Say, isn't the print industry supposed to have withered and gone extinct by now?
The digital revolution was widely proclaimed to be a harbinger of doom for printers, as many predicted the total and utter eradication of paper from a world that is very much paper-dependent. However, the systematic annihilation of the print industry has yet to occur, and now that the global economy has – for the most part – stabilized, the dust is clearing and the truth about the medium is being unearthed: Print isn't dying, it's just changing to reflect the needs of an increasingly plugged-in population.
It's not the medium – it's the message
The above statement is one of the first things college students are taught in communication or marketing courses. The point, in essence, is that the channel through which a message is sent and received is not nearly as important or relevant as the content of the message itself.
Bill Curtis, CEO of luxury magazine Robb Report, recently wrote in a piece for Folio that print media has evolved in the 21st century. The thing that matters most in 2015 is a publication's brand, which consists of its stance, voice, authority, entertainment value and ability to inspire, Curtis asserted. He noted that the role of the media is restricted to its platform in that consumers alone can decide how they want to obtain their news, but printers can help shape that.
While a publication cannot force readers to consumer its content on one channel or another – this will almost certainly be detrimental for the company – Curtis said that by offering a multimedia approach, media organizations can create a more comprehensive outlet for their target audiences. If readers have multiple ways to access content from magazines and newspapers, they will be more likely to recognize these publications' brands, which can lead to frequent readership.
Digital natives are expanding their formats to achieve multimedia equilibrium
CNN contributor Sara Ashley O'Brien reported that various online retailers have begun to value more comprehensive, brand-defining marketing initiatives. She cited the recent introduction of a physical catalog from Montreal-based men's fashion company Frank & Oak, which was spawned on an exclusively digital platform. This seemingly backwards move is helping Frank & Oak diversify the means through which potential customers can become familiar with its products, and the organization is not alone in its approach. O'Brien noted similar instances, like online vacation and travel company Airbnb's production of a quarterly catalog, and concluded that such initiatives are reflective of the power of print.
The key to these new publications is not simply to reiterate the brand's online voice. Supporting Curtis' comments about the value within a message, O'Brien said that both Frank & Oak and Airbnb are producing high-quality content on glossy paper stock, including images and strong editorial pieces. Print's power lies in its ability to engage consumers and drive them toward other forms of media.
The digital era has certainly caused headaches for print industry members at times. But, as Curtis pointed out, television was supposed to be radio's death sentence. While radio has evolved over the years, it has not gone extinct – and neither will print.