Driving Membership Engagement on Multiple Platforms
The CPA Journal's cross-platform approach to creating compelling content in association media.
This is the eighth in a series of Q&A's with speakers at the Folio: Association Media Summit on May 3rd in Washington, D.C.
Just because professional associations cover an incredibly wide range of various trades and industries, it doesn't mean there aren't some universal truths. Of course, media products—whether print, digital, or otherwise—are instrumental in helping any association grow, communicate with its members, and advance its mission into the future.
Today, associations are engaging with their members across more platforms than ever before. But which are the most effective? And how do differing platforms command differing content strategies?
With more than two decades in the publishing business, Rick Kravitz, editor-in-chief of The CPA Journal and managing director of content and publishing at the New York State Society of CPA's (NYSSCPA), has extensive experience managing content and guiding strategies across multiple platforms. Here, enjoy a preview of some of the insights he will share as a panelist during the "Print Versus Digital: A Strategic Choice" session at the Folio: Assocation Media Summit in Washington.
Folio: What are some effective ways in which an association publication can draw feedback from its membership?
Richard Kravitz: One of the most effective ways to engage our readership is to publish "point-counterpoint" type articles—in our new "news and views" segment of the publication—on the most critical issues facing our members. It's our highest read area. We then continue the dialogue in successive issues with reader/member participation and response.
We also never shy away from letters to the editor. We always allow our outside authors to respond.
Folio: What was one of your most engaging articles/stories in recent issues, and why?
Kravitz: For our 85th anniversary issue, we ran a three-part series on the contributions of CPAs and our publication the CPA Journal to the World War II effort—this was arguably the last war where most Americans and much of western civilization were in alignment.
When we began this research project, detractors asked, "Are you serious? CPAs in the War?" But our CPAs who were generals and our Washington think tank figured out the logistics for building planes and tanks efficiently and effectively as well as how to finance the war effort—a fascinating look back in history. This series, entitled "Then and Now," was a finalist in the Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Awards for "Best Series of Articles."
Folio: Do you include the same content in both your print and digital editions, and why or why not?
Kravitz: No. Different channels demand different treatment in order to take advantage of the unique strength of each distribution channel. For example, in the online world we have just begun to experiment with audio and video clips by the writers of the articles, adding the editor-in-chief's favorite articles—"Rick's Picks"—and leveraging related content and archival content from our repository into a media mix. Also, artwork online requires different display rules than artwork in the mag.
Folio: In your opinion, what are some of the different benefits specific to the print edition of The CPA Journal? And digital?
Kravitz: In a world where there are 100's of millions of unique additions daily to social, proprietary, and academic sites, the permanence of print, observing the artistic integration of full size graphics, art and copy, and the tactile/physicality of paper is still highly valued by many. Traditional learners are sequential learners and studies show that engagement and enjoyment is increased and is as simple as flipping a page.
For the digitally engaged, online connotes rapid delivery, multitasking abilitiy, non-linear comprehension, and immediacy. When I was group publisher at Wolters Kluwer of their Legal Education and International Law units, one of our research studies concluded that learning time for multi-taskers added about 20 percent time to learn and that retention was reduced over the same period vs. print. I suspect that can be applied to periodicals that are read online as well.