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Print goes Personal

Posted by Flux on 

24 January 2018

print goes personal - publishing industry trends

What’s trending now?

Print goes personal: Print publications are getting up close and personal with their subscribers.

In an attempt to boost print magazine circulations, which have been falling ever since digital publishing platforms disrupted the print publications industry in the early 1990s, publishers are discovering how personal, one-on-one human connections can improve reader loyalty and publication profitability. Print publications are creating these emotional connections by forming reader clubs and creating exclusive, immersive reader events.

Essentially, print publications are re-inventing themselves into communities. As such, magazines, newspapers and newsletters are evolving from disposable commodities to become the central voice of a tribe of like-minded individuals.

Why is it important?

By building their own tribes, magazine publishers are talking back control of their readership, away from wholesalers, retailers and distributors. In doing so, the print industry is following in the footsteps of other digitally disrupted industries; such as the music industry, which now relies on live concerts for profits, rather than CD sales like it did twenty years ago. Across almost every industry we track, we are seeing businesses taking steps to get closer to their end-user consumers, taking back their own supply chain and squeezing out middle men.

What’s the butterfly effect

Consumers are evolving from passive consumers to active brand citizens. The power balance has shifted from producers and corporations back to customers. No matter what industry they operate in, businesses need to invest in building deep personal relationships with their end users if they want to maintain and grow subscriber levels and sales in the long term. Mass-market commodities are out. Personal connections are in.

The pioneers

The Gentlewomen’s Club,is a London-based independent fashion and lifestyle magazine for intellectual ladies, with style. The Gentlewoman’s Club now sees itself as a club first and foremost and approaches the actual magazine as the club’s “newsletter”. The events started out as small gatherings at local bookshops to launch new issues of the magazine and grew organically as the publishers and the readers alike began to appreciate the value of community that developed from the gatherings. Today, the club events, which are funded by advertising sponsors and free of charge to “club members”, include activities such as Bring Your Own Vinyl nights in an underground London bar and a day-trip to Durslade Farm personally hosted by Paul Smith. The magazine now has 28,000 engaged club members around the world.

In addition to engaging The Gentlewomen’s Club community between bi-annual issues, the events have become a source of reader-generated visual and textual content creation for the publication through the photographs, interviews and stories that result from the experiences.

In South Africa, cult-design magazine, Visi now hosts bi-monthly reader tours of local architectural landmarks, such as the new Silo building at V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and personal tours of the private homes of top architects. The tours are hosted by Visi Editor in Chief, Sumien Brink, and have become key events on the South African design world’s social calendar.

Likewise, the local online news publication, The Daily Maverick now hosts bi-annual conference events, known as The Gathering. At The Gathering events, top intellectuals, political, business leaders, journalists, and readers can get together to discuss and debate the ideas published on The Daily Maverick’s website. The Gathering events have become a core part of the publication’s revenue stream and public presence. Just like with the Gentlewoman’s Club, the interviews and speeches presented at The Gathering Events have evolved into a self-sustaining news and content source for The Daily Maverick.

The global hotspots

Urban centres around the world, London, Cape Town, Jozi and more. Anywhere groups of like-minded people are likely to find each other.

By Bronwyn Williams

Image credit: Antenna

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