I have subscribed to many of these magazines through a couple of professional careers and still receive a few of them today.
Some of them have been subsidized by major industries. They have lived on lavish hand-outs from the leading companies in that industry for decades. They have never had to "earn" their living. Lately, during industry downturns their benefactors have cut them lose and now they are panickin'. One in my industry has recently been soliciting me for help. I can't really help them because I don't have surplus horsepower and then I can only help people who "get the web" because I can't changed "dyed-in-the-wool" attitudes and mentalities... and I can't become a dedicated benefactor to such direct competitors.
Nobody is coming into these magazines from search because they are published behind registration walls or pay walls or in those fancy page-turning online apps that mimic the look and feel of a real magazine. That's how you cut off your traffic from search, your traffic from social and your traffic from the curious passerby. The few of these magazines that are open for anyone to view have authors and editors who write cute titles for their articles that are not going to be found in search.
A lot of these mags are lead by a "professional publisher" or a "professional journalist" and who has never spent a day working in the industry. They don't understand what the people in the industry want and need and are shooting in the dark, hoping to hit content ideas. They are still trying to publish the propaganda of their former benefactors and the fat cats and their lobbyists were the only ones readin'. The magazines are also written and edited by freelancers who receive one article gigs and have no perspective of the industry. They can be great writers but they don't speak the industry language and don't have long-term perspective. This worked great when the magazines were on the industry dole, it didn't matter if nobody read the articles, they were only concerned about getting the big industry point-of-view into print. Now that they gotta make their living with their wits they realize that they really didn't have any readers.
Turning these magazines around, I believe, will require getting a group of experience industry people involved. They will help the magazine develop a purpose, a content plan and a theme. They will recruit industry leaders who can write centerpiece articles or be available for interviews where they advise on what relevant questions are of interest. Then they need to get qualified people who know about search and social on their technical team. All of this is going to upset the source of labor for producing the magazine and will probably make major changes to the staff.
It will be a hard sell.
Sorry Kim: No suggestions or words of wisdom. I was struck though by what EGOL wrote, all relative to some recent experiences. I was searching for local business news of one sort or another, some of which reflected stories dating back roughly 30 years. They had to do with commercial real estate, and I'll reference why in a bit. I do know that a variety of those stories from that long ago were carried in local print news. The only information I could find were from the Washington Post. Stories from 30+ years ago. Had to do some "deep research" from my perspective with a variety of search terms....but the Post kept coming up. Interestingly I often found these old stories using what might be described as "link bait" titles today. Nobody was using link bait in the 80's. I ended up using phrases that reflected the descriptors used at those times. The stories popped up.
There are print businesses that were around then and now. Their info didn't pop up. I assume its because they have paywalls/ have blocked access to the old stories or never digitized them in the first place. There are also old print sources that are no longer around. Some had great articles. If the old issues are stored in a library somewhere there is old data. Without libraries and since this hasn't been digitized or is behind a paywall or blocks search....it can't be found on the web.
As to the Washington Post. Its slow but steady loss of readership, circulation, loss of ads, shrinkage of reporters etc has all been well documented. I happen to know during the first decade of the 2000's they tried many many different things to stem these losses and tried many creative web strategies. It wasn't from lack of trying and frankly a lot of smart people made valiant efforts with what were well thought out plans at the time. But they didn't work or execute well. So the Post has maintained open access a la EGOL's comments, but it still got killed financially.
The world changed.
Back to real estate. The topics reflected on old real estate activities, some going back to the decade of the 1980's way before the internet. One source that has immense and remarkable data on these topics is a business called CoStar. http://www.costar.com/ Its a commercial and multi family real estate data source. Its sort of like the multiple listing system for residential real estate.
I know it pretty well. I believe it started in the 80's as a single source data base of commercial properties in the DC area. Around the US there were similar businesses doing the exact same thing. Over the decades CoStar became the single major source of this data. There were some brutal business battles between costar and other providers from other markets.
One business became supreme. Its a monopoly. There are some other sources in the markets for this kind of data. You can find them on the web. They are amazingly peripheral and ill used. I bet costar "allows them" to exist from a business perspective, as it protects the business' flank from anti trust efforts.
The feds have investigated costar as I recall. They allow it to operate as is. I guess its too small an entity in two tiny a niche to get the feds all riled up. But it is a remarkable overwhelming monopoly (and provides great but expensive data).
In any case, CoStar certainly has articles that would have responded to my searches. Unless they trashed all the old ones. It covered all this information back then and for decades since.
Everything is behind a paywall. Of course who wants to read this "stuff". Well people who work in the industry for one definite group. They need the information to operate. If you want to buy big old commercial or multifamily properties you probably need millions of $$ to do so. You can afford to purchase the data, or you can use entities who already subscribe to costar and can access it.
If you live in the "boonies" costar probably doesn't cover properties in your areas but local realtors would have the data in the residential (and small commercial) data bases.
CoStar can live and operate in this environment. Its a monopoly.
Anyway all that being said, and not having answers I thought both EGOL and Black_Knight wrote things that made a lot of sense. I'll throw out something that isn't related to print, but it does get an entity to survive regardless of the fact that its readership is a weeny teeny miniscule drop in the bucket relative to google.-----YELP.
As I look at it, Yelp gets a lot of restaurant ads in the greater DC region, and I suppose other major markets where it focused it's attention (Major US cities plus the East and West Coast Cities). Google gets virtually nothing relatively speaking.
I'm sure that restaurants in DC and other places like it get infinitely more traffic via google than yelp. I don't have enough data to be sure, but from the data I've seen from restaurateurs, google delivers more traffic than does yelp...usually by a lot. (not a big collection of data).
Yelp salespeople call endlessly. Google never calls. Google has subtly reduced traffic to restaurants with its monopolistic tricks....but restaurateurs are pretty oblivious.
Anyway, if you bother the hell out of people and refine your techniques on selling you can sell advertising. At least yelp can.