On Time and On Target – Managing the Publishing Pressure Cooker

The pressure is on publishers to produce high quality content against low budgets and tight deadlines. I take a look at how editorial teams can best manage content to achieve these goals.

  1. chevron left iconOn Time and On Target – Managing the Publishing Pressure Cooker
Morag Cuddeford-JonesMarch 28, 2019
  • Digital Asset Management
  • Content Management

The pressure on publishers to deliver high quality content across a wide range of platforms, both digital and analogue, against tight deadlines is relentless. So much so, that the orchestrating of content and its distribution across social, web, print, app and more can demand the attention and skills of a full time team of production professionals.

Yet, unsurprisingly, most publishers have neither the time nor the resources to devote whole departments to such content management processes. Not only that, but inserting another team or additional roles into the process will probably slow production down, adding in more steps and producing precisely the opposite of the desired effect.

Although an editor’s role is normally to bring content to life, it takes quite a different skillset to effectively manage the myriad of digital assets involved in content creation, and the processes required in moving it along the creation lifecycle until it reaches its predestined output channel. And the challenge of content management does not end there – what happens to a piece of content once it has featured in a particular magazine issue? Is this piece of content, be it an image, a recipe, an author’s bio, or a feature’s main body copy, simply left to rot in a particular department’s filing system? In the case of some publishers, the answer might be yes. But it should, most definitely, be a resounding no.

Typically, however, this is the case, with content being created and stored in silos. Even within a single publication there can be content coming from and going to a multitude of departments such as advertising, social, and editorial, each with different customer touchpoints and member of staff interacting with it. It is this kind of set up which can create difficulties in quickly finding existing content, encouraging the duplication of effort, and causing delays in approval across many areas of content production.

And I don’t think I need to tell you that this will have a negative impact on outgoings. Content costs. Factor in the demand for regional variants and multiple translations, and life gets even trickier.

So, how can we balance the need for high quality content against tight deadlines in a highly pressurized environment? Inevitably, technology is the answer.

Centralize Almost Everything

In the ideal scenario, content sits in a single system forming the heart of the editorial process. It moves along the lifecycle after each user interaction or, even better, as part of an automated workflow. All versions, changes, and approvals are transparent to the user at a glance, as well as which particular lifecycle stage the content is currently at and whose remit it currently falls under. The management of this process should require very little human input and therefore allow for very little human error, increasing overall efficiency in the production process and ensuring consistent in the quality of the content.

For this to happen, however, a central content hub or platform needs to be in place, acting as a single source of truth for all editorial assets which internal and external teams need to work with. Centralized processes and automation can be built out from there, bringing everyone involved in the project together, no matter where they are physically located.

And once the system is up and running, there is a myriad of ways in which such benefits can be taken full advantage of. For example, the reuse of content can save a company huge amounts of time and costs. Templates can be set up in order to ensure consistency and speed in layout production. Tasks can be assigned, completed, and reviewed all in one place. An image or interview recording taken for a particular publication can be reused to feed into a different publication, product, or service. Because it is stored in one central system, it is easy to locate a preapproved version, see where it has been featured before, and consider that context when planning its reuse. Not only does this speed the process up by avoiding duplication of effort and the sourcing of approval, but it also guarantees a consistency in content quality.

Bringing all the various content streams together in a single, central platform makes editorial processes and lifecycle management a lot easier. So much so that many publishing and media organizations are taking up this approach in order to become leaner and more efficient while still producing high level publications and products, and when you look into the facts and figures, it is easy to see why.

A leading European print and media service provider, Mohn Media (part of the Bertelsmann Printing Group), implemented such a platform in 2011 for its own purposes before offering it as omnichannel publishing system to its customers. One client of theirs – specialist magazine publisher Delius Klasing - is a particularly good example in that it now stores over 3 million of their assets in that central content system, and has so far used it to produce 1,100 books, 40 calendars, 17 magazines and 350 eBooks. Pretty impressive.

Integrating new technologies can be a daunting prospect for clients, whatever their size or technical maturity. Indeed, the lack of new technology adoption can be directly responsible for holding back progress or growth. For some, like Delius Klasing, being able to access systems which can be integrated or hosted remotely is a best of both worlds scenario, matching levels of product support and technical know how to individual need. For others, it can be a long and rather daunting and exhausting process of research, RFPs, and sales chatter before the right system is found and implemented.

But the benefits which such a system can bring to an organization are too tempting to resist, and for good reason too!

Morag Cuddeford-Jones
Morag has been a marketing journalist and editor for 20 years but is still trying to convince herself that she doesn’t look it. She came to journalism after a brief flirtation with the music and entertainment industry, which ended when she discovered that she nurtured a passionate dislike of any tunes not produced in 1985.

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