February has gone by in a flash, like a tornado filled with high-running emotions and constant changes. This was the month of our very first membership campaign, or should I say: the very first month of our never-ending membership campaign?
Our goals last month were simple:
- To establish ourselves as a membership-driven organisation and,
- To get the word out about our membership program, hoping to turn our members and supporters into monthly paying members who actively contribute to our editorial line.
Okay, seeing how many characters our “simple goals” take up here, maybe it wasn’t as simple as I thought. But it sure was fun.
Giving everyone a voice in our campaign
After months and months of prepping, testing and re-evaluating our membership program, we wanted to make our transformation official to the world. Reaching out to old contributors from our magazine and to respected individuals within the journalism industry, we asked them one question: why is a media outlet like Are We Europe necessary in today’s media landscape? Their answers were better than we could have ever imagined.
“It gives voices to unheard Europeans.”
“A fresh & needed perspective on European identity, diversity & its people.”
“Their content deconstructs the misconceptions of what and who Europe is.”
We also generated a testimonial tool in which anyone could say why they support us, and why others should, too. Marietje simply wrote: “Are We Europe is cool”, which we can’t disagree with, while Göksen says that our content “deconstructs the misconceptions of what and who Europe is”. Theresa loves that we “voice fresh perspectives on issues we’re all implicated by”, while Edoardo takes a firm stance, writing that “Europe is not the best way into the future, it’s the only one”.
A sea of personalities
Asking the opinion of our readers wasn’t a vain effort to boost morale, though we can’t pretend we weren’t high on love and optimism from the kind words we received. Gathering feedback from our readers, followers and fellow journalists is an integral part of how we view membership. But putting them first, we sometimes forget to show our own faces. And since membership is not just a one-way street, showing our face became more urgent than ever.
So even the shyest among us took time out of their day to show who’s currently behind the Are We Europe brand. Answering a set of relevant questions (What are your dreams for us in 2021) and not-so-relevant questions (What would you do with a pot of gold and a time machine), our team video was our first effort in letting you get to know the personalities hiding behind the curtains.
The landing page
One key element in our campaign was our specially-designed landing page, to show what Are We Europe stands for.
The idea behind this page was twofold. After having talked with our members and with creative agency Momkai’s founder Harald Dunnink, it became clear that the main reason people want to support us is that they support the mission that we are on. So our main objective of the page was to simply explain why we exist.
Besides that, we wanted to show the diversity of our stories and communicate our brand promises to our members. The page has a twist of creativity and surprise every time the user scrolls to the next section. The effect was a landing-page with a 2% conversion rate, and our campaign received support from over 350 members from 24 countries.
What did we learn from the campaign?
Next to all the practical learning that comes into play when organising a campaign — things like planning, the way we communicate and doing outreach—we learned that there is a European audience out there who truly believe it is important to build a new European media that highlights solutions to our shared challenges. This support gives us the energy and motivation to continue building the new media for a changing continent.
On a personal level, we learned to open up at Are We Europe. Showing our faces for the first time on camera and having one-on-one conversations with our members felt good, and helped us grow. And these are attitudes that we’re excited to continue in the near future.
The list of thank yous
So far, we’ve welcomed 365 members into our club. They don’t only share their hard-earned cash with us, but also their ideas, energy and vision. So the first order of agenda at the beginning of this month was to send out a bunch of thank you cards. Independent journalism is made possible by the people supporting it, and our growing list of supporters is proof of how independent journalism is still cherished.
We’re not finished campaigning just yet
So, what’s next for us? When thinking about the future, money is always involved, whether you like it or not. Are We Europe wants to be a sustainable business, where we make sure to tell the European human story in the best way possible. But rather than (only) looking at the digits on our bank statements, and budgeting our projects accordingly, sustainability, to us, is about the mark we leave behind after the last punctuation mark concludes our story.
The biggest dream of our team when starting the membership program, was to build bridges between the news and the people it’s made for. By becoming a member, readers can actively take part in the editorial process, by submitting ideas and sharing their expertise at a pan-European level. And that dream doesn’t end with any number of members. So, from now on, we will never stop campaigning.
In the upcoming months, we will campaign to share our stories with universities, colleges and school. We will campaign to bring attention to our Solidarity scheme, where members can pay it forward to cash-strapped readers. We will campaign to ensure that the demographical diversity in our membership program and our collective of storytellers is a true reflection of society. But we will campaign to keep our members happy and onboard, too.
Listening to any concerns or inspiration from them is a never-ending campaign and one we’re excited to keep going. Because without them, we couldn’t bring the European stories that so desperately deserve to be told.