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COVID-19’s Impact on FMA Members

COVID-19’s Impact on FMA Members

The FMA recently surveyed its members to learn the effects of COVID-19 on their publishing businesses. Sixteen magazine publishing professionals responded to the survey. The responses confirm that no one is escaping unscathed from the pandemic. Its impact is being felt in various ways.

As expected, publishers are experiencing a hit to advertising revenue. More than 87 percent of respondents say they experienced a reduction in advertising spend.

Other areas where the impact is being felt are print circulation, with 44 percent experiencing a reduction, and distribution, with more than 37 percent experiencing difficulties. Twenty five percent have completely ceased printing their magazines and have turned to a digital only distribution model, and 18% have reduced their print frequency.

Those able to continue printing their magazines offered these bits of advice to fellow FMA members:

  • Mail more copies; it’s more expensive, but it ensures a good distribution base for advertisers.
  • Negotiate more with vendors.
  • Consider changes to paper stock.
  • Be creative with editorial and advertising sections.
  • Continue to push the value of print.

Of those who stopped or reduced the frequency of print in favor of publishing digitally, 80% said they do not plan to return to their former print schedule. Twenty percent of respondents report that transitioning to digital has been somewhat negative for readers, while 40% said it was somewhat negative for advertisers.

For those who have transitioned, or are transitioning to a digital publication, survey respondents offered these insights:

  • Communicating the change to subscribers is key, as is choosing the right digital platform that allows new opportunities for advertisers (e.g., blow-ins, videos).
  • Rework your business plan.
  • It’s freeing in many ways, especially when it comes to distribution.
  • There are so many amazing opportunities to develop new lines of revenue.

Most respondents are still working from home, with some going into the office a few days a week. Forty percent of respondents expect to return to the office part time, with 40 percent saying they plan to return full time and 20 percent having no plans to return.