Hundreds of years ago, magazines were first created in Europe and, in the 1700s, they hit the United States. While the first magazines were not successful, the print concept grew in popularity over time. And what was once aimed for a wealthy audience in regional markets has now expanded to include all audiences. Beyond magazines, the print industry has also supported newspapers and, like magazines, they’ve been in existence for hundreds of years. These time-tested print publications are still being created today and, especially in the agriculture industry, have remained a favorite among news and information consumers.
While traditional media has been resilient to changing times, the digital age has impacted the print publication business. Instead of just turning out a regular newspaper or magazine, publication staff is now also publishing content to an online edition available via the internet. Further, publication articles are being shared via multiple social media outlets, increasing the reach of a writer’s words.
Between the digital age and recent economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, print publications have been dealt their fair share of challenges. However, many will argue that “print is not dead,” and that is largely true because words on a page simply cannot die. Printed newspapers and magazines are a physical record of current events and pop culture. Research in the agriculture media industry continues to show that farmers and ranchers prefer traditional media sources over digital.
Last year, the Ag Media Council and Connectiv released the results of their 2020 Media Channel Study. In that study, they found that owners/operators/managers of farms and ranches relied on a variety of traditional and digital channels, with ag magazines and/or newspapers at the top. To expand, magazines/newspapers continue their tenure as the top resource used on a weekly basis by operators. When compared to the data by daily digital users, the results remain unchanged.
Put simply, agricultural producers find trust in the written word of a publication created by a publishing group or organization they’ve followed for years. Members of a breed association or state cattleman’s group put value in the organization’s printed content, a record in time. Some may enjoy the quick accessibility of online content, but reading one article online does not compare to reading a print magazine cover to cover.
Beyond the benefit of reading articles in a hard-copy publication, agriculture producers turn to print publications for advertisement of the latest equipment, genetics and other necessary products for running a farm or ranch. Bull sale season packs publications with ads targeting bull buyers – a one-stop-shop look at what producers across a region or the country will be offering for sale.
The tradition of agricultural publications is strong, and BluePrint’s work in this business is tenured. From breed associations to state cattlemen’s groups and others, the BluePrint Media team has worked with many clients to compile a regular magazine. Clients today can utilize BluePrint’s services in writing and editing, editorial photography, publication management and advertising sales. Moving with the times of the digital age, BluePrint’s team additionally offers social media consulting and management, videography and website design.
Hitting Industry Curveballs
It’s been 20 years since BluePrint first started working with CALF News and its publisher, Betty Jo Gigot. In that time, BluePrint has helped the magazine overcome industry challenges to remain successful. To name a few things, the BluePrint team has improved the magazine’s profitability through innovative production processes and printing management, as well as developing a digital magazine and website. Further, BluePrint manages CALF’s social media.
As evidenced by BluePrint’s work with CALF, for print publications to stand the test of time, they have to hit the industry curveballs – major curveballs being economic and tied to the digital age. Without addressing those curveballs, and doing it before it’s too late, a print publication could suffer. To remain in business, a print publishing team must have the fortitude to recognize industry trends and the creativity to move with those trends successfully. Fortunately, the agricultural communications industry is comprised of talented and forward-thinking practitioners who are committed to getting valuable news and information into the hands of farmers and ranchers, how they want it and when they want it.
In the agriculture industry, it’s simply not enough to be a “just print” publication. But the industry won’t give up on print publications. They are time-tested and trusted by farmers and ranchers. The key to a publication remaining profitable and relevant, is to “rinse and repeat” with their content – find ways to repurpose it for social and digital, meeting readers in all avenues. While print may not be just print anymore, that form of media is here to stay, alongside digital media.
To see more on BluePrint’s work with CALF News, click here.
Lindsay Runft grew up on a small family farm in south-central Kansas. Today, she and her husband own and operate a seedstock Charolais operation, Cody Cattle Company, in north-central Kansas. Runft earned a bachelor’s in agriculture (animal science and agricultural communications) from Kansas State University and a master’s in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University. In 2021, Lindsay joined the BluePrint team as a contractor working in administration and development.