Lean-In vs. Lean-Back: Assessing Print and Digital Products in Association Media
Jessica Perry, SVP of Publishing & Media at one of America's largest professional associations, chats with Folio: about drawing audience feedback and the differing benefits of print and digital.
This is the third in a series of Q&A's with panelists appearing at the Folio: Association Media Summit on May 3rd in Washington, D.C.
It's a question that nearly every association publisher must at least consider in today's industry: do you continue to invest in print, or is it time to go all-digital? Print has lasting impact and gravitas, but digital has near-instant reach, engagement, and, in many cases, much lower overhead costs.
Jessica Perry is SVP of Publishing & Media at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)—one of the ten largest professional associations in the U.S., according to Washington Business Journal. Here, Perry chats with Folio: about the differences between HR Magazine's print and digital products, the ways in which its audience engages with them, and how SHRM draws actionable feedback from its members—a brief preview of the insights she will offer as a member of the panel, "Print Versus Digital: A Strategic Choice," at the Folio: Association Media Summit in Washington, D.C. in May.
Folio: What are some effective ways in which an association publication can draw feedback from its membership?
Jessica Perry: SHRM is fortunate to have an engaged and accommodating member base—and we tap into it regularly for insights and feedback, both quantitative and qualitative. On the survey side, we poll members monthly to create a Total Member Satisfaction Index that polls on user/buyer satisfaction with more than 250 products, services and features in 30 product categories. Our data shows a direct connection between TMSI scores and member renewal rates, so both the individual and aggregate TMSI product scores are extremely important benchmarks for our decision making.
Of course, personal feedback is often best collected face to face. Our annual Volunteer Leader Summit gathers more than 600 chapter leaders in Washington, D.C. each year for Capitol Hill advocacy, leadership training, and interactions with SHRM national. And, of course, we have active social media channels, where we both actively trigger and passively monitor and collect user feedback.
Folio: What was one of your most engaging articles/stories in recent issues, and why?
Perry: Timely legal and compliance related content draws a lot of interest. A recent article on legal changes compelling updates to Employee Handbooks generated huge interest. Bread and butter stuff, but it’s the kind of content our members rely on us for.
Folio: Do you include the same content in both your print and digital editions, and why or why not?
Perry: We typically create a few “digital extras” to accompany key HR Magazine print articles, which allows us to expand the story telling in creative ways. These are not reliable traffic drivers, however.
Folio: In your opinion, what are some of the different benefits specific to the print edition of HR Magazine? And digital?
Perry: Print and digital really do serve different purposes, and the "lean-in vs. lean-back" metaphors have been long established. I think even digital natives will admit that print carries a certain gravitas, in that the “investment” in print underscores the lasting importance of a topic or an emerging agenda. Meantime, digital is the direct response medium—great for research, news bites, sharing, networking, and nurturing the purchase funnel.