recent Lunch & Learn explored
association publishing’s adaptation to modern consumption and engagement
patterns through three important actions: restructuring, re-strategizing, and
By Danielle Gudakunst
Just to be
clear: Print is not dead. It’s a pesky rumor that coincidentally seems
reluctant to die.
are constantly — sometimes, it seems, on a daily basis — reassessing their
publications, their value to members, and the best medium through which to
deliver content and
newspapers in the U.S. continue to shrink, printing costs rise, and e-readers
and e-books eek out a growing share of the market, some associations have
shifted their focus to digital publications.
at the Association Media &
Publishing’s August 2016 Lunch & Learn made it very clear that this is not
the only option for publishers in the digital age. The presenters — Amanda
Jennison, marketing director at Bates Creative; Danielle Moore, marketing
assistant at Bates Creative; and Association Media & Publishing Immediate
Past President Erin Pressley, vice president of publishing, NACS, the
Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing — made one emphatic point right
away: Print is not dead.
Associations have always
sought to balance tight
budgets with their mission to effectively
serve members. Whether their flagship publications are newsletters or
magazines, whether they are a member benefit or subscription-based, many
association editors and
publication managers may find themselves in need of evidence of print’s value.
Rather than the
long-foretold death of print,
the industry is seeing a reinvention and rethinking of the medium. Print provides
a personal and tactile connection to readers, and many still look to print
publications for authority and credibility.
Not sure you
agree? Consider the following:
retain knowledge and experiences better through physical interaction (handling a print publication,
turning pages, etc.).
- Readers see
more of a print publication (90 percent) than a digital publication and are more
likely to pick it up
more than once.
publications have a longer shelf life than digital publications.
(i.e., new and future members) are the largest growing segment of print
- A decline in
print circulation means that the readership has been culled to the most engaged
and loyal readers — members who are most dedicated or
interested in the association’s particular niche — which makes them very
attractive to advertisers.
- Once the possible misconceptions
were addressed, Jennison, Moore, and Pressley explored
publishing’s adaptation to modern
consumption and engagement patterns through three important actions:
restructuring, re-strategizing, and reinvigorating.
As part of
adaptation process, associations are learning to leverage multi-channel
publishing, which allows them to provide both the benefits of print and the
convenience of digital to their members. Print articles can be repurposed for
digital content — and that repurposed digital content might be valuable as an
evergreen print piece, as well (e.g., a special issue on a "best of” a
Remember: Employ readership studies to see how
your members prefer to access and consume the content you provide.
print is a chance for individuals to disconnect from the digital world, which
means associations have an opportunity to use that time to connect with their
members. To make the best impression (and to stay on budget), work with
printers and designers to be creative and consider affordable, outside-the-box
print ideas. Readers see print publications as credible sources, and they are
evergreen — readers and members can pick them up again or keep them as a
resource. Consider reader use and re-use when strategizing how to best employ a
print publication. Also, keep in mind that certain content is often better in print —
for example, a National
Geographic photo — or
easier to follow (a "Two Sides” survey
showed that 80 percent of
respondents prefer to read complicated documents on paper).
Remember: Benefits of association publications are not
necessarily tangible and, definitely, not always monetary. Money invested can
result in a stronger membership base, making a difference in the industry, or a
stronger position for the association.
association’s publications are often a member benefit — so they need to be
perceived as one. Design is a significant factor in making a print publication
stand out; it accentuates the content and sets the publication apart from
competitors (with whom you are competing for your readers’ time). This is a
chance to accentuate the association’s brand — members and readers will judge the
magazine or publication by its cover, so use the brand and creativity to make
with your printer. Many will help you find cost-effective ways to get the
effect or new approach you’re seeking.
still have power. What some
people mistook as the death of print was just the beginning of another round of
evolution, and associations need to stay abreast of the changes. Those who
recognize print’s vitality will continue to succeed.
Danielle Gudakunst is
managing editor of The Police
Chief magazine for the International
Association of Chiefs of Police. Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks
her for covering this Lunch & Learn for our members who were unable to