Corner Office: A Thing of Beauty
As association magazines go, Nature Conservancy has less of a profile than National Geographic or Smithsonian, which is a pity, because the quality writing, beautiful pictures and fascinating facts found in each issue certainly deserve just as broad an audience. Published by the well-known nonprofit environmental organization of the same name, the magazine takes readers around the globe for stories of conservation projects and successful efforts to protect biodiversity, endangered species and wild places.
Teresa Duran, publisher, came to Nature Conservancy in 2000 after working in the book business. She served as top editor from 2003 to 2012, during which time she established the magazine as a premier photo-driven publication, garnering awards for editorial and print/Web design, as well as launched an iPad edition. In July 2012 she became publisher, and has since shepherded the arrival of a new senior editor, Matt Jenkins, and a just-announced move to more frequent publication.
Publishing Executive caught up with her recently to talk about where the magazine is today, where it plans to go, and what it means to be the organ of a nonprofit.
Publishing Executive: Why did you make the decision to switch from quarterly to bimonthly?
Teresa Duran: With the April issue, we're opening Nature Conservancy magazine and our website (Nature.org) to advertisers. We have a circulation of 650,000, and moving from quarterly to bimonthly offers opportunities for some big national advertisers that want those frequent touch points with readers. But moreover, we saw the opportunity to give our readers more timely and more frequent news about the conservation work they support—we have so many great stories to tell.
PE: What is your current digital footprint? Any plans for building this out further?
TD: We have an amazing free iPad app. It's currently the number one "What's Hot" app in iTunes Newsstand, in the Outdoors and Nature category. And it's a medal finalist in the Society of Publication Designers Annual Design Competition—up against some real powerhouses: Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, Fast Company, National Geographic and O, The Oprah Magazine. Nature Conservancy is known for our gorgeous photography—we send our photographers to some of the most amazing natural places in the world—and the app allows us to bring more photos to life than we can in the print edition. Plus the iPad offers such a wonderfully rich and immersive way to experience photography. Our digital team, led by Senior Editor Jen Winger and Creative Director Christopher Johnson, also creates some really cool features like interactive maps and hiking guides—more opportunities for users to experience the beautiful places The Nature Conservancy helps to protect.
PE: What does being an association magazine mean to you? How does the magazine enhance the NC's mission?
TD: Our job on the magazine is, first and foremost, to report on and celebrate the accomplishments of The Nature Conservancy. We're the leading environmental conservation organization in the world, working in more than 30 countries and all 50 U.S. states. We've protected nearly 120 million acres.
Nature Conservancy magazine enhances the mission by telling the stories of those accomplishments. And through our app and our website, we're also reaching a whole new audience of potential supporters with really inspiring stories.
PE: The magazine is beautiful, especially the photography. Why is it important to invest in good photography and design?
TD: Photography is a hallmark of our brand, and the design is all about showcasing the photography. We want the quality of the magazine to reflect the quality of the organization itself. And while the writing is undeniably top-notch and award-winning, it's the photos that draw people in. The first thing people always say to me about our magazine is that it's beautiful.
PE: Given your commitment to the environment, what kind of paper do you use? What other sustainable practices to you follow in the office and for the magazine in print and digital—ideas other publishers could perhaps emulate?
TD: We use paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); we've been using Sappi Somerset Satin since 2008. We could stop there, but our production director, Jim King, goes above and beyond. The FSC certification guarantees that the paper is sustainably sourced, and our printer is certified for chain of custody, but that doesn't say anything about the footprint of the paper mill or of the printer itself. The Somerset mill has a sound environmental record, and we give preference to printers that have gone the extra step to be third-party certified by organizations such as the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership and to those that have demonstrated their commitment to sustainable practices—like recycling long before that was in vogue. Currently Nature Conservancy is printed at Quad Graphics in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
We purchase paper directly from the mills, where possible, or from a reliable paper merchant. For the magazine we insist that all paper be shipped by rail, not truck. We discovered a few years back that the difference between rail delivery and truck delivery amounted to a 1400% reduction in our carbon footprint for paper delivery.
PE: Now that you've moved into the publisher's job, what are your personal priorities for the magazine? What's your vision for the publication moving forward?
TD: I was the top editor for eight years and turned over the reins to the terrifically capable new editor-in-chief, Curtis Runyan, last year. I am so proud of where we are and where he's taking us. Now that I'm publisher, I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to focus on promotion and sales and raising the profile of our magazine and our organization. The Nature Conservancy is intently focussed on reaching new, younger and more diverse audiences, and the magazine has a big role to play in that.
PE: Do you think Nature Conservancy can be another National Geographic or Smithsonian?
TD: Our editorial focus isn't as broad as National Geographic or Smithsonian, but I'd go head to head with either one on the quality of our articles, photography and design. In fact we are and we have! Our photo director came to us from National Geographic, and our writers, editors, photographers and designers are some of the best in the business.
I feel like what really sets us apart is that we don't just talk about the challenges facing our natural world—which can be doom and gloom in some magazines. The Nature Conservancy has a vision and a plan to meet those challenges, and we have real examples of on-the-ground solutions—so many uplifting and inspiring stories. PE