Just as publishers begin to move toward integrated sales teams, the content side of the business is recasting its staff to create a team that can identify content that works for print, digital and face-to-face. John Kilcullen, president and publisher at VNU’s multiplatform music franchise Billboard, has created a team of content specialists comprised of longtime veterans partnered with up-and-coming content professionals, all of whom showcase a range of skills of developing content that inherently spans a variety of media platforms. Here’s how he finds and equips those people with the right skills.
Up-And-Coming. When looking for new talent, Kilcullen asks, “are they intellectually curious? Are they on the way up in their career? Do they have prior experience in any of the core face-to-face, digital and print worlds? Have they been overlooked in their career to be given a bigger and better shot? We tend to find those people are hungrier.”
New hires are immediately given room to expand their expertise to new mediums. Staff editor Antony Bruno, for example, had event experience as a conference programmer for the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. Bruno has event responsibilities for Billboard, but has parlayed his experience with the CTIA to mobile coverage, too.
Identifying Platform Value. Editors and writers must develop a sixth sense that can tell them how a story will be structured and perceived on different platforms. “You’re capturing value as opposed to reporting on a story that appears [only] in print,” says Kilcullen. “And that value may be an extended archive video interview, maybe an audio stream. So we’re looking at the value capture having population on different platforms at different times of the day and different days of the week. We want to tell all these stories in ways that can have a digital, mobile, weekly, daily and archival points of view.”
Retention Is Important, Too. Veterans should be brought up to speed. “People need the skill set, shared vision and ambition to be part of the transformation of our brand and, frankly, the traditional journalistic model,” says Kilcullen. “We have a lot of veterans that are domain experts. If we give them the training and the tools and the support to have them embrace these new expectations, then we tend to get people that love the fact that they don’t have to wait until Friday to have their stories told.”
Evangelize Change. Through all the hiring, promotions and retention is one constant—a respect for change. “Is change your friend or foe?” says Kilcullen. “That’s a constant battle but it’s definitely an evangelism that we have at the top leadership—that we need to change. It’s how we look at audience change, marketer change, technology change and the platforms we publish our content.”