Digital And (no longer Or) Print
Written by Michael Biggerstaff
I was excited to read the recent interview of Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni in Media Update’s article entitled “Print vs Digital: A Q&A with Mr. Magazine Himself”.
Why was I excited? Well, it hit on points that we at Nxtbook Media have consistently preached to clients for many years. That said, let’s look at the article and weigh in on some of the points made.
The single most important argument made in this interview for me was, and I quote Mr. Magazine, “You must utilize both print and digital in their own unique capacity. Don’t let them be carbon copies of each other – that is the worst thing you could possibly do.”
We have always believed publishing revolves around a both/and and not an either/or strategy when it comes to the two mediums. We care about digital but also know that print has to be worked and played to its strengths. Furthermore, we know that some of our clients treat digital as a stepchild, but successful ones know that digital needs to be its own unique platform with a solid reading experience and unique features such as animations, videos, and interactive content that exists only in the digital format.
This is one of the most frustrating parts of being on the digital side. Think about it, you send out a print magazine and also give a link to a digital magazine that is an exact replica of the print version. Why would you do so and expect someone to pick digital to read over print? You have to make it different.
For example, you wouldn’t run radio content on television, but that was exactly what very early programming was like on TV. It didn’t take long for TV to figure out it had to be different. Digital should absolutely be differentiated from print so more readers will value each platform for its unique merits. They should support each other and promote each other. It is very easy to do, but it does take planning and additional work. The great benefit is two different platforms with their own set of revenue metrics. Digital is no longer just an add-on to print like some publishers still believe today.
Additionally, I love the fact that Samir continually speaks to the importance of audience first. Audience first is the perfect way to look at the situation. When you dedicate your knowledge and experience to a reading audience, then they have a reason to look at all of your content that you would include in the digital and print in light of what serves the reader.
Based on feedback and knowledge, you can put more content into a digital publication because digital is not held back by the same financial constraints as print. You can add writer or subject videos into your digital edition to provide a different type of reader connection. There are many ways to enhance the content that aren’t kitschy but make for a better audience connection.
The key, as Mr. Magazine points out, is making sure not to favor one platform over another but to get the most out of all platforms and establish your brand as a proponent of all ways to get content. Audience members should really be able to get content any way they want, not being stuck accessing it certain ways because that’s the only way to get it. If a reader can’t get it the way they want then they will look for it from another source.
I do have one point of disagreement in regards to Mr. Husni’s point that most providers have learned from their mistakes. I would say it seems to be more 50/50 in that regard. I do think that it is something that is changing but we still have a ways to go.
As Samir has been saying all along, print is not dead and never will be. I look forward to the day that we solely talk about digital “and” print, a time when the word “or” is never placed between those two words. They both are very deserving of a major place in the magazine publishing space.