When it comes to digital editions and mobile apps, sometimes
your members might not know what they will use until you give it to them.
By Brian Davis
As I slid a chair up
to a recent Association Media & Publishing-sponsored roundtable discussion
on cross-platform publishing and mobile apps, the enthusiasm for the topic
couldn’t be clearer. So clear that, for a second, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to
participate. Association employees, eager to learn about mobile platforms and
their added benefits, manned every inch of the table.
As I nudged into the last
bit of space, most of us shared that we had a measure of experience, but
certainly not a complete understanding of all mobile platforms. One colleague, who
offers a digital edition of his publication, requested, "Define a mobile app.”
One of us might know
about digital editions and their benefits, for example, but might not know the
perks of an app and a mobile website. We quickly learned about all of them—print,
digital editions, mobile websites, and mobile apps. We learned from each other,
but especially from our moderator, Kim Kett, vice president of sales and
marketing for Texterity.
"Don’t give the
readers any reason not to engage in the content,” Kett said.
After all, each mobile
platform has unique benefits. Digital editions allow the reader to zoom, skip,
search, and highlight, and they encourage the developer to create—polls, video,
animations, slideshows, 360-degree views—you name it. Mobile apps permit
offline access to content, libraries for back issues, more-detailed analysis of
reader activity, and more. Mobile websites simplify browsing your website from
mobile devices. These features are all new creative options for us in
association publishing, but they’re also new benefits for association members.
Kett, describing an
association that showed off a new member benefit—a digital edition—by offering
access to one issue to expired members, suggested a potential pitch, "Look what
we’ve done since you left us.”
employees might confront some roadblocks when venturing into cross-platform
publishing. How will the content in your digital edition compare with what’s in
your print edition? Who will find the time to draft that additional content? Internally,
your colleagues and superiors may not understand the mentioned benefits of cross-platform
publishing. Or, they might argue that your membership won’t use a mobile app or
read a digital edition.
Kett offered up an
example that might make a believer of anyone doubting their members would embrace
an app and its benefits—a wildly successful app for an association of free
"People don’t know
they want it until they see it,” Kett said.
Brian Davis works as practice groups editorial coordinator for
the American Health Lawyers Association. Association Media
& Publishing thanks him for offering to cover this event for members who
were unable to attend.