BoSacks - The Profit Prophet: Publishing Visioneers—Got Any?
As I crisscross the country in these difficult times delivering lectures on the future of publishing, I not only talk, but I listen very carefully. I listen to the fears, the bravado, the good ideas and the ever-so-slightly out-of-kilter unusuals. These would be creative members of our publishing brotherhood who have ideas from the fringe, new concepts for old business models. I bring this up because lately I have been focusing on the following theme: What is your magazine’s strategy for success? Who in your organization is in charge of the changes that we are confronted with as an industry? For lack of a better word, who in your company has the overall big picture in sight as the company “visioneer”?
As this industry grows and adjusts to today’s realities, it is going to be vital for companies large and small to delegate the long-term responsibility for visioneering. In small companies, the task might go to a single person responsible for crafting a long-term strategy, while in large companies it might go to a team of visioneers.
As the publishing industry is rapidly changing, we all know that many of the old rules may no longer apply. What we need to do is apply our trusted traditional skill sets as publishers to the new concept that we are now more than publishers—we are information distributors. Not every publisher will be able to make the necessary changes from conventional thinking to contemporary methods. But those of us who are flexible and forward-looking will have the best chance to recuperate when the economy does.
The economy will, of course, recover, and when it does, the print universe will be just one of many ways to distribute information. Printed products will increasingly share the dwindling advertising wealth with a multitude of new competitors. These digital competitors are very young, but also extremely robust. They grow and improve every day. In the new publishing world, the digital page can do a dozen things the printed page can’t. Therefore, the digital page needs to be greatly respected and, if you don’t own these digital pages, perhaps even feared.