Far-Reaching Impact of Reed Closings

By Nikki Golden

That sound you heard April 16 was the clicking sound of a Domino display being set into motion. The closure of the 23 magazines by Reed Business Information will impact a lot more than the lives of the now 324 talented people now out of work. There will be residual effects that we have not even imagined as of yet.

As cliché as it sounds, there is a symbiotic relationship between B2B publications and the industries they cover. These industries look to B2B pubs to be on top of trends, products, research and most of all, guidance when making decisions that impact their businesses. Isn’t that what most B2B pubs tout in their media kits?

So what’s the message that’s sent when a publisher just up and closes 23 titles and closes down the affiliated trade shows and supplements and takes down the Web sites? Many of these publications were Azbee award-winners, Neal award-winners and finalists. Several of these publications were ASBPE Magazine of the Year award-winners. There is a sense of awe with which the rest of us regard many of these great titles — industry-leading publications in their respective markets.

It is true that the B2B landscape is changing, and we need to change with it, but there’s a dangerous precedent that’s been sent and a very negative message — one that breaks up the relationship between B2B and industries. Partnership opportunities might dry up because companies, associations and the like are reluctant to be stuck holding the ball.

And none of this is taking into account the loss of institutional knowledge that the departure of many of these editors, many of whom have spent lifetimes covering the same industry, leaves behind.

Yesterday news came that a new publishing company was formed to purchase the Supply Chain titles: Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, Supply Chain Management Review and Material Handling Product News. There’s talk that more of these companies might be formed to purchase the intellectual property and restart the titles — and I hope that proves true.

But for the time being, join me in a moment of silence for the 19 titles still RIP:
Building Design+Construction
Chain Leader
Construction Bulletin
Construction Equipment
Consulting-Specifying Engineer *
Control Engineering *
Foodservice Equipment & Supplies
Graphic Arts Blue Book
Graphic Arts Monthly
Plant Engineering *
Professional Builder
Professional Remodeler
Restaurant & Institutions (an Azbee Magazine of the Year winner)
Semiconductor International
Spec Check,
Tradeshow Weekly
And to our colleagues who are now examining what the next step in their career path will be, we want you to make sure you update your information on the ASBPE Web site, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and know that your talents are needed elsewhere — and we’re going to help you find that next place.

* Update: On April 30, Folio: reported that two former RBI publishers, who formed CFE Media LLC, are buying three Reed titles: Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering. We will keep you updated as more of these assets get purchased.

Nikki Golden is the president of ASBPE’s Chicago chapter and communications manager of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, where she oversees the magazine The Remodelers’ Journal. She is a former Reed Business Information employee.

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Hi Nikki:

You nailed it . . . especially when you talk about the gloomy message being sent by RBI's abrupt shelving of several well-regarded, highly-authoritative, award-wining publications.

Here's another message I think top B2B management has to get:

When I started my B2B career back in the 60's, so many publications were highly regarded by the advertiser/agency contingent as authoritative sources and a worthy place to run space.

But it seems like we went downhill from there. Without pointing fingers in obvious places, we managed to devalue our image. Advertisers leaned less and less on basing space purchases on editorial quality . . . and moreso on hooks and puff availability . . . and we went along meekly. The problem we started to have -- and still have today -- is how ad space is bought . . . and not necessarily how B2B salespeople pitch our magazines.

Today . . . we still do all the important things that you listed as being delivered by RBI magazines. But what's different now, of course, are the non-stop declarations about the inevitable dominance of on-line as a revenue producer.

My sources tell me that ad decisions are made even less on the basis of editorial quality evaluation and a publications's status as an authoritative source. Further the alleged revenue being derived via web is not coming that easily.

Meanwhile, I read with amusement recent posts by so-called marketing gurus claiming the key to on-line media's future is high-quality content. Sounds logical, but what's the point if our customers could care less when they make ad decisions?

As an industry, we need to work harder to recapture our image with customers. In such a scenario, editors will be the key players ... providing we wear our marketing hats astutely.

Howard Rauch, President
Editorial Solutions, Inc.
# posted by Blogger howard rauch : May 6, 2010 at 4:41 PM
Nice work Nikki!

Tracy Wright
# posted by Anonymous Tracy Wright : May 7, 2010 at 1:04 PM
Howard, thank you. I absolutely agree with most of what you said, but I think many publications, unfortunately, are not the same authoritative source of industry information online as they are in print because too many of them missed the boat when the Internet started to get big or else was hamstrung by company policies that separated out the online content producers from the print content producers and on and on.

But I applaud this statement: Editors will be the key players ... providing we wear our marketing hats astutely.

If I had to give any advice to anyone getting into this career from college, it would be take some marketing classes. That is what it will take to be successful in an editorial career moving forward.

Nikki Golden
# posted by Blogger Unknown : May 11, 2010 at 10:09 AM
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