When Wildlife in North Carolina, the magazine published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was named recently as the nation’s best in its category, it reflected more than accolades as a quality publication.
The award also reflected the determination of a dedicated staff to find business sustainability in a rapidly changing marketplace. As the magazine was presented the first-place plaque by the Association for Conservation Information (ACI) on July 10 in Nebraska City, Nebraska, editorial staff recognized the achievement both professionally and personally.
“Beginning about four years ago, the magazine began to move toward self-sufficiency,” said Jim Wilson, editor. “We had to operate differently and market ourselves creatively. We had to — and must continue to — do so without losing the high standards of quality our readers expect.”
Wildlife in North Carolina began circulation in 1937, pre-dating the formation of the Wildlife Commission by a decade. The magazine is known for exceptional color photography and great articles on hunting, fishing, natural areas, wildlife research and conservation.
“We transitioned from a monthly to a bi-monthly circulation model, but added bonus spring and fall outdoors guides that carried advertising, which regular issues traditionally haven’t had, giving us a revenue source,” Wilson said. “These special issues highlight fishing, hunting and outdoor recreational opportunities across the state. We cut expenses. After a number of years of gradually declining subscriptions, our circulation figures have leveled off while other magazines are simply trying to maintain a subscriber base.”
Outsourcing expenditures were all but eliminated. Contract negotiations for printing, postage and circulation generated additional savings. Efficiencies in staff assignments and responsibilities resulted in staff reductions from nine full-time positions to six. Over the past four years, the agency has reduced the annual operating costs for the Wildlife in North Carolina magazine by half, while increased revenue generation from subscriptions and advertising has the publication approaching financial self-sufficiency in 2014.
The Wildlife Resources Commission now relies on marketing efforts such as distributing sample magazines and other promotions featured on the agency’s social media platforms, as well as utilizing email, print and digital marketing and advertising sources to spread the word of the award-winning publication.
“We understand in order to succeed like a business, we must act like a business,” said Jenny Harris, Wildlife Commission marketing director. “Getting out in the public, whether at trade shows or special events, we get one resounding comment from folks who tell us that our magazine has been a part of their family for generations. Our Wildlife in North Carolina staff takes great pride in being a North Carolina staple and we are examining our audience more than ever to cultivate content that reaches an increasingly diverse readership. Not only are we generating promotions that are boosting our subscriber count, but we are doing so with techniques that are done at the lowest cost possible, while yielding the highest rates of return.”
Subscribers receive six issues a year, plus spring and fall outdoor guide special editions with the latest hunting, fishing and sportsman information. One-year subscriptions are $12 and three-year subscriptions are $30, which make it a bargain and great gift idea. Subscription information can be found on the Wildlife Commission’s website at http://www.ncwildstore.com/magazine.html.