Focus: Communications - Glossy magazine replaces newsletter

Wildlife charity aims to inspire supporters with new lifestyle title, writes Indira Das-Gupta.

The WWF has reinvented its 40-year-old newsletter as a mainstream lifestyle magazine that it hopes will engage supporters more effectively.

"We knew the newsletter had been due for a change for some time," says product manager Victoria Meier, who has been involved in the development of the new publication. "When we asked our readers, we discovered that although they didn't dislike the old newsletter, they weren't very inspired and, in some cases, they weren't really reading it."

WWF Action is a major change of direction for the charity. It is printed on glossier paper, published three times a year instead of quarterly and is a more compact size, slightly smaller than A4.

"We wanted something that stood out from the norm and was reader-friendly," says Meier. "This size can be popped in a bag easily and is a lot more wieldy than our previous A3 format. We were also conscious of the successful trend of the broadsheets and consumer magazines such as Marie Claire moving to smaller sizes."

But the biggest difference lies in the content. The first issue of WWF Action includes a celebrity feature, reportage and comment.

Meier says: "We didn't want it just to be a mouthpiece for the WWF. We have a much wider brief.

"We know from our research that our supporters want to hear voices from the field; that's what really excites them.

"We also plan to feature commentators who are not from WWF but are experts on their relevant subjects, so they have some credibility.

"It's also our plan to in-clude more contentious articles that will elicit stronger responses."

Much of the editorial content of the magazine is produced by WWF employees, but editor-in-chief Mark Jones is from Cedar Communications.

Meier says: "We were keen to have an outside influence and Cedar Communications put in a strong pitch."

Meier refuses to reveal how much the magazine costs to produce, but says WWF wanted a product that was cost-effective and a valid investment.

The charity intends to recruit a copywriter for WWF Action, who will also write for other divisions of the organisation.

The redesign of the newsletter is part of an overall drive to encourage greater involvement from supporters. WWF is also reviewing all the products it sends to members.

"Clearly there's a need to inspire people," says Meier. "We need to get people on board from the word go."

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