Get Your Multimedia House in Order
20. Leverage your history in print.
“What online offers for a print brand is that you don’t have to define yourself and shout your brand like a carnival barker online, which is the usual expensive strategy online,” he says. “Everybody knows what Rolling Stone means, and as long as what it really means online isn’t too far from what people think it means online, you’re on solid footing.”
21. Everyone on staff has to be able to wear four or five hats.
“We brought in different staffs to run the online properties,” he says. “I think there was a window where you could set up a content management system and have magazine editors running the Web site with a bit of tech help, but those days are drawing to a close. If a site’s going to compete, you’ve got to know how to embed video, design for multiple platforms, track your numbers, etc. … all those n-dimensional Web skills. Editing copy is a very difficult and very important skill, but editors who can only edit copy, however impressively they do it, are of no use to me on the Web.”
22. You’re talking to a new audience. Develop your edit, design and production to acknowledge how demanding this audience is.
“Readers today want a place they can get in touch with you, rate your stories, e-mail them around, link to related stories, chat with each other about how much you suck, meet other people who agree how much you suck,” Blanchard says. “Readers? Users? Players? What do we call them now? [They] used to be intrigued by these tools, then they grew to love them, and now they demand them.
23. Don’t worry. The kinks are still being worked out.
“From a functional standpoint it makes a lot of sense to separate [production of print and Web products]. They’re accomplishing different things; they have different tools and goals; the people have different skill sets. But when they’re truly separate, communication becomes the biggest problem, because one hand doesn’t know what the other’s doing, and you get turf battles and so on. So this is something working itself out. There may be contextual solutions, where production is centralized for a brand, and they tell the same stories, but the design and fine tuning are medium-specific. Who knows—that oyster hasn’t been cracked yet.”