It is no secret that print media around the globe is struggling to keep up with the rich, on-demand news content that the internet offers. In today’s everything-can-be-found-on-the-web world, publishers (particularly smaller ones) are forced to rethink distribution models in order to continue to reach readers who no longer reach for newspapers printed on paper. Pressmart Media set up shop to help alleviate these print readership woes.
Headquartered in Hyderabad, India, with sales offices in New York and London, Pressmart was founded in 2006 as a business unit of Bodhtree Consulting, Ltd. (www.bodhtree.com), a web services consulting and development company. According to CEO Sanjiv Gupta, "The idea of Pressmart was sown when one of our clients, a large 80-year-old newspaper group in India, approached us to build a digitization solution for their historic archives. And another leading hospital chain in the U.S. approached us to digitize their physical contracts and records. We learned how to deal with scanned images from print/microform formats and PDF files and convert them into a rich XML-based content format." From there, the idea to apply this process—once used for transforming hospital records—to the print media industry, was born.
Gupta says, "We realized that the print industry was having a tough time dealing with falling circulation, eroding readership, and rising print and distribution costs. They wanted to hop on to the online/new media bandwagon but didn’t know how. More importantly, for small and medium publications worldwide, any new media strategy was a distant dream as they lacked the financial and technological bandwidth." In response, Pressmart developed a SaaS model to let publishers use its services on a "pay-as-you-go" basis.
The company joined a market crowded with digital distribution providers, but according to Gupta, "Pressmart reaches where no other online news aggregator reaches. We take the local, unique, and rich print content and give it an online life. We even aggregate content. So we basically see the other online news aggregators as partners rather than competition. With Pressmart, readers get access to printed, authenticated, structured, and audit-trailable content that they simply can’t have access to otherwise."
Publishers working with Pressmart provide PDF files, which Pressmart then converts, hosts, and delivers as a digital edition (in web, mobile, podcast, and RSS forms) to subscribers. "We are like an online printing press that not only prints but delivers and markets the digital edition," Gupta explains. "Apart from all the other bells and whistles that come with the digital edition, we also offer publishers rich reports indicating readership habits, popularity of articles, etc., that give them immense editorial intelligence. We have a subscription and single-copy sales module built into our platform. Even online advertising is integrated." Publishers are charged a "nominal" service delivery fee by Pressmart. It is up to the publishers of the specific publication to choose whether or not to charge readers for access to online content.
For Gupta, "[The] media and news [industry] is one of the most interesting and dynamic industries. News survives only on change. And technology is an ever-changing phenomenon," he says. "Striking a perfect balance between the two and constantly enhancing the convenience of our delivery is the key to our success. This, obviously, keeps all of us on our toes with very few dull moments."
Gupta offers two tales to illustrate the range of ways Pressmart helps its clients: "One of our customers is a local non-English publisher with a print circulation of less than 20,000 copies. When they signed up with us, they had no idea about what our solution could do to their brand. We were bullish—up to a point. Within 8 months of launching an electronic edition on the Pressmart platform, that same title is now read by [more than] 103,000 readers from 88 countries." In another instance, "We were contacted by an overseas newspaper for urgent assistance, as their distribution setup was gutted on account of forest fires." Within 3 hours of the call, Gupta says the Pressmart team had the e-editions of the publication live.
Pressmart exists to serve the needs of both local publications and their potentially global audiences. Gupta explains, "Pressmart is a launch pad for print publishers, especially small-to-medium publishers, who have zero or low access to technology and marketing channels. There are hundreds of thousands of local community newspapers and magazines that source news and content that is not available in any top-line publication. This content is invaluable. Publishers need to take this content to the worldwide readership, and every reader is looking for unique and personalized content. Pressmart fits in well to meet this need."
Fun Fact: Sometimes the company has a bit of fun with would-be content thieves: It will actively try to identify and mislead them with incorrect or watermarked content.
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