Science and Nature cover
Credit: Courtesy The Week Junior Science+Nature

Dan Green is the editor at The Week Junior Science+Nature.

One of the main challenges for any brand is reaching new audiences. We decided to take that challenge with our current issue of The Week Junior Science+Nature, producing a special edition to celebrate World Space Week, with Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock as a guest editor.

Since this was our first-ever guest-edited issue, we wanted to make a splash. Getting the timing right was crucial. World Space Week – an annual global celebration of space with participants from over 90 countries – gave us the opportunity to focus our efforts on one of our young and curious readers’ favourite topics.

Dan Green, editor, The Week Junior Science+Nature

We approached space scientist, writer and co-presenter of BBC's Sky at Night Maggie Aderin-Pocock through her books agent. We knew that Dr Maggie would be a great fit for our audience, and we already had a relationship with her through our Mysteries of Science podcast. Happily, she threw herself behind the plan and was a total star.

The life of a media personality is a busy one. This meant that our time spent directly with Dr Maggie had to be tightly focused. Much of our planning was done outside of that time and approved in numerous email conversations with her agent. We leaned into the guest editor’s professional experience as a space scientist, allowing her to highlight areas of personal interest, such as observing Earth from orbit. 

Once we had a copy and rough layouts for the pages, our deputy editor sat down with Dr Maggie and took her through our plans. Dr Maggie provided commentary on all the space features in the issue, bringing her unique personality to the pages and allowing us to badge these pages as guest-edited content. She was keen to inspire children to dream “big, crazy dreams”, just as she had done as a child, and based on this conversation we crafted her editor’s letter.

Landing a well-known guest editor provides a platform for publicity and the potential to attract a new audience to the magazine. Although Dr Maggie does not do social media, her publisher supported us by posting about the issue. World Space Week has also hosted the magazine as an event of the week, and the special issue has been highlighted in trade publications, on children’s radio and in The Week Junior, BSME and Royal Institution newsletters.

Here are three tips to help you make the most of a guest-edited issue:

  • Start planning early. Courting your chosen editor may take longer than you imagine. Tying down details and finding space in Dr Maggie’s schedule took us longer than we had bargained for.
  • Share your plans as soon as possible. To build a campaign around the release of a special issue, you will need buy-in from all internal departments (marketing, publicity etc) and plenty of time to engage with external agents.
  • Tap into the passions of your guest editor to add a personal touch. Dr Maggie is keen to push for science to be open to everyone. Using her struggles with dyslexia at school as an example, she spoke passionately to inspire children to overcome challenges to achieve their dreams.

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