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Jan-Feb 2013 issue, out now, is available to all medical waiting areas in Ireland.
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The idea for The Waiting Room Magazine was born out of the realisation that there was not even a single magazine that was of interest to me on my GP’s waiting-room table. 90 per cent of them were popular women’s magazines, and 90 per cent of that lot were many months out of date, some over a year old; even my female co-patients didn’t seem to be overly interested. Listlessly, I flicked through a few; what else can you do in a GP’s waiting room? The only non-fashion glossies were, a cookery magazine, a dog-eared fishing magazine and one on gardening but, as I am not a cook, and I neither garden nor fish, that occupied all of five minutes. I sat back, closed my eyes (which were paining me anyway) and considered.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a general magazine was what was needed, a one-size-fits-all publication that had content for men, women and children, of all ages and interests. That was obvious, and it only needed a small bit of content for as many categories as possible, enough to occupy each sector for the 15/20 minutes that they waited. Variety had to be the keyword. That, too, was a no-brainer.
No-brainer number three was that there was no point in putting in one single copy in a room with fifteen people. There had to be enough for anyone who wanted to read, but didn’t fancy a tatty out-of-date copy, of a magazine, no matter how well-known it was. Glamour glossies ceased to be glamour glossies when they became grubby tatties.
But if multiple copies were put into a waiting room, they might accumulate, making clinic staff very annoyed, so it would be best to make the magazine a TAKE HOME one, and hope that not everybody would – or there’d be none left at the end of the first day!
Another obvious point was that this new magazine would have to be free; otherwise how could anyone be sure that people would read it? It would also have tobe free to the GPs – they already had a free system going, though it was far from ideal, far from satisfactory, even. There were endless jokes about the magazines in waiting rooms – I’d just seen a Mr Bean sketch about it – so why should the doctors pay to change to another system?
So how would it be funded? Who might stand to benefit from having 100,000 people (the number of people that go through Ireland’s health system every day, though I didn’t know that then) reading a magazine? That, too, was easy to figure out.
Every reader would be sick, or with someone who was sick – why else would they be waiting to see the doctor? So those who stood to gain were those who traded in products and services to sick people, i.e., the health industry.
The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. The advantages to the health industry were many:
• There would be minimal wastage in their advertising budgets as they could target ONLY those people who had a very high probability of needing their products and services;
• They would reach a different 100,000 every day as few people end up in medical waiting rooms on consecutive days;
• Large numbers of the 100,000 people per day would be headed to pharmacies to purchase medical products within minutes of leaving the doctor’s, and therefore within minutes of reading their advertisements…
At that point my name was called.