Monday, January 24, 2011

Is print dead?

I don’t know about you, by my stack of “to read” publications and articles just grows and grows. It is difficult sometimes to keep up with industry news and other reading that I love to do but have little time to spend on. So, I tend to read a whole lot whenever I do find a day or morning when I can focus on catching up. I really believe that keeping up with publishing news is very important and every time I catch up, I vow to do it more regularly…but that never happens.

A few weeks ago I read an article in a trade publication written by Kevin Slimp, a favorite speaker and trainer in the publishing world. I found it extremely motivating and it caused me to change my goals for 2011. Little did I know, but I was not alone. Kevin writes regularly for the trade magazine that I receive and Saturday morning I read Kevin’s monthly article where he wrote about all the publishers that responded to that same article with the same enthusiasm that I felt.

The original article, Will Print Survive?, prompted me to put an aggressive acquisition plan in place to upgrade our software and hardware that we use to produce FAMILY Magazine. I wanted to make our magazine be the very best it could be for our readers and advertisers. Kevin motivated me to think about what our readers want and how we can provide a connection to our advertisers that would go back to our core mission -- to help parents raise kids in the Washington, DC market.

You can read the entire article online at Kevin’s web site, but here is one story (in Kevin’s own words) that struck home to me.

Y2K (as written by Kevin Slimp)
I asked the group how many of them remembered the Y2k scare of the late 90s. Every hand in the room went up.

“Do you remember,” I asked, “how everybody stored bottled water, food and blankets in their basements because they were sure the end of the world was around the corner?”

The audience nodded in unison.

“I didn’t buy water,” I told them. “And do you know why?”

I waited for an answer, but the room was silent as everyone anticipated my answer.

“Because I knew it wasn’t real. It was something that people believed because we (the press) told them it was going to happen. Everyone kept reading in their newspapers and hearing on TV that the end was near. And they believed it.”

Heads moved in agreement. Like in a southern church service, I heard a voice say, “That’s right.”

“Well for the last three years,” I continued, “you’ve been telling your readers that newspapers were dying. That the end was near. And guess what. It took a while, but they finally believed you. And guess what. Your advertisers believed you, too.”

Kevin went on to talk about how we should improve our print product and work to provide the very best printed publication we can for our readers and our advertisers. He also told a story about asking people where they read a specific story – online or in print. I would wager that most people read the story in print. I ask the same question all the time, and people tell me they prefer to pick up a copy of FAMILY Magazine and read it at their leisure.

The bottom line is that I believe, like Kevin does that print is not dead. I believe that we will always have a printed FAMILY Magazine that moms can carry in their purse or bag to an after school class to read while they are waiting on their kids. Yes, there will be more online readers – these have been growing steadily and we have been working to provide a great online experience.

In 2011 FAMILY Magazine celebrates the 20th year of publishing in the Washington, DC market. Print is not going away. And, to further prove that point, FAMILY Magazine had the BEST year in our history in 2010. . . . And they say print is dead?


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