No Solid Answer to 'What’s Next for B2B?'

By Marisa Palmieri
Cleveland ASBPE Vice President

There was lively discussion and many interesting ideas shared at the Cleveland chapter of American Society of Business Publication Editors’ meeting this week. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, there weren’t any concrete answers to the panel topic of the day: “What’s next for B2B?”

Panelists included:
  • Nathan Kievman, a social media strategist and trainer who cofounded Woovertise, a social media marketing company.

  • Richard Jones, group editor for Meister Media Worldwide’s ornamental publications, including Greenhouse Grower, Today’s Garden Center and Ornamental Outlook.

  • Joe Pulizzi, founder and chief content officer of Junta42, a content marketing/custom publishing community, search engine and resource, including Junta42 Match – a free Web service that helps businesses and marketing professionals connect with publishing vendors to produce content projects. He’s coauthor of Get Content Get Customers.

  • Mike Malley, a veteran publisher, sales manager and editor at two Cleveland-based B2B publishing companies; he’s currently director of advertising sales for Crain’s Cleveland Business.
Much of the discussion focused on social media and how editors and publishing companies are and can be using these tools to leverage their brands.

Kievman acknowledged that the return-on-investment figures for social media are still unknown, but he said it’s all about moving traffic. Any effort that goes into social media should be part of an organization’s larger strategy. Establish a goal and drive the traffic generated from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other tools to one destination.

“Funnel it all to one place where you can capture whatever it is you’re going for, whether that’s eyeballs on a message, traffic to a landing page or a spot where you’re capturing e-mail addresses,” Kievman says.

Jones described Meister’s recent Web and social media developments as “deliberate” rather than “cutting edge,” because many of the publications’ readers are rural and have only recently converted from dial-up Internet to high-speed services.

Over the last year, Meister publications like Greenhouse Grower have upgraded their sites to include Web 2.0 features like video and podcasts. Editors also are exploring social media. They’ve established a social network for readers via, and they’re Twittering, too.

The biggest challenge, he says, is staying on top of all the new efforts. To do so, each magazine group has named one editor as an online editor.

“Though it’s not a management-level position, we’re treating this as a leadership position,” Jones said. “It’s more than just data-entry and the mechanics of it.”

Ultimately, it’s taking some effort to get print-minded editors to adapt to the Web, but with some encouraging, they’re coming along, he said. Though they’re not making money off social media directly, the goal is engagement and driving traffic to their Web site.

Pulizzi challenged attendees to think of their top five customers as their competitors. If customers are not already creating content that competes with the industry’s trade magazines, they soon will be, he says. Marketers are realizing their Web sites have to be more than virtual storefronts – they need to provide resources to their customers, whether that includes discussion forums or blogs with best-practices information.

“Fifty percent of the advertising dollars they’re pulling back on are going into creating their own content,” Pulizzi said. “Right now 30 percent of customers’ marketing budgets are going to their own content and 70 percent is spent on paid placement. Over the next decade, that will flip.”

Malley shared that Crain’s Cleveland Business, which sees itself more as a weekly newspaper than a traditional B2B publication, is primarily in cost-control mode due to the economy. The big question is, “What does Crain’s want to be when we emerge?”

Malley doesn’t have the answer, but he says at some point the publication will go all digital – whether that’s in three, five or 10 years, he’s not sure, especially because digital sales currently only make up 1 percent of the magazine’s top-line revenue.

One trend Malley sees is a continued focus on aggregators. For example, Crain’s Morning News Roundup e-newsletter is one of its most successful digital products. It typically only includes a few Crain’s stories and it aggregates all of the business news from around the state.

What does that prove? Regardless of who’s creating the content, it’s incumbent upon B2B publications to deliver what their readers want. As Malley says, “Relevancy matters.”

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TABPI Launches First Editorial Challenge

By Paul J. Heney
ASBPE Past President
TABPI President

Last year, TABPI sponsored our first Design Challenge. The goal of this program was to show how much creativity and talent there is in the b2b design world. We asked b2b designers and art directors to design a cover for the fictional magazine “Concrete Times,” around some demands from the editor and publisher. We had a great response, and the variety of designs was fantastic. We awarded a $250 prize to the winner, and also published other honorable mention submissions at In fact, we had so much fun with the Challenge, that we repeated it earlier this year, with even better results and increased participation. In fact, the day we announced results in both 2008 and 2009, we recorded some of the largest number of unique visitors to our website ever!

In the spirit of bringing editors into the mix, we’ve just announced our first TABPI Editorial Challenge, at The $250 first place prize still applies, but now b2b editors are encouraged to write a headline, deck and lede for a story that only has so-so information. We provide you with a partial interview, a poorly written press release, and a bunch of dull quotes. Use your creative spark to turn this story—which has the potential to be a stinker—into something fresh. The deadline is May 4th, and we’d love to have your participation!

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Want to Learn HTML? Get Your Feet Wet

Photo: Martha SpizziriBy Martha Spizziri
ASBPE Web Editor

Chances are you’ve felt a bit frustrated from time to time by not knowing at least a little HTML code. Maybe you were posting a comment to a blog, but didn’t know how to make a web address clickable. Or perhaps you needed to make a simple change to some copy on a web page, such as making it bold, but couldn’t because you didn’t know HTML.

How can ASBPE help you with web training?

Let us know by taking our Web Education Needs survey. Survey ends Friday, April 24.
HTML can get a bit complicated, especially when you add Cascading Style Sheets (which are used for layouts and some of the more sophisticated type formatting). But to just learn enough so you can create links and do some basic text formatting isn’t difficult. Lest any web designers, editors or producers out there want to strangle me, though, I’ll emphasize that if you plan to start making small updates to web copy, you’d better get the okay from whoever creates your web pages.

That said, here are a few fundamentals to get you started.

Basic formatting

The first thing to remember is that most HTML tags come in pairs – an opening and a closing tag. The text to be formatted comes in between those two tags.

An opening tag takes the form of a tag between two angle brackets, like:

<b> for bold

To close the tag, use the same code, but with a forward slash after the opening angle bracket:


To get:

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.

You'd type:

Now is the time for <b>all</b> good men to come to the aid of their party.

For italics, the tags are <i> and </i>:

To get:

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.


Now is the time for <i>all</i> good men to come to the aid of their party.

Alternatively, you might see <strong></strong> tags used in place of <bold></bold> or <em></em> as the tag pair for italics. (The “em” stands for “emphasis.”) These tags allow for a bit more flexibility on the user’s part – users can choose to set their browsers so that text between <strong></strong> tags comes out in blue, say, instead of bold, or emphasized text is bold instead of italic.

Combining tags

You can use more than one tag on the same bit of text. If you want some text to appear in bold italics, for instance, you’d use the <b></b> tags together with <i></i> tags. The only rule is the tags should be “nested” in the correct order. That means that the first opening tag used should be the last one closed.

Good HTML:

<i><b>This text will appear in bold italics.</b></i>


<i><b>This text may not render as bold italic in all browsers.</i></b>

Paragraph styling

Another useful tag is the paragraph tag -- <p></p> -- which puts a line of space below a block of text

To get:

This text is enclosed between paragraph tags.

And so is this text.

And so is this text.


<p>This text is enclosed between paragraph tags.</p>
<p>And so is this text.</p>
<p>And so is this text.</p>

Note that your code doesn’t need a linespace after each paragraph – the <p></p> tags put the space in automatically. (Be aware, though, that certain tools, such as Blogger, may be set up so that you can make space between paragraphs just by hitting the “Enter” key twice, as you would in Word. In that case, the <p></p> tags will just create extra linespaces, so you can dispense with them.)

Another handy bit of code to know is <blockquote></blockquote>, to create a paragraph that’s indented.

To get:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris aliquam odio. Nam odio. Ut sollicitudin nunc non velit. Ut imperdiet, justo sit amet pellentesque egestas, erat nunc euismod lectus, id interdum sapien diam eu neque.

<blockquote> Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris aliquam odio. Nam odio. Ut sollicitudin nunc non velit. Ut imperdiet, justo sit amet pellentesque egestas, erat nunc euismod lectus, id interdum sapien diam eu neque.</blockquote>

If your block quote is more than one paragraph long, simply combine the <blockquote></blockquote> and <p></p> tags, using the <blockquote></blockquote> tags around the entire quote and the <p></p> tags around each paragraph. (Make sure the <blockquote></blockquote> tags are the first and last tags.)

To get:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris aliquam odio. Nam odio. Ut sollicitudin nunc non velit. Ut imperdiet, justo sit amet pellentesque egestas, erat nunc euismod lectus, id interdum sapien diam eu neque.

Donec id elit. Proin tempor scelerisque nulla. Fusce diam. Suspendisse aliquam. In vitae lorem sed nisl sodales fringilla. Vestibulum sed nunc. Nunc quis arcu. Fusce tempor nisi id purus. Fusce sit amet velit.

<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Mauris aliquam odio. Nam odio. Ut sollicitudin nunc non velit. Ut imperdiet, justo sit amet pellentesque egestas, erat nunc euismod lectus, id interdum sapien diam eu neque. </p>

<p> Donec id elit. Proin tempor scelerisque nulla. Fusce diam. Suspendisse aliquam. In vitae lorem sed nisl sodales fringilla. Vestibulum sed nunc. Nunc quis arcu. Fusce tempor nisi id purus. Fusce sit amet velit.</p>

Creating Links

One of the most useful tags, of course, is the tag that lets you link to other web pages. That’s also pretty simple. The tag pair is <a></a> -- the “a” stands for “anchor” -- but in this case you must add an extra bit of code to the opening tag to specify that it’s a link and where the link should point to. (That extra piece of code is called an “attribute.”)

To get:

Visit the ASBPE web site.


Visit <a href=””>the ASBPE web site</a>.

The “href” is short for “hypertext reference.” Note that the URL in the tag should be enclosed in quotes to ensure that it works properly in all browsers.

That should help you get started and take a little of the mystery out of HTML code.

Want to learn more? See our Electronic Media links.

Have your own resources to share? Let us know in the comments.

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No Matter How Painful, Editorial Productivity Should Be Analyzed

By Howard Rauch

Probably nothing good can be said about B2B’s editorial productivity dilemma. Tales of staff cutbacks in the face of heavier workloads are recounted almost every day. Under the circumstances, engagement in performance analysis can’t be delayed.

In the past, the prospect of productivity review dismayed many editors. The long-standing objection has been that quantitative values cannot be assigned to qualitative work. That attitude is past its prime. Today there are benefits to be accrued when you are able to document how long it takes to tackle the daunting task of generating content for magazines and websites.

Having said that, I want to describe a basic approach to performance analysis:
  • Each staff member should keep performance data for one or two months.

  • During that time period, document how long it takes you to engage in each of six job categories:
    (1) original writing;

    (2) editing the work of others;

    (3) travel;

    (4) production;

    (5) detail/administrative stuff like meetings, reading e-mail, general correspondence, training, interviewing job candidates, article recruitment, filing, etc.;

    (6) supervision (depending upon your position) of staff or freelance.
  • Keep separate tabulations for time spent on print vs. web.

  • Your target is an estimate of the number of days each task requires.

  • Within the framework of a given month, start with the assumption that total time spent should be equivalent to 20-22 days. Undoubtedly, your calculations will drift beyond that level.

  • To facilitate your analysis, create a time-management form that brackets time into 15-minute periods.

  • In addition to the above documentation, keep a telephone log showing time spent on incoming calls. Categorize the nature of these calls.

  • If your day load total does rise to a scary level, look for possible shortcuts. For example, a recent analysis involving a senior editor found that an unreasonable effort was being devoted to editing single manuscripts. Another time, an associate editor was spending a frightening number of hours per week surfing the web for story material. The production process often is an area where work duplication abounds. The web clearly seems to be a place where limited staffs are being asked to fulfill overly-ambitious quantitative requirements. For instance, it’s unclear whether jumping from weekly to daily e-news updating has been accompanied by necessary workload adjustments.
This is probably enough about performance analysis for you to mull in one sitting. Once an editorial staff has a realistic handle on quantitative achievement, you have a more useful way to update top management on the exceptional value you now deliver every day!

Howard Rauch is president of Editorial Solutions Inc., a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at

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Why Engaging Readers is the New Key to Success in Journalism

Photo: Steven RollBy Steven Roll
ASBPE President

In a recent speech delivered via Twitter’s John A. Byrne (@JOHNABYRNE) emphasized that the next phase of journalism will require editors and writers to get readers involved with every step of the process, from generating story ideas to filling in the missing details of a published story.

For example, Byrne said that when one of BW’s editors did a story early last year about Twitter, he tweeted the topic sentences and asked “tweeps” (his followers on Twitter) to fill in the rest. “This created terrific engagement among readers, seeded an audience for the story, and was truly innovative, Byrne said.

Part of being an editor or writer today, he noted, is learning how to create and build communities and then how to serve them.

One of BW’s editors did this last year with a story called “Social Media Will Change Your Business.” He created the story by asking readers of his blog to comment about what had changed about a story he had written three years ago on the same topic. The result was that all of that interaction was used to inform the reporting of the story and the end result really resonated, Byrne said.

Another reason why reader engagement is so important, Byrne said, is that it helps editors make better editorial judgments. “Most journalists get their respect and their reinforcement from colleagues — not the people who consume their writing. We need to understand the people we’re writing for and open up the process of journalism to improve our ability to serve them.”

Despite all of the turmoil and pain in the industry, this is an incredibly exhilarating time in journalism, Byrne said. “Never before have journalists had access to so many tools to perform their jobs more creatively than now. Never before have journalists had the advantage of having their own printing presses to do their own thing. We’ve spent too much time whining about the changes out there and not enough time taking advantage of the new opportunities.”

“You can become an entrepreneur. You can engage your readers as true partners. You can change the very nature of journalism,” Byrne concluded.

Journalism and Web 2.0 are beginning to make more sense to those participating in #editorchat on Twitter from 8:30 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. #editorchat is one of the many group discussions on various topics are held on Twitter during the week.

Why the funny looking title? You follow the dialogue on Twitter by doing a search for the term “#editorchat.” Because Twitter provides live search results, responses to the conversation pop up as they are made. Tracking the discussion in this manner also helps to avoid having to wade through tweets that are not part of #editorchat.

See you on #editorchat next Wednesday!

Follow me on Twitter at @b2beditor.

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6 Simple Steps for Starting Your Freelance Writing Blog

By Michelle V. Rafter

This blog post originally appeared on Michelle Rafter's WordCount blog and is copyright 2008 Michelle Vranizan Rafter. It is reprinted here by permission. The original post can be found here.

In the past week I heard from several writers who are thinking about starting a blog. Bravo! Now comes the hard part.

There are all kinds of reasons for blogging: building a brand, practicing different types of writing, promoting a book, putting your resume and clips online, or just getting stuff out there that you couldn’t or wouldn’t put in a paid assignment.

Though the reasons may vary, the mechanics of getting a blog started don’t. Here are six simple steps to starting your freelance writing blog:

1. Pick a niche that you’re in love with. If you’re not passionate about something, your enthusiasm for writing about it will fade. So pick something that speaks to you. Entertainment writer Jane Boursaw blogs about movies at Film Gecko. Sandra Hume, a freelance writer in Kansas, blogs about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Another freelancer, Roxanne Hawn, blogs about her dog Lily. I blog here about how digital media is changing the freelance writing business, a topic that combines my experience covering the tech business with my personal interest in keeping up with the times as a freelancer.

2. Deal with the mechanics. Once you’ve got an idea, you need to give it a home. You can set up a blog on any number of free blog sites including WordPress, Blogger or TypePad. Or you can download free software from Moveable Type or and pay a service like GoDaddy to host your blog. Most of these services have extensive FAQ sections and user forums where you can get answers to your blogging-related questions.

3. Present interesting and well-written material. There’s no right way to write blog posts. But there are some good rules of thumb. Short is good. Write like you’re talking to a friend. Vary post styles: lists, Q&As, and anything with bullet points seem to be particularly popular with readers. Blog posts that spell out your reaction to new events practically write themselves. Others that offer your original reporting or commentary take more time and effort. I included a bunch of other ideas in this post on writing great freelance blog posts and in this one on whether to plot out posts ahead of time or write on the fly.

4. Commit to posting regularly. How often you post is up to you, but doing it consistently is a sure way to increase traffic. That’s one of the main lessons I learned from my May blogathon, where I posted every day for a month. Now I blog Monday through Friday. Other freelancers I know post a couple days a week. Boursaw, the entertainment writer, writes multiple posts a day, sometimes as many as 10. Maybe it’s why traffic to her blog is through the roof.

5. Build traffic. There are all types of tips and tricks to get people to find out about your blog, including using search engine optimization or SEO to tag your blog posts so Google, Yahoo and other search engines will pick them up, and putting links into your posts. Other traffic builders: maintaining a blogroll, leaving comments on other blogs, and joining blogging networks. Here’s a list of other tips for improving traffic to your freelance blog. You can find more information on these and other techniques on sites such as Copyblogger and ProBlogger and Blogging Basics 101.

6. Have fun! Don’t freak out if your blog’s not popular right out of the gate. Unless you’re lucky or are using a blog to promote a book that’s already bestseller, it takes time for people to find you.

If you’re still not comfortable getting started, you can always take a class online or sign up for a new media seminar.

Got your own suggestions for how to start a writing blog?

Michelle V. Rafter is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore. She has spent more than 20 years covering business and technology for magazines, newspapers, wire services and Websites.

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Feeling Positive Amongst the Negatives

Photo: Tonie AuerBy Tonie Auer
DFW Chapter President

Our industry is hurting, and I'm not talking about media and journalism alone, but also B2B publishing. Two of my dear friends and former editors were laid off just a few weeks ago right after their freelance budgets were eliminated. So, now the work of four full-time editors/writers along with the contributions of multiple freelancers landed square upon the shoulders of two people. Good luck to ya'll.

I saw a post on Facebook from an ASBPE colleague that he had to lay off three highly competent journalists from his staff, too. A few days later came the post on Facebook from a friend at the Dallas Business Journal. She was now swimming in the jobless pool, too.

So, maybe it was kismet that the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the ASBPE hosted Janet White, author of Secrets of the Hidden Job Market, to talk on the topic of “Anything You Want, You Got It: A Primer on Using the Law of Attraction.”

White believes that every experience in your life stems from your thoughts, so if you believe your opportunities are limited because the economy is crummy or any other reason, you're right, because of the Law of Attraction, you're always right.

"The Law of Attraction is a metaphysical law that turns your thoughts feelings and beliefs into your experiences.Whatever you think about is what you attract. Whatever you give your focus to, good or bad, becomes your truth," White said.

White had a living example at our DFW chapter meeting: Connie Gore, a former writer for She was laid off in November when her employer eliminated positions. Gore admitted she was thinking about wanting a new challenge when the job loss occurred.

"You told the law, 'Get me out of here,' and the law complied," White told Gore. "You were focused on getting out of there and the universe shoved you out."

"What you could have done was focus on what you actually want: security and a steady financial abundance. Instead, now you’re focused on having a challenge and the universe has no problem creating challenges for Connie," White explained.

Just like working in a garden where you till the soil, plant the seed and pull the weeds, it is not a one-time effort, but weeks, months and years of tending that garden for it to grow, she said.

"You can plant consciously: This is what I choose to grow. Or you can plan unconsciously by worrying, doubting and fretting," White said.

With a four-step process, she said anyone can come to understand how powerful their thoughts are and what they can do to change their lives for the better.

The first step is to manifest your dream job. Know what you want and visualize it, she said. Don’t worry about the process of getting it.

"Create that mental vision of you having what you want and play that mental video at least three times a day because you want that image to go from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind," White said. "You are training your mind to accept this as a new reality, which helps you build your belief that you have it."

Building belief is a process that often doesn’t happen overnight, she said. It is like a daily affirmation a la Stuart Smalley. Maybe he had the right idea after all. I had to smile as I thought about "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggonit, people like me!" But, maybe she was on to something.

"Anything you say becomes your reality," White emphasized. "This is so important for you to understand. I live this stuff. I know the power of my word in my life. I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought."

White said she is "advocating changing your thinking. Move out of fear and lack and limitation and into saying yes to what you want. You’re not a victim of what is happening out there. This is the whole point, you are not a victim of conditions. When you really use this law, you will discover that conditions change because you have changed the way you look at conditions."

White's second step is to "be the person who has it." This is where a lot of people stop, she said. Take what you do with what you love and apply it to any field that you want to, she advised.

Been a real estate writer and that industry is drying up? Well, take your passion for something else and combine it with the love for writing, she recommended.

The third step is to do what feels right. "While you’re having so much fun living, thinking and acting as if you have what you desire, if you have embodied it, your intuition will start talking to you big time. It will give you instructions and you should follow those inner nudges. That is your higher self -- your guidance system -- helping navigate for you," she said.

The fourth -- and final -- step is the most difficult of them all, White said. "You must allow what will come to you and get out of your own way. The doubt, the fear, the worry has to move over. Believe that 'Yes I can have it and yes it is possible.' You may not know how it is possible, but that is the job of the universe. The universe knows stuff you will never know. You see with mortal eyes, but the universe sees things you can’t possibly know and see, when you get out of your way and move toward your goal with the right mindset you won’t have to do much at all," she explained.

White has a knack for trusting that everything she needs will come to her. "I wasn't going to make it happen, but I was going to let it happen," White recounted.

So, has it worked for me? I'm not sure yet. But, I do believe in the power of positive thinking. My husband was laid off last year and out of work for seven months. In the meantime, we trusted the Universe (or God, or whom or whatever you want to call that higher power). My faith waivered and my frustration rose, but through it all, I came back to trusting that when one door closes, another opens.

So far, so good. My power of positive thinking is keeping me busy. I've had at least three different publications eliminate their freelance budgets (therefore eliminating their need for me). I've managed to find jobs when others have disappeared, and I'm doing more work for less money overall.

Just like White said -- the hardest part for me is convincing myself that I'm not waiting for the other shoe to drop. No. I'm waiting for another opportunity to arrive.

You can find more information about White and her book at To get your copy of Your Layoff and the Law of Attraction, just send an email with "Your Layoff Ebook" in the subject line to

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A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor

Photo: Erin Ericksonby Erin Erickson,
Chicago Chapter Vice President

I recently wrote the following column for the website I work for, I receive a lot of questions about what my job is like, so I thought I'd take to the web to explain. The original column can be found at

I have been the digital editor for for one year now. Before working for FP, I was a print editor. In the journalism world, that’s known as going to the dark side. I’m an Online Alpha Geek who lingers about the Internet all day. It’s a fun job and I’m really glad I get to do it.

I doubt many of you get to spend as much time as I on the web … but I also suspect there are few people left in the food & beverage business who don’t spend at least some time each day searching the Internet for answers. It’s you I have in mind as I build each day.

Aside from being a repository of the stories from each month’s magazine, there are lots of little functionalities built into; things that we think may make your job easier; things that keep me working on the web all day.

Do I really get to “play” online all day? You be the judge:

5:30 a.m. Wake up in south suburban Chicago home. Check e-mail; scan RSS feeds for news items.
7:30 a.m. Arrive in suburban Chicago office. Dust off road rage; find caffeine.
8:00 a.m. Begin sorting through e-mails from Editor, Publisher and press release senders; begin a daily to-do list.
8:30 a.m. Check LinkedIn Group for any new requests to join and updated discussion items.
9:00 a.m. Check Twitter for any mentions, say hello to followers and check for breaking news.
9:15 a.m. Create upcoming e-newsletters for the week. Search all of for the perfect articles for readers.
10 a.m. Post products for our online product database; post relevant news items or articles.
11 a.m. Check in on Twitter folks again. Ask @juiceherald if they mind that I mention them in this column.
11:15 a.m. Ask and answer internal e-mails about social media, social networking and where to go for lunch.
11:30 a.m. Check site statistics to make sure people are still coming to our site and what they’re looking at when they’re there.
11:45 a.m. Check to make sure Job Boards have relevant job postings.
12:00 p.m. Post more products and news items or articles; mumble something incoherent under my breath about content management system used to post products and articles.
1:00 p.m. Post events that have been forwarded to me for our events calendar.
2:00 p.m. Check LinkedIn Group again.
2:30 p.m. Scan RSS feeds and news briefs for article leads and trends.
2:45 p.m. Remember that I forgot to eat lunch.
3:00 p.m. Post whitepapers to whitepaper library.
3:15 p.m. Make sure I’ve answered daily e-mails, received reviews on e-newsletters and set them up to deploy the next morning.
3:30 p.m. Strategize on ways to improve the user experience for the community.
7:00 p.m. Back at home, post-processed food dinner, logging on one last time to check e-mails, Twitter and LinkedIn Group.

This is reprinted with permission from, where it first appeared. Erin Erickson is the Senior Digital Editor for, owned by Itasca, Ill.-based Putman Media.

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How Is Your Business?

By Thomas R. Temin

How do you balance the experience of web site visitors with the need to drive revenue?

Judging from visits to a number of B2B sites lately, it seems as if in at least half the cases, revenue is winning out over a clean user experience.

Like, “window shade” ads that drop right down over the story you are trying to access. Or worse, that come up before the home page itself. Sometimes these ads are accompanied by a coy link: “Skip this introductory screen.” Introductory screen? Talk about a euphemism.

Equally maddening are the survey boxes that pop up while you are reading. Especially egregious are those that stay in the middle of the screen even while you try to scroll past them. Sometimes they are advertising-driven, sometimes put there by a bozo in the digital media department is trying to gauge reader interest, nevermind that a good program to mine the log files can give you reams of information about reader habits.

How about animated ads that sometimes seem designed to invoke seizures? One site had a basketball team ad, with a spinning basketball that was so annoying, the publication must have gotten reader complaints, because the ad suddenly started appearing with the animation turned off.

Watched any videos online lately? What was a 15-second standard for ads has crept to 30 seconds in some cases. That will prompt a lot of visitors to say, “Fhuggetaboutit.”

I get steamed by mouse-over, or roll-over, ads that serve up even when you haven’t clicked on them. Sure, there’s a tiny little message on the link area, but that is easily overlooked. And, some sites today are so slow to load, that fidgety visitors who are mousing around, trying to read something before the 110 elements that comprise the page finally loaded, inadvertently mouse-over an ad.

Given the dire straits in which the publishing industry finds itself, it’s no wonder that advertisers have the upper hand. They are clever at devising ways to get their ads served up, and few publishers are in a position to turn down revenue.

So the best that editors can do is make sure, once readers clear the clutter of ads, that sites are as cleanly presented and fast-loading as possible. (Problems created by editors and site designers themselves will be the topic for another day.)

Perhaps there is even a deeper strategy: use of editorial thinking to suggest classier ways advertisers can get their messages across without gumming up the site. Sponsored video sections with good production values, white papers presented in a straightforward fashion and other paid-for content – as long as it is clearly labeled so as not to fool readers – might appeal to advertisers and get them to skip the gimmicks. Everyone would be better off.

Thomas R. Temin is a consultant with 30 years of publishing experience in media and information technology products and services. He is also co-host of “The Federal Drive” with Tom Temin and Jane Norris, a weekday morning news and talk program on Federal News Radio AM 1500 in Washington D.C. You can see his weekly column on the op-ed page at and contact him at

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