Death of magazines: a stark reality or just the next page turning?

by Katie Hogg

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Mixed reports suggest a changing landscape for the traditional magazine according to Edinburgh PR agency

Edinburgh PR discuss death of the magazine industry

WITH a record decline in readership of more than 1million UK readers in 2017, a dark cloud looms over magazines – but is the end really nigh?   

On the face of it, the prospect of a monthly, cumbersome print magazine costing the equivalent of a decent lunch may seem a little “of last century”.

We’re now able to keep on top of the news at quite literally a ‘touch of a button’ typically at no extra cost. But while we’ve been scrolling feeds and stalking sites, how has a more “traditional” medium, the magazine, managed?

On the face of it, the picture looks bleak.


Ad Block

Last year UK magazines experienced an 11% slump in advertising – the biggest since the 2009 recession. To add fuel to the fire, magazines also witnessed a seven-figure combined decline in readership.

This has even resulted in well-established names such as Glamour ditching its print offering and focusing on its online platform, as print costs make the old business model unviable.

But as the digital sphere further expands, what does it really mean for the good old glossy?


Digital Race

Social media is a powerful tool. From sharing news to promoting brands, scrolling down a newsfeed can provide more coverage than your average publication. As a PR company with expertise in social media, we know this all too well.

For example, last year we helped our client Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) to promote their name change, using social media as the backbone of the campaign. Through videos, a digital countdown and a ‘Humans of New York’ inspired set of posts, the campaign gained a social media reach of 784,107 and ended up being a digital success.

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity

ECHC is just one example of how throwing in the option of tailoring content to the individual’s taste can be an unstoppable force.

Or is it?

Arguably, the biggest issue facing the industry is the harnessing of online advertising. Digital ads, banners, sponsored posts… these hold a much cheaper price tag than physical print. But the time-old saying that you pay for quality does ring true in many respects.

According to eMarketer, Facebook currently accounts for 65% of the $6.5bn spent on digital ads in the UK. But, with this massive chunk of influence comes great responsibility. Do you know where your ad is sitting or what is positioned next to it? One of Donald Trump’s favourite terms springs to mind: Fake News.

Print publications are synonymous for their trusted journalistic reputations and have the ability to place adverts strategically. Brands can take comfort in the knowledge that their ad won’t be sitting next to content on an extremist website or placed next to a piece which clashes with their views.

It is this trust that magazine professionals believe has helped keep the industry afloat, despite an extremely difficult sales period. There is hope that this will nudge advertisers into reassessing where they spend their money and what best fits their brand in 2018.


The Silver Lining

It may seem like a grim time for print, but it’s not all doom and gloom. While celebrity titles have suffered dramatically, luxury magazines have seen a surge in circulation.

According to experts, people are going more ‘upmarket’ and having a physical, glossy magazine is a welcome change to reading quick-fire material on the net. In fact, around 78% of us still prefer to read from paper than from a screen.

However, getting material into a high-end magazine can prove a difficult task. As the majority of these titles are monthly, journalists have more time to pick and choose content than that of a weekly publication or newsfeed. Competition can be fierce – who wouldn’t want to be associated the luxury glossy on the newsstand? Therefore, being able to pitch quality content is vital.


Having an experienced PR agency behind you is one way to ensure your brand graces the pages of such magazines.

Looking Forward

Magazines haven’t had the best of years. However, the death of the magazine is not on the cards just yet. They’ve managed to hold their own in a society that is digitally-focused.

The allure of the magazine stand is very much intact and still a comfortable investment. If you do anything thing in 2018, don’t believe the hype. Magazines are very much alive and kicking.



Are you looking for an Edinburgh PR agency to help you make the most of your company’s social media accounts?

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    Katie Hogg is part of the PR team at Holyrood PR in Scotland

    Private: Katie Hogg

    Katie Hogg is part of the award-winning PR team at Holyrood PR. She is also a former journalist, most notably with luxury lifestyle magazine, Scottish Field

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