By: Karina Fabian, Marketing Communications Specialist
Is print dying or metamorphosizing in purpose?
The past year has seen incredible change in the news media industry, as print newspapers and magazines have stopped or greatly reduced print production. The trend is continuing. This month, The Forward, a magazine for Jewish Americans, stopped print production after 121 years and is moving to strictly digital.
And yet, also this month, EatingWell magazine announced it is increasing print production with four extra issues per year and a 78% increase to its rate base. This was partly the result of its merger with Cooking Light to serve that magazine’s print-preferring audience as it transitioned to fully digital. Even before that, however, EatingWell was seeing strong growth, with overall revenue up 14% and a growing millennial audience, according to an interview with EatingWell’s publisher, Tiffany Ehasz.
EatingWell is not the only company seeing good results from print. There’s a growing trend by non-media companies to add print magazines to their revenue-earning tool belt. For example, the luggage company Away started publishing a travel magazine, Here, which is included in every piece of luggage. Now, the magazine is also commercially available. In the UK, the free fashion magazine by Superdrug, DARE, recently hit the shelves and sells for £2.50. In the newspaper world, some publishers are finding success with smaller, more focused lines. Newsday, a Newscycle customer, runs nine niche publications that focus on everything from games to senior living.
Why are some publishers still finding success in print while others are making the jump to pure digital? In the end, it comes down to reaching your audience.
Three Audience Attributes You Need to Know
Where are their print interests?
People read print and digital content differently. Print is still superior for longer, more thoughtful articles, while digital can keep pace with fast-breaking news and events, for example. Preference also depends on demographics – although it has been shown that millennials are willing to pay for print subscriptions for the right content. They, too enjoy the tactile experience of paper.
What’s the best content for your print production? There’s no set formula. The best way to know is to analyze reading habits, experiment and of course, ask your readership. Listen to them as well. Away started its travel mag specifically because of customer calls asking questions about travel.
Where can you reach them best?
Away started out with a free magazine in each piece of luggage. They knew that at very least, every issue would be touched by someone in their target audience. EatingWell and DARE are stationed in the checkout aisles of grocery stores – the perfect venue for their target audience.
On the flip side, The Forward made its move to digital only after research and trials. In fact, when they found their readers were turning to digital first, their first reaction was not to jump to digital only but to move to a once-a-month print publishing schedule to determine if there was enough interest to stay viable. In their case, it was not, but this additional step allowed them to prove their hypothesis that their audience was satisfied with a digital format.
How often do they need you?
The old paradigms said publish according to the calendar – annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily. Digital did away with that, and some print magazines are taking advantage of the paradigm shift to align their issues with events and schedules of their industry. For example, the fashion magazine W has decreased its issues to eight a year, with each issue focused on the fashion of that season.
There’s no denying the news and magazine industries are changing. Digital is becomingly increasingly popular and more financially profitable. However, there is still an argument for print. It’s a matter of understanding the needs of your audience and fulfilling them, not only with excellent content but the right content in the right venue at the right time.
About the Author: Karina Fabian has been writing about business, leadership & management, and software applications for over a decade. Before joining Newscycle, she wrote reviews of business software and services for Top Ten Reviews and Tom’s Guide, and about business practices and leadership for Business News Daily and Business.com. In addition to writing for Newscycle, she is a freelance writer and author of 16 books.