– Josh Spradling, CAE, TSAE Marketing & Communications Director
Like many associations, the Texas Society of Association Executives relies heavily on its print publication as a tool to engage members and earn non-dues revenue. However, ad sales were down, member involvement in articles had declined and the association lacked an overall brand strategy to establish a consistent link between the publication and the association. TSAE recognized the need for a publication refresh but had minimal resources to dedicate to the undertaking and was concerned that without a larger association brand strategy, they wouldn’t be able to optimize on their investment.
In 2016, TSAE decided to do a full association rebrand and, for the first time, established brand guidelines to ensure consistency across all communication platforms. This provided the perfect opportunity for a publication refresh. TSAE used the new brand guidelines as a starting point to create a magazine style guide for their quarterly magazine, Association Leadership. Then, they engaged various stakeholders to find out what content they valued most and researched other publications for design ideas.
With a new design direction, TSAE then revamped its content strategy. Rather than host editorial meetings for each issue – which required approximately seven meetings per year and were challenging to coordinate – now, an editorial committee convenes once per year to plan the editorial calendar for the coming year. Since topics are established well in advance, Naylor, who handles 100 percent of advertising sales for TSAE, uses the content calendar to drive ad sales. TSAE earns non-dues revenue on a portion of each sale. Having an editorial calendar also enables TSAE to engage members in calls for articles.
Prior to the refresh, a PDF version of the magazine allowed members to share the whole magazine digitally, but readers couldn’t just send a link to a particular article of interest. Together with Naylor, TSAE created a full microsite to support the print magazine, which now gives TSAE a platform to dive deeper into hot topics, provide additional content in between print editions and offer its readers additional resources like downloadable worksheets. Members have the ability to search for key topics and easily share articles of interest. Plus, the microsite enables Naylor to offer advertisers bundled opportunities to reach members in print and online.
The microsite also helps bolster TSAE’s social initiatives and solidify TSAE as a thought leader. “We are a staff of six so coming up with content is hard. Being able to re-purpose content in a fresh way is huge. We manage social accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Before, we always pushed everyone else’s content, but now we can curate content from others and add our own, which makes TSAE a great resource for information and makes us more credible,” says Josh Spradling, CAE, TSAE’s marketing & communications Director.
TSAE experienced a 12 percent increased in year-over-year ad sales for Association Leadership. They also enjoyed a 12 percent increase in attendance at their annual conference compared to the previous year, and positive feedback about the magazine and its new, complementary website.
“We love that Naylor is always bringing new ideas to the table, and they are always open to trying something new. We love being a guinea pig with them and appreciate that together, we’re not afraid to fail,” said Spradling. “You never know until you try!”