2010 will be the year of online subscriptions
Online PR News – 30-January-2010 – – Birnbach Communications, Inc., an independent communications agency focusing on traditional, online and social media, today issued its top media trends for 2010. Taking an analyst’s approach to monitoring the media, the agency based its list of trends on conversations with reporters, bloggers and Twitter members.
Birnbach Communications compiles an annual list of media trends for its clients, who operate across a range of industries, including technology, storage, security, unified communications, financial software and services, healthcare, senior services, consumer, social networking, nonprofit and education sectors. The trends help the agency's clients work more effectively with the media, both at traditional and online outlets, including blogs and social networking sites.
The following are among Birnbach Communications’ media trends for 2010:
• Traditional journalism will continue to be important even as the resources allocated to practicing it diminish. There are fewer print newspapers, fewer reporters at those print papers, and less space in those papers -- and yet traditional journalism conducted by newspapers will continue to drive content across the web.
• Even as the economy continues to improve (never as fast as we'd like it to), more newspapers and magazines will cease publishing or transition to online-only in 2010. This year should not be as difficult on print media as was the case of 2009, but it will be the year when we hear a lot of people talk about the "new normal," which is to say publishers will be thrilled with advertising that increases by just a few percentage points.
• Online-only magazines will see tough times, too, because they will find out they're not entirely self-sustaining. Actually printing content on paper and then distributing it to subscribers costs a lot of money, which is why dozens of magazines and a few newspapers decided to cease their print editions, and focused on online-only editions. They've been able to reduce costs significantly but they also gave up a number of substantial revenue streams, too. We've seen some layoffs from online newsrooms, and we expect to see more in 2010 because it's not enough to save costs; newly online-only media also needs to figure out ways to boost their revenue, too.
• More media will struggle with and offer online subscription programs. Publishers are considering a number of different plans, ranging from a pay-wall which enables only paid subscribers to access content; a metered system that allows readers to sample a few articles before being asked to subscribe; premium access, in which many articles are free but more important ones are available only to paid subscribers; and a membership model like public radio. We think online-only and print magazines and newspapers will have to start charging online subscriptions fees because journalism takes money to produce, and online advertising alone doesn't cover enough of the expenses.
• Mobile access on hand-held devices is how people will access content in 2010. This may not seem like much of a prediction, but with netbooks, tablets and increasingly powerful cell phones, more people will access the Internet, information, and everyone else by devices, not necessarily from desktops, even laptops. Content will need to be platform-agnostic, including audio and video, developed to meet the demands of several key platforms. It's not just newspaper publishers who need to think cross-platform; it's all businesses, whether they're trying to reach consumers or B2B customers.
• Online subscriptions won't limited to online news content. We expect that Twitter will unveil a business model that will likely be focused on the business community. We also expect Hulu.com to offer its video library on a per-viewing and on an unlimited basis. The same goes for some streaming music sites that currently are available for free. The fact is that publishers of all kinds are finding out that advertising-only-supported sites are not self-sustaining. Charging user fees will allow these sites to survive. But getting the pricing right is critical. After all, Newsday.com spent millions to redesign its site to put a pay-wall so it could charge readers $5.00 per week for access. In three months, Newsday.com generated only 35 subscribers. In contrast, the Wall St. Journal charges less than $100 for online access, with a discount for print subscribers.
The complete list of media trends is available on the PRBackTalk, blog.birnbachcom.com.
“This will be the year that publishers of all kinds -- online and print newspapers, online news, music, and video sites will realize that they can't survive just by cutting the costs associated with print newspapers. Online advertising alone does not generate enough revenue to sustain operations, and we'll see that in 2010. Online subscriptions will have a significant impact on how we all access news, information and content,” said Norman Birnbach, president, Birnbach Communications, Inc. "Meanwhile, journalism and PR continue to experience a period of enormous upheaval, but one thing remains the same: clients must have a strong sense of the media environment, from trends generating coverage to the state of the media itself. We advise our clients on the type of stories and approaches that have the best chance of capturing the media's attention as well as how to avoid those that reporters, bloggers and others consider to be a waste of time. This list of trends, which we track and revise throughout the year, is an important element to the roadmap we develop each year for each client."
About Birnbach Communications, Inc.
Boston-based Birnbach Communications, Inc., an independent communications agency, provides its clients with a portfolio of strategic business communication services, specializing in traditional and online media relations reaching national and trade outlets, social networking, executive visibility, corporate communications, and analyst relations. The agency enables its client base of emerging and mid-sized companies to reach customers, investors, venture capital firms and business partners; launch new products and services; establish new product categories; and drive market demand. Founded in 2001 with the commitment to combine the best aspects of large-agency experience with small-agency culture and dedication, Birnbach Communications brings senior-level intelligence and attention based on an understanding of business issues – not just PR issues. Birnbach's team represents more than 140 years of PR, marketing and communications experience across a range of industries, including technology, storage, security, unified communications, financial software and services, healthcare, senior services, consumer, social networking, nonprofit and education sectors. For more information, visit www.birnbachcom.com.