Focus: Communications - Three minutes with... Ruth Mackman, WRVS

WHAT AWARDS HAS THE WRVS MAGAZINE WON?

Our magazine, Action, won best redesign at the Periodical Publishers Association awards and at the Communicators in Business awards. We were up against magazines from the private and public sectors with much bigger budgets, so we were really surprised and pleased to win.

YOU'RE HEAD OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS. WHY WAS ACTION REDESIGNED?

The magazine is about ten years old and it already goes to about 70,000 of our employees, supporters and volunteers, but we wanted it to appeal to an even wider readership. We want people to see it lying on someone's table, pick it up and learn something about the WRVS. We felt that the old format wasn't working hard enough or reflecting what we are about.

Most of our volunteers are aged between 50 and 60, and the style didn't seem appropriate. We wanted to make it more grown up and show that we are incredibly proud of them.

HOW DID YOU FUND THE REDESIGN?

We didn't have a huge budget and the changes we wanted to make cost £20,000 more, so we decided that we had to make the redesign pay for itself by attracting more advertising.

Some of our supporters have asked how we could afford to make such a glossy magazine, but when we explain that it's through advertising, they are happy. It's satisfying to know you can produce a quality product without spending a lot more money. We were unsure if we would attract enough advertising initially, but by the second issue we were already much more successful in advertising terms.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE?

We have increased the number of pages by 20 and changed the size so that it is slightly more compact than A4. We got an advertising agency to help us, but it was important that we had control over the copy. We kept the name because we didn't want to alienate volunteers. The feedback has been very positive.

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