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Going digital

Going digital

Launching a digital publication can be a daunting prospect, but it goes hand in hand with huge benefits if the editorial strategy is clear, says Ceris Burns, managing director at Ceris Burns International.

Many B2B magazines are making the leap into becoming available digitally – they are stepping away from the traditional print model, as well as the sometimes cumbersome print and online strategy, to become pure digital evangelists. You could argue until you’re blue in the face about the commercial reasons behind this, but there are some key editorial advantages to embracing the world of digital publishing that cannot be ignored. These advantages can benefit all parties – the publisher, the readership and the advertisers – with the help of a clear strategy and some joined-up thinking.

The technology available for digital publishing is now finely tuned, with easy click-to-navigate and page-turning technology lending digital magazines the familiar look and feel of their print predecessors, but with faster navigability and far higher accessibility. Many publishers opt to make digital issues available to download from their website, either with or without a subscription, as well as by using a magazine stand app, making the issue compatible with smart phones.

The great thing about some digital magazine stand apps is that they notify subscribers when the digital issue lands. At the same time, publishers opting for website-only availability can send out brief mailshots when the issue is ready, letting readers know the key content and themes in that issue. This direct contact can drive up readership engagement and expand your audience, although should come with a note of caution. Less is more – publishers must be careful not to spam their readers, or they will start seeing numbers dropping.

Digital issues can also be enriched with far more content than print issues. A common complaint among editors is receiving too many images for a particular feature; it can be very frustrating to have to leave some unused on the cutting room floor. Digital issues offer the option of including image galleries, so readers can get a better perspective on the product or theme being discussed, and contributors feel they’re being well looked after. Videos can also be embedded in digital issues, usually using a link to a hosting website as video file sizes are very large. Add to this interactive infographics and animations, and it becomes clear that highly accessible, dynamic content can add another dimension to a digital magazine.

Good digital publishers will also have a respectable social media presence, which they use to drive engagement and point visitors in the direction of their website, and their subscriptions page.

Many digital magazines run alongside websites, often offering deeper insight and comment and round-ups of the breaking news and trends covered on the website. Far from cannibalising the digital issue, these platforms can offer fantastic benefits to the publication. But for the best results, it is crucial that all three platforms are joined up – take the following as an example:

- Editor publishes website news story about newly-launched ride-on floor sweeper

- Editor tweets news story using twitter handle of manufacturer, which retweets far and wide

- Manufacturer and editor conduct factory visit, interview and demo of new sweeper, editor shoots brief video of attempt to operate ride-on sweeper

- Editor publishes teaser news story about the longer feature and video to appear in next issue, tweets this story, manufacturer retweets far and wide

- Editor publishes longer feature interview in digital issue, which links back to original news story, and also features embedded video

- Editor tweets link to latest issue when ready, including twitter handle of manufacturer, which re-tweets far and wide

- Video of editor attempting to operate ride-on sweeper goes viral, users comment on ‘crazed look’ in eye

- Subscriptions soar

A slightly tongue in cheek example, but it gives you a flavour of how the website, digital issue and social media platforms can interact and extend a publication’s reach far further than could be achieved in print.

There are also challenges, of course, not least editorially when it comes to keeping pace with the demanding immediacy of the breaking news agenda. While this demand isn’t as high as for the national news outlets, B2B publications typically have smaller editorial teams, and they also need to travel around to the myriad of trade exhibitions, conferences and meetings and pepper their calendars.

However, smart phone technology has advanced to the point that short stories and social media posts can easily be written using the handset, and with WIFI becoming more accessible by the day, the challenge might be more about knowing when to put your phone down and switch off for a bit, rather than trying to keep up.

But when all is said and done, going digital doesn’t mean abandoning the traditional quality focus of print publishing, it means adding to it. The world is changing, and the future is digital – it’s been that way for some time now, so it’s important to keep up.

Reader Reply Number 201108
Ceris Burns International

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