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Join The Professionals!

The PPA has changed its official name from the Periodical Publishers Association to the Professional Publishers Association. Chief Executive Barry McIlheney explains why.

By Barry McIlheney

I blame Andy Gray. With such a rich digest of sexism scandals and celebrity phone hacking revelations, the newshounds of Fleet Street can perhaps be forgiven for not giving due coverage to the really big story of last week: the PPA became the PPA.

Yes, you read that correctly; do not adjust your monitor / iPad settings / prescription. After 43 years as the Periodical Publishers Association, the PPA is now officially the Professional Publishers Association. And while to our members and the wider world of media we will continue to be known as the PPA, the detail is actually significant as a reflection of the change to both our industry and our organisation.

So why 'professional' and no longer 'periodical'? Well, as well as being an antiquated term (the PPA began life as The Society of Weekly Newspaper and Periodical Proprietors on November 21, 1913), 'periodical' is simply no longer the best way of describing what our publisher members get up to on a daily basis. Yes, of course magazines and print continue to be the beating heart of their businesses, but the explosion of digital channels in recent years has fundamentally reshaped the media landscape.

The borders that have for years defined publishers according to medium remain in place, but there is now a lot more freedom to move around, and magazine publishers have expanded their reach across a plethora of platforms. It is clear that their businesses are increasingly defined less by a notion of 'the periodical' and more by the creation, delivery and monetisation of content to a highly professional standard - whether on paper or electronic media.

The UK's business-to-business and data publishers have been at the forefront of embedding digital delivery into their business models, and late last year the Data Publishers Association (DPA) was warmly welcomed back into the PPA fold. This is an association which itself rebranded (it was previously the Directory Publishers Association) to acknowledge fundamental market changes and will now, as the PPA Data Committee, play a crucial role within the PPA's business media activities.

So does this mean that we have taken our eye off the periodical ball? Absolutely not. Promoting the medium of magazines to the media planning and buying community remains central to the work of PPA Marketing under the leadership of Matt Teeman, Director of Advertising Sales at BBC Magazines and Chair of the PPA Marketing Board. Moreover, the work of the PPA's circulation, legal, research, training, and public affairs departments will continue its strong support of a strong magazine supply chain. So while 'periodical' might be gone, magazines remain absolutely central to everything we do.

Overall our name change has been overwhelmingly well-received, not surprisingly since it has essentially formalised what we have all long known: that our members are the professionals, the people who play by the rules, who abide by the laws of copyright, who pay our suppliers, and who in turn expect to be paid a fair price for the high-quality content we create. That is what separates us from the amateurs, the cowboys who steal our work, and the pirates who put it up there for free. If that sounds like you, then please do join us as we enter this exciting new period in our history.