Print as the Haute Couture in your Brand Marketing

From dead to premium, what does print’s new status mean for publishers on a practical level?

Striking the balance between print and digital content is a tightrope walk, as any publisher these days will tell you. Linda Ruth in Publishing Executive has some timely advice for finding that sweet spot, and it’s all about recognizing print’s role as your premium branding vehicle, she says.

“Publishers have heard and accepted that print is to be a brand’s premium product going forward, but what does that mean in practical terms? And how can an understanding of that model lead to a reversal of the downward trends publishers are struggling to cope with?” she asks.

Ruth recently attended Distripress in Brussels, where leaders in the press distribution industry gathered at their yearly event. The takeaway was clear. Ruth paraphrases keynote speaker Juan Señor of Innovation Media (UK) who spoke about the model his group is working under.

“Publishers will need both print and online content to succeed, [Señor] tells us: print as the haute couture to lead the brand and online as prêt-á-porter to carry it. The product you’re sending down the catwalk is similar but not the same as the product hanging from the racks in the stores,” she writes.

“Print products will be thinner, will use less paper, but will provide more relevant value — and not in the form of mere data. Humans simply cannot ingest any more data. Instead, we need to change both the content and architecture of print, moving to more journalism, more scoops, less opinion, more facts, more analysis, and more briefings,” she explains.

We’ve been making the case for a while now that with print’s luxurious future and digital’s ability to reach target audiences, finding that balance between the two is going to be vital to success. And the content that works for print is not going to work as well for digital and especially mobile, and vice-versa.

Just as most publishers can’t survive with a print-only model (Monocle and a handful of rare exceptions noted), Señor notes that going digital-only for a publisher is “misguided, as the money is not moving and will not move to digital-only. Even today, 93% of publishing revenues globally still come from print.”

“And publishers need the designer name of print to build and keep their audiences, just as they need the minute-by-minute updates of online to engage them,” Señor continues. “Print is for prestige, and digital is for the mass market. And what is provided in each format needs to change.”