Happy New Year!
DFW Chapter President
At a recent networking event for commercial real estate folks, I heard a guy joke that "Y-2-ten, we all win!" He was trying to stay positive in light of dismal business, but maybe he's on to something. There is something to be said for having a positive attitude.
Here's to wishing each of you a prosperous and well employed New Year!
President's Letter: It’s all about brand at Symposium
Hardly a day goes by, it seems, when publishing gurus (or, closer to home, our own publishers and editorial directors) aren’t urging us to latch onto the latest social media or tech craze.
We all need to make our copy SEO-friendly and communicate with our readers via Twitter, online forums and blogs, we’re told, lest our trade magazines and newsletters become dinosaurs without a following.
Put service journalism into practice
Amid all the prognosticating, it’s easy to lose sight of how our B2B publications became the respected industry voices they are today: by practicing outstanding service journalism and investing in core assets that strengthen the brand. That lesson was brought home to the assembled attendees at last month’s ASBPE 2009 Digital Symposium.
A theme of the gathering was that B2B writers and editors can, where appropriate, leverage social media, search, and data aggregation tools to better engage readers in issues important to their respective fields. But they also stressed that such tools will only be effective if they serve the needs of one’s audience and a publication’s brand objectives.
Hinda Chalew of Staffing Industry Analysts, one of three presenters on the B2B social communities panel, said that editors at her firm’s three B2B pubs make extensive use of blogs, virtual events, surveys, and online social journalism tools. But the editors don’t use Facebook, My Space, or other Web communities. The reason: Most of the publications’ readers, decision-makers who supply and buy temporary staffing, don’t frequent these sites.
Knowledgeable writers provide substantive content
InfoWorld editor-in-chief Eric Knorr, a speaker on the panel about organizing print and online editorial teams, said his information technology magazine went through an “identity crisis” in April 2007 when it became an online-only publication. That wrenching change forced the magazine to reexamine, and ultimately give greater prominence to, the core assets that underpin the publication’s brand loyalty: InfoWorld’s top writers and bloggers, most of whom work (or have worked) in IT.
For Jim Sulecki, director of emedia, Meister Media, a publisher of specialty magazines for agricultural professionals, the use of online media has done wonders to generate Web traffic. Fresh Air Forum, a “cluster” community for professionals in ornamental horticulture, boasts nearly 700 members, the largest of the publisher’s online forums. Yet, Sulecki said such communities won’t realize their full potential until they’re integrated with the publisher’s brand sites: Cotton Grower, Crop Life, Precision Ag, and 14 other publications that serve agricultural professionals. (ASBPE members: See story in ASBPE member newsletter, November/December 2009, page 7 - 556K PDF.)
Edit for the busy reader: Clarity over cleverness
Few B2B editors have enjoyed as much success in leveraging social media and other Web tools as Technologizer editor Harry McCracken, the symposium’s kick-off speaker (see story on page 3 of the November/December member newsletter - 556K PDF). Since July 2008, McCracken’s online following rocketed from zero to 500,000 subscribers, thanks in part to his mastery of social media tools and certain “new essentials” (such as the ability to work in real time) the online world requires.
But McCracken emphasized that other, old writing essentials are also key to building and maintaining a superior brand. Among them: Emphasizing clarity over cleverness; pushing takeaways to the top; practicing the best service journalism you know how; and making content so good that people want to tell the world about it.
High-Quality Advertorials Happen More Often if Editors Contribute Ideas
Does “advertorial” deserve its rep among editors as a way to cloak a sales pitch in the guise of legitimate content? Or is it a marketing opportunity waiting to happen if handled creatively by a publisher/editor team?
When mishandled, advertorial management can be a nightmare from start to finish. On the other hand, the technique provides a way to offer B2B customers exclusivity that will make their message stand out from the crowd.
I started thinking about advertorials the other day as I was leafing through a bunch of digital magazines. Although there are supposed to be wondrous things you can do via animation, most content presentation was absolutely flat. Animated advertorials undoubtedly would be a knock-out. Whether they are affordable in this current economy is another story.
Anyway, in my VP/editorial director days, I supervised editorial preparation for dozens of advertorials. Here is what I learned along the way:
1. Advertorials don't have to be wall-to-wall puffy product pitches. Sponsored sections with a how-to, high-value editorial flavor can be sold if the right prototype is part of the presentation.By this time, some of you may be wondering why I have taken up your time with a marketing matter. Is the above information going to make you a better editor? Actually, it might. Meanwhile, understanding your role as a marketer will make you a better publisher. And we are in the publishing business, not the editing business.
2. Editors must be involved in the planning stage because they are in the best position to identify newsworthy angles that dovetail with the prospect's marketing objectives.
3. Don't pin yourself down to the traditional standard-size format. Newsletters and even a series of one-page bulletins can make for a terrific campaign.
4. One editorial element that may close the sale is inclusion of exclusive research of interest to the magazine's readership.
5. Have a contract that includes a deadline schedule covering a minimum 90-day period. This allows time for copy to be written and clearances to be obtained.
6. You need a designated contact at the client's company. Ideally that individual is somebody with enough clout to push things through.
7. Full-time staff editors should not be involved in writing advertorial copy.
8. “Show-in-print” sections are a multisponsor project that sometimes can turn a revenue-losing issue into a big winner.
9. Don't run advertorials sponsored by competitors in the same issue.
10. Despite your best efforts in terms of up-front planning, some projects will fail. And selling multipage supplements is no easy task. Even in the face of these difficulties, creative advertorials should be an option highlighted in your publication's marketing menu.
5 Things to Consider When Converting to a Digital-only Magazine
ASBPE Chicago Chapter Vice President
I recently spoke with Sara Zailskas, Assistant Managing Editor of Housing Giants. The digital magazine recently won a National Gold Digital Azbee award for General Excellence in the digital magazine category.
Sara was able to speak about the process of converting a print magazine into a digital-only magazine. She spoke honestly about overcoming hurdles and the current status of the magazine:
How did you decide which magazine to convert to a digital-only magazine?
Our publisher and editorial director looked at what our audiences wanted and how those wants worked within our needs as a magazine. Going digital also allowed Reed Business Information to test new ways of working with digital publications, which we’d been using for some time in their simplest forms (converting PDFs to a flipbook, for example). It was a natural and exciting step, and other magazines within RBI have made the switch since.
What were the initial steps you took when preparing to convert the print magazine into digital?
We looked at all aspects of the magazine, from the production schedule to design, and asked a lot of questions: how much would our editorial production process have to change to publish a digital magazine? What needed to change about our design to make it reader-friendly on a computer screen? What type of content would we need to make the most of digital journalism capabilities?
And of course, none of this would have been addressed without examining the cost factor, too. If publishing a digital magazine were more expensive than a print publication, we likely wouldn’t have even considered it given the state of the economy at the time and our audience’s wants and needs. The benefits of digital capabilities extended to our advertisers, too. We heard that agencies were thrilled to be able to create multimedia ads.
What were the biggest roadblocks you faced during the conversion process?
Surprisingly, the things we thought would be a huge challenge weren’t: we successfully took our editorial production schedule from six publications a year to 23, and preparing our product for digital production was much easier than we anticipated. We knew the adjustment for our audience would be significant, but our feedback from readers told us we were doing the right thing. Don’t get me wrong; some people hated the conversion, but the majority contacted us in support.
The challenges came when silly, simple technology things wouldn’t work; for example, we’d submit a file in the right format but it wouldn’t play correctly. Those situations always worked out, but it sometimes took a lot more time than we would have liked.
The other main challenge – and I expected this – was to get writers to wrap their heads around digital storytelling. Considering audio and visuals – and Flash illustration possibilities and such – truly is a new approach to planning an article that doesn’t always come naturally if you’ve been doing journalism a certain way for years. My advice would be to help writers brainstorm audio/visual opportunities, then follow up with them to make sure they come in with the final submission. And if they don’t, send ’em back out until audio/visual components are included.
Which processes needed to be changed and how when it came to acquiring and using the digital media?
On the editorial side, we budgeted extra time for planning multimedia components with our writers as well as preparing those components for inclusion. We have an editing department, but it still takes time to select how you want something edited, write up supporting text to accompany it for the publication, etc.
We also had a couple days built into our production schedule to test and review the final product. We essentially had a traditional “to printer” deadline, which is when our files were due to our digital publication vendor, and a “blast” deadline, which is when all the wrinkles had to be worked out of the digital magazine after it was put together by our vendor and then made live.
What is the status of the magazine now?
I like to think of our status as taking Gold in the first Digital Azbees, which our staff is really proud of. But unfortunately we published our last issue in April. Housing Giants, which is for home-building industry executives, launched right when not only builders began going out of business, but a wave of manufacturers – our advertisers – began shuttering. The goal is to relaunch it in better economic conditions.
We're Looking for a Few Good Judges
ASBPE is looking for a few good judges for the 2010 AZBEE Awards of Excellence.
At this point in the "looking for judges" blog post I usually point out all the good things you're likely to learn from the judging experience. For instance, you'll develop a sense for which entries' mission statements and essays work and don't work.
But after rounding up judges for the 2009 print and digital competitions I've come up with an even more compelling reason: your colleagues in the business press need you to share your editorial and design acumen more than ever.
As you probably are aware, the publishing industry has been particularly hard hit by the current economic crisis. Many of our B2B colleagues have either been laid off or forced to work the same job for less pay.
No matter how rewarding, finding the time to volunteer is hard enough when the economy is firing on all cylinders. But it's almost impossible when there are more pressing concerns such as finding employment.
If you're one of those lucky people out there that is still working in a senior editorial or design position, please consider judging. Judging is also open to successful freelancers.
Besides the warm feelings and practical experience, you'll receive $75 in “ASBPE bucks,” which may be applied toward membership dues, fees for chapter events or the national conference, or ASBPE books.
Of course, not everyone can be a judge. ASBPE is looking for people who have a proven track record of success in the B2B publishing industry. Find out if you have what it takes by e-mailing ASBPE's judging coordinator Katy Tomasulo at ktomasulo @ hanleywood.com.
Azbee Web Site of the Year
BusinessWeek: Audience engagement boosts traffic
Digital journalism isn’t just about providing multimedia content. To be effective, that content has to actively engage readers, drawing them into discussions with B2B reporters and editors, and with each other. So said BusinessWeek.com Technology & Science Channel editor Tom Giles during the Web Site of the Year presentation at ASBPE’s Digital Symposium last month.
“Today, context is just as important as content,” said Giles.
At last count:
- Unique monthly visitors stood at 10.2 million, up from 6.4 million in 2006.
- Monthly page-views total 50.4 million, a 20.3 percent rise over the 41.9 million recorded in 2006.
- Most accessed links are video and podcast feeds, which nab, respectively more than 500,000 and 820,000 visitors a month.
- Page views driven by search engines are up 45 percent over the last four years.
- BusinessWeek.com's sister site, Business Exchange, now claims more than 32,000 registered users.
- The most active topic, social networking, boasted more than 2,051 new articles and 255 users on Nov. 25.
To encourage reader engagement, Business Exchange sports a “Featured User” box for the individual who has contributed the largest number of posts to a particular topic; and a “What’s Your Idea” section where readers can suggest stories for the magazine.
Note: A longer version of this article appears in the November/December 2009 ASBPE Editor’s Notes member newsletter; it is also available on the ASBPE web site.
Warren Hersch is the ASBPE national president and senior editor for National Underwriter Life & Health.
The Print Azbees
A change in the basic divisions of the 2010 annual Print Azbees Awards of Excellence contest will make small publications more competitive. Instead of being circulation-based, the awards will be revenue-based to help ensure a fairer and more balanced awards program. The deadline for entries is January 25, 2010.
As before, ASBPE will accept online electronic entries for most categories. But 2010 will be the last year in which the Society will accept hard copy nominations.
Entrants for the various print categories will find instructions online on how to make a low-resolution PDF and will be informed of a successful upload. For better entry preparation, a well-written mission statement, geared for judging purposes, will be posted.
Although entrants can still send hard copies, most categories will be available for PDF submission, including design entries. Some categories, such as those needing entire issues, will still require hard copies.
Call for entries
ASBPE will email the entry form to publications nationwide. Reminder postcards will be mailed in December.
Submitting online will carry a lower entry fee than submitting hard copy:
- Members, $75 for entering online; $105 for entering hard copies.
- Nonmembers, $85 for online; $115 for hard copies.
- Fees for the Magazine of the Year are slightly higher.
The 2010 competition maintains most of the editorial and design categories from last year. Newsletter categories have been combined into two: Newsletter General Excellence and Newsletter Article. Individual/ Company Profile is now two separate categories (“Individual” and “Company”). Additionally, “human interest” has been removed from the Humorous/Fun category.
New Contest Divisions
Two sets of awards will be given in each print magazine editorial and design category, and in the Magazine of the Year competition. However, the 2010 competition divisions will be defined not by circulation, as in prior years, but rather by revenue. This change is being implemented to ensure a more fair and balanced competition.
At the close of the contest deadline, revenue figures will be aggregated from all of the competition entry forms and a median value will be calculated from the data. Entries of publications that fall below the median — one-half of the total number of publications participating in the contest — will be placed in a “Small Publications” division. The balance of entries will be placed in a “Large Publications” division.
Each entry is read by multiple, experienced judges with background in business publications. Their introduction to each entry is a required one-page cover letter describing the publication’s mission, readership, the enterprising work that went into the entry, and its significance to readers.
The Magazine of the Year judging panel analyzes three consecutive issues of a publication for quality of writing, reporting, and editing; editorial organization; layout and design; value to readers; and interaction with readers.
Print Editorial judging typically is based on quality of writing, reporting, and editing; development of the subject; presentation; and value to readers. Print Design judging typically is based on layout and composition; use of typography, graphics, and photography; content; originality; relevance to the related story or publication; and how easily the entry communicates useful information to the reader.
As always, award finalists will be notified in advance of the national and regional awards banquets. For 2010, all entrants will be notified by e-mail.
The Azbees will include gold, silver, and bronze awards nationally and regionally at the judges’ discretion.
Azbee awards banquet
National awards will be presented during the ASBPE annual National Editorial Conference in July 2010 in Chicago. Details for regional awards ceremonies will be announced later.
For more information, please visit our Web site at http://www.asbpe.org/ or phone 630-510-4588; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Funds New Business Journalism Fellowship at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard has been awarded a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to establish a new annual fellowship for business journalists. The grant additionally renews funding for the Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellowship in Community Journalism, which has been awarded by the Nieman Foundation each year since 2005.
The Reynolds grant, which totals $918,130, will cover the cost of fellowships for one business journalist and one community journalist per year for the next five academic years, beginning in September 2010.
In announcing the grant, Nieman Foundation Curator Bob Giles said, “As economic stories continue to dominate the headlines and business news becomes increasingly complex, it’s essential that reporters and editors have an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. During their year at Harvard, the new business journalism fellows will be able to explore topics ranging from management and investment theories to basic economics and personal finance and even law and international politics. We are grateful to the Reynolds Foundation for its generous support of this important venture.”
The Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellowship in Business Journalism will enable journalists to gain in-depth knowledge of business, finance and economics, make important connections to leaders within the field of business, both within academia and the business-related professions, and become a contributing part of the Reynolds Business Journalism Network.
The fellows may take full advantage of the rich resources of Harvard University, including Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School and the Department of Economics.
Candidates for the Reynolds Fellowship in Business Journalism should be well established professional journalists from the United States with substantial experience in business journalism or a related field. They may be employed by a news organization or do freelance work and may report or edit in any type of media. Interested applicants can learn more about the new fellowship online at http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/.
In conjunction with the new business journalism fellowship, the Nieman Foundation also envisions expanding its relationship with the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University as well as the Reynolds endowed chairs in business journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism, Washington and Lee University and the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Donald W. Reynolds Nieman Fellowship in Community Journalism recognizes and supports exceptional journalists who have made a commitment to covering their local communities and to increasing the visibility and perceived value of community journalism.
Since 2005, U.S. journalists at local daily newspapers with circulation of less than 50,000 have been eligible to apply for the fellowship. Beginning in the 2010-2011 academic year, the terms of eligibility will be extended to include journalists from local weeklies with a paid circulation of 50,000 or less. Journalists doing online work for community newspapers or journalists who have established independent local news Web sites in communities where the circulation of the local newspaper is less than 50,000 may also apply.
Since its inception, the Reynolds Nieman Fellowship in Community Journalism has supported journalists from small newsrooms with limited resources. In granting these fellowships, the Nieman Foundation has enabled community journalists to pursue a course of study at Harvard, network with their peers from news organizations around the globe, build a network of professional contacts and receive specialized training designed to help them excel in their jobs.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is one of the 50 largest private foundations in the United States and has invested more than $100 million in its National Journalism Initiative.
Established in 1938, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard administers the oldest midcareer fellowship program for journalists in the world. The fellowships are awarded to working journalists of accomplishment and promise who travel to Harvard University for a year of study, seminars and special events. More than 1,300 journalists from 89 countries have received Nieman Fellowships. The Nieman Foundation also publishes the quarterly magazine Nieman Reports, the nation’s oldest magazine devoted to a critical examination of the practice of journalism, and is home to the Nieman Journalism Lab, which identifies emerging business models and best practices in journalism in the digital media age. Additionally, the foundation runs the Nieman Narrative Digest, a compendium of exceptional narrative journalism, and the Nieman Watchdog, a Web-based project that encourages journalists to monitor and hold accountable all those who exert power in public life.
For more information, go to http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/