Comment: Times are changing, and so are we

Comment: Times are changing, and so are we
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The edition of B&T Magazine we’re putting to bed today is the last fortnightly edition we will be producing. From now on our print cycle will be monthly, and I’d like to take a couple of minutes to explain that decision.

There’s been something of a spat developing between the marketing trade titles in the last few weeks, a war of words started by an unusual outburst by the most experienced industry journo in the game, Paul McIntyre, and followed-up by his opposite number at Mumbrella, Tim Burrowes.

I’ve been biding my time to jump into this debate – partly because it erupted as we were about to embark on MAD Week, but also because I knew we had changes afoot here.

It all started with a tirade from Mac in AdNews, which he edits, blasting the industry for not supporting the print press, and taking sideswipes at rivals (presumably us and Mumbrella) for daring to run events as a means to supplement this dwindling pot. He also bagged out agencies for employing PR people, claiming the industry “gets what it deserves” when it comes to coverage.

Tim then hit back with a piece entitled “Why I make no apologies for having a business model” on his site- pointing out a lot of the hypocrisy of Mac’s piece, including link bating and high-margin events with their recent efforts, and playing up the importance of a more rounded content strategy.

The world has changed – people don’t consume print like they did any more, that’s just something we’re going to have to deal with. Just ask News Corp and Fairfax, or any of Australia’s large mag publishers, how ad revenues and circulations are going. Down. It’s an old world strategy to expect paper to pay your way now.

Why would this fact be any different for trade press – it may be slower because of the type of content, but there will inevitably be decline. Like the agency landscape, the trade titles are competing for precious oxygen, readers and cash, in a crowded environment. There will be casualties, it’s inevitable.

So, how do you battle it?

Well, initiatives like MAD Week have been one way for us. It’s not easy sourcing original and interesting speakers to pull in 1,200 delegates, and pull together daily newsletters, videos and a magazine, but in the new world order content is content, no matter how it’s delivered. Indeed, we had a lot of positivity for the fresh approach, and new kinds of speakers we invited to it, and it’s definitely something we’ll be building on next year.

The fact is the age of news in the printed medium has long since passed. Why would you, or should you, be told to wait a fortnight for the best stories when the rest of the time you get them for free? We live in the age of Twitter, where people expect information to be beyond instant, and can literally bypass news outlets to get it straight from the source.

Print is still viable, and valuable, as I think we prove to our readers time and again, but it needs to be treated very differently, with more in-depth content and analysis. Treat readers with respect and your numbers might hold up pretty well. Marry the content to something timely and topical and it can be brilliant.

Remember our sports issue in March which included a feature on the perils of live sports odds, a month before the Waterhouse scandal got going?

But, is it sustainable to keep pushing the product every two weeks when the demands of online publishing grow heavier, and resources become scarcer? Not with any quality.

We already have the smallest editorial team in the industry, and for my money the hardest working because of it. But, sometimes we have to work smarter, and not harder.

Going monthly has been an almost inevitable reality for us for some time now, it’s really a rationlisation and realignment. By delivering more thorough and engaging content we’ll deliver more value to you, our readers, and by engaging more with you, we drive better results for our advertisers.

We’ve started down the road of differentiation – future proofing our product. That doesn’t mean just slinging together a page-turner app of dubious value and limited engagement, or sticking up a paywall and hoping people pay, but something altogether more intuitive and valuable for you. It’s going to require a lot of work, but we have ideas, and we’re going to use them.

It is a two-way street, and to make sure we give you what you really need, we’re going to ask you to help us out. Drop us an email or feel free to pick up the phone with suggestions of what type you’d like to see more, or less, of, and why. All our details can be found here. We'd absolutely love to hear from you.

Rather than bitch and moan about the fact things aren’t as they were, it’s time to look forward and really focus on what the future is. We work in the most cutting edge industry in the world, so why shouldn’t we be playing at the forefront of some of these spaces?

This is just the beginning of the journey, with your help, I believe we can achieve something really special.

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