Why it's Not Smart to Repurpose Content for Mobile

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"Save time. Stay informed." This is the value proposition mobile-first news publisher Circa offers to its readers. Founded in late 2011, Circa launched its app in 2013 and a new website at the end of last month. Available for both Android and iPhone, Circa was named one of the best news apps of 2013 by both Google and Apple.

According to Editor in Chief Anthony De Rosa, who joined Circa's team in June 2013, "mobile to us means people who are smart and busy and want to know what they need to know quickly and efficiently."

Previously social media editor at Reuters, De Rosa has strong opinions about what constitutes truly mobile content.Sidebar caught up with him for a quick chat via email.

SIDEBAR: How do you define a mobile-first approach to creating news content?

DE ROSA: Circa does more than just think about how to refactor existing content into mobile like legacy companies do. Even newly created news companies that started with mobile don't seem to build their news with mobile, especially smartphones, in mind. We do every single thing with smartphones in mind.

Our stories are atomized to be more easily read in chunks on a smartphone. Nobody has deconstructed the article format as we have. Our process from start to finish has smartphones in mind. Even our new website is designed first to be mobile.

SIDEBAR: What are the main elements or steps of Circa's content creation process?

DE ROSA: We have a very unique workflow and have built our own tools to be super-efficient in terms of reporting, synthesizing, gathering, and distributing news. It is part of our entire process, which is different than any newsroom I know. At the same time, we adhere to the old-school highest standards of journalism.

SIDEBAR: Many associations still have print publications. As they continue to explore other content channels (social media, mobile apps), how can print best support a mobile-first strategy?

DE ROSA: I would suggest not trying to repurpose your print content for mobile. Mobile needs to be its own entirely different thing. I think responsive design is a crutch for folks who want a "good enough” solution. You have to build from the ground up for the platform you're delivering to.

SIDEBAR: What first steps would you suggest to associations that would like to make the transition to a mobile-first mindset?

DE ROSA: Throw everything out and think about mobile as its own thing. Build with the behavior and use of mobile in mind. Most folks do not do this. They try to build an extension of their web or print product. This is a huge mistake.

Apryl Motley, CAE, is a communications and publishing consultant and freelance writer.


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