A rodeo rider gets eight seconds. I get roughly 800 words. And as unconscionably long as those eight seconds must seem when straddled atop an animal that’s frothing and writhing and doing everything he can to pitch you off his back, those 800 words seem inversely short when you’re attempting to attract and retain an audience’s attention. There are social media feeds; whizzy, fizzy popups; videos that autoplay on your device; little imaginary animals you gotta chase down and capture at all costs; and all sorts of other distractions that might pull you away from the story we are trying to share with you. Look, squirrel! But those written words are the stationary soapbox from which editors have to reach their audience, and as long as I have been an automotive journalist, it has been my favorite part of what I do.
Our websites and other outlets have opened up whole new options for us, and we are positioned to take full advantage of everything new technology allows. But at the moment we still owe the bulk of our success as a media company to our print assets. To some it may seem like that limits us in scope. But in my experience, the most compelling and successful print “get ya’s” (the most successful of which are listed below) are often generated by you folks. So if you have a photo, experience, or cool tale to tell, please share so we can help you ride out your eight seconds of fame.
When I was at Jp magazine we had a column called Ask Bree Three in which a fitness model answered stupid questions from the audience. When that fizzled (because models can be cantankerous machines that don’t always work the way you want them to) I started doing a special reader-driven section called Jeep Chicks, and man, did its popularity explode. So much so that at the time we contemplated a Jeep Chicks–themed magazine. But then some new mandates came along and we shelved the bikini girl content across our brands. If you’re an aspiring model or just want to act like one, keep your shots because we can’t use them, at least not at the moment.
Stuff on Fire!
I sometimes joke with our art director, Alan Huber, when we are designing magazine covers, “Yeah, that looks great, but let’s add some lava and lightning and flying sharks—and fire!” Indeed, fire is a huge attention-getter. Light anything on fire and I guarantee everybody will stop and look. Have a carbeque story with photos that you wanna share, even if only the aftermath? We generally try to do an annual Whoops-themed issue for which we’d love the contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org. After all, there are only so many vehicles we can torch ourselves.
Smashy, Roll, Flop & Splat
“What happened?” That’s usually the first thing you ask yourself when you see something like this. The wish is always that nobody got hurt and insurance will fully cover the owner. Neither is always the case, but the unvarnished reality is crash-and-smash aftermath is a huge draw for the curious side of our animal instincts. We’re voyeuristic by nature. Don’t believe me? Then try not to crane your neck the next time you pass an accident on the highway. Or just send your aftermath photos to email@example.com and see for yourself.
Readers’ rides, man. We love to see what you’re building, and we know we’re not alone. Readers’ rides are one of the best-selling cover themes for any magazine brand no matter cars, trucks, motorcycles, or what have you. As always, we welcome your submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to include your vehicle info.