In 2000, TMM Principal Angelo Matera was called in by Circle Media for advice on what to do with its money-losing, bi-weekly, tabloid newspaper, Faith & Family. The solution: reduce frequency, upgrade the product. Why not, Matera reasoned, produce an attractive, high-quality magazine every two months, instead of a mediocre newspaper every two weeks? In a Catholic market saturated with dreary publications, a quality magazine would stand out — and as a bi-monthly, it would cost a lot less, too.
A plan was quickly set in motion to convert the staid newsprint publication into a glossy magazine in the style of successful secular magazines such as Martha Stewart Living. For the plan to work, top talent was needed. An editor was found who had edited Success Magazine. An art director was brought in who had designed Victoria Magazine. The idea worked. Since then Faith & Family has won first place in the Catholic Press Association’s Best General Interest Magazine category six times in the last nine years.
When in 2008 the magazine decided it needed a quality website, and a smart web business model to go with it, Circle Media chose Transmodern Media for the job. TMM studied the swiftly changing web technology and media landscape, considered Circle Media’s limited budget, and recommended a highly focused blog format modeled on the heavily trafficked blog publications Lifehacker and Engadget, both published by Gawker Media. The twist was that Faith and Family Live!, as the website is called, would feature five bloggers writing every day, not just one. A survey of parenting sites showed that moms on the web were social creatures who were more likely to respond to a group perspective rather than a single point of view. In addition to the blog, the site also showcased content from the magazine.
From the time it launched in August 2008, Faith & Family Live! quickly established itself as a high-quality web publication that combines smart writing and discussion with stylish design and photography. It has also featured smoothly integrated web 2.0 functionality, and a lively cluster of social media groups on networks such as Facebook and Twitter. In June 2009, after a lengthy review of social networking software, Faith & Family Live! launched its own community, Faith & Family Connect, built upon a completely customized platform using the Ning social network. In July 2009, F&F Live! won in the Best Group Blog and Best New Blog categories in the Catholic New Media awards.