Featured Guest: Welcome John Bethune!
Welcome John Bethune!
John Bethune is vice president and editorial director of the publishing division of Canon Communications LLC (Los Angeles, CA). In his 20-year publishing career, he has served as the editor of numerous trade publications, and has overseen development of the company’s flagship Web site, Medical Device Link, since its inception in 1996. Canon Communications publishes a variety of magazines for the medical device, pharmaceutical, packaging, and microelectronics industries, and produces major trade shows for these and other industries. The company’s e-newsletter program began three years ago and now encompasses more than half of its 20 publications.
Q: What advice would you give to an editor who wants to create a new e-mail newsletter?
A: In most cases, the first thing to say is that it’s a lot easier than it appears. Editors tend not to be particularly tech savvy, and they may fear they need to learn HTML or some obscure technology to put a newsletter together. In fact, all you need to create an e-mail newsletter is what editors produce every day-good content. You can let your service provider take care of the rest.
Q: What about workload? Do editors worry that they won’t have the time they need to produce the content?
A: That doesn’t have to be the case. Some of our most successful newsletters are simply previews of the magazines that our editors are already producing. We make a point of uploading the content to our Web sites before publication and provide links to the articles from newsletters. The editors need only write one short original piece at the top of the newsletter.
Many editors, though, welcome the opportunity for original content that e-newsletters present. It gives them an outlet for stories that would have to be cut from the magazine for lack of space, or that are too time-sensitive to run in a monthly magazine with a long lead time.
Q: What do you find is the biggest obstacle in creating and managing successful e-newsletters?
A: In a word, consistency. For e-mail newsletters to succeed, they need to be published on a regular schedule, and they should have a clear, consistent identity. As with a publication, the readers need to know the benefits to them of reading the newsletter, or they’ll soon start deleting it without even opening it up.
Q: How do you measure success in your enewsletter programs?
A: First, I look at the metrics to see how many people opened the e-mail and what they clicked on. This is the beauty of on-line media compared to traditional print-you know exactly what people looked at in your publication.
Secondly, of course, I look at sponsor support. Just like us, the advertisers know how many people clicked on their ads. If the newsletters weren’t working for them, they’d tell us about it!
Q: In 2005, what, for you, was the biggest new obstacle in the world of publishing?
A: It became even more clear in the last year that editors have to become conversant with on-line media. I don’t believe print is going away anytime soon, but I do think it’s essential for editors to become comfortable with all the new ways of reaching their audiences, from e-newsletters to podcasts. In the coming years, it will be an essential survival skill.