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Up Close with Patricia Letakis, Editor-in-Chief, Florida Travel + Life
My alma mater: University of Wisconsin-Stout
Where I worked prior to Bonnier: I launched my career in publishing as an assistant beauty editor for Harper’s Bazaar in New York City. Wanderlust took me to South America, where I worked with Time-Life News Service in the Rio de Janeiro bureau for several years. Spent a year doing freelance reporting in Athens, Greece, before returning to the United States and settling in Miami, where I was editor of Kwihi, Air Aruba’s in-flight magazine, and Where Miami. Ten years ago, I moved to Orlando to launch Orlando Home Design and later served as the editor of Where Orlando and associate editor of Orlando, the city magazine, before joining the staff of Florida Travel + Life as senior editor, executive editor and now editor-in-chief.
My main duties as editor-in-chief of Florida Travel + Life: Involvement in every aspect of the brand. It wasn’t too long ago that an editor-in-chief’s main responsibility was the editorial content of a print magazine. Now, we have a growing website, our brand-new digital edition, called a d.pub (totally different from the print edition), eight monthly e-newsletters, frequent blogs, a television show and a growing social media presence.
As the new editor-in-chief of Florida Travel + Life, my plans for the magazine include: I’ve been at the helm since this spring. Our first goal was to create a formula that would make our covers stand out on the newsstand. We accomplished this by adding a human element to the image, styling and shooting the covers ourselves whenever possible and choosing a location that would make the reader curious enough to open the magazine to find out where it is. We’re fortunate to receive quite a bit of feedback from our readers and are able to go one-on-one with them when in the field since we only cover the state of Florida. We’ve also strengthened our focus on travel, digging deeper to find fresh approaches or something totally new about a destination we’ve covered before.
Greatest challenge I face as editor-in-chief: To keep up with the ever-evolving electronic media. There’s something new to learn every day.
My strongest assets: I make a special effort to listen to what everyone has to say and encourage colleagues to take ownership of their projects and express themselves freely without fear of criticism. I also have a strong work ethic and an understanding of what does and doesn’t work based on years in the profession.
Favorite part of my job: Production. This is when all the hard work — the travel, the interviews, the research, the writing, the fact checking and the photo selection — morphs into a magazine. It’s a hectic time, but an exciting time, to watch the product that you are passionate about come alive on the page.
On my office walls: Nothing significant yet because I just moved offices (again), but plan on hanging a nice poster-size image of Florida Travel + Life’s May/June road trip cover, which had an incredible sell-through rate of 56.78 percent at Barnes & Noble stores and 36.52 percent overall!
Most memorable day on the job to date: My most memorable day was actually last week (Friday) when Florida Travel + Life took the top honor at the Florida Magazine Association’s Charlie Awards. We won for Best Overall Magazine 2011. When the runner-up was announced — and we knew we had won — I think we all screamed. It reminded me of a Miss America pageant when the MC announces the runner-up and everyone then knows who is the winner. Not only was it an honor to receive the award, but clearly an honor to work with the talented team who made it happen.
Greatest advice for success: Respect your staff and co-workers, praise and acknowledge their efforts and work, and, most of all, communicate clearly and often. And remember, no idea is a bad idea. I’ve seen lousy ideas morph into great successes.