Klaus Liedtke began his presentation by describing developments that have implications for the future of print media. Circulation is decreasing and advertising revenues are going down. The declining trends in print consumption in the face of new media channels are changing the media behavior of people. The cultural technique of reading newspaper is no longer handed down from one generation to the next. The average readership of newspapers and magazines is getting older and the number of young readers that utilize the Internet to look at news is increasing.
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Traditional printing houses are coping with these developments by: employing rigid cost-cutting measures i.e. publications are streamlined to meet revenue expectations); cross-media approach (publishing several formats for various media channels); and, or bundling (adding gadgets, toys or DVDs) to their products.
The online presence of traditional publications forms of user-generated content and RSS feeds has not offset the decline in circulation. Publishers have not found a way to make money with their online products.
Klaus argued that that despite the trends, print media will not fade away, not be destroyed not be replaced by the new media. It will simply add to the choices available.
Print media will readjust and focus on it strength - providing an individual experience and the opportunity for readers to consciously slow down. Its future lies in agenda setting, in opinion, in background information and orientations rather than pure news.
Although print consumption is declining in wider population, the more educated and high earners continue to support print. Print has become a premium product that image advertisers prefer in relation to online media because print provides high quality visuals and a safe editing environment. Print serves as a platform for branding events, seminars, concerts, travels, festivals, discussion circles, etc.
Today consumers are faced with an oversupply of information on environmental issues and this poses challenges in navigating and differentiating between important and less important news. And in this context, print has a contribution to make and GRID-Arendal has a very important role to play. GRID-Arendal is in the information business that competes with other media. . But GRID-Arendal is not well known. It should be a brand itself.
Klaus offered the following advise to help popularize GRID-Arendal:
- Let the world know that GRID-Arendal exists. One way to achieve this is search engine optimization.
- Spread the word of GARID-Arendal’s mission. GRID-Arendal has a wealth of information. Its staff expertise and products are first rate. Partner with newspapers and magazines in producing supplements on environmental issues. Ask journalists to sell exciting stories involving GRID-Arendal. Produce graphics if the month and distribute to news agencies or newspapers. Offer experts as interview partners or consultants on breaking news issues. Market the Managing Director as a top player in environmental awareness.
- Create enthusiasm, provide inspiring experience ( e.g. tours for writers, reporters and business leaders) that will lead them to share with others.
- Work with other organizations that support the mission or parts of it. Tap into corporations that want to profile the emotional value of their products through cause-related marketing. It will benefit not only the organizations involved, but the environment as well.
- Use the potential of media messages to the fullest.
Klaus concluded by saying that print can and will play a decisive role in the process if it focuses on its strength.