Report from Distripress: Surprise to Survive
Print product needs to constantly surprise, innovate, disrupt, and delight, according to executives from publications around the world, speaking at the Distripress Forum, held in Cannes on September 29th.
Print, the basis of these publishers' innovative strategies, is irreplaceable. Though digital may seem king, publishers working to hasten the decline of their print divisions in order to build their digital assets are pursuing an "odd and dangerous" strategy, according to findings from the Distripress survey of the international press. Distripress presented those findings at its global conference.
Despite this warning, success stories were plentiful at the conference, including strategies for leveraging online and offline content in new and surprising ways. "We need to continue to surprise our readers every day," said Diane Kenwood, EIC of the UK magazine Woman's Weekly, where print sales remain the lifeblood of this profitable title. Kenwood's company is pioneering a commercial strategy built around a publication-based online retail shop, which offers the products audience members want and need to implement projects described in the publication.
"We offer the patterns, the materials, everything that our readers need to make the things found in the magazine," Kenwood said. "We also have advertising pages in the magazine which are all about the things we sell in the shop. Our print magazine drives traffic and calls out the products in the shop, and every single thing in the magazine can be found in the shop. We have entire pullout sections in the center of the magazine, which are like a catalog for the shop. Our vision is that the shop will become known on its own also. At the same time, our editorial content is the core of our brand, and we are careful to make sure that our readers understand what they are seeing, whether it is sponsored or editorial. This magazine belongs to its readers."
Libelle, the largest magazine in the Netherlands, also is building surprising offerings from its print brand. Its core remains the weekly print publication, which is read by 52% of Dutch women over 13. To celebrate the publication's 80th birthday, it will offer its readers online material to enable them to make their own Libelle, selecting their own articles and photos and assembling their customized edition. "We surprise every day," said the EIC, echoing what other speakers said. "We took over a B&B and had our readers manage it; we did a thriller soap opera series on the internet with four minutes of content a day. The story was about a chief editor taken hostage. We invent new items, new features, new surprises all the time. And it's just the beginning. Digital is still in baby phase. Who knows what we'll be able to do in future years?"
Matt Bean, the editor of Entertainment Weekly uses digital to surprise and delight, keeping print as the core product. "No one wants to be on the cover of a website," he told the assembled forum. "Our celebrities want to be on the print magazine; and as part of that process they will also provide digital content. We also require all our editors to have strong social presences. They can remind people that the new edition is on the newsstand, and let them know what they'll find. It enables us to be where our audience is."
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.