Why live and online events are a priority for specialist publishers

Specialist publishers are increasingly realising that their business is more about gathering together a like-minded community than about creating niche content.  So it comes as little surprise to see the emphasis placed on live and online events and networking in the research recently commissioned by the Specialist Media Show among 200 publishers, with a bias towards smaller, independent specialist markets.  Below are my top five insights.

1. Live events are widespread and still a big part of future plans

64% of respondents already run live events, with B2B conferences and exhibitions the most popular, with consumer events, paid-for reader events, awards and face-to-face training also common.  Many have plans for more live events in the next two years: 60% are considering paid-for reader events, 56% B2B exhibitions, 53% consumer events, 49% face to face training and 48% B2B conferences.  So even in this digital world, people still like to get together physically with like-minded souls.

2. Face to face networking events growing fast

31% of publishers already run face to face networking events for their audiences, but a staggering 70% have plans to launch face to face networking events in the next two years.  Bringing audiences together in the right environment and acting as a host is clearly a major trend.

3. Online networking tops the digital options

Creating a virtual networking environment is also popular; 20% of publishers surveyed are already running online networking services, and 70% are considering running them in the next two years.

4. Webinars and virtual events are on the agenda for a majority

Right now only a minority are experimenting with webinars (18%) and virtual events (8%), but looking forward to the next two years, growth is dramatic, with 63% considering webinars, and 53% virtual events: particularly surprising given the technology is still very new.

5. Distance learning will grow rapidly

A surprising sector is distance learning.  Currently a very low proportion – just 7% – are offering distance learning, but 39% – almost half have it on the agenda for the next 2 years.  Advanstar have already been featured as a Media Pioneer for their e-learning service Chromacademy: at $300pa per subscription maybe it’s not so surprising that other publishers want to join them.

The survey of around 200 specialist publishers was carried out by the Specialist Media Show in partnership with InPublishing, PPA, University of Leicester and Wessenden Marketing.

The full results, including a split between consumer and b2b; larger and smaller businesses, will be presented at the Specialist Media Conference on 25 May 2011.

Join the Specialist Media Network on Linked-in to swap ideas with over 500 other specialist media professionals.

See my earlier blog on the results: specialist publishers lead the way in digital media

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, creating digital media strategies in specialist markets.  She also runs the Specialist Media Show, an exhibition, conference and workshop programme for niche publishers seeking ideas and inspiration in print, events and digital media