Rocky Rakovic – Editor, Inked Magazine
By Anna Marevska
There are only a handful of men’s magazines combining culture, style and art with a rebellious spirit. Inked Magazine is one of them. And now the edgy publication has a new top editor, who is just as imaginative and vibrant as its audience.
Rocky Rakovic was named the editor of Inked Magazine in April, and at only 28 years old, he helms a popular international book while penning articles for none other than Playboy as a contributing editor.
“I am quite excited to be given the keys to one of the slickest men’s magazines on the market,” he said. “It’s good to be king.”
Before taking the editorial throne, Rakovic served as an associate editor for Playboy and he said the transition between jobs has been easy. He jumped on Inked’s staff halfway through the June/July editorial cycle when the magazine was almost ready for the printer. The August issue is where Rakovic’s editorial flavor will be tasted first.
“I inherited a publication and brand that had been well curated by former editor Jason Buhrmester,” he explained. “Because Jason cut his teeth with Playboy and Dennis Publishing, Inked’s content is set up similar to Playboy and Maxim.”
Indeed, other than the men’s-centric content, Rakovic said the greatest similarity between Playboy and Inked is that both “have the warm ‘mom and pop shop’ feel, [and] neither title’s digs are cold or corporate.” Both of which made his transition effortless.
“The Inked office is reminiscent of a dorm room during finals week,” he added. “There’s a great amount of work done with the stereo blaring and some antics in between–an ideal environment for creativity.”
And it is this exact combination of warmth, edge and imagination that attracted Rakovic in the first place. He describes Inked as the “outsider’s insider magazine, a rebellious men’s magazine first, and a tattoo magazine secondary.”
The readers of Inked are the edgy, creative influentials of their circle and the world at large,” Rakovic continued. “The well and front of the book read like a Playboy or a Maxim with a caveat that those featured embody Inked’s spirit and have tattoos. In the back we cover top tattoo shops, artists and events in the community.”
Along with creative director Todd Weinberger and photo editor Josh Clutter, Rakovic aims to make a dynamic and well-rounded product. His immediate goal is to transform the magazine into “one of the best men’s publications on the newsstand,” by bringing in talented young voices and adding more service, narrative non-fiction into the mix.
He also plans to redesign the website, which right now, he said, is intuitive and user-friendly “but not as well-presented as it could be.” But even amongst the constant chatter about the death of print, Rakovic is certain that there always will be magazines. Good ones.
So what does the young editor want to present online?
“Understanding that websites are not magazines,” he said. “The online visitor of Inkedmag.com logged on in search of different product than the reader of Inked magazine. And we respect them enough to offer something more than just formatting our article for the Web.”
Therefore the site and magazine will complement each other, not compete with each other, he added. That way, both readers and advertisers will get real value.
“If you are just slapping up magazine pieces for the Internet crowd you are missing the point of online media and giving away the store,” he said. “And you aren’t exactly saving print.”
Outside of Inkedmag.com Rakovic and the staff utilize Twitter and Facebook to mobilize the community of devoted followers. But social media is mostly used to give back to readers, by inviting them to an Inked event for example.
The magazine’s creative director uses Facebook for model castings as well, and it’s always great publicity when a profiled celebrity mentions the magazine on the social media boards. Most recently, Rakovic said, singer Avril Lavigne posted about her Inked photo shoot on Facebook, generating 596 comments and 3,083 “likes” to the post.
“We in the magazine field consistently hear that you are nothing if you are not online and we certainly need to harness the Internet but also realize that we are running magazines,” he said. “Twitter and Facebook have trumped the letters pages, so we at Inked will find a way to incorporate that into our mail page.”
Rakovic strongly encourages PR professionals to understand the magazine. Due to the publication’s long-form, he also insists on timeliness and availability.
“Because we are tattoo-centric, if you are pitching a client please don’t just tell me about their tattoos. Show me,” he said.
Another important aspect of dealing with publicists is trust. He explained, “I understand that PR companies share a Rolodex but please don’t let your colleagues inundate us with pitches that are asinine, because we’ll just delete everything from your company. I like to find a publicist from a firm that I can trust that will not waste our collective time and work through him or her. I’m on a few PR mailing lists that because of their frequency of e-mails, I delete before even opening.”
Rakovic also asks for PR professionals’ patience. Keep in mind he does not reply to pitches right away, as he likes to collect them and review once a month when planning the mix of the magazine.
He added, “For every product or article I run, I have to tell more than 50 people ‘no.’ It has nothing to do with you -- it’s your product -- and I’ll gladly inform you why so you can report back to the parent company and cover your bases.
Also, I think a successful magazine is a kaleidoscope of different voices so I delegate many choices to my contributors. I don’t ask to listen to the music we cover because I trust the ear of my music writers. That said, I may not be able to give my own opinion to every pitch but I will try to get you the most accurate answer I can if we decide not to go with your client.”
Please do not call him with pitches. The best way to contact Rakovic is by e-mail only.
“If you are waiting on word from me, a follow-up e-mail will let me know that you are looking for a response and that you didn’t just blast off an e-mail to every editor and blogger on your contact list,” he suggested.