I started employment with Scottish Left Review (SLR) as Trade Union Development Officer last November. Although circulation was reasonable, the Editorial Board felt there were opportunities to increase not only circulation within unions but to also encourage more contributions from a union perspective on key issues of the day.
In last year, we have implemented a coordinated plan for SLR to be promoted at various conference events covering most political parties and attending recent RISE, RIC, Morning Star, STUC and other community events. Although initial outlay for stalls at such events can on occasions be costly, the advantage is that this has helped with our overall promotion of not only SLR but also the Reid Foundation and the work we’ve been contributing to the movement with the development of various policy papers.
One area of feedback we have received by attending these events is that many of our supporters are reading SLR online, which is currently free and figures for accessing it through this media are exceptional. During September 2015 visits were averaging 1040 per day – a visit categorised as reading an average of 5 pages per visit. From December 2014 to mid-June 2015, we had 128K visits, 542K pages read and 996K hits with an average of 994 visits per day. A hit is just going into the website not necessarily downloading any articles.
Most newspapers and publications operate a fee or donation for accessing/downloading and this is something the Board has discussed and will upon decide on early in 2016. Our overall circulation of hard copies in the 12 months from November 2014 has increased by substantial numbers and we are looking to continually grow and improve on this for the year ahead.
We have been successful in gaining support of Scotland’s two largest unions – Unite and Unison – with both agreeing to issue the magazine to their individual senior lay committee in their region. This alone increased our circulation by over 100 per edition. This is along with the continued long term support from subscribers/advertisers including ASLEF, CWU,EIS, FBU, GMB, NUJ, PCS, RMT, TSSA, UCATT and UCU – many of whom have been with us from our launch in 2000 and order bulk copies.
We also have made inroads into workplace branches and area activist committees covering a wide geographical spread and are currently developing a programme in this category for 2016. All of the above has seen a significant increase in financial support either through affiliation or donation which has put SLR and the Foundation on a more sound footing.
The potential for continued growth within unions requires coordination where we can visit workplaces and branches giving the opportunity to discuss the key issues facing the movement but also taking into account current views of the magazine.
We’ll be inviting current SLR friends and supporters to a special meeting early 2016 to discuss how they feel about SLR’s contents, whether the agenda is correctly focused and how we can encourage more individuals to contribute articles.
We believe it is vital for SLR’s future that this engagement becomes a priority if SLR is to not only grow but to develop in the correct manner. The challenges facing the labour movement are testing and we want SLR and the Foundation to be at the heart of debates on the industrial and political challenges. Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their support over the last year and look forward to having another challenging but successful one ahead.