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What Are the Year-End Priorities for Publishers?

Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 11:10 PM

Publishers share their goals, and challenges, as 2016 heads toward a close.

By William Dunkerley

In a quick mini-survey we asked selected publishers this question:

"If you could get immediate help to accomplish one important thing for your magazine before year-end, what would that be?"

As we face a steady stream of new technological challenges, it is interesting to know where other publishers are placing their priorities.

Dave Zoia, editorial director at WardsAuto, was quick to target "video production." Video is a medium many publishers have fancied as ripe for development. Some have already jumped in, displaying various levels of proficiency. Zoia's site sports a very professional exemplar called "Autoline Daily." Take a look at it here.

Tricia Bisoux, co-editor of BizEd magazine, is focused on a problem faced by many publishers with a print past. She says, "We would like immediate help converting older content to our online archives. Right now, our archives only go back about three years online, but our published content goes back 15 years. We have a new Web design launching soon, and the next challenge will be archives." A lot of publications face similar dilemmas.

Throwing In the Towel

Not everyone sees sufficient help in sight for their needs. For some, frankly, addressing all the challenges is not worth the effort. One industry professional for whom I have considerable respect told me that "the industry is undergoing an enormous transition, and it is one I don't want to be a part of."

Others have run up against practical obstacles. For Karl Jirgens, editor of Rampike magazine, it's been a distribution problem. He says, "If my distributor did half the job it did 15 years ago, in terms of getting my magazine out onto bookshelves across the country, then I'd be delighted. But over the years distributor support has faded badly. So, given that, I've decided to quit publishing."

Meanwhile, Pushing Ahead:

Ernest Schmatolla is publisher at Lookonline.com. His publication seeks "to be an informative, entertaining, 'edgy' insider source -- neither politically correct nor gossip driven -- for information about the 'high end' of the New York fashion industry." His interest is in "finding another paying sponsor of our articles."

Brad Glazer publishes Aftermarket International. It is an automotive trade magazine and website touting 38,000 subscribers in more than 100 countries. He's looking for "a salesperson to cover international markets."

Bob Fernekees is VP/group publisher at Information Today, Inc. His publications aim "to serve leaders engaged in the development of customer-centric business initiatives and ventures." Fernekees' goal before year-end? "Increase the depth of our database."

What about Print?

While many publications wrestle with digital needs, Phyllis Galde, editor-in-chief of FATE magazine, has a priority elsewhere. The magazine gives in-depth coverage of "the strange and unknown." Her need? "Probably money for printing would be the best thing!" She explains, "Many of our subscribers don't have computers, or don't like to read the online version and prefer the printed edition."

Chris Schulz, publisher of Orange Coast magazine, reports, "The most important thing for our magazine is to educate the market about the continued viability of print media. In our sector, 'city and regional magazines,' we retain an extremely strong bond with our readers, who rely on our magazines for inspiration and information about their community. Our renewal rates and newsstand sales are consistently higher than industry average, and we have a loyal and engaged audience. No other media reach the affluent resident and visitor in our market more effectively than our magazine and related digital assets. For advertisers, this means a targeted and effective way to reach a valuable audience. Print lives!"

Veronica Tovey, president of What's Up? Media, expresses concern about weathering future economic storms. Her immediate priorities? "Land one more custom publishing yearly or semi-annual publication. These are great sources of built-in profit. During a downturn they can help carry the more risky publications that don't have a built-in profit margin.

Industry Wide...

Howard Rauch, president of Editorial Solutions Inc., points to something any publisher should give priority to before this year ends. It's the importance of "injecting more enterprise e-news reporting into every issue published." Rauch focuses primarily on B2B publications. But I think executives across the industry should heed his advice.

Rauch explains, "Many publishers and editors have yet to grasp that they compete with the world -- not just opposing publications serving the same industry. So there is a mandate to stand out from the crowd. For the past six years I have conducted B2B e-news delivery studies that find 65 percent of articles posted reflect no evidence of enterprise reporting. Another important shortfall is inability to devote more enterprise to securing input from end users."

This all highlights the self-limiting over-reliance upon over-the-transom submissions, press releases, and advertiser-promoted content. According to journalism professor Tony Rogers, "Enterprise reporting involves stories not based on press releases or news conferences. Instead, enterprise reporting is all about the stories a reporter digs up on his or her own, what many people call 'scoops.' Enterprise reporting goes beyond merely covering events. It explores the forces shaping those events."

That's the kind of thing that can distinguish our magazine content from the plethora of information that proliferates all over the Internet. Rauch hits the nail on the head when he points out that our competition is no longer limited to other magazines. We are indeed competing with the world of information, literally.

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

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