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  • Writer's pictureEmma@giraffe

How print media is changing in 2020

2020 has seen some staples of the Australian print media landscape close down: from magazines with a national audience, to regional newspapers. The pressures placed on the industry by falling advertising revenue during the global coronavirus pandemic have been largely blamed for the losses of jobs and publications, but many printed publications have been struggling for longer than that. How is print media changing in this new, digital landscape, and how does it affect you?

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has played a role in the end of publications around Australia. As businesses close or temporarily suspend operations, and thousands are made redundant in roles across the country, very few companies are able to spend the money on advertising that they have previously – and fewer consider it a good investment.

In May of this year, News Corp Australia confirmed that 112 print newspapers will no longer be produced. Of these, 36 small newspapers – covering regional areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania – will close entirely. A further 76 papers will become digital-only, including regional titles and community titles. The move was unsurprising to many, after News Corp suspended production of 60 papers in April. It was, however, met with much disappointment, with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance calling the cuts ‘a massive blow to communities’.

In mid-July, Bauer Media Australia announced that they were permanently axing some of their best-known magazines, after temporarily suspending production in May. The affected titles, including Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and OK! have fallen victim to significant declines in advertising spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite apparently healthy print readerships – more than 100,000 per title, according to Enhanced Media Metrics Australia – the magazines were considered unsustainable by Bauer in this new economic climate.

Despite both of the above publishers having a well-established digital presence to support print publications, advertising spending is vital revenue that helps to offset the costs associated with producing print newspapers and magazines. In the past, companies have gladly paid large sums for double page spreads in broadsheets or glossy magazines. Today, companies prefer a more nuanced and targeted approach when spending their advertising dollar. Rather than the broad-brush approach available when targeting readers of the local paper, digital media allows companies to focus in on specific segments of their market.

Digital advertising allows for more exciting images, graphics and animation, without the price tag associated with real estate on the printed page. Additionally, through the use of analytics, companies are able to track the success of their campaigns.

So, should you still consider print media when crafting a new marketing strategy?

The short answer is, yes. While many traditional flagship titles are no longer relevant to the modern consumer, a new generation of modern, innovative print publications are coming to the fore. These new publications focus on specific niches and aim to inspire, tapping into a desire for self-improvement and knowledge. Some older magazines also remain relevant through quality journalism and thought-provoking content.

Additionally, print media can be a fantastic tool to harness not as a place to advertise, but as a marketing medium in itself. Many organisations are now preparing their own quarterly publications for subscribers, members, or customers. Content can be anything related to your business: for example, a homewares business may include an article on the truth behind thread count, a photo spread of an inspirational home, lists of simple things to change your lounge room aesthetic, and a piece on the origin of the scented candle. Modern consumers love content and will always appreciate a business that can deliver it to them in an interesting and engaging way.

Although digital media is all pervasive in our modern lives, there is a willingness in many people to slow down, have some time away from the screen, and read from the printed page. Print media is changing in 2020 and will continue to change into the future; it’s important to stay on top of trends and harness the opportunities that will work well for your business.

Our favourite print publications:

Fast Company – for business and technology

Fast Company’s tagline is ‘the future of business’. The magazine focuses on technology, leadership and design. Based in the United States, it publishes eight issues a year.

Kinfolk - for style and culture

This Danish magazine started in 2011, and since then, has become a leading authority in lifestyle. The quarterly magazine includes articles and photography covering arts and culture, fashion, music, design and film. Kinfolk is published in four languages across 100 countries.

Cereal - for travel

Cereal is a biannual magazine produced in the United Kingdom. Each issue focuses on a select number of destinations, alongside engaging interviews and stories on unique design, art, and fashion.

Russh - for fashion

Russh was born in 2004 in Sydney. This independent Australian magazine has risen to be considered one of the top international fashion titles. It is published quarterly and showcases innovators in fashion, art, music and film through originally produced editorial and photography.

frankie – for culture

frankie (lowercase f) is an Australian magazine full of cultural content. It began in 2004 and has inspired a generation of young designers and creators, growing to include a website, podcast, and yearly award for creative innovation.

The New Yorker - for commentary and criticism

The New Yorker is a behemoth of the global magazine industry. Started in 1925, its total circulation exceeds 1.2 million. Published weekly, the magazine includes articles, profiles of interesting people, criticism, fiction, poetry and famously captioned cartoons.

Company Director - for management and business

The Australian Institute of Company Directors’ official publication is the country’s leading voice on issues affecting company boards. Includes news, features, and advice for directors on strategic, economic and legal issues.

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