A year or so ago, we lamented the demise of magazines – and reminisced about our fondness for print.

That decline hasn’t changed.  In many cases, Publishers’ Bureau reports it’s gotten worse, with digitals grabbing market and ad and visual shares everywhere.  [Except for celebrity, men’s fitness, and ‘focused’ mags.]

But the sadnesses really struck home when Ladies’ Home Journal announced it was out of the subscribers’ business this July, moving to quarterly newsstand issues.  Sure, its heyday was in the ‘40s and ‘50s.  Yet we as PR practitioners in the late 20th century worked with editors and columnists to promote client wares and stories, and celebrated when they said it was a go. 

For those who naysay the medium, contrast it with Web experiences.  How many times have you surfed a specific topic, and gotten lost in the maelstrom that’s Google search?  Or clicked on one link and found, like Alice, that you were falling quickly through hours of unsorted (and sometime un-validated) content?

There’s a finite beginning and end to a magazine.  Something that limits our thoughts, in fact, concentrates it into our memories.  A reportorial coup like Steven Brill’s dissection of our health care system (Time magazine April 4, 2013) is meant to be dissected, digested, and discussed.  Few Web bytes can claim that.

At the end, everyone says, print will die because increasing costs and decreasing ads don’t make financial sense.  Yet, like LHJ, we “never underestimate the power of a woman.”


The oh-so-trendy digital detox was forced on us last week.

Yes, involuntarily.

Our cell phones had no bars and signals.  Cyber-connections were either the speed of the 1980s or non-existent (and pricey, when they were available).  And the normal U.S.A. media, from TVs to radios, were all dominated by news and features we had no interest in.

Sure, we were warned that our vacation spot had those limitations.  But knowing doesn’t always equate to being prepared for the tsunami emotions of “OMG, I can’t log in or find out what’s going on!”

Instead, we engaged in conversations.  Lots of them.  And found that our fellow travelers and had some very intriguing lives and philosophies.  As did the country natives.  We also discovered the pleasure of reading with all senses, listening with full intent, and looking, really observing the activities and people around us.

All of those benefits were further underscored when we skimmed over the recent Real Simple-Huffington Post survey of 3,500 wired women.  No surprise:  Seventy-six percent checked smartphones hourly.  Three in four texted while driving.  Checking Facebook was de rigueur multiple times every 60 minutes.  Participants admitted to experiencing some ups and downs to this always-on world, from convenience and networking to distractions and impersonal-ness. 

So what’s a communicator, marketer, designer, and others to do?  Two obvious moves which many in corporate America have embraced:  Either designate one tech-free day a week (or more, if the culture will allow it) and/or sign off on the weekends. 

Less apparent are those strategies that change behaviors, such as training leaders and workers in the art of meaningful conversations.   Or establishing common sense guidelines, with the full understanding of social media’s impact and seductiveness.

Otherwise, we could each pay up to $1,500 for a three-day adult rehab camp.  Lanyards, anyone?


With any new year, East or West, almost everyone succumbs to the temptation to predict.

This time, it’s the Lunar celebration, with more than a billion of our Asian neighbors at home with family.

Some of the media’s annual visions are way too easy … and snore-able.  Like Canadian pop star and “we’re so over him” Justin Bieber will get into more trouble again.  Setting records in temperature and natural disasters, unfortunately, seems to prevail, given climate change.  Fighting looms over local conflicts – in the Middle East in particular.

Other forecasts depend on a wide application of common sense:  The economy’s slated to be up in the West, subdued in the East, with scaled-down spending on luxury items.  The Affordable Care Act will still be in the hospital, holding a diagnosis of “wait and see.”  Cost-cutting continues in the business arena, with corporate chiefs still uncertain about full-speed-ahead profitability.

This Year of the Horse, though, doesn’t address the trends in our profession.  Again, instinct and experience say that change is our constant.  What will matter is how well we accept change, indeed, how smartly we anticipate it.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to recognize that digital dominance is here and now.  Or that employees will continue to seek meaning in work.  Or that consumers need to be segmented into even more and smaller cohort groups.  Or that advertising is forever searching for the magic metric.

Our task is to figure out how to best use these trends, these changes – to our advantage and to our employer’s.  Why wait for the next best disruptor?  We could, using what we’ve learned, develop our own crystal ball – and what’s more, activate it.  Master the realm of the new and newer and yet-to-be media.  Emphasize individual contributors, holistically.  Network with and review group formations on different e-platforms.  Apply New Age measures to campaigns. 

No crystal ball needed.  Just wisdom, a shot of courage, and the ability to take change in hand.