Publish your own magazine and build your PR – it’s free!

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Social media has become the main channel of all marketing and public relations activities, but what’s often ignored is one of the largest categories of public relations, which is print. What’s now happened to print is that it has gone online and become digital printing. The audience across the media for magazines in America has continued to grow. In 2019, it was up 6.6% to $1.5 billion in terms of readership. The average readership of the top three magazine publishers in America is actually equal to that of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple as a result of the growing loyalty for long-form reading of publications. So, in fact, it seems as though not everybody is dashing to social media, especially in business-to-business, where printing in the past of industry magazines and even trade publications by companies was an established and very effective way of reaching a particular audience. In this day and age when people have long-form content to share, press releases are good for getting into the media, but it’s actually possible to manage their own publications by using some of these tools. 

In the past, creating in-house newsletters and distributing it to subscribers and news agents was common. Though printing and distributing magazines would be costly at times, it would often prove to be worth it as this gives a sense of gravity and weight to the publication that would be handed out at trade shows, in-store, or at events. While an issue could be what to do with leftover copies of a publication, the beauty of e-publishing is that these can stay online at no cost whatsoever both to publish and to distribute, and they also benefit from the long tail.

Why you should Issuu a publication

Issuu is a publishing platform used globally and even in China as it isn’t blocked there. It is one of the leading platforms in their domain, and they claim to have over a billion page views with 50 million publications, 100 million unique visitors, and two and a half billion brands represented, solidifying their position as a very well established player. They can take PDFs, images, and text and transform them using their Issuu templates, which are the perfect solution if you don’t have a graphic designer. The result is a desktop-ready, mobile-ready, and their own Issuu app-ready magazine which can be shared to all social media channels as an embedded link, as a link, or in some cases, as the magazine itself. It means that if you’ve got a lot of content, you could use Issuu. And by issuing the publications out as they are (no pun intended), the search engines automatically will be searching the content inside of your Issuu magazines which is great for SEO.

What creating a magazine on Issuu, it would be best to create pages in multiples of four, because it’s still the old traditional front page, back page, and two inside pages. You can create your own title and masthead, you can schedule it to be posted, and you can make it public or publish it unlisted if you want it to be just for your own internal community, like an in-house newsletter. Nowadays, it’s hard to communicate anything of length or sophistication in short articles, while the long-form in-house newsletter by print would also not be a good idea with many teams working remotely, and so e-publishing represents a very good opportunity.

Issuu has an entry-level publishing offer that is free. You can issue out a certain number of pages per month, and that is funded through advertising from other publications, other advertisers, and brands that will go alongside your content. To make it an undistracted experience for your readers, then it’ll cost $19 a month. If you’d like to monetize your content, which is a great opportunity, it’s only $40 per month to sell subscriptions. If you do that at $40 a month, and then you start to sell some advertising or you’ve got content where people will willingly pay for that, it could complement a video channel or a membership organisation that you might host on a platform like Mighty Networks. 

Alternatives to Issuu

One option is Yumpu which sounds Chinese but is actually from Switzerland. Yumpu offers a lifetime 100% free editor which is why 897,000 companies are using their platform. When you sign up, you get to add in content, videos, audio, and slideshows from SlideShare for free, and you can embed those graphics onto your website, so it’s no surprise they have 12 million readers. They also have 75 extra powerful features. It seems to also be a very powerful platform that’s highly rated with big brands using it. Another alternative is UniFlip. It is an IT company from Denmark that converts documents, reports, and catalogs into a multi-page PDF with turnable pages, so it’s much like what you might get on your Kindle or in iBooks.

Digital print is the way to go

E-publications are one way to share information to people you don’t want to commit to sending print to, due to factors like geography and cost. Nowadays, it seems the market has moved on, and long-form publishing is still a major part of the marketing and public relations mix. In America, periodical publishing still employs 83,000 people, so traditional printing may or may not have a long future, although there are some magazines being sold in local stores that some people still prefer buying.

In the same way that newspapers have gone online, publishers of long-form magazines have started to also go online. Obviously, news is all about speed, and publications or magazines of 50 pages or so are not about speed. They’re about the user experience, about engagement, and about long-form reading and articles. With gadgets that enable you to scroll through posts, people are getting used to reading long-form content this kind of way, which is all digital.

As you look at public relations activities for your own business, newsletters are still an option if you’ve got the content. What’s beautiful now is that with e-publications, you can embed video, slides, audio files, and links to home pages or to social media in a way that was not possible before. In the SPEAK|pr program, e-publishing is part of Amplification, and if you’re considering it, IssuuYumpu, or UniFlip are some of the available tools you can use to share with a subscriber base content that goes beyond a newsletter.


This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

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