The Power of Print: Remaining Relevant in an Internet Age

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med_Pamelas_Mug_copy55Forgive our indulgence, but this campaign is too intriguing to pass up. An advertisement ran in a recent issue of Fortune magazine touting the power of print. While some say that print is dead, others believe it’s evolving.

The Power of Print campaign was launched in April with ads in nearly 100 magazines, reaching 112 million readers per month.  The seven month campaign promotes not just the enduring strengths of the medium but also spotlights consumer commitment to magazines.

The campaign comes at a time when most publications are taking their content to the internet via digital online magazine formats (including Cascade Publications Inc.). Recently a handful of publishers announced another collaborative effort aimed at readying magazines for the migration of readers to digital devices. Since then, however, industry executives say advertising has begun creeping back into magazines after a two-year drought.

The leaders of five major magazine companies jointly launched one of the largest print advertising campaigns ever created to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium.

With the full support of the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA), the campaign targets advertisers, shareholders and industry influencers, and seeks to reshape the broader conversation about print, challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity, and reinforce prints important cultural role.

The ads include such headlines as, We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines and Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee? These are accompanied by iconic images lifted from the pages of America’s best-known magazines.

Data supporting the campaign’s message include the 4.3 percent increase in magazine readership over the past five years (Source: MRI Fall 2009, Fall 2005 data), average paid subscriptions reached nearly 300 million in 2009 (Source: MPA estimates based on ABC first half 2009 and second half 2009 data) and adults 18-34 are avid magazine readers. They read more issues and spend more time per issue than their over-34 counterparts (Source: MRI Fall 2009 data).

Although numerous national (and some local) magazines have fallen by the wayside during the recession, magazine effectiveness is growing. Ad recall has increased 13 percent over the past five years. Action-taking—based on readers recalling specific ads—increased by 10 percent. (Source: Affinity’s VISTA Print Effectiveness Rating Service, 2005-2009)

A recent article in the Bend Bulletin reported that many area high school students prefer to read print editions of school newspapers. To save money local schools were publishing their newspaper only on the internet. However, it seems that students prefer to hold high school newspapers in their hands and flip through looking for photos and names they recognize ,according to writer Sheila G. Miller.
Print remains an enduring and engaging media force.

However, not everyone is giving applause to the Power of Print campaign:
Veteran Publisher/Columnist Bo Sacks wrote in March that “The people who put this campaign together to protect print don’t have a clue what they are doing and who to aim at. It is also clear that the instigators of this campaign don’t use the internet or any digital component therein. I say print has much integrity and life left in it, but you wouldn’t know it by this desperate ad campaign.”
He adds: “Look, I love print and have been deeply involved in it for over 40 years. It is a beautiful technology. It still has great merit and worth. We will survive by being what we are – useful, informative, reasonably priced and unbreakably transportable. We have the best editors and writers on the planet and have the ability to band together thousands and sometimes, hundreds of thousands, of like-minded readers to our brands on a regular basis.”

Will the Power of Print ad campaign change the public’s view of print?  What is the solution to the printing—or publishing—industry’s future?

Perhaps it is the way we do business, the way we collaborate with all forms of media? As publishers it is apparent that we must understand that print is just one way of communicating and in order to maintain readership and be successful we must strategically expand our formats to be both digital and print. As in any business, technology changes everything and to remain relevant we have to keep up. pha

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