Track & Field News moves to completely digital, get over it.


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Track & Field News announced recently that they were stopping the print issues and going completely digital. My response, short and sweet: Get over it.

Track & Field News published print issues for 70 years, and now, as they embark on their 71rst year, they will do so digitally. That means that they will save on postage and printing which in this day and age, are about even in cost, as USPS has helped destroy the print publication business. To keep the strong staff that they have, so that the stories are accurate, and well written, plus designers, cost real money. If you want a high quality product, and you are an enthusiast, you will pay the $79 for the subscription.

How do I know? Well, I have sold ads for TFN and 35 other publications and websites for twenty-six years (TFN just for one decade), and until two years ago, we would get ads from 4-5 shoe companies, who now have decided that print ads mean very little to them. Brands speak with their dollars. Most brands think that real runners do not deserve their marketing dollars, because, they are going to buy shoes anyway? We have had to reinvent our business over the past three years, and move most of our energy to digital, with social media, focused video and coverage of live events around the world. It is tough, but that is why magazines like TFN and regional pubs like RunOhio. Colorado Runner and Running Journal are so important.

Funny thing, the brands that are doing well, like HOKA ONE ONE, On running, New Balance, are putting more and more dollars into sponsorship, media and support of the sport. Brands like Nike and adidas are the main reason why we have a professional sport. Other brands have supported the pro part of the sport at their own levels. It is great to see HOKA ONE ONE picking up atheltes and events still.

Truth is, running shoe business is in a lot of trouble. By stopping their brand messaging, they have taken value from their brands. Most brands are getting ready to build graven images in the shape of Jeff Bezzos, the man behind Amazon. As brands go to Amazon, they loose most control and become marketing companies, nothing else. Amazon controls pricing, distribution, and someday, will have their own footwear manufacturing facilities, taking more control out of the brands' hands. The brands that support core running tend to grow and then, somehow decide that supporting core running means little, and lets hire a celeb and sell a lot more shoes. The brands do, for a year or so, and then, the fickle consumer, and the fashionista is a fickle consumer, goes to the next brand, and brand X rediscovers running.

Print was a cost effective and efficient media platform. Still is. But, you know what is better? Use digital, social and print together and you have the best media messaging and brand building that you could ever dream of! Brands in running want highly educated, people with expensive houses, who vacation, run 10-12 races a year, and bring their families along, which is the running demo. Yet, those same people read digitally, via social, and print. And, per German media studies, the more platforms a brand uses, say digital, social and print, the more effective the campaign.

For TFN, it is a matter of economics. Support the bible of the sport. And when you see ads in TFN, make sure you buy their products. I can promise you, TFN has reached out to each and every footwear brand out there. If they are not there, then purchase from the brands that are supporting the media you value. TFN has helped keep our sport alive for seven decades. Each footwear brand should be advertising on a monthly basis, but, alas that is my rant.

Use the power of your credit cards to show brands that those who support your sport, and your favorite magazines, get your bucks.

And one final note, go to local running stores and buy your products there. Support the supporters of the running culture, or we will loose them.

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