Spring 2013 | Vol. 13, No. 1 | Digital Edition
Navigating the New Content Continuum
At Stratton’s Smart Media Roundtable, content experts call for experimentation, strategy, and nimbleness
It’s safe to say that the days of developing a single article solely for a print publication are well behind us. Today’s publishing environment is drastically different than it was even five years ago—challenging all of us to think faster and create strategies for content integration across departments and on different platforms.
We recently hosted a group of senior association media professionals for another in our Smart Media Roundtable series, to nosh on the notions of content development and how organizations are responding in the real world. These ongoing luncheon roundtables bring together industry leaders to share “collaborative thinking on today’s critical issues.” Moderated by Stratton’s Manager, Custom Publishing & Media, Josephine Rossi, the lively forum featured a group of communicators and publishing executives who weren’t afraid to envision a new and different future for association communications, one where content has no boundaries and is ever-evolving.
Among the big topics discussed at this session on the future of content were these:
Risk taking is key to responding to the changing media environment. “Our CEO’s edict was that we have to experiment about a third of the time,” says Nathan Nickens, senior director for professional affairs with the Assisted Living Federation of America. “We’ve made lots of mistakes, but we came to a conclusion as an entire team, across all departments, that we were going take lots of risks.” Other attendees also shared stories of online communities and publications launched and shuttered and the lessons learned in the process.
A centralized content strategy is ideal, but creating one can be overwhelming. “Knowledge management is big and messy,” says Joe Rominiecki, senior editor at the American Society of Association Executives. Coordinating among a variety of departments can be an uphill climb. A combination of top-down leadership support and efforts to educate other departments about the benefits of a coordinated approach to content development can be key. Nickens predicts that “the future is a dotted line in the org chart to the content people from every department.”
Expanding skill sets are needed to effectively leverage the variety of media channels available. Participants envisioned a future where association communicators would develop flexible professional skills, allowing them to jump from writing to photography to infographic creation with greater ease. “It’s that mindset of nimbleness—that mindset of ‘I can make it work,’” says Lisa Junker, director of communications for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
“Content is everywhere, and our job is finding it and filtering it through the various channels,” adds Amanda Charney, director of publications for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
While responsibilities are changing, job titles, for the most part, are not. No one reported new, cross-cutting titles related to content development at their own associations, although some had seen titles like “content developer” or “content strategist” at other organizations. And while the trendier titles may seem appropriate at the time, they could be a challenge down the road as resumes look dated.
Print’s long-term prospects are dependent on evolving reader preferences. Association members continue to express a preference for print, and as long as the financial equation continues to make sense, association and trade publishers will provide that print experience. But even if print readers dwindle, there will still be an audience for credible, well-presented information on niche topics. That information might be provided through a website, a tablet, or some entirely new platform, but the need for knowledge and the desire for engaging storytelling will remain. “It’s not a question of what magazines do, it’s a question of what people’s preferences will be for consumption of information,” says Rominiecki.
For the complete whitepaper on this discussion, click here.
We want to hear from you! Share your insights and strategies for managing content development in this changing media landscape in our Smart Media Roundtables LinkedIn Group. Join the group and the discussion today!
Ready, Set, Write!
3 questions to determine if a daily news pub is right for your organization
If it seems like your inbox is a little fuller these days, it’s not your imagination. A growing trend among association publishers is to produce “daily” publications for members and nonmembers alike.
While this strategy has been successful for several organizations, it isn’t right for everyone, so doing your homework is imperative. Ask yourself these fundamental questions before deciding to launch a daily of your own:
1. Do Your Readers Want It? Before committing time and money to a daily pub, make sure your audience will read daily news.
The American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Associations Now Daily News, which launched in October, is one example of a daily publication targeting an Internet-savvy readership with up-to-date information. The e-newsletter is pushed out at 8 a.m. each business day to members and other industry professionals who opt in. Articles focus on news about associations as well as how current events are impacting the association world at large. “We look at what’s trending and make it important for our audience,” explains Julie Shoop, vice president/editor-in-chief of Associations Now.
Each Daily News features seven or eight articles, most of which were posted the previous day to the Associations Now website, then assembled into a newsletter format. Several staff members work with a consulting partner to accomplish this daily task. “Our goal is to show the importance of associations in general,” says Shoop.
2. Can Your Budget Support It? Developing a strategy to keep members informed, increase your organization’s visibility, or drive traffic to your website is necessary, as is a strong business plan. Although turning a profit with a new daily pub may not be the goal for most organizations, at least offsetting costs will be.
ASAE began its daily with a three-year vision, expecting to recoup its investment by the end of 2015. The greatest revenue increases are expected to come from new advertisers to the website.
Advertising revenue also is part of the business plan for American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Public Power Daily, pushed out to members. Each day, several articles are written by staff and emailed out by an industry partner that completes the design and sells advertising to accompany the copy, explains Jeannine Anderson, editor.
3. Can You Keep Up With the Pace? “A daily schedule is pretty relentless,” warns Anderson. “If you decide to launch a daily, you need to be able to work on a tight
Mark Alves, senior web marketing manager at the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), suggests establishing a pipeline of articles before launching a daily. NFIB approaches daily publishing from a different perspective, releasing one new article per day rather than an entire newsletter.
Unlike ASAE and APPA, NFIB’s goal is not to publish “breaking news” but to show real-world examples of problem-solving for small business owners. The articles are edited by staff for search engine optimization, driving new visitors to NFIB’s website, where advertisers also can purchase space.
“We publish a daily unique how-to article aimed at small business owners,” explains Alves. “We post it on our website and send it out through Twitter and Facebook” to a large cadre of nonmembers.
While ASAE, NFIB, and APPA have found ways to incorporate daily publishing into their strategies, you’ll need to find an approach that meets your organization’s unique needs. “Before you begin, know how you will measure success,” adds Alves. “Then have some fun with it.”
Help Us Help You Find More Revenue
Angerosa Research Foundation launches study, announces scholarship recipients
Association publishers are continually challenged to find new ways to leverage technology, assets, and markets to expand revenues. And for the first time, the Angerosa Research Foundation—a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the association publishing and communication professions through industry research—is gathering data on diverse sources of media-related nondues revenue. Results from the study will be used to develop benchmarks for organizations to compare their own practices and identify new areas for revenue expansion.
The Association Publishing/Media Nondues Revenue Study was launched to gauge how association publishers are building new and existing revenue streams in their publications and e-media. The study, now in the field, investigates advertising and paid sponsorships across all types of media, including periodicals, books, digital publications, websites, social media, and apps. It aims to breakdown revenue by media type, assess staff compensation practices, determine sales policy best practices, and much more.
Findings from the study are expected to be released this spring, and association executives across all industries are encouraged to complete the questionnaire online at www.angerosaresearch.org (or scan the QR code at right) in order to ensure solid data that can be accessed by all organizations. All participants will receive an Executive Summary of the findings and a discount on purchasing the full report as well as a chance to win an Apple iPad. For every response received, the Foundation also will donate $20 to the Red Cross for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The Association Publishing/Media Nondues Revenue Study has been made possible in part by a generous donation from Cummings Printing of Hooksett, New Hampshire. Since 2003, the Foundation has released four groundbreaking studies, including Web 2.0: How Associations Are Tapping Social Media and E-Publishing Trends & Metrics, which examines associations’ practices regarding electronic publications and online content. The Foundation’s inaugural report, Association Publishing Benchmarking Study, provides financial data and metrics on association magazine and journal publishing and has become widely recognized as an industry standard.
Rising Star Scholars Named
The Foundation also has selected four emerging communications leaders as the recipients of its 2013 Rising Star Scholarships:
• Philip George, associate manager, marketing and communications, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
• Sandy Laycox, writer/editor, National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems
• Brendan McEntee, publications manager and managing editor, American Society of Addiction Medicine
• Debra Woodfork, production and design manager, Association of Corporate Counsel.
Each $1,000 scholarship will provide tuition assistance as these individuals expand their publishing and communications knowledge at the Association Media & Publishing 2013 Annual Meeting, Poynter Media Institute sessions, and the 2013 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition. Since the inception of the scholarship program in 2008, 18 educational scholarships have been awarded.
“These four ambitious individuals demonstrated an impressive level of drive and leadership to advance the missions of their organizations,” says Debra J. Stratton, president of Stratton Publishing & Marketing and founder of the Angerosa Research Foundation. “We heard from many outstanding candidates this year, and we are pleased to help further their development through our program. I’m sure we will see big things from these talented young professionals in the future.”
The Rising Star Scholarship recipients will be honored at a reception during the AM&P 2013 Annual Meeting, June 9-11 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C.
In search of new talent, some association publishers find the value lies within
As today’s publishing challenges continue to test the skill sets of association communicators, some organizations are finding their next copy editor or production manager not in the want ads but in the office down the hall. With the right training and encouragement from management, seemingly unlikely candidates have the potential to become long-term leaders with a deep understanding of the organization, its membership, and its mission.
Mining the Talent
In her 14+ years with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Michele Tillson says her title—first administrative assistant and now lead publishing and member communications coordinator—has changed several times. “Over time, I took the initiative to ask staff if they had any assignments that I could do to help them with,” she says. That drive helped her better understand the publishing process and sparked her interest in higher-level editorial work.
With funding from the APTA’s professional development budget, Tillson took intense courses in proofreading, editing, grammar, and copyediting, and worked to learn the American Medical Association style. APTA provides financial assistance for any staff to pursue continuing education courses, as long as they are relevant to his or her current position or provide for future professional advancement within the organization. “Loyalty can work both ways,” says Tillson. “If [employees] know that the effort they invest in their work will be rewarded in the long run, they’ll perform better and want to go above and beyond to meet the organization’s goals.”
Such engagement with employees is a key element of grooming in-house talent, says Patty Hampton, CSP, vice president and managing partner of Nonprofit HR Solutions. In addition to encouraging employees who show interest in growing their skill sets, managers also should actively assess staff to identify high performers who may be a good fit for leadership roles outside their current departments.
At the American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association (AOPA), leaders tapped Membership, Meetings, and Operations Coordinator Steve Custer to run the in-house production of its monthly magazine, O&P Almanac. Now, Custer writes and researches news briefs, organizes and tracks sales materials, and manages the in-house review process.
To help develop his production skills, Custer shadowed AOPA’s former communications manager. Working alongside the manager helped him gain efficient production management skills, says Custer, while still fulfilling his duties as coordinator. With the association’s support, he now is pursuing professional writing classes in order to take on more in-depth writing assignments for the magazine.
Hitting Pay Dirt
Although they may require some skills training to take on higher-level roles, in-house candidates have the broader advantages of institutional knowledge and understanding the need to serve members—both of which are critical to success.
“By assigning me the roles and responsibilities of production manager,” says Custer, “my overall knowledge of the orthotics and prosthetics industry has grown significantly, as well as helped establish a potential leadership position for me in AOPA’s future.” Custer’s expanded duties bring him greater satisfaction on the job, and as a result of AOPA’s investment, he plans to pursue communications and marketing in his long-term career path.
5 Tips for Grooming In-House Talent:
1. Emphasize upward mobility - Assess the candidate not just for the vacant position, but for the future success and sustainability of the association.
2. Evaluate employee engagement - Identify skills and personal interests that tie in with the organization’s strategic goals, giving employees an authentic interest in driving your mission forward.
3. Coach professional development - Individually or as a team, guide employees to understand the strategies behind their projects and how they directly relate to the organization’s goals.
4. Conduct “stay interviews” - Review employees’ progress and determine if it’s necessary to redirect or retool their efforts.
5. Stress accountability for all - Driving results is not just for leaders—associations can remain vibrant and sustainable by creating clear succession plans that address the impact of growing leaders from within.
Idea Swap: Which social media monitoring tools does your association use?
“We do most of our social media monitoring ourselves. We send our newsletters through Real Magnet, which allows you to simultaneously send a newsletter; post to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; and look at all the open rates together. That information is so valuable—and eye-opening. I didn’t realize the power of Twitter to disseminate our newsletters until seeing those numbers together. When there’s no time to look at the whole picture, the easiest thing to convey is the number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers and how much they’ve grown over time. Those numbers are easy for non-staff (e.g., the Board, corporate sponsors, etc.) to digest.”
“Metrics, analytics, and tools to help us create deeper connections with our members and prospects have become an integral part of our social media program. HootSuite provides my daily social dashboard. I like that I can set up my own streams to follow and use it as a back channel to communicate with staff for online follow up. Two tools have proven valuable in my work: Simply Measured and Radian6. Simply Measured helps me to see, in an easy-to-follow format, the growth of our online network across multiple channels, how our campaigns and hashtags are performing, and where we need improvement. I think listening is a key to a good social media program and I use Radian6 as a listening tool. It helps me find those relevant conversations about our services, products, as well as trends within the profession and determine our online influencers.”
Sybil Walker Barnes
“AADE uses one tool currently—HootSuite—to monitor our social media outlets, which include Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We like the ability to manage