Online magazine tips from a penguin

I have been inspired by a penguin….

Last week I had the good fortune to attend an event run by the Institute of Internal Communication, held in the City of London. We heard from recent Gold Award Winners – those receiving the highest accolade the institute can give.

Among them was internal communications agency Headlines with their globally successful The Penguin magazine. This online publication is the cheekier and younger brother to the Project magazine, produced for the Association for Project Management, and has experienced incredible success since launching in 2012

Founder and CEO of Headlines Peter Doherty, and Editor Andrew Hubbard, explained how they designed The Penguin to appeal to a new generation of project managers. During their launch year they received 11,724 hits to their site, and this increased by over 5,000 hits to 16,981 in year two.

I took away these top tips:

Think outside the box:  If someone else is doing it well already the chances are they are too far ahead of you to catch up. What can you do to be original? Be inspired by existing projects and build on them.

Brainstorm, research and run focus groups:  These three together will ensure you help the client develop the brief and give the audience what it wants right from the start. You need to understand the trends and know what people want from digital.

Test, test, test:  Especially when creating a new style or tone of voice for a client or publication. The more test articles the better and the more feedback the better. It was crucial for them in getting the look and feel correct.

Be ruthless with content:  If it doesn’t match the brief, don’t put it in. They would often get  contributions from project professionals that they found funny but didn’t really hit the mark in terms of what their research told them the masses wanted.

Review:  After each issue look at statistics, see what went well and what didn’t go so well. Have you attracted lots of comments and hits on a particular theme? Can it be revisited in future?

Evolve:  Keen an eye on the competition to see what they are doing. You want to be the innovators in the digital market – an increasingly difficult endeavour, but if you can pull it off it could lead to even further success.

Choose host site wisely:  Headlines used WordPress for The Penguin, which works extremely for them. It has good functionality and lots of options in terms of comments, feedback and tagging. However, there are plenty of others out there and it’s crucial you get the one for you.

The same goes for the email marketing system. The system they use has flexible functionality; it is easy to build and allows them to carry advertising.

Thanks to Peter and Andrew from Headlines for the tips, and the IOIC London Region for arranging a great event.


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