Summary by Paul Benjunas, Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, Wildlife Division
For years, state fish and wildlife agencies have told their stories, largely in part, through their agency magazines. Readers are continually captivated by the incredible stories and amazing photography that highlight many of the species we work to conserve.
However, with more people receiving their news and information online and through social media, it is no surprise that the future of hard-copy magazines is in question. Most states are also faced with aging subscribers.
To combat this dilemma, states have been experimenting by providing new content and putting greater emphasis on visually oriented layouts. These techniques include shifting content, cover redesigns, more breaks in feature stories, and bringing in new writers to cover traditional content.
Many states have received overwhelmingly positive feedback as a result of these changes. Some states also have had success in increasing subscribers by adding a subscription option to their online licensing system.
To reach newer and younger audiences, states are sharing magazine content on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Holding essay contests related to natural resources and an overall greater emphasis on storytelling have also been successful for some states.
Showcasing photos of people enjoying the outdoors can help strengthen your supporters, as they feel more closely aligned with the values we hold as state fish and wildlife agencies. To bolster agency R3 efforts, consider adding more food and recipe content to not only support existing hunters, but also capitalize on the popular locavore movement.
Regardless of what the future holds for hard-copy magazines, it is important to recognize that these publications still hold tremendous value for many of our constituents and ultimately help keep state fish and wildlife agencies relevant. While the hard-copy magazine may one day be superseded by online publications or blogs, the creativity and skills required to tell the story of a state fish and wildlife agency are as relevant and necessary as ever.