Here at GMDS we’re always looking for new ways to provide great resources, inspire you and show off our skillset. In the case of We Are DeKalb Magazine, that opportunity arose while I was on a call with my trusted colleague and great friend of more than 10 years, Gerrian Hawes of Oliver Imprints.
During our conversation, Gerrian enthusiastically explained the details of We Are Clayton, her latest endeavor—a free community magazine she’d created from the ground up that had been disappearing from the stands as quickly as she delivered them. Having already sold her first few ads and garnered support from influential figures around town, Gerrian was excited about her next steps.
Inspired, I suggested putting together a similar publication (above) for DeKalb County, Georgia. Like Clayton, DeKalb encompasses several thriving cities including a portion of Atlanta. After giving me her blessing, Gerrian began to help me map out how I should proceed. And just like that, her “We Are” brand had grown from one publication to two.
I soon realized that I had my work cut out for me. I was now responsible for the content planning, graphic design, photography, copy writing, publishing, promotion and dissemination of my very own community magazine. Gerrian had already done a lot of the heavy lifting. Because We Are Clayton was nearly a year old, she had amassed a solid business model; credible resources like printers, writers and photographers; media kit content and a pricing scale for ad sales.
My first independent task was to define my target audience which was people who lived, worked and played in and around DeKalb County. Then my creative goals: I had to figure out how I wanted my audience to perceive the publication? I wanted a lifestyle magazine like Gerrian’s, but I wanted a heavy focus on the arts. My next step was to find worthy story ideas. I did so by getting the word out about my upcoming publication and requesting relative submissions from subject-matter experts from the community. I also hired an affordable writer/editor to help develop additional content. In regards to photography services, I was lucky enough to have my partner, Johnny Mapp (photographer, documentary filmmaker and painter extraordinaire) of Bike Paparazzi popularity, to manage that part of the process.
When it was all said and done, We Are DeKalb Magazine was well received by the community and became an award-winning publication. We partnered with DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau and developed a special travel issue that won the Al Burris Award for Creative Expression (a Georgia Governor’s tourism award that recognizes an individual or entity that develops a creative community public relations initiative). The publication also won an Apex Award for Emerging Business from the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, and a Her Story award from County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton.