inclusive over exclusive

What is it with magazines and exclusives? In contemporary publishing the idea of an exclusive is a double edged sword, but to understand where this comes from requires consideration of how printed publications ‘used’ to be.


Before The Magazine was deemed dead and the internet forged ahead sans business model the exclusive was facilitated through huge budgets. Editors and creative directors would pay through the nose to secure content (be it visual or written) that no other magazine had. Deals were done, photographers were commissioned and journalists were embargoed. Fair enough too – exclusives draw readers and readers draw advertisers, so when you are selling handbags to fashionistas you want your handbag seen in the same magazine as next year’s trends. Back in those days if your handbag didn’t cut it, nor did your ad.

Fast-forward to 2017 and where has that taken us? Magazine budgets are near non-existent yet we still bow to the exclusive and editors still demand them though what is the exclusive? Have a think… in modern design publishing the exclusive is the work you have created exclusively for your client and then paid to have photographed to promote it and yourself. Like any creative, you want to be published and no doubt, so do your clients but that desire should be tempered with the consideration of intent.

To be published gives you exposure, kudos, industry high-fives, bonus points with the client and yes – personal satisfaction. But in the exclusive environment it comes at a cost.

Agreeing to an exclusive means your work cannot be published anywhere else during the period it is most valuable to you. End result: limited exposure.

Agreeing to have your work published without an exclusive agreement more than likely means no other magazine will publish it in the period it is most valuable to you. End result: limited exposure.

That’s all a bit doom and gloom but it is the reality and it is time to take the bull by the horns, take back control and welcome a new paradigm.

So, let’s go back to what MADE the exclusive in the first place. It was content generated by the magazine’s themselves – images and words no one else had. Is it not the remit of modern magazines to tailor their content to be exclusive, communicating your work through their lens to their readers? That is an exclusive. Your work is your work and if a magazine wants to publish it then they should not be limiting your exposure through the process.


Written by Marcus Piper

This entry was posted in opinion.