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Print to digital transition

January 6, 2009 Leave a comment

After that initial rush of enthusiasm in writing a blog probably like many others I returned to the real job and the blog was discarded like a toy on Boxing Day.  So as if with the energy inspired by a New Year’s resolution I have returned. 

The phrase “print to digital transition” keeps popping up in my business and, like many well-used (“well-used” as in “often used”) phrases, different people have different interpretations of what it means.  This can result is a good deal of confusion and avoidable conflict as a meeting thinks it is discussing the same thing while each is pursuing a different agenda because the phrase user wrongly assumes that everyone will immediately understand what they mean when they say it. 

So does it carry the automatic assumption that print is dying and all things traditional media are moving digital?   Is it a no-brainer? Is it inevitable?  Should we get ” ahead of the curve” and pitch right in and close our mags now? 

Digital offers a number of attractive advantages:  it’s cheap and in a recession who doesn’t love low cost delivery; it’s interactive; through search it allows your market to find you (we’ve saved a fortune in circulation promotion); it’s multimedia allowing you to do all sorts of things you just can’t  do with a magazine.

For me the key question is  –  in a B2B publishing sector can digital achieve the same level of thought-leadership and branding in a market as a print title?   Or put it another way,  if we scrapped the print and went completely digital could our position survive?  If I put up a defence of the value of print here I’ll end up looking like a dinosaur so I’ll take it as read.

I read an interesting post from a US web techie, Dan’s Diner,  who is leaving online media to go into print.  Why is he going into a supposedly dying print sector and the answer is a good one. 

“I’m seeking to bring all of the energy and excitement of social media into the world of print, and make local print distribution of online content an integral part of the fabric of Web 2.0.”

The two, digital and print,  are clearly not mutually exclusive and it is making them work together for the benefit of the title, its readers and its advertisers that is the challenge and the opportunity.  Not a head long (headless?) pursuit into digital and scrapping of print but a measured,  symbiotic,  coherent strategy that exploits the benefits of each to the benefit.

For how long?  Until our markets can no longer sustain print and the collateral benefits are outweighed by cost – and that will shortly follow our readers’ decision to  no longer use it.    In my “traditional” B2B markets I think that time is still some way off.  

PS.  The spell checker for this blog hosting site doesn’t recognise the word “blog” – has the world gone stark raving mad?

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