Is the Industry Tide Turning?
In describing the state of the publishing industry over the past few years, many may choose the words Dr. Seuss used to describe his crusty old Grinch: stink, stank, stunk.
But over the past year or so, many mumbled in dark corners that things were changing.
Statistics from the likes of the Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) lit fires under the tiny hopes of an industry pleading for recovery, and turned mumblings into confident proclamations.
The PIB's latest figures closed 2004 with a magazine rate-card-reported advertising revenue up 11.1 percent (at $21.4 billion) from 2003—with the PIB stating that the 2004 gains mark the highest increases in dollars and pages since 2000. So where does this leave us? Optimistic.
This optimism is not just among the elite or something circulating around the rumor mill. Almost two-thirds of respondents to the first-ever PrintMedia "2005 Industry Outlook Survey" indicated that their business outlook for 2005 is "Optimistic."
An End To The Hiring Freeze?
Optimism aside, it's difficult to forget the staff cutbacks, conservative hiring practices and freezes, and the empty offices and cubicles left behind. Those remaining were covering two, often three jobs, worn down to baggy-eyed semblances of their former selves.
Will 2005 see publishers beefing up staffs? Or will it be another year of cautious, barebones operations? Fifty-eight percent of respondents to the "Industry Outlook Survey" said they anticipate maintaining their current staff size for 2005. A third of the respondents plan to hire more staff. Three percent anticipate layoffs, and 7 percent are unsure.
Do more with less—much less. That's been the mantra of many publishing companies in the 21st century.
The key to making that mantra a reality: technology. The past few years have seen a fast evolution of solutions that eliminate human intervention and expedite production.
Today, "keeping up with new publishing technology" ranked among almost half of respondents as one of the top issues of primary concern for 2005. And almost half anticipate that their company will spend more this year on workflow, design and/or production technology.
What's Bugging You?
Besides technology, in the optimistic environment of 2005, what will be other major industry concerns? At the top is increasing profitability (noted by 61 percent of respondents), followed by growing/expanding the business and concern for reducing costs.
Optimistic publishers will continue to hunt for new revenue sources, seek cost-cutting opportunities deep in the crevices of their businesses, and plan for growth, hoping to finally find some gold among the seaweed-strewn shore that lingers from the many year storm.
About The Survey
The results of the 2005 "Industry Outlook Survey" are based on 547 completed surveys. The survey was sent to top executives at b-to-b and consumer magazines, catalog, corporate, government and association publishers, as well as at advertising agencies nationwide.
It was conducted in December 2004, using Zoomerang professional online survey software, which distributes the survey and tallies responses. Invitations to participate in the survey were sent via e-mail to PrintMedia readers. Respondents completed the survey online.