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Are Association Magazines Just Flashier Custom Pubs?

Linda Zebian By
11/20/2006 -03:00 AM

Last week at the SNAP conference in Chicago, keynote speaker, Roper Public Affairs & Media’s Justin Greeves, cited a 2005 study done by Roper on behalf of the Custom Publishing Council that reveals information about the custom publication reading habits of Americans. Greeves gave the impression that the results of the study, which reflected a generally positive attitude toward custom publications, could easily be allied to association magazines, as both types of publications are produced by a sponsoring company toward a targeted audience.

I questioned Greeves’ references and their relevance, wondering if the association publishing audience around me was doing the same thing. Finally an attendee asked Greeves if he thought of association magazines as passive member benefits. The audience stirred, and Greeves was caught in a pickle, answering the question to the best of his ability by trying to show the correlation between the results of the study and association titles.

While some associations work with custom publishers to produce their magazines, the publications they create are not marketing-based vehicles for a particular brand. To use a custom publishing study to explain habits of association magazine readers seems like a stretch. It’s comparable to a keynote at an ABM meeting presenting a research study done on the habits Conde Nast readers. I was surprised SNAP did not choose a more relevant topic for a session that sets the tone for the entire conference.

Linda Zebian By --

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