These organizational teams are key components for building a highly effective and efficient multiplatform publishing business
Building a multiplatform publishing business is never easy, but it is practically impossible without the right personnel. Having the right people in the right jobs has been an endless source of thinking and discussion for organizations of all types, and publishers have struggled just like everyone else.
What makes a legacy publishing company a unique and challenging organization is that many of the traditional divisions between different parts of the organizations have faded, or just plain disappeared. For example, traditionally editors were never involved in ad sales programs.
But the emergence of sponsored content (sometimes called native content or custom content) has resulted in some members of the editorial team having a direct role in helping the organization create content that also generates sponsor revenue. And ad sales people now must coordinate more closely with content producers to ensure that sponsored content can be delivered without sacrificing the company’s brand identity.
Publishers have been making organizational changes to deal with the realities of the modern marketplace. Often these changes are made as a reaction to changing conditions and not necessarily as part of a plan that corresponds to transformations made throughout the organization. But getting ahead in publishing means being proactive in all areas of the company, including the organizational structure. And, although there are no perfect teams, there are ways to think about your organization that can make it easier to define roles and achieve strategic goals.
Below we identify and describe Mequoda’s six organizational teams:
1. The Management Team
The driving force for organizational change is the executive team. Leading the executive team is the CEO, who is involved in many of the teams at various levels based on the type of organization.
For example, a smaller publisher may have a CEO who is a content expert. In those cases, the CEO is often deeply involved with the content team, with a lesser amount of involvement in things like revenue or marketing. In many cases, the CEO is forced to take a more active role on teams out of necessity. We’ve all seen CEOs who are not experts take a role leading a marketing team or technology team – essentially acting as a CMO or CTO – because they don’t have the revenue to hire an expert.
Not every publisher needs to hire an army to run an organization. They do, however, need to structure their organization to maximize talents for an efficient multiplatform operation.
2. The Content Team
Content is, of course, where everything starts for a media company. Great content is what separates you from your competition. In a traditional publishing organization, the content team referred to the reporters and editors who produced your newsletter or magazine. Now, it can mean a whole lot more.
Many publishers have expanded their offerings to include events, webinars, online courses, videos, and books. Content also can include an online directory, white papers, paid handbooks, membership libraries, and more. Also, more publishers are making sponsored content part of a package to attract advertisers. All these pieces are generated by the content team, lead by the Chief Content Officer.
3. The Marketing Team
Your multiplatform magazine marketing team plays a vital role in doing two critical things in any Mequoda system: building an audience and growing a subscription base.
Your Chief Marketing Officer is responsible for managing and expanding the size and profitability of marketing efforts, mainly by making greater use of marketing techniques, both on and off the web. The CMO will also be responsible for analyzing results of marketing efforts to guide the way to continued return on investment. Also, the CMO leads the marketing team in continuing to build an audience for the publisher’s products.
The marketing team is responsible for building an audience through organic search by populating and overseeing the portal. The portal is packed full of search-optimized free content that will draw people to the website. Once there, visitors will be offered a free report, or white paper, in exchange for their email address.
Your marketing team is responsible for all these activities that are designed to grow your audience and keep them engaged.
4. The Revenue Team
Ad-driven magazines have someone in charge of driving more revenue, usually someone with the title of Chief Revenue Officer or Publisher. This person is charged with overseeing the team that sells ad space in the magazine (and online).
But as publishers have expanded their operations into multiplatform magazines and publications, the revenue team has expanded, as well.
Unlike the marketing team, which is responsible for selling subscriptions, the revenue team is charged with developing relationships with big money sponsors. We like to say that the marketing team is charged with collecting a lot of little checks, but the revenue team collects a few very big checks.
5. The Operations Team
Often led by a Chief Operations Officer, the ops team of a multiplatform magazine contributes greatly to the running of the organization but often has no responsibilities directly to customers or sponsors.
Typically, publishers don’t like dealing with the issues managed by the ops team. Many of the key problems are not content or revenue related, so it’s easy to see this as managing a cost center. Yet, publishers are like any business and must deal with realities that are associated with any organization.
Typical responsibilities under the ops team include ad-ops, human resources, accounting, legal, and sometimes tasks such as fulfillment or manufacturing.
It’s easy to overlook the functions of this team since they are not customer-facing. Whoever manages these responsibilities, however, will free the other members of the staff to focus on their core responsibilities and strengths. No one would want their editors or sales persons dealing with human resource or legal issues.
6. The Systems Team
Being a 21st-century publisher means being multiplatform, and that means significant technology challenges. Frankly, most publishers aren’t nearly knowledgeable enough to determine which technology solutions are best – much less how they can all work together.
When some magazines try to move into multiplatform publishing, they make the mistake of trying to manage everything in-house. Although this can seem like a cheaper solution, it often ends up costing hundreds of thousands to reinvent the wheel. Or, they hire too many service providers, and keeping track of multiple contractors is time-consuming … and costly, as well.
Your Chief Technology Officer (which also can be an outsourced firm) leads your systems team that builds and optimizes your content marketing system. This is a vital role to all of your revenue and audience development efforts. Done poorly, and without experience in developing profit-generating publishing systems, you’ll be spending more than you’re making and wondering why.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are many moving parts to multiplatform publishing. You need an advanced content marketing system for publishers to manage these tasks and keep everything in working order. At Mequoda, we’ve customized our own Haven Nexus System, a customer experience management system with a central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber.
No matter how you outsource your technology, it should be to a consultant or provider who acts as a general contractor, managing all the infrastructure, including those tech providers listed above so that you can focus on other tasks. As I like to say, “you don’t need seven architects to build a strong house.”