Competition Should Give Way to Collaboration
When two of our local Philadelphia television network affiliates announced they were going to share resources including video and helicopters, it quickly reminded me of why the newspaper industry continues to die a slow and painful death that I hope magazine publishers will not follow.
Newspapers (especially large city dailies) operate using business practices that might have worked 50-plus years ago by, for example, sending the city editor, beat reporter, special projects guy and more recently the online contributor to, let’s say, the mayor’s press conference. More recently, as newspapers consolidated into larger companies, you would see reporters from two or more papers owned by one publisher covering the same event and reporting the same information to readers.
As magazine publishers, we are adjusting our business practices to be more agile and collaborative, in part because the move online requires it. Anyone who has heard me speak at our annual Publishing Business Conference & Expo has heard the TEAM approach I take for successful search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. The TEAM concept stands for Technology, Editiorial, Audience Development (or Art) and Marketing.
What if we took collaboration to the next level?
Whenever I hear a colleague speak about a competitor, or a competitor not speak about us, I laugh. Our readers are not dumb. For the most part, they know we all exist and will go to the best source (and channel) to find what they need. Two words every magazine publisher should take out of their vocabulary is “competition” and “expert” (I’ll save that one for another post).
As audience development continues to become more of a concentrated effort for publishers, I say, forget it. Contact your competition and create one big master file using an impartial list manager. Everyone on the list will get each magazine. If they like one, they’ll keep requesting it. If you offer worthwhile content on the Web, in an e-newsletter, feeds, etc., they will be your loyal readers there as well. If you suck, you will lose them.