In a move to more deeply engage readers, This Old House magazine has created its June issue entirely from reader-submitted ideas, stories and pictures.
The issue, which hit newsstands May 27, culled submitted stories, advice and photos from a specially created microsite, which users could access from the magazine’s main Web site. This Old House began soliciting reader contributions in December, with the editor’s letter in the print magazine, and each month’s issue after featured numerous calls for the audience to visit the microsite. Blasts on the homepage and the This Old House online newsletter also featured a call to action for readers, and a spot appeared on the brand’s TV show.
“In a marketplace where engagement is critical, what could be more engaging than users themselves participating in this issue?” asked Matt Turck, publisher of This Old House Ventures. “That engagement is going to lead to a stronger bond with this brand and there’s a great likelihood that it will positively affect consumer marketing.”
Aside from stories featuring reader projects and tips, the June issue also highlights three readers as an expert panel in an advice section. The issue is further personalized by photos of readers with their projects — a shift from This Old House‘s traditional photos which featured only the work. Keller said the magazine will retain the change and plans to feature more people in future issues.
“When the site relaunched last year, we started watching traffic on the message boards and noticed passionate debates going on, which brought home what we’ve known all along: we have an audience that is very passionate about homes and making them better and solving problems,” said Kathryn Keller, executive editor of This Old House. “It made us realize that our readers had lots of good ideas and solutions as well as advice and a camaraderie that comes out in those exchanges, so the editor had the idea to make them the star for a month and really celebrate their projects and advice and inspiration because they really value hearing from people in the same boat as they are.”
To further involve readers in the magazine’s creation, This Old House asked them to vote online for the house that would be the cover story. Additionally, readers were offered a free online stencil template from a painter whose work was highlighted in the issue.
Submissions that were not used in the June issue live on at the microsite, on the Web at www.thisoldhouse.com/yourTOH. They may also be used in later print editions.
“We had a wealth of information, so we will continue to publish submissions both in the magazine and online,” Keller said. “The goal is to keep the conversation going.”