Let’s face it: The next time you hear or read someone saying “print is dead,” you can pretty much peg them immediately as out of date and out of touch. You are allowed to roll your eyes or chuckle softly to yourself while slowly shaking your head.
“Traditional media businesses are not idiots and by now, pretty much every major player has adjusted its model to become a cross-platform, multi-media content business – although with varying degrees of success and a dizzying array of business models,” notes Jessica Butcher in MediaWeek.
She’s right. By and large the adjustments have been made. And in the fallout, we’ve seen magazine publishers become media brands, ecommerce sites launch print magazines, and new specialty niche publications launch and bloom.
“And while newspapers and many weekly lifestyle titles have seen print circulation decline in an ever-increasing, rolling-online-news environment, a number of monthly magazines are seeing increased circulation (eg Bauer) due to the fact that they have built their foundations on passion and community – two critical pillars which drive the success of print,” Butcher continues.
That’s not to say they are getting it right every time. Like in any massive shift, there are challenges that are yet to be resolved. Butcher points out two specifics things that concern her:
- The lack of joined up thinking between print and digital journalism, with often total personnel delineation between the two.
- The tendency of many media companies, even with a significant print readership, to put all the best stuff online, effectively penalizing valuable print readers.
“Interactive print provides a powerful tool in the battle to address both but it is as yet, underutilised and worse, in many newsrooms, written off as a gimmick,” she laments.
Her solution? “Good editorial practice can fundamentally reinvigorate print in 3 critical ways,” says Butcher:
- Driving reader engagement, loyalty and community by inviting them to interact, contribute and share off the physical pages.
- Further justifying the digital content ROI by embedding it throughout the print edition.
- Through the immense value of the never-previously-available real-time data on print reader habits that the technology provides; hugely valuable insights for both editorial and commercial teams on which pages cause readers to pause and interact, for how long, when in the month, at what time of day and much more. And then (when done well), yes, the advertiser pound will follow.
To get the most leverage out of your print media, it’s not enough to create in a multi-platform way; you have to start thinking like a multi-platform reader.
“Print is not dying. Far from it,” concludes Butcher. “But it is changing. Brands that marry print with the latest innovations in digital will be the ones that reap rewards.”