Saturday, January 11, 2014

Work History 2013 - Present: KC Magazine and ThisIsKC

I think I'll call this post Local Lifestyle Coverage is Extremely Competitive, or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog."

Kansas City has some pretty savvy cultural taste makers. If you enter the culture & lifestyle coverage field, you better understand your audience and how to network.

I like to think I'm a versatile writer, but leaving the daily world of truck driving content at CDL Life and moving directly to the world of affluent Kansas City women was challenging in a way I hadn't experienced yet. Topsy-turvy time, within just a few weeks. The job was creating an online presence and social engagement for three different metro-focused magazines, KC Magazine, KC Business, and Good Health KC. The amount of content going across the editorial desk of that operation dwarfed anything I had seen previously. The publishing house also had a much more ambitious plan in mind.

What kept me focused and productive was a very experienced and efficient managing editor. I was hired to help him create an engaging social presence, and expand the demographic. Their reader demo was a 30 - 55 year-old woman with good taste, spare cash and who was community-focused. My job was to expand that to 25 - 55 year-old women AND men who harbored an online shopping itch. They also wanted to double the size of their social media audience...without spending any money.

Tough crowd.

What I found was, it might not be easy, but the expectations were reasonable. After all was said and done, I was able to increase weekly readership by 15 percent and increase the social engagement across all channels by an average of 20 percent. Was I able to accomplish this on a purely organic model? Mostly, yes. I confess: I had to spend money. However, it wasn't like opening a spigot, but more like firing a water pistol - short bursts and tight focus from something created cheaply. The print side of the house ended up almost sinking the entire ship.

The singular problem at this company was that the management saw no problem between having the print editorial team compete with the digital team. They saw the magazine and the website as two distinct entities. This caused a multitude of problems. Here's a list.

  • Creating a magazine with one name and publishing all of the mag's content on a URL with a completely different name confused both readers and advertisers.
  • Editorial on the print side consistently prevented digital from publishing certain content in order to "save it" for magazine readers. Problem being, print readers were no longer the primary audience. Digital outperformed print by a ratio of about ten to one.
  • Print editorial competed with digital so much, that some editorial staff refused to participate in social media. 
  • Print editorial made recruiting freelance talent for content and photography very difficult by delaying payment to some contributors by as much as five months.

What I Learned: 
  • Social Media Ad Campaigns 
  • Strategic Editorial Revision for Web from Print 
  • Agenda Setting 
  • Website Development & UX 
  • Joomla 
  • eCommerce