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The Voices of Austin: A Q&A with Texas Lifestyle Magazine

POSTED BY prbythebook ON January 12, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 9.30.34 AMThe people of Austin love to make their voices heard. From activist to musician, foodie to wine connoisseur; the voices of Austin are a force to be reckoned with. Talented, hard working and unceasingly creative, media of Austin work to recognize the accomplishments, oddities and dreams of our unique city. PR by the Book has begun talking to Austin’s media to find out what goes on behind the scenes at these important organizations.

In mid-2014, Austin Lifestyle Magazine made the transition to Texas Lifestyle Magazine, covering all things fashionable in the Lone Star State. Overseeing this transition is Sales Manager and Co-publisher Shawn Lively, who has run the magazine for seven years. Shawn kindly took the time to talk with me about her career at Texas Lifestyle Magazine. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation:

PRBTB: What does a typical day look like for you?

Shawn: I’m a single mom with two teenage sons. I’m up early to drive them to school and every day I try to work out in the morning. Then I jump into emails which consist of product reviews, advertising and editorial work. My main objective with Texas Lifestyle Magazine is sales manager, so in addition to publishing, I’m running the sales team.

A big part of what I do is motivating my team, keeping in touch with them, giving ideas and making sure my team is doing follow-ups. I’ll figure out why someone isn’t making a sale and how I can jump in and help make it happen. We’re statewide now so our advertisements could be from an international airline like Aeromar to a boutique in Austin.

Our biggest transition from ALM to Texas Lifestyle Magazine was that we were focused on Austin businesses. A lot of regional and international advertisers don’t want to focus on Austin but on Houston, Dallas or San Antonio. So now we can talk to those advertisers, too.

PRBTB: Before you worked at Texas Lifestyle Magazine, what was the funniest/ weirdest/ most interesting job you had?

Shawn: My first job was at Santino’s Pizza Parlour in Ventura, CA. I started the job when I was 15, and I worked there through college. I started as a hostess and worked up to waitress so I made salary and tips.

What I do is talk to people and meet new people everyday. I love being in front of people and it was a perfect job for me.

PRBTB: How was the transition from ALM to Texas Lifestyle Magazine? How did it come about? When did the process start? Did you run into any obstacles you weren’t expecting?

Shawn: I started working at Austin Lifestyle Magazine as a marketing person seven years ago. Two months into my job, the owner approached me and wanted me to take it over. She wanted to get out of the business and told me I had such tenacity and she saw me as a person to continue the magazine. So I took it over and I ran it for almost six years. Even though we think Austin is a big city, we’re really not and we have a lot of lifestyle magazines in town now. So, the competition in the ad dollar business, which is what we’re in because we’re a free publication, was cut throat in this town. After talking with our co-publishers, I thought: why am I in a small pond when I could be in such a big ocean? Why not cover what’s going on in other cities? For Austinites, a weekend in Houston or Dallas is a vacation. We just had so much that we wanted to say.

PRBTB: At Texas Lifestyle Magazine, what’s your favorite thing to cover?

Shawn: Here in Austin, we’ve become such a huge celebrity mecca. With Austin Lifestyle, we had Eva Longoria, Matthew McConaughey and Susan Sarandon. All those people love this city. As Texas Lifestyle Magazine, we’re going to try and keep it the same format with the celebrity cover and talk about why people love Texas.

PRBTB: What about personally? What do you love to do in Austin?

Shawn: Everyone thinks that I’m out at galas and I do my fair share of that. I was always at every function that we needed to be at. Having been in the business for so long, I’m not jaded, but my sons are 16 and 13. I actually spend most of my time volunteering at their schools or I’m there for their school programs like orchestra or sports.

PRBTB: What are you most proud of about Texas Lifestyle Magazine?

Shawn: I love everyone I work with. The people who have worked at the magazine did it when paychecks weren’t even an option. We have a great crew that understands what this magazine will become.

A lot of people love the magazine, from the heaviness of the magazine to the quality of the writing. Our readers trust the magazine won’t be too full of advertisements and love our stories.

We’re not overwhelming. Texas Monthly was 400 pages last month. We’ve thought long and hard about it, and we want to give a good quality read.

PRBTB: Do y’all have any fun/ quirky office traditions that you would like to share?

Shawn: We always try to do a big preview party just to say thank you to advertisers and readers and everyone that works with us. We really just breathe a sigh of relief and now that it’s gotten so much bigger, it would be nice to do a yearly party as well.

PRBTB: How often do you get pitches from freelance writers or PR companies?

Shawn: I probably get 50 emails a day. I read them all and if we don’t have the editorial space then we will add an advertising page that works with their budget. We also have an Editor-in-Chief and an Online Editor that get pitched.

PRBTB: If you could give one piece of solid advice to PR companies and to freelance writers what would it be?

Shawn: I would say read our magazine first. I get pitches for things that won’t ever go in the magazine. We’re not going to be political or religious. We’re a feel-good lifestyle magazine. I wish they would know what our demographic was before pitching us. Our online magazine and the digital versions of our print magazine can be found at www.TexasLifestylemag.com.

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