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2020: New Decade, New Plans?

Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 12:05 AM

What publishers have in store for their publications in the coming year.

By William Dunkerley

We asked a sampling of readers to tell what plans they'll be rolling out for this start of a new decade. Here's what they told us:

--Deborah Lockridge, editor-in-chief, Heavy Duty Trucking: "My biggest goals for 2020 are addressing productivity issues, including coordinating assignments better with related brands at our company. We have just launched our first podcast, HDT Talks Trucking, which is our big 'attempt at something new' this year."

--Dave Fusaro, editor-in-chief, Food Processing magazine: "Our most important goal is maintaining a respectable print presence -- because that is the mothership, the source of most content regardless of medium, the wide-angle look into our industry category (food and beverage manufacturing) that maintains our position as thought leaders in that market. It's proactive, not reactive; the physical reminder of the brand that is pushed out monthly to 70,000 people. Our value and utility to advertisers starts with that. As to new year: We are producing videos, both stand-alone instructive ones on our predetermined schedule ('what is high-pressure pasteurization?') and ones briefly describing the contents of a written story (embedded videos)."

--Donald Tepper, editor, PT in Motion: "Our parent association is rebranding -- a new logo, a new look, and a mission to make all elements of the association resemble the brand for a more unified look. This includes our state associations as well as groups within the association that represent members with particular skills or interests. It also means adopting a more coherent look for everything the association puts out . . . and that includes its magazine. As a result, we are going through a major redesign and rebrand as well as a name change. Our goal, therefore, is to accomplish the rebranding, renaming, and redesign of the magazine, thereby meeting the objectives of the association and better serving our readers. Now, we'll be shifting our content somewhat to put more emphasis on association-related products and services. Many of those are already in existence, but some are just being developed. This involves some agility -- we've already modified our editorial calendar to better align with the association's modified schedule -- as well as some creativity in presenting the information to our readers."

--Paul Fanlund, editor and publisher, Cap Times: "My primary goal for 2020 as editor is to improve our journalism by doing more investigative and enterprise work. It is vital that we do more local journalism of that type. My job as publisher is about driving paid memberships, and we are quite advanced in hosting events (see Cap Times Idea Fest at http://bit.ly/3aPSiCi)."

Does Everybody Have Plans?

Note that there is a question mark in the title of this article. Why is it there? The reason is that many editors declined to disclose what their plans are for 2020.

We just heard above from several editors who readily shared with us. From their comments we see a lot of willingness to adapt what they are doing to the changing circumstances that permeate the editorial business these days. They express continued concern for good content. And three out of four have ventured into some form of audiovisual content creation.

That represents a large change from last year when we asked editors to share their plans. Then editors were much more forthcoming. We reported on twenty editorial plans in particular.

But there was one large difference in the nature of the responses. Digital was the predominent theme in the dawn of 2019. Many editors had big plans for digital. That changed this year. No more big digital schemes.

We asked a few observers to speculate on the shift from 2019 to 2020. Why have so few agreed to share now? And why has a robust digital agenda disappeared from the scene?

Here are the theories we heard regarding the difference:

--Too busy to plan.
--Too busy to describe 2020 plans.
--Last year's digital plans embarassingly went bust.
--Distraction by the Washington political turmoil.
--Uncertainty in the election year economic picture.
--Got the secret sauce for digital success and are keeping it secret.
--Things are changing too quickly.
--Just don't know what to do next.

Do you have any insights into this? Whether it's from experience at your own publication or your best guess about things elsewhere, please let us know. Use the comment link below this article. Anonymity is okay. We won't publish any of the comments unless we check with you first. Primarily we'll use the input to guide our ever-emerging 2020 plans at Editors Only. Finding ways to best serve readers is a priority here. We believe that adaptibility to changing circumstances, reader needs, and interests is important to all publications, even EO!

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

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