English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

A digital vision

WHQ will be going digital only from our next issue in July. Tom Broadhead and Helen Taylor, chair and vice-chair of the editorial board, explain the thinking and look to the future.

The theme of this edition of WHQ is digitisation and technology, specifically in the context of the Covid pandemic and how lockdown has pushed many of us, and our roles as housing professionals, more quickly along that path of digitisation and towards a fundamentally different way of working.

In particular, it has deeply altered the way we communicate – many of us now spend a large proportion of our days glued to the computer screen on Teams or Zoom meetings, whereas in pre-Covid times we would have probably travelled regularly between meetings, sometimes long distances, allowing some head space and time to get some lunch.

Has it also triggered a paradigm shift in terms of our relationship with tenants and how we communicate with them? Are we able to do more, reach more people in the time available to us? Or is the level of service impacted in a negative way because we no longer interact face-to-face with our tenants, customers and stakeholders – or at least not as much as we used to?

Several articles in the edition of the magazine explore the changing landscape of the role of the housing professional as we exit the profound period of flux in which we have found ourselves over the past 18 months or so. However, media, and in particular print media, has not escaped the fundamental changes that the pandemic has had on the way we communicate – not least, as subscribers, you sometimes haven’t been able to access your printed copy of this quarterly publication.

We have had to adapt and provide a fully-digital PDF version of the publication on our website for you to access and many of you have embraced that shift.

But the digitisation of printed media was happening at pace well before Covid-19 arrived in the world. The old advertising and subscription model – the mainstay of the newspaper and magazine industry for the majority of the 20th century – had been overtaken by the explosion of technology and free content on the internet. Advertisers simply no longer want to advertise in print in the same way.

Moreover, as consumers of content our tastes have changed dramatically, and now a multi-media video offer is seen as the norm on news and periodical websites across the world.

As well as cost and reach, there is the sustainability argument of not printing 900 or more copies of a magazine every quarter which also supports the shift to a fully-digital approach to the publishing business.

And WHQ is not immune to this paradigm shift in the way we communicate and consume content, so as an editorial board we have been discussing for a couple of years now how we shift WHQ to meet the challenges of the media and publishing environment as we outline above.

Along with Welsh Government, which is a keen supporter of WHQ through its grant funding, we share a vision of a multi-media content hub that disseminates all the news and debate around housing and regeneration policy and practice in Wales.

Could we even get to a stage where content is free to access?

To reach that vision, it is going to take time and investment – it will not be achieved overnight. The first stage of the process will be moving the magazine to a digital-only approach from the July edition this year (subscription renewals will now take place in April). In many ways, that has been the offer during the pandemic.

In the first instance, that is being driven by cost and a sizeable decline in advertising and sponsorship revenue in recent years which is making the current funding model difficult to sustain. At first it will be a simple online offer, ie the magazine in a PDF format accessible with your security details through our website.

During that first year the subscription price will remain the same but our commitment to you is that during that first year we will talk with all of you, as well as Welsh Government, about how we can move to that multi-media approach that we have outlined.

That process will include looking at funding models – for example, whether we move to a more co-operative approach. It will also look at the stages of development required to get us to where we want to be.

But we can’t do that without your continued support – and in essence subscription, in the very least, at the same levels we have now.

The WHQ editorial board very much hopes that you share our vision and as individuals, and as a sector, you will continue to support us as we grow our digital offer, and create a truly modern and engaging product that housing professionals will value for decades to come.

Tom Broadhead and Helen Taylor are chair and vice-chair of the WHQ advisory board

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »