Will Shelter Media Brands Survive the Recession?
Yes, if they can prove their value, panelists say.
NEW YORKâWill the once-mighty shelter media category survive the economic recession? That was the topic of a panel discussion held here Tuesday at the Hearst Tower. The resounding answer among panelists was yes, although some products that exist today might not be around by the time the economy rebounds.
âThis recession is causing a thinning of the herd and I think thatâs a good thing,â said Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, an interior designer and founder of blog network Apartment Therapy. âShelter media properties need to prove that theyâre valuableâno one is losing interest in their homes. Those that do will survive, theyâll improve, and be in a better place.â
Other panelists included House Beautiful editor Stephen Drucker; New York magazine design editor Wendy Goodman; Mitchell Gold, co-founder of furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; and Thom Filicia, formerly of NBCâs Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
According to the panelists, the major obstacle facing shelter media is the same one thatâs affecting media in general: the shift of marketing dollars from traditional print products to online. âHow do we in shelter media do a good job of catching people where they are?â Maxwell asked, then offered an answer. âConsumers are online, theyâre reading magazines and books. The challenge is how to take an ad sales model thatâs used to selling space on pages in the magazine and get it to do the same effective job on a Web site. Online, I think itâs a challenge of how to make a space act like the magazine.â
âYou canât get hung up on paper as a delivery system,â Drucker said.Â â[Amazonâs] Kindle and magazines are really the same experience. When House Beautiful launched in 1896, there wasnât big, beautiful photography like we have today. Itâs not just about paper and photographs. Itâs about reading. I think technologies like the Kindle might extend that experience.â
Donât âTchotchke it Upâ
Maxwell cautioned against the impulse to doâand sellâtoo much on the Web. âThose that push too far into invading content will regret it,â he said. âIâm an advocate of re-empowering the readers as stakeholders in the product. Maybe readers need to pay a bit more to help allow magazines to maintain their âhigh groundâ without product placement all over the place.â
Even as technologies for delivering content advance, consumers will always need editors to filter the content, online and in print, New Yorkâs Goodman said.âPeople appreciate guidance and editors are professional guides. That need wonât disappear. That said, this is major moment in media. New York is working hard to make the Web site integral to the magazine experience.â
Gold, an advertiser in online and print, said both mediums are still evolving. âPrint is changing and online is still figuring out what itâs supposed to look like,â he said. âWe recognize that people are doing more than just one thing. Even the most tech savvy people are carrying and reading magazines. Either way, media should focus on doing what it does well, and not tchotchke it up when things get bad.â