Media Magazine

Hack Our Cover: Driving up Engagement, Having Fun at the Same Time

Posted on the 05 February 2013 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: User interactivity and engagement are important criteria for any publication today.  The folks at Silicon Valley Business Journal are taking advantage of it through what they call Hack our Cover, a fun way to draw readers in, as they draw whatever they wish on the cover of this business weekly.  As there is a child with a marker in hand within each of us, this should be a success.

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Images show the front page of Silicon Valley Business Journal and how users “hacked the cover” with their own concepts.  While participation so far is minimal, Alex Martin, social engagement editor, hopes that it will increase as more readers find out about it and decide to join in.

The words engagement, interactivity and social media seems to be all part of the same breath.  Every major media publishing company worldwide is constantly looking for ways to use social media more effectively, and, specifically, to provide more engagement via print.

The folks at the Silicon Valley Business Journal may have found a way to do this successfully. It makes sense: they are tapping into our inner child.  Who has not used a marker to draw something on the cover of a newspaper or magazine?  Few of the magazines on display in my own house survive the “engagement” of my grandkids when they come to visit me.

Enter Alex Martin, the SVBJ’s social engagement editor, and his

hack our cover” idea. Yes, you heard it right: the idea is to have readers of the Silicon Valley Business Journal take the newspaper’s front page and engage with it in some way, such as drawing doodles over it, or changing the headline, in effect, a real hack job.

Here is how Alex describes where the initial idea came from:

The original concept came to me when I was reading a magazine last summer and playing with my iPhone; taking pictures of the different ads and photos, putting them through filters on Instagram and other applications and then sharing the creations with my personal social networks. People seemed to like the concept – it was light and fun and so easy anyone could participate.

That got me thinking that this concept, if marketed right, could be a great way to drive social engagement around a print product, which is a difficult platform to propel social engagement around. It would also be free marketing and advertising for the product, if the idea built momentum in the creative social community.

Next, Alex’s task was to convince his editor, Greg Baumann, about the concept. 

I told him about the concept (and how another media outlet I had pitched it to balked at the idea) and he loved it. He immediately took our Jan. 11 cover of the Boeing 787 and turned it into a giant puppy dog with just a magic marker,“ Alex said.

Three questions for Alex Martin about the “hack the cover” concept:

Mario: What does this hack the cover concept consist of?


The concept itself is inherently simple on the surface, but complex in that it connects three different sectors of media: Print, online and social. “Hack our cover” aims to connect the three platforms and expand/grow our user-generated content footprint in Silicon Valley.

Mario: What are the benefits of the concept?

If I could boil down the benefits of the project to a few bullets: it, theoretically, helps us reach a younger, more app-affluent reader base with our print product; it helps create added exposure of our print product on social and web channels; it’s a great user-generated content tool which can and will help feed our online and print products anyone can participate, whether with a smart or a crayon. It spans generations.

Wondering what those traditionalists editors will think of such an idea?  Just the word “hack” would make many of them get out of the room, and the thought of someone grabbing a black marker to doodle over an actual front page, may prove to be too much.As long as it brings about engagement, I am all for it.

Further proof

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Here is further proof, if one needs it, of why we all like do doodle on newspapers and magazines. Monday afternoon, as I babysat for my granddaughter Sophia, she was busy “hacking” my magazines. Here is a sample of Sophia’s engagement with a Time cover sporting New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christi.  Apparently, Sophia thought he might look good sporting a moustache.  And, notice, that she wrote a note on the cover saying that “Sophia did not do this”.

That’s engagement and interaction all right.

Where’s Mario until March 2, 2013?

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Mario’s upcoming speaking engagements

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Take advantage of our iPad Design/Ad Lab workshops

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Do you want to take your brand to the next level by creating a tablet edition? Garcia Media can help. We now offer one- to two-day iPad Design Lab workshops on demand to jumpstart your presence on this exciting new platform. We also offer iPad Ad Lab workshops to develop engaging advertising models for your app. Contact us for more information.

Hack our cover: driving up engagement, having fun at the same time

Purchase the book on the iBookstore

iPad Design Lab has been given the QED Seal

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The QED (Quality–Excellence–Design) Seal is bestowed by the judges of the Publishing Innovation Awards after “a thorough, professional 13-point design review with an eye towards readability across multiple devices and in multiple formats.“

Learn more about the QED Seal here.

The EPUB version of book is HERE:

Now available: The EPUB version of  iPad Design Lab: Storytelling in the Age of the Tablet, ready for download via for Kindle:

Here is how you can get iPad Design Lab book:

The original version of the book is the multitouch textbook version available on the iBookstore for iPad (iOS 5.0 and up):

This version includes video walkthroughs, audio introductions to each chapter, swipeable slideshows, a glossary and a sophisticated look and feel.

Apple only sells multitouch textbooks in certain countries at this time, unfortunately. Copies are available in at least the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and the United States.

For those in other countries and without an iPad, we have made the book available in a basic edition for other platforms. This basic edition includes the full text of the original, along with the images and captions, but lacks the other features such as audio and video. It is available on the following platforms in many countries:

Amazon Kindle:

Google Books:

Take a video tour of iPad Design Lab

iPad Design Lab” trailer on Vimeo.

Read the Society of Publication Designers’ review of The iPad Design Lab here:

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