How to Deliver a Warm Welcome
his issue sees the return of our annual How To feature (page 218). It’s only appropriate, then, that for my To Our Readers column this month I, too, follow the How To format. There is a tendency for magazines to open such columns welcoming readers with a quote from a luminary. This gives the impression that something important is being communicated. But all too often, this is simply laziness, as the following quote from AA Milne explains: “A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.” (My use of a quote here is clearly ironic. It’s always good, although not always possible, to inject your column with humour.)
A good welcoming column should set up the reader so that he or she gets the most out of the issue. Key stories—such as big features, particularly those that cost you the most to produce—should be highlighted. Avoid simply listing the stories in your magazine. Context is important, so always try to find a thread that links the major stories together. This is more easily done when there’s a theme to the issue, such as fashion or travel.
The column should sound personal. Express your opinion. Articulate the world as you see it. Include a warm anecdote about the cover star: This month’s cover star, Audry Ai-morrow, is a dedicated mother; I know this because our kids are in the same class at school and we bump into each other more on campus than we do on the social circuit. (This is true, by the way.)
Finally, end with a punch. Or, better still, a pun-ch. Close the column with some witty reference of something you mentioned in your opening paragraph, or try something self-deprecating. However, avoid being overly self-referential. And, no matter how highly you rate your wordsmithery, always get your column checked by another editor. Ideally, teach that editor to write in your “voice” so that you no longer have to write your own, you simply have to approve it, leaving yourself more time to quaff champagne.
board walk As part of our annual How To feature, fashionista Mira Yeh explains the secret to mastering wakesurfing