Citygram magazine emphasizes reader, writer interaction


Guillermo Hernandez

Columnists Tolly Mosely, Sarah Stacey, founder Chris Perez, advertising manager Jane Ko and columnist Kris Waggoner are all part of the Citygram staff.

Taylor Prewitt

Chris Perez’s finger navigates the iPad, showing off the stop-motion, animated fashion editorial, the Instagram featured feed and the 360-degree movable shoe advertisement of the inaugural issue of Citygram, a blog/magazine hybrid crafted by Perez and a team of Austin bloggers.

Citygram is the newest Austin-lifestyle publication, boasting a gluten-free dining columnist and an inspirational columnist. The magazine’s repertoire of knowledgeable locals is not its sole claim to personalization, however.

The digital publication harnesses its iPad format to emphasize interaction between reader and writer by allowing readers to tweet or email writers straight from the app — utilizing communication Perez feels most magazines are lacking.

“Magazines are like ‘Hey, share this.’ But not ‘talk to the person who wrote this,’” Perez said. “I could tweet this writer and ask them what they would eat from this local

Since the proliferation of tablets like the iPad, digital versions of print magazines have been lauded as the answer to the readership problems of the industry. Magazines such as GQ, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair all have iPad alternatives and the Atlantic announced recently that it would publish a weekly compilation of popular web content to an iPad app.

“Magazines have to adapt to the new kinds of ways of consuming content more than almost any other platform,” said Robert Quigley, a journalism professor in the College of Communication. “Because magazines are so visual, they’re really made for a tablet, as far as the reader experience.”

According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2012, despite the innovations, only 22 percent of adults have tablets.

“The only thing that’s difficult about [Citygram] is that it’s specifically designed for the iPad,” said Joanna Wilkinson, Citygram fashion columnist. “I don’t know if everyone is wanting to get an iPad.”

Digital magazines now have some interactive features but mostly they’re just static, Perez said. Citygram fights to dismantle the deficits caused by a print-minded industry.

“With Citygram, everything is a button, but maybe doesn’t look like a button,” Perez said. “Being able to incorporate an Instagram feed or embed audio or video … My biggest challenge is overcoming the perception of a digital magazine.”

Citygram is also innovative in its use of advertisements, a useful skill in an industry that relies on advertisements to retain a profit — especially because Perez and his team plan to keep the issues free for now. The ads of the “glossy” magazine pages rely on the same philosophy as the rest of the magazine — engagement. Perez plans to make aesthetically pleasing ads with viewable photo galleries or click-through reservations.

The possibilities for specified analytics are promising and allow advertisers to pinpoint exactly how and where to use their money. Citygram will also be able to more firmly grasp its readers’ interests.

“Magazines can say this many people bought an issue, but we know how many people viewed this page or responded to a certain advertisement,” Perez said.
For now, Perez plans to keep his publication local, saying that Austin is more accepting of the digital era.

“I think people here aren’t scared of this,” Perez said. “And they go to this for a real people connection.”

Follow Taylor Prewitt on Twitter @TeeAaaPee