Publishers Share Advice on Interdepartmental Synergies

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“…it’s increasingly difficult to find an audience that is not skipping over you, or time-shifting. With that in mind, I think the spoils go to the company that finds a way to tell [its] story differently.”

Krehbiel_GregThat quote came from Linda Boff, the new chief marketing officer for General Electric. GE’s a big company, but the value of good storytelling is not just for the giants. Writing in his excellent blog on marketing, Greg Krehbiel of Kiplinger also wonders about storytelling in his latest post on the future of reading and content creation. But he’s more concerned with how data will interact in our kindle-ized era.

“The publisher could see if you read (or at least paged) all the way through the article or book, how quickly you paged through, and how much time you spent on it. Amazon doesn’t give publishers that data right now, but it could.”

Checking your analytics is a must. What is your audience opening? And clicking? How much time are they spending on your different pages? It’s no coincidence that at our BIMS conference in Fort LauderdaleEd Coburn and Kim Mateus will present on planning for profitability: creating a website roadmap for success to optimize your revenue opportunities and discuss the data that should drive the website strategy.

Peter Goldstone, CEO of Hanley Wood, told me last week that the most important takeaway from their successful company-wide transition is that “we used to be a collection of media and event brands, like an a la carte menu—one in building, one in modeling…” They are much more integrated now. In fact, they have gone as far as outlawing the word, “divisions,” in favor of “centers of excellence.”

Telling a story differently doesn’t just involve editorial. Veronica Magan, managing editor and digital strategist for Access Intelligence’s Via Satellite Magazine and Avionics Magazine, told the SIPA 2015 crowd in June that they “wanted to provide the reader with a great experience no matter where they were accessing content.” Their effort involves video, interactivity, gauging reader engagement, reducing production time—in other words, a company-wide commitment. “We wanted to enrich content in ways that print can’t,” Magan said.

Marketing departments can and should be very attuned to readers as well as the editorial department. IT will also often need to get involved in the technology resources that editorial departments leverage. For us here, that might be the awards platform we use, or the survey software. Krehbiel and Matthew Cibellis, director of programming, live & virtual events at Education Week, will discuss how to get breakthrough results in content and marketing by finding synergies between these departments: marketing, editorial and IT. As their session will show, it takes a village to maximize return.

One of my favorite quotes came earlier this year from Audrey Cooper, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Each [department] works together with designers, coders, and photographers on how to create reader engagement and to learn different digital tools. There’s a natural tendency to be scared of something you don’t understand. But our reporters…are really happy with the specialized attention we have on digital training and learning new skills…they know this is where we’re heading.”

Krehbiel ends his column with a question. “How is this flood of information going to change storytelling and content, and what implications does it have for devices and the apps that run on them? I don’t know if we can say that the content will be better, but we can certainly say that it will be more finely tuned to measurable reactions.”

It will have to be.

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…