Woman entrepreneur busy with her work in office. Young woman talking over telephone while working on computer at her desk. (Woman entrepreneur busy with her work in office. Young woman talking over telephone while working on computer at her desk., ASC

‘The Hybrid Model Will Continue’; BIMS 2023 Future of Work Panel to Offer Updated Blueprint

We see many strategies for in-person office requirements vs. working remotely these days. And you’ll read a couple more below. But Terri Travis, VP of human resources at Industry Dive, who will speak to the future of work at BIMS 2023, seems to make the most sense when she told us: “We routinely ask our team what’s important to them to get a sense of where things stand. We ask how do we meet them where they want to be.”

On the episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Saturday, the weekly quiz show on NPR, the question was asked: “The company Shopify says they have increased productivity by the equivalent of roughly 95,000 hours of work this year by simply doing what?”

“Getting a cattle prod and zapping the workers?” was incorrect.

“All of this could have just been discussed over an email after all” was the hint.

“No more meetings” was the answer. “Deleted 12,000 recurring meetings from their calendars.” “We actually tried this idea of cancelling meetings this week,” said guest host Peter Gross. “We cancelled one—completely eliminated our regular Thursday punchline meeting. And you know what happened?” Long pause.

An article in The Washington Post last week suggested that “the beginning of the year is a good time to audit your meetings, work experts say. Review all recurring meetings on your calendar. Consider which are necessary and effective, and make changes as needed,” said Steven Rogelberg, who teaches organizational science, management and psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

BIMS 2023, Feb. 23-24 in Orlando, will have this covered. One of the most anticipated sessions is The Future of Work in B2B Media—so valued by us that it will be the Closing Keynote. The speakers are: Nick Schacht, chief global development officer, SHRM; Kevin Turpin, president, National Journal; and Terri Travis, VP of human resources, Industry Dive. While they may not be in favor of cancelling all meetings, they will offer pivotal perspectives on where the industry is headed.

Here are 5 previous assessments from this esteemed panel:

Move forward. It’s not going back to the way it was. “The 40-hour work week will evolve and won’t look the same in the years to come,” Travis told us by email. “Workplaces will need to remain flexible to recruit and retain team members. I don’t envision workplaces returning to a pre-2020 model. The ‘hybrid’ model—meaning in-office some days and working remotely on others—will continue.”

The lead story in The Washington Post today was headlined, “Offices half-full, likely to stay there.” While 50% of people are back at their desks, the article reported, “overall growth in office occupancy has begun to level off in recent months.”

Spend more time “outside” your own organization. Previously, Turpin (pictured) had spoken more broadly about transformation. “When businesses are trying to recreate themselves and change, they spend too much time inside, in strategy meetings, batting around ideas that they think will work. We don’t spend enough time going around. How are [our customers’] jobs changing? What are they thinking about? What are they investing in this year? This will give you solutions.” Even more so now, with all our work parameters changing.

Consider different in-office formulas. “The shift to remote work gave employees a lot more power and control,” said Travis. “If companies do not provide flexible workplace environments, they will not be competitive in the market and will suffer from a retention perspective. We have already seen this on the front half with our recruiting efforts. I don’t envision a five-days-a-week, in-office requirement coming back in the short term. However, some team members find it useful to meet with their colleagues and departments in-office and we support that as well.” Ring Central is moving from requiring workers to come in 3 days a week to 30 days a quarter. It gives employees more latitude in how they allocate their time, said COO Mo Katibeh.

Be careful of coding bias. In a podcast with Justin Brady back in April, Nick Shacht spoke about code bias. “If you have a biased approach to evaluating resumes, which you can have in-person too, then you just code that biased approach into the system. You just make those biased decisions that much faster. That’s a problem.” Developers need to be extremely careful on what we tell the AI to do and what bias we code in, for example even requiring degrees or certifications, while overlooking more valuable skills. “We have these legacy requirements for, must have a college degree. Well, ask yourself the question, why?” Shacht explained when speaking about a sales role. “There’s a whole other set of skills that actually can contribute to success in that profession.”

Ask customers and members what has changed for them. “We had a really deep dedication to getting to know our audience as best we could,” Turpin said. “Knowing what their top challenges are, how those challenges are changing? ‘What are the new things that are getting into your budget that wasn’t there five years ago? How are you managing the office differently?’ We spent a year with our customers, asking them a set of questions over and over. The most important one was, ‘What keeps you effective?’”


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Have a Plan [Early], Define Your Vision; Thorough Onboarding Is the First Step to Success

“EMPLOYERS: I’m going to let you in on a secret about employee retention,” Hebba Youssef, chief people officer at Workweek and a prominent speaker at BIMS 2023, tweeted recently. “Most employees know how long they’ll be committing to a job by the end of their first month. Translation: ONBOARDING MATTERS.” The advice Youssef then offers happens to feel pretty sound for customer onboarding as well.

In an accompanying article, Youssef—who will present about Workweek’s content-creator-led strategy at BIMS 2023 in Orlando, Feb. 23-24—offered three tips for improving your employee onboarding: 1) “Define your culture, mission and vision: What exactly are employees doing here and why does it matter?”; 2) “Have a plan for the first 30, 60, 90 days”; and 3) “Survey: the first 30, 60, 90 days should conclude with a survey at each milestone. While that feels like a lot of surveys, this time is the most crucial to get right! If something is not going well at the 30 day mark, you still have the opportunity to make some improvements.”

Interestingly, I wanted to write about member/subscriber onboarding. But when I read Youssef’s advice, it’s not really that different. You should be defining yourselves to the new member in terms of the opportunities available to them to engage. And “have a plan” is pretty obvious. The idea of surveying may, as she writes, feel heavy but better early in a membership or subscription than late, right? And I’ve found that reaching out in a caring, non-intrusive way is never a bad thing.

That also leads to the first of six more tips for onboarding:

Monitor early. “If a subscriber doesn’t have at least 10 page views a month, we run campaigns to engage with them, send them letters from the editor and the CEO, try to understand what they are looking for, and make relevant changes,” said Vaibhav Khanna, senior manager, subscription growth, for The Indian Express and formerly Bloomberg Quint. In a retention study last year from the American Press Institute, the biggest gap between what publishers deem valuable and what they aren’t doing well is in identifying at-risk subscribers—83.5% to 19%. The next two are using metrics to evaluate churn—82.6% to 28%.—and track what subscribers read—75.7% think it’s important but only 30% believe they are good at it.

Come up with clear questions to ask. Youssef suggests these—the brackets are how I would change it for subscribers/members:
I know what is expected of me [programs you offer];
I have the resources I need to successfully do my job [engage with you];
I understand the [your] company culture;
My goals [for our subscription/membership] are clearly defined;
My manager [contact with your organization] has set expectations about my role [our membership].

Perfect your welcome letters. I recall one open-rate survey that had welcome letters far ahead of any other type of communication. We like to be welcomed and made to feel special. The more value you can throw in, the better. And the more people you can welcome will also help you come renewal time. Almost everyone (90%) encourages new subscribers to sign up for their newsletters. However, only some publishers send educational information about how to use their products (46%) or send personal notes from a person in the newsroom (43%).

Dedicate specific space on your site. The Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) created a new member guide and a special page on their website with practical tips for new members. During the pandemic, HIDA went away from sending out physical packets but then heard from members who preferred receiving something tangible in the mail. Perhaps you could get a sponsor for that.

Provide the breadth of what you do. During the pandemic, customers may have come to you for one special thing, be that COVID coverage or ways to move forward perhaps. So it’s important that you expose them to everything else that you do now. “If you are one of the almost a million people who subscribed to our COVID-19 email newsletter, what are the other newsletters that may be valuable to you?” asked Jeremy Gilbert, then of The Washington Post, now of Medill, early on in the pandemic. “What kinds of coverage did you click through from the email newsletter and how can we use those interactions with our site or native apps to get you to stay?”

Show and tell. In the personalized onboarding webinars that Lia Zegeye, senior director of membership at the American Bus Association, conducts, she “shows a short promotional video from ABA’s tradeshow, providing a testimonial about the value of the event. Zegeye said she often gets thank-you notes from those webinar attendees who say, “Wow, I had no idea you guys did all of these things!” “It’s a great way for me to connect with our members.” On their website, there’s a pdf guide titled How to Access and Utilize My ABA. The webinars immediately put a face with a name.


Neal Leadership Awards Spotlight Top Performers; Deadline Approaching for 2023 Submissions

The folks who won our Leadership Awards—part of the Neals—last year are some of the most innovative and successful in the industry. The awards, which sometimes can get lost amid all the substantial Neals categories, are in play again this year. There’s no cost to enter, but the submission deadline is approaching fast. Here’s a look at those winners and more awards details.

“I’m surprised often by how much I see really short headlines in an online space,” Erin Hallstrom, director of digital content strategy, Food Processing, for Endeavor Business Media, told us in our Editorial Training Series session on Search Engine Optimization last year. “I have this conversation with people sometimes, and I hear a lot of, ‘I’m used to keeping things short’ or’ ‘We have to keep things short.’

“My number one top recommendation is, resist that urge. When it comes to SEO, remember not everyone knows who you are—not everyone’s going to know what it is that your content is about… Include company or people’s names whenever possible in the headlines; spell out names.”

Last year’s Neal Awards turned out nothing short of very favorable for Hallstrom. Not only did she co-host the in-person event in New York and do a wonderful job—so wonderful that she’ll do it again this year—but she was named the Marianne Dekker Mattera Mentor Award winner. That award is just one of a proud batch of Leadership Awards that the AM&P Network offers as part of the Neal Awards.

The others are:

– The G.D. Crain, Jr. Award, given annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the development of editorial excellence in business media. Nancy Perry from Lexipol was last year’s winner.

– The Timothy White Award, recognizing exemplary leadership in the face of challenges and pressures that editors face daily. Robert Brelsford, also of Endeavor, won last year.

– The McAllister Editorial Fellowship and the McAllister Top Management Fellowship go to an editor and an executive, respectively. Cassandra West of Crain’s Chicago Business won the editorial award, while Sean Griffey, CEO of Industry Dive, was named the management fellow and will receive that special award at BIMS 2023, Feb. 23-24 in Orlando. Elizabeth Green, CEO of Brief Media, won that honor last year. (Medill’s Abe Peck helped us document Green and her staff’s experience at the school.)

While Neal Award submissions are in and being deliberated on, Leadership Award nominations can be submitted here through this Friday, Feb. 3, and self-nominations are accepted. There is no cost. Submissions also go through the Neal Awards entry portal. (The Mattera and Timothy White Awards can especially use more entries. There is no submission process for the McAllister Editorial Fellowship. The winner is chosen among the Neal Award finalists.)

We’re excited to present the award to Griffey. Here, he explained some of the success of Industry Dive: “When we really started to explode was when we said it’s not just about saving people time, it’s about real insight about what’s happened, what this means to their industry. So the mainstream news can do a great job of saying what happened with a deal, or announcing a deal and getting the terms. But for niche publishers and business publishers, what you really need to do is talk about: What does this mean for your company? For your job? For the future?”

At her SEO training session last year, Hallstrom repeated her mantra—“not everyone knows who you are”—a few times during her training session. In fact, she suggested “sending your most recent 20 headlines to somebody else on your team and say, ‘Can you take a look at these? Can you tell by reading the headline of every single one of these what that piece of content was probably about?’

“People don’t necessarily know who you are, so if they’re reading a really short headline, and [it says that a certain] last name gets a promotion, okay, great, but what does that mean for the industry? Why does it matter?”

Hallstrom emphasized that “actual keyword stuffing is one of the reasons why Google made some of their algorithm changes. Saturating your content with keywords… doesn’t play well. Actually Google really doesn’t like that, so they will demote you. They will purposely not have your content show up higher.” Hallstrom compared it to “someone who goes into a party or an event [and says,] ‘look at me, look how fabulous I am. Let me tell you all my accolades.’”

Concept du travail d’équipe avec les cadres dirigeants qui discutent pour définir la stratégie de l’entreprise au cours d’un brainstorming.

BIMS 2023 Speakers Offer Advice on Future of Work, Events, Tech Strategy and Revenue

About a year and a half ago, I conducted an email interview with George Yedinak, co-founder and EVP of Aging Media Network. “The Future Leaders program has provided us a way to connect with the next generation of leaders in the industry we cover,” he wrote. “It provides brand awareness across our publications and also provides our editorial team with new contacts that they can work with in the years to come.

“Awards marketing takes up significantly more time,” he warned, “especially in the first few years to build that awards brand. Just because you build a program, you still have to do a lot of explaining and positioning when it comes to the program for all involved.”

Four years in, I see on their website that it’s going stronger than ever. In fact 2023 nominations are due this Wednesday for Future Leaders in five of their industry segments. At BIMS, Yedinak will appear on a panel for a session titled An Essential Conversation About the Future of Events. “We are just starting to integrate the awards programs into our in-person and virtual events where possible,” he said in that Q&A. It will be interesting to get an update.

Here are five other pieces of advice from BIMS 2023 speakers:

Ask and you shall receive. “We created Industry Dive’s culture of teamwork and collaboration when it was just one location,” Terri Travis, their VP of human resources, said. “In the past two years, we have evolved to a remote workforce of more than 400 people spread across the country, and now internationally. We routinely ask our team what’s important to them to get a sense of where things stand. We ask how do we meet them where they want to be. Are there specific times, events, trainings and other things that would maintain the level of culture and cohesiveness they’re looking for? Moving forward, I also anticipate an increased focus—and resource allocation—on mental health and wellness.”
Travis will speak on a panel for the Closing Keynote: The Future of Work in B2B Media

Form a technology plan. “The strategy needs to be driven from the top so that there is one ultimate path that the entire company aligns to,” said Rhonda Wunderlin, SVP, performance marketing, Questex. “Once the vision is set, the biggest challenge companies face is the ability to bridge the gap between the vision and the day-to-day implementation. Ensuring there is a strong project manager, a detailed project plan (that is appropriately resourced) and realistic timelines is important. That said, transparency and consistent communication of milestones are also critical. By keeping key stakeholders well-informed of the progress and ensuring milestones are communicated out to the company, you can achieve buy-in at all levels.”
Wunderlin will present a session titled: Enterprise Tech Spending Starts With a Coherent Business Strategy. Are You Focused Enough?

Plan some “boutique” events. “We feel that events have really segmented into two categories: trade shows and niche boutique events,” John Lerner, CEO of Breaking Media, told us. “Each market will support 1-2 large trade shows, but I have heard many marketers are still evaluating ROI beyond the #1 show in their market. The highly focused boutique events offer an opportunity for more networking, and we feel these fit well with highly targeted digital media.”
Lerner will speak on The B2B Digital Advertising Surge – Will it Continue?

Reinvent this wheel. “There are huge benefits for publishers in diversifying revenue streams and exploring alternative avenues,” Elizabeth Deeming, SVP, B2B division, Future, told FIPP earlier this year. “At Future, we created a Future Wheel; the wheel is made up of our different monetization streams—from print, advertising, video production, to e-commerce. The wheel illustrates Future’s holistic approach to diversification. It also ensures that no one monetization model is dominant and has led to a stronger business model as market changes in one area will have less of an impact as we have other monetization streams to rely upon.”
Deeming will speak with Lerner on The B2B Digital Advertising Surge – Will it Continue?

Look to marketing solutions. “We have been able to continue our acquisition strategy of acquiring smaller B2B media companies in an environment where there is little competition for them,” said Chris Ferrell, CEO of Endeavor Business Media. “At the same time, we have assembled a very experienced team and have the resources to invest in the innovative ideas they come up with for organic growth. As a result, we are launching new events and new products on a regular basis. In terms of organic growth, our suite of marketing solutions products is where we are seeing the largest revenue growth.”
At BIMS, Ferrell will appear on a CEO panel to look at 2023.

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FOMO, Timeliness, no all caps and ‘Inviting’ Leads Can Make Subject Lines (and Readers) Special

OptinMonster reports that 47% of email recipients still decide to open your email based on the subject line. Their advice is to “leverage natural human tendencies and psychological principles.” That’s a bit heavy but when you break it down to things like FOMO (“Don’t Miss Out!” “See Who’s Attending”) and timeliness (“Just Added!” “UPDATE”), it makes a lot of sense.

“A poor subject line is more than just bad: It can contribute to your email being marked as spam, dinging your reputation with your customer and search engines. In fact, 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.”
—Campaign Monitor

When it comes to length, they write that “the sweet spot is a subject line that’s between 6 and 10 words in length.” As for thinking more concise for mobile, it’s hard to say now. Prior to the pandemic, the number of people opening our emails on their mobile device was climbing. But desktops have now risen back to 3-to-1 for us. As more people go back to the office, that should change.

Of course, everyone advises to A/B test. One common way—which can be automated on many platforms—is to send out 10% of your email to two lists with two different subject lines, see which wins and send the rest to that one. Also test the times you send. The work-from-home revolution has changed a lot of open habits.

Here are more subject line best practices:

Lead with your strength.
The National Endowment for Democracy sent me this one: “INVITE | Democratic Deconsolidation and Declining Rule of Law in Poland: Restoration, Resilience, and Resolve |” The invitation peaked my interest. The International News Media Association starts their weekly newsletter with, “What’s New at INMA” before giving some headlines. “Reminder” is a good way to start if it’s something we’ve signed up for. I just received one: “Reminder for Award Winning NatGeo Documentary Short | Q&A w/ Director |*LIMITED SEATING*” The limited seating also got me to open it quickly. These days, signing up for something is just half the battle. We need to be reminded of the event and why we signed up. These words also score well: update, alert, weekend, thank you, bulletin, upgrade, new and available. I’ve read pros and cons for the word free.

Use the fear of missing out (FOMO) and a… trip?
I liken this to passing by a restaurant or brand store and seeing a line outside. What am I missing? I need to be there. “Almost sold out.” “Today’s your last day to save.” Framebridge sent out an email with five green boxes and the line, “Solve for 15% off.” The email led you to Wordle, where the answer was “frame”; but you had only until midnight to use that word to get a 15% framing discount. Sounds like an interesting way to partner. Alliance Francaise sent out an email with this subject line: “We are taking you to the South of France…” (for a virtual talk.) I’m sure that got a good open rate this time of year.

Personalize and make the recipient feel special.
This just came: “You’re invited to the Halcyon Incubator Future Builders Showcase!” (I came to the last one.) If you have members and/or subscribers, reinforce that what they’re getting from you is especially for them. “Wow, RONN, check out your benefits,” Aetna wrote. Writes Litmus: “80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences.” Sharing location-specific information tells your subscribers you’re paying attention to them. People have an innate curiosity about events taking place in their local area.

“Avoid spammy words, special characters, and SHOUTING.”
“Nothing says ‘spam’ to email recipients and internet service providers more than special characters (#%*@), [exclamation points] and messages in ALL CAPS,” writes Campaign Monitor. “At best, these will earn you an unsubscribe. More commonly, they’ll end up right in the spam folder.” I have read that putting the first word in ALL CAPS drives open rates up and that we shouldn’t shy away from emojis. The National Academy of Sciences did both today with this subject line: “TOMORROW Wrong Answers Only Wine Edition 🍷🍇.” I’m in.

Remember to add preview text.
“If your email’s subject line acts as the title of your email, then the preview text is like the subtitle. It’s that small bit of text after the subject line that displays in your email subscriber’s inbox before they click into the email.” Gives you a chance to tell a little more about what’s in the email.

Use numbers.
Numbers can speak volumes—and feel louder than words because we know that what’s coming up will be finite and manageable. “5 Associations Using Social Media the Right Way,” GLC writes. “13 Inclusive Images that Avoid Tokenism + more!” writes Brevity & Wit. “Three Steps for Building a Successful Marketing Strategy and more.” Those are in my in-box today. (I preferring using the numbers to spelling them out.)