If you have any interest in journalism or the magazine industry then you no doubt would have spotted the recent announcement that Glamour magazine would be cutting down from their usual monthly print mag to just two editions a year and switching their focus to online content with an emphasis on beauty. Jo Elvin, Glamour editor of 17 years has also announced she is stepping down.
To some this would have come as a surprise. At first I was surprised myself. But then hasn’t this been a long time coming? Realistically, the only time I buy a magazine these days is at the train station or airport if I’m about to head off on a long journey. And that’s coming from someone who has always loved magazines, so much so that I chose a degree in Journalism as a result. I remember when Company magazine announced it was closing and I felt genuinely upset. I used to make a particular point of buying the magazine every month and loved the way it talked about the exciting new world of blogging that we were all going to want to be involved in. Well it turns out we did all start loving this online digital world, so much so that it kicked the traditional print mag right out of business.
It’s so hard for magazines to get the balance right. On one hand they want to be seen as keeping up to date with the times, supporters of the digital, but in the same breath they are taking away from the power and history of print media that they have built their business on.
Whenever asked, journalists and editors usually state that there will always be a place for print media but are they just covering their backs? Refusing to be seen as intimidated by the digital takeover? Advertisers have clocked on that print circulations are decreasing. They don’t want to spend their money on a space that no one is looking at. It’s time to admit that print media just isn’t what it once was, and that’s not for a lack of great print content, it just doesn’t suit our busy, modern lifestyles anymore.
Journalists of all trades
Many magazine journalits no longer work on just one title. They split their time across numerous titles in the same publishing house meaning their time is spread more thinly and there are fewer positions for those trying to break through in to the industry. It’s a shame.
Glamour magazine is hiring, I should note, so we can’t be certain that this new digital takeover is going to leave traditional writers behind, it just means they need to work harder to keep up with the changes. It’s also worth noting the job descriptions for the new digital Glamour roles suggest that applicants should be digital and social extroadanaire’s who already have significant social media followings before they even start the new role. If you’ve cracked the digital world already and have thousands of followers you’re in, if you’ve been minding you’re own business writing away with a private profile just sharing pictures of your cat, you’re out.
Can PR agencies & brands keep up?
I know PR agencies whose whole focus is on print journalism, still vying on the belief that a quick reference in any magazine from Vogue to That’s Life is worth more than a mention by a blogger or YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of followers. It’s time that the PRs, or maybe more importantly their clients, realised that things aren’t the same as they were 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Print magazines are clinging on by the skin of their teeth whilst digital is growing faster than ever. Some blogs now are effectively mini online magazines, bigger than the online versions of print magazines even, covering a vast array of topics, with beautiful photography and pulling in huge monthly readerships.
The benefit of print journalism for brands was that, on the most part, getting a product featured was relativeyl cheap. Sure, creative mailers to grab jounalist’s attention, breakfast meetings and events can certainly be pricey but you would never pay outrightly for a guaranteed mention in a magazine. This is where in the blogosphere the advertising and PR worlds blur in to one and differ to the traditional clear cut division we see in print advertising. It begs the question of which budget a #AD seen on Instagram or as part of a YouTube video or sponsored post should come out of. Is it PR, is it marketing or is it just a new form of advertising all together? Whilst some brands have significant budgets set aside for ‘influencer marketing’ others still expect coverage o be free.
Don’t get left behind
What we do know is that even though digital journalism and blogging has seen a significant rise over the past few years it is still a world of which many people are still uncertain and though magazines have tried to fight it it may be time to give in to the new digital world. Their busy readers don’t have the time to sit down with a magazine anymore or they feel like they’ve seen it all online already. A monthly magazine which is planned up to 3 months in advance just doesn’t feel as current as it used to be.
Times are changing, jobs are changing, the way we spend our down time is changing and you either keep up with the changes or get left behind. I have always been a fan of Glamour and hope they manage to make their new online presence work. It is interesting that they have chosen to focus on beauty. I can understand why but I feel that what differed Glamour from every other women’s media out there is their ability to talk about a huge range of important issues, bringing serious topics to the mainstream alongside light-hearted silliness. I hope in all this they don’t lose the integrity that the brand, with Jo Elvin at the helm, have built over the years.
I’d love to hear your thoughts too!