Print is not dead

Why launch a hardcopy newspaper about the digital age?

 

In today’s digital world the launch of a hard copy newspaper is a rare occurrence. It’s even more remarkable when you consider that The B1M Mail (the new hard copy publication from The B1M) focuses on the technologically driven process of building information modelling (BIM).

 

In case you’re not aware, BIM adoption is widely seen as one of several indicators that the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries are now moving into the ‘digital age’. To many, it will feel counter-intuitive and almost ironic to talk about that on printed paper.

 

The Evolution of Print

 

Much has been said about the impending demise of print media in recent years. The market is indeed smaller than it used to be, but this shrink has not spelt the end of all print. In our digital world the medium has evolved and taken on new purpose. Rather like television (which changed considerably with the advent of the internet), so print has found new worth and value in 2014.

 

I am a self-confessed fan of the digital age, but keeping track has become impossible. The days where I used to read every Facebook post and every tweet are gone (though I probably follow too many people). Receiving digital information has now become a game of targeting, cleverly worded emails, likes, re-tweets and personal endeavour on the part of the recipient. Getting your message heard above the hub-bub is increasingly difficult; a view concurred with by Vladimir Gendelman of Marketing Profs: “many are now competing online for their audience’s attention, which can make it hard to stand out from the crowd”.

 

With mass internet and social media access has come a cheapening of digital information online. Everyone has a voice these days and it’s tough to know whom to believe. Credibility is sought after in this environment, a dynamic which has driven the ‘recommendation economy’ of likes and re-tweets. It has also kept the print medium alive – or rather reinforced its position. Further research by Gendelman found that “the printed word is generally perceived as more credible than anything on the web”, a finding largely attributed to the time, effort and checking that goes into print media correlating with a human perception of ‘greater reliability’ and ‘worth’.

 

The rising appeal of print in our digital world should not be underestimated. Joe Pulizzi, of the USA’s Content Marketing Institute, believes that “there has never been a bigger opportunity for print media than right now. We’re witnessing not so much a resurrection as an explosion”.

 

Beautiful Objects

 

That’s not to say that we’ll be rushing back to the old days. The dawn of the digital age has undeniably altered the way we look at print, giving rise to a new breed of niche hard-copy publication, circulated in formats that engage and excite people as never before.

 

Typical publications in this genre are specialised and focused on quite narrow subject areas, with far more modest distribution networks than the established national and international titles. They’re also stunningly crafted and highly considered pieces of art that really engage their audiences. Writing in The Observer last month, John O’Reilly described them as “visually driven, beautiful objects, in keeping with our age of Instagram, Pinterest and social media photo sharing”. He went on to highlight an apparent revival of handmade and craft culture as “a reaction to our increasingly immaterial digital lives”.

 

The rise in this style and genre is also recognised by Pulizzi: “highly niche, highly targeted publications are flourishing. A true collision of cool design and provocative information” – and that’s what is making people click.

 

The B1M’s print and distribution partner Newspaper Club are very much in this market. Their recent exhibition in Glasgow entitled ‘Print is Not Dead’ showcased the wide range of publications they produce. Without exception, all are focused on specialist areas; art, photography and fashion appearing most popular. We seem to be the first bringing it into the BIM arena and we’ll let you know how that goes! Print is not fighting against digital to stay alive; it is merely re-shaping to suit our modern day wants and needs in a leaner form.

 

 

Above: a selection of publications on display at Newspaper Club’s ‘Print is Not Dead’

exhibition in Glasgow, UK. Image courtesy of Newspaper Club.

 

Unplugging

 

But surely subscribers to a BIM publication want to receive their content digitally?

 

Perhaps I’m getting old, but I am increasingly relishing the opportunity to switch-off. The trouble with living in a highly connected digital world is that it never stops. Emails, phone calls, tweets, posts, shares, comments… it’s relentless. The moments when we unplug and come ‘off the grid’ must be embraced; a chance to reflect in peace. Joe Pulizzi’s research emphasises this point: “people in front of computers all day long look forward to the opportunity to disconnect and discover [with hard copy print]. I relish the opportunities where I can’t be reached for comment”.

 

With The B1M Mail we set out to craft a dynamic and engaging material object that people could read in peace, anywhere, anytime. We wanted to reach people above the noise of social media, email and online content.

 

Pulizzi’s research describes a new ‘golden-age’ in niche print and there’s certainly plenty of proof that its here to stay. “What excites people is something different that’s not being done” he concludes. Our thinking exactly.

 

 

 Above: The B1M Mail, Issue 1, published by The B1M

 

By Fred Mills (Founder, www.TheB1M.com)

 

150 copies of The B1M Mail will be available to pick up at BIM Show Live 2014.

 

This article was originally published on The B1M Blog to mark the launch of The B1M Mail. The full digital edition is available here:http://www.theb1m.com/pdfs/The-B1M-Mail-(Issue-1).pdf.

 

To subscribe or be featured in The B1M Mail visit www.TheB1M.com/Mail.

 

 

Sources and further reading:

 

Rosemary Ferrier, February 2014, Newspaper Club (UK). Accessible here: http://blog.newspaperclub.com/2014/02/04/right-now-in-glasgow/ 

 

Vladimir Gendelman, January 2014, Marketing Profs (USA). Accessible here: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/24084/print-marketing-will-thrive-in-2014-and-beyond

 

John O’Reilly, February 2014, The Observer (UK). Accessible here: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/16/beautiful-magazines-prove-print-isnt-dead

 

Joe Pulizzi, July 2013, Content Marketing Institute (USA). Accessible here: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130724144439-5853751-why-are-marketers-blind-to-the-power-of-print

 

Header image courtesy of Gemma Dutton.

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