03 October 2007

Indicators, Shmindicators

There’s a simple formula that always helps when writing a blog about magazines. Just start with the phrase, “Samir Husni writes, “ . . .” and then blithely go on to agree or disagree with quoted comment, while adding a riff of your own. What’s the point of being involved with magazines if you can’t be formulaic? So here goes.

In yesterday’s Bulldog Reporter’s Daily’ Dog, “Samir Husni writes,

“When sporting events see small crowds, you don't hear the managers bemoaning the death of a sport; when stocks prices fall, you don't hear CEOs complaining that money is no longer a viable product; but for some reason a drop in new magazine launches makes our industry think our days are numbered.

The numbers this year are lackluster at best, but there is no reason to think this is the first step down a slippery slope to the death of the magazine industry. Just as many other industries experience every few years, we are seeing nothing more than a market correction. I said a few years back that we would see something like this during 2007 and 2008 with a rebound to normal form in 2009.”

Okay. Professional sports are not going out of business and money is probably here for the long haul. BUT some sports do crash and burn when they can’t take root. And some sports franchises move to (they hope) greener pastures. When people with means find one marketplace isn’t working, they move their action into an entirely marketplace.

I’m not sure that the quantity of magazine launches is a reliable indicator of industry health. I suspect they certainly are a good barometer of both individual and zeitgeist passion, and perhaps a slight indicator of the prevalence of bipolar disorder. The quantity of new specials and annuals might deserve notice. These are forays by experienced publishers into established markets.

The article’s main thrust was to remind PR practitioners of the classic rule of pitching: Know thy audience. In this case, Samir Husni was advising publicists that mass email blasts are not as effective as targeting niche publications and niche specialty freelancers.

It got me to musing, possibly even thinking. One of my wonderments about the consumer magazine segment is how little it relies on marketing to consumers. Its major marketing efforts are directed at advertisers and retailers. We understand why, of course. But isn’t the magazine a consumer product? Aren’t quality, quantity and loyalty of readership the foundation on which advertising and single sales are based? Or am I missing something?

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