Building a global specialist community – Media Pioneer awards

In a niche discipline, people are interested in the opinions of their international counterparts.  Smart publishers recognise this and create opportunities for peers to share and collaborate and for key suppliers to reach an international audience.  The latest Media Pioneer, Advanstars’ publications in the global chromatography market,  has built a mix of integrated media and services to engage their audience of 140,000 chromatographers worldwide.  I believe there are interesting lessons for other publishers targeting niche specialist audiences.  Here’s how they put it all together:

1. Create an engaging digital magazine

Advanstar have published LCGC, a peer-reviewed academic journal, for 25 years.  The Column is a free international digital magazine reaching 140,000 chromatographers.  It is beautifully designed and easy to read without scrolling.  Peter Houston, Editorial Director, recently split the monthly content into two smaller fortnightly editions, and saw reading time per month quadruple.  Less is definitely more.

2. Set up a free community to build connections

Chrommunity is a free community on ning for global chromatographers – they can connect with each other, swap ideas and even post blogs.  Launched just over a year ago, it now has 2000 members from 88 countries. The best blogs are published in the digital magazine.

3. Establish a high-value paid-for service

Chromacademy is a joint venture with Crawford Scientific to provide an archive of 3000 e-learning modules to chromatographers.  Individuals complete online assessments, and their progress can be tracked across the modules. Subscribers pay around $300 for access; so far they have over 3000 subscribers, with some companies paying for up to 200 licences.

4. Integrate the different media

The community feeds the digital magazine with content  and the magazine promotes the e-learning service.  The magazine links back to the main LCGC website.  So they all support each other.

5. Provide package to advertisers

Most advertisers in the world of chromatography want to reach a global market, so although it is possible to select regions in the magazine, most don’t.  They appreciate enquiry forms for lead generation.  Bespoke packages combining print, digital, website and data options are popular.

If you know of examples of other specialist publishers successfully reaching a global audience across multiple media channels, I’d be interested to hear more.  Please comment below, or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in and swap ideas and contacts with over 400 other specialist media owners.

If you think your specialist media business should be the next media pioneer, please contact me with details.  Nominated businesses are featured on the Specialist Media Show site and go forward to judging for the overall winners, to be announced at the show on 25 May 2011.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan advises specialist media businesses on their digital strategy through consultancy business Penmaen Media.  She is also Content Director for the Specialist Media Show, which brings together specialist publishers and event organisers across the UK to meet, share, learn and profit.   If you’d like to discuss how your specialist media business could grow its revenues, please contact us for an initial chat.