Creatives always welcome: Old Vic Theatre stage door (photo by YellowFratello via Wikimedia Commons).

Creatives always welcome: Old Vic Theatre stage door (photo by YellowFratello via Wikimedia Commons).

Here is a preview of my editor’s column in the January 2016 issue. It’s all about the arts, baby, and getting those submissions in by January 13:

Vision in, vision out

Sure, creativity may reflect individual talent. But it may take a community to spur your muse.

Oddly enough, it was an advertisement—for our annual Creative Arts Competition—that made me think of that. For it is our experience that marketing matters, and although there are many talented lawyers in Arizona, getting them to submit their work by our deadline of January 13 takes prodding and cajoling. And part of that encouragement comes via ads.

Our current ad seeking submissions from artistic attorneys is on page 23. But only the close-reader will note that the ad is part of a four-month series, each with a slightly different headline. The ads were created by our own talented Production Manager, Michael Peel. And the headline variation? Crowdsourced, o’course. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, though, I ask your help in communicating a contest rule change to your own crowds: Those submitting photos are now limited to a maximum of 15 submissions. We’ve found that digital photography makes it all too easy to submit 30, 40, even 100 photos. No mas, as Ansel Adams probably said. Friends don’t let friends submit terabytes. (Enjoy all of our legalistic rules here.)

Back to our rotating headlines.

You’ll see that our current ad asks readers if they’ve “got verve?” In previous months, we asked if they’ve got passion, inspiration, and oomph. Yes. Oomph.

Arts competition ads being voted on in our office.

Arts competition ads being voted on in our office.

Those were merely the most popular arty-nouns among staff who voted on the visual array displayed and available in our office. “But” (you ask), “what ended up on the cutting-room floor? What words were rejected?

I’ll tell you. And then I want you to write to me to say which of those terms you think deserved a better fate. What are your faves?

Here is the also-rans list, each preceded by the question “got … ?” ideas – forte – moxie – insight – creative – imagination – voice – entries – vision – knack – flair – skills

Tell me which you prefer—and why—and I may pick my own most-creative responder. I’m at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll determine the most headline-worthy riposte, and you may win your own little something–something for your troubles.

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"The Dirt" on a law firm breakup was never more entertaining. Let's hear it for lawyers with a sense of humor!

“The Dirt” on a law firm breakup was never more entertaining. Let’s hear it for lawyers with a sense of humor!

A magazine is made of many great parts (I’m a big fan, as you might guess). But too often we tout only the “edit” side of the magazine—that is, all of the parts that are not advertising.

As I look back over my writing, I see that’s the case. I’ve praised stories, writing, authors, photos, design—but not ads.

In one way, that’s understandable: I really have nothing to do with the ads. As at many publications, we have a (conceptual) wall between “edit” and “ads.” Getting your content into one side in no way relates to getting your content into the other.

Therefore, I see the ads very late in the production process, often at proof stage. That’s where I can see how the ads lay out, and we can determine if there are any awkward “adjacencies,” either in content or design/color/look.

But once the issue comes out, I read those ads closely. Sure, I appreciate them beyond measure, as the revenue they represent makes our magazine be “in the black.” But I appreciate them for a deeper reason: They serve our readers as much as the edit does.

Besides their service value, they also teach me a lot. It’s not uncommon that upon reading an ad I learn something I didn’t know, or that I get a story lead. They can often be idea-generators.

And, every now and then, they make me pause in admiration. Some are simply gorgeous ads; others are evocative or revealing. And some make me laugh.

In future posts, I may mention what I’ve seen in regard to the first two categories. But “make me laugh” I will cover today.

The humorous ad that grabbed me came from a law firm, recently formed via a break-up of one firm into two. This may be less common than a merger, but it is still a staple of legal-profession communications, and rarely makes me slow down as I read.

But the joint ad of Lang & Klain and Baker Law Offices was different.

Here, first, is their full ad, as it appeared on proof:

An ad regarding the break-up of a single law firm into two ...

An ad regarding the break-up of a single law firm into two …

And there, at the bottom of the ad, was a rather unique inscription:

Curious about the break-up? Visit http://lang-klain.com/thedirt

Here’s the close-up:

... contained an eye-opening surprise for the careful reader.

… contained an eye-opening surprise for the careful reader.

Cheeky, that!

When you head over to that site, you can read a very witty series of FAQs about the firm’s break-up.

To read more about the firm in its more buttoned-down approach, go to their (two!) law firm websites for Lang & Klain and for Baker Law Offices.

What ads have made you stop in your tracks, in Arizona Attorney or elsewhere? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Standing out: Not bad advice for a law school, your law practice -- or a legal magazine.

Standing out: Not bad advice for a law school, your law practice — or a legal magazine.

You don’t often hear magazine editors tout the advertising side of the business. After all, there is a cherished and sensible “wall” between the edit and the ad side of publications, a distinction that serves each side well.

But the existence of that wall doesn’t mean editorial staff are blind to the value ads provide. At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we understand which side our bread is buttered on. And a robust ad side—made possible, we believe, by having a robust edit side—has helped the magazine stay in the black for a good number of years now. That has been a benefit to State Bar of Arizona members and the magazine itself, both in costs and in expanded “real estate” in which we may provide valuable articles.

Why do I raise the topic today? Well, I’m pretty pleased with a new ad feature we were able to provide readers (and advertisers) in our January and February issues—a gatefold ad in the “front of the book.”

That ad—a first for us—allows our cover to fold out, giving the advertiser three pages to convey its message. That space is especially valuable for an organization rolling out a rebranding—which is exactly what the Arizona Summit Law School did in the ad.

You can see the whole ad here and here. But really, you should pick up the print magazine to appreciate the entire effect.

(I should point out that I have nothing to do with ad sales in the magazine. I work alongside terrific advertising colleagues, but someone buying an ad—whether a three-page gatefold or a tiny classified—has zero effect on whether we accept and publish their article on the edit side. Just sayin’.)

I routinely ask readers for story ideas or other content they would like to see in the magazine. But today, I wonder about ad products and tools you’ve viewed in other magazines. Whether they were in a national consumer publication or in a much smaller local publication, what ad types have caught your eye? What ads have led to improvements in your law practice?

Your insights have been a great help to me on the edit side. But a magazine is a complex organism, and we believe the ads should serve your purposes, too. How can we improve?