The cracks spread- B2B publishing in decline

Are we all sick of doom and gloom print media news yet? Well, seen as we’re a public relations agency our answer is no, because aside from the work here on Mount Street that focuses on digital and online PR, we have great relationships with the press, and follow developments closely.
A recent article in The Guardian obviously thinks most people agree, as Monday saw the website run an article examining fresh statistics set to give the press another coronary. This time round it’s one of the areas that has, traditionally, been seen as safe ground.
The feature points out how trade magazines and newspapers, like all advertising-dependent outlets, have suffered in the media and wider economic downturn. That means, by default, the industry is now entering a period of recovery. But the process would be far easier if government spending cuts weren’t taking so much from the public sector, which accounts for around one third of all sales for business-to-business publishers.
This, of course, suggests that a once robust area is succumbing to the same fate as the free-falling¬†glossies and papers. Though that’s where the comparisons can stop. One look at the figures surrounding Media Week– a trade outlet that has increased revenue since moving online- shows that with great content and a respected brand the web can work.
Furthermore, we don’t think it’s unthinkable to imagine a company paying a nominal subscription (when compared with print) to access in-depth, and, more importantly, accurate industry information online. Nor do those signed up to pay for unlimited access to content on sites like The Drum and FT who will currently be enjoying more than a few benefits in return for their investment.
In comparison,¬†by July 2010 UK consumer titles had seen 13.31 million knocked off combined circulation figures, and this number was rising, with some titles’ readership plummeting by nearly 30 per cent, year on year. No matter how you work those numbers, losses like that cannot be sustained. With that in mind if we return to the question posed by The Guardian at the beginning of this week (have trade magazines got a shelf life?), we’d be more confident in answering ‘yes’ than for most print media. Therefore the real quandary is what format the publication will be delivered in, and how it can stay afloat while current business models catch up with internet.