Publishing … Outside the Box and Way Off the Page

What’s next for print magazine publishers, now that they’ve embraced a multi-channel approach to their brand? According to Janet Levine writing in AdAge, it’s time to embrace an attitude of reinvigoration that goes way beyond the page.

Print publishers, she believes, have “a unique opportunity to reinvigorate their brands.

“If we treated these publishers the way we do clients,” Levine continues, “I’d tell them that they have storied legacies and enormous amounts of brand equity—what they need now is to evolve their offerings in a way that puts print in the center of a more disruptive offering.”

What might that look like? Levine offers a few ideas, starting with reimagining “the bundle.”

“What if a music magazine offered a full-year subscription that also unlocks a free month of Spotify premium? Or imagine if a beauty publication collaborated with Birchbox to unlock exclusive content, deeper discounts and limited-edition products,” Levine writes.

This goes for brand partnerships too, like last year’s wildly successful New York Post cover that featured just the logo for clothing line Supreme. Gimmicky? Maybe, but it sold out within hours of hitting the streets, and became a hot collector commodity almost immediately.

The push is also on to make print more high tech, offering interactive pages and shoppable images.

“Users can scan a photo of a model to learn his or her backstory. Or scan a pair of jeans to see where to buy them online or where the nearest physical store is—and getting a big discount from the retailer in doing so. What’s key is giving people a real incentive,” Levine explains.

Another key innovation is thinking beyond the brand itself in terms of social exposure and promoting your staff as influencers.

“For example, if the editors from Allure flooded top beauty podcasts over the course of one month, these podcasters could have featured articles published in the print mag, or serve as guest beauty editors,” Levine recommends. “The cross-pollination would drive traffic back-and-forth, and you could further build your staff’s influencer brands.

Finally, publishers need to think beyond the pages to leverage the brand itself.

“Remember that print brands have long-standing and powerful heritages, so while some physical publications may fade away, it doesn’t mean that the brand fades away too,” Levine notes. “Publishers can thrive now and in the future, if they continue to think out-of-the-box and beyond the pages.”

I can’t stress this enough – print is in a resurgence in many quarters, but it’s not happening out of thin air. Publishers who are getting savvier about their audience, what they want, and where their passions lie are finding new ways to succeed.