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How we are listening to our readers

In our survey, we asked readers what they read (and what they didn’t read) in CFJ. The results were illuminating, and have led to us making fundamental changes to how we structure CFJ, and what we include in the content.

Here are the changes we’re making as a result of the survey.

1 New sustainability section

The overwhelming response from readers was that they want to see more about sustainability, so CFJ has launched its ‘Commitment to Sustainability’ pledge, which will be accompanied by a dedicated section on sustainability in every edition. The section will focus on anything to do with sustainability in the industry, whether that’s opinion, news, new products and innovations, or advice from experts in the industry, and will operate separate to the annual Sustainability Guide and the sustainability feature. We hope a permanent diet of sustainability content will drive home the point that ‘green issues’ are the only way forward in a fast-changing world, and that unless we get to grips with the harsh realities facing Earth and our industry, nothing else will ultimately matter. Incidentally, most readers expressed a desire for CFJ to remain in print rather than going digital, a sure sign that many floorlayers and contractors still enjoy sitting down and reading the print copy, rather than scrolling through the online version.

2 Thought Leadership section
Independent opinion from industry figures was the ‘most wanted’ extra our readers wanted to see in CFJ. Although we have a popular advice section featuring technical tips from the top technical experts in the flooring industry, readers said they wanted more diversity in opinion and advice. This created the ideal opportunity to create a brand new section – effective from our July edition – which we’ve labelled Thought Leadership. This section will consist of three parts: an interview with a contractor; a question-and-answer session with a manufacturer; and an opinion from a manufacturer. The idea will be to highlight general issues in the industry such as raw materials shortages, inflation, skilled labour shortages and Brexit-related problems, but also to introduce readers to companies and people they may not previously have encountered. Early indications are that this section will be extremely popular with readers as it will provide a whole new dimension their information source.

3 Stronger online presence
Because of the sheer size of CFJ (we sometimes exceed 200 pages in print), the process of compiling the magazine can be time-consuming and requires careful adherence to deadlines. And those deadlines are usually dated far in advance of our publication date, as many contributors and advertisers will know to their chagrin. Unfortunately, this is largely unavoidable and results in a situation where ‘latest news’ published in CFJ is often not quite the latest news by the time it lands on our readers’ desks. The good thing is there’s still a way to keep our readers regularly updated with fresh news without disturbing our print deadlines: via our website and also our monthly digital newsletter, CFJ Digital. To that end, CFJ now has a deputy editor who’ll keep our online content updated and fresh. In addition, we’ve been releasing CFJ Digital twice a month since July. As anybody in business realises, online content and immediacy is a fact of life in a way it wasn’t only a decade ago and we want our readers to know that despite the fact we’ll still publish CFJ in print, we don’t want to be left behind by the digital revolution.

4 Editorial board
One way for a trade journal (or any magazine for that matter) to ensure that it’s staying ahead of the curve is to have at its disposal an editorial panel which can periodically guide it on where it might be going wrong in terms of direction and content. Of course, such a board would need to be strictly neutral, and for that reason the panel of four experts we’re in the process of putting together won’t consist of any direct member of CFJ or the Contract Flooring Association (CFA). The panel will meet annually or bi-annually to evaluate content and ensure it’s addressing the concerns and needs of industry. The panel will act in an advisory function only and will consist of an independent flooring consultant, two flooring contractors and a manufacturer, the last of which will rotate on an annual basis to avoid the appearance of bias from other manufacturers. We’ll keep our readers abreast of developments, but all being well we hope to have our first panel early next year, by which time the changes dictated by the survey should have come into effect.

5 No more domestic content
One battle CFJ has had to face is the fact that while excellent examples of strictly domestic installations often come our way, we face criticism for featuring these in the magazine, and have been reminded that we serve the CONTRACT part of flooring rather than its domestic counterpart. To this end, domestic content will no longer be used in CFJ, unless it pertains to a product which can be used in both a domestic and contract context. However, references to domestic installations by our popular columnists such as Richard Renouf and Brian King will still be used. Feedback from readers shows that such advice columns remain hugely popular.

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