Well, the first part of it.
Over the last year, a lot has changed for RELEVANT. Things have changed for media in general, but us in particular. As many of you know, about nine months ago we made the hard decision to put our print magazine (which we’d published bi-monthly since 2003) on hiatus.
At the time, we didn’t fully know what that meant. To be totally honest, we just knew the economic challenges of changing media habits in our audience made the magazine very difficult to sustain in its current form. We knew we had to make a change, but we weren’t totally sure what we wanted to do on the other side. So, we hit pause, and asked our readers to bear with us while we figured out a better model.
The ensuing months entailed a lot of changes for our team. We stepped back and looked at the full landscape of what we were doing. We looked at our mission, our challenges, and how our company operated. It was a thorough and pain-staking process, but we re-emerged this spring sharper and with a renewed mission and strategy.
More than ever, we are committed to giving voice to what God is doing in this generation. We’re still passionate about covering the intersection of faith and culture. We’re still passionate about justice and living life well. But as culture, technology and trends shift, how we cover those things needs to change, too.
The process we went through this past year was essentially this: Knowing what we know now, if we were starting RELEVANT from scratch in 2020, what would we do differently? What we we do for highest impact? How would we operate? To be honest, the answer probably wouldn’t include mailing paper to people’s houses six times a year.
So, we decided to let go of some of our old business models and products to create room for new innovation. We chose to get more nimble. We wanted to create margin to do things we couldn’t do before. We also decided to finally do some substantive changes behind the scenes, like this spring when we appointed an executive board. We ripped RELEVANT to the ground and rebuilt it.
For the last six months, we’ve been hard at work on the new era of RELEVANT. And I’m excited to tell you about it! It will entail four major components:
- Our daily content at relevantmagazine.com. Last week we soft-launched an all-new website to go with a renewed, and evolving, daily publishing strategy. The new website, which you’re currently reading, will continue to have new bells and whistles rolling out in the coming weeks — from daily devotionals, to new content newsletters, to daily video content. And we have some big plans in the pipeline after that.
- Our podcasts. We’ve been podcasting since 2005 with the weekly RELEVANT Podcast. This year we introduced a new cast, including Jamie Ivey, Derek Minor, Jesse Carey and myself, and just last week we took the podcast to twice a week, now publishing every Tuesday and Friday. In addition, we’re continuing to work on new shows to add to our RELEVANT Podcast Network, from The Dharius Daniels Podcast and American Awakening, to a totally reinvented RELEVANT Daily and other exciting shows this fall.
- The magazine. This is the big one. In 2020, we went to the drawing board and asked ourselves what was the best way to deliver long-form, journalistic content in this new era. We publish features and daily short-form content every day at RELEVANTmagazine.com, but there’s something different about magazine content that’s worth settling in with, spending more time with. And that’s why we’ve been committed to print for so long — it’s the sort of content you want to keep, read and then keep on your coffee table (90% of our subscribers kept a copy of RELEVANT for almost a year).So, here’s the plan for our new era: Every two months, we’ll publish a new digital issue at RELEVANTmagazine.com. It will have a cover story, top-tier contributors, profiles, interviews and substantive think-pieces. The articles will be long-form. It’s the kind of content worth keeping … which is why, yes, we’re also planning on printing it. Once a year, we will be producing a RELEVANT annual, a print publication encompassing the best RELEVANT magazine content from the year. Something big and thick you can keep on your coffee table.
- RELEVANT+. For our subscribers, this fall we’ll be launching RELEVANT+, a subscription that will take your RELEVANT experience even further. Yes, that means a paywall is coming. (Don’t worry, there will be a free registration that gives non-members free content every month.) But RELEVANT+ members will get full access to the magazine content, our full 17-year magazine archives, and all current content. Members will also have an ad-free reading experience (!). And they’ll get other exclusive content, from podcasts to video to live stream events and more. Our team is at work on RELEVANT+ now, and more info will be announced soon. And yes, any print magazine subscribers who paused their subscriptions last year will automatically be transitioned to their remaining term of RELEVANT+, plus a free year on us. (Thanks for sticking with us!)
We’re so thankful for all of you who have been part of the RELEVANT journey over the last 20 years. Behind the scenes, this year we’ve been so hard at work setting up our new era, we know we haven’t launched many new things publicly yet. And despite that, somehow, our audience has grown 30% this year. We don’t get it! But it makes us even more excited for you all to see what we’ve been working on, and what we have rolling out in the coming weeks and months.
While we have big dreams and bold plans, obviously with how quickly things change, nothing is set in stone. We’re holding everything with open hands. We just want to make sure everything we produce is missionally clear, uniquely us, and makes a positive difference. Sometimes methods have to change, and products may come and go. But calling doesn’t. Mission doesn’t.
Welcome to the new era of RELEVANT. We hope you like what you see.
Cameron Strang is the founder of RELEVANT Media Group.