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The Plight of Electronic ...

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I decided to republish this post from a few year ago after hearing that EE Times had parted way with its editor-in-chief Dylan McGrath and the extraordinary journalist Rick Merritt who had been at the publication for nearly 20 years.

For those of us in communications who toil in the semiconductor sector, it’s a downer. I’ve always thought of EE Times as the bible for engineers, a perception cemented in my brain in the 1990s when carrying one week’s issue provided a form of weight lifting. I don’t know what the record page count was, but it had to be over 300 pages and in tabloid form no less.

I figured back in 2012 times would get tough for EE Times.

I’m sorry I was right.

 

 

EE Times, PR, Public Relations, business communications, storytelling, PR storytelling, business storytelling, The Hoffman Agency, journalism, publications

Word has circulated through the grapevine that EE Times has experienced yet another staff reduction.

At least the move comes at a time when companies including those in the semiconductor industry have got the content marketing religion. For journalists open to exploring gigs outside the traditional media, they’ll find options.

But what about EE Times?

What’s the economic prognosis for the book?

If I can sum it up one word, notsogood.

I hate saying this because I’m a fan of EE Times and the journalists who have put their hearts and souls into building a quality product.

Roughly 18 months ago Junko Yoshida, EIC at the time, was good enough to speak at one of our Silicon Valley Lunch Buckets about the publication’s change of direction to cultivate a greater sense of community. She shared the chart below which showed that reader engagement was trending in the right direction.

EE Times, PR, Public Relations, business communications, storytelling, PR storytelling, business storytelling, The Hoffman Agency, journalism, publications

But the publication never seemed to get over the hump financially, even though it’s still viewed today as the No. 1 media property by most engineers.

We all recognize the Internet has swung a wrecking ball through the publishing industry sending the carnage every which way.

Yet, new media properties are surfacing on a regular basis, some achieving economic viability in a relatively short period of time.

What gives, and why hasn’t EE Times been able to capitalize on Internet economics?

I have a theory.

When the audience skews to an under-35 demographic, there’s a Web-savvy publisher applying clever ways to engage and make money. I’m not just talking about properties focused on social media and startups like TechCrunch. The same dynamic also plays out in seemingly niche areas as well.

Take Lifehacker, which appeals to the inner geek.

70 percent of Lifehacker’s 4 million readers sit between 18 and 34 years old.

Lifehacker’s advertising function even put together a positioning chart with age on the horizontal axis.

EE Times, PR, Public Relations, business communications, storytelling, PR storytelling, business storytelling, The Hoffman Agency, journalism, publications

A media property like Lifehacker can reach these types of numbers by emphasizing programming and apps which in turn brings in the younger demographic.

Back to EE Times, its target engineers skew on the older side which leaves the suits in an impossible place: they can’t make money with print – which they ditched years ago – but the audience won’t “fully” engage online where they can be monetized.

UBM must feel like they’re watching grass grow as they wait for a favorable demographic.

Being my mid 50’s, it pains me to say there’s a killer media property waiting to be launched that says, “Forget the old guys (and gals), we’re targeting young engineers (under 35).”

I’m hoping UBM does this.

I’m convinced someone will because the importance of engineers, what they think and what they buy has only increased in this world gone digital.


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