Do magazine publishers have a digital skills gap?

15/11/2013 — 1 Comment

Mind the digital skills gapAs digital becomes an ever bigger part of the magazine mainstream, can the sector attract and keep the digital talent it needs to succeed?

I ask that question after seeing a report from the Online Marketing Institute, in partnership with ClickZ and Kelly Staffing. The ‘State of Digital Marketing Talent’ report is based on the results of a survey of nearly 750 organizations who have a need for digital marketing talent.

It highlights a digital skills gap between what employers value in the marketing sector and the talent available to them.

Key problems include:

  • Spotty levels of knowledge, skill level and experience at all levels of the organisation.
  • Missed opportunities in existing training and skills acquisition efforts.
  • Skill assessment plans lacking consistent implementation.
  • A need for solid, measurable, and accurate digital talent education.

Ring any bells?

I don’t remember seeing any surveys specifically addressing a digital skills gap in magazine publishing, but I’m willing to bet the results won’t look too different from the marketing sector. The introduction to the OMI’s report says, “This talent gap threatens to undermine organizational achievement“. If that’s true for marketing, it’s every bit as true for magazine publishing.

There’s no question that magazines companies need access to specialist digital talent. Freelance or in-house, there is magic that only the pixel-heads can do. But hiring in fresh blood is only part of the solution.

For every magazine publisher to develop the digital talent they need to succeed, they must:

  • Discuss the importance of closing the digital skills gap with all their staff
  • Decide on the platforms they will focus on
  • Take the time to figure out what digital skills they need but don’t have
  • Support and train people in developing the new skills needed
  • Repeat the process as they take on additional platforms

You can’t channel all your digital activity through a few ‘experts’– publishers need all of their people to embrace multiplatform, journalists, editors, sales, audience development and marketing. And bringing in a couple of digital natives to teach the team Twitter does not make you a multiplatform publisher. A broad understanding of digital throughout the organisation is the only way to make full use of digital tools and tactics to engage the audience.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. This Week in Publishing — Nov. 22, 2013 - Technology for Publishing LLC - 22/11/2013

    […] “Do magazine publishers have a digital skills gap?” Peter Houston asks on his Flipping Pages blog. Pointing to a recent report on the state of digital marketing talent, he proposes that the same issues around education and training identified in that study apply to magazine publishing as well. Take a look and see if you agree. […]

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