Ten tips to help you think and act like a publisher
In previous posts I’ve looked at authorship, storytelling and ‘serious’ viral content. These are all components of publishing, which we are all doing now. Every time we share something online we are publishing it, recording it for posterity.
But in the act of creating and publishing content, do we see ourselves as publishers? And when I mean publishers I mean do we see the value in the content we are creating and are we realising that value in the way publishers do?
There is no silver bullet to that last statement by the way. Publishers continue to figure out how to realise the value in content as the web continues to disrupt their business models.
So what does a publishing mindset look like? Here are ten tips to help you think and act like a publisher.
Follow your instincts. What do your users need to know – information, data, etc. – and can you provide them with it? Trust your instinct and remember to develop your thinking based on that.
Give yourself time to explore the possibilities and involve others in the process. You’ll need a range of ideas to keep content fresh and relevant. Also use the process to involve others – be it internal colleagues or external agencies. These are the people who will be delivering it potentially, so help them feel like it is theirs to own from the earliest stage.
Support your instinct with evidence. Ask users what they would like to see – try out your ideas. Doing this will help you build up a set of users who you can use as a sounding board – what publishers call an editorial advisory panel. You can share ideas with them and they can feedback their thoughts. They might become your authors and advocates.
Reflect on what you have come up with in points 1, 2 and 3. Then figure out your general approach – what type of content, where will it be published, who will read it and what’s the value for you and them. It might be you do a podcast, a video interview or a whole range of things.
Whatever the scale of your publishing aspirations you will need a process. Who will be doing this, what skills are needed and what are the resource implications? Producing quality, regular content takes time, skill and resources (even if it is only your time).
Points one to five get you ready for publishing. The next five points consider the ongoing elements you will need to ensure your content remains relevant.
Just before the start of the year is usually when editorial calendars are created. These mark out the big events for your business and the industry sector you work in for the year ahead. From this you can then look at what you might create content-wise to support those events. On a more micro level, plan your content week to week. You will, for example, need to ensure writers know their deadlines. If you are using agencies to help create content then this plan will be a very useful document to help manage the process.
Mix up the content as much as you can and use formats that the users like.
Bear in mind the context in which the users are consuming your content. A five hundred word article might work but so might a three minute piece of audio or an infographic.
8. Being responsive
Publishing content is always the start of something so engage with your users via social channels, listen to what they are saying and use that to develop your content. Follow-up stories for journalists are exactly this – responding to developments once the initial story had been published. Now is not the time to broadcast content and think that is the end of the process. It is not.
Having the ability to understand the changing needs of your users is key to delivering valuable content. Have in place a system that ensures you know what users are thinking and saying and respond to that. Use your editorial panel to help with this. And tell your users that’s what you are dong – it is good to know you are being proactive in producing the right content.
This goes for most things in life. You and your teams need to enjoy doing this. If they don’t it will come through in the content and how you engage your users around it. So, make sure you have fun.