Glossy Talk: Readers Digest & 'The Power of Good'
"The Power of Good came out of a very popular column I've been running in Reader's Digest tagged 'Kindness of Strangers'," says editor-in-chief Sue Carney. "Readers tell us about small acts of kindness in everyday life. Late last year we got together with Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research to survey Australians about kindness and just how important it is to them. The results were astounding."
That survey found that:
- 98% of Australians think it's extremely/very important how we treat others
- we values "how a person treats others" (98%) more than their outlook on life (89%), intelligence (59%) and appearance (28%)
- 81% get a kick out of giving a thank-you gift
- 93% want to hear more positive news stories
- 80% want to be remembered for our service to others
- 80% recall how someone saying something at a low point in their life gave them confidence to carry on
- 60% say "without the kindness and support of strangers and acquaintances...I'd be in a worse place today"
"We thought it was time "doing good" got a bit of a brand makeover – and we came up with a campaign to give everyone a reason to celebrate," says Carney. "We approached Channel 10's 7pm Project to partner with us. They loved the statistics about Australians wanting more good news and offered to make this their Power of Good week to tie in with our April issue. Charlie Pickering features on our cover and inside recounts a wonderful story about earning good karma by helping a homeless man back when Charlie was a rollerblading teen. We've also partnered with the Australian Newsagents' Federation to spread the word to newsagents and encourage them to hand out Power of Good postcards to their customers."
The April issue folds out to reveal a perforated postcard where readers can write "the acts of everyday kindness that make our lives easier" to send in for possible publication in the magazine. Readers are also encouraged inside the magazine to go to powerofgood.com.au, "a new community website where Australians can share and celebrate the small – and not so small – kindness in their lives", and purchase The Power of Good by Mark McCrindle (Hybrid Publishers; $24.95), which contains 70 inspiring stories from well-known Aussies.
There are 12 pages dedicated to 'The Power of Good' inside the magazine, too, including columns by Pickering, writer Geraldine Brooks, author/columnist Peter FitzSimons and the Wayside Chapel's Rev Graham Long who writes of the grief of losing his son in 2009:
"At the Wayside Chapel one day, a homeless man walked into my path in a way that, for a moment, perplexed me...Suddenly, he stepped right into my face and threw his arms around me. He kissed me on the side of my face and threw his arms around me. He kissed me on the side of my face and whispered, 'This is from your son,' and then he walked away. I've never forgotten that moment. It was a small, generous act that dramatically lifted my spirits, and for that I will always be grateful."
"I love the whole concept of 'the power of good' since Reader's Digest's success has always been built around inspiring stories," says Carney. "Often 'niceness' is dismissed as untrendy or unexciting, but I really hope The Power of Good shows that's simply not true – kindness is powerful and it's inspiring. And in these times of bad world news and disasters, it's a strong theme that reflects what Australians truly value."
Newsagents have been given a box of 250 free 'The Power of Good' postcards for customers (no purchase of the magazine necessary) to spread the word, as well as a word of encouragement from the Digest: "I hope your involvement will reinforce the image of newsagencies as the community hub where good things happen."
Other good things to expect from the April issue: a Easter egg bunny hunt. Four bunnies are hidden in the issue, each holding a special word. Find them all, log onto readersdigest.com.au/easterhunt, register your answers and be in the running to win a Flip HD video camera. Clue: I found one page 16!
Also this issue, Laura Stewart asks, "Being too fat or too thin are both health problems. Why, then, does one flatter and the other insult?" and stand-up comedian Denise Scott offers up this pearl of wisdom: "When in doubt you have to get up off the couch, walk out the front door and see where life takes you. (Usually it takes me to the corner shop where I buy a sausage roll and, yes, I do feel better.)" Gold.
While Reader's Digest remains one of the nation's top-selling magazines, ranked 5th overall, it experienced a 15.4% circulation decline in the December audit, giving it an average of 266,173 copy sales per month (it has 773,000 readers). Hopefully the campaign will turn the fate of this mini magazine around. Good things come in small packages.
Girl With a Satchel
P.S. Also of note:
In 'Change Agent', Edward Klein's profile of Stewart Brand, the controversial 'futurist', nuclear advocate and father of Earth Day (April 22) says:
"We have a number of exciting and maturing technologies to address the challenge of climate change, including advances in nuclear power generation and the creation of genetically engineered crops that use less energy and less water... A fair number of people are gradually going from being anti-nuclear to being cautiously pro-nuclear...
The air pollution from coal burning is estimates to cause 30,000 deaths a year from lung disease in the United States and 350,000 in China. A one-gigawatt coal plant burns three million tonnes of fuel a year and produces seven million tonnes of CO2...all of which immediately goes into everyone's atmosphere, where no-one can control it. Using a nuclear reactor to generate one gigawatt a year requires only about 20 tonnes of nuclear waste, but they create absolutely zero carbon dioxide. So you do the arithmetic...
Right now, that nuclear waste is put in lead-lined casks and is carefully monitored by the government. By contrast, the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide that go into the atmosphere from a coal furnace are neither controlled nor retrievable. One new thing in spent nuclear-waste storage that's come along is the so-called borehole technology developed by the oil and gas industries...And then there's the breakthrough in nuclear technology that's just over the horizon – fourth-generation reactors that can reprocess the spend nuclear fuel."
Does he believe Al Gore's argument that we could solve the global climate crisis with solar wind and geothermal power? "No".