The Onslaught of Connectivity

Some thirty-five years ago when Apple, Microsoft, and the others were still in their embryonic stages – nobody would have really thought that a day would come when printed information would be overrun by digital content.

Yet with the huge advancement in technology, it was all a matter of time. Now, two of the most known names – Encyclopaedia Britannica and Newsweek are signing off by year’s end.

Is it the fault of the internet? Of course not. As thinking humans, we grow, we evolve. Well, while moral decay and to some extent idleness and violence could be attributed to the net, the eventual demise of these printed materials was just a question of when.

Over at Newsweek, while magazine editor Tina Brown has been credited for working hard, she has also been blamed for trying to save the company alone. Delegation is key to leadership for which she should have utilized in making a turnaround, we’re pretty sure most everyone over there cares for it’s survival. She could have gotten some brainstorming and all. Also, there is this issue of integration between Newsweek and The Daily Beast sometime after Sidney Harman bought the former. Hey, this should be a given, before merging, both entities should have been oiled then supported well beyond the merging. And even then, plans should have already been in place on how each could compliment and strengthen each other.

As for Encyclopedia Britannica, there is this question of prominency as brought up by it’s president Jorge Cauz that it has acknowledged Wikipedia and Google for it. Nonetheless, there are still those among consumers who question Wikipedia’s authenticity compared with Britannica which is actually moot as even Britannica’s head has recognized the relevance of Wikipedia.

TO PONDER. TO DO.

  • Materials printed weekly or longer would eventually turn online – it’s just that those who have been losing money for some years would go first. One could only slow down the bleeding but the shift is inevitable, so be prepared for the transition to survive and thrive.
  • For magazines still trying to create a buzz, do a constant and in-depth research of the Top 20 topics or trends first at least a month before applying those results. Afterwards, updates should be done at least weekly to be relevant by the time of publishing. If you’re not an entertainment magazine, always base things on facts and not on gossip or intrigues.
  • More ads would naturally come if there are a ton of readers, so consider repackaging – not necessarily lowering the price. Nor adding supplements or gift coupons for it’s been done but still, look? But contemplate about the kind of paper used, the number of magazine pages, the expansion of your target market among others without really swerving from your base.
  • For encyclopedias who are still in it, do not print every 2 years but every 5 years instead. This would not only save you printing costs but would create some excitement as in the Olympics, thus, use that extra 3 years on activities to generate drama. Yes, online sources are steadfast in updating but use the doubts of some and the strength of your brand to get potential customers’ attention.
  • Just like magazines, research more. But in your case, do a little more on your market say know the areas with the lowest tablet sales and usage, or discern areas with less online hours. In short, realign and broaden your niche.
  • Offer lower deferred payments, and for those who would buy another edition – offer a proposition of “returning the old edition for a discount purchase on the latest edition”. Then recycle the old edition and produce newsletters, fact sheets or a compressed or pocket encyclopedia.

FOR THE FUTURE.

  • Study if your online competitors are giving their services for free, otherwise, asking for fees would only harm your company. For encyclopedias, Wikipedia is free. For magazines, your competition are not just magazines but newspapers and news channels as well of which many are free. Nevertheless, in case of fees, come up with a better structure. Remember, as much as possible, revenues should come from ads and sponsors not from the general public – that’s the way to be popular.
  • For Britannica, do not be totally comfortable with your source of revenue in non-encyclopedic content such as instructional and e-learning solutions – your competitors could do the same. Instead, partner more. Like, if Google loves Wikipedia then partner with Yahoo! or Bing.
  • Be more active in Twitter and alike to promote your products in a subtle and not always in a direct manner. Perpetually promoting directly would only suffocate your potential customers.

Bottom line is to always make things easy and interesting for your readers.

What’s your take?

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