By Amanda MacArthur • 05/19/2008
What can we learn from the big guys? Be more like little guys.
In a panel titled “Learning From the Big Guys” Marta Wohrle, former Senior VP of digital media at Hachette Filipacchi Media told a story about when Perezhilton.com put a link in his blog to ElleGirl.com and it sent so much traffic that the server crashed. At that point, the CTO came in and told Worhle that if she kept driving so much traffic, she’d have to write a check to purchase larger servers – demonstrating the backwards thinking often practiced in a larger organization.
Scott G. Stephen, General Manager of Playboy Enterprises said that adopting a start-up mentality in a large company is key. “We get our butts handed to us all the time by young, fast people,” he said. In a large organization, there isn’t much room for creativity – you can’t get anything done. So when they launched PlayboyU, a social network, he set it up in LA, where the operators wouldn’t have any access to the larger organization. They ran the business like a start-up and that has proven to be a good decision. He reminded publishers to be flexible and fluid about making mistakes, but warned them not to make the same mistakes twice.
Open Source vs. Proprietary Software
Publishers are finally starting to figure out that open source is the way to go, if for no other reason than the fact that it is highly optimized for search.
Worhle mentioned how Hachette spent 1.3 million on Vignette, a content management system, and still must rely on several content management systems to meet their needs. Recently, Hachette laid off about 20 people from their online staff – mostly “producers” who couldn’t accomplish anything due to limitations of their content management system(s).
Read our article Don’t Be Afraid of Open Source Software to learn more about how publishers are using this new platform to manage their content. In fact, a Mequoda client just recently launched their new website using WordPress, an open source system.
Will the big guys take a hint?
Every year at the American Magazine Conference, Sunday afternoon is dedicated to IMAG meetings. And while most of the independent publishers attend the entire conference in hopes of learning from the big guys, it’s very rare to see any representation from the large organizations in the IMAG sessions. This year, we hope that changes, as it’s becoming more and more clear that the independents, with their start-up/entrepreneurial spirit, really do represent the right approach to succeeding in the online publishing environment.
Read the rest of our session coverage: