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  • BoSacks Speaks Out; No,There Isn't a Media Malaise

    BoSacks Speaks Out; No,There Isn't a Media Malaise

    BoSacks Speaks Out: There isn't a week that goes by when I'm not asked about my substrate preferences. A long-time reader and publisher from England yesterday asked me for an electronic subscription to Magazine Media Quarterly "or is digital against your principles?" A pretty funny question to ask the guy who publishes the world's
    oldest e-newsletter. 

    For the record, I am neither rabidly pro-print nor a digital zealot. I am a businessman who likes profit, and I'm willing to use any substrate that achieves a sustainable goal of revenue. I like to think of my approach as that of a pragmatic publishing prophet, and my advice, like a good prosecuting attorney's advice, is to "follow the money".

    Publishing Pragmatism brings me to the point where we understand the publisher/reader relationship as a service with a client. Determining what suits the clients' needs best is the solution to the substrate question.

    Different publishing products work better on one substrate than another, and no two media niches are alike. Enthusiast titles are preforming well in both print and web-based properties. State and regional titles are also performing well. There are a few I can name that are outperforming their own expectations, such as Our State Magazine of North Carolina or feisty W42ST, a New York City magazine that just hit its stride with its 50th Issue. The publisher of W42ST wrote to me yesterday describing his print magazine as "A bootstrapped business, built out of love, hard graft, and a little heartbreak, it's an incredible story of how, in the digital age, print has the power to bring a community together ... we have ambitious plans to grow in 2019 and beyond."

    As I sit here in the industry analyst's seat, I see the following - a hopeful expectation that the chaos will finally settle into a period of stasis, not quite a period of inactivity but more of equilibrium. I must report to you that isn't going to happen any time soon for the magazine media industry. Expect continued disruption at every quarter for the foreseeable future.  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
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  • How creepy can marketing get?

    How creepy can marketing get?

    BoSacks Speaks Out: How creepy can marketing get? 
     
    Bob Hoffman once wrote that "Advertising used to be concerned with imparting information. Today it is concerned with collecting information."
     
    Facebook, Google, Amazon damn near every digital giant is exploring every part of your life. That is not a generic anonymous part your life, but a specific personal intrusion on every individual in the modern day ecosystem.
     
    There is no way I can overstate that this is one of perils of our times. Among other things I am overwhelmed by the lack of integrity and propensity for pure greed at any cost. The robber barons of yesteryear have been replaced by eRobber Princelings of digital creeps.
     
    What we need is clarity of the situation and a path to safety, because as individuals we are horrifically exposed to predators. And there doesn't seem to be a central source of protection anywhere on the horizon. Our government, a mostly geriatric group of legislators, haven't a clue about how the system works.
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
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  • Saying Goodbye to Glamour

    Saying Goodbye to Glamour

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Here is a question. Who is surviving and thriving in the magazine business of the 21st century? Is it the old school corporate shirts or the feisty, nimble entrepreneurs? The answer is complicated, because both new and old are facing a new set of business rule-breaking never before seen, and, therefore, there is no road map. 

    In addition the obscene quantity of digital advertising fraud makes the answer to the question complex and murky. I think a case could be made that, under the stain of digital fraud, print should be shining as an example of needed and trusted media. It isn't; at least not yet. It seems day after day large corporations are condensing and reinventing themselves and their bloated methodologies to compensate for factors they still don't quite understand, while new publishing adventurers explore the limitless possibilities of publishing to ever widening niche audiences.

    Which brings me to a limited twitter conversation between @DeadTreeEdition, @AndyKowl, @newsstandpromos and @bosacks at the news of the demise of the print version of Glamour
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
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  • BoSacks: The Profit Prophet: 7 Tips for Advancing Your Career

    BoSacks: The Profit Prophet: 7 Tips for Advancing Your Career

    BoSacks Speaks Out: I stumbled upon this article today while rummaging through some older files. On November1, 2010 I penned this for Publishing Executive Magazine.

    It is simple but important generic advice for staging a successful career. It seems to me that it holds up pretty well eight years later and is worth re-sending. The more seasoned professional subscribers of this publication will already be practicing these skill-sets. But the readership of this newsletter is broad. Not only do we have most of the senior management in our industry, which means most likely your immediate supervisors are readers too, but also new hires as well.

    The most important thing to remember is that knowledge is power and industry knowledge is employment power. If you can speak knowledgeably of the entire media process, you are a more desirable candidate for the job you have or, perhaps even more importantly, the job you want to have. Understanding what the other departments actually do is of vital importance. Inter-departmental communication and knowledge facilitates the teamwork of successful and efficient organizations.

    You must network and join professional organizations and, if possible, go to trade shows as if your job depends upon it, because it does. If your company won't pay for it, pay for it yourself. Your current job is only a part of your career.

    A good professional group has the collective intelligence of the entire industry. They are a tremendous resource. If you have a question or stumble upon an unfamiliar situation, someone in that group knows the answer. If you ever get that pink slip, they know where the new jobs are. Professional organizations are important on many levels, not the least of which is exposure with your contemporaries and possibly your next great boss.

    Essentially, you have either a job or a career. Career people stay employed. You must always be working on your career. Stay alert and continue to educate yourself about our industry and good things will happen, because you will be ready to adapt and react with grace and style. 

     -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BoSacks: The Profit Prophet: 7 Tips for Advancing Your Career

    November1, 2010

    https://www.pubexec.com/article/7-tips-advancing-your-career/3/

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 15, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: AD SMACKDOWN: CATS VS DATA

    BoSacks Speaks Out: AD SMACKDOWN: CATS VS DATA

    There is something I have wanted to discuss for a very long time, although for once I don't have the answer. In fact, I am seeking the answer from this august group of media professionals. The question is pretty simple. Why are so many ads annoying? There is no question that they are intentionally made that way, but it escapes me why so. I understand the idea that annoying is memorable. But for me these ads not only bring displeasure in the experience, but also turn me off the product itself.
     
    I'm not sure if you have heard the ZYPPAH anti-snoring commercials on radio. Here we have an announcer/narrator who has intentionally the rudest, most annoying voice I can ever remember hearing. It is a sort of warped Bronx/Brooklyn accent with an obnoxious personality taken to the extreme. He says, "If you think my voice is annoying, think about your snoring." His voice is like horribly vibrating, squeaky chalk on a blackboard. I don't know about you, but I find the ad so annoying, I immediately change the station. I may or may not get back to that station any time soon. So, not only did the advertiser lose me, so did the radio station. I change the station every time I hear that commercial.
     
    So back to my original question - Why? Is it as simple as I will remember this terrible ad and the now associated terrible product? Why not spend the same energy and talent making the ad and the product appealing?
     
    While I'm on the subject, I have another question about advertising that annoys me, I don't have the answer here either. It's about the idiot consumer. Let me start by saying that I don't think there are idiot consumers, and then let me drill down on that thought a bit. Of course, there are idiots in this world. But if I had a retail/product business, I wouldn't think that my customers could possibly be idiots. At least I would hope I wouldn't think that of my customers. But so may ads portray dumb-as-rocks consumers that it boggles my mind. Am I supposed to identify with the know nothing jerk in the ad? Am I supposed to think, hey I'm like that guy and therefore I should buy the Acme whatsit to make my life perfect? It baffles me that so many ads have a dumb man or dumb woman. Does smart not sell? 
     
    Now let me get back to the why question. I don't dispute that these ads containing offensive narrators or less then smart consumers work - they obviously do, as billions of advertising dollars have been spent this way for generations. Can anyone out there explain to this idiot why and how they work?
     
    Print used to have its fair share of bad and disrespectful-to-the-reader ads, but to the best of my knowledge most of that was in our past. It seems to me printed magazines and their advertisers respect our customers more than radio and TV. Is that correct? 
     
    I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative.' I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.
    David Ogilvy

     

    AD SMACKDOWN: CATS VS DATA - By Bob Hoffman

    http://createsend.com/t/d-C0D30EC3110A33852540EF23F30FEDED


     

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 15, 2018
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: A David Carey Retrospective

    BoSacks Speaks Out: The first time I remember meeting David Carey was, of course, at one of the trade shows. My memory is that it was at a cocktail party and it was just before the launch of Portfolio Magazine. He was then and always has been congenial and thoughtful in all our personal conversations. I have always admired David's leadership. I am constantly asked in my travels what publishing houses get it "right" in the current market place. My answer has always been David and Hearst. 

    You may say that it is easy for the big guys to do well. Not so. Kodak, Bear Stearns, Enron, Ford Edsel, New Coke just to name a few colossal failures from giants who could have/should have known better. No, it's not easy being at the top of a giant cooperation. When you are that big a leader, you have to be cautiously aggressive, and that is no easy task.

    I've always been an entrepreneur and for me, taking aggressive risks is part of the job definition. That methodology takes on new meaning when thousands of employees stand and fall by your decisions. It is not for the weak of heart. Bravo to David and his next bold moves!

    As an aside, I have always taken great pride that David has publicly stated on more than one occasion, that he reads this newsletter every day. That has nothing to do with my admiration, but it doesn't hurt either.



    Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow.
    Sun Tzu

     

    Looking back at the venerable career of an industry leader.
     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 15, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: MPA-IMAG, Focusing on the Consumer Rather Than The Advertiser

    BoSacks Speaks Out: MPA-IMAG, Focusing on the Consumer Rather Than The Advertiser

    There is a trend in the publishing media conferences that has been growing for the past few years, and when I tell you what it is, you'll say, of course.

    It's a conversation I've seen growing around the world in publishing conferences. I've heard it in Berlin at The Digital Innovator's Summit and at MagNet: Canada's Magazine Conference. I've heard it in London and Oxford, Mississippi. It was repeated in NYC at the AMMC-MPA annual event and now playing out at MPA-IMAG last Wednesday and Thursday in Boston, Massachusetts. I'll eventually tell you what this "new" revelation is, but not just yet. I want to build up to the simple epiphany.

    It is usually reasonable to start at the beginning when explaining damn near anything. So, I figure I'll start with Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO of the MPA who opened the IMAG event. Since her arrival at the MPA, I have seen an era of advanced messaging for the magazine industry. Today was yet another step in the right direction and I suppose a tangent to the campaign: Magazine Media. Better. Believe it.  

    Linda's presentation at IMAG was titled Credibility By The Numbers. It was an insightful look at the making of a magazine and the carefully researched and rendered articles within.

    Linda shared data on several articles from several magazines. I'll just tell you about the article that ran in Parent's Magazine called "I think there's something wrong with my child". It took two years of research with 7 moms, 1 fact checker, 2 photo editors, 1 photographer, 1 production Manager, 8 print editors, 4 digital editors, 2 copy editors, 4 psychiatrists/psychologists, and 2 lawyers. You get the point.

    Magazines have credibility with the public partly due to the amount of time, research, personnel, money and energy invested in them to make them credible. No, not all magazines can afford to perform to the level of excellence of Parent's Magazine. But I will submit that most print magazines do try to the best of their ability and monetary war-chest to give their readers words and ideas not only worth reading but also worth trusting. With all the Sturm und Drang of the internet, print has over its 600-year history created longtime trust in our products. Just being in print adds the aforementioned credibility, even to some titles that don't deserve it.

    As many surveys tell us, it is true that traditional media is more trusted than online media. But let's be honest the advertising agencies of the world don't seem interested in our credibility and are still deeply attracted to the digital placement of advertising dollars. And that brings me back to the trends I've seen in the publishing media conferences, literally everywhere on the planet. It's as simple as this: "Let's have the readers pay for our content." I told you you'd say "of course." 

    Yes, that is what we should have been doing all along. Advertising revenue should be the gravy on the meat adding just a little something extra to the dish and not the unreliable and indigestible thing it has become. Everywhere I go the conversation is about two things: giving the readers the information that they want, when they what it and, through various means and programs, having them pay for it. 

    Again, totally obvious, but to our industry only in hindsight. The industry has now made that turn and is doing exceeding well in many areas. All this was in evidence at IMAG and is being discussed everywhere.  

    This focus on alternative revenue and the creative ways publishers are achieving it is very uplifting to an industry that was struggling for quite some time.  

    Sure, we will still get print advertising revenue and lots of it, but it is fast becoming just one of many revenue streams and the not the sole addictive Goliath it once was. 

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
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  • 	BoSacks Speaks Out: Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers'

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers'

    When I was at High Times magazine I fully expected the government to have a file on me and my coworkers. I was in my twenties then, and I just didn't care that the file existed. Over the years since then I've thought to use the freedom of information act to obtain that file but never got around to making the request. It still might be an interesting read.
     
    Now much later in my career when I have nothing to hide, I am extremely concerned that our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has come up with a plan called "Media Monitoring Services."The details of the Statement of Work outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers at a time when the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide, and our own leader has called the press "the enemy of the people."
     
    As part of its "media monitoring" the DHS intends to watch "any and all media coverage," which includes "online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media." That means that each and every one of you will be on the governmental media watch list. How does that make you feel? 
     
    To my associates in media, obvious enemies of the people, I am concerned and - what else to call it? - outraged. How has it come to this? These are not the normal actions of a functioning democracy. Am I needlessly sounding an alarm? Am I being overly sensitive to "media monitoring"? I don't think so. Do you?
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On the Scariest Chart in Mary Meeker's Media Slide Deck

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On the Scariest Chart in Mary Meeker's Media Slide Deck

    Anyone who has seen a "Bo-talk" knows that I always spend some time and a few slides with Mary Meeker's work and analysis of the media industry. It is not the be-all and end-all of data analysis, but it is something to understand and acknowledge as we proceed. The charts you see below that track print and ad buys since 2010 to the present are exactly what I have brought to my audiences and with the same conclusions for the last seven years.

    What is not mentioned here but is worth noting is the fact that many magazines are bucking the obvious trends and are doing quite well. As I also suggest in my talks, aggregates only tell part of the story. Averages being what averages are, 50% of the titles are above the trend line. As I said in my last lecture at Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association a month ago, "I postulate that the 4% of time spent with print are valuable and precious minutes off the grid. Our strength is the total focus that print provides.

    The question is, can we convince young media buyers of the quality and worth of precious minutes off the grid?

    Does science matter in making media decisions?


    The haptic experience between print and digital is mainly a different feel, a different sensation and, perhaps above all else, a different expectation. Print doesn't offer distractions other than the words and thinking on the page, while the digital experience does.  


    With print the expectation is built right into the product as linear and fixed with no possibility of "surfing" beyond the next page. This firm foundation is in the background of your brain. Those particular expectations make for different reading experiences.

     Here is the science of what we know:

    1) Paper stimulates a stronger emotional response.

    2) Paper is more action-oriented than digital, because its physical format stimulates mental processes that guide consumer behavior.

    I think a case can be made that reading on the web requires a modern kind of discipline to actually finish the article you started to read, whereas in print there is no place else to go but finish what you picked up to read. Not everybody finishes every article regardless of the substrate. But to get readers to finish anything containing words requires good writing, good editing and a compelling subject.It is addictive content properly constructed and distributed that brings success to any magazine in print or on the web. It is that simple . . . and that hard.

    FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: North Carolina's Our State Magazine Sold to Employees

    BoSacks Speaks Out: North Carolina's Our State Magazine Sold to Employees

    My friend and the publisher of North Carolina's Our State Magazine, Bernie Mann, has done something fascinating in the business world of publishing. He has done something I deem kind of wonderful. He wants to sell his successful magazine, but not to just another entrepreneur. Rather he wants to sell it to the people who have helped him build the publication into a regional powerhouse over the last several decades.

    For the record, Our State has 170,000 fully paid subscribers with no discounts and sells another 35,000 copies on newsstands every month. The only statewide magazine that's larger is Texas Monthly. And I would note in this era of depressed print advertising the page counts are astronomical in each issue. That is, indeed, a success.

    Somehow Bernie navigated his way through the convoluted legal process that creates an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). How many loyal employees anywhere get such an opportunity? Well, there may be some others in the publishing world, but this is the only one I can think of.

    The following charming and informative editorial from the latest Our State magazine penned by its editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Hudson, discusses Bernie's business style and the revelation of the ESOP to the staff. 

    Bravo Bernie! And congratulations to the new owner/employees! I wish them luck and continued success. My hope is that this becomes a map for other successful publishing entrepreneurs. For the complete article click here
     

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
    (0) Comments

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