Facing the Reality of the New Reality

Photo: Katy TomasuloBy Katy Tomasulo
President, Washington, DC Chapter

During the 2008 ASBPE National Editorial Conference, I had the pleasure of serving on the panel “Editorial Multitasking in the Digital Age” with two others from the B2B industry. As part of the panel, I presented some tips for how to maximize your time as a print editor now tasked to do both print and Web.

I think for most of us, it’s not that we don’t want to work on the Web—I, for one, am really excited about the possibilities and opportunities it holds for me and for my audience. What I think most of us are having a problem with is having to do all of this on top of the full-time print publication duties we already have. We accept that it must be done (hence the title “Facing the Reality of the New Reality”), but we search for ways in which to effectively accomplish it all.

For magazines whose audiences are still fairly low-tech (i.e., not ready to get their news entirely by cell phone or Twitter), some of this efficiency can come from making better use of your time and content and better dividing content between the print and the Web, as appropriate.

Here are a few of the suggestions I provided during my presentation, several of which I also wrote about in an earlier blog entry.

Maximize Time and Content
1. Know What Readers Want

  • Conduct user surveys and study viewership statistics to determine what they’re reading, what they’re skipping, what they don’t know exists, and what they want.

2. Plan Ahead

  • When planning print articles months in advance, determine how the information and research can best be divided into print and Web. What information will work best in a print article vs. a Web feature? (For example, a verbatim Q&A sidebar in print may be better suited for a quick video or podcast on the Web.) Knowing in advance will make it easier to gather and organize the information.
  • Edit interesting, unused parts of interviews into Web videos or podcasts (or a series of). Tease this content in the print article.
  • Seek out extra diagrams, charts, forms, illustrations, or other potential downloads from sources. Tease this content in the print article.

3. Make Use of Unused Content

  • Even if pages are being cut, have writers provide the same amount of content. Turn excess into Web-exclusive stories and sidebars.
  • Turn unused images into online slide shows.

Multifamily Executive Design Awards: Only the “Grand” winners were featured in the print publication. Online expansion allowed for “Merit” winners to be featured with text and photos. All winners were expanded online to include many more photos than could fit in print.

Custom Home Design Awards: An online slide show offered many more pictures from each winner than print would allow. The online coverage also provided lists of products in each home.

  • Run unused charts and graphs from exclusive research online.
  • Make sure “extra” content is valuable. If you lead your readers to the Web for mere fluff, they won’t come back.

4. Maximize Trade Show Coverage

  • Coordinate ahead of time who is covering what. Choose a lead person to collect and edit everything so that styles, etc. match and to ensure there is no overlap or contradiction.
  • Share content across multiple magazines and Web sites within your company covering same show.
  • Compile content into special edition of your e-newsletter.
  • Use content in print later, focusing on analysis that couldn’t be done in the breaking news format.

5. Consider the Reverse: Web to Print

  • Plan ahead (see previous) to determine what aspects of a story can be covered immediately and what can wait for print.
  • Works well with trade show coverage.
  • Turn online articles into news briefs in print.
  • Conduct online user surveys; offer expanded results, with charts, in print.

This Multifamily Executive article is an excellent example of deciding what works best for online and what works best for print. The article originated online as a breaking news package. The staff then repurposed portions of the article, with updated information and broader analysis, in print.

6. Make Use of Cheap and Free Labor

  • Many interns and entry-level editors are freshly trained in daily journalism and are eager to contribute and get clips. Web writing is a great, low-risk way to get them involved and help them get acclimated to your industry more quickly.
  • Recruit guest commentary columns or blog entries from those you profile in print.
  • Recruit industry experts who are eager to offer their expertise or analysis. (Make sure content is valuable to the reader and is not self-serving or biased.)

Got More Content? Get People There
1. Use Web Drivers in Print

  • “What’s Online” box in TOC or elsewhere. Be specific; don’t have the same text every month or no one will look in the box.
  • In print articles, provide links to existing, but still related and relevant, content.
  • Use teasers (again, be specific) within or at the end of print articles for extra, related content on the Web.

2. Use E-Newsletters

  • Link to recent articles, blog items, and user surveys on the Web site.
  • Offer special editions for the release of the print issue and for trade show coverage.
  • Pay attention to viewership statistics. Tweak subject lines, layout, and content to suit readership.

3. Keep Them Clicking

  • Use metadata to fill out “related articles” fields that appear on the side or the bottom of Web articles.
  • Use “most read” or “most emailed” lists to point readers to other interesting content.
  • Use clear, newsy headlines. Change catchy headlines from print articles into news-style heads for the Web version.

Please share this page with your friends and colleagues.