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Survey says ‘don’t drop print’

10 July 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Olivia Palmer
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Print publications are still one of the most commonly used communications channels among membership bodies, according to the earliest topline findings of this year’s ‘Re: member’ annual survey by leading member publishing agency Think.

A massive 92% of organisations have a member magazine, versus 91% in both 2015 and 2013. More than 80% believe that print continues to engage in a way digital doesn’t, as Jackie Scully, Director of Think Intelligence explains. “Print is still one of the top communications channels; people don’t like the ‘noise’ of digital. Removing print magazines has been trialled, but without them member engagement is not there.”

Jackie’s advice for membership organisations is to choose the communications channels that are most relevant to them.

“Instagram, for example? Do you need it? Are your members interested in posting pictures or is your time better spent investing in quality print content that people will spend 50 minutes or more engaging with?”

She stresses that a mixture of communications is the best option: a combination of print, email newsletters and online access.

Content can also be repurposed on an organisation’s main website. “What matters is the quality of content - make sure what you send is valuable,” says Jackie.

The lessons are:

1.‘Less is more’ when it comes to content strategy. Avoid content overload.

2. Content amplification – this is where social media such as LinkedIn comes in. Amplify the content you produce through the most relevant channels. Expand your social networks by tagging new people.

“You need to be able to ‘think outside the box’ and be tactical,” she adds. “Start with a strong annual content strategy and ensure that your print magazine content is shared on digital channels. Repurpose archive material and dig up evergreen content and re-use it.” Membership publishing gives associations the opportunity to engage in multiple relationships.

The goal should be to deepen member engagement, not to make money from advertising. And advertisers are no longer interested in display ads in print magazines; they want to take advantage of the unique bond that associations have with their members.

Targeted digital online content for segmented audiences according to location, age and preferences is increasingly important. Advertisers are looking for portfolios of thought leadership content, speaking slots, sponsored videos and webinars and exhibition stands. Not surprisingly, face-to-face engagement is as popular as ever: Nearly 80% have seen event attendance increase over the last year and 39% have increased the number of events they hold over the last year.

The Re:member research shows that membership bodies should be consolidating and streamlining publishing activity and establishing an integrated mix of channels based on member values. The advice is: ‘don’t drop print’. Members still want an editor; someone to curate content, present it to them and create a community of like-minded individuals. And with 77% of organisations noting an increase in membership over the past year, communications teams are not likely to be experiencing any downtime any time soon.


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