What is Social Media Doing to Magazine Employment?

18 04 2010

Innovations in social media have and continue to take a toll on the employment within the publishing industry.  Many companies are feeling the effects of digitizing print and cross-branding.  As mentioned in a previous post, Cross-Promotion: Good or Bad?, the latest trend in publishing is cross-branding into other mediums such as kitchen appliances and cell phone accessories.  The question posed then was what happens to those employees with careers specific to the magazine industry?

Well, with the latest layoffs at Meredith, Inc., the answer is becoming more clear.  Meredith Inc.  in its second round of layoffs for the year, cut 20 employees mainly in the editorial section of the company.

Another company taking the initiative to switch employment up is Hearst Publishing, who has moved some of it’s top Editors around, giving them different positions at different companies.  The switch was a reaction to Hearst’s ‘Town & Country’ and ‘Veranda’s’ decreased advertising revenue.  By moving editors to different publications, many employees were left to take lower positions.

Print and digital groups within magazine companies are merging more and more, and many companies have begun placing the two in the same category.  Because, the two areas work so closely together now, companies such as ‘Newsweek’, have started to take that grouping to the employment spectrum.  ‘Newsweek’ just put their editorial director, Mark Miller, in charge of both print and web areas of the company.  Now employees working for the print and web section, both report to Miller.

This goes to show just how much the publishing industry is changing and evolving into something that was once unthinkable.  Due to social media, employees are being downgraded, cut, and merged.  With the development of digital applications and an opportunity to gain more revenue, do you think the employment will get better or remain stable?  What do you think the effects will be when it comes to gaining profit that had been lost over the past few years due to free content on websites?


How Much is too Much When Charging for the iPad Apps?

17 04 2010

This month’s  launch of Apple’s iPad is showing promise for magazine digital issues.  As of now, those magazines that have applications in correlation with the iPad are selling on an issue-basis, with no option for the buying of subscriptions.  For years, publishers have been losing annual revenue due to the increased use of their websites by readers.  Readers’ thinking has clearly been why pay for an issue when the information I want is on their website? Now that the iPad has launched, magazines are getting back into the mode of charging and pricing.  Their dilemma: how much to charge for the digital issues.

Those readers who have invested in the iPad feel that charging the same price as newsstand print editions is unfair.  Many reason that the savings on print costs are going to the annual revenue for the magazines, when they should be focused on saving money for the readers.  Their response?  The higher quality than print and the added features to content will convince readers that the prices are worth it.  The question now is whether it really is worth it.

Time, Inc. has commented that they will soon be offering subscriptions to digital and/or print as one, and the price should be lower than newsstand circulations.

Another magazine that is taking into account the pricing and the lack of pricing that it once was is ‘The Economist’.  ‘The Economist’ has increased its pricing for online content.  They have also switched from 1 full year to 90 days of content straight out of the weekly print edition being available online to anyone, making subscription holders the only readers able to see content from the printed edition, online.  This initiative is a build up to charging for the digital version over the iPad.  They believe that by making price changes now, the consumer is better prepared to pay for weekly editions on a digital means.

As of now, pricing is up in the air and magazines are feeling out what actually works and what needs to change.  They must do this before offering subscription prices.  Do you think that charging the same price for iPad applications and digital versions as print circulations is a problem?

What Makes a Magazine ‘Hot’?

17 04 2010

Just last month, Mediaweek released their Magazine Hot List for 2010.  Included was a list of the top 10 magazines that gained above $60 million in annual revenue and 10 Under 60 list for those that gained below $60 million.  The past few years have been difficult for magazine publishing companies, due to the recession and technological outbreaks that threaten print circulations.  So how exactly is a good magazine measured and placed in a top 10 list?

Mediaweek's Magazine Hot List 2010

Since publishers are reaching beyond their magazine’s printed addition and going into other areas of business as well, magazine names are no longer based off the reputation of the printed addition.  There are several contributing factors when judging the best out there in print publications.  Mediaweek’s criteria included the number of pages and page number increases, advertising sales and the addition of new advertising accounts, and circulation sales.  Each are greatly caused by the successful innovation and use of social media.  By using different social medias, magazines are able to promote their brand and make it known that they are still out there.  Also, publishers and magazines can easily find out what  readers want, thus, making their name more appealing.

Those magazines that placed in one of the top 10 lists, have some sort of internet presence that makes them stand out, not to mention a variety of multi-platform innovations that deal with the marketing of each brand overall:

Organic Gardening – ‘WaterWorks’ project

Saveur – Editor-in-chief, James Oseland, appears as a judge for the TV show, ‘Top Chef’

People – Printed spinoffs such as People’s ‘StyleWatch’ and iPhone applications

Women’s Health – iPhone apps, online services, and ‘Are You Game?’ event

Cosmopolitan – Events such as ‘StarLaunch’, ‘Bikini Bash’, and ‘Fun Fearless Male’ competition

Sport’s Illustrated – a customizable website

Family Circle – ‘Momster’ social network

Another magazine that is taking great strides, is Esquire.  Innovations by Editor-in-Chief, David Granger, and the rest of the Esquire community include story art being placed in the white space of pages, no headlines for one issue, and a mix and match cover in which perforated-layer photographs of Barack Obama, Justin Timerlake, and George Clooney could be peeled off, giving the reader the option of combing different facial features of each.  Other innovations include turning their Megan Fox cover shoot into a film, in which they placed the video online and used stills for the article in their print edition, and a print fashion portfolio in which they put into a short film, emailed it to international fashionistas, and distributed it virally.

So it’s clear that social media plays a very significant role in promoting a magazine’s brand, eventually affecting Mediaweek’s criteria for their top 10 list.  That being said, do you think the criteria are a good choice in judging the best?  Is there any other criteria that should be taken into account?

How Are YOU Pitching to Editors and Reporters?

27 03 2010

For corporate communicators, it’s often hard to find the right way to pitch a story.  Journalists get overloaded with pitches and often times they will go unnoticed.  It’s important to make your pitch stand out.  ‘How do you do this?’ you’re probably asking.  There are many different opinions on what works but for the most part, professionals agree on what actually works.  I have compiled a list of six ways to make your pitch more successful:

1. Do research – Doing professional research on the journalist and their publication works wonders.  By reading articles of theirs, you are able to better understand what they look for in prospective topics, making your pitch stand out more in the flood of pitches they get everyday.  Also, research how the journalist likes to receive pitches – is it email? phone? or in hand?  For example, you wouldn’t pitch an upcoming book release to a reviewer of music.  Just like you wouldn’t pitch a brand new hunting tool to Cosmopolitan magazine.

2. Make your headline catchy – Simplify your headline to say what your announcement is and make it catchy.  Headlines that are forward and interesting give journalists and incentive to at least skim the pitch.

3. Keep pitches straightforward and simplified – Journalists often don’t have time to read a detailed pitch, so provide the facts, any links that are helpful, and contact information.  If they are interested, they will contact you.

4. Keep pitches conversational – Much like traditional, face-to-face media relations, being friendly and approachable helps in conversational tone, during a not-so-personal media relations age, and leaves a sense of relationship building.  When addressing them, use their name.  They don’t want to be just another journalist in a database of names.

5. Build and maintain relationships – corporate communicators and PR professionals work very closely with journalists so it is important to build a two-way relationship.  If you help journalists during a time of need, they will most likely help you by giving you the publicity needed.  It’s a two-way street and you can’t expect to get anything if nothing is given.

6. Be accurate and timely – Provide the correct information in a professional manner, otherwise you and your company’s reputation are at risk.  Also, respond ASAP.  Often times, if a journalist is interested, they will respond immediately with questions.  This is because they expect a fast response.  Remember they are on deadline and will move on if they don’t hear from you.

Many corporate communicators and PR professionals don’t take these into account and in turn, end up doing at least one thing on the list of what not to do.  By following these suggestions, your story pitch may end up as the next big headline.  Do you have any pitching suggestions?  Any ways you pitch that have shown to be successful?

What Measures is Teen Vogue Taking?

26 03 2010

Teen Vogue, an internationally known fashion magazine, has been taking great strides to maximize their teen following.  As with most print magazines whose sales are declining, Teen Vogue has turned toward ideas such as cross-promotion and social media techniques.

Teen Vogue, Haute Spot iPhone App

Recently, Teen Vogue has launched their Haute Spot salon service.  Teen Vogue has placed retail stores at malls throughout the country in hopes of increasing revenue.  Now, these retail stores are offering salon services, where teens can get their hair, makeup and wardrobes made over.  Haute Spot stores work closely with sponsors’ merchandise in return for advertising.

Along with the opening of salon services by Haute Spot, consumers are able to subscribe to the Teen Vogue Haute Spot Application.  The application gives users a peek into the latest clothing at the stores.  Users are able to create aliases, which are user names coupled with a picture, and give other users a look into their closet and favorite style pieces.  Other capabilities of the app are ‘my friends’ and ‘community’ sections so users can converse and share what is going on in their style world.

Although I am not a Teen Vogue follower anymore, this app seems like something I would have begged my parents to get me when I was.  Not to mention, I also would have died to get a style makeover at one of the Haute Spot locations.  These uses of cross-promotion and social media are a good source of revenue but since it is Teen Vogue, they target a teen audience who usually rely on their parents to hand over the bucks.  As a teen I know I was fairly draining on my parents’ wallets, so it’s no wonder that these innovations could lead to serious revenue streams.

That being said, do you think Haute Spot will be a success? If so, do you think it’s a good idea during such a hard financial time for many people?

What Changes are Being Made?

28 02 2010

The rise of social media tools such as the iPad, e-readers, and iPhone apps have made the magazine industry even more vulnerable to declining print sales.  Efforts to increase revenue and readership have long been underway.  Social media tools such as blogs and media kits can only go so far.  The magazine industry is taking matters into their own hands.

With the economy how it is, consumers have turned to taking advantage of the cheap subscription prices instead of paying full price at newsstands.  Many magazines are decreasing their newsstand circulations and focusing, instead, on those subscribers.

Another effort underway is a magazine marketing pact by several publishing companies.  These companies are working together to improve marketing techniques within the industry as a whole.  Although the marketing strategies have not been disclosed, there are talks of a digitized division.  In a time when everything is going to digital, it seems like a given that the publishers would need to focus on that aspect.  After all, if they didn’t think about the increased use of social media, it would be a foolish move.

Making tweaks, no matter how big or small, is necessary in keeping the magazine industry above water.  Otherwise, it’s just another lost industry in a time of heavy technological change.  What other techniques do you think would help the magazine industry maintain/gain consumers as well as increase profit?

How Important is Two-Way Conversation?

27 02 2010

All too often a company starts using social media tools such as blogs, facebook pages, and twitter accounts and then fails to keep up with them.  The point of these tools is to provide a two-way conversation between constituents and companies.  Not responding to comments or responding too late, leaves consumers and shareholders wondering about the happenings of a company, ultimately leaving a question of credibility.

Last week, Rolling Stone Magazine’s website displayed a message saying ‘What are you looking for?’.  Immediately after discovery, Twitter posts began popping up as well as blog posts concerning the reasoning behind Rolling Stone’s site message.

Although I am sure they were more concerned with getting the site back up, not responding to posts and comments escalated into skepticism of the magazine’s business actions (like the loss of funds and forgetting to renew the domain name).  It wasn’t until a news article that people’s skepticism was put to rest.  Even now there isn’t much information, but the site has gone back up.  Perhaps they should devise a new social media strategy to ensure there are no questions left unanswered.  Companies that keep up on their social media tools leave followers with clarification and satisfaction.  Do you think there is any time that a company should steer clear of responding?  If so, when?