Preventing Death by Irrelevance
Of thousands of vertical B2B publications, at most a few dozen can afford to have fresh, original articles five days a week. Many of the better vertical sites hail from monthly magazine backgrounds, neither culturally nor organizationally conducive to daily news.
Is there an alternative to having a vital, dynamic publication website? Yes; it’s called ‘slow bleeding.’
The phrase “feeding the beast” has gained currency regarding the need for dynamic, daily content. You may ask, “What is there to say every day?” in many verticals. The answer is: plenty, for a good editor with a budget.
Last week I saw one site which labeled a section “Breaking News” that only contained a handful of pieces dated 2012. The “Top Story” grouping on one technology magazine’s site featured pieces two months old. Another respected publisher’s site I reviewed last week runs a good dose of current news, but the first video is from spring 2011.
Budgets prevent publishers from running the robust content their businesses crave. Blogs can be great, of course, as is user-generated content; and the price is right. Press releases fill in the gap for many. It is what it is; but better than nothing. If the choice is no daily content vs. running press releases, no contest.
Once you factor out budget limitations, the difference between the haves and have-nots comes down to strategic creativity. Some rewrite press releases to make the stories sound, well, not exactly like press releases. Best practice: To enhance a release make one phone call to a relevant industry member, maybe a competitor. Add one quote, mix in a new sentence or two, fresh head—voila!
Some websites run headlines with links, whether to their own site or not. Some add blurbs giving the highlights, which is at least a kind of content. Outbrain is making some inroads offering these to editors and paying a nominal fee per-click.
Recently a respected industry analyst thought I was nuts to suggest publishers would run content found in other publications. He is right—you would never see that in print; but it is quite commonplace on content-starved websites. Of course, each editor chooses carefully which publications to borrow from.
Kimberly Jorgensen of Cygnus Media was proud to show me their recently overhauled websites, rich with news. They do a great job mixing in staff reporting with rewritten pieces with such varying origins as associations, congressional reports, daily newspapers and, yes, press releases.
Advantage Media has an interesting approach. They pick up stories from academic journals, universities, scientific societies and research institutes. They gain gravitas while not promoting anyone that sells advertising.
Here at Publishing Executive I spoke with Lynn Rosen, content director. She explained each NAPCO editor has free choice what publications they pick up news from. Pub Exec uses sources as diverse as a general magazine like The Atlantic and an industry blog called GalleyCat.com. She spoke of their increasing use of original pieces and interviews. Lynn laughed when I asked the likelihood of seeing a link to Folio any time soon, but there was a story from Digiday, which does sell competing ads.
When it comes to aggregating to keep commercial magazine sites fresh, these are not always easy calls.