Magazine publisher advocates taking the virtual route in the quest to gain market share and ensure that reader numbers soar
Many publishers and editorial teams disseminating print publications view the Internet as a 'must have' in order to extend their offerings, generate awareness and increase readership and circulation figures. So claims Divan Muller, assistant editor at African Pilot, a South African magazine targeted at the civil and private aviation market.
According to Muller there is a growing trend within media/ publishing circles to compliment the hard copy versions of publications by securing web presence and using online space to promote the core offering.
"There is definitely more interest in adopting this strategy to add value to readers and capture the interest of consumers, especially from those with the mandate to address readership in niche markets," says Muller. "This is driven, in part, by the need to utilize funds more strategically and not rely solely on traditional publishing strategies. Today there is a need to cater for a digital generation."
And Muller has joined the ranks of publishers who have managed to successfully engage a growing number of online readers - taking just a few months to expand his publication's reach with the design and population of http://www.africanpilot.co.za/ for the benefit of subscribers.
Publishers of African Pilot partnered with Sulaco New Media, a local specialist provider of strategic business development services, to host and manage the website.
Sulaco New Media's range of services include: Web & graphic design, development, hosting, IT support and sales.
Muller and his editorial team are long-time associates of Sulaco New Media and have used this company's proven experience, expertise and track record in the market to establish a dynamic and interactive website that also publishes and archives previous editions of African Pilot.
This is an ongoing, open-ended project that runs from month to month with specific requirements that constantly change explains Dawie Hanekom, marketing director at Sulaco New Media.
According to Hanekom online presence not only facilitates more information about the printed publication, it also helps to sell subscriptions.
"You're able to effectively reach more readers nationwide. It is definitely a viable option, especially if you want to enhance/help promote your existing printed publication," he says.
Aside from the logistic value of online presence, Hanekom also refers to the fact that electronic versions add a new dimension to the reader's experience.
"Everybody is in such a hurry these days. There is not necessarily the time to sit down and read an entire paper or stop to buy a newspaper. Thanks to the Internet you're able to stay in touch with domestic and international news by accessing the paper online - either at the office; while travelling or at home," adds Hanekom.
He also points to the built-in filtering mechanism of websites that allow the reader to automatically sift out that which they would like to read, rather than having to spend the time going through all links on the website.
"Online publications normally provide a short summary of the main articles and it allows you to quickly filter out those articles which you don't want to read. All articles are archived and one can easily reference the online newspapers for information when required," he comments.
But can every print publication automatically and successfully step into the online domain? "That depends on the scope and nature of the publication, as well as its target market," says Hanekom.
"It is not always possible to go with an online publication as opposed to a hard copy. The online publication will not replace the printed/hard copy and is designed specifically to enhance an existing offering. When you do go with an online publication, it will have to be customised slightly in order to make it web friendly and won't necessarily be exactly the same layout as the printed publication."
African Pilot magazine has been published since December 2001 and, according to Muller, the publication continues to reap the rewards of the printed magazine as well as online presence.
"Our publication is aimed at a very specific market, so it made good sense to explore the option of making African Pilot available to a potentially larger online audience. Since introducing the online version of our magazine about a year ago, we have been able to reach well over two thousand online readers - in addition to regular readers of our printed magazine. Using africanpilot.co.za has enabled us to provide a better service to our advertisers, who also enjoy greater exposure. Developing our online magazine with Sulaco New Media was without a doubt a giant step in the right direction."