Like print media, online media, custom media and events, the reprint business isn't about the medium itself. It's all about how reprints are used by business publishers to boost their revenues profitably.
At Network World, for example, custom electronic reprints are “a fabulously successful lead-generation tool,” said Publisher Dan Hirsh. “Rather than creating a single-article reprint, we put together a kind of binder of information on a certain topic in PDF format,” he said. “They vary in size, but they're typically three or four pieces of content, which can be 100% editorial or a combination of articles, white papers, product guides and/or case studies from vendors.”
Network World has already put together more than 500 of these reprint packages. “People appreciate the work that goes into pulling all this information together. It's a very convenient format, and it saves time for buyers,” Hirsh said. The more valuable the readers perceive the content to be, he said, the more likely they will give their personal information to get it, which translates into more leads.
ALM was doing about $250,000 a year in reprints five years ago, said Jack Berkowitz, senior VP. “We decided we were being way too passive. We put someone in charge named Syndia Torres [director of reprints and permissions], and now reprints are a $3.5 million to $4 million business that's still growing.”
Being more proactive is a reason for the growth, he said. Another reason is creativity. “We've gone past regular reprints into many types of marketing services,” he said. “Syndia has created four- to 40-page custom products that make use of our archives, which go back 25 years.”
In addition to articles from ALM publications, these customized marketing pieces sometimes include content from the clients themselves so that the marketers can use them for multiple purposes.
“Reprints provide good profit margins,” said Howard Gilbert, senior director of eLicensing and reprints for SourceMedia. He oversees an in-house sales team of five “very experienced” people who have a consistent track record of growing the business.
“Reprint revenue grew about 15% since 2003, with single-digit growth rates for each of those years,” he said. Within that, digital reprints, or e-prints, have increased from only about 15% of all reprints five years ago to 40% today.
SourceMedia pursues typical reprint opportunities, such as lists and rankings. “One of our best sellers is "U.S. Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking,' “ Gilbert said, adding that he has also found gold in not-so-obvious places.
“We've had success going to clients with more generic articles,” he said. “If we do a feature on annuities, for example, we approach some of the major companies to see if one of them wants to be associated with the reprint.”
“Reprints are often overlooked,” said Ann Seltz, VP-marketing at Hanley Wood Business Media, “but they're very hardworking marketing tools.”
Seltz, too, has found that lists of top companies are big reprint sellers, and that companies will sometimes sponsor reprints of stories about their categories. “A concrete company that reprints a story on how to pour concrete can use it as a training tool for multiple years,” she said.
“Reprints are more work than most people realize,” Seltz added. Hanley Wood has outsourced reprints since around 2000 to the YGS Group (formerly RMS) and FosteReprints.
“Our vendors have performed very well for us,” she said. “Our reprint business was growing 15% a year until the housing market crashed. They've been very proactive and creative since then, but you've got to be realistic. This is the worst housing dip since the early 1990s.” —M.G.