Is Your Company Structure Holding You Back?
Perhaps the core trick for publishers today is to leverage the distinct talents of particular teams while ensuring everyone is pulling together; as Future U.S. Vice President Kate Byrne told an audience at the recent Publishing Business Conference & Expo, to keep the "poets" distinct from the "quants"—all while making sure editorial, production and development teams are properly coordinated.
Her solution was to create a "digital producer" position to oversee multiple streams of content and production. "Today an editor-in-chief needs to be more of a producer," she says. "I have all of these great stories—what should [they] look like on a website? What are the drill-down enhancements? What is the truly interactive content?" Hiring a "go-between" allows someone to coordinate these and other bigger-picture questions so that teams are not bogged down.
At one prominent business-to-business publisher, material that originates on the Web and migrates to print is handled by the Web team, while print handles content moving in the opposite direction, as well as daily e-newsletters and site updates. It's part of what an executive there calls a "hybrid" approach.
"That Web team is our 'center of excellence' in how website content should look," he explains. "... They add video if we have it [and] link it to other relevant pieces if possible." Traditional print editors are the expert news gatherers and aggregators. "If they have something they know could be done better they will push it over to Web content—and [Web team members] in turn take a lousy-looking, but news-packed item and make it look decent."
This approach allows for maximum content flexibility, he says, and keeps editors involved in day-to-day website operation while allowing digital teams to drive the look and feel of these sites.
"Other companies handle it ... differently. ... At some larger publishers, they have ... dedicated units where Web and print never cross paths. That really is the worst in my book, but ... it's hard to argue with a big company-they got there somehow."
A Work in Progress