It's the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine... I Think
These truly are some challenging times for traditional print publishers, e-media folks like me, online pure-plays and just business in general. I'm constantly reminded of this during my conversations with agencies and ad buyers who tell me that "flat is the new up" when it comes to their latest budgets.
I certainly wasn't surprised to read in today's Wall Street Journal an article about the economics of not having a business model, but running a company on venture capital or the dream of having a big IPO one day. I was more amazed by how long this took to happen.
As publishers, we've all read about the need to reinvent ourselves, grow and sustain an online business and try to control the rising costs of manufacturing and distributing a magazine while proving ROI to advertisers. I leave the print side of the business to my colleagues here who really have a good grasp of buying paper, controlling folio sizes, fine-tuning circulation, etc.
One of my many roles these days is to help different employees from different departments and disciplines expand their knowledge of e-media and their general understanding of the emerging online space. It's certainly the right time and I'm ready for the challenge, because jobs in publishing aren't and can't be the same as they were even a few years ago. A friend of mine who received his Six Sigma Training Certification recently told me that a process that only is done or known by one person is not a good process. He's right.
It started two years ago when we held an intensive, two-day training session for our sales reps to learn all about interactive advertising -- everything from the differences between a hit and an impression, to responding to an RFP and using the analytic tools at their disposal. Working with our ad sales team every day, it's clear that they crave and need more of an understanding in these areas.
Circulation managers can't move fast enough to become audience development specialists to focus their attention on growing e-newsletter subscriptions and Web site traffic, as they have traditionally done with their BPA-audited print circulations. Our company's off-site "Audience Development Summit" last year was a good start. Now it's time to give them more training and direct access to campaign management.
I'm working with editors on how to use programs like Audacity to edit podcast episodes, while having ongoing conversations about SEO best practices and getting more of them involved in areas like usability testing, content management and e-newsletter deployment.
Our developers are taking a real interest in learning more about why a project is being done, and not just how we would like to see it completed. As long as business continues to drive technology and not the other way around, the idea of your technology department understanding the business goals of a project is a good thing especially considering the potential consequences if it doesn't get done on time or at all.
Most recently, I conducted a three-part training course that lasted almost a full day showing production managers the ins and outs of obtaining and booking online ad creative. It certainly makes sense that the people who call to get print ad materials also coordinate receiving interactive marketing units. They'll then send the ads over to our online ad traffic person who will make sure the creative meets all of the specifications regarding file sizes, frames, looping, click tags, etc.
The fact that a lot of these people don't report directly to me could be debated as a blessing or a curse, but one thing's for sure: sharing what I know about all of this stuff is something I love doing. And if you're in position to do so at your company, you should too. Everyone's role at your company should be evolving. If someone is doing the same exact thing today that they did five or 10 years ago, hurry-up and re-evaluate the role they play in your business.