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Mining Review Africa’s Digital Strategy

When we started Mining Review Africa in 2003 we asked ourselves, what can we do to ensure we are the best at what we do? That is in addition to making sure we get all the small and big things right that one has to, to make Mining Review Africa (or for that matter any publication) successful.

One of the answers was already there, in that the core team met the ten thousand hours criteria – the theory being that to become really good at something one needs to put in ten thousand hours doing it before one becomes really adept. It pays to look at what the world’s most competitive industries do as well. One such industry is professional sport, where they say one is only as good as one’s last game. We say to ourselves, we are only as good as our latest edition.

It is important since this business of producing magazines is about enthusiasm as much as anything else. As professional sports teams know, the minute they try and do things by rote they lose to teams that are more passionate.

Motor vehicle manufacture is another industry that is worth studying, with its philosophy of ‘every day how can we achieve an incremental improvement’. Publishing, journalism and marketing are not the same as manufacturing, but we have tried to remember that principle and try to implement it as it applies to our own business.

Then there is evolution and growth. It is a given that one has to evolve with the industry that is our lifeblood, Africa’s mining sector. But our own industry, publishing, is one that has and is undergoing a great deal of change, and there we would not only like to evolve, but attempt to be among the leaders.

Over the past few years we have thought long and hard about how we should and can evolve Mining Review Africa. For many years we were an alternate monthly and two years ago as the global recession was breaking we decided to back ourselves and go monthly. The ideal was to attempt to retain the same quality that one can achieve with an alternate monthly but to do so on a monthly basis. In the end, you the audience and the marketplace were and are our judges.

We also spent a lot of time thinking about the elephant in the room, the internet. For us, I guess the internet could be analogous to what China is to the mining sector in Africa, a challenge and a great opportunity. We started cautiously, with a decent website www.miningreview.com where by the way you can find archives of all the previous editions of Mining Review Africa going back to 2006.

To have a site people wish to visit we have invested some of our time and resources in updating it daily with news stories relevant to mining in Africa. The idea is we act as a filter so you don’t have to bother searching the net. We then filter further and choose the most relevant/ interesting of these stories and email those out to our ebulletin subscribers every week.

However, our print magazine, where almost all our feature articles are our own exclusively written stories, remains our priority. Yet as Africa begins to get improved bandwidth access with new undersea cables landing along its coastline, as we see ebook reader technology evolve, we asked ourselves, how can we keep the advantages of print while adapting, and taking advantage of this evolution? You see, we like print. We believe when one invests in producing a product where each story has to deserve the space and paper we spend on it the quality is higher. We believe that print provides serendipity whereby flipping through a magazine one can discover items of interest one may not have thought to look for. Many people prefer having a physical magazine to peruse rather than having to do their reading on a computer.

But the internet provides massive advantages too. Our advertising supporters would like to reach as many relevant eyeballs as possible, and ideally they would like to know how well their ad spend is working for them – something that one cannot quantify that easily with print publications. Hence, starting with this edition we will be producing it simultaneously as an electronic copy online, where you can flip the pages as with the physical version and zoom in and out. In essence it is the identical version of the magazine in the same form as that which we will physically print (you can go to our website for that link).

We feel that gives everyone the best of both worlds. It increases the exposure of the magazine by what we estimate at this stage could be up to 10,000 relevant people a month having potential exposure to the digital version. This is in addition to those exposed to the 4,500 print copies distributed to relevant people in the mining sector across Africa.