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Collaborating and Being Informative (in-house) and AI (It’s Coming) Should Help Guide Your Metrics

The next leap in metrics may be AI-based automation. The Globe and Mail has built a prediction engine they call Sophi that analyzes data on article performance to key the homepage and landing pages. It also uses AI to determine which stories users will pay to access and which can deliver more ad revenue. But even with that day coming, metrics should remain a collaborative affair.

I mentioned last week that at our Editorial Council meeting at the Neal Awards, one editorial director recounted a story about a new reporter who kept telling her about his articles’ analytics, who was reading and other metrics. She literally reveled in this feedback, especially since in this remote age, it can be a big challenge to get new people on the same page.

This reminded me of the Lessons From a Leader my colleague Amanda McMaster conducted with Lucy Swedberg, executive editor and senior editorial director at Harvard Business Publishing. “One of the best practices that we’ve embedded is an analytics meeting for our editors, so that they can really see their work and how it ends up performing out in the world,” Swedberg said. “You start to hear them thinking and observing, ‘Oh, this thing did really well—let’s do more of those.’ I love when I hear they’re getting insights from the data. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what will keep us going and [allow us to] make an impact.”

In a Reuters Institute report—Overcoming Metrics Anxiety: New Guidelines for Content Data in Newsrooms—Elisabeth Gamperl, managing editor, digital storytelling unit, Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, looked at narratives around data analytics. Ultimately, she writes, analysts should be seen as vital members of the newsroom.

That train—if not already here—is pulling into the station. Here are more ideas on metrics and analytics from the report and other sources.

Don’t overwhelm – find your key metrics.
In article recently on The Fix, David Tvrdon argues that putting too many metrics on your journalists’ plates could be risky. “With every added metric the chance of more people not getting it simply rises exponentially. I would rather use a simplified metric and tweak it in time than risking colleagues in the newsroom having different goals.” The Financial Times used RFV (recency, frequency, volume) to help hit one million digital subscribers. Later, they pledged allegiance to a more consumption-based Quality Reads.

Adjust to what machine learning can do.
“Even with some of the more effective paywalls or data walls, most of the time they’re ‘a one size fits all’ or ‘one size fits a segment’ thing. I think what we’ll see is much more automated, AI-driven single user journeys,” said Gabe Karp, EMEA director at digital agency 10up, in the PressGazette. “So if the machine can figure out that I only read one article a day from The New York Times but their subscription is valued based on me reading five articles a day, can they give me a different offer at a different price point?”

Be positive and concise.
One analytics team developed a list of questions they work through before submitting data to the newsroom. Leaders also advise to be careful in sending around individual rankings or standings. Instead, promote information on screens that is helpful to the newsroom. For example, “Did you know that most people read us between 6 and 8 am?” And be concise. “If you provide too much, it has a counterintuitive effect of making people less engaged with it because people don’t know where to focus. It becomes a little bit overwhelming and disengaging to just see reams and reams of data,” said Jörn Rose, head of strategic growth & insight, BuzzFeed.

Focus on measures that support your editorial and revenue model goals.
“If your goal is audience growth, you must start measuring new users. If your objective is to generate more subscriptions, perhaps you should consider measuring conversion journeys in more detail, from anonymous to registered readers,” writes Gamperl. “Media outlets with subscription models pay attention to engagement metrics: time on site, pages per session and bounce rate (or the percentage of readers who visit a single page and look at nothing else on your website before leaving).

Don’t look at metrics as static and immovable.
It should be an ongoing process—and include a positive feedback loop. The question should not be: What is the number? But rather: What can you do in response to this number? A poor-performing story might be repackaged in another context. “If a story should work and it doesn’t, we try to look at the presentation, change the headline, change the picture and publish it again at another time,” one editor said. Another editor added: “We have as many open conversations about when things haven’t worked as possible without everyone getting really upset. That is not easy because people work incredibly hard in the newsroom.” What lessons can be learned?

Look at opens vs. “dwell times.”
If an article has a high open rate but a low dwell time, then it might be a “one-fact” story, or the headline “missold” it. On the other hand, if opens are low but the engagement with the story is high, then maybe people aren’t finding it. Try plugging it on social media or giving it a better position on your website. “Working with metrics is all about trial and error, adjustment and retrial,” Gamperl writes. “Every failure is a step closer to success.”

You can download the report here.

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Finding New Stories, Speakers and Sources Takes Work But the Value for Your Audience Can Be Huge

I was walking around an amazing exhibit recently—Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano—at our National Portrait Gallery here in D.C. I was incredibly fortunate that the curator, Alex Mann, was giving a casual tour, and I could listen in and ask questions. It got me thinking about the stories we’re missing out on.

I asked Mann about one artist—Alice Pike Barney—who had a portrait of Whistler in the show. The description said she was a nineteenth century artist and Washington socialite, though I’d never heard of her. He said the museum had other paintings by her in “open storage,” that she built an incredible studio in Dupont Circle (that’s now the Embassy of Latvia), and she and her daughter were huge in the suffragette movement.

I researched more today and read that she also “helped build the National Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument, the nation’s first federally supported outdoor theater.” That’s a hugely popular theater today! I had never read that.

The point is she was a major player, yet she’s mostly ignored. There are so many stories to uncover and cover in all of our niches—especially of women. One of the 2022 Neal Award winners, for Best Profile, is titled A Tribute to Female Essential Workers by Rachel Engel, senior associate editor of FireRescue1.com and EMS1.com for Lexipol. A nurse and artist, Kate Bergen, “created an entire movement dedicated to honoring female essential workers, with a nod to the Rosie Riveters of World War II—even receiving a blessing for the project from an original Rosie.”

Though Women’s History Month and Black History Month are over, and National Hispanic Heritage Month and other important landmarks occur in the fall, the focus should be year-round. Here are some tips on finding more diverse and uncovered stories, plus new sources and speakers:

If you want to diversity your speakers and /or sources and profiles, the most effective thing you can do is diversify the group whose job is finding them. “Panels tend to mirror the teams that create them,” writes Ken Sterling, EVP and CMO at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, in an article for Northstar Meetings Group. “When you have all white men picking a panel, the panel tends to be all white men. But when you add diverse people to the planning committee, the panel will start to represent a more global view.” Committees for story ideas can be similar.

Look at job titles. “We launched an association that exceeded our expectations in a few months,” Elizabeth Petersen, project director, Simplify Compliance, once told me, referring to the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity. “We were looking at registrations for events and one of my product people noticed, ‘There’s a new title popping up, and we had never seen this title before’…” Advanced outreach and marketing followed, and a successful organization was created. Look for unique titles—there are new audience, diversity, and people and customer happiness titles that could lead you to interesting new folks.

Ask around. Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, has been awesome when we’ve needed recommendations for a webinar or session—or a new story idea. One time that led me to Hannah Glover, group managing editor there who did a great presentation. Another time we found Emily Laermer, a managing editor, who at that time was the data visualization editor who spoke about infographics, such a big topic now. Who’s the Dan in your audience and membership? Do you need a special committee to help?

Lean on your awards and future leader programs. I get so many ideas through our award winners—interesting women podcast hosts, young diverse chemists, etc. Last year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) won a Silver EXCEL Award for Rising Up, focusing on women scientists. That led me to Emily Petersen, their ultra-talented senior photo editor of Science Magazine. Look for her in a webinar in the near future. Our award winners are up for all members to see—here are the Neals—as are most organizations’. “[Our] Future Leaders program has provided us a way to connect with the next generation of leaders in the industry we cover,” George Yedinak, co-founder, executive vice president, Aging Media Network, wrote to me last year.

Think expertise. “It’s important to feature women talking about their expertise, not gender,” said Tracey Shumpert, VP of membership and programs here at FISD, a division of SIIA. She’s put together all-star panels of women “who we would normally just use for keynotes to talk about the future of our industry, and that’s been very successful.” Those talks are not specifically publicized as a women’s group event but rather “All-Star Senior Executive Panels.” Panels such as these can also unearth other hidden stories and people who might be acquaintances and colleagues.

Go through LinkedIn. I graduated from Rutgers University and belong to a couple of college groups on LinkedIn. One day, Sherri L. Smith, editor in chief of Future’s Laptop Magazine, came up in one of the conversations. The first Black woman to be editor of a business or tech magazine, she became a wonderful guest on one of our webinars, and I’ve followed her ever since—including a fun and informative discussion on video game releases last summer. LinkedIn has all sorts of groups like that.

 

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‘Look Closely at the Present You Are Constructing’; Here’s a 6-Question Quiz to AMPLIFY Your Knowledge

“Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.” Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker may not have been talking about our AM&P Network’s upcoming AMPLIFY 2022 Content & Marketing Summit on June 22-23 in Washington, D.C., but she could have been. We’ve all been given a clean slate to construct a new present for ourselves. Why not start here?

Here’s a 6-question quiz with information taken straight from the sessions that you will see and hear if you attend AMPLIFY 2022. Check out the full agenda of AMPLIFY here. We’ve put our heart and sole desires to adding value to your work life into this event.

1. According to a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) study, podcast publishers should have a balance between a greater number of ads and shorter ad lengths while maximizing placement across pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll positions. The majority of podcast ads today are ______________.
a. pre-roll
b. mid-roll
c. post-roll

Hear about this and more in the session Podcast Away! Lessons in Monetization and Storytelling From Our Leading Podcasts.

2. According to an Adobe Digital Trends survey, 38% of companies feel they are not prepared for a world without third-party cookies. What percentage of organizations does a recent Industry Dive article give as having “rich first-party data”?
a. 10%
b. 28%
c. 49%
d. 67%

Help secure your future by joining Industry Dive’s editor in chief, Davide Savenije, and VP of marketing, Robin Re in the session How to Succeed with First-Party Data – Industry Dive’s Playbook. (They are coming off winning 10 2022 Neal Awards!)

3. According to Hootsuite, social media will account for what percentage of all digital advertising spending in 2022?
a. 20%
b. 33%
c. 45%
d. 56%

“Social media managers will need to get creative as the ad space becomes more competitive and produce high-quality content that mirrors each network’s distinct experience.” To get a piece of this pie, attend the session Connecting Through Social Media: The Power of Social for Niche Audiences with, among others, Debbie Bates-Schrott (pictured), SVP of Yes&, and Nicole Glueckert, director of social media, Yes&.

4. Choose your words carefully. Brief Media founder and CEO and AMPLIFY keynote speaker Elizabeth Green learned right away that it would be beneficial to refer to her audience as “pet __________,” not pet owners. That’s never changed.
a. caretakers
b. readers
c. parents
d. money-spenders

Learn how Green built an idea-sharing culture and one committed to social good in her keynote talk Mission Critical: Social Good as a Core Business Principle on June 22. See the answer (and another key to her success) below.

5. An organization called Qgiv lists 15-plus strategies for volunteer recruitment. One of the strategies is to have a _________________ plan ready from the start.
a. Volunteer Succession
b. Thank-you
c. Information Session
d. All of the above

Join Alison Lake, team lead, content acquisitions, Bloomberg Law, and two association veterans for the session Why Should I Write for You? Turning Volunteer Authors and Contributors into Champions and Promoters.

6. In Forrester’s sales and channel survey, what percentage of B2B sales leaders said they expected their company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion would be considered by buying committees when evaluating a potential partnership?
a. 10%
b. 22%
c. 33%
d. 54%

“Words matter. You as writers, editors, content creators have a lot of power,” said Melanie Padgett Powers, owner of MelEdits. “The best copy editors I know are… paying attention to how people speak and how language is evolving.” Incorporating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) into Your Magazine in a Purposeful Way with Padgett Powers and Lilia LaGesse (pictured) will be a must-see session.

ANSWERS

1.b Mid-roll garnered 64% of the ad revenue share last year compared to 32% for pre-roll (up from 22%) and 4% for post-roll.

2.a 10% – “The other 90% fall into the second category. They have been using third-party data and cookies as a patchwork to target audiences, but now that those cookies are becoming obsolete the future has been looking pretty bleak.”

3.b 33% – Brands will have to work harder to create ads that mirror and enrich the distinct experience each social network offers.

4.c parents – Trust is huge, Green said. “Be willing to be vulnerable to establish trust in your organization.”

5.d all of the above. “Try hosting an info session, either virtually or in-person, to explain your program and answer any questions you might have… A succession plan is essentially a guide to what a volunteer should do if they can no longer fulfill their duties and need to pass them to someone else… Develop a good reputation for your volunteer program by emphasizing appreciation from the get-go. Make a plan to thank each person who attends an info session about your program or comes to a one-off volunteer opportunity.

6.d 54% – Incorporating DEI into your publications will only become more and more valuable as time moves on. Don’t miss this session! Also, the second-day keynote will be: We Are the Change Makers: How Association Pros Are Driving Multi-level DEI Progress.

Your Score
1-3 right – Come to AMPLIFY for the right answers!
4-5 right – We need you in the rooms where it happens!
6 right –  Board elections are coming up! Any inclinations?

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‘It Does Take a Village’; Navigating the Annual Supply and Demands of World Press Freedom Day

On this World Press Freedom Day 2022, we salute the invaluable journalism being done worldwide—and, of course, within our own AM&P Network. “Freedom is a continuum and is never guaranteed,” writes SIIA President Jeff Joseph. “SIIA will continue to stand up for policies that support press freedom and safety. And we will continue to celebrate the brilliant, quality journalism and publishing coming out of associations and industry that seeks to better our world.”

I just finished watching an all-star panel (pictured here) from the National Press Club that included Jason Rezaian (on the right), Washington Post global opinions writer, author of the book “Prisoner” and producer of the popular podcast “544 Days,” referring to the time he was unjustly imprisoned by Iranian authorities until his release in January 2016.

Interestingly, one of the major themes of the webinar was to support and “subscribe”—to newspapers, magazines, newsletters and especially community news. Jen Judson (third from left), 115th president of the National Press Club and a land warfare reporter for Defense News, said that’s where she got her start, as did many of us. “If you can get in and support community news, that will be so important,” she said. “Subscribe.”

If B2B, niche publishing and associations are made of anything, it’s communities—of people, of topics, of places, of challenges, of resoluteness.

“We can all afford it. We can’t afford not to,” said Rezaian, speaking about support for journalism, before addressing safety. “Without this community—the National Press Club, other press freedom defenders—we wouldn’t be learning [the most important] lessons… It does take a village.

“And we’re coming to the realization that the government and non-government actors need to come together and cooperate. It should be a national issue. It’s one that’s getting worse and worse and worse. And if we don’t address it now, it’s going to get to the point where none of us are going to feel comfortable getting on the plane with our blue passport and going around the world because we will be a target.

“Today is the day to take stock and subscribe,” Rezaian added, “and save democracy.”

“We are in a global war for freedom of speech, freedom of thought,” said Kathy Kiely, Lee Hills Professor of Press Freedom Studies at the University of Missouri and former reporter for USA Today. “Support democracy. Subscribe.” She spoke about the importance of “having someone who is really part of a community [covering that community] and having that institutional memory. But salaries need to improve.”

Here are 5 examples from our member organizations from journalists who are part of their communities:

Ollie’s Last Day: The Impact of a SIDS Death on First Responders. A week ago, on Lexipol’s FireRescue1, Linda Willing, a retired career fire officer and founder of RealWorld Training and Consulting, wrote this moving story about a baby they could not save—and the effects that has. “I am the eye of the hurricane, Ollie and I as one, with the world falling apart around us. It is simple – I breathe, I massage his heart, I hold him inches away from my own face in silent prayer, and he does absolutely nothing.”

An Empathetic Ear—and More—for Veterinary Professionals Struggling With Depression. The American Animal Hospital Association has a blog called NEWStat that was an EXCEL finalist last year for this blog post. “Between 1979 and 2015, 398 veterinarians died by their own hands,” it begins. “…And while this appeared to be a crisis of major proportions, many people in the profession weren’t having ‘The Conversation,’ at least not openly. Thankfully, that’s changing. Because sometimes, talking about it can help. Or, in this case, posting about it.”

A Devastating Stroke and a Speech-Language Revelation. In this recent, first-person account for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s LeaderLive, Grace McConnell writes: “Through the night, I lost control of my right side and could no longer sit or stand. The shift change 12 hours later saved my life, when the head of the ER recognized a stroke.”

We Have Been Here All Along. American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News won the 2022 Neal Award for Best DEI Coverage for this special issue. “Inspiration comes from within homes, communities, and the broader world—and it is key that when young Black people and other underrepresented people look around these places, they see chemists and engineers who look like them,” wrote guest editor Paula Hammond. “Exposure is key to engaging future chemists and chemical engineers.”

Heart Attacks Struck Sek Kathiresan’s Family. He’s Devoted His Life to Stopping Them. Biopharma Dive’s Ben Fidler won a 2022 Neal Award for Best Profile for this heart-rending story. “This story might be familiar to the millions of people and families affected by heart disease, the world’s leading cause of death. But it’s more than that for Kathiresan, who, when Senthil died, was a cardiologist and emerging as one of the field’s leading geneticists… Kathiresan channeled his despair into motivation.”

Of course, important journalism does not have to be life and death. We are all deeply invested in the niches we represent. But these articles capture the spirit, dedication and humanity that is at the heart of our missions.

Thanks so much for reading on this special day.

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‘Create a Place That Is Purpose-Designed’; Offices Must Change to Meet New Reality

In speaking with leaders at last week’s Neal Awards, bringing people back to the office was not top-of-mind. Recruitment, adding more diverse voices, finding the right metrics, revenue initiatives and onboarding all figured more prominently. But offices aren’t going away (yet). In seeking some type of middle ground, so to speak, experts recommend that a more “purpose-designed” office approach must be taken.

“What we’re seeing is a desire to be in an environment that’s more like a hospitality setting or a hotel setting,” says Nena Martin, global technology leader and director of workplace for the design and architecture firm Gensler, in an article on Fast Company about the workplace of the future.

Gone, she says, might be the executive corner office. “We’re seeing [executives] migrate to more of the middle of the space, and giving that corner to employees for a huddle room or a meeting room. It becomes more democratic, and now they have excellent views and it’ll get utilized more often.”

If you’re emphasizing that the point of coming to an office is the water-cooler conversations, then providing the nicest room makes a lot of sense. No reason to keep that interaction so serendipitous.

“Workspaces aren’t about a cubicle farm full of desks with people beavering away on their computers anymore,” says Carolyn Trickett, head of business technology, property and asset management at global real estate services firm JLL, in an excellent report titled Workplaces Disrupted: The Office of the Future on AESC’s Executive Talent digital magazine. “It’s not about having people in the office; it’s now about having people interacting in different ways, depending on the type of work that they’re doing.”

What else can companies do to their offices to make them desirable and—maybe, more importantly—beneficial for people to come in?

Approach it purpose-designed. The ideal, according to Maja Paleka, a founder and director of Juggle Strategies, is “to create a place that is purpose-designed, where people are very careful and purposeful about how this space is going to serve us, what it is going to deliver, and what it is designed for…” she says in the AESC report. “Sometimes where organizations fumble is when the initial motivation is about cost-cutting, real estate consolidation and things like that.”

Provide the comforts of home and support sustainability. To make the office more desirable, Martin points to a “few universal elements, including warmer lighting (think: task lights at desks rather than bright overheads), a variety of soft seating, and ‘biophilic elements’ like plants and access to natural light.” Paleka agrees, saying that reclaimed wood, live plants and natural textures and hues are becoming integral. “Because there is so much of that integration of work and life, we’re seeing more organizations create these really comfortable spaces, so huge use of natural materials is a trend, seeing lots of greenery, but again, creating purposeful spaces within them.”

Duplicate home rituals. “Resimercial” is how Courtney Cotrupe, president of Partners + Napier, a creative agency, describes the build-out of their new space, in the AESC report. “Think about how you work at home: you might wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, start to do some emails in the kitchen, then maybe you grab your laptop and go to the dining room table, and maybe you get up and walk around while you have a conference call,” she said. “We really wanted to inspire that type of work, here.” She left out the couch to nap on.

Bring your dogs to work days. An article in The Washington Post yesterday talked about Wallace, a 2-year-old border collie, chasing ping pong balls in the office all day, as his dog mom worked. (Yes, ping pong tables are front and center in that office.) “Half of the 500 top executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets at the office,” writes Danielle Abril. “Tech companies including Google, Amazon and Uber plan to continue to allow dogs at their offices, even with their flexible office policies.” Of course, not all agree. Gesundheit.

Add more flexibility. Someone remarked to me this weekend that downtown DC is still overflowing with young people; they’re just not necessarily going to offices. “They don’t want to be at their desks all the time,” said another design expert. “They want to be doing different things [and] be able to move around.” According to the U.K. Workplace Survey 2019 by Gensler Research Institute, “employees who rate their organizations highly on innovation measures also report having greater choice and use a wider range of workspaces to get their work done.” So design matters.

“I think the role of workplace experience managers are just becoming more and more important,” says another expert. Amen and good luck.