The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the nation’s largest construction trade association whose members are comprised of general contractors, suppliers and service providers who are responsible for the majority of all commercial and industrial construction nationwide. In 2012, AGC put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to explore the possibility of finding a new publisher for the association’s official magazine, Constructor. Constructor had been published by McGraw Hill since 2005 but was losing footing as a resource to the construction industry.
This slipping from favor was shown in a readership survey from 2009 where less than 40 percent of AGC member respondents were “somewhat likely” to recommend the magazine to colleagues as a “worthwhile read,” while 10.5 percent said they were “not likely at all” to recommend it.
Naylor Association Solutions had a vision for Constructor magazine and proposed a novel solution: evolve Constructor beyond a magazine publication into Constructor, the brand. Naylor’s team would re-position Constructor as an integrated multimedia communication platform whose name would become recognized by AGC members as the voice of the industry.
Constructor (the brand) would include:
- Constructor magazine (in both print and digital editions),
- Constructor Monthly (e-newsletter),
- Constructor Online (dedicated, mobile-friendly website),
- Constructor Social (social media presence),
- Constructor Marketplace (online supplier’s guide); and
- Constructor Events (face-to-face engagement with members and advertisers at workshops, conferences and luncheons).
AGC agreed that this was the best route for Constructor and chose to partner with Naylor.
Naylor immediately went to work on the implementation of Constructor (the brand), starting first by creating a Constructor team with a dedicated Editor-in-Chief, a Group Publisher, a Project Manager and a Marketing Specialist. The Naylor team met with AGC board members to gain a clear understanding of AGC’s vision for Constructor and then began carrying out a transitional plan that would give both parties clear goals and expectations for the next steps in Naylor’s editorial management.
One of the first steps to understanding the Constructor audience was to perform a communications survey and gap analysis which investigated several areas of AGC’s member communication platform.
This was used as a baseline and uncovered many surprising facts that helped the Constructor team better understand the type of content that the Constructor audience wanted.
Next, the editor-in-chief, Jeanie Clapp, developed an editorial content calendar to support the planning and management of all forms of Constructor communication. At the same time, dedicated marketing specialist, Brianna Martin, created a new media kit which included all of the new opportunities available to advertisers.
Strategic communications were then sent out to previous advertisers and readers – members, staff and vendors – so that the industry as a whole would be aware of the re-launch of the brand. The new branding was officially launched at the AGC Annual Convention in March of 2012, and was continuously cross-promoted in every communication piece an AGC member received, from the website to e-newsletters to event banners, for several months after.
The Constructor team has met bi-weekly with two representatives from AGC since the Naylor partnership began. These meetings have been instrumental in the success of the re-branding project and give the team a chance to discuss editorial content, social media strategies, project marketing, sales figures and other ongoing goals.
Constructor now has a strong social media presence with over 3,200 followers on its Twitter account,@constructormag. All content is rolled out through Twitter which helps keep people going back to theConstructor website. The website itself is a key-component, generating more than 23,000 visits in the first 9 months, from March 2012 to December 2012, and receiving 48,000 visitors in 2013. The print magazine ships approximately 26,000 copies per issue while the Nxtbook digital edition has had an average readership of more than 3,000 per issue. The Constructor Marketplace has had more than 14,000 visits and the Constructor e-newsletter is sent to more than 25,700 recipients.
Editor-in-Chief Jeanie Clapp has noticed a change in perception about Constructor among AGC members since Naylor began publishing the magazine two years ago. While attending AGC events throughout the year, she often hears comments about how the overall look of the magazine has greatly improved. While she may not be instantly recognized as the editor, there is recognition of the brand name and an awareness of Naylor’s role in the re-branding efforts. Meeting members at various events gives the editor-in-chief the opportunity to learn what AGC folks want from Constructor, thereby keeping the content relevant.
Other changes in perception were revealed in the recent 2013-2014 communications survey. More than 60 percent of the AGC general contractor members who responded consider the print edition of Constructor magazine an “important” or “very important” part of their membership and nearly half of respondents rated content in Constructor magazine as “good” or “excellent.”
Jeanie Clapp accredits the success of the rebranding efforts to three things:
- We were able to balance the communication goals of the association against the expectations of the reader.
- We gave members the ability to consume content when and how they wanted it, whether through print, online or social media.
- We have a team that is dedicated to the success of all of our communication efforts.