Publishers Face Brand Loyalty Challenges

I keep telling my kids that they are growing up in an amazing time. They don’t know what it’s like to use a rotary phone, they don’t know how to change the channel on the TV without a remote, and they have no idea what’s it like to live in a world without PCs, iPods and smartphones.

But I think that in their lifetime the changes to the written word, or more specifically how the written word is physically read, is having the biggest impact.

Those of us in the world of high tech PR know that newspapers and magazines have been dying off at a rapid pace in the past few years. And if they’re not dead altogether, the number of pages in most magazines has shrunk dramatically due to a reduction in advertising dollars. One magazine, BusinessWeek, caught my eye because it had an article that talked about how the publication had expanded the number of editorial pages by 20 percent. Granted, that’s probably due in part to Bloomberg infusing BusinessWeek with cash to promote the brand, but still, it’s rare that you see magazines expanding.

With the shift that we’re seeing – the decline of hardcopy publications in favor of the growth of online media, smartphones, Kindles, iPads, etc. – I asked myself a question…what kind of brand loyalty is there when a person has no publication to hold, read and enjoy? If I were to download five business publications on my Kindle, such as Time, Newsweek,

BusinessWeek, Forbes and Fortune, how would I know which story came from which publication? Sure, I may recognize the author’s name or the style of story to figure out which publication it was, but how will the publication keep me as a loyal reader?

I’m not a publisher, thank goodness, so I don’t have to figure out an answer to this question. But for every middle-aged person like myself, there’s probably five tweens/twentysomethings that only know one way to review material and that is from an electronic device like a PC, Kindle or iPad.

From a PR perspective we always tell our clients to understand their target audience. So with what I see as the pending demise of the hardcopy publication (also saves a lot of trees), how do you change your approach to building brand recognition in an ever-changing market?

Rob Goodman

Author: Rob Goodman

Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.