Niche publications are increasing their audiences by combining subscription offers with app promotions.
I am often taken to task for overlooking the fact that business-to-business, B2B, magazines have done better than newspapers and consumer magazines during the print media downturn.
One of my regular commenters in previous years, the irrepressible Chris Wheal, was given to reminding me of my blinkers about the sector’s resilience. The sales minnows have thrived while bigger media sharks have suffered.
Despite their relatively low sales (compared to consumer mags and daily papers), these niche magazines have tended to retain their audiences because they are required reading by the people they serve (and therefore by the advertisers who need to reach them).
It is true that almost all recruitment ads, one key income stream, have moved to the net. But most B2B mags appear to have coped with that loss.
In so doing, they have also become platform agnostic, offering their audiences the chance to read their content in print or online. Many are now providing apps for tablets and smartphones too.
It has just launched its app – combined with a range of subscription offers – after carrying out research which showed that more than half of its subscribers use tablet computers. No surprise there (was the research even necessary?) The tablet pun in its promotion works well.
But the reason I mention Health Service Journal (HSJ), when so many other B2B magazines are engaged in similar initiatives, is its journalism.
The magazine’s reporting on the care quality commission saga (see here) has been highly praised. And last month, HSJ’s editor-in-chief, Alastair McLellan, was named business editor of the year in the annual Professional Publishers Association awards for 2013.
The judges’ commendation said that McLellan was “a fantastic figurehead for a very well known title with the courage to not only take a stand, but also a strong point of view.”
My colleague, Polly Toynbee, also noted McLellan’s “wise, calm analysis” of the Keogh report into the unusually high death rates at 14 hospitals.
It is a reminder that B2B magazines are often in the forefront of breaking stories and the best of them are analytical and not afraid to campaign either.