Media Relations Minute: A Glossy Future
All the heavy-hitters of the magazine industry were there: the CEOs of Time, Inc., Meredith Corporation, Hearst Corporation, Conde Nast, OPRAH WINFREY herself. The place: The Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. The occasion: The 2010 American Magazine Conference. The outlook: sunny, without a cloud in the sky or on the horizon.
Amid their panicked media counterparts in the newspaper and broadcast industries, the magazine folks seem to be the only ones smiling. How can this be? With the Internet’s minions — social media, bloggers, free digital news sites – descending upon traditional print media and changing the way we receive and consume their news, drying up the once-lucrative print ad sales numbers and slashing news staffs, the members of the magazine industry have taken a different approach than abject despair: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
The magazine media industry has taken the proverbial bull by the horns and is changing the ways their publications reach their respective audiences in radical ways, many that begin with the letter “i” – namely, the iPad. A recurring theme of the conference was how to optimize traditional magazine content for the tablet that has taken over the world (at least for now). This includes “app-ifying” once-static magazine copy by turning one-way messages into interactive experiences for the consumer. An example includes the Runner’s World app, an interactive arm of the Runner’s World brand where casual joggers and marathoners alike can track their distance, calories burned, and more, and in turn receive personalized tips and tricks from the publication’s staff.
Another way the magazine industry has embraced the changing pace of media is by “friending” Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. It was stressed repeatedly that Facebook turns every user into a publisher; the over-share is in and seems to be here to stay. By engaging in meaningful dialogue, the reader now has a spoon in the magazine soup, and feels like a part of the editorial process. Audiences want content that is relevant, discoverable, curated, and, most importantly, shareable. Social media has given the magazine industry the ultimate leg-up: earned word-of-mouth advertising from the re-posting of articles on Facebook statuses and Twitter updates.
The gist of all this advice was to remain as transparent as possible – now and in the future. Keep readers in the loop, accept responsibility for mistakes, address complaints publicly, and inspire audiences to react to your content while encouraging them to share it with others.
By no means does this mean the end of print magazines, either. The magazine industry has just figured out effective strategies to ride two horses (traditional and digital) at the same time.
For other news and commentary on the state of media today, visit other Media Relations Minute articles.
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