Magazines: A Powerhouse Communication Tool for Associations
Ask any association professional and they’ll likely all say the same thing: offering quality education to and increasing engagement with their members are foremost among their priorities. But if you’re not making the most of your written communications—whether those consist of regular email communications only or a suite of strategic sources—you’re missing a huge opportunity.
To the untrained eye, magazines may seem more like airport entertainment than a vehicle to improve your organization, but they actually present myriad opportunities to better engage with your membership, offer more education, and maybe even earn additional revenue.
More Content = More Interactions
Your newsletters and brochures may contain some excellent illustrations and captivating content. But magazines tend to focus more heavily on graphics, a wide variety of content types, and easy-to-read editorial narratives to tell both long- and short-form stories, which makes each article, issue, and image all the more shareable.
For example, Insights has several single-page pieces that are perfect for sharing on social media—including “In Good Company,” which highlights fun facts about members of the association; “In the Public Eye,” which offers information about famous awards; and “Insightful,” which features an infographic on topics relevant to the industry.
Having a host of different pieces to post on your own platforms helps ensure your social media never gets stale and encourages more frequent visits to, and interactions with, your pages by members. And every time a member likes or shares your content, they’re acting as an unofficial marketer of your association to their own extended network and beyond.
But magazines don’t just boost your online interactions with members; they also can improve your real-life relationships.
Encourage Greater IRL Engagement
Because they have more pages—and more content types—to work with, magazines offer a host of ways to interact with your membership and get them involved.
Whether it’s through interviewing a member for a targeted article on their industry, asking them to draft their own informational how-to, or featuring them in a piece like “In Good Company,” every article offers an opportunity to engage one or more of your members.
And because the time commitment is minimal, those hesitant to volunteer are more likely to agree to participate—and feel more connected to and represented by your association as a result.
A magazine may even offer additional opportunities for the more ambitious among your membership to make a big impact, whether that’s by writing regular columns or participating on a publications committee.
Elevate Your Targeted Education
When it comes to supporting your membership, education is key—but it doesn’t always have to come in the form of onsite meetings and easy-access webinars.
Every issue of your association magazine offers opportunities to teach your membership new skills; inform them of industry trends; and share resources to engage, inspire, and motivate their work.
Insights does this through regular columns on the tools and programs members use most; how-tos describing methods for creating unique, new products; business-management articles; features highlighting industry trends; and much more. Whatever industry your association serves, your magazine can serve as an entertaining—and educational—way to provide tips, tricks, and information directly to each and every one of your members.
Rake in more Revenue
Our focus is always on providing the best possible resources to our members—but if we can find ways to earn a little more money to support those goals, all the better!
Whether it’s through advertisements, sections dedicated to press releases (like the Product and Equipment Features in Insights, which regularly rank among the most popular sections on reader surveys), or paid editorial content, magazines offer any number of opportunities for financial support.
Quite simply, more pages, and more opportunities to spotlight suppliers, sponsors, or other contributors to your industry, often result in more people and companies wanting to market in your magazine—and more revenue for your association.
Wondering what it would take to turn your newsletter into a full-fledged glossy magazine?
Do a Reader Survey
Every year, the Awards and Personalization Association polls its members about which features they find most valuable, their skill level and educational needs, what topics we should be covering, and more. The results help the association target the content of the magazine to ensure it’s providing the best possible education—and the most enjoyable types of media—to the readers.
Before you decide to produce a magazine for your membership base, it’s important to get a good understanding of the types of content they prefer (Digital or print? Long-form or quick-hit? Narrative or clinical?) and what educational needs they most want fulfilled.
This data also can inform your social media, marketing, and education strategies by telling you more about your members’ interests, preferred modes of communication, and perceived knowledge gaps. After all, the more you know about your membership and their expectations, the better positioned you are to serve their needs.
Set a Content Strategy
As association professionals know, the key to success lies in a good strategy. Identify the primary themes that emerged from your research with members and potential advertisers to start setting preliminary goals for the content.
In conjunction with market research, this data will reveal a great deal about the types of content you will need to produce and how to best present it. Then you can start strategizing how your staff can make it happen.
And, like your reader survey, your content strategy also can inform and complement your other offerings, helping you present an even more cohesive and complete set of member benefits to everyone in your membership.
Partner with the Right People
Developing content, designing graphics-led features, and producing the final product—whether print or digital—all require specific skills, so it’s important to partner with people who can help you create the best publication possible, whether that means working with your current staff on refining their journalism and design skills or reaching out to consultants and freelancers with experience in these areas.
At AMC, design and editorial work is handled by Creative Media Services, a team of more than 20 editors, graphic designers, writers, and marketers who produce a wide range of award-winning magazines and periodicals. Interested in developing a magazine or refreshing the content strategy or design of your current one? Learn more about how our customized Consulting Services can transform your association’s publications.
Danielle Leber is a managing editor on the Creative Media Services team at AMC.
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