Behind the Scenes of the Groundbreaking Pocket Guide

Eight Gorilla Highlands Pocket Guide editions have been published so far

May 2019 will go down in the history of the Gorilla Highlands initiative as the month when we moved from (bi)annual publication of our #1 product, the Pocket Guide, to quarterly editions.

Download the latest Gorilla Highlands Pocket Guide
(May 2019; 8 MB)

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of this change. The booklet used to be a project we tried to squeeze into our busy schedules here and there. Now it’s become the foundation of our work.

Our team in Musanze, Rwanda, receiving a booklet sample from Kampala, Uganda

Why would we do that, at a time when everybody is moving from paper to digital, and in a region where magazines aren’t exactly thriving? Because we feel that we have something undoubtedly world-class, a mini-magazine that has to stop being a shooting star and become the sun.

Our standard print run of 10,000 copies might sound decent but we also have about 100 distribution points and that leads to 100 booklets per location. No wonder that it takes so little time for the vast majority of our distribution baskets to run dry!

Corrections by the editor, Miha Logar in Rwanda, and last proof-reader, Charlotte Beauvoisin in Uganda, to be sent to the designer, Suzy Claridge in the UK

Having a new edition every three months feels like the right frequency to keep the Pocket Guide in continuous circulation. It also allows for time-sensitive content like activity calendars and seasonal discounts, while providing a platform for promoting great writers and photographers.

This new content will be introduced in August. We didn’t want to be too ambitious with the May 2019 edition that already had three big goals:

– add the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
– expand the coverage to Rwanda’s entire territory and the whole western part of Uganda 
– grow the team preparing the booklet and create a proper advertising and billing department

16 members of the Gorilla Highlands Global Team who helped with the May edition of the booklet; Jon Lee (USA), Eddy Atum (Uganda), Suzy Claridge (UK), Jolly Senyange (Uganda), Charlotte Beauvoisin (UK), Alice Bartz (France), Brenda Katusiime (Uganda), David Mugyenyi (Uganda), Barrett Nash (Canada), Miha Logar (Slovenia/Uganda), Fabian Windischbauer (Austria), Ali Dunn (UK), Isabelle Masozera (Rwanda), Paul Ishimwe (Rwanda), Marcus Westberg (Sweden), David Esteban (Argentina)

Of the three, only one wasn’t fully met: our ambitious marketing specialist is yet to secure an advertiser from the Fort Portal – Kasese route, which would warrant adding it to our maps. We are confident that with the minimum charge being only 30 dollars, there will be happy takers eventually. Once in the booklet, our advertisers tend to stay.

Despite the results of the 2018 partner survey that showed ample support for increasing the frequency of our booklet, we were ready for a number of advertisers to pull out. It’s just not the same when you double or quadruple the annual cost of being in a publication… Because we had quite a few new advertisers, we were under no pressure to excessively remind non-responsive old partners. The result was: the same number of ad pages as in 2018; 19, or 30% of the booklet. There’s room for growth but our commitment remains that there will never be more ads than non-commercial content in the Pocket Guide.

We don’t publish our booklet to show ads with some articles in between; we publish it to promote our fantastic region, supported by advertising.

A Trello board helped the Global Team cooperate

text and photo: Miha Logar