Digital Publishing Innovation and David McKnight
Three Strategies to Create an ePublishing Platform
One of the most important aspects of embarking on the “investment” of digital publishing is to clearly understand how the solution will impact things like relevance, member value and new forms of revenue. For some all three may be critical. For other associations one or to may be more important. Here are three ideas of HOW to impact – relevance, value and revenue.
#1 Central Repository
Many associations are rich in content but poor in organization. Content tends to be fragmented and leads to content silos (LINK). It becomes hard for members, let alone the rest of the world, to find information and often there is no way to cross reference related content coming from multiple sources (i.e. conferences, publications, research, journals, Newsletter, any written or recorded content).
By building a central repository – a data warehouse or knowledge center, you bring value to your members and a central tool for your staff. You can continue to have other webpages for events, publications, marketing, etc and link back to your central repository. A central solution allows:
1) Standardized workflow distribution
2) Enable readers to search multiple sources of content quickly
3) Create new products based on topics and offer readers very focused content that meet their needs
These things are critical to enable your members or others to find relevant information fast. It may also add new forms of revenue because people will pay to get access to just the information they need.
#2 – Delivering the Most Relevant Content
We live in an age of information overload. Yet it can be critical we find a way to focus on the important information that impacts our career and world the most. Digital publishing offer Associations new ways to help address this challenge and create value never before possible.
If your association adds value by making sure it collects and gathers content on a daily basis or you have members that have very different needs for the information you collect then this approach to ePublishing may be something worth exploring.
By using meta-data to index and categorize your content, then combing with information in your Association Management System that identifies what your members are interested in. Plus the right Content Management System – one designed for ePublishing – you can create a web platform where each time a member logs in they are presented with the most relevant content based on their needs.
The site becomes very dynamic; content is changing as often as you enter new content. Your members can more quickly focus on relevant content making the most of their limited time.
One tip is in your meta-data, you create a one or two sentence description of the content – a “news” summary or headline that to allow your reader to decide if they want to invest more time in that piece of content. As your site manager watches what content is getting the most attention they can build bundles of content and share that as a new way to help members discover relevant information.
This solution in an “engagement” solution and does require active participation by Association Staff. When deployed and operated well – this can be come a destination site for frequent visitors by members and possibility non-members too.
#3 – Discoverability and Access Control
Associations controlling access to content has been the standard – it’s how associations protect the value of membership. The ideas expressed by some of “free access”, “freemium” if you would, as a way to grow, has some merit – but is that sustainable? Controlling access is important but the challenge is being able to manage multiple types of access and have that access change over time (for example charge for last years conference content, restrict this years to attendees only and open up content from two years ago to all members or even the whole world.
Institutional or company access is also a new area of opportunity for Associations to license content to library’s or large organizations willing to gain access to a larger chunk of content.
So access control is key, but for some Associations it’s also critical they find ways to reach a much greater audience. If membership is declining are there ways to still reach those not willing to pay for membership, but still see value in a portion of your content. What about being more open to discovering other groups that you haven’t connected with that would also be interested in you content.
SO the opportunity is to use an ePublishing Content Management systems that allows you to think more strategically about your content, provides a variety of ways to organize and control access to content and be flexible to change that access as time or events change. Your in-house publisher may very well be your key resource toward membership growth and new revenue.