Most Admired Magazines: Smithsonian, CFO, Real Simple

Most Admired Magazines: Smithsonian, CFO, Real Simple child page title


Thank goodness our entries into this custom publishing company blog series on “most admired magazines” isn’t “favorite magazines.” As a person who happily discovered there were too many flavors in the world to have a favorite food after age 12, I have a varied reading diet in magazines—as well as books and blogs.

Most Admired Custom Magazine: Smithsonian

I’m a member of the Smithsonian Institution, so I get a subscription to Smithsonian Magazine. Or rather, I joined the Smithsonian Institution to get a subscription to the magazine. Why do I admire the magazine? Museum-going has been an important part of my life since 1979, when I waited in line at age 6 to see the King Tut exhibition at The Field Museum in Chicago; reading Smithsonian fills the gap I have from living in a city without a major museum, and brings to my mailbox all of the intelligence of the institution’s curators, field researchers and educators. Smithsonian is a meaty read, great for cross-country flights, with impactful photography both contemporary and historic. Its photography collection coverage (“Indelible Images”) has become one of my favorite columns; I love seeing the image subjects and/or creators then and now. I also always read “The Object at Hand,” a “profile” of a single object in the Institution’s permanent collection; former colleague Owen Edwards writes this, and his puckish delight in getting assignments on objects dating from the space age to the iron age comes through.

Most Admired Business Magazine: CFO

Fifteen years ago, when I was a reporter at Smart Business Network, I would have answered this question with “Inc.Inc. is still strong, but my days at SBN also taught me that cash flow is king, so I’ve begun watching CFO. They’ve teamed with the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University to create the Duke/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey. Every quarter, researchers take the temperature of CFOs from Topeka, Kan., to Tokyo, Japan, on how they expect their company and the economy overall to perform.

The survey asks about technology spending, health care costs, job growth and numerous other factors that give insights the big economic indexes don’t. CFO is another meaty read, no doubt, but one that offers me insights into trends and topics I need to understand for the custom content I edit. Here’s a great example of the kind of integrated coverage the magazine provides: “Be Clear About the Cloud” shows how information technology and finance are intersecting with this new buzzword every businessperson is hearing on television.

Most Admired Consumer Magazine: Real Simple

Real Simple could have been a custom magazine, I’m positive. Imagine a brand like Target, Honda or The Gap (they’re all Real Simple advertisers, by the way) wanted to create custom content for their target audience. They’d have stories about cooking, home décor, family life, fashion and staying organized. They’d have a lot of audience response tools: contests, coupons, tear-out index cards. They’d be visually uncluttered, like these brands’ retail spaces: lots of silhouetted product images, contemporary illustrations, infographics galore. In short, they’d create Real Simple. Now, admiring Real Simple for all of this advertiser/audience/content synergy, doesn’t mean I necessarily devour every page. It kind of gives me a complex. My closet is not that organized, my party appetizers are not photo-prop perfect and no matter what hairspray the Real Simple product testers recommend, my hair is not going to do that flippy thing in the picture. Still, out of all the magazines and books I’ve consulted in planning my upcoming wedding, Real Simple Weddings, an annual one-shot is the one I have kept, read and re-read. I wouldn’t even mind being featured in its “Real Weddings” after I tie the knot.