|Mark A. Newman|
how first-person tales from members can breathe new life — and sometimes
increase online traffic — into niche association magazines.
Mark A. Newman
of the final sessions that wrapped up AM&P Annual Meeting 2016 turned out
to be one of the most useful ones for me because it provided a variety of
options on how to get your members to be willing participants in your
association’s publication. Titled, "Making it Personal with First-Person
Essays,” this session was loaded with practical advice for getting your members
to write for your magazine, website, newsletter, etc.
panel of experts on this topic were all from the American Society for
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) — Communications Director Angela
Hopp, Managing Editor Lauren Dockett, Chief Science Correspondent Raj
Mukhopadhyay, and Print & Digital Media Specialist Allison Frick — and they
all had a great deal of experience in dealing with their association’s
membership, which is largely made up of a variety of research scientists. If
you think these brainiacs are a bunch of dry, boring academics, you would be
panel discussed the various venues that were available for ASBMB members to
tell their stories, both online as well as in the association’s monthly
magazine, ASBMB Today. One of the salient points the team made was to
have a variety of options where the articles could appear. This variety is
helpful to coax members out of their shells because it’s more than likely that
they will realize that they do indeed have a story to tell, especially if it
falls within a specific category.
example, who couldn’t contribute a piece about overcoming adversity? "Derailed
but Undeterred” did just that as members flooded the editorial team’s inboxes
with their own tales of how they beat the odds, whether it was in their
professional careers or in their personal lives. Hopp spoke a little about the
authors’ concerns about imposter syndrome, a phenomenon coined in 1978 by
clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, that refers to
high-achievers "marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and
a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.” Hopp added that it
disproportionately affects ASBMB’s membership to a degree, but these avenues
give the members a chance to share their experiences and let younger members
know "everything is okay.”
Derailed but Undeterred column proved so inspiring that members freely wrote
about a variety of experiences, from the sudden onslaught of a debilitating
illness and dealing with the stress associated with the rigors of scientific
research to escaping the horrors of Sierra Leone while witnessing murder, rape,
and amputations in an effort to get to New York City. Such gut-wrenching and
honest stories don’t just increase member/reader engagement, they can inspire
others, especially early-career members.
even more personal, format is the Open Letters column, which enables a member
to write an open letter to either someone who affected their lives in some way
or just to express an opinion, thought, or feeling without it being an official
editorial. Past members have written to specific professors who helped them in
their studies, shared thoughts on spirituality, and one member actually used
this forum as a method to come out and reveal the hardships of being gay in a
traditional Indian culture.
forum – Hobbies – allowed members to share photos and stories of their passions
outside of the research lab and away from the bench. This is an ideal way to
get members to really put themselves out there and show a side of themselves
that their colleagues may not get to see in research facilities or at
conferences. (Then again, the ASBMB member who fronted an AC/DC cover band
could likely get a gig to entertain at the next annual conference.)
I attend conferences such as AMP 2016, the Folio: Show, etc., I don’t find the
sessions particularly useful unless I can walk away from them with information
that I can put into practice right away. Thankfully, the ASBMB panel from
"Making it Personal” provided me with a lot of ideas to build upon.
interesting and intriguing as these ideas all were, I wasn’t sure that they
would work as well for the membership of the Endocrine Society for use in Endocrine News, our
feature magazine. Endocrine News is sent to more
than 18,000 members around the world. The membership consists of three
constituencies: physicians, clinical scientists, and basic researchers. We also
publish a number of technical peer-reviewed journals.
since the Endocrine Society is celebrating 100 years in 2016, we have
instituted a new monthly column called "Why Endocrinology?” where our members
tell why they chose this particular field of science. This column was based on
a feature of the same name that ran in March 2015, which received more reader
response than any article the magazine has published before or since. This
reiterates the ASBMB panel’s idea that members are interested in telling their
personal stories. Moreover, members are
interested in reading those stories; it gives them a chance to reflect on their
own careers, choices, mentors, etc.
also has another way for members to tell their stories, but in a practical,
feature-length way. Last fall, we instituted First Person articles, which allow
members to tell their stories regarding a specific topic from their hands-on
perspectives. In the inaugural article, an endocrinologist wrote about his
experience using tele-medicine to consult with other doctors and specialists in
rural New Mexico. Two months later, another member wrote about her
life-changing experience as part of the Endocrine Society’s Ambassador Exchange
Program, which allowed her to work as a practicing endocrinologist in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia, an experience that had a profound effect on her and the way
she practices medicine in Wyoming.
capitalize on these personal tales from members, I am hoping to institute even
more member-derived content going forward. For example, I would like to start
pursuing some of the more controversial topics in the world of endocrinology — and
there is a plethora — with a column called Second Opinion, which will act as an
opinion piece where two endocrinologists will write about their opposing views
on a single topic.
would also like to get the opinions and comments of professionals outside of
endocrinology with a column called Peer Review, which would essentially let
professionals in other areas of medicine discuss why endocrinology and
endocrinologists matter so much to their own line of work or field of study. I
also hope to get members involved with writing book reviews and other pieces
that would interest our membership.
I have to admit that I left the AMP 2016 with new ideas to engage Endocrine
News readers with more stories from their fellow Endocrine Society members.
And while some of the topics from the stellar ASBMB panel might not work well
for our membership, it inspired me to venture out and find topics that would be
perfectly suited for our diverse readers and members around the world.
A. Newman is the editor of Endocrine News published by the Endocrine
Society in Washington, DC. He is a two-time Neal Award winner, a three-time
ASME Award winner, and the first place winner of the Jackson, Alabama, Fire Prevention
Essay Contest in 1982.