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Here's why Digiday is launching a print magazine

There have been a lot of stories over the last few years of media companies and brands with a digital heritage that have launched print magazines, from Airbnb through to Net-A-Porter. Yet one of the more unlikely experiments in print has come from Digiday Media which has just debuted its print magazine - Pulse.

Pulse ()

For several years Digiday has sought to keep readers up to speed with developments in digital/online media, highlighting everything from the emergence of new social platforms through to the latest publisher response to ad blocking.

The company’s mantra appears to be that trends in publishing are neutral. They stress they are “optimistic realists who believe the shift to platforms is neither good nor bad, simply a new reality that will test publishers.”

But a print magazine? How does that fit into a world where platforms and concepts seem to evolve  on a weekly basis? For Digiday publishing is, as it is is for most media companies, all about connecting with an audience.

The company states on its post about the launch of Pulse. “We believe in the power of strong, differentiated brands that create lasting connections with audiences. Those connections can happen on all manner of platforms, even a print magazine.”

Brian Morrissey, editor in chief and president of Digiday told FIPP that Pulse magazine was a fascinating opportunity for Digiday to look at issues in depth, in a way that perhaps doesn't work quite as well online.

“Magazines are a great way to go deeper on certain stories and trends. They're also a wonderful tangible expression of a brand, presenting what it values in a thoughtful way.” 

He added “magazine stories are just different from web stories. They take a broader point of view, they're less ‘of the moment.’ We do longer stories on our site - we really think of it as a daily magazine - but these features are meant to take a step back and put things in perspective.”

Why though offer a print version of Digiday now? The inevitable question is - are the company producing print as revenue generator, or is there still a certain cache with print which Digiday thinks will elevate its brand?

“For our first issue, we had a single sponsor, PulsePoint,” says Brian. “We see the magazine as a profit maker in the long run. I think publishers need to be agnostic about how they become important to their audiences. We distribute content through our site, on platforms, through email. We do live events, even career fairs. Print is another opportunity to reach our audience with a product they'll find valuable.”

A new trend?

If a resolutely online brand can launch a printed version of its content - is this the beginning of trend? Are we going to see other digital titles move into print?

Brian thinks the trend is less about print and more about the way in which publishers can now experiment with a multitude of platforms. “I think the trend is media brands thinking broadly about how to serve their audiences in ways that make sense for them - and that can make money for the publisher. That can be an email newsletter, a magazine, a TV show. It just depends on the media brand and the audience.”

“We're printing a few thousand copies and doing a controlled distribution. We'll see how the first couple issues go, then decide if we want to do something broader.”

Maybe it isn't that surprising really? Short-run print magazines, especially those which target B2B audiences, have been around for a long time, and in spite of the macro shift to digital many continue to thrive. I am sure though that many trade publishers will be keeping a keen eye on Pulse and see how it fares.

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