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Mobile phones are the

first and last item looked at each day by 29 percent of the U.S. population.



FALL 2013 • Vol. 13, No. 3



Percentage of B2B marketers that used content marketing in 2013.

ideas, strategies, and solutions on the business of publishing


Audit Time

Clients reveal how a strategic evaluation of member communications helped them better align with their missions

$250 million T Amount Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid for The Washington Post and its publishing businesses.

5 hours, 16 minutes Amount of time per day U.S. adults spend with digital media.



1 2 3

W  hat do WebMD and Politico have in common?

W  hich category saw the most digital magazine downloads in 2012: Food or Entertainment? H  ow many hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute?

Answers on page 2.

INSIDE 2 5 6

Stratton Report Calendar & What’s New Idea Swap PMS 2627

wo years ago, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) took a critical look at its communication offerings and wondered whether they were on the mark with members and with the times. “The organization had never conducted an evaluation to ask members what types of information they wanted and how they wanted it,” says Melissa Ferrari, director of membership and marketing services. “A number of practices, including a printed newsletter, had been in place for many years. There was not a benchmark or measurement to determine its effectiveness in communicating with members.” SfN wasn’t, and isn’t, alone. Concerned they may be bombarding members with multiple and overlapping communications, a number of associations have recently embarked on these in-depth studies of publications, e-newsletters,


See AUDIT TIME, page 4


Show and Tell

Striking infographics help break down barriers to reader engagement


ife moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So goes the iconic line from the 1980s classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and it has never had more relevance than in today’s constantly connected world. Social feeds deliver new material to readers every second, so if your content doesn’t grab them right away, it won’t have an impact. Visually arresting content, such as infographics, can be a great way to hook readers fast and keep them coming back. As new options for rich media abound, we reached out to several association publishing and media professionals to find out why the infographic remains a popular choice. See SHOW AND TELL, page 3

National Apartment Association

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The Sparkle of Going All Digital Publishers blaze new trails, share lessons


ately, it seems association publishers are getting serious about digital transitions. And, by serious, I mean, actually turning print publications into new media and web portals. We’re seeing organizations blaze new trails, leveraging new technologies in some pretty exciting ways. New data from Deloitte’s 2013 Consumer Media Survey indicates that readers are more rapidly moving to digital platforms for their news and newspaper reading, not as quickly for magazines and other media.


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Publishing Stratton’s Smart Publishing is designed to provide publishers, editors, marketers, and other business professionals with strategies to meet today’s print and electronic media challenges. The publication is free. Publisher: Debra J. Stratton Contributing Editors: Angela Brady, Lia Dangelico, Josephine Rossi, Christine Umbrell Design: Janelle Welch Stratton Headquarters 5285 Shawnee Road, Suite 510 Alexandria, VA 22312-2334 Phone: 703.914.9200 Fax: 703.914.6777 Angerosa Research Foundation © Copyright 2013, Stratton Publishing & Marketing Inc.

In our conversations with association publishers who had moved to all-digital or combination print-digital platforms, the reasons cited for the move vary but primarily focus on a need for more timely accessibility for global audiences and a desire to engage younger and more mobile readers, rather than for financial savings, as some might suspect. Recently, we’ve worked with a number of publishers who are considering the all-digital move, and we’ve found that planning for and anticipating the changing environment was critical to success. But even noting that, sometimes you have to just jump in and learn along the way. So before you take the plunge to a web portal or all-digital, consider these lessons learned that are worth sharing:

1. Transitions take time. This should be no surprise, but many organizations underestimate how long a print-todigital transition will take. It’s usually eight to 12 months or more. When one association publisher replaced its monthly print magazine with a web portal to enhance the timeliness of content, the conversion took eight months; for others it’s longer, especially when introducing content and format changes. Don’t underestimate or over promise on delivery.

2. It’s all about content. Moving to all digital requires different content strategy, writing style and tone, as well as content platforms. Invest the time to build a clear content strategy for each aspect of your media plan. It’s not uncommon to get focused on design and the mechanics of platforms and overlook how those changes affect content. Reading habits are changing, so be strategic as you plan for a new content approach and ensure an integrated effort that links print/ digital/web/social.

3. Unless you have extensive in-house resources, tap the expertise of business partners that specialize in creating interactive web portals. The time and expertise needed to make the transition is a resource drain and time consuming. “We saved money,” notes one publisher, but not in terms of staff resources. Get the help you need to be successful.

4. Don’t get too comfortable with any one medium. If we’ve learned nothing else it’s that media formats/platforms are continually evolving so you have to adapt. Three years is “long term.” Figure you will always be tweaking. Test how your audiences access content on the web or other platforms, seek their feedback through valid research and then continue to refine for maximum value. One association publisher identified 120 beta testers—people who had complained about navigation and accessibility of its website—and used that data to launch its new digital portal.

5. Writing for the web on a daily basis requires significant staff resources; be sure you can handle the workflow because the writing/posting never stops, as one association editor cautions. You have to be sure your staff can manage the pace and that they have the right skill sets to get it done. Otherwise, dial back your expectations.

develop a marketing plan that will advise readers of the move to all digital, focusing on the many enhancements that affords, reassurances that print will remain in the short term, etc. For readers to embrace the digital move, they need to understand what’s in it for them.

7. Invest in training for ad sales staff. Making the case for online ads is different from print. Sales staff needs to know how to sell the value of accessibility, expanded tracking and stats, and enhanced media options. In most cases, advertisers immediately think online should be less expensive; it’s a harder sell, and at lower rates, than print.

8. Cultivate cheerleaders. Moving from print to digital is a big step for many, and change is never fast or easy in large organizations. Sharing information, plans, key benefits, and more with editorial boards, top management, and other stakeholders helps build support and can help you head off challenges. Over the past 12 months or so, we’ve seen some impressive examples of digital portals designed to deliver more of the real-time or nearly real-time news and information that audiences want. We’re expecting even more exciting evolutions in 2014. Get ready for a new ride, and contact us if you’re considering a digital move; we can help.

6. Plan for the “it’s all about me” generation. If you want your audience to use it, you have to sell it. Once you are ready for the launch,

Debra Stratton

Trivia Answers from the front page: 1. Both started as Web-only publishers and have since launched print magazines. 2. Food. 3. 100.

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from page 1

Healthy Industry Distributors Association

Deliver Your Message Infographics help tell your story while boosting brand awareness and driving traffic to websites and social media platforms. We live in a world overloaded with data, so it’s important to be able to get your message out clearly and effectively, says Fernando Medrano, manager, design and production, at the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA). Strong infographics do just that, drawing in data-hungry readers and satisfying those with even the shortest attention spans. For HIDA’s “Medicare Accountable Care Organizations: Improving Quality, Reducing Costs” infographic, Medrano helped to create a bright and balanced visual that offers HIDA members key takeaways on changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act. At the American Society of Clinical Oncoloy (ASCO), communications are typically copy heavy, so “infographics are a nice way to synthesize information and deliver it…in more succinct, bite-sized pieces,” says Susie Tappouni, ASCO’s director, science communications, communications and patient information. The association’s “Clinical Cancer Advances 2012” infographic explains the year’s progress and promotes its annual study. It’s an effective alternative to multiple pages of text, says Tappouni. Infographics have become a regular tool for the National

Apartment Association (NAA) to embrace emerging digital and social trends, says Julie Barden. Nowadays, “everything is immediate… [so] why not capitalize on this movement and promote content that wouldn’t normally attract the usual suspects?” she says. NAA’s web team put together the colorful and informative “Cost of Operating U.S. Rental Housing” infographic to engage members, as well as those who may not be familiar with the association.

American Society of Clinical Oncoloy

Just as important, says Barden, is a visual balance from top to bottom, a mix of color and white space, and good icons. And it helps if the design can mimic the topic at hand, for example, in the “Cost of Operating,” Barden used an image of wood pan-

eling as the background for strong color and texture and to tie into the topic of apartment operation budgets. “There’s not really a science to making [infographics],” she says, “but it is important to make sure you have focal points sprinkled throughout.”

Aesthetic Appeal The most effective infographics champion simplicity and clean design and messaging, say experts. Another essential element is an attention-grabbing headline that tells clearly articulates why the reader should care. “I try to avoid too much text, too many ideas at one time,” says Medrano. Every component has to have a clear connection to the message so that content matches what that headline advertises throughout. Rather than the flashiest artwork, opt for images that will help readers better relate and understand. But don’t oversimplify either, says Tappouni. A good infographic should “allow the mind to arrive upon a conclusion, as opposed to being told outright what the message is,” she says. Readers don’t like to be spoon-fed the information.

Infographics in a Pinch

If your organization doesn’t have the design capabilities—or the time—to create a dynamic infographic in house, these easy-to-use programs can do the work for you: Piktochart creates premium, interactive infographics using more than 115 available themes and allows you to share and measure results. (Basic package free, pro packages start at $14 monthly) Wordle assembles word clouds from any text or website with an RSS feed and allows you to adjust color schemes, typefaces, and more. (Free) Text is Beautiful uses word frequency to create informative text visuals in a variety of styles, such as concept webs and clouds and correlation wheels. (Free) Know of other helpful programs? Share them with us on Twitter­—@strattonpub.


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marketing materials, websites, and social media. Getting members the right amount of information they want when they need it, and in the right voice, while also ensuring quality design and content, is extremely challenging, as any association communications professional can attest. It was that “voice” that SfN refined following its communication audit. “We changed the tone of our communications to ensure member value is clearly communicated,” says Ferrari. “Instead of sharing SfN news, we lead with ‘what’s in it for the member and why should they care.’ We have applied this filter across all of our communication platforms. It has helped us to flush out member value, build member value, and more effectively communicate member value.”

Sophisticated Platforms


P u b l i s h i n g

While a communication audit conducted in the 1990s likely included a flagship magazine, a journal, a print newsletter, and perhaps, a website, today’s audits also include multiple e-newsletters, podcasts and webinars, and in some cases, customized content delivered based on members’ needs. This level of sophistication in association communications makes audits essential to success. “Publishing technology has been changing quickly and constantly, and we were experimenting with many new ways to communicate with our members,” says Lois Douthitt,

senior director of publishing and member communications for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). “We wanted a more strategic approach before we pursued them further. We also wanted to know if there were best practices from other associations.” A customized audit helped APTA develop that strategic approach. As a result, APTA is now planning a redesign of its monthly magazine “to, among other things, better incorporate digital platforms and mobile access,” says Douthitt. “We’re also considering consolidating different digital newsletters into one regular communication with members.”

Are You Hitting the Mark?

Consider these clues you may be due— possibly overdue!—for a communications audit:

◗ Certain constituencies/audiences complain that

◗ ◗ ◗

Recognizing the Need The first step in making a change is recognizing you have a problem, points out Debra McGuire, CEO of Michigan Academy of Family Physicians. “Oftentimes, there is a tendency for an organization that has an effective plan in place, as well as highly rated communications vehicles, to continue to operate in a manner that carries on tradition but lacks innovation—the latter of which is vital in today’s fast-paced world,” points out McGuire who commissioned a communication audit of Michigan Townships Association when she was employed there. “It’s critical to be able to extrapolate relevant data and put that data to work in a way that moves the organiza-

◗ ◗ ◗

they are under-represented. For example, newer, younger members feel content isn’t written at their level. Content in print publications, on websites, and in e-newsletters is repetitive and overlaps with inconsistent messages. Communications lack any design cohesiveness. It’s hard to tell whether communications are coming from the same organization. Members receive more than three emails from your organization each week. “As systematic and organized as we were trying to be with member e-mails,” says APTA’s Douthitt, “we wondered if members thought they were getting the right volume and right content from us.” Social media postings are sporadic at best and your organization has, consequently, been unable to develop an active following. Members are starting to opt out of electronic communications and you’re seeing fewer clickthroughs in e-newsletters. Members are complaining that your website is difficult to access and navigate. SfN overhauled its website following its audit. “We plan to do some member focus groups at our annual meeting,” says Ferrari. “Informal, initial responses have been great.” Ad revenues are down or flat across communications.

tion forward,” she continues. “Translating research findings into strategy and tactics that benefit the organization, even when it means having to change

the way things are being done, opens the door to being able to think in new ways, which is key to being more valued by those whom we serve.”

quick clicks Research Responsive Design

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What’s New at Stratton

Upcoming industry events

The first issue with the new design of Michigan Township Insights debuted August 2. “We are really pleased with the new look,” reports Jenn Fiedler, communications team leader for the Michigan Townships Association.

Redesign of Michigan Townships Publications Draws Accolades The Stratton design team led a magazine and brand redesign of three publications published by the Michigan Townships Association: the organization’s flagship magazine, renamed Michigan Township Focus; a weekly e-newsletter, Michigan Township Insights; and an e-newsletter featuring legislative updates, the Michigan Township Voice. Stratton created one unifying brand with the redesign, and the publications now feature a cohesive look.

Smart Publishing App Wins Social Media Accolades Stratton’s Smart Publishing app was awarded a Grand Prize in the APEX 2013 Awards: The 25th Annual Awards for Publications Excellence. The 2012 Holiday Edition iPad app was recognized in the Social Media category.

Summer Intern Spotlight The summer of 2013 was a busy one, and Stratton welcomed two enthusiastic interns eager to expand their media and marketing skills. Kyle O’Connor, a media arts and design major at James Madison University, spearheaded writing, editing, design, and research projects for several of Stratton’s custom publications. George Mason University business marketing major Ellen Hansen tackled marketing efforts for an education design magazine produced by Stratton. Smart Publishing caught up with Kyle and Ellen before they returned to school to find out more about their time in the office.


Folio: MediaNEXT

October 28-30 Marriott Marquis, New York 2013 Association TRENDS All-Media Content Deadline n

November 1 allmedia Stratton Receives Award of Excellence for Senior Living Executive Stratton was honored with an APEX Award of Excellence in Magazine & Journal, Print Over 32 Pages category, for the November/December issue of Senior Living Executive. Stratton has been partnering with the Assisted Living Federation of America to custom publish the flagship magazine for 17 years.


Content Connections: The Business of Creative Content


Presented by the American Society of Journalists and Authors Education Foundation November 7-8 Chicago, IL ASAE Technology Conference & Expo


December 4-5 Washington, DC


What was the most challenging? O’Connor: The monthly statistics feature for one publication was pretty challenging. I spent hours scouring the Internet for relevant tidbits of information, but in the end I learned to conduct more thorough research. Hansen: The most challenging aspect of this internship was facing rejection in sales situations. Realizing that it is simply a part of business and not personal was a good lesson to learn.

Smart Publishing: What appealed to you about this opportunity? Kyle O’Connor: I wanted to gain work experience in both the public and private sectors and gain familiarity with the publishing industry. Ellen Hansen: Getting to see publishing and marketing working together. They depend on each other to thrive, and seeing that in action was an invaluable experience.

What do you plan to do after graduation? O’Connor: After I graduate in December of 2013, I plan on moving to New York City to pursue a career in new media publishing. Hansen: I plan to graduate in May of 2014 and then hopefully enroll in the Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, to further my education and work toward my long-term goal of becoming a strategic planner at The Martin Agency.

What was the most rewarding project you worked on? O’Connor: I enjoyed updating the e-newsletter templates for a few of the publications Stratton produces. At school, my coursework focuses on interactive media, so this project really allowed me to apply my studies in a real-world situation. Hansen: I was assigned a sales territory as part of a big marketing project, which involved cold calls, emails, and other efforts. It was such a great feeling when that first reservation came in from my territory!

What was your favorite summer activity outside the office? O’Connor: I went to Philadelphia for the first time and finally got to eat an authentic Philly cheese steak! Hansen: I had a big adventure camping for a weekend in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. It was primitive camping with no running water or cell reception. It was a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the everyday.


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Many publishers are finding ways to incorporate late-breaking news into their publications. How do you tie current events to your content development strategy?

Idea Swap

“The American Student Dental Association develops content for our print publications months in advance so it’s difficult to plan for coverage of current events. We most often weave current events into our online media by making connections on Facebook and our blog. “For example, after the bombing at the Boston Marathon earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about Mr. Rogers’ famous quote: ‘In tragic times, look for the helpers.’ I connected the sad event with dental students’ drive to help people and their calling to be health-care professionals. “It’s great to connect our content to events that make national news, but it’s even more powerful to get a member’s perspective on such an event. Since we have chapters at every dental school in the U.S., we have a natural network across the country to tap into when something like this happens.”

“Until this year, I avoided following an editorial calendar like the plague. I liked being “topic.” But this was our 100th anniversary year, so we planned the entire year in advance, which left little room for late-breaking stories. We pushed through a couple of timely features by tying them to the issue’s editorial theme. “What we really took advantage of was our redesign, which allowed us to use guest columns and short news blubs in our front news section to stay current. Because of our design, we can slip in a short news blurb a day before we go to press and we look like we are not ignoring latebreaking developments.”

Kim Schneider Communications Editor American Student Dental Association

“At NTEN, we know it’s easy to get caught up in the shiny new objects of social media and technology in general. And often there are shiny things in the news. This means we have a great opportunity to use those conversations to return the focus to strategy, planning, and the goals that should drive our work and decisions around technology.”

Rick Pullen Editor-in-Chief Leader’s Edge Magazine The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers

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Amy Sample Ward Chief Executive Officer NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network

Smart Publishing Fall 2013  

Ideas, strategies, and solutions on the business of publishing

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