What publishers are trying to achieve with PressRoom

Back in November 2014 we run a survey to better understand what publishers were trying to achieve with their digital editions. In exchange for completing the survey, we gave out a private beta release of PressRoom before releasing it on the GitHub page.

The questions

A lot of people from the publishing industry are today considering the Web as a poison, something that has disrupted their business model that has been in place for centuries.

Publishing has been disrupted by the Web as most of the industry sectors have been. New players in the same economic category or attention segment are gaining market shares in place of the old-school companies. We have been thinking about the disruption in progress for a long while, and we came up with an idea for PressRoom that ambitiously should be able to turn the poison into a medicine, letting publishers of any size use their leverage – the content and the narrative – to reach out to multiple audiences at once, on different reading habits and use-case scenarios.

We based PressRoom on four main points. We wanted to see what was the feeling about them and took a sample from our prospect clients. We asked them to vote on a scale from 1 (whatever) to 5 (critical), the focus they have on the following objectives:

  1. experimenting with new business models and still optimize legacy revenue sources
  2. help the editorial team to evolve toward an editorial process where structured content is delivered to the audience across multiple channels and multiple reading habits, all from one central source
  3. gain a greater, unprecedented understanding of the “customer” and his habits
  4. having an agile approach to conceiving and launching new editorial products 

We received survey submissions from mainstream magazine publishers, newspaper publishers of any size, bloggers, content marketers and digital agencies. Most of them ( 70% ) replied to our questions on a desktop, some of them ( 25% ) from a smartphone and very few ( 5% ) of them from a tablet.

Results

The interest on PressRoom and the survey turned out to be pretty impressive, with a high vote result for all of the objectives and very few people replying “whatever” to any of the questions.

We discovered that the publishing industry is really after something. It is really struggling to find answers to build a proper strategy on digital channels of distribution, and is really looking forward to being sustainable again.

Here’s the classification, based on a scale from 1 (whatever) to 5 (critical):

  1. gain a greater, unprecedented understanding of the “customer” and his habits – 4.41
  2. help the editorial team to evolve toward an editorial process where structured content is delivered to the audience across multiple channels and multiple reading habits, all from one central source – 4.37
  3. have an agile approach to conceiving and launching new editorial products – 4.11
  4. experiment with new business models and still optimize legacy revenue sources – 4.03

The first and second results are both “human” objectives, while the third and fourth are more technology based ones. Interestingly, publishers are struggling to understand their readers and their habits and to get valuable insights to drive their business. On the same human side the fierce battle is with the editorial team or the newsroom, trying to evolve them to better create content that can be used on multiple channels. The struggle is now internal to the company, with technology like PressRoom acting as an enabler, for the good of having the valuable content production delivered with multiple forms on multiple devices.

Insights

Since the survey ended we have been talking to magazine publishers both from mainstream media and the indie scene in the UK.

They preferred to orientate the talks more on the production workflow than on the product or the outputs of it. The stories behind the interest on PressRoom are all valuable and match the results of the survey.

Most of the mainstream publishers are looking for a workflow solution able to gather content from a central repository and reformat it for multiple outputs, keeping the production overhead as low as possible. The other business objectives will follow from there.

Indie publishers are looking for the same, only said with different words. A platform able to easily collect the content and then design the pages for a magazine that can be published on the Web, on mobile Apps and other channels at once; it is totally appealing to them. The production skills needed are the major throwback that makes most of them stick with a print based production workflow. The switch to HTML is yet to come.

While many of the mainstream publishers have plans for 2015 to do a major workflow redesign to make it digital first, many of the independent ones are still leveraging print and the visual workflow they are used to. It’s basically a matter of production staff skills to make them switch.

Training with PressRoom

As a result of our investigations and the insights we could collect, we decided to launch PressRoom with a training class.

All of the valuable insights that we gathered talking to the people in the industry pointed to a need for knowledge and skills in the magazine creation process using web standards. We are partnering with Clever Boxer to deliver the first hands-on training class on digital magazine creation on March 29th in London.

We have plans to followup with other exciting classes in the next few months. PressRoom will be a part of all of these, letting designers and production teams to gain a better understanding of magazine design with HTML.