"Editors have to start thinking like product managers." I Disagree
By Matt Holliday, editor, Pennsylvania Magazine, November 23 2011
David Fry, who spoke at our Branson conference and who is an expert in digital formats and websites, while attending another conference, posted this comment on his Facebook page: “Time, Inc’s president of Digital: ‘Editors have to start thinking like product managers’.”
Here’s my response to that comment:
I always bristle when someone refers to a printed magazine as being a content delivery vehicle. It’s not. It’s a gateway to a community with which its subscriber or newsstand buyer identifies. It’s a piece of a relationship puzzle. It’s not just content. If all magazines delivered was content, like you can find all over the Internet, then magazines would cease to exist.
They exist because people SUBSCRIBE to them. Subscribers are people who have chosen to pay for a periodical that will come sometime in the future with content that is unknown but predictable. It’s how well the magazine does in providing the predictable surprise and connecting that subscriber to his or her community (original reason for purchase) that will determine whether or not the subscriber will renew.
A printed magazine is a stand-alone item. It’s an escape. You cannot do anything else with it except swat flies. . . When moving a magazine’s materials to an electronic environment, now there is plenty to distract the reader from connecting to his or her community. . . and away from the relationship that caused the person to spend the money in the first place. That’s how I see it.
Please note that the comments above are not about the format of the content; it is about what is really being purchased in the first place. Today, digital is certainly part of the equation at building and connecting with a community and building the related relationships with subscribers.