For Hanley Wood CEO Frank Anton, the Big Idea is all about an "incredible focus" on integrating print and e-media. But with that focus comes some steep challenges.
"As it turns out, the e-media focus encompasses a whole bunch of things, from organizational issues to hardcore tech issues," says Anton. "Initially we really thought we would focus on reorganization, and that fundamentally those issues would involve spending a lot of money on staff for e-media."
In fact, Anton says, HW did budget a huge $2 million increase in its salary line for e-media jobs, but, as Anton says, "As we got into it, we realized there was much more to it than that."
The initial impulse was to create parallel print and digital silos. But the management team wasn’t comfortable. "You don’t want to create parallel structures between print and electronic content, and you can’t really saddle the print editorial people with all this new stuff," Anton says. "So we planted these electronic-media experts into our magazine groups. And we quickly discovered our old content-management system made it so hard to re-purpose content that the editors resisted doing it."
Then HW encountered another unforeseen challenge. "You hire all this talent and they have a million ideas," Anton says. "And you soon learn that you don’t have the technology to implement things. We’re thinking the new CMS will be a big help, but we’re realizing that we will probably need yet more of a redeployment of resources to keep up with the ideas;and it’s not just new equipment and software, it’s new people."
And those people are not cheap. "Tech people are incredibly more expensive than we thought they would be," Anton says. "We have consistently underestimated tech positions and Web editorial people by 10 to 20 percent, depending on the jobs. They’re far more expensive than entry-level editors."
A similar dynamic is occurring on the sales side. "We had separate staffs, and this year, we integrated them," Anton says. "We have one online expert among the staffs. The online guys are training the print guys to sell online. For 2009, though, everyone will sell print and online."
"We have the ability to move in new directions because most of our customers are looking to us to tell them what the market is doing and what they should be doing."
"Not enough people with Internet experience. Also, this stuff is very expensive. Whoever tells you that you can start a Web site at a fraction of the cost of a magazine is mistaken."
"To create a bigger audience of younger readers online or in print, and an opportunity to get more money from your advertisers."
"Every time you do something you’re doing it the first time. You have no track record. It’s like putting a man on the moon. You make a lot of mistakes."