One of the biggest challenges facing media companies is how to efficiently scale digital content production to reach and engage new audiences. Savvy media professionals recognize the critical role of freelance writers to enable them to create the type and amount of content required to be competitive in this new world.
6 Critical Challenges Sabotaging Quality, Cost-Effective Digital Content Production
T he explosion of online information and changes in consumer behavior have dramatically shifted the print media business. Daily newspapers and weekly magazines now compete with constantly updatable digital information sources, such as websites and blogs that aggregate free content from thousands of online sources. Since 75 percent of adults turn to the Internet for daily news, print media businesses must evolve to remain both financially competitive and a first-source for breaking news and information. This is a serious issue, since website traffic is essential for print media organizations to generate revenue. Newspapers, which have historically relied on classified and display advertising and user subscriptions for revenues, have seen business diminish as ad dollars migrate to competing pure-play websites. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that for every dollar newspapers gain in digital revenue, they currently lose $7 in print advertising. 1
This new reality has several implications for the print media industry.
Print media must drive new revenue streams by innovating with digital content product offerings. Innovators are offering new forms of digital advertising, developing niche editorial products that include live chats and video clips, creating digital marketing services units, and offering enhanced services to capitalize on existing merchant relationships through content geared toward supporting top advertisers.
Media companies must develop a plan for creating a steady stream of relevant content for online channels. Many organizations are skilled at creating
original articles, news, or blogs. Yet many organizations lack sufficient resources to generate enough content to feed online channels throughout the day and stay in competition with constantly updating television reports and social media feeds. To meet the new business requirements, many organizations turn to freelancer writers to supplement the in-house writing staff.
Organizations must attract and retain a resource pool of qualified freelance writers. Organizations evolving to these new business models need to augment their in-house staffs with qualified freelance writers. Improvements to increase writer retention include streamlining and automating the writer payment and administrative processes.
As media companies turn to freelancers to generate more digital content, a variety of challenges can bog down the process. There are many moving parts to managing these resources, and the traditional workflow processes to scale digital content creation can be costly and cumbersome. This report covers six challenges confronting media companies today in establishing a robust and loyal freelancer community to create digital content. It addresses the required capabilities to solve those challenges, as well.
One media company found that it needed four staff members to dedicate two full days each month to processing payroll for 60 to 70 contract writers.
6 Critical Challenges Sabotaging Quality, Cost-Effective Digital Content Production One of the biggest challenges facing media companies is how to efficiently scale digital content production to reach and engage new audiences. Savvy media professionals recognize the critical role of freelance writers to enable them to create the type and amount of content required to be competitive in this new world.
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Challenge 1: Recruiting Qualified Writers
Freelance writers are a cost-effective alternative to hiring additional staff when newspapers and magazines need to develop fresh online content to attract new audiences and advertisers. As print media companies run leaner organizations, they often lack sufficient internal resources to identify and vet qualified writers. Many editors may have an abundance of freelancers submitting writing proposals daily, but it is nearly impossible to review them all in a timely manner through email, and it can be difficult to find writers who are qualified to write about specific niche topics. The recruitment
and review process can be onerous, particularly if the organization is looking for writers with new skillsets or a specific subject matter expertise. The administrative work to create and post assignments, recruit potential freelance journalists or bloggers, and review writer applications and writing samples can be overwhelmingparticularly for time-strapped organizations.
New Requirement: To efficiently attract and manage writers, print media organizations require a new approach to streamline and automate writer recruitment. Organizations require a single interface that provides access to communities of writers ranging in expertise from enthusiasts, influencers, subject matter experts, and journalists. The interface should automate the writer search, submission of qualifications, and application review process, eliminating the management of resumes from myriad sources, phone screening, and long and cumbersome email threads.
Challenge 2: Onboarding Writers
Once freelance writers are hired, they must be trained in the media companys voice and style guide, introduced to staff members with whom they will collaborate, and provided project directives such as deadlines, word counts, contact details for interviewees, and article submission procedures. Often newspapers and magazines prefer for freelancer writers not to use their in-house content management system, so another platform may be required. Writers also need to be informed of important concepts related to writing web-based content, such as search engine optimization and social sharing. Bringing new writers up to speed can take weeks of emailing, phone calls, and online chats.
New Requirement: To enable efficient writer training during the content creation process, print media companies must adopt new techniques to efficiently train and onboard writers. Ideally, media companies should have one repository where writers can access style guidelines and writing standards. Writing for the web takes a different skillset than writing for print media, and writers should have a system in place that provides guidance on how to create search-optimized content that maximizes online engagement.
Skyword has solved specific problems for us. We can now easily manage and pay our freelance writers, measure the performance of our content, and increase the satisfaction of our writers by providing them with a flexible, intuitive platform for writing, submitting, and promoting articles. Scott Markle, Senior Manager, AutoTrader.com
Challenge 3: Managing Internal and Freelance Writers
Tracking articles using spreadsheets and word processing applications is an onerous process. Typically, a staff member must track which writers have been assigned articles, ensure ongoing coverage for key topics, avoid duplication of topics, and manage approaching deadlines. Keyword glossaries correlating with online advertisers and hot news topics are essential to support search engine optimization. These customized keyword lists represent a source of competitive advantage for newspapers and magazines.
New Requirement: Print media organizations need a new framework that streamlines and automates the entire content creation process to gain operational efficiencies and produce content at the pace required in digital media. In a single platform, in-house staffs need a view of the status of every piece of content at every stage of the process to ensure that assignments have been completed and deadlines met. They also need a system with built-in tools that optimize content for search and social, and ensure that content is original and properly sourced. To keep pace with the always on requirements of web content production, they must be able to publish with a single click at a moments notice.
Challenge 4: Editorial Review
Developing compelling content is an iterative process. Using email, phone calls, and word processing applications to communicate edits to each writer is time consuming, disruptive to the daily newsroom workflow, and requires advance planning. These manual processes dont provide adequate visibility into writer communications or editing cycles.
New Requirement: Media companies require a technology framework for managing the editorial review process of freelancers article submissions. This framework should incorporate a detailed activity history of each writers articles and facilitate dialogue between writers and copyeditors to reduce operational inefficiencies. This streamlined process eliminates a time-consuming back-and-forth dialogue between freelancers and newsroom staff. Freelance writers enjoy the structured atmosphere of submitting articles and tracking content from copyediting through the payment process.
Challenge 5: Payment Administration
As newspapers and magazines manage multiple writers, theyre tackling the management of numerous invoices, payments, and tax reporting, which creates additional work for the finance and accounting teams. One media company, for example, needed four staff members to dedicate two full days each month to processing payroll for 60 to 70 contract writers. Despite this level of effort, manual accounting processes resulted in lost invoices and dissatisfied writers. This can lead to low writer retention rates and additional costs in onboarding new freelance writers or paying staff writers overtime wages to complete last-minute assignments on deadline.
New Requirement: To efficiently manage writers and reduce administrative time and costs, media companies must streamline and automate writer payment and tax administration. Organizations must institute a system that eliminates invoicing and ensures timely and regular payments. Freelance writers appreciate the scheduled pay cycles. The cumbersome exchange of invoices becomes obsolete, making the payment process quick and reliable.
Challenge 6: Metrics and Analytics to Optimize Audience Engagement
Creating digital content isnt enough. Newspapers and magazines must measure how well different pieces of content perform and continually revise their publishing schedules accordingly. Print media organizations need expert insight into online keyword effectiveness, as well as the types of content (e.g., articles, videos, blog posts) that users share in social media. This information enables media organizations to rapidly identify trending topics to optimize audience reach and engagement. Gathering this type of data requires generating reports from multiple databases and analyzing the data for valuable insights.
New Requirement: Staffs need at-a-glance dashboards to deliver content performance metrics for writers and their authored content, as well as tools that easily facilitate the social sharing of content. They also should have the ability to create new assignments based on topic or focus areas that perform well or are trending.
For The Trading Deck, we knew we had to manage the writers and editorial process differently than we do for our staff writers. We could not have accomplished this without the Skyword Platform. Jonathan Krim, Editor, MarketWatch.com
WEB www.skyword.comPHONE 855.SKYWORD (855.759.9673)EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
How Skyword Can HelpTo efficiently manage digital content, print media organizations need a framework that streamlines and automates digital content creation, publishing, payments to writers, and dashboard analytics. Skyword enables newspapers and magazines to gain operational efficiencies, resulting in the scaling of relevant, targeted content, stronger business performance, and a greater competitive advantage. Skyword offers access to:.
A network of 3,000 active writers, ranging in expertise from subject matter experts to influencers, journalists, and enthusiasts
A solution to handle ongoing writer training and queries during the content creation process
Tools to manage the administrative aspects of hiring and evaluating outside writers, streamlining and automating writer management, and optimizing keywords for greater online engagement
A built-in editorial process that incorporates an activity history of each article and facilitates dialogue between the writer and Skyword copyeditor
Metrics tied to each writer and piece of content, as well as tools that facilitate social sharing of content to increase visibility for the client across the web
Data in one centralized place that allows teams to forecast their content budgets more accurately, based on the articles they want to produce and the writers they want to use
To see for yourself how Skyword for Media can revolutionize your digital offerings, contact us today at http://www.skyword.com/.
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Reference1Newspapers Turning Ideas Into Dollars. February 11, 2013. Journalism.org. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/analysis_report/newspapers_turning_ideas_dollars