How to Reach The Next Generation of Readers
Hervey Evans is the executive publisher for Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Jr. magazines, published by the National Wildlife Federation. Published for more than 50 years, Ranger Rick's targeted readership skews younger, mostly kids ages seven to 12. These are the teen-magazine readers of tomorrow.
And endearingly enough, some are teen and adult readers of today. Evans says that it's not unusual for readers to be such fans of the magazine that they have a hard time giving it up, in some cases still reading it as they head off to college and beyond. He credits the content, tone, and accessibility. The image-rich storytelling blends with scientifically sound writing, and never "talks down" to kids.
Particularly popular are Ranger Rick's iOS mobile apps and games, including Raiders of the Lost Aardvark and Click the Birdie for iPads. "Our apps have received great critical acclaim, with several Parent's Choice Gold Awards for the past two years," says Evans. "Kids have love them, and they complement rather than replace the magazine purchase."
Having held management positions at other kids and teen titles prior to joining Ranger Rick, Evans saw readers quickly "graduate" to adult magazine titles because they were savvy, eager readers who wanted to be challenged by the content. And that's the key to appealing to kids today-the teens and young-adult readers of tomorrow. "The real trick is to provide solid content that has some depth, and opens the door to further exploration."
That 2,000-kid-strong team of advisors to National Geographic Kids seems like a good sample from which to draw some conclusions about them and their relationships with magazines. "One of the things they've told us is that they'd rather be smart than popular," says Buchholz. "It's cool to be smart, and that's the kind of content we're producing-cool, smart content that's not solely educational, but also fun at the same time. When you combine those two, you can get kids really excited about reading, but also excited about the world around them."