As just one component of large and diverse non-profit organizations, association media teams can often find themselves with big goals and small budgets. And while everyone loves to see the successes of their organization laid out in a high-quality monthly, even the most loved association magazines might have to fight for a little more financial wiggle room.
That’s why knowing how and what to prioritize can be make or break for an association magazine. We sat down with Julia Rocchi, director of digital content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a speaker at the March 28 Folio: Association Media Summit, to find out her own tips for making the most out of limited resources.
Folio: As director of digital content, what is your biggest challenge when it comes to budgets and resources?
Julia Rocchi: I work at a nonprofit, and like many nonprofits, our budgets tie directly to donor activity. I’m fortunate in that my organization recognizes the value of marketing — particularly in its ability to grow awareness and build a movement — so we have more staff available for content than other comparable orgs. Even with that, however, I still sometimes find myself operating from the perspective of scarcity rather than abundance.
Folio: What is your top priority when it comes to spending?
Rocchi: My top priority is hiring excellent, proactive storytellers at fair, livable wages. My second priority would be purchasing high-quality image assets.
Folio: How are you doing more with less, or at least less than you’d probably like?
Rocchi: One of our main areas of efficiency in the past five years has been to expand the responsibilities of our print staff to include digital responsibilities. For the magazine, our team dropped the number of issues from six to four, and is currently looking at ways to expand circulation within related networks. On the digital side, we still rely primarily on Creative Commons and source-supplied images; while it’s not the consistent level of visual quality I would prefer, it’s a great option for us on stories with faster turnaround.
Folio: How have you, personally, come to develop a strategy along these lines?
Rocchi: We are constantly reviewing our analytics, evaluating staff capacity, and developing data-driven approaches to storytelling that maximize tight resources. For example, when a writer invests a lot of time in a feature for print, she will also parlay that research into a companion piece for online as well as select a few extra professional photos for digital use. In addition, we are constantly testing formats beyond the traditional blog post. For example, two of our most popular and attractive formats are toolkits (slide decks) and quizzes (with Qzzr platform). These interactive formats have a great return on investment with our audience, and they help our writers vary the ways they approach storytelling.
See the full program here, and register now for this can’t-miss association media event.