Keep that Golden Egg-laying Goose Happy

goose-newsPursuing a print strategy with long-term potential makes more sense that focusing on short-term revenue, no matter how tempting that immediate gain looks.

News publishers faced with declining newspaper sales have resorted to any number of strategies to keep their businesses afloat. Yet it’s important to remember, as James Evelegh writes in InPublishing, that “sales of print newspapers are in decline but revenue from print far outstrips that from digital.”

So what are the options? One industry insider sees two distinct strategies:

“Given the medium term trends in the newspaper market of declining print sales, and growing but under-performing digital revenues, publishers would appear to have two choices: manage a declining print market, focusing predominantly on taking costs out of the business and maximising short term revenue, or, investing in their print products thereby extending their lifecycle, increasing medium and long term revenues and pinning their colours firmly to a multi-platform publishing world with a clearly defined role for print,” said UPM’s Anu Ahola in an interview with Evenlegh.

“UPM is the largest supplier of newsprint to the European market, supplying over two million tons from its network of six European newsprint mills, which includes Shotton in the UK. The company’s UK client base includes national and regional newspaper publishers and printers,” Evelegh explains in the article. She’s seeing the struggles from the inside out, and the impacts it’s had on her company as well.

Their strategy? Diversify their revenue streams, but continue to focus on being a financially solid paper supplier that is able to weather the short-term changes in the market.

Ahola raises a fantastic point, asking “We all know the strengths of digital (immediacy, multimedia, interactivity) but, as an industry, do we trumpet the undoubted strengths of print often enough? And, if publishers are uncertain about the core attributes of one of their main products, how can they optimise the value proposition?”

She’s nailed the crux of the issue in those two lines, and this awareness will lead us to be better publishers. If you truly believe in the value of what you are printing, you will naturally put more effort into making it not just good, but great, even exceptional.

As the industry focuses more exceptional print, the value of that print to our bottom lines continues to escalate. What a beautiful upward spiral to witness; we see evidence of print’s luxurious future all around, as it carves out its new role in the multi-channel marketing strategy. Yet publishers can’t go it alone.

“These are challenging times, concludes Anu, and publishers and suppliers need to work in partnership, helping each other to navigate through to a successful future.”

Well said.