28 utilities personalized the cover of Ruralite magazine last month. Did you?

Are you hitting readers with your best shots?

Sarah Rossi, communications and executive coordinator at Clatskanie Public Utility District in Clatskanie, Oregon, began customizing her Ruralite magazine covers in January. She works closely with Ruralite Services Associate Editor Jennifer Brown and Assistant Editor Mike Teegarden.

“I make sure we have photos to go with our feature stories. Then Jennifer and Mike help me make sure the photo is cover-worthy,” says Sarah.

On average, about half of Ruralite magazine utilities provide a local image for the magazine cover. The option is free for a black-and-white cover. For a full-color cover (including full color inside) there is a plate change fee.

“It really helps get more community buy-in to reading the magazine if they see their neighbor on the cover or a community event featured,” Sarah explains. “It is harder for someone to toss the magazine if there is an emotional attachment to what they see on the cover.”

Since they need to allow space for the magazine masthead, cover shots should be planned.

“You need a lot more space to be clear on top of the image than people realize,” Mike says.

Ruralite Services’ Tips for Prospective Cover Photography

  1. The cover photo should be in focus and well exposed. This seems obvious, but we get questionable photos. The cover is no place to put a mediocre photo.
  2. Shoot vertical photos.
  3. Do not put faces near the top of the frame.
  4. Do not shoot too tight on faces. As a general rule, a huge face on the cover is not going to look good. If you have to go with a head shot, make sure you are far enough back to include the shoulders.
  5. Time of day matters. Avoid outdoor photos in the sun in the middle of the day. The shadows will be so dark the faces will not be seen.
  6. Do not edit pictures in Adobe Photoshop. Our monitors are calibrated for our press. We get better results if files are not altered.

Sarah matches her cover shots with feature stories. Some utilities—including Mt. Wheeler Power in Ely, Nevada—encourage readers to submit local photos in a cover contest.

No matter how you pick your subject, consider using the cover to add local flavor to your magazine. Ask your editor to get started!

ruralite cover explaining how to leave the top quarter of image empty for the magazine masthead and the upper half of the image open