This begins a series of posts from ASBPE Editorial Excellence Award winners who tell the story-behind the story that got them to the podium to receive a coveted Azbee in 2010.
First up is Rejuvenate magazine’s Jennifer Garrett, who explains how a “youth movement” paved the way for her publication’s success.
The June 2009 issue of Rejuvenate magazine, which included “Youth Outreach,” the winner of the National Editorial Gold Azbee Award for special section, was a turning point for the publication.
Rejuvenate magazine is for faith-based meeting and convention planners. Since it was first published in 2006, it has been a leading provider of education to this market, but it has faced the same challenge that many of its readers face: finding the proper tone for its faith-based audience.
Traditional vs. Youthful Tone. Many churches, faith-based organizations and ministries grapple with whether they should retain a traditional, formal tone or adopt a more youthful, high-energy, high-tech approach that appeals to a broader audience, including younger readers.
For the June 2009 issue, the editorial staff made that change. Until that point, the magazine maintained a formal tone and long-form stories that appealed to a traditional audience. The June issue was the perfect time to try a new look, tone and voice because it focused on a major issue in the faith-based meetings industry: reaching out to a new generation. The main package, “Youth Outreach,” educated readers about how to use the latest technology and trends to reach youth. We had to practice what we preached.
We assigned the entire package to the younger members of the editorial staff, who worked on it from story planning and development to design. The stories clearly explained new technology, trends, ideas and concepts that might be “outside the box” for our planners. We used an upbeat and fun design and voice that reflected the content, including short briefs, web throws and screen shots from social networks and other websites.
Youth Immersion Process. Our writers attended youth events to talk to students, interviewed individuals and organizations known for being successful at reaching a younger demographic, and took advantage of the very technologies we wrote about, including Facebook and Twitter, to learn what our readers were doing to engage youth.
The younger staff members’ familiarity with social media, the most important and yet most confusing outlet for many of our readers, came through in a clear and concise way. We included as many young voices (and faces) as possible in the articles while still reaching out to all of our readers, hoping it would help them understand and relate to the subject matter.
Based on response to the issue, it did. Readers liked the new look, design and format. The magazine has not turned back. It continues to maintain that fresh, modern design, shorter stories, web throws and a growing social media community. Our goal is to provide the same high level of education and news, but present it in a more readable and engaging way.
Altering a magazine’s style and format can be risky. Our June 2009 Rejuvenate, with its shorter articles and illustrated cover, was a departure from our previous style, but it has been the best decision we made for the magazine. But that’s just coming from one of the younger members of the staff.
By Jennifer Garrett, Associate Editor of Rejuvenate magazine