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Stefanie Botelho

For the Unbeatable Price of Free...

Stefanie Botelho Editorial - 11/08/2011-13:26 PM

Free samples, whether from a grocery store, makeup counter or a newsstand, are largely welcomed by consumers. Give people a chance to sample great products without putting down a dollar and watch the line of waiting customers curve around the block. Aside from the free good itself, consumers will often experience a warm feeling for the manufacturer supplying it, “They really do care!” Companies (retailers, publishers, etc.) know this, and maintain the freebie as an act of goodwill, opposed to what it really is: a bite to inspire consumers to buy the entire package.

Today, The Wall Street Journal opens the gates of its paid wall, allowing viewers to access every article on its site without agreeing to a subscription. The key icons, which normally accompany original or more provocative WSJ content, have disappeared. The free access is sponsored by Citbank; a click-through ad for its Thank You Reward Cards is nestled against WSJ’s “The Wall Street Journal Online is Free Today” banner cresting the top of the home page.

No doubt Wall Street Journal’s page views will spike throughout the day, as word about the free content spreads in the Venn diagram of the social sphere. No doubt these page views will be integrated into overall numbers for the month of November and later used in pitches for advertising partners. But the bigger question, the question that will likely remain unanswered in hard numbers from WSJ, is whether or not this free access will sell subscriptions.

As publishers begin to total up digital sales, free downloads are often included in the tallies. This certainly makes the digital scape appear more appealing, with promise of larger revenue and greater audience engagement. But after the giveaways are over, the numbers often recede (as we all know, just because someone downloads a free issue doesn’t mean they open their wallets to purchase a subscription).

In a recent CircMatters Special Report, Jack Hanrahan takes a close look at the state of digital circulation. Hanrahan cites 32 magazines reporting a digital circ of over 15,000 to ABC for first half 2011. He then analyzes those magazines with a “true paid” circulation, compared to those who include partnership subs, sponsored subs and verified individual use copies in their total numbers.

After this parsing, 8 out of the top 10 magazines originally claiming the highest downloads weren’t included in the new top ten who could claim 100 percent “true paid” numbers. In fact, only 10 of the original 32 titles were able to make this claim at all.

Giving out free content is undoubtedly a decision that should be made by individual publishers; unfortunately, when one publisher does it, others are forced to follow. At the FOLIO: Show, Peter Moore, editor of Rodale’s Men’s Health, made no secret of his disappointment in major players like Conde Nast choosing to bundle digital editions with their print subs. By doing so, audiences become accustomed to receiving products for free – setting up a precedent other publishers may not have chosen for themselves, but one that audiences now expect.

So while free may sell, and free may boost numbers, it remains important for publishers (and advertisers, and consumers) to weigh the price of free. After doing so, the publishing world may find itself agreeing with Moore when he said, “Free sucks. We should get rid of free.”

Stefanie Botelho

The Brandividual, “Problematic Neutrality” and the Emerging Editorial Model

Stefanie Botelho B2B - 10/27/2011-14:50 PM

The theme of this year’s American Business Media Executive Forum was paid content, and vets from every facet of the b-to-b industry were on hand to offer guidance and lessons from the field. Beyond the paywall debates, marketing services and analytics discussions was the business brands are built on: the content. David Berlind, UBM Techweb’s editor-in-chief/CCO, John Gallant, CCO with IDG Enterprise and SourceMedia EVP/CCO David Longobardi shared how they are encouraging and prepping editorial staff for the future.

In the Forum’s keynote presentation, president of The Marketing Democracy Judy Franks reinforced the difference between social networks and social media. Social networks (Twitter, Facebook and the like) are the platforms for social media (a provocative article, cover treatment, etc. that inspires sharing among readers). According to Franks’ categorization, and CCO commentary, social media is what will aid b-to-b companies in the transition to the new content model.

Replacing the rush to break news is getting that news picked up by a largely read source. While aggregators may have initially been seen as predators of original content publishers, this view is shifting. “The most important thing to do for editorial team is to get them is change quantity to quality of content,” says Longobardi. “It’s no longer just ‘I beat The Wall Street Journal’, it’s ‘Huffington Post linked to me’.”

The oft-baffling task of garnering attention in the social network space
can be broken down into a less daunting series of steps. Says Longobardi, “You tweet, use Facebook, then provide analysis. Ask smart questions first; this already garners a certain amount of attention.”

Gallant cites a complete narrative of a news story as a way to gain audience interest, “We take multiple slices on things we know how are coming: a pre- and post story. We ask, ‘How do we time things? How do we capture wave of interest around the event itself?’” 

A New Brand: The Journalist

In the social scape, the content creators are being pushed to brand themselves along with the copy they produce. Berlind says, “We need our editors to be ‘brandividuals’. We market them as people you have a trusted relationship with. In this day and age of social media, with all the entities you connect to, the majority are people.”

As brandividuals, b-to-b editors are expected to be as comfortable on camera as they are on a laptop, “We expect each of our editors to operate equally comfortable in text, video, audio and still realms. We have a few people who can really rise to that challenge, and there’s a bright future for them,” says Berlind.

SourceMedia is also on board with the journalistic leap from undetected reporter to visible commentator. Longobardi says, “You have to decide what makes people want to comment. This matters if you are going to publish opinions, things that require a counterargument. We’ve been pushing boundaries in terms of opinion news. We increasingly invite and urge our editors and journalists to express a point of view.”

Opinionated reporting (which can certainly be read as a contradiction) is where these CCOs are placing their bets for the success of their editorial offerings. “We need to take editors, and figure out how to get them to operate them beyond [what can be] problematically neutral. We need to get them to be brandividuals, and able to leverage market knowledge,” says Longobardi.

The dangers of identifying a solidified brand with fluctuating staff (talented editors are often poached for more lucrative opportunities, taking their list of followers with them) was not a pressing concern of the aforementioned CCOs.

“You can’t put all your eggs in one basket; we try to have a network and a core brand handle, so we structure ownership of that. Staff has their own handle, though we encourage them to temporarily embed our brand in their handle. This leads to lots of retweeting. When someone leaves and goes to a semi-aligned content organization, they still often tweet our content,” says Longobardi.

Tony Silber

Sid Evans on What Southern Magazines Can Teach the World About Media

Tony Silber Editorial - 10/27/2011-10:25 AM

What’s the difference between Garden & Gun and Portfolio, two award-winning magazines that were both launched in 2007?

Other than the obvious response—Portfolio is out of business while Garden & Gun thrives—for Sid Evans, the difference comes down to one word: Soul.

Evans, the group editor of Time Inc.’s Lifestyle Division and founding editor of Garden & Gun, says being “soulful” makes all the difference between magazine success and failure, and it’s something Southern magazines can teach the world.

Evans was a keynote speaker at the ACT2 Conference in Oxford, Mississippi, and in his presentation, he offered seven key ingredients for success of Southern magazines, ingredients that all magazine brands can emulate. “Our first cover had Pat Conroy standing in a fountain,” Evans said. “It was not a choice a focus group would have made. But to me it made sense!”

In music, art, literature, architecture, food and more, there is “an abundant, rich life” in the South, and that’s what people want, Evans said. “We were a general-interest magazine about Southern culture, and it struck a nerve immediately,” he said. “And somehow, that translates beyond the South.”

Here are Evans’ 7 ingredients of successful Southern magazines.

1. Make people proud of where they’re from. Think about what was going on in the South in 1966, when Southern Living was launched, he said. It wasn’t great. “But Southern Living was about a civilized, gracious place.”

2. Make food the center of everything. “Food is what binds people together,” Evans said. “It’s what they talk about. And it’s not just the recipes, it’s the stories—the barbeque joint that’s been around since the 1950s. The term ‘American food’ doesn’t really mean anything—but Southern food, that means something.”

3. Never underestimate the power of a great story. “A lot of the media world has lost sight of that fact,” Evans said, recounting a story in Southern Living of how people survived the devastating tornados in Alabama earlier this year, and how it touched people all over the world.

4. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia. “Even as you do Facebook and develop a Twitter presence, remember nostalgia,” Evans said. “At Garden & Gun, we got a letter from a reader in New Jersey who said we made her nostalgic for a place she’s never been. We did story on Facebook about Southern sodas, regional sodas that people grew up with. It was like someone dropped a bomb on our Facebook page!”

5. Have a drink. Southern Living has had a “tortured relationship” with alcohol over the years, Evans said, but now, alcohol is a regular part of the magazine, as it should be. “When you do a story about a mint julep, you’re doing something about more than a drink,” he said. “When you think about most kinds of alcohol, they come from somewhere else. But bourbon is ours. It is uniquely Southern.”

6. Pick the right heroes. “One of the things that makes Southern magazines unusual is that readers treat celebrities as members of an extended family,” Evans said. “When you’re writing about celebrities, you need to be careful. If they don’t seem real, if they don’t represent the South well, then you lose credibility with readers.”

7. Make your readers the star. “Elevate them,” Evans says. “Recipe sharing is a huge part of the culture—a kind of cultural secret weapon.”

And in the end, Evans repeated, a magazine should “be soulful. It’s not a business strategy, but it is a business philosophy.”

The ACT2 conference is organized by Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at University of Mississippi the journalism school, and widely known as “Mr. Magazine.” The two-day event, in its second year, has doubled in size from 2010, Husni said.

Matt Kinsman

Why Do Consumer Stars So Often Fail To Shine In B-to-B?

Matt Kinsman Editorial - 10/18/2011-14:05 PM

Let's face it: b-to-b publishing is considered the weak sister to consumer publishing by many in the industry. So why do so many consumer side vets struggle when they make a go at b-to-b?

Richard Beckman brought a lot of attitude as CEO of Prometheus Global Media, promising to revamp the media/entertainment brands (including Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter) that the company had purchased from Nielsen Business Media with a consumer-mag edge.

That attitude was shared by Beckman's big name editorial hires Janice Min ("I guess it shakes the system out here that a so-called trade would dare to break news that wasn't spoon fed. Well, people had better get used to it," Min told The New York Times last year) and Newser founder and Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff (who told FOLIO: of the revamped Adweek, "All we're doing is going to the marketplace and saying, ‘You were OK with a crappy product, now how can you not be even more enthusiastic about an obviously better product?')

Now Beckman has been relieved of day-to-day duties and Wolff is out at Adweek amid reports of clashes with Prometheus Global Media chairman Jim Finkelstein. (For a former Adweek editor's brutal take on Wolff making a habit of "failing upward," click here. One publisher said to us, "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.")

Adweek remained an aggressive news breaker under Wolff and walked the line between hard news and vanity publishing (Top 10 Technologists, Top 10 Digital Media Buyers) but Adweek in some ways didn't distinguish itself from the coverage in consumer publications. "Michael created some interesting content at Adweek, and I loved his coverage of Rupert Murdoch," MediaPost's Joe Mandese told The New York Times. "But I could read that in New York or Vanity Fair."

Attempts at "consumerizing" b-to-b brands aren't anything new. Years ago, FOLIO: went through its own failed "New York media scene" repositioning. In 2007, Doubledown Media--headed by journalist and entrepreneur Randall Lane and Jim Dunning, former owner of the Ziff Davis magazine group (who said, "We don't view ourselves as a trade magazine")--took the financial markets by storm with titles like Dealmaker and Trader Monthly that boasted fat books, killer events (such as the Wall Street Boxing Charity Championship, in which traders got to square off in the ring) and legendary parties ("Have you ever been to one of their parties?" a senior publishing executive at a competitive company told FOLIO: at the time. "If you get invited to one, get an invite for me.")

Two years later the market turned and so did Doubledown, which ran out of money and folded in February 2009.

When Beckman first announced his plans to "consumerize" Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter, I thought "Uh oh" but over the last few months I had to admire what he tried to do (and the investment he was willing to make). It was a welcome change from the razor thin margins and assembly line content forced on so many b-to-b titles.

The b-to-b world has plenty to learn from the consumer side in all facets of the game and there is no reason a b-to-b magazine shouldn't be a polished, entertaining read. But you can't escape the fact that the trade magazine exists to help business leaders make business decisions. Useful trumps sexy.

If the b-to-b world can combine the attitude, polish and investment of the consumer side without forgetting its ultimate mission, look out. 

Bill Mickey

Condé Nast Partners with HP for Print-On-Demand Content

Bill Mickey Consumer - 10/13/2011-11:40 AM

HP and Condé Nast are partnering in an on-demand, digital-to-print pilot program that will allow readers to, via a desktop printer widget, download selected content and print it from home.

At this point, says a Condé Nast spokesperson, the publisher is determining the kinds of content that would be appropriate for this delivery mechanism. Recipes from Epicurious, for example, might make sense, but the publisher is still trying to figure out how content from, say, Glamour might work in this setting.

In announcing the program, HP says Allure, Details, Epicurious, Glamour, Golf Digest, Self and Wired will participate in the pilot.

HP is trying to position itself as a way for content publishers to reach end users. With this digital-to-print effort, readers will see a downloadable widget on a brand's website.

The widget allows readers to schedule when they want their content printed.

The widget works with any Web-enabled printer, not just HP brands—a point that content publishers made clear with HP in order to open up the program to a wider segment of customers.

According to Annette Friskopp, HP's head of IWS strategic account management, there are two other paths of discovery to the content. HP's ePrintCenter has an apps page that showcases the various print-on-demand content options; and the HP printer itself—content brands will display on the printer's panel.

It may seem like a strange nook for Condé Nast to be exploring, but these days who knows what might stick with consumers. Nevertheless, Friskopp notes that HP customer research says people still like printing out content for reference, sharing and, she says, "once you've printed it you can find it again." Take that, digital information overload.

And with all this home printing HP and Condé Nast hope people will be doing, HP is introducing its Instant Ink program, a subscription-based home delivery service for ink cartridges.

Condé Nast will initially roll out with an ad-based revenue model, but that might change if the project catches on. "Again, this is a pilot program that's still in an infancy stage," says the spokesperson. "There are multiple ways that this could be monetized and we will look into all of them."

Richard Fairfield

Here's to Bigger, Better Growth

Richard Fairfield B2B - 10/11/2011-10:01 AM

When is five consecutive quarters of growth not enough? Right now in magazine publishing. To see real, sustained growth, there are three things every magazine publisher should do to keep readers and advertisers engaged.

1. Create Franchise Issues

Like most, at ASI we questioned every expense during the past recession, but there’s one thing we did not do: cut editorial staff. For Advantages, which is targeted toward salespeople, I asked our editors to really put themselves in our readers’ places. As a result, we upgraded our content, offering meatier stories with case studies on how industry salespeople were winning new business and getting clients to open up their wallets. We added a “salesperson of the year” franchise issue, beefed up coverage for our annual compensation issue, and added a “big ideas” issue filled with advice for salespeople.

Our sales reps then went to advertisers and told them if they could commit only to three issues per year, these new franchise issues were the ones they couldn’t afford to miss out on.

Advertising increased by more than double digits in all five of our publications and our magazines received a record number of awards—27—this year, from American Business Media, FOLIO: and ASBPE.

2. Provide ROI Tools

Ad buyers love knowing how their marketing efforts translate into sales. One key tool: Readex advertising effectiveness studies in selected issues. Salespeople can show their clients exactly how their ads rated against their competitors’ ads. For example, if the client wants people to take action, and the research shows that readers don’t, we compare their ad to one in which clients do–pointing out the differences in the call-to-action, and the relative appeal of the offers made.

Through our company’s research arm, we are also able to provide competitive intelligence showing how an advertiser compares in price, service quality, and average margin across all other category competitors. In addition, when a prospect questions print versus digital, we can point out that if his products are currently priced at a 30 percent premium, he will need the power of print to describe how his service and quality are worth the price.

3. Offer Value-Added Services

Every magazine publisher should be on the lookout for ways to get more money out of advertisers by providing out-of-the-box products and services. Here at ASI, we are in the process of implementing an Oracle CRM solution. We started researching CRM because we wanted to improve the quality of our 500,000+ database of prospects and customers. Giving reps a sophisticated CRM would give them a better way to manage their pipeline and keep in contact with their customers and prospects. Then we realized that we should sell this service to our advertisers, who have some of the same challenges as our own salespeople. Now we have several new products to sell at a very reasonable monthly price. We’re leveraging our existing sales force and product-support personnel, supporting our advertisers, and giving them more reasons to establish a solid relationship with us.

Richard Fairfield is publisher and EVP of marketing & user experience, for the Advertising Specialty Institute.

TJ Raphael

At AMC, Magazines Scolded on Social Media Efforts

TJ Raphael Editorial - 10/06/2011-13:28 PM

As several hundred magazine executives gathered at MPA’s 2011 American Magazine Conference in New York to hear speakers dissect social media, tablets and e-commerce, Scott Galloway, New York University Professor of marketing and founder of L2 Digital Think Tank—authors of the Digital IQ Index—struck a nerve with his frank dressing down of publishers’ social media strategies.

“About 19 percent of our budgets are now going to digital,” he said to the audience. “But 40 percent of media consumption for those under 40 is digital based.”

Galloway took a stark tone with the crowd and at times took on a scolding demeanor when asserting that the magazine industry is doing itself a disservice by not aggressively tapping into the benefits of the digital space and in particular Facebook.

“The reason you’re having trouble making money is because you’re not relevant—profits are an indicator of relevance,” he said, adding, “Not a brand in here is managing capital allocation correctly in relation to Facebook.”

The professor said that Facebook is the number one medium in every market and that magazine professionals need to view the social media platform as a market place, citing statistics that reveal that 50 percent of people on Facebook make at least $50,000 a year and that 38 percent of all online referral traffic now originates from Facebook.

“The new young affluent—we’re no longer the target market—the new kids on the block want innovation from brands,” he said. “Right now, social media is the least expensive way to do that.”

Galloway turned to fashion company Burberry to make his point. The British based clothing company has over 8.6 million “likes” on Facebook, while the internationally recognized women’s magazine Cosmopolitan has only 1.1 million.

“How did a trench coat company get so far out ahead of you there?” he asked. “It’s somewhat ironic that brands are ahead of media companies. Burberry has spent millions of dollars on Facebook before it was cool and by our estimates 13 to 15 million people over the next few years will raise their hands and say I want a direct relationship with your brand. Once they get there, somewhere between one third and two thirds of people that subscribe to Vogue will already have a relationship with Burberry. Will they spend more,less or the same to advertise? The response around Facebook is fairly uninspired in this industry.”

Galloway added that the number one source of upstream traffic to Burberry is its Facebook page, meaning they can reduce their spending on Google Ad Words because they have a lower source of cost of traffic from Facebook.

“That’s where the money is in Internet media,” he said. “This is a seminal moment, go all in on new technology, it’s going to pay off.”

Stefanie Botelho

In 2011, Magazine Launches Outpace Closures

Stefanie Botelho Editorial - 10/03/2011-14:41 PM

In its quarterly survey, reports 200 magazines launched in the first nine months of 2011. This number is an upshot from the same period in 2010, in which 176 magazines debuted.

Leading the launch list is the food category (with 25 new titles) and regional interest (which introduced 18 titles); new regional pubs include Bitayavon, O. Henry Magazine and Brooklyn Magazine. 944 Media (which shuttered its luxe magazine offerings in June) debuts a new regional offering with Vegas/Rated, under parent company Sandow Media’s partnership with WENDOH Media.

The b-to-b media sector saw a prolific first nine months in 2011, with 56 new titles.

During the same period of 2011, 128 magazines shuttered. Unfortunately, this doesn’t demonstrate much of an improvement over January-September 2010, when 127 titles closed. The bridal sector (which lost the regional editions of Brides) had the biggest body count with 18 title closures, along with the regional sector, which also lost 18 titles.

34 b-to-b magazines shut their doors in January-June 2011, including Penton’s American Printer and PFFC (Paper, Film & Foil Converter).

TJ Raphael

FMA Day: Can Apps Be Too Complicated?

TJ Raphael emedia and Technology - 09/29/2011-15:18 PM

At the 2011 Fulfillment Management Association [FMA] Day, keynote speaker Bob Sacks, who has held multiple roles within the publishing industry, told the industry professionals in attendance that the present is one of the best times in history to be a publisher.

“I believe we’re heading into the golden age of publishing and it will be fun and lucrative,” he said. “The publishing industry used to be about seeing distinct, finite finished magazines going out the door on a regular basis. Now there’s the new paradigm of a continuous array of news that may never be finished. What we do now is not what we did.”

Sacks says that publishers will see success through digital readers and that niche publications will be the future profiteers. Additionally, he reassured the audience that everything, in fact, has not changed in publishing.

“Over the next 10 years, one of the main effects of the great publishing realignment will be the deep rooted change experienced by the magazine industry from a primarily print oriented business to one where digital products will represent the largest share of a smaller periodical industry,” he said. “The industry is going digital and I see that as the land of opportunity for everyone in this room because they are new dollars. We just have to go out and get it—someone will, it might as well be you.”

Bob is right. Publishing in the digital space is not going to harm the industry, only enhance it. According to recent data, tablet shipments will increase to about 80 million next year, up from a predicted 53.5 million for 2011. In total, there were about 17.9 million media tablet shipments into sales channels worldwide last year.

At FMA Day I moderated a panel on apps. Jill Greto, director of consumer insights for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. and Peter Costanzo, director of digital content for F+W Media, were among the panelists slated to speak.

Greto brought the audience into several Martha Stewart branded apps including Boundless Beauty, Everyday Food and Martha Stewart Living. Costanzo introduced the audience to the Web Designer's Idea app, a breakout product connected with the company but not directly linked with a magazine.

During the Q+A portion of the panel someone asked about interface and complexity. Greto, during her presentation, had pointed out that Boundless Beauty, while a bit more complex in its usage due to the nature of its design (a reader must flip from landscape to portrait mode), was a huge hit with younger audiences—those that may have never interacted with the brand before.

I suggested that publishers looking to enter the tablet space look to the future—as Greto pointed out and I concur—as tablet devices become more mainstream, younger people will be using the devices more. Costanzo, on the other hand, argued that his students at New York University should be designing and implementing with grandparents in mind.

That seems foolish. In 5 years, the kids in high school will be entering college, likely with tablet devices since the cost of the product is much cheaper, even by today’s standards, than at least four years of academic textbooks. With the introduction of today’s Amazon Kindle Fire, the price of a tablet and the accessibility will be more widespread.

Additionally, while tablet users are predominantly older people, the lower cost will give access to larger demographics—the children that are 13-years-old now have been inundated with technology their entire little lives and can handle a more complicated interface.

The next generation of human beings will be completely surrounded by technology from the moment they are born—if the Apple commercials are right, doctors may be even using an iPad while they deliver said baby.

It’s not progressive to try to design for the simplest interface because in a few short years readers, who have been bombarded with technology, will be bored. I maintain the idea that a 21-year-old can likely pick up an iPad and learn how to use its basic features and functionalities in about 20 minutes, much quicker than a grandparent.

Don’t believe me? Take my grandparents, for example. They have called me and asked me how to turn on their computer’s monitor. My father can barely work his iPhone. My mother just learned to text. Design with the future in mind or design to drive them away.

Tony Silber

Notes on Ethics, Social Media and Ad Spending

Tony Silber B2B - 09/22/2011-14:11 PM

Here are some ruminations on trends, courtesy of my annual trip to the U.S. Open with three good friends, Ted Bahr, CEO of BZ Media, Steve Davis, president of SRDS, and Michael Forgash, an account executive at SRDS.

We've been doing this outing for years, the four of us, and over that span, as a result of my exposure to the accumulated wisdom of my three industry colleagues, I've come up with countless terrific stories for FOLIO: and our other brands. And I've often changed the way I look at the business as a result of the conversations we have.

This year, we discussed some especially timely things. One was an observation that annual booked business, in b-to-b media, at least, is increasing in recent years.

On the surface, that's a good thing. You want to be able to go into a new year counting on a base of committed business. If your budget is $1 million, it's nice to have $500,000 locked up in January, knowing that you're going to get the rest as the year unfolds.

But in recent years, if the magic number was traditionally 50 percent up front, for some brands it has reached 80 percent or more. Good thing, right? No. Because few advertisers have slush funds anymore. Which means opportunistic, spot buying is declining.

Last-minute "remnant" buying is disappearing. So to use my hypothetical example, that $500,000 of booked business is on a declining annual total-maybe $800,000 instead of $1 million. That's reality for many brands, and it's not good.

Social media is an area of opportunity, or so says Ted Bahr, who describes a program of doing lucrative marketing through sponsored tweets, Linked-In and other social networks.

Get into these kinds of marketing techniques early, says Steve Davis, because publishers that are utilizing social media now to grab audience are doing the right thing: The acquisition costs are reasonable and will likely escalate soon.

Perhaps the most troubling thing, even more so than what's happening with annual spends, is business ethics. It's true that we've always had ethical issues in b-to-b media, but as the industry matures, and print declines, many brands hear from advertisers that they "don't care" about audits. Do WE care? And if we don't do we nevertheless tell the truth and maintain pristine files?

That's a question worth asking of ourselves. We talked about the slippery slope of declining editorial ethics (I saw a magazine recently that featured on its cover a person it described as a mover and shaker in foreign markets. Then I flipped a few pages and saw that same cover subject listed on the masthead as a business-development director for the magazine, mining those same foreign markets for business. And then I flipped a few more pages and saw that the tourism bureau for that same region was the "sponsor" of the cover story).

Not good.

Are we still a noble profession?


Joe Pulizzi

Content Marketing Has Arrived. Should Publishers Be Worried?

Joe Pulizzi Sales and Marketing - 09/22/2011-11:55 AM

September 6th was a coming out party for content marketing. Over 600 marketing professionals came together in Cleveland from 18 different countries for Content Marketing World (the largest content marketing event) to learn how to create and grow their own publishing and storytelling platforms.

Yes, you heard that right. Marketers are actively trying to figure out how to do your job…publish valuable, relevant and compelling content to build subscriber bases and ultimately sell more products and services.

Content marketing is not new. You used to (or still do) call it custom media or custom content or custom publishing. Your advertisers now call it content marketing.

Your customers have been publishing content for years. Just look at John Deere. Their magazine The Furrow has been published since 1895 and is now distributed to more than 40 countries to 1.5 million subscribers. But now that the barriers to enter the publishing industry are all but gone, marketers are swiftly moving to allocate more resources to communicating directly with their customers and taking out the middleman (uh, you).

Just look at American Express and their wildly successful small business publishing effort, Open Forum. How about P&G, which has multiple publishing platforms including for “moms on the go”, for adolescent teen girls, or for guys.

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, nine out of 10 organizations are actively using some form of content marketing, with approximately 25% of marketing budget and resources dedicated to these efforts.

The Content Marketing World event shed some light on where the industry is going and ultimately what it means for publishers and media companies.

Brands of all Sizes Are Operationalizing around Content. Marketing executives like Pam Didner from Intel and Todd Wheatland from Kelly Services shared in-depth details about how content creation and distribution is becoming the center of their marketing efforts. For Intel, they develop “Topic Marketing Kits” that include content missions for each of their customers, then they distribute those to individual editorial boards all over the world for localization. This effort is helping to drive attention and engagement for Intel through search engine optimization, social media, public relations and co-marketing activities. This is no small endeavor and is taking massive organization and resources, much of which are coming out of traditional programs.

The Chief Content Officer has arrived. More than 20% of the marketing titles attending the event are new “content-oriented” titles, including: VP of Content Marketing, Chief Content Officer, Content Strategist, Content Marketing Coordinator, Brand Journalist and more. These people are responsible for the brand story, and how to integrate that story within the entire organization. Who are these people? Many of them are your former chief editors or writers.

Real-Time Content Marketing is Now. In multiple sessions from the likes of David Meerman Scott and organizations like Eloqua and Dell, content strategies are being setup to manage real-time content creation. This means that brands are starting to act like news organizations, taking advantage of current industry events with immediate commentary and thought leadership. Who are they hiring to do this? You guessed it…journalists.

Content Marketing Technologies are Exploding. The majority of attendees at Content Marketing World never heard of 90% of the technology vendors at the show. Most of these technologies are less than two years old and moving to take advantage of the money flow into content marketing. Almost across the board, these technologies are helping marketers to manage the editorial process within the organization. Think of it…how do you organize an employee blog with over 1,000 contributors? No easy task.

Not Just Outsourcing, but Content Strategy. There continues to be strong opportunity for publishers to work with brands on helping them execute content strategies. That said, the biggest pain for marketers is not execution, it’s strategy. Publishers that are setting up marketing services arms that understand how to develop a content strategy, including content audits, gap analyses, and total integration of the story within the entire marketing programs are going to win out. While custom publishing used to be a separate, often siloed effort like a custom magazine or webinar, tomorrow’s content strategies wrap into social media, search, PR and run across marketing, corporate communication, PR, social media and even IT departments. To prove the point, on three separate occasions recently, agency of record (AOR) with some large international brands recently went to content agencies.

Traditional marketing is not going away. It never will. Marketers will continue to spend money using a megaphone or shotgun advertising when needed, especially in newer industries. But now, since consumers are completely in control of the informational gathering process (the sales role is changing dramatically), brands need content consistently, matched to their buyer personas, and they need it at multiple points in the buying process. They need it for social, for PR, for enewsletters, for print, for in-person events, for SEO, for mobile and for their internal stakeholders. To do this effectively, they need to develop subscribers, just like you do, to position themselves as the industry leaders and be there for customers when they are ready to buy.

For publishers, the opportunity to partner with brands on these initiatives is clear. What will you do?

Stefanie Botelho

The New “I” In Journalism

Stefanie Botelho Editorial - 09/20/2011-12:52 PM

Just like the magazine industry itself, reporting styles are evolving. Aggregated and link journalism is plentiful; yellow journalism will most likely never go away; long-form journalism holds a nostalgic power, despite increasingly Tweet-ified attention spans; and now, the era of “me” journalism appears to be here for the long haul.

Preceding this burgeoning journalism trend is the Me generation, a phrase that often refers to those born in the latter half of the 20th Century. Iconic journalist Tom Wolfe explored this phenomenon in an August 1976 New York Magazine article, “Reports on America’s New Great Awakening: The ‘Me’ Decade”, “By the 1960s the common man was also getting quite interested in this business of ‘realizing his potential as a human being.’ But once again he crossed everybody up! Once more he took his money and ran—determined to do-it-himself!”

And the “me” continues to spread. Traditional journalim did not include personal pronouns; to do so would taint the supposed unbiased view of a reporter’s research. Running parallel to news journalism are the schools of creative non-fiction and literary journalism, where factual stories are told through a first person point of view, often adding human connection and sensory detail to a series of events.

The three schools all serve different purposes, and one is not necessarily held at higher esteem than the others. But then, enter the blog (which rapidly spread in the early 2000’s), add in the constant “I” factor of social media (used to be Myspace; now it’s Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more) and the “me “in recent reporting becomes problematic.

Some journalists integrate personal experience of a reporting assignment with measures of success; an educated opinion (like those seen in WIRED, with columns by Clive Thompson and Steven Levy serving up thoughtful commentary and insight) is often welcome, when paired with facts and research. However, it’s the ego preening by journalists I’ve observed over the past months that raises alarm.

In June 2011, Vanity Fair featured pop singer Katy Perry on its cover. In “Katy Perry’s Grand Tour”, journalist Lisa Robinson included that Perry asked her what the word “reticent” means. This statement was followed by an admission that the writer herself thought a “blue moon” was really blue; but it still left a bad taste it my mouth. To this reader, it felt as if Robinson was picking on Perry, as if she ready to judge her before she even began her assignment.

V Magazine included a profile on Marianne Faithful in its Fall Preview issue, penned by Alex Needham. In closing the article, Needham writes, “And with that I wrap up the interview, telling Faithful that I enjoyed it even if she didn’t. ‘I don’t mind if it’s with someone intelligent and cool,’ [Faithful] added flatteringly.” In a story that runs on two pages, with the majority of space taken up by a photo of Faithful, is it necessary to waste copy letting your audience know how in you are with your interviewee? Probably not.

So while I value the added dimension of a reporter’s experience to a story, I don’t necessarily need to read self-reinforcements of intellectual prowess or cool factor. After all, don’t we have enough personal profile options to share those on?