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Marcelo Salup: “Can the Hispanic print industry resuscitate itself?”

In this column Marcelo Salup makes an invitation to analyze the situation of the Hispanic Print Industry: “ I’d like to ask for 15 seconds of silence in observance of the many magazines that closed during 2008 and 2009.”

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 I’d like to ask for 15 seconds of silence in observance of the many magazines that closed during 2008 and 2009. And another minute for all the hard-working people who lost their jobs.

It’s no secret that the print industry in general is in dire straits. Brandweek reports that investment in newspapers is down 28.5% and 20.5% for magazines from last year.

 The MPA tries to paint a rosier picture: the number of magazines in the US grew by 5.4% to 20,590. The number of magazine readers grew 5.7% to 189.7 million.

 Yet… advertising pages fell, single copy sales fell 8%. Underscoring all of that, 6.5% of all magazines represent 44.2% of the total measured circulation. So… 93.5% of the remaining magazines fight out the remaining 55.8% of the circulation.

 Moving on to Hispanic magazines… 300 million Americans have 20,590 magazines to choose from (or one mag for every 14,570 people) while 45 million Hispanics have, what, 30 magazines? 40? 100? Even 100 magazines would give us one magazine for every 450,000 Hispanics.

 Anecdotic evidence suggests that magazines are routinely getting from 25% to 50% off their rate-card discounted rates. And newspapers are probably getting less.

 The print industry has two problems: (1) the weak ad market that has reduced revenues significantly and (2) there is a perception among many media directors and clients that the print industry is basically irrelevant.

 We need Al Sharpton! We need Jesse Jackson!

 So here’s a proposal to address both of these problems at once: The entire Hispanic print industry should get together and choose one or two public figures that it will “build” into the next Hispanic Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

 Step 1 – An informal coalition will get together and choose the candidates.
 I am fortunate enough to have been born in Cuba and lived in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico (twice) and Argentina. It is not going to be easy to find one or two public figures that will do well with all our groups. But it has to be a national figure.

 Step 2 – The coalition meets with leading agencies and clients and tells them: “This is going to be our show of power. We are going to create this uber-Hispanic to show you that magazines are relevant, powerful and influential”
 
This will take the print industry away from circulation and readers and into influence and power.
 Step 3 – Each magazine will leverage its particular strength to build our public figures. For example, Vanidades could do a piece about his family while Hispanic Business could emphasize his business background…

 Newspapers will cover daily news and highlight his participation in the national Hispanic agenda.

 In one year (probably less), the same informal coalition will sit down with the same ad agencies and advertisers and say “here we are, Pepe Perez is now our Hispanic Al Sharpton”.
 Cynical? Maybe. But it will benefit everyone.
 
  • Hispanics will have gained a voice that can move the Hispanic agenda forward in ways that can only benefit us as Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson have benefited African Americans.
  • The print industry will prove its relevancy and vitality.
  • And rates move into a higher ground: power and influence
 Simplistic? Maybe. Personally, I think it is elegant; benefiting everyone.

 Conventional and safe thinking have created a situation where a dozen magazines have already disappeared in a two years, where rates have collapsed and unemployment has soared.

 ¿Quién se anima?

Marcelo Salup/NY is an independent media and advertising expert. Until June of this year Marcelo was VP Media and Strategic Planning at Siboney, and managed major accounts including Colgate.

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