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Creating one of the world’s most environmentally friendly print magazines

CPL's work on the creation of Circular, for the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, won Best Magazine launch, and its sister content hub Circular Online was voted Best Website in the 2020 memcom membership excellence awards. Sophie Hewitt-Jones, CPL client services director, reflects on the secrets of success.

You might be wondering how the Circular brand was born, and why it has proved successful?

Let’s first talk about David Attenborough. Stay with me now...

Remember Blue Planet 2, the TV series Attenborough presented that helped to focus people’s attention on the environmental damage caused by society’s failure to tackle issues relating to waste?

It was against this background that the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) decided to launch a new print magazine and online content hub, spearheading a major revamp of its content strategy.

CIWM is the UK’s leading professional body for resource and waste professionals. Its vision is to help make the best and safest use of resources to protect and enrich life on our planet.

The sector is now less about how to dispose of waste and more about how to avoid waste altogether, making best use of resources from the start by designing in longevity and the ability to repair, reuse or recycle, from the drawing board. 

This, in essence, is known as the circular economy.

CIWM’s content strategy needed to reflect this vision, as well as the ‘Blue Planet effect’, which has ensured that people are more aware of the waste they generate, and the need to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.

After winning a competitive pitch, the overall brief from CIWM to CPL was simple: the new magazine should be at the heart of the new content strategy, reflecting CIWM’s core ethos to support the move towards a circular economy.

This ethos needed to be demonstrated through every aspect of the magazine, including its content, format, paper stock and packaging.

It also needed to be relevant for the target audience, which includes industry leaders, as well as waste and resource management professionals seeking to gain knowledge and further their careers. 

“In essence, it was an unusual and tricky brief,” recalls Paul Sloggett, head of member engagement at CIWM. “How do you create a valuable print magazine for members who are so sensitive to sustainability? 

“In essence, it was an unusual and tricky brief,” recalls Paul Sloggett, head of member engagement at CIWM. “How do you create a valuable print magazine for members who are so sensitive to sustainability?

“Between CIWM and CPL we created one of the world’s most environmentally friendly print magazines. Circular is a great example of a plan coming together. Our member magazine has been transformed to precisely deliver what people in the modern resource and waste management sector want, and to reflect the brand values of CIWM, ” said Paul.

One particular challenge was to find a way of making the print and distribution solution as environmentally friendly as possible. 

The solution? We went naked.

For many years, there has been debate in the publishing and waste management industry about the most effective means to package a magazine. Everyone agreed that single-use plastic polywrap was not a great solution from an environmental perspective. But what was the best alternative? 

Options included polythene, biodegradable, compostable, paper and direct labelling. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

We put the question of which to choose to the readers of Circular, and the response was overwhelming: to go naked and print readers’ addresses directly onto the back cover.

As well as the packaging solution, the magazine also met the brief in a number of other ways such as:

  • Name: references the circular economy 

  • Format: perfect-bound finish; recyclable matt stock

  • Design: masthead, typefaces, colour palettes, page layouts and page furniture all contribute to a modern and engaging design, reinforcing CIWM’s position as the leading and most authoritative voice in the sector

  • Content: focus on in-depth insight, thought leadership articles and high-profile interviewees, including an exclusive with the then Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Iceland Foods MD Richard Walker and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman. Other topics included ‘bigger picture’ overviews covering plastic packaging and carbon neutral cities of the future, in-depth analysis of government regulation, policy updates, legal advice, and views from affiliated organisations and business partners

  • Frequency: moved from monthly to bi-monthly following reader feedback

  • Commercial: excellent opportunities for key suppliers in the industry to associate themselves with a high-quality, forward-looking, environmentally friendly brand that reflects the vision behind the
    circular economy

The new, multichannel strategy also required building a digital content hub at www.circularonline.co.uk, to deliver daily updates and information from the waste and resources sector, while the new content brand needed to reach beyond CIWM membership, to help underscore CIWM’s leading position within the circular economy with a wider, general audience.

This is reflected in the digital audience figures. First year figures, comparing the new brand with the previous CIWM Journal site showed that Circular Online achieved:

  • 82% increase in session duration

  • 42% increase in pages per session

  • 40% decrease in bounce rate

  • 13% increase in new visitors 

Sophie Hewitt-Jones, client services director at CPL, says: “Our partnership with CIWM is going from strength to strength as we develop the Circular brand together – at a time when sustainability and the management of resources is such a vital topic for debate.” 

CIWM’s Paul Sloggett says: “The solution is a living demonstration of how you need every element of a magazine to come together, both in print and online. Working closely with our team at CIWM, the CPL team have shown their outstanding talent, expertise and attention to detail in areas such as content and design. In addition, they have also been agile and intelligent consultants in helping us resolve a packaging conundrum that, for the sake of our brand and reputation, we needed to get right.”

For more information about CPL and our work with membership organisations, including CIWM, contact Lucy Oakshott lucy.oakshott@cpl.co.uk or Sophie Hewitt-Jones sophie.hewitt-jones@cpl.co.uk

This piece first appeared on the memcom website.

Sophie Hewitt-Jones
is director - client services
at CPL

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