Digital-First Rewarding But Challenging, Say ASBPE Webinar Speakers
Wouldn’t it be terrific if you could produce 100% original online content? Or if you could post six newsletters per week, one of which summarized previous most-read stories? If you can do so, you have a good shot of becoming the industry’s authoritative source for news and information.
Two editors who clearly have reached that level are Lisa Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest, and Rich Luna, editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional. Both parties shared their experiences on September 22nd during a webinar from ASBPE, “How to Navigate The Path to ‘Digital-First.'”
Effective digital-first publications can be rewarding for editors and readers alike. “Different types of content format and better engagement with your audience” are among the exciting promises for digital-first achievers, said Pierce.
Delivering on those promises is not easy though. Luna argued that digital success requires devotion to breaking news rather than responding to it. “We want to be the primary source,” he said, “telling people what to know when we know it.”
In fact, achieving and maintaining a high level of success in the digital-first era is increasingly arduous. For one thing, noted Luna, the current staff-cutting surge is a high hurdle to overcome. “I lost all my freelance,” he said. “This declined our ability to be first out with news. I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel.”
Don’t overlook other hurdles
Whether digital or print, B2B traditional editorial practices must be resolved before leadership effort can proceed. First is the matter of how to allocate digital space and effort to what we used to call “back-of-book” departments. This includes personnel announcements, low-impact vendor news like plant expansions, new rep appointments, or lengthy new-product sections. Something has to give, especially if the move to digital is accompanied by print media elimination.
The other nuisance is the existing hook mentality I have discussed in previous blogs. In a digital environment devoted 100% to news coverage, editorial calendars require considerable adjustment. It is still common today during B2B sales meetings to insist that substantial content allow favorable exposure to vendor or advertiser product lines. What other options will marketing have that allow co-existence between editorial and sales activities?
A final thought: As mentioned during ASBPE’s webinar, the reality is that digital-first exposes B2B publishers to many additional competitors. The need to anticipate how best to achieve and maintain leadership in an expanded competitive environment will be paramount.
If you missed the workshop, you may want to contact ASBPE to request access to the webinar archive (not yet available as of this writing). Developing and maintaining competitive leadership has never been easy. In today’s digital-first environment, it may be even more difficult.