Publishing Executive January February 2010
Back in the 1990s, before blogs, Twitter and a host of upstart Web sites transformed online debate into a raucous convention anyone could gate crash, David G. Bradley decided to build a media company around the "influentials" market. The guiding notion was that opinion leaders—people who formulate, shape and promulgate important ideas—rather than gatekeepers or copyright owners, were the true heirs to the digital kingdom, and that a lucrative consumer market could be constituted by those charged with putting good ideas into action.
Strategy. Anyone remember that word? Sometimes it seems like many in the industry have forgotten it, if they ever knew it in the first place. The priority instead is put on the fad du jour.
Most blogs boil down to, "I just saw this, and here's what I think of it," followed by several—or several "pages" of—dedicated commenters debating those thoughts. They require a constant stream of new topics to blog about to feed that ongoing discussion.
I graduated from the Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in 1982 having never used a computer during my undergraduate education. When I began selling for Popular Science and Times Mirror magazines in 1987, our offices at 380 Madison Ave. had rotary dial phones (clearly without voice mail). We had no fax machines or Federal Express; insertion orders came in via the U.S. Postal Service. No computers, no database-management systems of any kind, no Internet—and obviously no iPods, HD flat-screen TVs or smartphones. My secretary actually took dictation.
If you're in the midst of negotiating a printing contract, you've already noticed that printers increasingly distinguish themselves by their distribution offerings, not their printing technologies. Because most printing plants today have the ability to put ink on paper at a high level of quality, we tend to shrink manufacturing down to a price comparison. For the most part, distribution also is merely price, but you should consider a few service nuances. But first, let's look at costs.
Sales strategies and techniques have not stood still in today's rapidly changing and economically challenged publishing environment. The recession has left most publishers battered by a period of dry, if not barren ad sales, and left most salespeople not only falling short on targets and commissions, but also running low on spirit. At the same time, as many question how much print-ad revenue will return, the industry is seeing a greater emphasis on digital revenue and integrated platforms, as well as a push toward more creative, multifaceted, data-driven and customer-service oriented ad sales.
Marketers Continue to Adopt
Social Media: 66% of marketers say they'll invest in social media marketing in 2010; 40% of those planning to invest said they would be reallocating more than 20% of their traditional direct marketing budgets to social marketing. Also, 36% have invested in social media monitoring and analysis tools.
Rance Crain, president of Crain Communications, made an interesting point last month. In a Jan. 4 Advertising Age column, he wrote, "Consumers are getting used to saving again, and they won't part with their money unless they're given pretty good reasons." So where does that leave the magazine business?
The 8:15 a.m. train to Grand Central Terminal was crowded, and, standing in the back of the car, I observed the commuting rituals of 30 suburban New Yorkers. Eight were reading newspapers, five listening to iPods, five on BlackBerrys, and four were engaged in honest-to-goodness, face-to-face conversations. A lone Kindle made an appearance toward the front of the car. The balance spent the 27-minute ride into Manhattan staring out the windows or sleeping.