National Editorial Conference: Merging print, digital

More attendee interaction to enhance Chicago meeting

Conference at a Glance

Dates: Aug. 4–5, 2011
City: Chicago
Theme: When Worlds Collide: Closing the print-digital divide

Conference rates:

  • If registered online or postmarked by July 15:
    • Member — both days: $395 per person
    • Nonmember — both days: $495 per person
    • Member — one day: $255 per day
    • Nonmember — one day: $295 per day

    If registered online or postmarked AFTER July 15:

    • Member — both days: $495 per person
    • Nonmember — both days: $595 per person
    • Member — one day: $355 per day
    • Nonmember — one day: $395 per day

Register now.

Conference venue:

The Gleacher Center 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive Chicago, IL 60611

Reserve Your Room

Hotel registration deadline is July 15.

Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile 505 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60611

Reservations: (800) 628-2112 Room Rate: $149 single/double

July 14, 2011 — How can digital products protect your editorial brand?

Where can you find jobs in custom, private-label media? What can you uncover about public companies by simply reading the footnotes in their annual reports?

You’ll find out at the 2011 ASBPE National Editorial Conference to be held at the state-of-the-art Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, August 4–5.

The meeting will feature a compelling mix of expert panels, individual discussions, and roundtables.

The selection of Chicago for this year’s meeting, says conference committee chair and Chicago chapter president Erin Erickson, was driven in part by the city’s strong community of B2B media including Advanstar Communications, Crain Communications, Cygnus Business Media, and Putman Media.

Leveraging Chicago’s Colleges

“Chicago is also home to several amazing journalism schools, and we’re incredibly excited to have several faculty — who are also practicing journalists — present at this year’s conference,” says Erickson. “You’ll be able to learn financial reporting from a Northwestern professor/CNN correspondent and the impact of WikiLeaks from a citizen journalist.”

Azbee Banquet

Not to be missed is ASBPE’s Azbee Awards of Excellence banquet, August 4, 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Intercontinental Chicago Miracle Mile in downtown Chicago. Gold, silver, and bronze awards will be given out for 50-plus categories related to print editorial, digital editorial, print design, and overall excellence.

ASBPE’s coveted Magazine of the Year (MOY) and Web Site of the Year awards will highlight the evening. And the top editors of these awards will discuss their strategies in a special session August 5. The print MOY winners, for example, will examine the practices they bring to reporting, writing and editing; editorial organization, reader interaction; as well as layout and design.

Keynote Presentations

Abe Peck, ASBPE’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, will present the kickoff session August 4: “Back from the Future: Cutting through Complexity.” Peck, a former professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, remains with the school as its first director of B2B communication, a visiting teacher, and a professor emeritus in service (see Q&A below for a preview of his talk).

Rebecca Rolfes, the presenter for the August 4 afternoon keynote, “Journalism Careers in the Age of Private-Label Media,” is an executive vice president and cofounder of Chicago-based content marketing agency Imagination (see Q&A below for a preview of her talk).

In a final morning keynote on August 5, Peck and two other panelists — Robin Sherman, ASBPE’s associate director and principal of Atlanta-based Editorial and Design Services; and Mark Schlack, a senior vice president of editorial at Newton, Mass.- based TechTarget — will look at real-world ethical dilemmas and how to address them. They’ll also discuss the ethical obligations of the editor when reporting on research.

Keynote previews

Photo: Abe PeckAbe Peck

You’ll be talking about the “brand circle.” Tell us more about this.

Abe Peck: A publication’s products — the print magazine, e-newsletters, webinars, events — may be depicted as different points on a circle, at the center of which is the audience member. In my presentation, I intend to show how all of the media properties flow together.

All too often, they don’t. Example: one publisher I know puts out four newsletters, but makes no mention of the them in its print publication. There is no cross-promotion or Web table of contents. I often see this kind of oversight.

How should B2B editors address this?

Peck: They can no longer afford to think of print, digital, and other content as independent silos. They have to rethink the production cycle with a view to better integrating content. That will require, among other things, greater collaboration among staff editors who are responsible for the different media and securing input from audience members.

What benefits can be expected?

Peck: For one, a jump in audience satisfaction because readers are being better served. For the editor, a more integrated and seamless content creation process will be more efficient. If you can align everything that you do, then you’ll save time, as opposed to always getting swamped and lurching from one task to the next.’

Photo: Rebecca RolfesRebecca Rolfes

What is the opportunity for B2B editors to work in what you call “private-label media”?

Rebecca Rolfes: A recent study from the Custom Content Council shows that more corporations are using journalists as content specialists. Companies want people with specific journalism skills. The positions are split almost evenly between print and digital content. Also, salaries are comparable to what journalists would find at traditional B2B publishers.

How does the work in custom publishing differ from that at a B2B publisher?

Rolfes: At a traditional publication, there is the editorial staff and the reader. In a custom scenario, you have the editorial staff, the reader, and the client. So the message needs to come from the client, not the staff. Some publications, for example, carry the client’s byline and not ours — even though we did all of the work.

There is a greater comfort level in custom publishing with “point-of-view” journalism. The client may have an agenda with respect to a product or politics. You, as the editor, need to be comfortable with that. If you can’t park your own opinions at the door, then you may have a problem.

Also, there is an increasing variety of non-traditional publishers. One example is the rock band Radiohead, a client of ours that recently launched a newspaper. So B2B writers and editors who are looking for work in custom publishing need to expand their idea about where the jobs are.

What skills do B2B editors need in the custom publishing arena?

Rolfes: If we’re talking about producing a custom magazine or newsletter, then they’ll have to present story ideas not to the editor, but to the client: People in suits who often have difficulty recognizing a good article in the concept phase. Working in this space requires diplomacy and good presentation skills — you may have to do a PowerPoint.

Publishers and content agencies like mine differ in workflow requirements. Custom and traditional publishers have similar deadlines and production cycles. But agency work is extremely unpredictable. Many journalists aren’t cut out for it.

But I would add there are many more opportunities in agency work. At my firm, for example, I have full-time staffers who are dedicated to content creation for specific editorial projects. But I also have a strong stable of freelance journalists whom I can call on — when for example, a client suddenly needs three videos produced. That’s the sort of flex [staff size] an agency needs that a publishing company doesn’t.

— Warren S. Hersch

Questions? Contact conference chairman Erin Erickson,

On the fence? Here are five good reasons to attend the National Editorial Conference.

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