There is a growing national discussion focused on the business model of publishing, in this era of niche media—especially as it relates to how we, as information consumers, prefer to receive and access this information. Actually, the discussion is not new at all, since so-called narrowcasting has been in the media-management lexicon for a number of years. Niche marketers have always looked for ways to channel their messages in what media scholars once referred to as a hypodermic-needle model (rather than a shotgun-blast model) of outreach. Extremely narrow audience segmentation has been the goal of every business-to-business publisher.
Targeting an audience that is receptive to—and interested in—the message is how communicators strive to penetrate an increasing noise level that exists in our hyperactive world. It is part science, part art, and mostly dependent on the sender’s ability to connect with the audience in a unique way that will build actual readership and, in turn, loyalty to the medium.
As a student of the media since the early 1970s, I have found each new twist in this basic enterprise of developing meaningful information and connecting to a targeted audience both fascinating and intellectually rewarding. It never ceases to amaze me that entrepreneurs continue to find new and exciting ways to reach and influence those hungry for direction, advice, community, education, and support. Social media are but the latest developments in the quest for connectivity.
Even more important than how information is delivered, though, are the issues of exactly what that information is and what it contains; the quality of the message; its depth, relevance, and credibility; and its ability to offer something different. These remain of supreme importance in a publisher’s ability to build community.
As with the newest social-media concepts, the idea of building community is paramount in order for the concept to thrive. In order to build community, one needs to offer a reason for members (in our case, readers) to want to be a part of it. How does this happen? It’s done by bringing readers something new and original that cannot be found elsewhere. The idea, as in most things, is to be unique.
When I created the editorial concept for Radiology Business Journal, it was clear that the envisioned target audience (group-practice radiologists, hospital executives and department heads, imaging-center executives, health IT executives, medical directors, and those in similar positions) would develop a sense of loyalty to the publication if—and only if—we created unique content that would make it a must-read journal.
In other words, we needed to penetrate the noise level by developing and offering content that was meaningful and important, and that would connect with extremely high levels of credibility. The idea of connecting the clinical side with the administrative side in a forum that would enhance the overall strength and understanding of the business of medical imaging is something to which I have dedicated my career. In itself, it is a unique media concept—and one that has truly resonated.
I am pleased to report to our readers that in just three short years, we have more than achieved our goal of building reader loyalty among the members of this important and influential dual audience. You have told us that you like what you see, and that you find RBJ to be credible and worthy of your attention—and loyalty. For that, we are extremely appreciative and grateful.
The issue that you have before you is our most successful thus far, and there are strong indicators that we will continue to grow, bringing you bigger issues packed with content that matters. You are a member of an audience that has been carefully selected, and we are excited that we are now considered an important part of your professional life.
Curtis Kauffman-Pickelle is publisher of imagingBiz and Radiology Business Journal, and is a 30-year veteran of the medical-imaging industry. He facilitates strategic-planning retreats for radiology groups.