Last week I had the opportunity to attend the AM&P NYC breakfast education seminar on April 7th  to hear about the challenges association publishing execs must consider to strike the right media mix between digital and print for their audiences. Michel Winkelman of Leverage Media moderated the seminar which featured Paul Tarricone, Editor and Publisher of Lighting Design + Application (LD+A) and James G. Elliott, President of James G. Elliott Company. Here are some of the insights they shared.

James Elliott emphasized that every media tool has a different purpose and requires research to understand the right mix. Look at your own association’s audience preferences and review what your competitors are doing.

Magazines are not dead and digital is not a panacea: digital magazines are viewed differently by ad agencies than print because of the different analytics used, so they may not be the most productive revenue source for your particular association.

LD+A is the flagship publication for the 8,000-member Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, publishing 13 magazines per year with digital magazine access provided to members-only via a “flip-page” replica. Paul Terricone said their research shows that members are “very loyal” to the print publication particularly with its design focus and older demographics.

LD+A embarked on a major e-newsletter program to increase their readership to new audiences and provide a vehicle for advertisers who were interested in more than digital banner ads. They are now producing 16 themed e-newsletters, three of which are tied to major industry events as well as advertising sponsored, on-demand video newsletters. Because the audiences are different, they are able to reuse content produced for the magazines in the e-newsletter, which helps keep their costs low.  The e-newsletters are being sent to a list of 40,000. Results have been impressive with an average 25% open rate and steady demand by advertisers. These programs have added additional revenue streams while introducing their content to new audiences.

The question to move to digital needs to be weighed by considering the demographic mix and reading habits of your primary audience while also considering your associations goals such as expanding circulation or recruiting new members. Bottom line: conduct research and use the tools that best fit the job—whether it is to increase readership, capitalize on new revenue opportunities or both!

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