Check out the article and discussion over on Blurb, AM&P’s blog.
Just about everything in publishing has evolved in response to changes in technology, delivery and consumer habits/expectations. Your team has probably changed too. But profound change is hard to achieve and even harder to sustain. We are offering 7 tips to effect change for your publication and for your team.
An IBM C-Suite Study in 2010 of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number-one leadership competency of the future. In his book Disrupt, author Luke Williams writes that “radical change, in any business or industry, requires creative destruction, the need to fundamentally challenge the validity of your biggest achievements.” And Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, in an article in Wired wrote, “Logical and precise, left-brain thinking gave us the Information Age. Now comes the Conceptual Age – ruled by artistry, empathy, and emotion.”
Association editorial teams know that the publishing environment has changed – who ever thought we’d see a time marked by long-respected consumer magazines ceasing publication one after the other? But we have. Ad sales have slumped and dropped; according to the Publishers Information Bureau, magazine ad pages were down more than 20% in 2009, up 2.5% in 2010, and up again 4.9% in 2011. Ad pages today are not even where they were in 2008. The race is certainly on to figure out how to monetize the move of content to online, but meanwhile, print publications can capitalize on being outside of the staggering information congestion online.
The trend is pretty firm: Publishing has changed and associations are not immune to the woes facing their consumer publication peers. So what does this mean to association editors or content curators? Although not thinking about the association niche per se, Williams advises: “[You] need to fundamentally challenge the validity of your biggest achievements. Creativity can help you identify what you need to do and help you do what you do better.”
Many association magazine subscriptions are a benefit of membership, which may mean that your publication will continue even in the face of declining or lack of revenue loss, but it does not mean that you should keep doing things as they have always been done. On page 20 of the January/February 2012 issue of Signature, Joe Vallina of American Nurses Association bravely warns, “Association magazines must adapt quickly to this new environment, or they remain vulnerable to being ‘trimmed’ out of existence.”
No one has walked the path before of evolving an association magazine in response to what we now are facing, such as free access to a lot of quality information online and changing reader/member habits and expectations. This is new territory for everyone, but you may just be the emerging leader in evolving association publications for the new information landscape!
Here are some ideas to get you started on the path to using creativity to evolve your publication:
- Create a new process for idea generation that jettisons your team out of their comfort zone.
- Create tools to see your publication in a new way –a different snapshot of your magazine and how it’s positioned in your market space.
- Create new roles for your team members –if it scares you, then you might be on to something.
- Create a new process for part of your production cycle. It is easier to behave your way to new thinking than it is to think yourself to new behavior.
- Create a visionary publication tagline to use in-house as a goal and a guide.
- Create a visionary publication tagline and start using it publicly. Now.
- Create a wish list for your publication. Don’t hold back—why would you?
What are your ideas to use creativity to evolve your publication?