Is There Enough Time for Digital Pursuits, Continued
In my editor’s note, ”Is There Enough Time for Digital Pursuits,” in the June issue of Publishing Executive magazine, I commented on a recent blog post by our resident blogger Rob Yoegel. In the post ”Editors Won’t Be Buying Me Lunch Anymore” in Publishing Executive’s PubTalk section, Rob stated that many editors are resisting new digital publishing endeavors, saying they are struggling just to meet print deadlines. He suggested that editors just can’t edit the way they used to, as increasing digital publishing pursuits are demanding attention.
My editor’s note pointed out that this is topic is not black-and-white and that there is editorial risk involved with editors keeping too many print and digital balls in the air without a new support structure. (You can read my editor’s note at PubExec.com.) Namely, if editors can’t “edit the way they used to,” their content will suffer, whether that means increasing typos, overlooked factual inaccuracies or content that could have been developed for a more valuable in-depth story—had their been the time. And, all of these weaken the publications’ credibility with and value to its readers.
There are, however, some things that I believe publishers can do to help ease their editors into digital publishing pursuits without placing significant strain on their editors and on their publications and digital products.
Here are 9 tips that could help you help your editors with this transition:
1. Your editors have to have the authority to prioritize what they should be doing, based on importance to the reader (and revenue).
2. Always put the maximum value on your content and content development.
3. If you are not among those who have already decided to fold their print publications for digital publishing, don’t abandon your existing print products by pulling resources from them—you will be eating away at your foundation.
4. Implement e-media efforts in small steps, starting with those that promise maximum ROI. (Unless you are confident enough in your anticipated ROI and prepared to invest up front in the resources needed for larger or multiple projects.) And if you have to ask your editors to focus on new projects with no additional resources, make sure it is for a set period of time, at which point the new revenue generated will allow “support” for the editors wherever they need it most;
5. Don’t have your editors spend their time doing mundane, technical tasks that administrative support or entry level IT staff could do—it’s not what you’re paying them for and you’re not getting the most for your money.
6. Ask your editors to tell you how they would need to accomplish new workloads juggling various print and digital projects, and then figure out how you can make it work, or what you can sacrifice.
7. Let the editors do their jobs and help you determine which multimedia products will be useful to readers and which will not. (Surveying readers, phone conversations with readers and focus groups are usually helpful for generating ideas and getting feedback.) You can launch all the multimedia products in the world, but if they’re not useful to your audience, they are a complete waste of your time and resources.
8. Along the same lines as No. 7, remember that communicating with the readers is the editors’ milieu—it’s what you pay them for—so don’t let the separation of church and state slip away on digital efforts. Content is content, whether it’s in a printed magazine, an e-newsletter, news feeds or video content … The same rules should apply to digital as they do to print.
9. Lastly, be prepared to accept the impact that multimedia pursuits will likely have on your other products if no additional support is given.
If you have ideas or comments about this topic, please share them; this is a big issue right now and the industry seems it could benefit from some guidance from those who have been successfully making this transition. ssfully making this transition.