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Publishing Futures: 5 minutes with… Julian Agostini

Ahead of The Publishing Show, which takes place at ExCeL London on 1-2 March, we grab five minutes with Julian Agostini, MD of event organiser Mash Media, to get his take on the publishing sector.

By Julian Agostini

Publishing Futures: 5 minutes with… Julian Agostini

Q: What are the main priorities for publishers in 2023?

A: I can only speak from my point of view, but there is a lot of noise in the industry and everyone thinks they are a publisher these days. There is so much content, particularly with social platforms as everyone can publish content. This noise makes it harder for people to identify quality reads. When people read content that isn’t good quality they switch off, which can make it harder to re-engage them.

The main priority for publishers is to be a trusted source of information for the communities they serve. You are the needle in the haystack, but your community still needs to know how to find you. You have to be the provider of trusted and quality content that people return to. You must be agile to meet their needs and be known as their first point of call.

Q: What are the main challenges they face?

A: There is a huge amount of competition which means people have shorter attention spans when you are trying to attract them to your channel. How people want to consume information is also changing. You need to keep ahead of the curve and be a multi-channel publisher – I think this is important. Whether it’s introducing videos and podcasting to your portfolio, you need to diversify the content you are providing.

Q: What should publishers be doing to future-proof their businesses?

A: This is an enormous question and one I think we would all love to know the answer to!

Back in the day, we used to just print magazines and that would be enough. Now you need to really understand what appeals to your audience and community – as well as help build it!

You can then use this to expand your offering; that’s why we have events in our portfolio as there is a demand for them within our community. So, alongside our publishing calendar, we also host events, like ThirtyUnder30 awards, where people can engage with the community.

You also need to be able to demonstrate the ROI of content, particularly for your advertisers. I think people can still be a bit wary of sponsored content for example. You need to understand your data and audience to demonstrate the value.

Q: How can publishers build successful communities?

A: I think community platforms are the way to go; they are specially-built software designed to help build a community. They are not just about pushing out your content, communities are about helping facilitate the conversations and encouraging the community to speak to each other.

At Mash Media, we have built a community called Events 365 on Guild for people within the event industry to connect with each other. You should be monitoring and listening to what people are discussing and work to implement the ideas they suggest – that’s what we’re doing. You can also further segment your audience, so you are building communities within communities.

Q: What’s the advantage of in-person events?

A: The key thing about in-person events is they help build stronger relationships. It’s like the difference between a video call and a face-to-face meeting, you have the opportunity to understand the person so much more. With events, you can provide your audience with instant news, and you receive fresh data. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and get feedback as well as learn new ideas. I like to say, if you go to an event with an open mind and you’ll come back with it full.

Q: What’s new at this year’s Publishing Show?

A: This year at The Publishing Show there are four dedicated content theatres: Audience and Marketing, Storytelling and Design, Revenue Streams and The Future of Media Summit. These theatres aim to explore the needs of the various teams and roles within publishing; from editors to commercial directors, there is relevant content presented by inspirational speakers we have sourced ourselves. We have also introduced a playzone so people can engage with product demonstrations and participate in smaller interactive sessions.

We have kept the things we know are valued by the audience and have aimed to improve them, such as the supplier exhibition, networking area, VIP lounge and app to help support the community around the show.

About us

The Publishing Show takes place at ExCeL London on 1-2 March 2023.

Upgrade your ticket to the Visitor Plus pass to attend the Future of Media Summit theatre for exclusive content – use code InPublishing50 for 50% off. Register to attend here.