What’s your primary business?

January 14, 2009

A New Yorker article I referenced the other day emphasized the importance of identifying your core business, and asking yourself if you make magazines or content. (Content, obviously, is platform-independent, whereas magazines are not.) Further to that, I found this quote from an article on Publishing Executive interesting:

Many publications today are seeing the future of their businesses shift more toward the Internet. For Christopher Ruddy, editor of Newsmax.com and Newsmax magazine, the future is the Internet. “Publishers should start thinking that their businesses are really Web-based, and their magazine is an adjunct to that,” he says. “The Internet is the way we get most of our subscribers and promote our magazine.” In other words, magazine publishers today should think more in terms of the Internet as their primary business with a print component to it. “We think of the Web as the main hub for our publishing company, and our magazine helps build our community and our brand,” Ruddy says.

What do you think? Can you imagine your publication shifting its primary focus to the web?

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2 Responses to “What’s your primary business?”

  1. JP Says:

    Great post. I would up the anti in two ways.

    1. RE: “Publishers should start thinking that their businesses are really Web-based…” True, but to many, web-based means computers. This will not be the case. Yes publishers should think that the Internet will be the primary distribution service for content. But publishers need to ensure the content is platform agnostic, meaning it can be viewed on a computer, a phone, a PS3 or Wii console, a fridge, digital paper, a tv, a watch, whatever.

    2. Publishers should think of their business in two ways. It is not just content they sell (give away), but also an audience. There are two main product lines: content and audience; and two main user bases: readers/users and advertisers. They must co-exist. It is a unique business. Widget makers sell widgets. Easy. Publishers need to ensure they satisfy and engage their audience and then sell that audience. Two products.

    In other words, no matter how much everyone may kick and scream, sales and editorial are tied at the hip. And I will submit that the rope tying them both and keeping them each happy is the emerging field (in web, and soon to come in print) of product management.

    • Kat Says:

      Good points. I think we really need to recognize that readers are often starting with a platform and then looking for content, not vice versa. If we supply readers with content across platforms, we don’t miss opportunities to reach them. Forcing them to read only in print, for example, is alienating anyone who doesn’t want that *at that moment*, even if they might at another time.


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