Be it in print or online, quality content is king

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When Marcus Rich – chief executive of IPC Media – addressed the Professional Publisher’s Association last week, labelling magazines a ‘burning platform’, the room was, I expect, a little tense.

Optimism was clearly not the order of the day, despite the conference being titled Re-Invented – which would lead one to believe a change had come and things were on the up.

Arguably, the statistics speak for themselves. The number of printed magazines sold in the UK has plummeted from 1.21 billion in 2007 to 781 million last year. The subsequent closures and jobs losses have been a stark reminder to anyone in our industry that there has been a clear shift from print to digital. You can understand why some fear the end is nigh for the printed word.

Personally, I firmly believe that this is not the case – there will always be those who prefer to touch and feel what they read. However, that won’t be enough to keep the dream alive for every rag and title. The key is adaptation.

What came out of the annual PPA conference, beyond the initial bleakness, was that changes had and are being made and that, above all else, quality content is king.

Now more than ever, magazines need to know their readers inside and out. In a digital world filled with endless content, their pages (both on and offline) need to cater to the audience in a refined way, one that secures brand loyalty and consumer spend – whether it’s over the counter or behind a firewall.

Magazines need to think hard and create something unique to get their readers to keep putting their hands in their pockets. As the saying goes, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.