Posts Tagged ‘Specialist Media Show’
From the moment I arrived at the show in Peterborough, I recognised the ossification I’ve experienced before when viewing production in the special interest publishing sector. Somehow the sector seems to suffer more than others and seems blinkered to the opportunities of digital innovation and partnership.
What Specialist Media Show were you at Mr Bateman? It clearly wasn’t the one where the audience got quite giddy when Ashley Friedlein of eConsultancy profiled the digital revenue potential of visitors to his website in real-time. It wasn’t the one where Ben Greenish talked about publishing his 183-year old title on the Kindle and stated that the world is changing so fast strategy is not an option, only action will do.
At the event I was at, the talk was all about embracing digital, from iPad editions to hyper-local communities and electronic site licensing. I heard about newsletter companies reinventing themselves as data analysts, a Christian-ministries magazine selling sermons online and a former dog trainer gaming the search engines like a binary publishing Rin-Tin-Tin. At the editorial roundtable I hosted, all we spoke about was CMS functionality, digital content syndication and how to reward old-school journalists for pushing the digital envelope.
No question that the delegates I spoke to had more questions than answers, but everyone recognised the changes taking place and all had experienced the painful truth of Joseph Schumpeter’s analysis, “hardly any ‘ways of doing things’ which have been optimal before remain so…”.
Casually casting “the media”, specialist or mainstream, as apathetic luddites is flat-earth thinking. The media has moved on Mr Bateman.We are well aware that we need to move online with our communities – we are doing it – and your analysis of the Specialist Media Show reminds me of what might have been one Joe Schumpeter’s lesser known quotations, “Ossification my arse…”.
Disclosure | I have spoken at the Specialist Media Show two years running (and would delightedly do so again if invited back).
The runaway reality of a new day job has a terrible way of crushing the best intentions for extracurricular blogging. Witness the gap in postings on Flipping Pages (what do you mean you didn’t notice?).
What finally spurred me into action was an email from Carolyn Morgan at the Specialist Media show asking for an updated bio ahead of this year’s event – taking place in 56 days, 21 hours, 20 minutes and 56… 55… 54 seconds according to Carolyn’s countdown clock. I enjoyed the show and conference last year and will be making the journey to Peterborough again May 25th.
Ahead of the event, Carolyn has been running a survey looking at the future for Specialist Media. Unfortunately, I’ve only just got round to filling it in and it’s closed. Never mind, I’ll get to see the results in May and next year’s survey will be here before you know it.
Penmaen Media’s Carolyn Morgan advises media owners on profiting from digital media and marketing. You might also know her as the brains behind the Specialist Media Show. Focused on helping media brands grow in the digital space, Carolyn recently posted some good practical advice on making digital magazines effective. I asked if she would share her top-10 digital magazine tips on Flipping Pages and she has graciously agreed.
Carolyn Morgan: 10 tips for effective digital magazines
Digital magazines are beginning to move up the priority list of many publishers. This is partly a backlash against free-content model of the web, but largely driven by the growth of mobile devices, not least the iPad – most suppliers are soon going to find a cost-effective solution to the flash vs html5 apple device issues. Traditional print publishers are also exploring digital editions as options for international subscribers or simply readers who want instant access.
There a special quality to a carefully designed and packaged magazine, a curated, guided experience rather than the random meandering on a typical web-site. However, a simple facsimile of a print edition misses the point – they are hard to read on screen, and impossible on mobile devices. I’ve been working with a niche b2b publisher and researching some examples of best practice in digital magazines on a limited budget. Here are my top 10 tips for an effective digital edition:
1. Create compelling covers
The lost art of great covers can be rediscovered in digital magazines – creating a package custom-designed for the audience, and teasing them with great cover lines. Covers can be designed as an opening spread rather than a lonely portrait page (see point #2). See this Pharmaceutical digital mag for a great example of a cover spread.
2. Design for landscape
Computer screens are landscape and readers will view a spread at a time. Don’t organise your content in single vertical pages. Run headlines or graphics across the spread, and even consider columns that run across the (now defunct) centrefold.
3. Make navigation easy
Let readers click through from teasers to stories, or even have a permanent contents page that sits outside the main editorial content, as in this chromatography mag. Design buttons to take readers through to related stories in the same edition.
4. Reading should be easy
Break up stories and include bold subheads so readers can quickly scan to understand the topics. Stick to shorter articles, at a type size that means readers don’t need to zoom. Some publishers, such as K9 Media create internal scrolling bars to display longer stories.
5. Link to your website
If a story needs 1000 words, put a summary in your digital magazine and add a link back to your website for the full version. You can also provide background on related articles from your online archive.
6. Differentiate with video
Video sets digital magazines apart from print, and can be invaluable for interviews, demonstrations or to communicate the flavour of a place or event. K9 Media uses video in its digital magazines to show dog behaviour. Just take care that videos don’t autostart with sound in case your reader is browsing in a public place or office at lunchtime.
7. Add value with audio
World music magazine Songlines includes snippets of tracks from its featured artists in its free sampler edition. You can even buy them via Amazon (see #8 bel0w).
8. Enable ecommerce
Include links on product reviews that take the reader directly to a special offer to buy or to find out more.
9. Provide opportunities for interaction
Ask for feedback, run surveys, polls and competitions to get instant information on your readers.
10. Keep file sizes manageable
Don’t get carried away with techno-trickery. Some readers may be viewing on old machines with slow internet access. If your pages take ages to load, they are likely to lose patience. Wired mag gets lots of praise for its iPad edition in techie circles, but it’s 500MB and can take an hour to download.
I’m in the throes of planning my own digital magazine for the Specialist Media Show, so I’m going to adopt these tips myself. This article on the Zmags blog by Russell Clark also includes some useful design hints and watch out also for the winners of the Digital Magazine Awards this autumn for some more inspiration.
If you have any feedback on digital magazine best practice, why not join the debate on the Specialist Media Network at LinkedIn? There are over 350 specialist media people there already swapping ideas and contacts.
Disclosure: Peter Houston is Editorial Director for the examples used in points 1 & 3
This time last week I was headed along the interminable A14 towards Peterborough to speak at the Specialist Media Show. I have to confess I was quietly dubious about the whole venture; It seemed like a very long way to go for a brand new publishing event.
I needn’t have worried. It was excellent.
The show artfully managed a strong mix of exhibition, presentations, roundtables and workshops covering everything from postage to profiting from digital media. If you missed it, and I can understand why you did, keep an eye out for next year’s event. I promise, it will be well worth the journey. Follow @specmediashow on Twitter or join the Specialist Media Network on LinkedIn for updates.
You can catch up with tweets from this year’s event on the #specmedia hashtag or take a look at feedback for the event on the LinkedIn group. The workshop presentations are on Slideshare – I recommend eConsultancy’s Digital Business Models slides. Lots for digital magazine publishers to think about in there, especially on expanding your revenue streams.
Congratulations to organiser Carolyn Morgan and her wonderful staff for a superb first event. And sorry about my secret Peterborough scepticism. I’ll have no doubts about the next one, A14 or not.