Digital Publishing Innovation and David McKnight
Category Archives: Innovation
Andrea Pellegrino shared a great post that gets right to the point of how Associations are failing their members. Her post 7 Ways to Lose Members she shares how Associations are. Publisher should take note too as a couple of these point may hit home as well. Here is a quick summary and my comments..take a look..what do you see?. Warning, it’s sarcastic!
1. Don’t ask members what they want: Tell them!
Your association has been doing this for years…eventually things will change back so members get what your doing, right?
2. Talk to your members as if you don’t know who they are.
This social media thing will blow over and people will fallback into line. After all, you already know what they really need.
3. Don’t give members personal service: Give them FAQ’s.
Aren’t all members the same and isn’t it so much more efficient to tell them all what they need to know, at the same time.
4. Make them wait!
See point #2…they will change, then we can go back to the way things were.
5. Ask them for more money right away.
Everyone knows that membership dues isn’t enough. Let’s though a bunch of products at them and surely they need some.
6. Don’t waste time or money bringing in “peripheral” members!
By all means, if people can not pay for full membership – forget them…they will just miss out! This is member only content, join or you don’t exist.
7. Focus on “messaging,” not on providing value.
Because we know what they want we just need to figure how to tell them.
This may sound harsh but members are not going to wait for Associations to change…they have more choices than ever before.
The value of building a community is well understood and the race to build one is on. The for-profit world is all to willing to find the products and services members will pay for.
The publishing industry, in particular, also heavy hit by the changes in digital technology, is slow to react but appears to be more motivate to change, to innovate. Through subscriptions, products, events and better connecting sponsors…will they become the leading “membership-based organizations”?
The answers, if you are an Association or Publisher… is different for each organization… but the answer will be found though innovation…innovative thinking, innovative leadership, innovative people.
Check out Andreas full post here.
Clearly there are a number of digital media publishing ideas to chase and some to embrace. Several new products and opportunities exist to improve workflow to save money and create new products (see the circle). All of the options can be overwhelming! So where should you focus…tools, technology, media, or all of the above. My suggestion is to focus on MARKETING.
OK, why am I talking about marketing for bringing innovation to digital publishing? Because that is how you connect to a wider audience. I have worked with few Associations or Publishers that are not already creating great content. Content that exists in multiple media. Content that if more people find out about it more people will join their community. Many are also investing in workflow too. But none of this happens without marketing.
I’m not alone in this thinking. Check out the Scholarly Kitchen (a site focused on Scholarly publishing) recent blog post New Media and New Markets — Making Sense of the Possibilities in Publishing. In Joseph Esposito post he does a great job of talking about innovation in publishing from three categories:
- Subtractive – change that lowers revenue
- Substitutive – takes an existing revenue stream and replicates it with an innovation
- Additive – leads to growth
It’s critical to have a strategic perspective of you digital publishing efforts. The blog post concludes with “The real innovation for digital media is not in technology or in enhancing products. The real innovation is in marketing. The successful publisher is one that can study new technologies and see the inherent marketing opportunities before others do. Management is foresight, first and always.”
For marketing however, using social media, email, websites, cold or warm calling are all required…but can be a slow and expensive process. So what is the key…your content itself. Unleash your content…make it highly discoverable. Highly search able. Highly relevant to the visitors on your website. Highly shareable.
Now, I did not use the word “free” although aspects of your content distribution strategy should include “free” content…free access. But capturing value is required to be sustainable.
Your PubCMS (Publishing Content Manage System) should provide you with ways to effectively manage content make it highly discoverable, searchable and relevant to you visitor. If it can not…you may not be using a PubCMS but a website CMS which simply manages pages on a website….not a publishing solution. You should also be thinking of XML and at least a path to get there.
I’ve said it before and will again…Associations and Publishers are in a race…the winners won’t be the only ones with great content (hopefully most are) but instead the winners will embrace innovation by getting their content read. Are you?
As I work with associations on helping them find solutions for increasing their capacity to publish more content digitally it’s clear to me that the digital publishing industry is far from being clear to people. I try to break down the “solutions’ into these buckets:
Content Conversion – the process of taking application files – mainly Word, InDesign or PDF and converting them into XML or online publishing and/or eBook files such as .Mobi (Amazon) or ePub3 (most others). XML offer publisher the ability to write once and publish many (print, digital, online).
Comment: XML offer a lot to digital publishing but it does require investing not just in conversion but for long term sustainability in changing your workflow too.
eBook Distribution – these are downloadable files either read on a computer, table or eBook reader. There are many options today on how to provide eBooks to members. Amazon, Apple, Google and Barns & Noble are the big players in the commercial distribution.
Comment: I’m not a big believer that these types of eBook work well for association except for very popular titles. The conversation, high royalty fees and management make this less profitable and the exposure to mainstream marketing not as helpful.
Online Database for Research – there are also dozens of free or paid database solution such as PubMed that content can be uploaded and made available. Most require content converted to XML and have strict guidelines.
Comment: For some groups like medical association you should have a strategy to get content to PubMed and others. The key is to work with a solid conversion company to help you ensure the quality of your content is maintained. There are only a few companies that do this well.
Content Management Systems (CMS) – maybe the area with the widest array of solutions and the most confusion. There are many CMS solutions – open sources and proprietary. All at the core help manage the content on a website. Few CMS solutions provide “true” publishing features such as subscription management, access control, eCommerce, uploading and managing large collections content (tens of hundreds of thousand pages), advance search and meta-data.
Comment: Know what your needs are… what your members and the rest of the world needs. There is a unique new opportunity with the right tools for Associations to build world class ePublishing Portals – driving relevance, revenue and more member value.
The first three above the focus is usually on service and quality with price being fairly consistent. The more “technical” the content the more quality is needed in the conversion process. The CMS solution is about matching the needs with the solution with the budget. The goal – eliminate content silos, have a mix of free, member access only and paid for content. Make sure the content is shareable and fully indexed by google and other search engines (but the site manages access).
I’m not going to rehash the old “Print is Dead” mantra. It just IS for many types of publications – proceedings, directories, most manuals, standards, journals, marketing material, and more.
With change brings new value. Your ability to reach a much wider audience brings huge value. Strive to bring value to your members but connecting with a wider audience to build your community and key to maintaining relevancy. Knowledge is your weapon. Use it wisely.
Where should you and your team put your digital publishing focus?
Online and eBooks.
Here are the technologies or digital solution your team needs to research, learn and either build expertise in-house or go find.
- ePub3 – for eBooks, this technology will be profound – books will not just be read but “engaged” with and learning brought to new levels
- HTML5 and XML – for online, eBooks and mobile (mobile is CRITICAL)
- “Pull” vs “Push” – website and mobile delivery that identify a members information needs and allows them to get the content they value most – not hunt for it or get spammed with email to know it’s available
- Component Content Management Systems – sharing of content in small chunks, like the news has done for years, yet the chunks can be combined, mixed and matched to form new content pieces.
- Community Technology – beyond your members. Associations have led the way on building communities and today’s technology makes it easier for new communities to form. So Associations need to embrace this technology too, and yes social media. But communities that offer members the opportunities to meet face to face (events/conferences) – will have the edge.
For eBooks conversion from existing content with complex formatting, equations, charts, tables and all the stuff that is key to communicating knowledge – don’t waste your time “doing-it-yourself”. Quality and accuracy are priceless and protects your reputation. Find an expert and one that can help put you on a path to adopting new ways to collect and distribute content.
An Innovation Challenge: Share this list with your entire team – assign a team member with one of these topics and have them research how that technology can impact your organization. Have them find an expert and talk to them. Awareness sparks innovation.