Is there a new role for print in news media companies’ product mixes?
In some countries print is still popular, but in Argentina, numbers for print are low. Print alone is unsustainable, Luis García, chief operating officer for Editorial Perfil, said during the INMA Latin American Media Summit. But, he added, the legacy of the brand, trust, and credibility built on print caters to a specific audience, creating value worth saving.
“We have to take into account whether the paper will have a role,” García said. “If it doesn’t harm the other actions we are taking, yes. If we know we have a strong brand and rich history, reliability, we have other people within the ecosystem and platforms that think print will play a role. But we have to find what role it has. It will depend on the consumption of the readers.”
Print has obvious challenges, such as printing costs, mass distribution of content across platforms, and news avoidance. But as long as print accounts for 18% of the company’s EBITDA, García said, it has a valuable role in the company’s media mix.
Editorial Perfil currently has 17 magazines in its ecosystem. Adding new products, like books, into the print model could be one way to grow print’s role, but García said while growing the print audience is one thing, sustaining that audience is another: “I think we have to sustain print and we also have to sustain subscriptions.”
There are market opportunities in education, oftentimes in awards events, as well potential new markets internationally. Markets like China and India may have potential, as well as regional areas in Mexico and Africa.
In terms of marketing strategies, García said brand ambassadors, as used in industries outside of news media, could be a powerful tool to engage audiences. Print itself, with its vibrant, eye-catching cover page, lends itself to visual marketing on a certain level that digital will not be able to match.
Teamwork, constant learning, and benchmarking will be key to keeping print a desirable and profitable part of the media mix, García said. Mistakes will be made, so teams need to be prepared to be agile in their product approach. They also need to know when it’s time to cut something that doesn’t work.
García added that it’s hard to keep existing if teams are not constantly asking questions about everything, and keeping an eye on competitors should be part of that process.
“We have to learn how to learn,” García said. “And we have to reach the other markets before and better than the other competitors.”