Print Outlets Getting The Digital MessageI\’ve spent 14 of the past 16 years working for the print media industry. So I can tell you that for the most part, newspaper companies and publishers tended to have conservative views as to how to best reach dwindling audiences. To put it more bluntly, they just didn\’t get it. Not every publisher or news corporation knew how to evolve in order to meet the changing ways in which would-be readers preferred to get information – resulting in shrinking readership and ad revenues.

Such problems, happily, may become less critical as increasingly more publications start churning out digital versions of themselves. \”Going digital\” may not be new in publishing, but recent reports indicate that it\’s finally becoming mainstream in the industry. And email or SMS subscriptions to receive news or features articles may become de rigeur as well.

First, eMarketer last week reported that according to the research firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, magazine and newspaper publishers will increase spending on digital content and advertising to $17.1 billion, a 122 percent increase from $7.7 billion in 2007. \”While print products will not go away\”¦publishers must adapt to serving two audiences, one online and the other offline,\” said eMarketer senior analyst Lisa Phillips.

The increase of digital content means publishers will have more to offer in terms of electronic subscriptions. Daily papers could send links to their latest podcast/videocast to subscribers\’ email addresses, or send breaking news to subscribers\’ cell phones via SMS alerts.

This isn\’t just a \”what-if\” – it\’s a definite next step. Philippe Guelton, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., told MediaPost on Monday that the magazine giant is seeing great success with the digital version of Women\’s Day. He said is the company\’s fastest-growing site and has the biggest overlap between Web users and print subscribers. “This is a really engaged audience,” Mr. Guelton said. “They love to talk. They love to communicate. We’ll be targeting mobile Moms next.\”

Take note of that last statement. \”Mobile Moms\” will likely appreciate SMS messages such as daily lifestyle tips, or alerts about the latest celebrity interview or feature story that fits in with a subscriber\’s interests. (Such interests could easily be determined with the help of a platform like mobileStorm\’s Stun!, which gathers demographic and psychographic information from willing subscribers.)

News organizations, too, are starting to see the possibilities of subscription news messages. John Hartigan, chairman and chief executive of News Limited in Australia, recalled a major fire he covered, and how much more timely – and therefore relevant to readers – such stories can now be thanks to digital distribution. \”Back then it was hours before my report hit the streets. Soon it will be a couple of minutes via an SMS news alert,\” Mr. Hartigan said in speech just more than a week ago.

Clearly, the time is right for publications to send out their content as digital subscriptions, to be received via email or mobile messages. Finally, print media is getting it.

Eydie Cubarrubia,
Marketing Communications Manager