John Fahey on “the winning approach”

from National Geographic’s intranet:

Change, by John Fahey

Published: April 26, 2011

John Fahey

A short time ago, Conde Nast, the large New-York-based magazine company, announced with much fanfare its commitment to publish iPad editions of all of its titles. This week Conde Nast acknowledged that it was tapping the brakes on this effort. All the obvious reasons were mentioned, including the inability to generate enough scale, as of yet, to justify the investment.

I think there is something else at work as well. A magazine is packaged the way it is because it fits a particular business model well. When those attributes that work wonderfully for a print magazine are no longer critical, the entire formulation and presentation need to be reimagined.  An industry analyst, Robin Steinberg, observing Conde Nast’s recent move, states: “It’s not a one-size-fits-all model, it’s about delivering the right experience the consumer demands on these devices.”  She goes on to say: “Testing new approaches, experiences and opportunities as part of this evolution is exactly what they and others should be doing.”  In other words, the winning approach will not be simply taking what we’ve done so well in print and enhancing it for a digital platform.

I don’t believe there is a “first to market’ advantage for publishers in the digital realm.  It may sound trite, but it’s a “smart to market” approach that should be in place. To that point, I hope you’re able to join us for the May 5th “all hands” staff meeting.  We plan to present some ideas which should give you a good sense of the National Geographic of the future.

Change is unsettling on so many levels.  Despite this, I believe we are in an excellent position to embrace the new technologies and be one of the most vital and loved brands on a worldwide basis for many years to come.


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