Printing companies have been forced to develop new strategies to achieve success in the 21st century. As digitally consumed media grew in sheer volume, as well as prevalence, print publications began to fade into the background of the news world. When the economy crashed in 2007, print's decline escalated.
However, print has begun to reemerge as viable industry as economic conditions have improved in recent years. Companies that redefined their products and services were able to survive the depths of the recession, and now they are beginning to grow and re-establish the market.
Diversification is opening new doors for printers
The Street contributor Seth Archer reported that traditional print company E.W. Scripps is expanding boldly, serving as a proverbial beacon for the weary industry. Archer noted that one of the main reasons the enterprise is growing is that it has been purchasing small media organizations – a podcast company was the most recent – in order to build up and diversify its digital offerings. This lineup of different verticals sets a great example for other printers to follow, as the future of media is truly multi-platform.
And the strategy is paying off – Archer said that over the past year, E.W. Scripps shares have climbed 30 percent over the course of the past year. He pointed to the organization's varying media channels – the company has built a brand that encompasses radio, television, digital media, print news and podcasts – as a primary reason for its success. By establishing itself across multiple platforms, E.W. Scripps has managed to forge a comprehensive identity for itself, bucking the trend of print companies that cannot hang with their digital counterparts.
Makeovers can help print companies grow
The Guardian contributor Peter Preston referenced the layout makeover popular U.K. publication The Daily Telegraph recently underwent, remarking that this initiative put that organization's digital ambitions on hold momentarily. That such a well-known and widely distributed paper would choose to focus so heavily on print today is a positive sign for the industry as a whole – if The Daily Telegraph has reason to believe that the physical copy is worth investing in, the market would appear to be favoring such products.
Preston also questioned whether the model of profitability that print publications follow is still valid. After all, he pointed out, the London Evening Standard has posted positive revenue for three consecutive years, and that paper is free to readers, as it solely generates income from advertising money. Given that 900,000 copies are distributed daily, the fact that the publication has been able to consistently garner profits over a period of years demonstrates the success that can still be achieved through advertising.
One of the big turning points for the Evening Standard, according to Preston, was when its ownership changed hands – further evidence of the positive value a makeover can offer a newspaper. The Mail group, which formerly owned the Evening Standard, consistently lost money and ended up selling the paper to The Independent group. This change of hands revitalized the publication, which has turned out to be a very worthwhile investment for its current ownership.
Printing companies, in the traditional context of the industry, are no longer viable in this digitally-oriented culture. But this does not mean there is no room in the market for printers – those that have reinvented themselves are seeing great results and growth since the economy rebounded. The future of the print industry appears to be strong, given the diversification attempts that businesses are undertaking.