A decade of success

Toast for success

As South Africa celebrates the coming of age of our democracy, Service magazine proudly enters its teens and celebrates 10 years of dedicated business-to-business success, writes Michael Meiring.

This year we are 10 years old. Despite economic recessions characterised by budget cuts and at times a turmoiled political arena, we have weathered the storms. In an industry where many of our print friends had to close shop, we have managed to keep our doors open. We’ve made it! Please raise your glasses as Andre Van Rooyen (Founding Sales Manager) and Lindsay King (current editor), celebrate some of the highlights and achievements over the past decade.

Taking us back to the inception of Service magazine in late 2004, Van Rooyen says the magazine was born through the need for Government and the private sector to communicate with each other – and the fact that both parties were battling to start public private partnerships. “There was a lot of scepticism in the private sector regarding corruption, bribery etc. We needed to communicate because a lot of government departments were doing procurements honestly. So we put the wheels in motion in 2004 and our first issue appeared in February 2005.

“And yes, it was extremely successful. Because of the accuracy of our distribution, we manually had to do it name-by-name. At the time we had to employ a clerk to physically phone the departments and the private sector we wanted to talk to. At one point we had a more accurate distribution list than Government had. The publication was instantly embraced in the market place,” he says.

As for Van Rooyen’s involvement, he points out that it was the second magazine he had launched, together with sister publication Opportunity being the first, and that the magazines have become like his “own two children” over the years.

“I managed both of the products for three years and as I started climbing the seniority ladder it just became too much, so we employed more people on those teams. But Service has always been a pet project of mine and I have always kept a very firm hand on the content and the quality thereof and kept an eye on the distribution to make sure it was streamlined and successful. Yes, it has been a really interesting ten years!” Van Rooyen says.

King says the magazine’s current standing in local government is proof that the company’s initial research and conclusion, that there was (and still is) a need for a publication within the arena of public-private engagement, was spot on.

“The crucial focus area of this magazine is to look at all the specific areas within the field of the local municipalities and to venture into areas which are of concern to government and specifically to local government and those etnities interested in doing business with municipalities. We are looking at issues around infrastructure, water, ICT, skills development, transport and service delivery, to mention but a few. We are passionate about objectively covering burning the issues – yet at the same time, about celebrating the many achievements in local government.

“We all know the urgency and the need at the moment - and it has been like this for a while in South Africa – for local government and government on the whole and private businesses to talk to each other, and not talk past each other. With the magazine going to all these important role players within local government, national government, as well as provincial government, it is the perfect tool for businesses to talk to the public sector and to showcase what they have to offer. At the same time it is the perfect tool for the various municipalities to talk to each other. As a communication tool, Service has so much to offer,” he says.

Service Magazine goes out every second month to an absolutely first class audience, King says. According to him it is a market that nobody can afford to ignore, whether you are in local government, or in business.

“Even with the new competition around, we are strong in the market because we know our audience, we pride ourselves in knowing our readers, knowing our advertisers, our partners, everybody who play with us in this field - and that is what makes the magazine so strong. What is really important to me as the editor of this publication is that we pride ourselves in that we know our market, that know who we are talking to and who should be talking to us. But more importantly even, is to choose very carefully and very selectively who contribute to our magazine.

“It is absolutely vital that municipalities get together in this arena and start holding hands with whoever they need to to make things happen. We have looked at legal issues in local government, health and welfare issues, and issues like security in the municipal arena and how it is changing,” says King.

Over the years, Service has also tied in with a number of exciting events. Examples include the Clean Business Expo in Midrand as well as being official media partner to annual conferences such as the State Information Technology Agency’s GovTech.

As far as highlights are concerned, Van Rooyen says some of his personal highlights have been the relationships built with both the private sector and government. He says besides for having made some wonderful friendships over the years, there has also been endorsements which he is very proud of. He refers to winning PICA awards, as well as pointing out that Service received an honourable mention for best single edition in the international 2013 TABPI awards - out of 600 international publications.

“That literally means they found us to be one the best in the world when it comes to relating to government. That was the cherry on top! Behind the scenes a lot of people work very hard to make the magazine a success. The involvement of a lot of personalities have culminated in that honour,” he says.

Looking at how successfully the publication has achieved its goals over the past decade, Van Rooyen says there was always a four-stroke plan in place. The first of these, and according to him most important, was to get government and the private sector talking with the advertising of both departments in the public and private sector. The second, he says, was to have government and local municipalities talking to each other and communicating messages of success stories. Third on the list was initiating and boosting public-private partnerships and lastly, it was designed to be a procurement magazine for government and people to advertise their products and services for decision makers in government and local municipalities so as to assist with the tenders process.

“So basically it is four magazines in one. It was really an easy sell, because there were so few competitors out there - and the publication was very effective. Over the years many private companies got a lot of business out of advertising with us; they got invited to the procurement process to tender for various jobs and things like that. So yes, the magazine is extremely successful in that area,” he says.

Asked where he pictures the magazine 10 years from now, Van Rooyen says he cannot imagine it losing its sell-ability. “Government is not going away and there is going to be a consistent message out to the private sector that they need to be business with each other. The more transparent that process becomes, the more transparent the magazine becomes. Understanding that over the past 10 years there has only been three managers, one of them being me, lends confidence to the management potential to make this magazine what it is and I have no doubt that it will continue to hold its position in the marketplace.”

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This edition

Issue 68