Magazines are great, brought to you by the Magazine Industry

Magazines are great, brought to you by the Magazine Industry: This item about the MPA’s $40 million “Got Magazine” campaign reminded me that I promised to do a round-up of such current campaigns, most notably from Sappi, CondeNast and the ABM (disclosure: I’m on the ABM board.)

I applaud all of these campaigns. I agree with the premise that
magazines are special and offer marketers a unique medium to
present their products and build their brands. Magazines and print are
my passion. Perhaps that can be noticed from the four years of blogging
about the topic and the 20 years I’ve spent publishing them.

However, I think there are other things that magazines should do
besides spending tens of millions of dollars attempting to convince
people that magazines are special. People know that already.

Here are just a few…I’m sure there are others. (And, please, whenever
I do something like this, people confuse my suggestions with a belief
that I’m from the “print is dead” school. I am not. I am paper, hear me
roar. I’m having lunch today with friends from one of the largest
printers in the world. I come here to praise paper, not bury it.

Magazines should open up (translation: free) their archives to linking.
(Gary Price has shown that almost anyone with walking-around-sense and
a public library card can access nearly all magazine articles ever
published for free and from home
Yet, publishing executives are still sitting around convincing
themselves that people are willing to pay for it on a pay-per-view or
some other basis. “Links” people. “Links” are the currency of the web.
(Heck. Link is even the name of the president of the MPA.) People are searching for something when they hit your
archives. Advertising works when it is relevant to what people are
searching for. If you can’t figure that out, talk to the Google folks
— they’ve generated a few billion dollars in ad revenues proving the
theory. How much have you generated from charging $2.95 a piece for
three-year-old articles?
If you cut off links to all of your content, you are throwing away that
which is most valuable.

Join in the conversation.
Blogging. Comments. RSS. Meetups. They’re going to happen around your brand
whether you join in or not. If you do nothing more, do something like
the folks at are doing on their recently launched blog, Blog Magazine.
They merely post the covers of new issues of magazines and write a
clever, conversational blurb about the contents. Simple, simple,
simple. But fun and available via RSS and it displays that somewhere
within that subscription agency, there is someone who is actually
about magazines.

Get over the print metaphor for your magazine’s online presence: Here’s
a suggestion for magazine people who are supposed to “get it.” Download
a desktop newsreader (not even an online one
like will give you the real deal) and subscribe to just
RSS feed from the NY Times. I suggest the Circuits feed (warning: it
will just be headlines and a story synopsis, but you’ll catch the drift
after a while). Look at how
the stories come into the reader outside the context of the visual cues
of a website or print version. That is the correct metaphor for how
people want to access your “content” — to use your news. Stop trying
to make your website
“look” like a print product. Try to understand how people use the web
to organize information — not surf to your site to see how pretty it
may be, or to follow what you think is “above the fold” today. Here,
as a guide for what your publication’s website will look like in about
2-3 years when your awareness catches up with the reality of where the metaphors of news “using” is heading.

Figure out how to fulfill subscriptions immediately. Last
week I received a refund and a $25 gift certificate from Amazon because
some agent couldn’t fulfill my two-month old subscription purchase for
a well-known magazine. Amazon merely gave up because whoever the
subscription agent was had completely screwed up. I can get almost
anything I want from an online merchant within 24 hours, yet it takes
six-eight weeks to start a magazine subscription? If this can’t be
fixed, it deserves to go out of business.

I’ll stop there for now. That, and cut out caffine.

(Thanks to The Media Drop’s Tom Brio, who, somehow got me wound up on this topic when he discovered the NY Post is trying to get around pop-up ad blocking strategies.)