I was in an accountant’s office recently and was impressed by the range of promotional leaflets and booklets for all of the firm’s different service lines.

The only one I picked up though was their 10 page colour ‘magazine’. It was on the table in reception and looked as if it would be more interesting than the promotional leaflets.  I appreciate that I look at such documents in a different way to the target reader (clients, prospects and referrers) so perhaps my view is not relevant.

The magazine was well laid out and contained some interesting commentary and articles. Full marks? Er, no.

Although the first few pages were still current the tax news was decidedly out of date. And out of the 12 tax and VAT items I counted 5 that had been either been superseded by events or by more recent announcements. And there were 3 others that mentioned relevant dates in July, August or September 2009.

I checked the front cover – This was the summer 2009 issue of the magazine. The winter issue won’t be published until February.

On balance I think that, in this case, the typical reader would not be put off. But the publication schedule strikes me as odd – and indeed risky, especially as regards tax news and advice. Should the firm have removed the magazine from display at Christmas?

If you’re going to publish a regular mag of some sort you either need to ensure it excludes time sensitive material (and for this purpose tax content is invariably time sensitive). Or publish at least 4 times a year – no more than 3m apart. OR, and I think this is probably the most cost effective solution for smaller firms – buy in the magazine, newsletter or content from a third party copywriter or publisher. Ensure it contains your branding and some news on your practice and spend your time on other activities rather than collating, editing and/or writing a newsletter/mag.

What do you think?