With apologies to Scotland’s most notorious punk band – Print’s Not Dead
Friday, August 7th, 2015
Iconic music magazine’s rallying call says the print press is alive and well, according to this Scottish PR agency.
For a generation of punk rockers who came of age in the late 70s and early 80s, Scottish band The Exploited created an iconic image:
Their debut album in 1981 featured the words “Punks Not Dead” scrawled in spray paint against a concrete wall in a sprawling housing estate. It became a battle cry for the punk movement, even giving its name to a 2007 film.
It’s exactly the kind of standout image which could have graced the front cover of the NME music magazine in its heyday – spiky, anti-establishment and visceral.
Now, almost 35 years later, the magazine has made a similar declaration of it’s own, which is just as spiky and visceral and perhaps even more socially explosive: Print’s Not Dead
For music lovers, particularly those of a certain vintage, it was seismic news the magazine, formerly known as the New Musical Express, announced it would be distributed free.
Could there be a clearer sign of the disruption in the traditional media than seeing this 60-year-old title having its entire business model turned on its head?
It perfectly sums up the ongoing crisis that has affected the media landscape since the rise of the internet era and would seem to play into the hands of those who boldly declare that “print is dead”.
But what does this mean for the media landscape? Just as importantly, what does it mean for businesses who want to use PR services?
Well, I would argue that it’s actually very positive news – in fact it is revolutionary.
We are all familiar with trend of people moving away in droves from buying printed newspapers.
Yet there is no shortage of evidence that the internet boom in unverified reports, rumour, speculation and outright untruths means newspapers are more than ever viewed as ‘trusted organs of truth’.
Readers get fed up trying to filter through the tsunami of content the internet has created. In a world where everyone can be a publisher, the public has sought out trusted, traditional news sources as the windows to true and accurate information.
Of cours the print media industry is struggling with how to make this pay. The public want to get their news from them – but they want it for free and won’t fork out for the pleasure of buying a paper.
Print titles are now trying to balance the conundrum of having to employ the staff needed to source and report the news, at a time when the buying public would rather get it for free from their online sites.
Hence why NME has taken the bold step to forget about the circulation v costs challenge and print for free; with the clear aim of attracting more advertisers by getting into the hands of more readers.
NME currently sells around 15,000 copies, a far cry from its 1960s heyday when it sold in six figures and shared the market with now-defunct rivals such as Sounds and Melody Maker.
But its publisher’s plans will now see 300,000 copies distributed at stations, shops and colleges around the country. That could see it compete with a wealth of commuter publications such as Shortlist, Stylist, Metro and also many other emerging start ups.
It speaks volumes when a legendary paid-for magazine bucks the trend and follows the model of upstart rivals.
Editor Mike Williams believes the move will transform the magazine, which was launched in 1952.
He said: “NME is already a major player and massive influencer in the music space, but with this transformation we’ll be bigger, stronger and more influential than ever before.
“Every media brand is on a journey into a digital future. That doesn’t mean leaving print behind, but it does mean that print has to change, so I’m incredibly excited by the role it will now play as part of the new NME. The future is an exciting place, and NME just kicked the door down.”
In the distinct case of NME, worried media-types and news-fanatics will see a resurgence of a cherished and well loved platform.
Meanwhile PR’s will have an ongoing and more stable platform to be able to share the stories of their clients and reach the right demographics.
How much more powerful and cogent will your message be if it is read by 300,000 people and not just 15,000?
That makes us at Edinburgh PR agency Holyrood PR very excited. We are all about delivering creative campaigns that have measurable results – that is making your customers change and influence their opinion about your product.
So, it seems clear everybody wins. But let’s look at bit more about the development of the NME free model.
Living in a digital age full of information, news, data and content all accessible at the touch of a button, it’s hard to charge your readers for stories they don’t see the value in paying for – or feel duped into paying for, because they can already access it for free.
There does not seem to be any right or wrong model. While newspaper and magazine circulations are in steady decline, they have never been able to reach more people than they do on line. Yet making money from that digital reach is proving a vexing conundrum.
Meanwhile we will continue to see innovative new online-only players like Quartz, The Verge, Buzzfeed and Vice emerge to offer a digital news service, while traditional giants like NME look at new ways to keep their titles alive.
ROUTE TO COMMUTE
One area which has remained a rock throughout a turbulent time for many other print publications seems to be the niche-commuter paper/magazine: striking the restless traveller with a short, snappy and punchy content packed read.
And with people always looking for time to fill the void between their travels – commuter publications will also continue to thrive, finding a perfect ground for print press to remain a force in the media world.
For businesses looking to share news about what they do, the great news is that there have never been more ways to get your story told. Well told stories with a legitimate news angle and accompanying pictures will always find a home in the relevant publications, be they print-based, web-based or, as is increasingly the case, app-based.
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Private: Ross Stebbing
As part of the expert PR team at a fast-paced Scottish public relations agency, Ross Stebbing works on diverse clients in sectors including film and media, construction, healthcare and logistics. While he delivers PR in Edinburgh, his results appear in newspapers, magazines and websites all across the UK and beyond.View Private:'s Profile
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