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Tips for Writing a Magazine Redesign RFP - 1/22/2013 -

Here are five items your next magazine redesign RFP should include to yield the most qualified candidates.

By Lynn Riley

A magazine redesign is a daunting task that—thankfully—only surfaces once every three to five years. If your association has decided to outsource this operation, you’ll need a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a detailed document that defines the scope of work, the process, the schedule, and the total estimated cost for a project. So what are the necessary items to include in the RFP to ensure you get the most qualified candidates? Here are five items that top the list.

1. Share your budget range with the designer/firm. Disclosing a budget range helps the candidate tailor the scope of work to what you can afford. In other words, designers won't prepare a proposal that incorporates tasks and services beyond what you need and unwittingly estimate higher for those unwanted services.

2. Let the designer’s portfolio speak for itself.Some publishers are tempted to ask candidates to create design concepts of their publication during the RFP process to help them decide.The designer's portfolio should stand on its own and contain lots of magazine samples. Solicit bids fromdesigners who specialize in publications.

3. Request two proposals—one for the redesign and another for the monthly design and production. Many association publishers who need a publication redesign find that a larger firm has the portfolio and track record they’re seeking. That can be a wise investment, even though the initial cost is high. However, many associations continue to pay big bucks for the monthly production. Once the redesign is complete, it may be more cost effective to go with a smaller firm (or even a freelancer) for the month-to-month production of regular issues. Be sure to select an experienced publication designer to ensure the quality and aesthetic of your new magazine is maintained.

4. Offer a one-year contract agreement. If you know you have X amount in the budget allocated for design services in a year’s time, ask for a contract. This is a win-win. Often a contractor will reduce overall production and design fees in exchange for the guaranteed work. A one-year contract is fairly typical for magazine production.

5. Ask for references—and call them. Personal references sell the candidate.In addition to the cost and great design talent, consider these other important factors: Is this person easy to work with? Is the designer accessible throughout the stages of production process? Does the candidate have a proven track record of meeting deadlines? Although the RFP gives you an idea of cost and the scope of work, the only way to get a true sense of the intangible elements is to contact thecandidates' references.

Lynn Riley is creative director at Lynn Riley Design, Inc. Lynn wrote this article in response to several questions about magazine redesign RFPs that appeared recently on the Association Media & Publishing member listserve.


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