No longer a Fortune
I received an email from a Singapore based publisher today which demonstrates the commercial challenges faced by publishers trying to monetize their content. The central issue is that print advertising revenues are being replaced with much lower value internet marketing activities. This means that they simply can’t afford to cover client events unless there is going to be compelling content. In the googleage the economics of publishing have changed. Clients used to hand the publisher US$4,500 for a glossy full page advert in a regional magazine. Proof of printing or a BPA audit was the best an advertiser could ask for. But now the page yields range from US$3 to US$300 and advertisers demand analytics showing page views and click throughs; a level of transparency never before available. The letter reads: Thanks for the invite to interview your client.Over here at Highly Sought After media we are always happy to interview executives from any of your country’s top 100 listed companies ie DBS, Macquarie, SIA etc. Other than that we don’t do any interviews or press conferences.The reason is simple maths. We make our money on selling banners on our website, so a story must generate enough clicks to cover our costs. An interview with a top company exec from say DBS, on their new strategy, would generate 3,000 clicks earning us as much as say US$250 from advertising revenue on a good day. A story on a software vendor, based on our traffic, would generate around 30 clicks, generating us around $3 in ad revenue.Its just not economical to send someone down to do an interview which may cost us around $300 in terms of our human costs. Look at it from my side: 1 hour travel back and forth, 30 minutes in the interview, 2 hours to type up the interview ie 3 to 4 hours of time. The yield is around US$3 of revenue to the bottom line and only interest 30 or so people.We lose $287 on one interview. Its hard to argue that it is in the reader interest either as the number of clicks a story gets generally indicates reader interest. If we did cover say twenty interviews/press conferences a week, I would lose around $5,740 a week, $22,960 a month, $275,520 a year.This is why, in the digital age, media companies will only leave their offices to cover stories if they can: 1. drive huge reader clicks enough to justify the costs. 2. some other strategic/commercail interest to the company.Press relesases are always preferred because if its interesting we can quickly put it online taking 5 minutes of time and therefore costing us around $6 for the story, mitigating our cost risk. It gets even cheaper if the editorial desk is NOT in Singapore. But even then a story has to be good because otherwise readers get annoyed at sifting through uninteresting stories.Here are things we and any media company would be interested in: 1. Your vendor comes to an interview with a significant Singaporean client; someone people want to hear about. For example if your vendor comes along with the client, we can do the story on how the client is using your vendor’s technology to implement their strategy. This would then get us the readership required to pass the threshold, and be of genuine reader interest.2. At trade shows where we are official media we will often shoot a whole bunch of video interviews, because as we are down there and set up we can do two dozen three minute video interviews on one day, which is cost effective for us. The costs works out at around $33 per interview this way ( 24 interviews in an 8 hour period, ie one every 20 minutes based on a journo cost of $100 an hour) .Try getting media at major conferences, see if they are doing interviews there, and get on the interview schedule. Again though just being there isn’t the story. Same economics apply. Think clicks.The bottom line is that most of the media companies cannot justify, on a cost/revenue basis, leaving our office to do a one on one interview with anyone if it wont lead to significant online traffic. Remember, in the last five years 50% of the media in Singapore have folded, and those of us left are finding new ways to survive in the googleage. Strategies including outsourcing sales teams, offshoring editorial departments and repurposing releases that are good enough to be published.I can understand the frustration of PR companies because your clients expect this, demand coverage.What can you do I hear you say?Save us time and bring us good quality stories and articles – that is what PR people were were always supposed to do anyway. Just don’t expect us to do your job for you; we simply can’t afford to.The Publisher Highly Sought After media.