Surely neither the nature of the provider of a contract magazine (be it specialist publisher, DM agency, ad agency or PR agency), nor the length of time it takes to read the publication, are the real acid tests of whether a magazine is really a magazine or not (True Colours, MW June 7). The recipient is the ultimate decision maker.
If they believe that they are being provided with outstanding value and communicated with in a way that meets their needs, the chances of securing their loyalty will be enhanced. If they believe the publication is a magazine it is. It is the content that is king.
This point is also entirely relevant to the Internet. The findings of your report that some contract publishers believe money would be better spent on publishing traditional paper-based titles, rather than have clients spend thousand of pounds on Websites and home pages, shows a mistrust and misunderstanding of electronic publishing.
There are always going to be situations where a paper-based publication is the right choice but this doesn’t preclude switching onto the benefits of the Internet. Properly understood, it can offer exciting opportunities which have customer loyalty, brand extension and relationship building applications.
The Internet is not merely an advertising medium, nor is it just an electronic version of the printed medium. The only thing that will entice people to visit Websites is well-crafted and tailored editorial, backed up by sophisticated understanding of programming.
Once there are more providers of such a service perhaps we can have a new debate about contract publishing and loyalty.