By David Kitchener, Publisher, Essential Install Magazine and Electrical Contracting News

I have just watched Ben Davies on social media talking about Tuesday’s hot topic ‘Does the industry need magazines?’ Well, the answer is, of course, yes.

Most of you will know that this subject is very dear to my heart. This is because my company publishes the leading trade CI magazine, Essential Install, and the leading electrical contracting magazine, Electrical Contracting News (ECN) – both of which have a distinctly targeted readership. But let’s not confuse readership with circulation, circulation is the actual number of copies that are mailed to the recipient, while readership basically means pass-on readership. In the case of Essential Install, which has a monthly circulation of just over 5,000, it also has a pass-on readership of at least two readers per copy, so the readership is over 10,000.

Also, don’t get confused between consumer publishing and trade publishing. Ben was right when he mentioned a comment that came up at the recent EI Live! advisory panel meeting that “print is dead”. This comment was made in regard to consumer publishing, which has suffered over the years from declining circulations – hence national newspapers going online. In the consumer world, advertisers are targeting consumers mainly through Google and Facebook, and this is the main reason why national newspapers are suffering with their print runs declining.

The trade press on the other hand is thriving.

Like most other media, magazines seek to inform, persuade and entertain their audiences and give them great quality editorial and advertising messages. Our magazines don’t just throw themselves together – we employ journalists, advertising sales people, good editors and designers to produce our products. The end result is a targeted magazine put together for the specific target audience and mailed to the reader.

Why do people like magazines?

Because they prioritise visual aesthetics throughout the pages – not just on the covers. Magazines create a highly sensory reading experience, which improves memory and sells products.

Audience targeting is one of the main advantages of trade magazine advertising because certain groups of people are more likely than others to be interested in particular goods or services. If this target audience is known, magazine advertising can provide the best way to reach them.

Magazine benefits

  • Audience selectivity/specific audience targeting
  • Durability – long life
  • Excellent editorial climate – loyal readers, transfer of credibility
  • Artistic variety – bleeds, gatefolds, inserts, pop-ups, spreads
  • Good secondary readership (pass-on audience) inside and outside the business
  • High quality colour reproduction

What makes a magazine attractive?

The best magazines don’t just deliver great content to their readers, they do it in a conversational style that creates a rapport. A good editor will stamp his or her personality on a magazine. Every single feature or story in a magazine should convey the message that you know and understand your readers.

What is a magazine and its purpose?

A magazine or periodical will, in general, be written in a more elevated prose style, and will usually offer more in-depth coverage of news, if it carries news at all. If a newspaper attempts to inform, a magazine in contrast attempts to enlighten and entertain.

The marketing mix

I would add that the one thing that gets to me these days is the lack of marketing knowledge – when a company looks to promote itself, services or products, it should put together a mix of marketing. You see, marketing is not just advertising or PR, it should be a mixture of these disciplines and include online activities, social media and events – all of which work in different ways but achieve the same end. Any respectable publisher will combine online activity, newsletters, advertising and editorial, all of which combine to work together. If you take any of these activities in isolation you will not get the results that you could get by combining them all.

So, the answer to Ben Davies’ question is YES – magazines are essential in society and their specific industries.

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