Print is quickly dying due to the massive success of online media. With the loss of King magazine and now Vibe magazine it seems that no one is safe. So here are my suggestions for how the remaining urban magazines can save themselves:
1. Resource Guide:
Many of the urban magazine are filled with fluff pieces and to many fashion editorials. How about changing it up a bit and becoming a resource for urban culture. Many of us would like to know tips on creating music, resource for finding music, and how-to’s around creating fashion looks and hip-hop styles. I’d love to see something like a Readers Digest of Hip-Hop/urban culture. Something that is cheap, small, useful, and fun. I still have many issues of RD that I refer to for a recipe or hand how-to tip.
2. Sync with Mobile:
I’m a big supporter of mobile technology and I think all magazines need to have a mobile strategy. Each story in the magazine should have a keyword where users can text in comments or feedback to that story thus creating a mobile style message board. Anyone could comment on that story in just a short text message. It would create community, additional content, and would appeal to the youth can pull themselves away from their cell phones. Then you’ve captured their mobile number and can now push offers and short text ads back to them. Sounds like a revenue stream to me.
3. Urban Magazines Should Collaborate:
Maybe it seems like a war between Vibe, XXL, and The Source. So what if all the magazine pulled together to do cross promotions and special edition issues. Most of the same hand full of writers write for each of the publications so it wouldn’t be that hard of a stretch. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see a special Vibe, XXL, Complex, and The Source issue focusing on the life and times of Michael Jackson? Sometimes the best way to survive is to partner-up.
4. Crowd Sourcing
People want more control over their media and what they see and read. So why not give it to them? Urban magazines should now allow their readers more opportunities to see their names, photos, and text in the magazines they are reading. Why not post some of the best website comments in a wall style page in the magazine. Sometimes the comments are way better then the story itself. Now granted this might take some extra work but in the end the magazines would benefit by creating a totally unique experience and on that could create a new crop of loyal readers and a lot of new and fresh voices of the magazine instead of the same 5 writers.
5. Free and Go Corporate
Why not make the magazines 100% free. Reduce the pages and sell ads on the sheer volume of people picking up the free magazine to read it. Then distribute the magazine via places like Wal-Mart, Target, or Foot Locker and people can get the magazine free with purchace or just for visiting the store.
These are just a few suggestions…so hit the comments and let me know what you think magazines could do to save themselves.