. In addition to the report, the consultant will conduct a one-hour conference call with you and your staff … allowing for more detailed, interactive feedback and a question-and-answer session.

What have other magazines thought about the MCS?

We’d be happy to refer you to past magazines that have gone through the process; drop us an email if you’d like to receive contact information.

What’s my return on the investment?

The service is a good investment for magazines desiring a revamp or a refresh after years in the industry. You get to ride on the experts’ learning and minimize costly trial and error situations. More dynamic editorial and design equates to more credibility with readers and advertisers, who will recognize your publication as the voice for the industry it covers.

How long does it take?

The average processing time is approximately 8-10 weeks from the time we receive your materials.