Lessons from the ENRD
Development of a suite of publications directly responding to stakeholder needs
In the first year of operation (2008-2009), the main official publication of the ENRD was the EU Rural Review. Its contents were often quite policy-oriented, formal, and not designed with any specific audience in mind. As the network evolved, new ideas and insights emerged, which inspired publications that could better respond to specific stakeholder needs and interests. This gradually gave rise to a monthly newsletter and a series of EAFRD Project Brochures with short descriptions of projects.
This was important, as it marked a shift in the ambition behind the ENRD’s publications from being potentially ‘interesting’ to trying to be more ‘useful’.
Targeted surveys and other feedback mechanisms were introduced to assess reader satisfaction and this led in the third year (2010-2011) to a more thorough review of the ENRD publications portfolio. This was considered to be an important milestone in the evolution of the ENRD and its communication strategy. Changes introduced at that time included:
- the redesign of the structure of the EU Rural Review (as of issue 11) to allow more in-depth exploration of specific themes, without the use of a pre-defined framework;
- the introduction of a new publication, the ENRD Magazine, to include articles and features written by the various rural networks, and to be distributed via the networks (piloted initially and launched as a new product in 2012), and;
- a shift away from the print version of the ENRD newsletter to a new electronic version (Rur@l Newsflash).
Insights gained over time have therefore led to an evolution of the ENRD’s publications, which are now more visually engaging, easier to digest and more stakeholder-focused. This in turn has led to a gradual expansion in the overall readership.