7 Tips To Create an Engaging Association Publication
One of the many benefits of providing consistently delivered communications such as an association newsletter, magazine, or e-publication, is the opportunity to promote your brand , mission, and strategic initiatives. It allows members to obtain knowledge and celebrate achievements. Quality design is an essential key to deepening the relationship and trust between your organization and its members.
While Meeting Expectations offers professional writers and editors for its association clients, we are also skilled in collaborating with volunteers in the editor role; as we call them, “volunteditors.” How do you create the most effective partnerships – and deliver the highest quality publications – between volunteditors and design teams? Here are our top tips:
1. Introductions Please
Today, we’re all working remotely and tech allows us to communicate with colleagues across the country or globe with a click of a button. Before you dive in to a new design project, it is important for the team to meet in person or online (yes, turn on the video) to build rapport. Building a solid working foundation in the beginning is crucial since it is where expectations are set and goals, priorities, and timelines are established.
2. Establish a Gameplan
There are many moving parts in the creation of a publication, especially long format or in-depth pieces. It is of utmost importance that the volunteditor and designer develop a strategic plan that:
- Identifies vendors: All parties should familiarize themselves with their vendors and vendor representatives who will be supporting the delivery or go-live publication date.
- Establishes roles and responsibilities: Defining roles and responsibilities upfront can help avoid any confusion or conflict. Collaboration can lead to wonderful results, but if it’s not part of the established procedure or workflow, production delays can occur.
- Creates workflows: Once a draft is provided, how many rounds of revisions are allowed before the final proofing stage? Establish the means of delivery of drafts for feedback. Will an online collaboration tool be used? Setting up effective workflows will expedite the process.
- Secures a production schedule: This schedule includes content delivery and draft dates, revision time, proofing, print, mail, and go-live dates. Depending on the frequency of the communications (monthly, bimonthly, quarterly), an annual production schedule may be the best route. Be detailed to avoid loopholes or delays.
3. Gather all the Ingredients
The most important component is the content. It must be well-written, grammatically correct and above all, beneficial to your audience to catch their interest. Visual stimulation is also key to communicating concepts, so photography is another essential component. If you rely on volunteer members to provide photos, here are some quick tips to help them provide you with the best photos possible:
- Ask the designer for proper photo resolution and be sure to communicate those specifications to your contributors.
- Engaging event photography can be tricky. Although capturing your members in the natural setting of your events is best, have someone actively work with your event photographer to optimize useful photos. It may be beneficial to stage photos in spaces with good light if they will be critical to providing visual support for your communications.
- If your organization needs custom photos and doesn’t have access to a photographer, a stock photography site may provide the answer. Just be sure the images selected align with your brand’s personality.
The last two ingredients are graphics and advertising. Custom graphics provide visual relief from a content-heavy or photo-heavy piece. Designers are born to create, so let them!
Finally, many associations rely on publication advertisements as a key revenue stream. The volunteditor should request specifications from the design team to provide to advertisers. Proper specifications help advertisers to provide ads that will appear as intended in the final publication.
4. Make a Special Delivery
Services such as WeTransfer, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and more can expedite asset delivery and storage. Define which system you and your design team will use. It’s a best practice to label assets and put them into organized folders. And, as a good rule of thumb, it’s also helpful to send content all at once versus sending it piecemeal.
5. Pay Attention to Detail
During the revision phase, there are many details that need attention. Establish a lead to coordinate and consolidate all edits, and toagree on an editing method. Whether it is via a track changes for written content, through a program such as Adobe Acrobat using sticky notes and comments, make sure that both parties agree and understand how to use them.
Be as descriptive as possible and resolve all questions prior to providing edits. Then, be available to discuss changes – walk the designer through the comments to help ensure common understanding.
6. Approve & Deliver
Once revisions are complete, it’s time to get things buttoned up and out the door. Your approval method should include accountability on all ends. If there is a sign off hierarchy, execute it consistently. Not dedicating ample time to finalize properly before printing – or delivering digitally – could lead to more time and money spent unnecessarily.
7. Follow-up to Optimize
Once your communication is in circulation, take time to solicite feedback internally and externally. Your teams should discuss the process, figure out what worked and what may not have worked as well. Similarly, reaching out to your reader base can also provide lessons to continuously improve.
If your organization is looking for a skilled design team to deliver your print or digital publications, let’s chat.