Going Beyond Print to Save Magazines

Across the conference, magazine publishers embraced aggressive flexibility. That seemed to be the message of every executive speaking at the 2010 Publishing Business Conference & Expo (PublishingBusiness.com), held from March 8-10 at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square: That they’re working across every platform to give readers what they want to read, where they want to read it, and sell advertisers robust, reportable, multichannel marketing campaigns. The five magazine executives at Tuesday’s Executive Roundtable featured session spoke about their own implementation of these new approaches in a panel about how magazine publishers could ensure a future for print in an increasingly digital age.

“If we don’t save the advertising we can’t save print,” said Frank Anton, CEO of housing and construction publisher Hanley Wood LLC. Coming from the b-to-b side of magazine publishing, he also spoke of audience engagement, but explained that simply engaging readers was not the answer to his magazines’ woes.

“Our problem is that people are not advertising in our magazines. So the way we’re saving print is actually de-emphasizing advertising,” he said. More and more, Hanley Wood is selling products to advertisers other than print ads. “We go in and we have data, so we’ll talk about data. We have trade shows, so we’ll talk about trade shows. We have electronic media, we talk about electronic media. We want to see what they’re interested in, and once we get them interested in something … it’s a natural move then back to print. We used to go in and say give us your 24-times schedule … and give us all the money you spend in the market. We no longer do that. We go in and say, ‘What do you need? We have what you want. By the way, you need to be in the magazine.'”

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.