During their placement, Nate and Rachel effectively acted as Publishing Consultants for Scottish Justice Matters Journal (SJM), an accessible journal for evidence, ideas and informed opinion on crime and justice in Scotland. This primarily entailed market research, working to develop the journal’s readership and marketing strategy. Nate and Rachel each took on individual tasks before coming together at the end of the ten weeks to compile a report of recommendations for SJM to consider when moving forward. Here is a glimpse into their experience:
Together, we wrote case studies on organisations with similar aims to SJM, albeit on a much larger scale, and made particular note of how these were using their websites and ancillary sites like Facebook and Twitter to optimise their reach. In addition to this, Nate compiled a contact list (based on SJM’s core values) of recommended partners – a relationship with whom Nate thought could benefit SJM’s future publication and distribution plans. We also looked at ways in which SJM could make best use of resources available to them such as social media and crowd funding.
Nate was generally in charge of increasing SJM’s Twitter presence and promoting the March publication – both were a success and @SJMJournal can now boast of a 1000+ strong following!
Rachel: These tasks gave me an opportunity to familiarise myself with Google Analytics and forced me to practice using software I had consciously managed to avoid in four and a half years of higher education, namely Microsoft Excel. Possibly my biggest contribution to the marketing research Nate and I undertook was the creation of a new user survey to identify who was reading SJM, why, and what they would like to see from the journal.
Reach was the fundamental issue: who was SJM reaching? We spent hours scrolling through subscription mailing lists, noting all the different organisations with whom SJM was already in contact. We attended a number of meetings within a short ten-week period, including an editorial board meeting in Glasgow, and another which involved advising SJM on whether they should enter into a possible synergy with a marketing and communications organisation. We also attended the Howard League Scotland Event, before the publication of the March issue, where we were able to gather direct audience feedback on the publication. Some must have thought we were sales representatives (surely due to our enthusiasm), as they quickly shuffled past us avoiding eye contact – but with a little tenacity and forthrightness, we got people talking and ascertained a clearer idea of the market.
As the publication date of the March issue slowly creeped up on us, we were charged with expanding this readership, as well as identifying them – which is where the Advanced Higher Modern Studies (AHMS) essay competition proved extremely valuable. In order to extend the conversation being had by professionals to students perhaps wanting to study law or politics, or simply just interested in crime and justice in Scotland, we launched an essay competition that would give the winning submission an opportunity to feature their answer in an upcoming issue of SJM.
Rachel wrote a blog post for the SJM website and Nate designed a poster publicising the competition, and successfully disseminated it online – getting directly in touch with educational institutes, students and teaching staff. So far the competition has already seen a really positive and encouraging response!
Nate: Taking up responsibilities of a consultant gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I accumulated during the MSc Publishing course to further and improve a live publication. It was very rewarding. Especially when I got to sit in on a ‘real-life’ editorial board meeting, present my analysis of marketing evidence and pitch ideas about crowdfunding and content. I also got the chance to watch a beautiful documentary film – 16 Years Till Summer directed by Lou McLoughlan – write a review of it, and have my work published both online and in print!
Ultimately, we enjoyed our time working on this project with Managing Editor Mary Munro and the rest of the team behind SJM. We did what we set out to do and along the way harnessed a number of skills ranging from data mining, social media managing, research, consultation and even some public speaking.
Preparing for battle! *cough* Market research! © Rachel Sharp