Many (most?) media publishers continue to struggle to find a sustainable answer to the challenges of the internet. As the latest Reuters Institute report on digital news shows, social media is breaking down readers’ traditional loyalty to media outlets and – worse still – is blocking much of the online advertising revenue on which publishers had pinned their hopes. The report’s authors conclude that publishers need to come up with better, more inventive business models if they are to survive.
We are, indeed, seeing some publishers respond more creatively, recognising the latent power of their media brands. Most outlets with any wit or ambition now organise conferences (such as Flightglobal), following the example of the music industry in tapping ‘right of admission’ as an income source the internet can’t take away. Some are being more ambitious still, expanding their offering to include activities such as specialist industry training (B2B Marketing), brand consulting (WIRED) or holidays (The Telegraph), all which are well pitched at their target audiences.
But just as we’re getting used to this new reality, along comes a clutch of new, high-end travel magazines that are enjoying great success as – shock! – printed magazines. As Tom Robbins reports in the Financial Times, independently published magazines such as Cereal and Avaunt are building a whole new following that must make mainstream publishers green with envy. It is a clever and heartening approach to recognise that discerning readers are looking for a different type of content than the internet is serving up. Also, the web is really poor at creating a luxury feel: the pixels that one minute are showing a Chanel advertisement can at the next moment be showing a directory of local plumbers. The tactile pleasure of reading a hefty, creatively designed magazine on high-quality stock conveys a sense of luxury the internet cannot possibly match. Luxury brands instinctively feel at home here in a way they never will online.
And, needless to say, the rise of such titles creates a great new opportunity for public relations, provided brands and PR agencies can be as creative with their editorial opportunities as the publishers are with their outlets.