Magazine Weekly

Newly redundant? `Bounceback' magazine could help you pick up the pieces - and your ex-employer may even buy it for you
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The Independent Online
It is the sentence every worker dreads: "I'm sorry, we have to let you go." From now, however it can be followed with: "But never mind; here's your cheque and a subscription to Bounceback magazine. Feeling better already?"

Bounceback, due to be launched in July, is claiming to be the first ever UK magazine to meet the needs of those who are made redundant. Its publisher, Colin Davies, formerly of the Financial Times, editor Stewart Andersen, formerly of Boardroom magazine and his deputy Gordon Miller, also of Boardroom, have all been "let go" by their former companies and know just how painful the redundancy process can be.

"It's like a punch in the stomach," says Andersen, who has been made redundant twice, once over the telephone. "You go to the pub and someone asks, `What do you do?" and you reply, `I was made redundant.' There's an instinctive movement away from you. It's like the feeling you've got something and that it might be contagious. You acquire a kind of stigma."

"It was my concept after suffering the indignity of redundancy," adds Davies. He decided to utilise that "punched in the stomach" feeling and came up with the idea for Bounceback, which he is now selling back to human resources departments who deliver the blow to people like him. Currently a quarter of a million people are redundant, and since redundancy comes just after death and divorce in the list of emotional traumas treated by counsellors, the Bounceback team would seem to have a ready audience.

The magazine will aim to cover all areas that redundant people need to know about, including financial advice as to what to do with their settlement, how to set up a home office - for those who wish to start their own business, advice on the best buys in mobile telephones and economical cars, and planning a CV.

They identify three different strands in the redundancy market: those who now want to retire, those who want to set up their own business and those who need to find a new job.

The initial print run will be 30,000 and the magazine will be published quarterly at first, sold by subscription only, though Davies is hoping that it will later become bimonthly, when it could become available on newsstands. A website for the publication is also due to be set up later this week.

The really clever idea, however, is that rather than selling the magazine direct to unemployed individuals, the marketing effort is targeted at companies' human resources departments, in what seems like a move to shame them into a realisation of how nasty it is to "let people go".

In fact, those who think the shame culture is dead should think again. Most magazines aim to create a need that isn't really there, in order to persuade as many people as possible to buy the product. Bounceback has twisted this idea so as to create a guilt purchase instead. Large firms who lay off large numbers of staff may feel compelled to offer their departing workers a subscription, so that they appear to be doing something positive for them.

Davies admits that the greatest number of sales will come from firms rather than individuals: "In reality we're hoping that human resources departments are going to buy it in bulk as corporate subscriptions. They'll see it as a fairly reasonable part of their redundancy programme - pounds 12 for four issues - it's next to nothing, and tax deductible."

An insert in the Financial Times last Friday made this clear. As well as targeting the redundant, it also told employers and human resources managers who have had to utter the "painful sentence": "There is something more that you can do to help". It notes that it is "inexpensive for your company" - the first four issues cost pounds 12, or pounds 3.50 per issue, "a small investment to make in someone's future".

So far, a leading airline, a major transport company and a large conglomerate are all said to be interested in taking out block sales. Davies says the response to the FT insert has been "extraordinary ... quite astonishing".

Presumably the sweetest revenge for the Bounceback team would be for their former employers to take out block salesn