Since 2014, USGBC has published a regular member magazine, both in print and online. USGBC+ runs between 60 and 75 pages as a perfect-bound publication, with a dynamic web presence to allow readers the option of perusing new and archived content at their leisure. With a focus on the people behind the green building movement, the magazine is a vehicle for longform storytelling and allows us to showcase member company successes, project profiles, current research and market trends.
I have had the privilege of managing the magazine production and content development process since 2016, and I have a few key techniques up my sleeve to share with you, especially in relation to working with an editorial board.
Internally, an editorial board of about 20 members of the USGBC senior staff develops our magazine. We also have the guidance of an expert team of content developers, designers and marketers from ContentWorx.
Here are my go-to strategies for successfully working with an editorial board:
Gather the right group at the table.
The first step in developing a productive editorial board is ensuring you have the right mix of voices at the table. For USGBC+, we invite several members of the communications and marketing teams, but we also select one high-level member of each of our functional or programmatic departments to join the board.
This approach ensures that we are hearing from the breadth of the organization and gaining the perspective of senior leadership who can easily draw connections between story ideas and organizational priorities.
Set expectations up front.
We know that our senior staff members are incredibly busy, and that they may not always be able to attend our editorial board meetings. To ensure we reach a quorum at each meeting, we set the expectation up front that if a member of the board is unable to make a meeting, they will send a member of their team in their place.
Additionally, we ask our editorial board members to reflect on the magazine theme in advance of each meeting and to come with fresh ideas for stories that are actionable—meaning they have the necessary information and contacts at hand to help our writers get started.
Finally, we ask our editorial board members to help us promote the magazine content when each issue goes live by sharing it with their network of contacts, posting on social media and following up with individuals who were interviewed to thank them for their participation.
Cultivate a sense of investment.
Because our editorial board only meets once every two or three months, it can be a struggle to create a sense of real investment in the process and the product, especially when our board members have so many other responsibilities and priorities. By maintaining regular contact with board members, sharing our magazine lineup in advance, running drafts of stories by them for input and making them the first to know when a new issue drops, we can help generate a sense of cohesion and commitment.
Celebrate and empower the group.
We have a habit of starting each editorial board meeting by sharing news about the most recent issue. We recap the stories that were included and give our board a hearty pat on the back for a job well done. It is no small thing to take a magazine from concept to reality, and our board deserves a good deal of credit.
We also empower our board to make strategic decisions by sharing information with them such as article performance, web traffic and audience survey responses. This leads to a greater sense of investment and, ultimately, better magazine content for our readers.