If I asked you to define what a publishing platform is, what would you say? It’s a simple and yet complicated question, and I’d be curious to hear how different individuals would answer it depending upon where they sit in a publishing organization.

Publishers are at a challenging crossroads of needing to produce not only content for their own purposes but also for “feeds” to a growing number of publishing channels. These channels are in many ways becoming the new product and delivery formats for publishers, and it’s not necessarily a direction they saw coming.

Many publishers are now in a scramble to determine how to provide their content in a number of digital formats, including Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles, Adobe DPS articles, and others contending for this space (check out TFP’s November Book Picks on Social Media Strategy). Publishers are building high-stakes relationships with these new partners, banking on getting fast results from a high-volume market—but at the mercy of major shortcomings in reporting and advertising.

Determining how to set up content flows and processes to support these new publishing models alongside existing models is already straining lean and fragmented teams of content creators. At the same time, it’s also quite common that content teams work separately rather than as one, further fracturing content development streams and efficiencies.

There really hasn’t been a breather in this timeline to step back and assess the best preparation and delivery models to help organizations effectively deliver across all these channels.

But that’s where the concept of a publishing platform comes in.

When I say platform, I don’t mean a delivery channel. What I mean is the foundation for preparing and delivering content to internal products (web, print, apps) AND external feeds to delivery channels. It’s the content creation and publishing engine in the publisher’s boiler room that keeps everything humming.

For those publishers that have had a strong demand for syndication, the way to this approach has already been paved. The same is true for those who have created content repository standards around storage formats that have the flexibility to redeliver content in any adapted format.

With such platforms in place, a publisher can create content in a flexible format that can easily be transformed for multiple purposes, supporting the create once, publish many model that brings efficiencies and economies of scale.

The best-case scenario is to create content in publishing packages that get developed, edited, and proofed within the platform, and then through the platform get assembled and pushed to various outputs. Easier said than done, yes, but still doable with the right leadership, tools, and vision.

It requires adapting to new tools, letting go of culturally entrenched process, and thinking aggressively about getting on board with new efficiencies to prepare for the growing onslaught (and competition) of social publishing channels.

Technology and user consumption is quickly changing the publishing world, and this most recent change is coming on more quickly than ever. The question is, what’s around the corner—and will your publishing platform be prepared for it?

See this month’s book picks to learn more about distributed content and social media strategy.

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.