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Issue for April 2017

What Will You Accomplish before Year-end?

Posted on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Readers tell us what they hope to achieve by 2018.

By William Dunkerley

Mark Twain once wrote, "Inherently, each one of us has the substance within to achieve whatever our goals and dreams define."

We asked a group of publishers what they hoped to accomplish this year. Our specific question: "What is the most important business objective you hope to achieve before year-end at your publication?"

They Answered...

Ted Coene, co-president at Group C Media, proclaimed it to be "Stability!" He explained, "We have had a lot of turnover in one of our sales territories. So we recently brought that position in-house. Now that we are at full strength, I expect us to grow the business by 20 percent both in print and online."

"Our chief goal is to further solidify our brand within our audience and expand its reach." That's the response that came from Dave Zoia, editorial director at WardsAuto.

Another respondent said simply his goal is to "package social media into marketing."

At Rampike magazine editor Karl Jirgens ties his business goals to the basic purpose of his publication. He explains:

"The primary objective of Rampike has always been disseminating new and groundbreaking developments in literature and the arts, while raising the profiles of those appearing in the publication. That in turn raises the profile of the publication itself. Our planned online presence is part of that plan. So any business matters are integral to the cultural role of the journal, which is the primary purpose."

Not Everyone Has a Goal!

While the above leaders are successful in articulating their goals, I was struck by how many publishers seem to be operating without a vision of what they will achieve this year.

Why is that? No one explained. So let's analyze:

I began this article with a Mark Twain message of empowerment. But the second part of Twain's statement is more cynical. He went on, "What is missing from each of us is the training, education, knowledge, and insight to utilize what we already have."

That does not seem to be the whole answer for me. It's true that many of today's publishers acquired their training, education, and knowledge at a time that predates the full impact of the digital explosion.

However, we've all been immersed in the milieu of changing technology. Very few are truly ignorant. But many publishers may be challenged when it comes to insight into the future.

That's not hard to understand.

Technological advances, changes in consumer habits, and ever-morphing advertiser buying patterns conspire to make it difficult to have reliable insights. There's no roadmap for a path never before traveled.

Some Advice

Howard Rauch, president of Editorial Solutions, Inc., has advice, however, for publishers looking to chart a course. He advocates adopting a "differentiate or die" philosophy.

Specifically, Rauch advises, "A high priority before the end of the year would be to inject more enterprise e-news reporting into every issue published."

He explains, "Many publishers and editors have yet to grasp that they compete with the world -- not just opposing publications serving the same market. So there is a mandate to stand out from the crowd."

Rauch backs up his advice with some original research:

"For the past six years I have conducted B2B e-news delivery studies. I've found that 65 percent of articles posted reflect no evidence of enterprise reporting."

To underline his point Rauch passed along a quote from Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith:

"If you're [publishing] content that someone else is producing, you have to stop right away and rethink your approach. Create content that no one else is producing. It's a high bar, but if you do it well, you have a fundamental building block to becoming a must read for your audience."

The Bottom Line

My own advice is to take seriously the admonitions from Rauch and Smith. Content is not the be-all and end-all of the publishing game. Audience aggregation and revenue generation are of obvious necessity. But without content that suits your audience's needs you'll attract no readers. And with no readers you'll have no advertisers.

That leaves us with the big question of how to plan and manage all this. We'll deal with that conundrum in a future issue. Stay tuned.

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

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Time Inc.: Not for Sale

Posted on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 12:29 PM

In the news: After a period of uncertainty, a leading magazine publisher changes course.

Today, Time Inc.'s board announced that it would not sell itself. The announcement comes after several bidders, including Meredith Corporation, had expressed interest in buying the publisher. Writes Sydney Ember of the New York Times: "Instead, the company said it would pursue the strategic plan its new management team had laid out, which includes increasing its digital audience and pursuing new opportunities for revenue growth."

Despite a long era of uncertainty amid revenue declines, cost cutting, and staff shake-ups, Time is showing signs of growth; ad revenue last year was up 3 percent, according to Ember. Executive management has made a strong push to boost digital revenue to offset print decline.

Read the full article here.

Also Notable

Amazon Magazine Subscription Service

Amazon is joining Google and Apple in the magazine subscription game. Earlier this week, the retail giant unveiled its new Subscribe with Amazon service, which allows Amazon customers to buy digital subscriptions to various magazines and newspapers right on its site or in its app. According to Max Willens of Digiday.com, Amazon takes a steep 30 percent cut in the first year and then 15 percent per year thereafter. Read more here.

Branded Content and Integration

Magazines have had a hard time reaping significant revenue from social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. Some publishers are turning to branded content and brand integration to expand revenue potential. "It's critical to monetize the social ecosystem beyond traffic harvesting," writes Steve Smith of MinOnline.com. Read the complete discussion here.

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