In our work helping to craft publishing strategies and define efficient, sustainable processes, it’s become clear that this is a time of reinvention for all publishers, big and small. We’re sharing some of our reinvention thoughts and experiences to drill down into what we think the major components of reinvention are, to help you more easily define what you need to pay attention to if you are struggling with how to make “digital” work.

Photo '5 hands making a star shape' by Pink Sherbet PhotographyThe advent of digital is requiring all publishers to rethink every aspect of their businesses. This is not just about a technology upgrade or a new product offering. Digital, in order to be successful, requires a fundamental shift across all aspects of a publishing organization, in a synchronized and collaborative fashion. It also requires economies of scale in order to achieve the true results any publisher hopes for. Publishers have become accustomed to operating within their divisional silos. Web is a perfect example of this. So many publishers have treated the web as another product, group, process—a post-print process that has operated, for the most part, on its own—exclusive of print and content planning.

Digital publishing has brought with it an era of reinvention. We’ll talk about the key areas we think are impacted and are requiring publishers to reimagine who they are and refocus their intent and direction in order to create new, sustainable business models. We’ll also share highlights of our approach with publishers in addressing these new challenges.

Publishing Business Requirements

One of the things that publishers have failed to do in this digital age is stop to reassess who they are and where they need or want to go with their businesses. The status quo is no longer good enough. Business Requirements need to be re-evaluated at every level, and reclarified within an organization to help operations and cultures make the shift. Here are some things that we recommend to get the process started:

1)   Step back, reassess, and rearticulate. Starting with today and looking forward, what is your new publishing business? Who is your market—your audience as you know it—or who should it be if you want to shift in a new direction? Reach out to other publishers and share your experiences, risks, fears, successes. It’s not good business to ignore the signs or to hunker down to hang on to business as usual. It’s critical to step back and take a fresh look in order to reset direction.

2)   Learn from internal teams. They are paying attention, listening to the buzz, and wondering what’s next. Your greatest source of intel could be embedded within your organization with the folks that work closest to the audience and the content. Reach out, learn, and assimilate insights to hone a vision.

3)   Take some risks. Every publisher is learning. Every audience will embrace digital differently. What’s different about digital is that now, more than ever, it’s about the relationship that content and presentation builds. Try some things, work with your audience, and listen to and respond to feedback to solidify your direction.

4)   Collaborate and communicate. This is the reinvention part. Collaboration across multiple groups in a publishing organization is more critical than ever before. Internal groups will need to communicate and work together at a much more integrated and communicative level. Those that have worked through this recognize this now as obvious, but going into it they would not have expected the level of collaboration and interaction that was needed to get there.

5)   Fine-tune and re-communicate. This is an era of change. Business requirements should be a continuous work in progress and should be refined, rearticulated, and communicated regularly. It’s the “here’s what we’ve learned, and here’s where we are going next.” It’s important that an organization becomes more comfortable with changes and shifts in order to more easily adapt and respond to what is just the beginning of the digital impact. Agile development, meet publishing: It’s time to be more nimble.

The bottom line: It needs to be an ongoing converstation. What works today will be different next month, next quarter, and next year. Reinvent your organization to be ready for that, and you will succeed.

Are you reinventing? What have you learned that you would add to our list that would help fellow publishers make the transition?

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography used under Creative Commons licensing

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.