Right now sitting on my desk are four print publications launched in the past year. Three are quarterlies: Modern Farmer, featured in this issue's "Corner Office," is a chronicle of contemporary agriculture and food issues. Pitchfork Review is a long play companion to the online music criticism publication Pitchfork, which was founded in the early days of the internet. The third is a cross-disciplinary science magazine called Nautilus. The fourth is a monthly magazine from a well-known media outlet: Politico Magazine.
All four publications have a few things in common. They are all printed on high-quality stock. They all place a lot of emphasis on the visual component of storytelling. They all demonstrate a dedication to long-form, reported journalism and storytelling as an immersive experience. Above all, their existence is a testament to a belief that providing such experiences is still a worthy business proposition.
Whether examining the phenomenon of human uniqueness (Nautilus) or tribulations of Obama's Cabinet (Politico), these four publications are concerned with digging deep into a topic and providing informed points of view and rich context, and providing an enjoyable and thoughtful experience. Some refer to this as a "lean back" reading experience where readers (or users) slow down their rate of content consumption, unplug, and concentrate on the content at hand.
Advertisers are coming back around to the idea that a quality content experience has the ability to suck readers in and hold their undivided attention. This content tends to resonate, or as Politico co-founder and editor-in-chief John Harris puts it, "It echoes in the mind."
This all brings us to a theme running throughout this issue of Publishing Executive: reader engagement. Engagement strategies take many forms. Providing a lean back experience is one type. Sometimes engagement is increased through the use of hard evidence, as is reported in the "Data-Driven Publishing" feature or the Tech Talk article featuring analytics software "Chartbeat." Sometimes steps for greater engagement are simply intuitive, as Pitchfork Media president Chris Kaskie describes in "Why the Web Turned to Print". The "Come Together" article looks at engagement from yet another angle: weaving content experiences and people together to create community.
Related story: 6 Things Digital Natives Should Know About Print
Denis Wilson was previously content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzed and reported on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aimed to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.