You’ve likely heard a time or two that print is dead, but we’re here to argue that it’s not. Print can actually be very effective and very engaging, particularly since not as many people are producing it as much.

That said, like any offering or initiative, there’s always room for improvement. So if you’ve noticed a drop-off in readership or less positive feedback than before, it might just be time for a revamp.

To take your association’s print publication up a notch, check out these four tips:

1. Include a member interview

If you were to scan your association’s print publication right now, how much of it would be about your association versus your industry versus your members? Is it mostly about your association and your industry? If there’s little talk about your members, that could be a good place to start.

Your members want to see themselves in your publication, and not just themselves individually, but representations of who they are – and that equates to other members.

To make your publication engaging, consider conducting member interviews. But here’s the key: Rather than keeping those interviews strictly professional, make them a little fun too. Throw in a few personal questions like, “What’s on your desk right now?” or “What podcasts/Netflix shows are you currently obsessed with?” This not only makes the interviewee more relatable, but it makes your association more relatable by extension. (We’re all people and we all have interests outside of our professions. Don’t let that get lost.)

2. Have a few pages dedicated to pictures

Quite often, pictures can be more engaging than text. (The fact that there are more than 800 million monthly active users on Instagram is evidence of that.) But how many pictures are you actually including in your association’s print publication? Do you have collages of them? Half and/or full pages? If not, you may want to consider adding a few. Not only does this break up your text, but it gives your members something to look for – themselves and their close friends.

Tip: To maximize your engagement levels here, consider asking your members to post pictures (at events, while volunteering, with other members, etc.) on social media using a certain hashtag for a chance to be featured in your publication. Not only will this likely boost social media engagement, but it will likely boost engagement with your publication as well (because people will want to flip through to see if their picture was selected).

3. Incorporate social media

Speaking of social media, just because we’re talking about print publications here doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a few digital components as well. We already talked about pulling images from social media and featuring them in your association’s print publication, but what about text? Specifically, tweets.

Do you ask your members to tweet during meetings and events? Do they? If so, why not pull a few of those comments/takeaways and feature them in your association’s print publication? The benefits here are three-fold:

  1. It might actually encourage MORE people to tweet (knowing their tweets could get published).
  2. More people will read your publication – to see if their tweet(s) got picked up. (Remember, this makes THEM look good.)
  3. For the people that didn’t attend that meeting or event, seeing key takeaways like that – FROM other members – could be enough to get them to register for the next one.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) does a great job of this at their Annual Meeting and Exposition. They put out a print publication following each full day of the conference, and they include attendees’ tweets. (See below.)

ASAE Tweets.jpg

But what’s great is when attendees see their tweets published, they often take a picture (OF the printed publication) and tweet those out! So. Much. Engagement.

Erin Tweet.png

4. Highlight trends

Ok, we’ve touched on social media and images quite a bit, but let’s go back to the text for a just a minute, since that’s likely the core of your association’s print publication. Aside from the member interviews, how do you make your text engaging?

One idea: trends. People LOVE to read, hear, and talk about trends. And industry professionals in particular want to be on top of the latest trends. That said, consider creating a section for industry trends in your association’s print publication. It could be called “Let’s get trendy!” or “Today’s trends.” Even if you highlight only a few key trends, it’s likely a section people will stop to check out. (You wouldn’t want to be in the dark about a key industry trend, would you? Neither would your members!)

Want more tips for engaging your association’s membership – through print publications, email, your website, events, and more? Check out our free guide, Membership Engagement for Small-Staff Associations, below!