Selling Print in a Digital World

President’s Letter

by Jim Elliott

At the end of October, I attended the ACT2 Experience. Hosted by Dr. Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, the conference was held at the University of Mississippi. This event was different from other publishing meetings, as Dr. Husni’s university students were very involved. Speakers had a student assigned to them, while other students were interspersed among the attendees.  

The ACT2 Experience took place over a three-day period in Oxford, MS, a remote location off the usual circuit for people in the publishing business. This remoteness gave participants an opportunity to get to know each other. Participants included b2b publishers, a custom publisher, publishers from Europe, special interest vertical consumer publishers, editors and executives from several consumer magazines, and a large media company that owns magazines, newspapers, and radio. There were also support companies such as printers, ad reps, and providers of various types of tools for publishers, both digital and print. Many of the sessions are available for viewing online. You can see mine in this site's NEWS section.

Upon conclusion, a number of speakers commented that this event had a broader appeal than the usual conference because of its entrepreneurial bent and international flavor—it wasn’t just another corporate obligation.  Not surprisingly, ACT2 has been getting a lot of press recently, including mentions by BoSacks.

Several members of my staff and I attended each of the sessions. We concluded that no single strategy applies to all of the various interests that were represented. However, the common elements facing everyone in the room were change and the need to adapt to change.  For example, for those companies that are primarily circulation driven, the issues are very different from those driven primarily by ad sales. The strategies are quite divergent. 

We found it very interesting that a presenter based in the Netherlands has so few of the problems we encounter in the United States. Her business is fully integrated and it appears she is getting a reasonable return on her print products.  I concluded that people in this industry should avoid being totally wedded to any particular tactic. Instead, they should try to become more attached to the brand. For magazines, this just means the community they are serving. 

Publishing companies may also need to create a position like “Chief Idea Director.” This would be someone who could keep up with the newest trends in media and make a determination as to whether or not those trends will last. The industry didn’t have to do much of this in the past but the constantly accelerating pace of change will require some new thinking.

I encourage anyone who can to attend the upcoming ACT3 Experience in October 2012.  For details, stay tuned to: