Ok, I’m just going to plunge right in there and say it. The one thing that all publishers have in common is they believe wholeheartedly that they are unique.
They believe they work differently to everyone else, and that to make any changes would be too big an upheaval. Well, the truth is that actually all publishers are in the same boat – no matter how big or small. This isn’t a negative thing – quite the opposite. You see, publishers generally have the same problems when it comes to workflow, and when they are offered a solution, it is like a light has been turned on.
Most publishers use a very modern workflow and should be proud of the processes they have put in place. However, they are just on the cusp of having a fantastic workflow, which would lead to a tighter link between print and web publishing systems, freeing up editorial staff to create enhanced digital output.
However, there are some common problems that are holding things up:
1. Stop the copy and paste
Publishers are investing in great digital suites which sit alongside print software – however, through lack of integration, they still rely on copy and pasting. This means publishers, with goals to grow digital content and revenue, are still struggling to get current content online. Publishers should ensure that all staff know how to get the most out of effective time-saving tools.
2. Smash the bottleneck
Bottlenecks are created when just one person is in charge of checking everyone else’s work. One example includes several content creators producing stories, and then one person making each one suitable for online use, such as sourcing YouTube content. We encourage content creators to package everything together themselves, rather than relying on someone else.
3. There is always a solution
One problem is not enough people having access to the right software. I went to publishers where only two people, across the whole organisation, had licences to use Photoshop, and this was holding up the process. However, there are a number of software solutions that can be downloaded for free which do the same job. Finding a solution doesn’t always have to be costly.
4. The right tools for the job
If there is a workflow problem, publishers will often go out and buy new software, thinking it will be the solution they need. If there is a problem with your workflow, then take a step back. Have a look at what is working and what isn’t. Often just a few small adjustments are needed to get things back on track.
5. Adopt joined-up working
Having multiple independent pieces of software, not fitting together correctly, can be like a jigsaw with a piece missing. Publishers that go with one bolt-on after another just end up making more work for editorial staff. Businesses that had integration across the whole organisation had a smoother workflow, giving senior members of staff a real-time view of the whole process, from editorial through to sales.
It was a privilege to get a glimpse behind the scenes and see how both large and small publishers across the country are working. Each one understands the importance of creating simple workflows. Workflows that actually work for everyone. During my tour, I saw teams of highly skilled individuals, who had become mere processors - churning print copy into digital. However, those who allowed machines to handle the processes were freed up to use their creativity to focus on their audience’s experience. Rather than just having online content available, they were able to produce websites that the user became involved in, invested in and truly connected with.
Richard Mansell is a workflow specialist who has supported publishers for almost a decade with PCS Publishing. His expertise at designing and implementing efficient workflows has seen him in demand for consultations. If any of the points covered sound familiar then get in touch with Richard, who will help put you back on track.
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