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An inside look at magazine publishing

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On the Friday after the BHG StyleMaker workshop, I was treated to a tour of the NYC offices of the Meredith offices along with the rest of the bloggers who were hanging around for the weekend. Meredith publishes a ton of different magazines like BHG, Traditional Home, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Midwest LivingParents, etc, as well as a bunch of special interest publications you’ve probably seen like Kitchen & Bath, etc.  Interestingly enough, Meredith is based in Des Moines, Iowa but they keep offices in New York that include test kitchens for LHJ, Everyday with Rachael Ray and a few other magazines and also the fashion & beauty offices for BHG.  There’s also an entire TV studio too.

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The test kitchens were particularly fascinating. They have a giant space with no less than five full-size kitchens that they custom-designed by the editors themselves, complete with padded floors to keep them happy on their feet all day. The editors there might have the best job ever – they develop recipes and test them out and then work on styling and photographing the shots for the magazine. While we were there, they had a few trays of holiday cookies they’d been testing and photographing for the holiday issues.test-kitchens
Interestingly enough, when they designed the kitchen they were sure to have a variety of options – both gas and electric ranges, and every kind of appliance you can think of. But there’s nothing in there that’s out of the ordinary. They wanted to use the exact same equipment that the average person at home would be using. They know their target audience and they want their recipes to be attainable and approachable.
Attached to the test kitchens was the dining room where they frequently have staff lunches with all the delicious recipes they’ve been preparing. Pretty sweet gig if you ask me – again, BEST JOB EVER.  As we stood there I realized they had my dream stash of Le Creuset. The editor that was giving us the tour of the kitchens was asked what her favorite cast iron cookware was – her response was that Le Creuset has the best because it’s the lightest weight of all the different opitons. She formerly worked for Martha Stewart and was on the team that developed Martha’s line of enameled cast-iron cookware and said that they had issues getting the cast iron thin enough to still be sturdy but still lightweight. But despite the weight issue, Martha still has the corner on the best colors!le-creuset-collection
Attached to the kitchens was the photo styling offices, which was probably my favorite part. Their staff photographers were so friendly. They shoot for all the different publications and the photo stylist in me was thrilled to pieces to be in there. I really could’ve spent all day long in there learning their secrets!photo-studio
Upstairs in the BHG offices, we were treated to a tour of the fashion & beauty editors’ corner. You guys, it was a beauty product junkie’s dream come true. Every kind of product you can imagine was there; editor Ellen said she packs a bag every weekend full of products to take home and test out to see if they’re worth putting in the magazine. In other words, the best job EVER.beauty-products-galore-BHG
By the end of the tour, my brain was spinning. I really love seeing the way traditional media (magazines) and new media (blogs) are overlapping, and I love that BHG is actively courting connections with the blogging community. We have so much to offer each other. At the end of the day are goals are the same: both realms want to create  quality original content that inspires our respective readerships.  The relationships are ever-evolving as new media continues to grow. And I for one can’t wait to see where everything ends up.
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