Erika Engle

Old-time communications
concept is behind
a new magazine

'Advertorial" is a dirty word in a newsroom, but it's the buttered side of the bread for Mike Fuller and his wife Mericia Palma-Fuller.

Their Talk Story magazine, featuring local businesses and the people who run them, is a glossy, four-color, digest-sized publication that is direct-mailed free to homes around Oahu four times per year. It is all advertorial, meaning if a business buys an ad, it will be featured in a story.


"I don't try to hide the fact that it is paid advertising," Fuller said. "This isn't hard-hitting investigative journalism."

A few generations ago, people knew the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers.

"People are too busy now. You don't know who's making the pizza, or who's the jeweler down the street, so our goal is to bring those stories right to the community," Fuller said. "That's why I call it Talk Story magazine, because that's what I do all day long."

One of his clients left corporate America to make pizza, leaving a high-paying job to pursue a dream.

"If you can read a story and see something in there that reminds you, 'I've got an auntie like that, or an uncle,' it gives you that connection to support these local businesses," Fuller said.

The Fullers established the company a year ago and put out the first Talk Story in March, for the Pearl City/Aiea region. There are now five editions following steady expansion to Windward Oahu, Kapolei/Ewa Beach, Mililani and now East Honolulu. Mike is the publisher and sales rep, Mericia serves as editor. Talk Story employs six part-time graphic designers, writers and a photographer.

The next move is perhaps into Honolulu, with some additional hires.

The Fullers moved here two years ago from Texas, knowing after honeymooning here that Hawaii was where they wanted to raise their children.

For the first year he served as the Hawaii advertising representative for a mainland company, but now he's just like one of his clients, competing against big players.

The Winter issues, released Dec. 10, were mailed to 125,000 homes. The basic ad rate is $400, but there is a "multiple area discount" for ads in more than one regional Talk Story. And there is an additional charge for cover placement.

Hawaii MusicWorks in Pearl City is a charter advertiser. "We've had a really good experience," said co-owner Mark Santos.

The company teaches traditional music lessons but also has a "rock school" focusing on the music the kids like and the performance thereof.

"Having the ability to have an ad with some kind of commentary ... helps to educate the customer a lot about us. It helps to sell our product."

Oahu Airport Shuttle operations manager Jeffrey Patrick is another charter advertiser.

The response to Oahu Airport Shuttle's ads and coverage has been "tremendous," he said.

"It captures people's attention and stays at the top of their mind more than a regular ad."

Fuller has "taken a good idea and improved it greatly."

"I've told (Fuller) to his face, 'I hope your kids are getting enough food because your prices are too low,' " he said.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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