Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Big Myth About Magazines

If you're familiar with the all the recent doom and gloom in the magazine publishing industry, you'll know that most prognostications focus on one central 'fact': print magazines are disappearing. Most who make such claims do so with little evidence and plenty of faulty assumptions. Sure, the industry is changing - circulation is down at many magazines and publishers are struggling to figure out how they'll respond to new trends in advertising and monetization. But to reason that this precludes the eventual disappearance of print magazines is misguided. In what follows, I'll discuss a few challenges facing the magazine industry, and how these challenges can be overcome.

1. Increased Competition from Digital Publishers is Poaching Traditional Magazine Readers

In the old days, if you wanted to become a publisher you'd need a printing press, paper, ink, a distributor, a design team, and relationships with advertisers among other things. To put it concisely, becoming a publisher was hard. Now, all you need is a keyboard. The rise of online media has led to increased competition in the publishing space. Readers expect content that is up to the minute, free, and easily accessible. Magazine publishers must determine how their publications can fit into this new paradigm. This does not mean they must get rid of their print editions, but it does mean that they'll need to get creative about the other ways they offer content to readers. Having a comprehensive digital strategy is a necessity both for engaging with readers and for promoting content across platforms.

2. The Glut of Content Providers Makes Brand Recognition Increasingly Difficult

Scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, you'll likely come across more headlines than you could ever hope to recall. I often find myself struggling to recall who published articles that I have recently read. If you're a publisher trying to determine how to make your brand stand out, this presents a challenge. Brand recognition is important for generating loyal, engaged readers. How can you accomplish this in a day and age when there are seemingly more publishers than there are stars in the sky? It starts by creating memorable brand experiences that span platforms. In short, your print content should complement your digital content, and vice-versa. As humans, we often create patterns to help us remember things; it's why advertisers sometimes insert jingles at the end of commercials and why the earliest humans invented constellations to help them observe the night sky. A million individual stars in the sky are largely indistinguishable. Some might shine more brightly than others, but even these can be lost or forgotten. But when these stars are ordered into constellations? Now you've got something people can remember. Similarly, publishers should think of their brands as constellations, and each platform should connect to the others in memorable, meaningful ways.

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