Operational and production changes have proven profitable for the staff of Texas Parks & Wildlife.
Publicized as "57 years young," Texas Parks & Wildlife (TP&W) is a monthly magazine with both a strong heritage and a strong future.
As a regional publication with a paid circulation of 143,000, the magazine has relied on the support of the state agency that shares its name. In 1994, however, the publication's business model endured some operational modifications, and the magazine became charged with the task of not only supporting itself financially but to turn a profit—a unique situation according to the publisher who notes that only two U.S.-state-supported natural resource magazines strive to operate without public funding.
In 1998, when Editor and Publisher Susan Ebert took the magazine's helm, she brought to the table a wealth of publishing experience gained from previous production, editorial and design positions with City Magazines, Texas Monthly, Rodale Press and American Way. Upon accepting her current title with TP&W, Ebert tackled the position's challenges with great determination.
During the course of her first year, TP&W's newsstand sales skyrocketed by more than 27 percent, with a subscription-base increase of 10 percent. According to Ebert, the measurable growth correlates with a redesign, as well as a greater attention to marketing.
"We redesigned the covers to be more newsstand friendly. … Specifically, we looked to add more 'zing' to our cover lines. … We also began to do comprehensive direct mail campaigns and tried some new lists from publications that had some overlapping content, from Western Horseman … to Backpacker.
"According to our studies, we found that our readers spend about two hours with an issue, so we strive to organize it in a way that it is easier for them to find what they're looking for," Ebert explains.