(E-)Reading the Tea Leaves of Digital Magazines
In print magazine publishing, very often the attitude is, "We have to create and control our own content." When you're competing with online content sources, it often pays to partner with online content sources and aggregate online content sources. Sometimes those are much more successful competing strategies, just from a content point of view. This is also a different way to look at leveraging content than what traditional print magazine editors are used to.
The way you present content needs to also compete with Web sites, blogs, etc. If you're competing with a Web site that has hosted videos or Flash animation, you'd do well to have those incorporated into your digital magazine, because you're competing against an online audience now. Think like an online content developer, who happens to be using a magazine format.
Most traditional magazine editors think, "I'm a magazine editor who's creating online content." That's the wrong mind-set. The right mind-set is, "I'm an online content provider who happens to utilize a magazine format."
INBOX: What steps do magazine publishers need to take within their own organizations to change that mind-set to online first?
GORDON: To be honest, I haven't seen a lot of publishing companies be that successful at it. I do know some that have, though, and I'll tell you some of the things that worked within their corporate cultures. First of all, I don't think that there are any rules. A lot of publishing companies are saying, "We have to do more online. We're going to be Web-first, and we're going to convert all of our content to online." But the problem with that is it's too big of a mind-set change.
Companies that have personnel who are using the Internet to personally communicate every day have a much higher success rate of making this transition [from print to digital magazines]. We all use the Internet, we all use e-mail, we all use Internet tools, but I know one publishing company where employees are required to have a Facebook page and Twitter account. A lot of the internal company correspondence happens via social media tools.