You don’t need to be Conde Nast to do multiplatform content

29/05/2013 — 3 Comments

Multiplatform content from InPublishingUpdate – 5th June 2013 | The Publisher’s Perspective

Last week I got my latest copy of InPublishing in the post. It’ always good to get the magazine; it’s especially good when I have an article in there. It means I get to wave it in front of my Wattpad obsessed daughter and say, “See, see, look there’s your Dad, look, right there… in print.” That kind of writerly showing off is difficult with digital.

Shameless self promotion aside, it struck me that InPublishing Publisher James Evelegh has put together a really solid multiplatform content package around an article that started out as 1,500-word print commission.

James and I originally spoke about me writing a feature for the magazine, but he soon came to me with the idea of presenting an accompanying webinar. The webinar generated  a list of questions that we didn’t have time to answer, so James emailed them on to me, I responded and he posted them on the InPublishing website a couple of days after the event.

A few weeks later I submitted my copy, along with a 15-minute recording of me reading the finished piece – easy to do and one more way for the audience to engage with the content.

So although the commission was very much print first, print has been one of the last elements of the content package to appear.

  1. Webinar, held before publication but now available on demand.
  2. Answers to questions posted during the webinar.
  3. Print feature, repurposed to the web and a digital edition.
  4. Podcast, the author reading the article.

I get into a lot of conversations about how possible it is for smaller magazine teams to truly develop a multiplatform presence. James runs a pretty lean machine at InPublishing, but I think he’s proving that with a bit of foresight and planning, you don’t need to be Conde Nast to tackle multiplatform.

The Publisher’s Perspective

Following a couple of questions in the comments section of this post, I went back to James Evelegh, Publisher at InPublishing, to ask him about the additional time and money it takes him to add multiplatform content to his print features.

James told me that the cost of the webinar software he uses – GoToWebinar – is about £240 a month, or just less than £3,000 a year. He’s had podcasts set up on his site for six or seven years, but, casting his mind back (sorry), he thinks it cost about £350 to set up – about a day’s development time – with no regular charges.

In terms of time, James says the podcast take him about 15 minutes to process. The webinar takes significantly longer: Sourcing speakers, getting confirmations, sending reminders, scheduling practice sessions, pushing out email blasts and other promotions, as well as moderating the live session. He says it’s hard to quantify exactly, but probably two full days per webinar.

Compared to three or fours hours to edit and proof the average feature, this is significant additional work. So is it worth it?

James says the number of podcast listens are small, but he suspects this would improve if he did some work on making the podcast section of the InPublishing website more user-friendly and by tying it in to iTunes etc.

Webinar numbers are “much more impressive” and they bring strong new names to add to print and email newsletter circulation lists. James says the webinars have also been great PR, creating a reall buzz in the market, and a good first step toward running physical events, which eh is considering for the medium term.

The downside at the moment is that there has been no sponsorship for the webinars to date and he says although webinars have been excellent for engagement, raising the magazines profile, ultimately, it’s got to be about the money. Looking forward to seeing InPublishing’s first webinar sponsor very soon.

3 responses to You don’t need to be Conde Nast to do multiplatform content

  1. That’s the right spirit/approach on the part of both you and the publisher, but perhaps I could ask: how much extra time did you commit to the work versus an old-fashioned 1500 feature? and how did the amount you were paid differ from a 1500 word feature? Both of which would contribute to a calculation of whether you were being paid more or less for your time – any chance you could give a percentage difference, if there was one, to what the extra output meant to your pay rate? (Eg. did you do 50% more for the same price or were perhaps paid 75% “per hour”.) I’m not prying, but it’s something that needs to be taken account of for journos and publishers.

    • Peter Houston 04/06/2013 at 11:58 am

      Great question Neil, and I agree this needs to be thought through.

      I was paid about 30% extra for including the webinar in the package. This was around an hour’s “hard” time where I needed to be present for the webinar plus a couple of hours prep time for the slides I used and an hour or so to answer questions. Probably a fair percentage on a feature that too a couple of days to write.

      From a writer’s standpoint this was welcome extra cash, but it was also a great opportunity to develop some of the research that I went into the piece with and I think the feature was easier to write – and stronger – for the feedback we got during and after the webinar. I can’t really speak ffor the publisher, but I would see set-up and admin time for the webinar software plus posting the Q&A, weighed against new sponsorship opportunities, additional traffic to the website and promotion for the print piece.

      If I get a chance I’ll talk to InPublishing and get a proper perspective, but I think the key to making sure there is decent ROI on anything like this is making sure the process is planned out. Adding multimedia elements on an ad hoc basis definitely adds significantly more time.



  2. Thanks for the extra colour, Peter. Yes, it can help being able to dedicate more time to a subject, both getting your head around it and possibly digging up more interesting stuff. All other things being equal, though, the publisher is going to have fewer different multi-media articles unless they push up overall budgets – which means that this will have to pay off in terms of revenues – something, I guess, that we all hope will happen!

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