The Planner

by Redactive Media Group Client: Royal Town Planning Institute
The Brief

Town planners do extraordinary work; driving economic growth, developing our communities, informing our landscapes and protecting our environment. It could not be a more important vocation, and it’s work produced by enthusiastic, dedicated professionals. However, that was not the view promoted by media produced for planners prior to 2013.

With this in mind, the profession’s membership body, The Royal Town Planning Institute contacted Redactive Media Group (Redactive) with a view to refreshing its media offer to an audience of 23,000 planners in the UK and abroad. The offer was to include a monthly magazine, weekly email newsletter and a website.

The Challenge

To produce a new print product reflecting the full scope of the profession – an appreciation of the true breadth of its existing audience, and the potential for wider dissemination outside the sector.

To refute negative characterisation of planners as grey anonymous back-office workers with a new product which raised the stature of planning with those outside of the profession as well as planners themselves.

To cover the process and technical issues faced by planners, but also the wealth of opinions, policy positions and socio-economic factors underpinning developments in the sector: town planning attracts the attention of policy makers and campaigners spanning a huge variety of disciplines.

To provide a different offering to the numerous sources of academic/government planning content.

To attract young planners and those working outside of the UK.

To build and manage a jobs site, growing market share and generating commercial returns

Creative Approach

Called ‘The Planner’, the new product took as its title the name of an academic journal first published by the Royal Town Planning Institute in the 1950s. The name, however, was where any similarity with previous products ended. Research showed that the profession already had access to numerous sources of academic content presented in a traditional academic format. Similarly, with the government itself amongst competing publishers of daily news content, the gap identified by Redactive was for a product that contextualised academic and news content but added a much-needed sense of community and professional engagement.

In print, long-form features make up the core of the content alongside news analysis and a series of dynamic opinion sections. Regular sections emphasise a commitment to career development and offer a welcoming home to bloggers. Recognising the importance of presentation, the magazine is perfect-bound with strong design credentials.

Subsequent to the print launch, a weekly newsletter and responsive web site and job site were conceived and introduced in March 2014. Redactive’s digital team designed the site to be personalised by users dependent on region and specialism – an entirely new service offer to RTPI members. There are also two weekly newsletters, one of which provides a digest of stories from devolved nations. The website and associated newsletters quickly won large audiences, including many from outside of the RTPI’s own membership. The site was also designed to work as a mobile edition which takes about 15% of overall traffic.

The Results

91% of members rate the magazine as good to excellent

64% of members say that The Planner is already the authoritative voice for the planning profession

The Planner’s digital media have attracted over 60,000 unique users since launch compared to RTPI’s membership of 23,000 – helping RTPI to communicate with almost twice as many non-members as they do members.

The site’s bounce rate has averaged a remarkable 50 per cent bounce rate since launch, which measures up well compared to professional sites in general. In December 2014, when further improvements were made including the addition of related content at the bottom of article pages, the bounce rate dropped to 41%: a significant improvement again, and an example of the continuous post-launch work which is being carried out by Redactive to ensure additional added value for both readers and commercial partners.

The open rate from The Planner’s newsletters currently averages almost double the industry average.

The Planner Jobs gained a 46% market share (and six figure revenues) in its first year after launch.

“It has been a pleasure working with Redactive over the last few years and I couldn’t be more delighted with the success of The Planner. I shall be watching its future development with a proprietorial interest. And I hope to have an opportunity in my future role to work with Redactive again.”

Sara Drake, former Managing Director of RTPI and new Chief Executive of the Association for Project Management

“The new style of magazine is by far the most interesting, well-written and professionally produced journal of the planning profession that I have ever read. It is a credit to the profession.”
– Michael Clark, RTPI Fellow