From Print to Digital

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We recently had the immense pleasure of meeting Bielle Bellingham, the editor of ELLE Decoration South Africa, along with her managing editor, Megan Schuman. Shortly before the meeting I discovered Bielle’s quote: “We don’t need more, we need better”, and this is exactly why we love ELLE. “Better” can only be accomplished by the continuous process of reviewing and effective measuring and the quick thinking and implementation that is driven by value. It’s immediately evident that this is the only path to success in their minds – and we LOVE that.

Most people are of the opinion that print is dead; a magazine is an iPad that doesn’t work; digital is the new black; moving to the cloud is the path to disruption, blah, blah, blah. We don’t need to argue the numbers – it’s clear that humans are adapting to the digital information age. In the US, the total daily digital media use in hours exceeded the total time spent viewing TV back in 2013. It’s immediately obvious to me that Bielle and Megan are not at all deterred by the challenge that the print industry is facing – on the contrary, they’ve decided to rise to it; in fact, it’s as though they’re invigorated by it!

Even though the threat to print, specifically magazines, is real enough – history is of the opinion that a mutual co-existence will likely emerge at the end of the day. Look back, and you’ll notice that the invention of the car did not cause the extinction of all horses, the invention of the light-bulb did not extinguish the candle production industry, and the invention of TV did not kill all the radio stars. It was inevitable that the change in the market would affect behaviour, and, in turn, affect revenue. Understanding, coercing and harnessing this behavioural change are the key ways to moving your revenue streams towards existing behaviour, not other way around.

In South Africa, the pressure of the digital movement has not fully affected print media as it has in Europe and the States – but this is of no consequence to Bielle and the way that her team operates. They have recently introduced AR into the magazine through the Layar app, and are also exploring other exciting ways to introduce digital experiences to their readers. This will assist them in moving their digital tendencies to online properties of which they’re still in control. Readers are going digital whether print likes it or not. When readers stop flipping through magazines and start swiping through apps and clicking on links, we believe only the most adventurous, ballsy and visionary publications will be there, waiting to welcome them. With Bielle leading the charge, we believe ELLE will be there, doing not more, but better, much better, than the others.

Posted on April 19 2016 by Mel van der Linde
Melanie has brains in her head and feet in her shoes. She is the most organised person on the planet and keeps the team and suppliers in check.

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