It is seven years since I was asked by Rotary Great Britain & Ireland General Secretary, Amanda Watkin, to take on the challenge of editing Rotary magazine.
At first I said ‘no’ because I was then editing a series of weekly newspapers in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, but Amanda is a persuasive character who wanted to take Rotary magazine forward
as a key membership tool.
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In order to do that, we agreed the magazine had to be topical, it had to be professionally written and designed, and evolve into one which engaged with Rotarians whose voices were heard.
Rotary magazine has come a long way in the last seven years, illustrated by this membership-focused issue highlighting how flexible Rotary has become, with service conducted in so many different ways.
And we have also come a long way in seven years with a magazine which looks vastly different from 2016 in terms of content, style and appearance.
We have added an audio magazine which has proved very popular and, in tandem with the print edition, the Rotary mGB&I website has been given a makeover to include more news content from clubs across the isles.
With both print and digital, Rotary has moved with the times. We redesigned your Members’ Area last year, and exciting developments with Rotary View continue.
But with Rotary magazine, we are changing again. From January, the print edition will move from bi-monthly to quarterly, or seasonal – so it will be four editions a year.
Rotary magazine is one of the best membership products to give to prospective Rotarians.”
To be blunt, the reason is cost.
As editor, and a volunteer Rotarian, I cost you nothing. Production costs are minimal since design is done in-house at the Rotary GB&I Support Centre in Alcester, and costs are countered by a tidy sum raised from advertising revenue.
The killer, sadly is distribution, which accounts for an eye-watering six figure sum each year as we ensure every issue is delivered direct to your door.
We’re certainly not returning to those dark days when magazines were sent to clubs with horror tales of these gathering dust in club secretaries’ sheds.
Some would say scrap the printed magazine altogether and just go digital. But that doesn’t wash and it won’t save the planet either – digital has a worse carbon footprint than print.
Also, I remain a subscriber to the potency of print.
So, instead, we’re changing the print run to seasonal from January 2024. However, this sea-change in strategy also gives us an opportunity to do more.
From February 2024, we will be launching a monthly digital magazine, Rotary Digital, carrying even more content.
I believe Rotary needs a valued print platform, and our advertisers agree too; one which appeals to Rotarians and also to an external audience. After all, Rotary magazine is one of the best membership products to give to prospective Rotarians.
But a monthly digital magazine, delivered via email, will allow for more news and views, providing even greater engagement with clubs and districts. I am also working on a project to produce a monthly hour-long Rotary podcast. This will be made available in the middle of the month, featuring interviews, backgrounders and discussion featuring Rotarians and influencers from across the world.
If truth be told, I would love to be editing a monthly Rotary magazine, but the concept of four printed magazines, 12 digital magazines, and 12 podcasts a year is not a bad compromise is it?
I hope you will join me on this exciting journey by getting involved.