It has been a common refrain to hear, probably for the better part of two decades, that “Print is dead.” And while overall print media has declined over that timeframe and once mighty print publications have chosen the fully-digital path or shuttered completely, the last few years have seen some surprising success for print, particularly magazines.

All it took was a pivot to a new model, and perhaps mindset, from both publishers and advertisers. Magazines that reach a specific audience, and that provide the niche information that audience wants in a beautifully-produced publication are finding a home among readers. In a crowded, oversaturated digital world, print also gives the reader a more immersive experience where they can take in information without being disturbed.

Likewise for advertisers, print advertising provides key things that are missing from the digital world. Data analysis from media researcher Newsworks showed print advertising was providing a much stronger performances across key ad recall than it did a decade ago, increasing from 67% between 2009/10 and 2019/2020.

Samir Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism recently told Imagination Publishing that companies were deciding that, maybe with a magazine that people could physically get their hands on, then readers would feel they we are a real brand, “not just something virtual, not just something in the air.”

For C-level executives, the appeal of print depends on the type of information they were seeking. A global survey of CXOs conducted by Forbes Insights and Deloitte found more than one-third of them preferred traditional longer databased formats in print. The report based on that survey, “Thought Leadership in Action: Strategic Content to Help CXOs Learn and Lead,” explained the needs of this particular audience were key because CXOs need to think and act strategically, so they opt for longer pieces that take them from hypothesis, through case studies, to conclusion, and are based on credible data. Business publications and consulting firms come out on top of the list.


This is not to say that content should not be distributed digitally also, but there is still a case to be made for print when reaching for an audience of business leaders. In the same survey, more than half of CXOs said reading business insights in print was till important to them. The key takeaway, it seems, is for print publication in the genre go deep with insightful, strategic information.

Bruce H. Rogers, Chief Insights Officer for Forbes Media, said CXOs tend to favor organizations that can produce such long-form content which can help them set strategy or take the pulse of the market. What was most important, Rogers said, was that each piece of thought leadership is presented on its most preferred channels for a given audience, and that it is designed for each specific channel to make it easily readable.

Speaking at the ‘Power of Print’ seminar in London in November of last year, News media Association Chief Executive Owen Meredith made the case that print was still an important and effective platform for delivering messages to leaders and a powerful platform for advertisers.

“Print is a powerful part of the media mix as it amplifies the message and travels well beyond the printed page,” Meredith said. “As well as providing a compelling platform for journalism and holding the powerful to account, there is also a wealth of evidence to demonstrate not only the boost that print gives to advertising, but also the increasing effectiveness of print advertising over time.

“In a crowded digital world where competition for eyeballs and attention is intense, print environments provide a trusted, focused environment which grabs the reader’s attention.

Time and time again, research shows the importance for advertisers of appearing in a high-quality environment next to trusted content rather than risking the Wild West of the social media platforms.”

Admittedly, publishers of print newspapers and magazines have vested interest in promoting the value of their platform. Yet there is a compelling case for thoughtful, well-research content delivered in beautifully designed pages. After all, there is nothing like holding that new edition hot off the presses in your hands. [C]

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Tim Burrill
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