Leaf blower: a breath of fresh air through company magazines

Organisations that want to develop their own magazine actually all run into the same issues. Indeed, we often see that such magazines are highly subject to erosion. A first issue is produced with great enthusiasm and much of the powder is shot in that issue. After that, magazine and editorial team end up in the famous downward spiral: the next issue already looks less, so that the editorial team for the third issue is already incomplete and far from enthusiastic. This can be seen in the fourth issue... If we compare the, say, eighth issue with the first one after two years, it turns out to be a pale imitation of what was once intended. After a languishing existence, the title disappears from the market a good year later.

That these titles disappear is not because magazines have no future in an age of far-reaching digitalisation. Now that people search for answers via Google and use social media for entertainment, we see magazines focusing on other added values. In fact, they are becoming signposts leading to other sources. The emphasis on short stories, photography and graphics is growing. The magazines are becoming more exclusive and often appear slightly less frequently. They fulfil this role with verve, and the failure of titles to survive should therefore be attributed mainly to poor organisation and often false starts. Print media may have lost out on topicality and conversation, but they still hold their own when it comes to connecting and deepening with specific target groups. It pays to invest in them.

"The main secret of a good business magazine is the magazine formula"

The main secret of a good company magazine is the magazine formula. It translates the target audience and the message of the company magazine into an editorial pattern that forms the basis of each issue. In the magazine formula we find the sections, but also the cover policy, the journalistic approach (interview, reportage, question-answer, column) and, of course, the topics covered. In addition, a clean house style is essential, which should also be monitored. As for the editorial staff, it is better to be somewhat oversized: both quantitatively and qualitatively.

After all, practice shows that it takes effort to get an editorial team complete all the time. The best magazines are created by bringing together substantive information from within the company and external expertise from an agency in the field of copywriting, photography, design and printing. Involving external people in the magazine also creates more discipline, which is essential for a title that has to be published periodically.

A striking example: within Radboudumc there really is a lot of expertise available in the field of oncology. For many referrers, decision-makers and insurers, however, that expertise was too invisible, being spread across the many departments within the hospital. Report gives that expertise a face. The magazine is tightly coordinated by the oncology centre's communications specialist. She brings together the heavy editorial staff and monitors the content. Editing, photography and design are outsourced to Capital Advertising, which also takes care of the styling and magazine formula. The magazine invites further discussion, links to the internet and has already proved so newsworthy several times that other media took news from the magazine. It is precisely here, where the complex subject matter of the many innovations within the UMC needs to be explained, that the lay perspective from outside proves to add value.

Conclusion: the company magazine has a future even in these digitalised times, provided the magazine is cherished.

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