The Printed Word: An Ode to Magazines

Kelly O'Brien, May 10 2019

categories: Consumer Innovation Group

Tags: , , ,

Ask anyone who knows me — personally or professionally — and they will tell you I am a notorious paper ripper. You fully realize how much I love you when you receive an actual magazine or newspaper clipping* from me…not a mere digital link. (*For our blog audience under 30, clipping is an old-school term to describe a media hit. Us ancient account coordinators once literally cut out coverage with scissors, and we dearly treasured those victorious little paper trophies!)

I long ago retired hardback books in favor of my Kindle (truly, it is the convenience of e-readers that brought me back to reading for pleasure and at such a robust level). But I cannot quit printed news. I boastfully subscribe to several magazines (cooking and travel, for the most part) along with the Sunday Times, and it’s hard for me to pass an airport newsstand without being drawn in by a dreamily styled lifestyle shoot or a thought-provoking cover headline.

I of course appreciate the accessible convenience online media provides, the ability to have any story I want at any time. Working in consumer tech PR, digital stories featuring our clients reveal which media our target consumers really are following, and what then propels them to learn more about our products and services. There’s an argument here for sustainability, too – that fewer printed pages help to reduce environmental impact.

Yet there still is something sentimental about print magazines. Seeing new, seasonal issues on display stirs nostalgia, sparks excitement and officially marks the passage of time, all in ways that screen-scrolling simply cannot. There’s also a level of responsible, prestigious journalism established by print, with dedicated fact checkers behind in-depth news articles and compelling features. Are we losing some of that online, in an environment where being first seems more valuable than being accurate?

I’m saddened by the trending exodus of longstanding print magazines, especially women’s lifestyle books and most recently ESPN: The Magazine. I want to have hope, as a new print magazine launched this spring from Bumble (yes, the social networking app with 50 million-plus users that clearly is so much more). The reality is that what we call a magazine, whether print or not, is wildly different today. And that’s not a bad thing.

Storytelling is vibrantly available in so many formats, and that itself is something to value. I forever will be attached to print, while I make room for more…more of what often comes from the same magazine brands I already adore (Bon Appetit magazine has at least three Instagram accounts I devour, for example). In the future, you can catch this chick clipping pages poolside down to the last printed word, while I also search online for tomorrow’s cult cookie recipe and the hottest beach getaway. Maybe print sticks around a little longer, and we’ll continue evolving our love of both.


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