Tapping into trends in the publishing industry 

IFRA World Publishing Expo 2018


Some of the most dominant trends publishers have been grappling with are also presenting the greatest opportunities to profit from disruption, says James Hewes, president and CEO of FIPP. His talk is scheduled at IFRA World Publishing Expo, which will take 09-11 Oct 2018 in Berlin. In his talk, he will focus on how publishers can use and roll-out these trends within their products and services.

Hewes as CEO has stepped up FIPP’s role as an advocate for responding to and taking advantage of the opportunities arising from a changing publishing world. “We cannot be a passive organisation, especially not in a disruptive industry. FIPP not only needs to maintain relevance but understand and reflect the biggest concerns of our members. Through collaboration we can respond and profit from change,” he says.

According to Hewes, the most important issue facing publishing businesses is managing talent and culture. “What publishers are contending with is how to attract and retain the most talented people in the face of competition from businesses that are perceived as being more attractive to work for, such as platforms and startups.”

While training and developing new skill sets for an ever changing and disruptive industry are at the centre of this challenge, matters relating to diversity of staff is becoming just as important. “When thinking about diversity both from an economic point of view and a moral point of view, a diverse workforce can help build new networks of talent, ideas and provides better solutions from a leadership point of view.”

FIPP’s collaboration with Facebook

Talking about social media platforms like Facebook, he says FIPP has stepped into the ring to bring clarity and engagement in what many might have perceived as an unassailable situation. “Publishers will never make the mistake (again) of relying on a single platform for content discovery and business opportunities.”

There is, in fact, an upside emerging from the troubles Facebook encountered recently, explains Hewes. “Facebook are now more open to dialogue than ever before. We have the opportunity to interact with them in a personal way. We need to take advantage of this. At FIPP we believe that only by having a sustained conversation as an industry will we be able to deliver change that will benefit all. Positive engagement has already taken place between Facebook and the FIPP Board to continue a regular dialogue.”

Many more trends are reshaping the future of publishing, says Hewes. These include how publishers are taking advantage of opportunities to increase subscriptions, monetise from reader revenues and become increasingly independent from advertising though e-commerce and events. Publishers have also embraced opportunities to profit from platforms, whether this be through video, voice or podcasts.

“Most positively, we have reached the era of embracing disruption.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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