Media Voices co-host Peter Houston sends out a weekly newsletter called The Magazine Diaries. Each edition shares the best magazine publishing ideas he comes across for you to steal, adapt or reuse. 

I need to report a major idea heist. In May I stayed at a hotel in Derbyshire with some of the best idea stealers I’ve ever met. Nikki Simpson – the force of nature behind the International Magazine Centre – gathered together about 20 of her patrons for an exclusive away day and the thought theft was on an industrial scale.

I’ve missed events like these.

Yes, putting a group of people who’ve never really met in a conference room that’s just a wee bit too warm, with mediocre coffee and temperamental AV hookups sounds a bit mad. But it is absolutely inspirational if everyone is up for sharing their experiences, asking questions and swapping stories.

One of my favourite sayings is – if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room – and nothing proves it more than spending time in the right room.

Turn yourself off

One of the most stealable ideas discussed in Derbyshire was the Hive concept used at the IMC to help people solve business challenges.

Groups of four gather in a Zoom room, with each person getting a shot at presenting a a problem to the rest of the group. The problem-setter then turns off their mic and camera, but stays in the room to listen to their fellow group members discuss their issues. With two minutes to present, two minutes for clarification questions, 13 minutes to listen to the group discussion and three minutes for feedback, the session packs a lot into 20 minutes.

Nikki nicked the concept from a real-world approach called Troika Consulting developed by Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz. Others in the group yesterday were renaming and adapting the approach to help bring their community together in collective problem solving.

If you like the idea, keep a look out for the next IMC Hive and get an idea how it works while getting some great insight into how to sort out one of your biggest bugbears.

Make it by hand

Boom Saloon has published Pocket Notes, a 16-page zine printed on a single sheet of paper and hand folded. The publication was created in 25-hours by three people and, as they describe it, presents ‘an eclectic, arguably chaotic collection of recipes, overheard conversations, illustrations, playlists and thoughts’.

It’s a physical, postable, collectable take on the About Us page, and receiving my copy with a hand-written postcard felt like a real treat. Without machine binding, cutting or folding, it’s imperfect, but all the more *mine* for that.

I 100% intend to steal this idea for The Magazine Diaries in the not too distant future. And you should buy it to find out how it was done and help Boom Saloon’s project to rewrite the story of dementia.

Pay the postage

One of the nicest ideas I heard yesterday was about an independent magazine that sends out a pre-paid envelope with its issue so that when the reader has finished with it, they can send it on to a friend. That’s genius on at least two levels – sustainability and discoverability.

My notes from yesterday are not particularly detailed beyond the essence of the idea, but my good friend Mr James Hewes tells me it is Paperboy magazine that does this and I believe him.

I can see where including a postage-page envelope with every magazine you send out could be cost prohibitive. But including one with the first issue of a subscription might be great way to get excited new readers to share the love.

Republished with kind permission. Subscribe to The Magazine Diaries to get three steal-able ideas in your inbox every Friday.

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