As more and more magazine readers get their news and information from online and mobile sources, and advertisers are switching to digital because of the options the medium provides, some in the magazine publishing industry are questioning whether print can remain relevant and profitable. Others still recognize the value that print provides and are adjusting their publishing strategies to take advantage of that value, while recognizing that a shift — not necessarily a total pivot — toward digital needs to happen. Finding the right balance of print and digital content that meets the needs of the audience and advertisers is key.
The digital transformation has made information far more accessible, and with that, far less reliable than before the internet allowed information (whether fact or fiction) to spread instantly. Because of the greater potential for unreliable information or fake news in the digital world, print still has a viable future. And people are still drawn to the experience of turning the pages of a physical magazine. So how can publishers maintain a print presence in light of the plethora of digital offerings, falling ad revenues, and rising paper and shipping cost?
Reining in print costs
There’s no argument that print carries heavy production costs. Paper, printing, and shipment costs can be hard to justify when digital comes with a much lower price tag. Recent paper shortages are causing higher paper prices; trucker shortages are causing higher shipping costs; and the easy access to digital and mobile media is driving down circulation numbers and ad revenues.
Publishers must be agile and come up with ways to mitigate these challenges if they want their print offerings to remain profitable.
Content is still king
The old adage is as true now as it ever was: The quality and value of your content is paramount to the success of your publication. If you can provide consistently better information than what readers can find online, people will pay for it.
You also need to determine ways to streamline your production processes. Do you have redundancies in your workflows? Can you reassign tasks or combine operations?
Publishers and advertisers have discovered that print is a great branding mechanism. Print publications are tangible, provide an immersive experience, and have longevity. Advertisers have come to appreciate the fact that print allows them to stand out in a sea of digital ads.
Best of both worlds
Although print publishers understand that the publishing industry is moving to digital, they also understand that some people are steadfast in their appreciation of the printed page. Technology isn’t going to kill off print — but it can be used to enhance your print offerings. The combination of print and digital is more effective than either one on its own. For example, one of digital’s strengths is the ability to easily collect data about subscribers to better target content and show advertisers information about the target audience.
On the flip side, you can use your print publication to encourage digital interactions. Things such as augmented reality, QR codes, and related readings send magazine readers to additional content on your website. To better leverage your digital presence, make sure you have an effective social media strategy. Cultivate thought leaders in your user groups and forums and direct followers to both your online and print products. Email is also a key component for expanding the reach of both your print and digital offerings.
In today’s magazine publishing environment, it would be naïve to not have a digital presence. Likewise, publishers need to look at ways print can enhance their digital products. Savvy publishers are realizing that print and digital are complementary strategies and that both should be included in a holistic publishing strategy. By being prepared and being agile, you will be able to quickly adjust your print/digital strategies to take advantage of the constantly changing publishing landscape.
Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.