On January 29, 2005, I spoke to the Independent Press Association’s convention on “Sharpening Your Editorial Mission.” I talked about the symptoms of a magazine in need of an overhaul, and outlined the steps an editor can take to refocus his or her magazine. One of the most important steps, discussed below, is to create a clearer, sharper mission statement.
THE JOB OF A MISSION STATEMENT
- Spells out the magazine’s territory and approach.
- Describes the readers.
- Tells how the magazine will satisfy the readers’ needs.
- Defines the “lens” through which the magazine looks at its field.
A FUZZY MISSION STATEMENT
Piano & Keyboard is the magazine for all who love to make music and choose to do so on a keyboard instrument. It is the one magazine that covers all keyboard instruments and all kinds of music made on them. P&K encourages its readers’ greater involvement in keyboard playing, fuels their enthusiasm for and interest in the instruments themselves, and helps them be informed members of the global community of keyboard players.
- This mission statement says the magazine will appeal to all readers of all types of keyboards, at all skill levels, playing all types of music. That’s just too much for one magazine!
- The statement is too broad; there is no “lens” or perspective to focus the topic.
- It’s not clear what P&K provides in the way of content.
FUZZY STATEMENT MADE CLEAR
Piano & Keyboard is a magazine for players. Through news and reviews, career guidance, insights from name players, sheet music, and articles on skills, technique, and instrument care, P&K inspires, informs, offers connections among, and solves problems for players of acoustic pianos. Musically, the main territory is classical and new music, though there are pockets of jazz and pop. Skill levels range from long-time dabbler to serious professional. Whether teachers, performers, students, or hobbyists, the readers all think of themselves as players—and that’s how P&K serves them.
In the clarified statement above, the magazine’s universe is more defined, more specific:
- The magazine is for players of acoustic pianos only.
- It covers only certain types of music.
- It appeals to intermediate and advanced players who might be teachers, performers, students, or hobbyists.
- P&K will provide readers with inspiration, information, community, and solutions to their playing problems through specific types of content.
- The lens is “playerness”—and everything in the magazine is connected to that.