On Second Thought …
With many magazine publishers struggling to offset ad revenue declines, reprints and content licensing have become even more important to the bottom line. Making them even more attractive is that generating revenue in this area can take very little time or financial investment. In some respects, it's viewed as free money.
"We hadn't been doing much with reprints, and I really saw a lot of missed opportunity there," says Rachael Poirier, marketing manager for AutoWeek. "[Our reprints partner (Wright's Reprints)] recognized there was so much more we could do with our content to bring in incremental revenue. They helped us identify new revenue streams as far as licensing and permissions, doing special reprints, and being able to offer new pieces for our readers."
Anne-Sophie Ribault, chief marketing officer at SharedXpertise Media (formerly Crossing Media), which publishes HRO Today, HRO Europe, FAO Today and CRO magazines and works with reprints provider Foster Printing Service, agrees: "For most publishers, I think it's an ancillary product. We don't publish to resell. … So, to me, … it's money that comes by itself."
The Search Begins
Reprints/licensing sales are often outsourced by publishers. Many simply don't have the time and resources to effectively serve their customers' needs in this area. Therefore, finding the right outsource partner becomes critical.
"It's essential that a licensing representative understands the value of your brand and the … opportunities it offers in the exploitation of your content," says Bill Daniels, COO of Laptop, who cites the company's relationship with its reprints partner (Wright's) as a major factor in its brand expansion and frequent use of its logo over the past two years.
Finding the partner goes beyond identifying the one with the cheapest rates (most charge commissions on sales, but no up-front costs), although the financial arrangement is certainly a factor. Others include finding a company that is proactive in searching out leads for sales and that is willing to explore new ways to help expand your brand.
Finding the Right Partner
With no shortage of options—Foster Printing Service, Scoop ReprintSource, PARS International, The YGS Group, Sheridan Reprints, Cadmus, Copyright Clearance Center, and Wright's Reprints, among others—finding the right company to handle your reprint and content licensing needs can be a challenge. Here are six tips to help make this process a little more manageable:
1. Focus on trust, professionalism and time savings being offered, rather than on who's promising the best cut, says Ribault, who notes that SharedXpertise's reprint sales have doubled in the past two years working with its reprints partner.
2. Do your research, says Daniels, including: finding a company that has publications similar to yours among its clients; reviewing detailed examples of how the licensing process has worked for existing clients; communicating with the individual who will be the point person on your account; determining the estimated licensing rates the company believes your brand can command, broken down by the various licenses that could be offered; and confirming the time the company's account person can devote to selling your content.
3. Identify the company that has the right database and will be proactive in generating leads for your content, Poirier says.
4. Treat it like you're looking to hire a member of your sales team, not a vendor, Ribault says. Poirier notes, "You want to be able to say, '… We're going to direct you to our reprint arm,' and then know that they're responding with the same professionalism that your internal reps would."
5. You must clearly define each other's role in the relationship, Ribault cautions. "There's got to be a real definition of who does what."
6. Don't look for an editorial partner, Daniels cautions. While sharing your content expeditiously can help to motivate and guide licensing partners in their efforts, having their input on any editorial decisions shouldn't be part of your search criteria.
Joe Keenan is a senior associate editor at North American Publishing Co. and a staff writer with Publishing Executive magazine.