Please tell us about yourself and your magazine
I edit Community Practitioner – the membership journal for the union Unite-CPHVA (Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association).
Our readers are at the forefront of the UK’s health. A significant proportion care for children from birth to the age of five – the most vital period in a person’s life for laying the foundations of good health. A fact the Duchess of Cambridge is currently highlighting.
Our readers include health visitors, school nurses and community nursery nurses, with a smaller number looking after older adults. Community Practitioner is the only publication that serves this diverse audience mix within community practice. Our content also covers all four UK countries.
As you can imagine, our readers have been, and will remain, at the forefront of keeping the UK well and safe this year. In fact it’s testament to their pivotal role in safeguarding the UK’s health and wellbeing, that the journal often covers health and social topics before they hit the mainstream media, or just as they’re gaining traction. For instance, period poverty (in 2017), loneliness in young people (before a loneliness minister was announced), and how Covid has exposed and heightened inequalities that already existed in society.
How does Community Practitioner stay relevant for its audience?
It’s thanks to the unique mix of content – high quality journalism on the latest health and social issues, alongside more clinical and practical articles and peer-reviewed research (usually from members). Plus the constant efforts to understand the needs of readers.
We ensure the most pertinent stories to the readership are covered and every single bit of content in the journal informs their practice. The journal also offers a voice to readers and the chance to raise their professional profile.
Male suicide, trans children, climate change, knife crime, social media pitfalls (and of course from 2020, all matters relating to public health and Covid) are just some of the topical and hard-hitting issues that you’ll read about in Community Practitioner.
It’s all presented in a visually appealing and engaging package (thank you design wizard Nicholas Daley; chief master of words aka sub James Hundleby; and head healthcare honcho Emma Godfrey) which helps the journal appeal to those outside of our readers’ professions, too. Its content attracts subscribers from the likes of New Zealand, the US and Japan. While subscribers in the UK include those from educational establishments, clinical organisations, and think tanks.
Most importantly, we know the journal works for our incredible readers: a survey carried out at the start of last year, after the journal’s creative revamp, revealed that nearly 90% of readers rank Community Practitioner as a key member benefit of Unite-CPHVA. Happily, nine out of 10 find the articles clearly written and easy to understand and 81% think Community Practitioner contains valuable information to help them do their job. We also have an online offering, plus additional E-newsletters.
I genuinely feel proud to edit a journal for the very people who are the guardians of our wellbeing. As for me, I’ve been a journalist for almost 20 years now, covering many areas – including the world of celebrity – but always coming back to the vast and varied world that is health and wellbeing. Intrigued by the human psyche, I have a BSc in psychology from back in the day, and I remain a curious soul who loves to ask questions and keep on learning.
One of the judges commented ‘This magazine has had new life injected through a refresh of both content and design. Extremely highly rated member benefit and excellent feedback. Interesting articles and content, imaginative layouts for this busy audience - great impact.’ Can you expand a little on how you went about this?
Like any good content platform, we carry out regular surveys so our content stays on point for our audience. Naturally we did this pre and post the editorial and visual redesign. So we already had a pretty good idea of what worked and what didn’t, and how to improve on it.
New fonts, illustration styles and column grid structures were instrumental in modernising its look and feel. And we used a number of devices to ensure the ‘information-heavy’ nature of the content was more accessible and engaging. While conceptual illustrations allow us to keep on illustrating sensitive topics each issue in original ways.
A significant part of gaining the ‘excellent’ reader feedback has been ensuring regular contact with our readers – and that’s become more imperative than ever.
The journal has to reflect our readers’ realities, and I go to great lengths to ensure that I understand the needs of our audience. To this end we have both formal and informal processes in place. This includes having a membership-based editorial board with face-to-face (now virtual) meetings; regular (virtual!) contact with our client who expertly guides me through the right coverage for our readers; and having a fantastic clinical consultant, also a member, to double check the accuracy of clinical content and research. I also work hard to foster relationships with members, assisting those who’ve never written for a publication before.
It’s obviously been an incredibly busy and stressful year for your readers. Tell us a bit about the support you have provided. And what challenges do you think your readers will see over the coming months?
Given that the news coverage around Covid is 24/7 and ever-changing, my personal news monitoring scaled new heights over the past year (!) to help keep our busy readers up to date.
And while I always encourage reader involvement – whether through social media shout outs, CTAs in the journal or through (virtual) networking – the messaging around that of course has expanded. Ever since the pandemic hit, I’ve asked people to submit their reflections – long or short, to reveal how practice or study has changed for them in a Covid world. We’ve been fortunate to regularly feature insights from readers right across the board – from students to leading lecturers, plus senior practitioners who were due to retire pre-Covid.
We had to change some of the content of the very first journal produced in lockdown – a familiar scenario for many editors I’m sure, and the E-newsletter schedule was torn-up for the bulk of 2020, allowing for a more flexible, frequent and responsive offering.
In some ways, my (virtual) contact (from my home HQ) with contributors has increased – albeit in a very 2020 format. As I’m sure it has for countless others working from home.
Future challenges for our CP readers? Well their invaluable skills mean that many will likely be involved in the Covid vaccine rollout – in fact our first issue of 2021 aims to cover off exactly that – how their practice might change in 2021 and beyond.
Looking ahead, we hope to be there for our readers as much as possible. And on behalf of our readers, I’d like thank you again memcom for recognising the journal, and in turn raising the profile of our readers which include some modern-day heroes for sure.
About the memcom membership excellence awards
The memcom awards celebrate success in the fields of People & Leadership, Marketing & Communications, Digital, Engagement and Print. The 2021 awards are now open for nominations and more details can be found here.