Traditional Print vs Digital Content: Can One Editorial Team do Both?

We know the reader experience is VERY different between print and digital. But whether we want to admit it or not, there can also be big differences in the writing experience as well.

Digital writing differs from traditional print with the kinds of immediate “hooks” needed to keep your audience engaged. The story length is often shorter, and online sourcing can be challenging.  It’s also easier for readers to engage with your magazine immediately – positively or negatively – the moment after you publish.

So what do you do when you have just one editorial team dedicated to both mediums? We consulted Don Harkey, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of People Centric Consulting Group, on ways to help the editorial team make this transition. Don has worked with niche publishers who faced this challenge and found success.

Why is it sometimes hard for Editorial to dive deep into creating content for digital?

Don: “When movies first started coming out, the acting profession thumbed their noses at this new medium.  Many of the best actors of the day refused to perform in motion pictures considering them ‘low brow.’

“Today, the most famous actors in the world are not known for their stage work, but for their work in movies or even on TV. Magazine publishing is undergoing a similar transition with the digital medium. Many editors consider writing digital content as beneath them.  And It is easy to think of digital content as something not worthy of a good editor’s time.”

How can niche publishers change the “either-or” mentality that sometimes exists in the Editorial Department?

“It’s not about what you can do with digital.  It is now about telling stories that reach your audience and being able to use the right mediums to get there.  Good content can happen on the pages of a magazine or through a digital platform, or both.”

So how can publishers hire and develop their team to focus on generating great content across multiple platforms?

“The answer is engagement. Engage your Editors. In a world of deadlines, it is easy to get lost in the noise.  Editors can easily struggle when their focus becomes filling pages and they lose connection with the audience and your mission as an organization.  You can address this by allowing them to take a step back together to discuss what kind of impact they would like to have on their audience. Let them get back to why they got into the business in the first place.

“Once you’ve zeroed in on the type of content you want to create, you can start to think about how the content can be delivered.  How can you leverage ALL of the ways that your magazine reaches its audience to tell a story? Publishers today can link together magazine stories, social media, links to more information, videos, and even events.  Finding ways to leverage these tools will ease the work of your editors, allowing them to tell a better story in the first place.

“While the technology has changed, the most basic part hasn’t; you want to tell compelling stories that engage your audience. And the good news is that if your focus is on telling great stories, the best editors will want to play.”

Editor’s Note: Don is leading the session, “Assembling Your Dream Team: Finding the Best Staff for Revenue, Growth & Culture” at our upcoming Super Niche conference in San Antonio in March 2020!


Don HarkeyMore about Don: Don Harkey is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at People Centric Consulting Group. People Centric partners with clients to help them to create and implement high performance cultures through clear direction, effective systems, and engaged employees. Don learned the power of fostering a culture that creates high employee engagement when he was a senior-level corporate engineer overseeing millions of dollars in capital projects.


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