Trend Conference Trade and Specialty Media 2022: More Courage for Trial and Error

On Wednesday, about a hundred representatives of the Swiss trade and specialty media met at the Folium in Zurich to discuss the future of the industry. The tenor of both speakers and visitors was clear: without the courage to "trial and error," it won't work.

The Trend Conference on Specialist and Specialized Media, organized by the Swiss Media Publishers Association and the associated Media Institute, is a firm fixture in the calendar of many journalists. Especially those who work for small and medium-sized publishing houses - or who are responsible for niche publications. Like the "big players," they are struggling with declining advertising revenues, the search for new business models and rising material prices; but because of limited resources, they often have to meet these challenges with particularly great creativity. The tenor of the conference was in line with this: "Trial and error" is the order of the day in 2022.

Digitization and social media in trade publishers: Quo vadis?

Entrepreneur and digital expert Sunnie Groeneveld kicked off the event with a presentation on digitization and social media in trade publishers. She is very familiar with the topic - among other things, she sits on the board of directors of the Galledia Group, which includes (in addition to and m&k) include various publications focused on special interest topics. In her keynote address, Groeneveld hardly spoke about practical application examples - these were all too diverse depending on the publisher and medium - but instead emphasized in which entrepreneurial climate or under which conditions digital transformation can succeed. "In an atmosphere of fear, where people are worried about making a mistake - certainly not!" she noted. In a market characterized by continuous development, she said, it is important to bring different ideas to bear - whether this is in terms of social media channels to try out or new business models to implement. "If something doesn't work, it's not the end of the world, but an opportunity to learn," the entrepreneur said with conviction.

Sunnie Groeneveld hielt die Keynote.
Sunnie Groeneveld gave an input presentation on digitization and social media in trade publishers. (Image: m&k)

"TierWelt": A relaunch with obstacles

Barbara König, Managing Director of Schweizer Agrarmedien, then reported "from the field" on the acquisition and relaunch of the medium "TierWelt" by her publishing house. Long run primarily as an association magazine, the magazine had to be placed on a completely new foundation after the acquisition. In a "tour de force," not only the team and editorial concept were changed, but also the layout, sales and publication structures (more pages per issue, but fewer issues per month). The latter in particular, as König admitted, had sometimes caused her sleepless nights - and left readers with a lot of explaining to do. In the end, however, everything turned out well: "If you are convinced of an idea, then you have to go through with it and not discuss it forever," she says.

"Publisher": Print as a premium product

Laurent Gachnang, publisher of the print and publishing magazine "Publisher," also spoke of the value of strong ideas, the "trial and error" philosophy and the constant courage to try things out. When he took the helm there, Gachnang reported, he had to repeatedly answer the question of whether (and if so, when) he would fully digitize the magazine. Coming from the startup industry, hardly anyone could have imagined that Gachnang would want to keep the print magazine alive. But that's exactly what he did: Instead of shutting down the "Publisher," the publisher turned it into a premium product. Some things in the brand world around it succeeded - such as the web store with professional print accessories - and some things didn't ("In merchandise, we are still our own best customers to this day!"), but that didn't dampen the young publisher's spirits at all. "Test, use tools and simply drop what doesn't fly," he advised the audience.

Laurent Gachnang sprach über neue Ansätze in der Monetarisierung von Fachmagazinen. Bild: m&k
Laurent Gachnang spoke about new approaches to monetizing trade magazines. (Image: m&k)

Newsletter: Everything but waste

Dr. Peter Hogenkamp, CEO of Scope Content AG, then addressed a topic that one might (actually!) think the industry already knows a lot about. Hogenkamp spoke about "Do's and Don'ts for newsletters from publishers" and showed by means of various (negative) examples that the level of knowledge at many media companies is probably lower than one would have anticipated. According to Hogenkamp, newsletters are often seen as a by-product of the "actual" editorial work or as an annoying duty in the daily journalistic routine; in fact, they are - done correctly - the exact opposite. "Those who invest care and passion in newsletters will be rewarded for it," said the expert.

Dr. Peter Hogenkamp discussed do's and don'ts for publishers' newsletters. (Image: m&k)

Panel on the future of the trade media

Before the aperitif, business editor Edith Hollenstein, Velojournal editor Peter Mijnssen, media professional Sacha Steiner and Pro Holzbau Schweiz publishing director Dorothee Bauland dared to look at the big picture: How will the world of trade and special media in Switzerland develop in the future? Despite all the crises, those involved drew a positive balance: Yes, an era of uncertainty had begun, especially with regard to paid cooperations and advertising revenues. But with ingenuity, clever innovations and, above all, high quality, this uncertainty could be countered. A conciliatory end, then - and a fundamentally optimistic transition to the informal part of the evening.






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