Candi Millar, AICP, gives an update as the board president of Western Planning Resources, Inc. (WPR), which publishes The Western Planner.
I’d like to thank Angela Parker, AICP, CFM and WPR Vice President for taking over during my brief absence this winter. In the last edition of the Western Planner Journal, Angela did a great job reporting on some future changes to the Journal and website. I’m pleased to follow up on the progress the WPR Board has made with these transitions.
It has been over a year since the Western Planner rolled out the digital version of the Journal. Results have been mixed. In 2014, after surveying our then subscribers, more than half conceded they would prefer to receive the Journal in digital form at a reduced subscription rate. Because not all of our subscribers preferred digital to print, we tried offering both formats beginning with the 2015 February/March issue. Digital subscriptions increased, but the expected cost savings were not realized. Half of the subscriptions were still for the printed Journal, but that half and the digital subscriptions brought in less revenue than the print-only subscriptions.
I could really get bogged down writing about our tight financial condition, but I would rather tell you how we are changing the world – at least the Western Planner world!
The Western Planner Journal is going totally digital beginning in 2017. Angela mentioned that in the last issue, but since then, the Board fleshed out a plan on how to get it done. Here’s how the new Journal will be delivered. First, it is important to understand that the Journal will still provide quality, peer-reviewed articles relevant to planning in our Western states. However, instead of a bimonthly publication, the monthly electronic newsletter will be the main information pipeline. The enewsletter will still publish state news, jobs, and advertisements, but it will also include two Journal-quality articles as well as a lead to the main article on the website.
The second major change will be our website. The Western Planner website is long past due for an overhaul. If we are going to redirect the Journal content to the website, it must be accessible and readable. We have found the best website management system that will easily meet the needs of our users and viewers. The website will be designed to accommodate all mobile platforms: smartphones, tablets, etc., and integrate with Facebook. Furthermore, the format will be less dense, more graphic and image rich for enjoyable viewing. As we get familiar with all the options for the website, it will be feasible to include photo galleries, interactive maps, and slideshows – the possible presentation styles are really exciting!
The WPR Board continues to seek the best ways to keep the network of Western Planners open and vibrant through published articles, the website and co-hosted annual conferences. If you haven’t registered already, please join us in Great Falls, Montana for this year’s conference; Landscapes, Landmarks, and Leadership, co-hosted with the Montana Association of Planners. The conference will be held on August 10 – 12 and feature bestselling author, Gary Ferguson. If you are not familiar with the author, you are in for a treat. He is well-attuned to the rhythms of the natural world and has a keen perception of how it affects the human condition. You also can’t beat the landscape: just west of Great Falls, the front range is extraordinarily bold and magnificent and to the east, the great northern plains sail away into rippling splendor. It’s a great place for a great conference. Take care, keep up the good work and see you in August.
Candi Millar, AICP, is the Director of the Planning and Community Services Department for the City of Billings, Montana. Please email her at email@example.com.