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Go Boldly Where Your Members Are - 9/10/2013 -

Sharing its own strong results, the Masons of California makes the case for associations promoting publications across multiple channels.

By Christine L. Avery

Members constantly list your organization’s publication as one of their top benefits, yet you are struggling to get your publication known. While this may be true for many organizations, what may not be well known is that you can do something about it: Cross-market across multiple channels.

At the recent AM&P Annual Meeting, Angel Alvarez-Mapp, creative director, Masons of California (and 2012 EXCEL Award winner), shared his organization’s experience using digital, mobile, and a magazine-specific website to further promote its publication. Along with Kim Kett of GTxcel, Alvarez-Mapp led a case study session titled, "The Modern Publication: Engaging Your Audience on Any Screen.”

By using GTxcel, a multi-media company that specializes in providing a unified publishing platform, the Masons of California had the opportunity to gather research first and then decide how best to cross-promote its publication, California Freemason.

Kett told attendees that it is first important to find out where your members are viewing your content. "You know your members the best,” said Kett.

After learning how Masons of California members were currently viewing their membership publication, Alvarez-Mapp wanted to find another distribution method. He knew he needed to take advantage of current technology and so he started with a digital version, followed by a mobile application.

"I’d rather be ahead of our members than behind them,” said Alvarez-Mapp.

The organization decided to keep the print publication a members-only benefit; however, its digital app is free to all. There are 65,000 Masons of California members receiving the print version, yet more than 67,000 people are downloading the app.

"I was stunned at the statistics,” said Christian Hamaker, publications manager for The Rural Broadband Association and workshop attendee. "To learn that his magazine’s app had been mostly discovered via readers’ app stores, and the magazine’s app dwarfed the use of the digital edition of his magazine, that was eye-opening.”

Workshop attendees further learned four pieces of advice from Alvarez-Mapp:

  • Be a thought leader and champion for initiatives.
  • Make your digital/mobile launch a priority.
  • It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission (sometimes).
  • Publish your content where your members are — everywhere.

"A modern publication is not just print and not just a digital pub viewed on a tablet. It's content, in all forms,” said attendee Mayu Mishina, senior writer and publications manager for the African Wildlife Foundation. "Many members are hungry for information, and if they can't easily get it from you, they'll find it fromanothersource.”

So what’s next in the Masons of California’s cross-promotion strategy? Alvarez-Mapp said he intends to launch a responsive design website soon, followed by augmenting articles with video.

Take a lesson from Alvarez-Mapp and dare to go where no association publisher has taken your publication before. Go where your members are and cross-market your publication using mobile, digital, and competitive submissions to spotlight your publication and increase engagement with your members.

"If you just do it, your members will follow you,” said Alvarez-Mapp.

Christine L. Avery is managing editor of the membership publications department and PAYTECH Magazine, at the American Payroll Association. A big thank you to Christine for volunteering to cover this events for the Association Media & Publishing members who were unable to attend.


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