_building reader interaction

Some top tips

Readers are your best brand champions. Not only can they give you good ideas for articles but they will also promote your magazine or website to all their mates. Build a relationship with readers and find ways to get their input into the magazine. Here are a few ideas...

Reader sections

1. Mail lists. Respond to readers who take the time to get in touch and put their email addresses in a separate address book. Invite their opinions into feature ideas, make them feel listened to... and then email readers to remind them a new issue (or updated content) is available.

2. Debates. As seen in some of the examples below, debate-style features are a great way to get reader input into the magazine. This works no matter who your readers are. So, in games magazine Dreamcast, I ran a regular feature getting a group of readers together to discuss a new game release. Then in Create magazine (aimed at Web designers) we ran a regular round-table debate about a key issue of the moment.

3. Reader quotes. Explore incidental ways to get readers' opinions into your publication. For example, in Rock & Roam magazine I run a regular in news - "If I could go anywhere...". I invite readers to dream about where they want to go next and dot their quotes around the section. Another approach is to get readers to comment on your lead story and then print their opinions as part of the article - this is particularly good when you want to integrate the magazine and website more tightly together.

4. Reader events. Can seem like they are more trouble then they are worth but events can range from Loaded's "on the road" tour to conferences and shows. On Create magazine I was always keen to make more of the brand and extend into conferences as these offered scope to promote to a wider audience.

5. Reader writing. Think about getting readers to write an article every month. This is shown to its best in Real Travel where the magazine makes a selling-point out of the fact that readers produce many of the destination reviews themselves - it also keeps the budget down.

6. Readers can generate PR. Reader surveys are often PR-able. Run a survey, get a decent set of results and you may interest the mainstream media in your findings. For example, I worked on a travel magazine pitch where we proposed a cover feature in which we identified readers' paradise on earth as part of a massive survey. The plan was then to promote the launch using the survey results to get PR in the mainstream media.

 

-MARK HIGHAM

more on reader interaction here

 

EXAMPLES (click for a larger view)

Create debate
Real Travel
Real Travel appeal
What Car
 
Dreamcast debate
 

Rock and Roam Contents page

This page from Real Travel magazine shows a reader report. The magazine prides itself on revealing the reality of travel and the implication is that readers will do this better than journos. It gives the magazine a selling point (contrast with CondeNast Traveller who promote the fact that they always pay for their own trips)