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How effective is your organisation’s publication?

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A not-for-profit organisation’s publication serves two functions; it provides a valuable member/donor benefit and it allows an organisation to position itself as a leader in its field, often providing a point-of-difference from other competing organisations.

An informative publication is often one of the main reasons cited for joining an association, and a content-rich and well-designed publication can boost your membership, increase member retention and can even be a source of revenue through advertising.

However, knowing how to produce a high-quality publication that provides members with valuable information, attracts advertisers and reflects the desired image of your organisation is often harder than first thought.

These steps will help organisations determine whether its publication requires a new edge, a complete makeover or is perfect just the way it is.

The publication test:

1. Write down your publication’s aims. Does your publication currently achieve these aims? How and why/why not? How could these aims be better fulfilled?

2. Describe your publication’s audience. Who are they? What do they value? What are they interested in? Considering this information, how could you better satisfy them?

3. Give your publication to someone who doesn’t know about your organisation. Ask them to quickly flick through the publication and tell you what your association offers and to who. Were they correct? How quickly can they tell you? If they can’t tell you almost immediately, it is likely that the content of your publication is not as relevant as it could be for your organisation and its audience.

4. Analyse the content. How could your articles and headlines be made more appealing to your readers?

5. What is the main reason(s) for people to join your association? What do you offer members? Is this reflected in your publication? The content of your magazine should make the benefits of membership jump off the page.

6. If there are similar organisations to yours, does your magazine clearly explain your points of difference?

7. After having a quick flick through the publication, how is your organisation reflected? Does it align with how you want to be seen? Or does the publication reflect something different?

8. Analyse the design. How could the front cover, page layout and design be improved? Does the design reflect the brand identity of your organisation? Well-designed and informative publications can enhance your members’ experience and retention and increase ad revenue.

9. Conduct a member survey asking your members for feedback about your publication. Although you may think you know what your members like and don’t like, you may be surprised with their suggestions.

Sometimes organisations are too close to their publication to be able to judge it objectively, which can hinder its growth and effectiveness. Often an organisation requires a third party with fresh eyes to review its publication and offer suggestions to take it to the next level. Submit your magazine, journal or newsletter to Third Sector Services and you will receive a comprehensive, objective evaluation of editorial content, overall design and layout from a professional team of designers, editors, marketers and publishers. Third Sector Services has distinct knowledge of association publishing and its unique challenges and opportunities.

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