|Succeeding in an Uncertain Custom Content Climate
- 9/10/2013 -
Time Inc.’s Newell Thompson shares insights on today’s
publishing trends and how they are affecting the custom content marketplace.
By Lia Dangelico
With the clock inching closer to5:00 p.m., it's not easy to fill seats in
the closing session of an information-packed Association Media & Publishing
Annual Meeting. And yet the turnout for"Custom Publishing — Why
Associations Can Master this Money-Maker," with Newell Thompson of Time
Inc., proved that members and other industry professionals are eager for tips
on surviving and thriving in this challenging media environment.
Thompson, executive director of custom content, shared information on Time
Inc.'s strategic partnerships and custom publishing opportunities, but focused
his talk on his "Seven Thoughts for Business" – top considerations he
faces daily in his efforts to turn custom content into revenue generators:
- From evolution to revolution. "We're all crossing the
bridge to nowhere, and we're not really sure where we're going to end up,"
said Thompson. As we enter into a new age of publishing and media, many things
have changed and will continue to, and it seems the rulebook has been tossed
out the window. No one is sure what comes next.
- Traditional publishing re-imagined. These changes have opened
a window of opportunity, though, in which new partnerships can be formed, new
distribution channels can be developed, and the future of publishing and media
can be reimagined.
- Risk taking and innovation. To succeed in this time of
uncertainty, publishers shouldn't expect specific outcomes as they have in the
past and must be willing to take some risks to reap the rewards.
- Content vs. distribution. Perhaps most important of
all, Thompson said, is that publishers need to think about content and
not distribution. Remember that in the consumer world, distribution
is free via the various social media channels and the Web.
- Waves of information. Associations are at an advantage,
though, as they have expertise and lots of information on specific topics,
which will be critical going forward as readers seek out contextual relevance
for their own lifestyles. Sell your membership base and brand, advised Thompson
— don't sell your distribution.
- Maintain integrity.While some risk is vital, don't
rush into a "try everything" mentality. Your values and principles
should remain at the front of all of your decision-making.
- Content aggregation. It's important for associations to
not only build up their own content around a specific topic, but also to bring
in competitors and industry thought leaders to share what they know. Consider
creating a space where members can go to get the facts and key opinions on
their industry and share their thoughts — a space you can, in turn, grow and
"Our business has changed," Thompson said. "Keep
in mind that strategic alliances, even sometimes free partnerships, as well as
good old-fashioned risk-taking and exploration, can strengthen your efforts and
improve your bottom line.”
Lia Dangelico is managing editor at Stratton
Publishing & Marketing. Association Media & Publishing thanks Lia for volunteering to cover this
session for members who were unable to attend.