Can this Relationship Be Saved?

hugging-wordsIs your magazine a one-night stand, a love affair or a long marriage? A new way to look at the reader relationship.

Digital changed a lot about our world, but let’s not kid ourselves that it changed everything – like magazines for example.

We love the ongoing discussion about the future of print and specifically the future of magazines. Yes, business models have changed and publishers continue to sort them out. Meanwhile publishers continue ask what is a magazine in this day and age; to me a magazine is and always will be ink on paper.

Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni takes a similar stand in a recent blog post: “The number one trait that will always remain is: if it’s not ink on paper, it is not a magazine. It can be many platforms if it isn’t ink on paper, because there are many platforms, but it cannot be a magazine. We have to be careful about what we define as a magazine.”

Can I get an “oh yeah”?

Husni goes on to talk about some of the fundamentals of the medium that remain constant – content, design, curation and innovation – and in particular the relationship your title has with your audience.

As Husni puts it, there are three relationship styles for magazines: the one-night stand, the love affair and the marriage.

“Magazines that are published based on a milestone, key event or a person. Life Magazine usually does a great job of publishing one-night stands. They have published special editions or tributes for ‘Princess Diana’, ‘John F. Kennedy’, ‘Ronald Reagan’, ‘Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee’ and ‘WWII 60th Anniversary.’ These types of magazines need to be timely to entice readers into a one-night stand,” wrote Pam Didner after a previous interview with Husni.

Others are more of the love affair variety, like wedding magazines or pregnancy titles. “When the wedding is over, the baby is born; they are no longer interested in the magazine as if a love affair lost its fire and passion,” she explains.

Finally, there are those titles that become ritual to the readers, a long-standing part of their lives. “My mother-in-law loves her New Yorker and my husband reads his monthly car plates magazine…These types of magazines become part of their lives and they are loyal followers,” Didner notes.

For publishers, understanding the nature of the relationship with your customers is always critical; now we have a new way to look at it, thanks to Mr. Magazine.