If business press editors had to define their relationship with the current state of the profession on Facebook, it would definitely be “complicated.” This was the general consensus at the April 24 meeting that focused on state of the b-to-b industry.
“The profession has undergone serious changes,” said Ron Wall, executive vice president for Advanstar Communications. “That doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There have been good changes for all of us.”
Wall, who runs Advanstar’s Veterinary Group, kicked off the meeting by introducing Faith—a dog born without front legs. He told the story about how a veterinarian recommended putting Faith to sleep, but a woman in Oklahoma adopted her. Now Faith walks on her back legs. Wall related this heroic pooch to the b-to-b profession.
“This dog was taught how to change and, in many ways, we have to change. We have to be retaught,” Wall said. “We have to learn how to walk without front legs.”
He discussed how LinkedIn, YouTube, iPhones, Facebook, Twitter and iPads have all been game changers for the industry. Today editors must make sure they’re sending out the right message at the right time in the right place—right now. For this reason, Wall said the term “editor” is outdated. For example, Advanstar is moving toward more fitting titles of community managers and content specialists.
“You’re building communities using content in a variety of ways,” Wall said. “The positions are no longer siloed. Everyone produces content that can pushed to all of the different channels.”
These different channels include e-newsletters, websites, social media, mobile and good old print publications. One of the problems with print is that by the time the reader receives the magazine the cover story is usually six to eight weeks old. That’s why, he said, there’s no reason to sit on an article anymore.
“If it’s good enough to write today, it’s good enough to put up today,” Wall said.
The most important thing to remember? Different technology will come and go but if you have a great audience and great content you will be OK, Wall said.
Keith Nunes, executive editor of the Food Business News media platform, agreed with Wall. Despite the ever-changing industry, quality content is the lifeblood of our work, he said. He also gave a quick disclaimer before he shared his insights.
“Everything I present today probably has a shelf-life of two hours because the industry is moving so fast,” Nunes said.
He explained how once upon a time business editors managed staffs, story production and stringers. Now they do all of that plus content management, content aggregation, data analysis, social media, video production, podcasts and so much more.
According to Nunes, this is why if you want reach to millennials, you should use these four screens:
It’s easy to look ahead, but print is still there, Nunes said, especially in his company’s marketplace. Many of his readers rave, “I love my magazine” and “Never stop sending this to me.” This is just one example of how b-to-b has become a juggling act between digital and print media.
To keep all of the balls moving, he said today’s editors must constantly study their group’s analytics. When traffic is down, discuss how to bring it up, Nunes advised. It won’t be easy, but if a product or project isn’t working, you may have to kill it. This is not a failure, he said, and editors are going to have to get past that perception to move on to projects that work.
Nunes predicted that the industry may move toward paywalls and specialized content to generate additional revenue. But, everyone in the b-to-b industry is experimenting right now.
“There’s no model that works for everyone,” Nunes said. “It comes down to the market you’re covering.”
Browse photos from the luncheon and feel like you were there.
By Ashley Barforoush, ASBPE Kansas City Chapter Secretary and Associate Content Specialist for Advanstar Communications’ Veterinary Group