Rise rebrands and lifts circulation

Since its re-branding last September, Rise magazine has gained a circulation rate base of 910,000, reaching more than 40 percent of kids in 6,500 high schools nationwide.

Formerly SchoolSports, the sports and lifestyle magazine for teens has implemented new initiatives such as an events division, an integrated marketing platform for advertisers and grassroots marketing through the teens themselves in an effort to further expand.

“The re-branding was something that I wanted to do for a long time,” said Jim Kaufman, CEO of Rise, New York. “SchoolSports was very descriptive of who we were, but that also brought a lot of problems in the generic sense, so it made sense to have a brand that reflected Rise.”

The re-branding led to a shift in targeting just school athletes to aiming towards all high school teens. The controlled circulation reaches 6,500 high schools across the nation. There are special editions such as High School Hoops and Football that also receive limited newsstand distribution.

During the summer season, the title has 250,000 customers who opted in to subscribe during the school year. Rise, however, does not proactively market to subscribers.

Online at www.risemag.com, teens can vote on regional and national polls that were featured in that week’s issue. Rise hits schools every five weeks.

“We wanted to create a community online with both the high school community and the personal community,” Mr. Kaufman said. “We set up individual high school pages for each high school that we mail to.”

Mr. Kaufman refers to additional Web content as enhanced user-generated copy.

“We get kids to become correspondents for us,” he said. “We give them carte blanche online where they can post their own blogs, photos and videos.”

If a school is mentioned in a particular article in the print edition, teens can find that link on their personalized high school page.

Teen athletes are also encouraged to create their own personalized pages, featuring articles they have been mentioned in or videos from sporting events.

“It is more niche than MySpace,” Mr. Kaufman said. “We allow teens to create a personalized scrapbook which people can access.”

Print content is regionalized through 25 different editions.

“Kids in Atlanta care about what other kids in Atlanta are doing; they don’t care what they’re doing in Los Angeles,” Mr. Kaufman said. “Our expansion philosophy is to be in every high school in the country and to develop relationships with each school we have.”

One of the ways in which Rise plans to expand is through its new events division, which offers custom event creation services to all of its marketing partners. The inaugural “Elite 24” brought together the nation’s top 24 basketball players at New York’s Rucker Park.

Rise also offers a full-integrated platform for major brands and marketers who are looking to reach teen athletes on multiple venues. Boost Mobile, Brand Jordan and advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy have already joined on.

“We plan to expand into five to 10 markets in early 2008, which will be an increase of 1.1 million teens,” Mr. Kaufman said. “Our expansion philosophy is fairly simple, because we know what works and we do it in a timetable that allows us to have correct distribution and communication with schools.”

The magazine is just one aspect of Rise’s integrated marketing campaign. It also develops one-on-one relationships with teen influencers to gain grassroots support.

Rise uses these teens to assist in program activation, leveraging these relationships through its own research groups that execute custom focus groups, surveys and other research identifying teen behavioral characteristics and insights for brands.

“We leverage our relationship with kids as part of our marketing program,” Mr. Kaufman said. “Right now the information on the teen audience is too broad, generic or expensive, so we offer advertisers information on how the demographic relates to their product.”

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