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Internal magazine: 6 differences between print and digital formats

Internal communication is modernizing itself. It is becoming more digital, and the internal magazine does not escape that trend. Here are the pros and cons of a print versus a digital company magazine.

The internal magazine has a special place in a company communication plan. It is one of the most used tool to convey the company culture internally. For the past years, it is now going through a digital transformation as well. It can sometimes be a simple pdf, or an interactive media. Its format varies depending on the usage and culture of each organisation. Despite this current trend, print magazines have not disappeared, and are still widely used.

So what are the main differences between a print company magazine and its digital version?

Print vs digital : pros and cons of those 2 internal magazine formats


1) Two distinct distribution modes

Issuing a print magazine is of course more complex than issuing a digital magazine. Printing and dispatching hundreds or thousands of copies can take a lot of time. However, a print magazine has one undeniable advantage: it is received by all the employees, whether they are connected or not.

The digital magazine, however, is meant first and foremost for the employees who have an acces to a work computer or tablet.  For some companies who have chosen a BYOD model (Bring Your Own Device), the unconnected staff can read it on their personnal smartphone, but the reading experience will usually not be as good.

This online version offers a better accessibility: it can be adapted to visually impaired employees if needed, with the addition of an audio version. Moreover, the issues can remain available on the intranet for a long time.

2) Print vs digital: diversification of formats

The traditional company magazine usually uses the codes of the written press. It includes an editorial, then a series of topics that contain texts and photos. The current trend is actually about giving more room to images, using professional pictures and infographics for instance.

With a digital version, it has become possible to explore new formats. Texts and photos are still unavoidable, but they can stand alongside videos, podcasts, animated images, links directing to additional content… Or even interactive content.

3) Fixed layout vs responsive display 

A big difference between the print and the web lies in its layout. The physical version makes it fixed, and guarantees that it will look the same for all the readers. It also guarantees an optimal display of the photos: printing them out will make sure the colours and quality of the photos will not change.

On another hand, the digital version is characterized by its responsive nature. The magazine will adapt to the device that is used (computer, tablet or smartphone), as each one as a different screen resolution. The layout will therefore be modified. For example, short news that are presented on a double page in a print magazine may appear as a long column on the screen, and the reader will need to scroll down to read it entirely.

For communicators, this usually imply that they will need to first create a version meant to be printed, and will then enrich it to create the digital version, and check the layout adjustments.

4) Print vs digital magazine: adapt to the readers’ habits

Different formats goes together with different reading habits. When reading a print magazine, readers usually take their time, especially if they enjoy the experience of having a paper magazine in their hands. They can really dive into the different articles, including in depth reportages that go on for several pages.

On the contrary, long text paragraphs are more difficult to read on a screen. A digital magazine is therefore more suited to a fragmented reading, and the reader will only stop at the articles that are of interest to him/her. Indeed, if a print magazine can be quickly read through, this is rarely the case for an online magazine. On a screen, scrolling will enable the reader to move almost instantly to the next page.

5) Two formats that do not get the same echo internally

Reading a print magazine is still quite a solitary act: every employee will read the magazine on his own. If an article draws his attention, he may discuss it with other close colleagues.

The online version has an interactive dimension that the print version does not have. Thanks to features that enable to comment, like or maybe even share, employees can amplify the echo of the content they like or the topics that have made an impact on them, whether positively or negatively. Online discussions can also take place, even between employees who do not know each other.

6) Measuring the performance: 2 similar approaches

The only way to know what the employees think about the print magazine is by asking them. It can be done through quick surveys, for example on the intranet or the company application, or through larger studies.

On the contrary, with the online version, the communication professionals can access real time indicators. The number of pages that have been seen, the number of likes, the devices that were used… All those elements can give a lot of insight about the taste and reading habits of the employees. Some aspects can also be modified from one issue to the next one: if the online internal magazine is mainly read on smartphones for example, it is not relevant to keep publishing photos on double pages.

However, those datas should just be seen as indicators: the number of views for instance, cannot reveal if those pages were read entirely. It is therefore always interesting to complete those indicators with internal surveys.

The print and digital versions of the company magazine are complementary 

Each of those two formats present different advantages, such as:

  • distribution of the magazine to all the staff vs a better accessibility
  • a lay out adapted to in depts reportages vs an enriched reading experience
  • paper contact vs online interactivity
It is therefore interesting to combine those two versions of the internal magazine, instead of chosing one versus the other. It all depends also of course on the organisation of your company and the reading habits of the employees.

The best option is to find a tool, like Madmagz’ software, that enables you to easily create an internal magazine that you can both print out AND use as an enriched online version.