Posts Tagged ‘staff’

Why you need web-only staff

May 22, 2012

I’ve been observing a trend lately in the industry of more positions being labelled as cross-platform – i.e., that editor works on print, web and everything else – which is awesome. I mean, all editors should be thinking of the brand and readership in all ways they reach them and have the opportunity to create content in multiple ways.

However. Print timelines being what they are, and production schedules, we all know too well that it’s easy to forget about the website when you’re focused on finishing up a print issue. The trouble is, websites don’t work that way. You can’t just ignore them for seven to 10 days of the month and expect that they’ll be successful when you make up for it the rest of the time.

Which is the main reason that I strongly believe that all editorial staff should be encouraged to contribute to all platforms – but that at least one person (obviously small mags with tiny staffs can be forgiven for not reaching this goal) should have the website as their primary focus. A good website needs ownership, someone who is knowledgeable about and can advocate for the best web experience for web readers – which includes social media. It doesn’t mean this person should have to do all the work, but it does mean they should have the experience and power to make decisions and recommendations on what happens with digital properties.

For instance, I really like this quote from Anjali Mullany, social media editor at Fast Company:

The most valuable thing that social media editors [and] community managers bring to their newsrooms is not all the great tricks that they have up their sleeve when it comes to using new technology, although that’s really important.

I think what they bring is they solve problems. They solve problems of the digital age.

They figure out how am I going to bridge the gap between what you want and all the demands you have on your time. I think social media can totally help with that but you have to be really thoughtful about it.

Wherever I’ve been able to make any change or bridge that gap, a lot of it has come from trying really hard to understand what people’s workflows are, what demands are already on their time and what they’re trying to achieve and then trying to make what I do fit that.

Beyond that, making sure that you are using all these interesting platforms and trying to think creatively about them and using them in your own reporting and being an example of how to use those tools is really important too.

Organizing your staff

January 12, 2009

As we move from web-as-afterthought to web-as-major-focus, many magazines are rethinking their original staffing arrangements. Forbes, for instance, has now merged (and tightened) its staff – everyone now does both print and web.

Publishing Executive has a good article up on balancing print and digital, and one issue they discuss is staffing. (But I do encourage you to read the whole thing.) A couple of their tips:

• Bring everyone together – literally. Web staff and print staff should sit together, so that they can collaborate easily and keep each other top of mind. “By literally breaking down the walls between employees working in print and other interactive media divisions, you eliminate silos.”

• Encourage all staff members to think of all platforms, even if their job description only includes one. Let web staff participate in print idea-building, and vice versa. “The breakdown of physical space will naturally lead to the sharing of ideas, people and resources, which can significantly impact return on investment.”

How do your print and digital staff interact, and how are they organized? What do you think is the ideal situation?

No, your website isn’t limitless – here’s why

September 16, 2008

People often get excited about the potential of their websites. After all, there are no page counts, no ad pages to balance, no word count limits, and there are all those fancy tools you can develop and incorporate into your site. Plus, you don’t have to get it to the printer by a certain date! And to a certain degree, they’re right – your website offers a lot more flexibility than the magazine.

But it’s important to remember that there are limits, and you do still have to prioritize and organize. Here’s why.

Your web staff can’t do everything right now.
Yes, in theory, you can put all of your archives online. And yes, it can happen very quickly. But it still takes time and effort to get that content on your system, secure permissions, find images, repurpose if necessary, and proof it. Make sure your staff isn’t drowning in production – it will make them very unhappy very quickly.

The web isn’t magic.
A lot is possible online. But not everything can be done, and a lot of things will require a lot of money and/or development time. If you want something that’s at all different from templates already on your site, it’s best to ask one of the experts if it can be done, and how quickly.

Not everything is a good idea.
It’s awesome to have lots of ideas for the website – the more, the better. But a lot of print concepts just don’t translate online, or the traffic may not be worth the effort. Definitely experiment. But trust your web staff if they tell you it’s already been tried – and didn’t work.

The bottom line? Have someone (or many someones) on staff who’s the local expert on your website, and keep them in the loop on upcoming projects. Check with them to make sure your ideas are doable. And keep the lines of communication open.

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