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RE Magazine, NRECA’s flagship publication for nearly 80 years, will feature new monthly columns and more graphics in a redesigned magazine that debuts with the April edition.
The goal is to make the content more concise for busy co-op leaders and employees and include co-op-to-co-op advice, monthly updates on legislation and regulation, and a new spotlight on innovation at small and medium-sized co-ops, said Scott Peterson, NRECA’s senior vice president of communications. The changes were based on feedback NRECA received from readers in recent surveys of subscribers.
“As employees and directors of America’s electric cooperatives and public utility districts, you are the owners and the primary focus of this publication,” Peterson wrote in a letter to readers. “And it’s your thoughtful feedback that has informed every decision we made in this redesign.”
Scot Hoffman, editor of
RE Magazine and NRECA News, said the redesign—the first in more than 15 years—gives the publication “a more modern and user-friendly” look.
Here’s the rundown on what to expect from the redesigned magazine:
1. What’s different?
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“The main thing that we tried to do was to be responsive to what we learned from our readers,” Hoffman said. “We tried to elicit really honest answers about what they did and didn’t like.”
One category that readers thought was missing was a monthly update on federal legislative and regulatory actions. A new public policy column includes those updates and a profile of a lawmaker who has championed co-op causes.
Readers also wanted to hear more about progress at small and mid-size co-ops, which sparked the new Thinking Big column. And co-ops wanted more advice from their peers, leading to the creation of the Co-op Forum, where co-op leaders will offer insights on key issues.
Cover stories and feature stories will be substantially shorter, and features will be more visual, focusing on graphics to explain an issue whenever possible.
2. What’s staying the same?
The popular People column that highlights news about co-op employees was one section that readers were adamant about keeping. “You’ll see a new look and feel to it, including more photos, but we know that’s our most popular column so, for the most part, it will remain unchanged,” Hoffman said.
Plugged In will feature a monthly infographic about a relevant industry topic under the new name of News + Analysis. Commentary from NRECA CEO Jim Matheson and board President Chris Christensen transitions to Closing Thoughts because of its easy-to-find location at the back of the magazine. The Flashbacks column, which shares interesting stories from co-op history, will have a new home on the RE Magazine website.
3. Why are you making these changes now?
“It’s been at least 15 years since there’s been a major redesign,” Hoffman said. “The magazine has had a facelift in the interim, but not a complete reshaping. Given new readership preferences, it was time to make these changes.
“People have gotten used to consuming information online in quick reads. Also, the demographics at co-ops are getting younger, and we want to make sure the magazine is attractive to all co-op employees.”
4. What’s the vision behind RE’s new look?
“The idea was to get something in the reader’s hands that was valuable to them in terms of providing quick, useful information,” said Kevin Kepple, NRECA’s creative director. “We wanted to make the stories more easily accessible. Sometimes the best way to do that is in a longer article, and sometimes it’s in a graphic or a few thoughtful charts.”
One of the biggest changes to the magazine is a large infographic that takes a deeper look each month at some aspect of the electric industry. Kepple said the creative team is working closely with experts in NRECA’s Business and Technology Strategies department to develop the graphics, which will go beyond the basics to provide new information in a visually compelling way.
“We’re going to assume, for example, that co-ops already know how a solar panel works, so a graphic on solar would go deeper to show how it affects the grid,” he said.
The magazine’s logo also has a fresh look. “I simplified the logo to give it a more readable, cleaner look that feels decidedly more modern,” Kepple said. “It’s a little more elegant but still strong. It’s different, but not so different that it feels unfamiliar.”
5. What’s next?
RE Magazine will have its own editorial board to continue to provide feedback, Hoffman said.
The board, to be made up of both co-op and NRECA employees, will meet regularly and analyze three months of magazines at a time. Editorial board members will then make suggestions on what’s working well and what needs to be tweaked.
“We don’t want to just assume that we’re doing everything right,” Hoffman said. “This is a great way to ask people to weigh in on a regular basis on exactly what we’re putting in the magazine and if it’s what our membership wants. We’re looking forward to having regular feedback. That’s something we’ve been missing.”