Why Regional Publishing Is Thriving Down East

As we noted last month, regional interest magazines are hot these days. In fact, of the 93 new titles launches so far this year, regional titles were the top category, according to Erik Sass in Media News Daily.

And it’s far from a new phenomenon. Regional titles have traditionally been popular with readers. One title in particular, Down East, is celebrating 60 years of print publishing with a six-cover issue and a big charity bash later this year.

Bill Mickey of Folio:  interviewed Down East’s Bob Fernald on what his business looks like these days, and why regional interest titles work so well.

Mickey spoke to Fernald about the downturn in subscriptions and advertising rate drops since the last recession, and Fernald offered this insight on his market:

“[A] big change between the past and today is the amount of competition has skyrocketed. We have direct competitors, there are two other regional magazines in the state, but then there are all the other possible channels. So whether it’s online or TV or cable, you name it, ultimately people view advertising as a commodity and so when you have a glut of supply the pricing is affected.

“The pricing that people are able to command today is probably a shadow of what it was before and I think that’s the same case across the industry,” Fernald continued.

When Mickey followed up, asking if the “hyper-local digital publishers” had a big impact on his business, Fernald answered definitely.

“No, the national versions of local media never worked well here because the market is so small that it wasn’t cost-effective for them. However, locally grown versions of the same thing cropped up, but ultimately it’s hard to make a living off of doing a small, one-man website in a place like this,” said Fernald.

What ultimately leads to success for Down East and other regional titles is unique to this niche, notes Fernald.

“The strategic advantages that regional magazines have are two-fold. One is we’re on the ground, right in a local market. And so we know what’s going on with our local advertisers and we are looking for dollars that are an order of magnitude smaller than what big national advertisers are looking for.”

“The second thing is our brands are often synonymous with a region,” Fernald continues. “Our brands are uniquely positioned to dominate local marketplaces. It’s in a way that other media just can’t do, whether it’s TV or a website or even a newspaper.”

We congratulate Down East on 60 years of publishing excellence, and wish them at least 60 more.