Communications: Guiding Magazine gets a makeover

Girlguiding UK has redesigned its membership magazine for the first time in nearly 20 years as part of its commitment to modernising the organisation.

First published in 1910 and known since 1983 as Guiding Magazine, the new-look publication has undergone a total transformation in both content and design.

The name is one thing that has not changed, although a new strapline - 'the ultimate magazine for all your guiding needs' - has been added.

Apart from one meeting with a consultant, the entire redesign has been carried out in-house and without missing any issues. The whole project has taken about a year to plan and execute.

"Although the magazine goes out to 80,000 guiders, we weren't sure that people were really reading it, or even taking it out of its plastic bag," says Wendy Kewley, editor of Guiding Magazine.

"As it is one of our main channels of communication with our members, we felt that it was important to get it right.

"We conducted several focus groups around the country that confirmed our worst fears - that a lot of people were just flicking through it."

The magazine is aimed at guiders aged anything from 16 to 65, but Kewley recognised that the old format appealed to older readers.

"There is a huge variation in our readers' ages," she says. "But most tend to be between 35 and 55. We have deliberately set out to try to appeal more to younger members without alienating the senior section."

The editorial team looked at a number of different magazines and adopted elements intended to make the title more reader-friendly.

"Our readers often have full-time jobs on top of their guiding commitments," says Kewley. "They don't have the time to wade through to find what they want. So one of the main things we've done is make the contents page much clearer.

"It's effectively the front door to the magazine, so we have highlighted the cover stories and included teaser quotes.

"We have also made a clearer distinction between the news and feature pages."

Kewley feels it is crucial that readers know their voices count, so she has moved the letters page to the front of the magazine to reflect this.

"I really want the readers to feel it's their magazine and they are getting what they want - not what we think they want," she says.

"My plan is to call up a random selection of ten readers every month, and really take the time to find out what they think of the magazine."

Although the new magazine is available only in paper form, Kewley has not ruled out going online.

"It's definitely something we would consider in the future," she says.

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