Interview: Ty Wenger

Ty Wenger, editor of Trader Monthly, has worked at a variety of consumer titles, including Marie Claire and Travel & Leisure Golf.

Ty Wenger, editor of Trader Monthly, has worked at a variety of consumer titles, including Marie Claire and Travel & Leisure Golf.

He spoke to PRWeek about how he finds the magazine's audience refreshing and why he hates his in-box full of pitches from PR pros who have not researched the publication.

PRWeek: You've worked at a slew of magazines, and you have a lot of experience in the consumer market - what makes the market for Trader Monthly different?

Ty Wenger: It's a very different perspective from a publishing standpoint. It's a controlled-circulation magazine [that is targeted] to an extremely high demographic, but not just a high demographic, it's a really interesting demographic.

We're dealing with Wall Street guys, stock traders. So you are dealing with a readership that not only has an incredible amount of disposable wealth, but they also approach life in a way that is unique to their occupation.  There aren't many occupations that define you as much as stock traders. That was a big lure for me coming over here to put out a magazine for guys who have almost no limits in terms of their personal resources and you could almost say in regards to their sense of selves. No morals and no limits.

PRWeek: What was it like trying to find stories for this demographic?


Wenger: It's the easiest thing in the world. I've been in different demographics, and this one is great because you get to say, "What is the most ridiculous, over-the-top, aspirational type of piece we can do here?" You never have to say, "Oh, we can't do that because our reader can't afford it," or, "He's not crazy enough to want to do that." They are crazy enough, and they can afford it. The whole world is our editorial oyster.

PRWeek: Do you find you get a lot of feedback from readers? Are they truly engaged in the content?

Ty Wenger: A shocking amount. At a lot of other magazines you are scraping to get letters together on an issue by issue basis. The fact of the matter is that even if you are putting out a magazine that most people like, most people aren't going to stop to take the time and write a letter saying how good you think it is. The problem is, the better job you do the less feedback you get.

These guys are the opposite. They felt there wasn't a magazine out there that spoke to them. There were other business magazines they had to read, but they were more like homework. When this publication came out what was really funny about it was how often I hear from these guys saying, "Wow, you really got it right. You really nailed us. I pick up this thing because I want to read it, not because I have to read it. Finally, a magazine that knows who we are."   That's part of the deal we make with our readers; we are going to have some fun with you because we know that they know that they are a little ridiculous. The feedback has been really shockingly good.

PRWeek: Tell us about how you view the content of Trader Monthly in relation to other business magazines.

Wenger: We have a lot of really fun, over-the-top lifestyle coverage. We have feature pieces that really look at these guys and treat them like rock stars because, in their world, they are.

We have fashion, and we have a front-of-book that is very irreverent and a lot of fun. Then we have our business section where we also do a lot of profiles. We are never just sitting and dealing a lot of factual information to them.

PRWeek: What is your favorite thing to write about for the magazine?

Wenger: My favorite part of the magazine is the back page section that we launched about a year into this, which is a fake cover from our archives that we annotate with copy from the inside. We've done covers from 1928 before the crash, 1932 during the depression, a 1950s version of Trader Monthly, and a 1970s version. We get really great feedback on that.

Part of the way we approach our readership is that this is fun and that what they do is kind of funny, too. These guys are skimming profit off the top of the world. That's how they operate. It's a little bizarre. So, if we are going to treat them that way, this gives us the opportunity to treat ourselves that way and turn the joke around on ourselves. Obviously, the prognostications that are annotated throughout that back of the magazine are consistently off. The trend that we are so enthusiastic and exuberant about are, in retrospect, ridiculous.

PRWeek: Is a lot of the title's content influenced by PR pros pitching you?

Wenger: Some of it... when it is really well targeted. The ones that are really well targeted understand that we are coming from a lifestyle standpoint with the best of the best of the best.

One piece of content that made it in the magazine from a PR pitch was when the seats on Concord were being converted into office chairs. I believe it cost $10,000 to buy a seat from the Concord and have it outfitted with wheels. So this was perfect for our guys.

We actually have a section called"$10,000 Well Spent." I get a lot of other things like knickknacks for your desk. That's not going to hit it, but the really high-end stuff will.

PRWeek: Other than being well-targeted, what advice can you give to PR people who contact you?

Wenger: I feel sorry for PR people these days. Ten or fifteen years ago the clutter that they were beating against was so minimal compared to what it is now. There is an upside and a downside. The upside is the ease in which you can send out an email press release. But I am getting hundreds of emails a day. We have reached that point in time when you can no longer expect to receive a reply from everyone you send an email to. You throw a lot of stuff out into the ether and you just don't know.

The follow-up call is a big question for PR professionals as in, "Do I follow up with the follow-up call?" I would say that one is it.  Or a follow-up email if you think you've got something that is really targeted because I may have missed it in the game of whack-a-mole that is trying to deal with all the emails that come in.

The other bit of advice is know our magazine before you send it out. I get so happy that someone actually took the time to review the publication. If you show that you've actually taken the time to know the magazine that elevates you to the top of the pile.

Name: Ty Wenger

Outlet: Trader Monthly

Title: Editor

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