What’s Happening in the Publication World: Print is Surviving (But Digital’s Thriving)

When Beyond Definition [formerly Bates Creative] was born 17 years ago, we had one primary service in mind: design. Naturally, we found ourselves enveloped in magazine design and production, working with associations to create, reinvent, and evolve their publications to engage their membership; educate, entertain, and inspire; and serve as an extension of their brands.

Over the past several years, the publishing industry has had the pleasure of riding the tumultuous wave of “should we or shouldn’t we” with regard to closing up the print shop and/or making the shift to digital. And COVID has done nothing to help solidify a path forward; some magazines are experiencing a sharp decline in readership while others benefited from the so-called “panic buying” in the early stages of stay-at-home orders.

Having been in the magazine business for the better part of two decades, we’ve certainly seen the ups and downs, and experienced the realities of what we’re told is a dying print industry. However, even in the face of a global pandemic, we’re glad to see that print is not dead. Even so, there’s no question that brands are being faced with the challenge to adapt their publications – and quickly – in order to stay relevant and continue to build upon established engagement with their readership beyond the physical pages.

Many of our magazine clients are evaluating their publication readership and revenue during this time and wondering, “how else can we ensure this content is being consumed, and benchmarks are being met?” Some make mention that their profession-based print publications are being mailed to physical office locations rather than directly to recipients’ homes, resulting in significantly decreased readership while folks are still largely working from home. Enter digital magazines.

Earlier this year, one of our clients, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), moved from a print-only publication to making their magazine, Business Aviation Insider fully available digitally, right on their website. It was important to NBAA that they were able to offer not only a new way of accessing the content, but create a place in which it can continue to grow and evolve over the course of the bimonthly issue cadence. The NBAA team is ramping up its marketing efforts to not only drive readers (and advertisers) to this new format, but to enhance their experience with interactive polls, multimedia content, and cross-channel promotion via email roundups, on their podcast, and as part of their ongoing webinar series.

According to Technavio Research, over the past several years, increased use of smartphones has been instrumental in driving growth of the magazine market. And if that’s the case, shouldn’t those of us in the publishing industry be asking ourselves not only whether our magazines need to be digital, but if they also need to be responsive?

Another of our clients, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is in the process of reworking their popular magazine app, Sales + Marketing Ideas, available to readers via Twixl. Utilizing tools like Twixl is beneficial to organizations like NAHB for many reasons. It not only makes their content accessible on a variety of devices, but it a) enables push notifications to alert their readers when new content is available; b) allows for more frequent and topic-based versus issue-based content sharing; and c) gives the organization the ability to highlight other important information on the homepage. NAHB can almost immediately see what types of content are engaging their app users, and doesn’t have to wait for a new issue to drop to share even more fresh or timely content.

The shift or expansion to digital is certainly not a new concept in the magazine world, but it is becoming increasingly important for organizations who rely on these channels for member engagement and advertising dollars to consider. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks as we explore the best ways to monetize a digital magazine.

And in the meantime, if you’re struggling to sort out the best path forward for your print or digital publication, drop us a line.

Nikki Francois's headshot

Nikki Francois

With nearly a decade of experience in strategic communications consulting, Account Director Nikki Parrotte leads Beyond Definition’s account and project management teams in the development and execution of successful brand-centric integrated campaigns.

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