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Office Hubs and Special Days, Better Virtual Tools and More Staff Training Will Highlight 2022

It now appears that Work From Work Wednesdays is a thing.

“As employees at financial technology startup CommonBond got COVID vaccines, and grew stir-crazy in their apartments, they started trickling back into the office,” a Yahoo story reports today. “’We call it Work From Work Wednesday,’ said Keryn Koch, who runs human resources at the company, which has 15,000 square feet of sunlit real estate in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.”

The headline of that story is The Worst of Both Worlds: Zooming From the Office, and the photo shows CommonBond VP Kara Phillips sitting alone in the office share-room with Pepper, the dog she adopted during the pandemic, at her feet. This is obviously not the answer.

While our perception of remote work has advanced considerably, a lot of heavy lifting will still need to be done in 2022 to make media companies and editorial departments adapt to the hybrid landscape. In a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism—titled Changing Newsrooms 2021: Hybrid Working and Improving Diversity Remain Twin Challenges for Publishers—just 9% of news organizations plan to reject remote work entirely. “The real question now seems to be how to manage the shift from enforced remote working to hybrid work.”

Here are suggestions from that report:

Use this period to reshape your organization. “News leaders reported feeling like they had a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to reshape the newsroom.” And this came from the report: “In an ideal world… a new operating model [is created] where work is done without reference to location, where talent is used more effectively, where hierarchies are less formal, and where diverse groups are included in conversations.”

Experiment with office design. According to the report, almost 75% have or plan to redesign their office space as part of the move to hybrid. The staff of German broadcaster RTL said that they appreciated the additional flexibility of remote work but missed “the buzz of the office.” So “their news department replaced desks with shared ‘hubs’ that anyone can use and created coffee bar-inspired areas and other spaces dedicated to brainstorming and creative conversations.” In Canada, The Globe and Mail reduced its office space from three floors to two and plans to have an app that’ll put teams into ‘neighborhoods’ and allow staff to book different areas. “You have to change your environment,” said Crain Communications CEO KC Crain. “The idea that you are going to bring people back and have them sit in a cube right now is not going to happen.”

Refine the best ways for managers to keep up with staff. According to the report, “managers feel they are bearing the brunt of major changes to operational working with the extra burden of communicating with and motivating staff they rarely see face to face.” “Being virtual does tend to push you back into silos,” said Phil Chetwynd, global news director of AFP. The report mentions the difficulty to balance “operational requirements with new expectations from employees around flexibility and personal autonomy…” “…Even if you have the coolest workspace at your office, you still need to compete for talent,” said KC Crain. “When you think about the digital age and people working in technology, they are kind of calling the shots. So if they want to sit at home and work because they are building websites, they are going to.”

Provide more training. “With fewer opportunities to ‘learn by osmosis’ in the newsroom itself, some companies like Reuters are developing online mentoring programs and encouraging networking groups for next-generation journalists and other groups,” the report says. “Others are beefing up formal training, including talks from senior journalists and editors. These alternatives may help fill the gap but for many new recruits they are a poor substitute for picking up skills from experienced colleagues in the cut and thrust of a busy newsroom.”

Develop your own Work From Work Wednesdays idea. “In a hybrid plan, the team comes in three days,” said Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom. “On those three days we have all our meetings, trainings, events, lunches—the hyper-social things… It’s honestly better time management.” Three days might be too much, but we’ll see. “Once we return to the office, each team will designate a ‘team day,’ and that will be the only required day each week for office attendance,” said Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media. “That said, many staff tell us they will be in the office multiple days per week because they like the environment, amenities, getting out of the house, or their home setup is crowded or prone to interruptions.”

2021 McAllister Top Management Fellow KC Crain Shows Future Journos How to ‘B2B’ Their Careers

This is a special feature written by Yuliya Klochan, a master’s candidate at Medill/Northwestern, specializing in science reporting.

Each year, global business information association AM&P Network awards the McAllister Top Management Fellowship, now in its fourth decade, to an outstanding B2B media executive who promotes the study of business media by sharing their experience with students and faculty at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

This year’s McAllister Top Manager, KC Crain (pictured), president and CEO of Crain Communications, and his team of editors, audience development and HR staff from Chicago, Detroit and New York, visited the Medill School for two days earlier this month, sharing insights throughout a packed schedule.

“The team took four classes of students through what’s involved in transforming a century-old brand into a modern, multiplatform B2B media company, all the while retaining independence and integrity,” says Abe Peck, director of business-to-business communications and professor emeritus in service at Medill.

One of the four classes Peck and Crain’s associates attended was a graduate course on Magazine News Reporting in Medill’s downtown Chicago newsroom. Crain introduced the B2B powerhouse and recapped its 105-year old history: Until 1998, the organization focused on print publishing alone. From then through 2017, it launched and acquired more than 20 brands and started a digital transformation.

Today, Crain Communications is building a bigger portfolio through M&A. The company recently purchased GenomeWeb, a life sciences online news organization, and Green Market Report, a digital media brand covering the cannabis industry.

The big takeaway: Focus on your audience. As class speakers Dan Peres, editor-in-chief and associate publisher at Ad Age, and Ann Dwyer, editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, say, it is the “Northern star” for Crain Communications’ reporters and editors.

In addition to attending four classes and meeting with faculty, Crain associates led a workshop on “Your B2B Career,” which was attended by both journalism and integrated marketing communication Medill students. KC Crain and Nikki Kallek, chief human resources officer at Crain Communications, led the interactive session on the Evanston campus with Zoom and in-person participants. Kallek highlighted the ability of B2B writing to “impact how a business person makes decisions.”

“We’re really excited about working closely with the school,” Crain says. “We think there are natural ties between Medill and Crain Communications. And we were very impressed with the curriculum, the professors and the students. We hope that we can partner in many ways in the future.”

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New Research Says ‘Affordances’ Should Be Included to Make Content Clearer and More Actionable

While content creation seems to be all the buzz, new research from the University of Missouri School of Journalism tells us that our content needs certain “affordances”—such as hypertextuality, interactivity and genre—to help readers feel more comfortable and able to take action. They say that ‘contextual clues’ have been ignored in our print-to-digital transition.

Substack announced Monday that their publications now have more than 1 million paid subscriptions. AM&P member Future’s Golf Monthly announced that they are expanding their roster of content creators “with a number of high profile additions.” And the new B2B media company Workweek launched Wednesday with one of the founders saying that “we built a model to help [content] creators live better lives.”

Leaders for these organizations revel about the value of content in their companies, such as Golf Monthly’s requirement “to produce authoritative, trusted content at both scale and pace.” Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie wrote in a post that “people are willing to pay for writers they trust,” and Workweek apparently longs to “elevate incredible creators and personalities.”

But beyond the hyperbole, what does content actually need to accomplish to be most effective in the B2B and association world? In new research, the University of Missouri School of Journalism explored the way people understand and make sense of and value the news they read on digital sites.The study leaned on psychologist James Gibson’s “theory of affordances, which argues an object’s properties inform what desired actions might be taken with the object.”

“When we apply this theory to a news medium, we are saying that each medium offers a lot of cues, such as design elements like color and use of hyperlinks,” said Shuhua Zhou, a professor of journalism studies and co-author on the study. “These attributes have the ability to allow people to do something or invite people to learn something particular about the news.”

Here’s a list of the eight affordances they found:

Genre, or use of digital cues, such as labels, to distinguish between different types of content. Sponsored content—which most readers accept if clearly set off—falls here. Readers want to know what type of story they’re reading, be it news, commentary, podcast transcript, webinar recap, etc.

Retrievability, or the ability to find previous news stories, such as with a simple keyword search. This

Importance, or visual cues such as a story’s location, headline size and word count, that allow readers to understand the level of importance of a particular news story. Fast Company starts their stories with a “XX MINUTE READ.” There’s a 2-3 deck headline and then a one-sentence or so subhead:

4 Signs You’re Experiencing Burnout, According to a Cognitive Scientist.
If you’ve been feeling exhausted, here’s how to know if you just need a relaxing weekend, or if it’s something more major.
3 MINUTE READ

Immediacy, or the ability for content to be updated quickly and to help lessen the confusion between new and old stories when sharing on social media. I’m always looking for the date on stories. Our colleague Tony Silber just wrote a commentary for MediaPost about a federal appeals court on Friday upholding the major rate hikes imposed in August by the U.S. Postal Service. Their date? “2 hours ago.”

Hypertextuality, or the ability to include additional digital information by linking to related articles or resources. Done well—opening another page keeps them on your site—links can be very valuable to the reader in trying to understand a story or the full call to action.

Convenience, or the ability to access vast amounts of digital information at one’s fingertips. Infographics will only get more and more prevalent in 2022—another new skill that media organizations need.

Adaptability, or user-friendly features that make it easier for one to navigate through digital news content and be able to read the news on multiple digital platforms. I just read a site’s article that may work on mobile but on the desktop it was way too big.

Interactivity, or the ability to share news articles with others, and create a community by interacting with comments left on an article.

“When these cues are missing or ambiguous, it can lead to reader confusion,” said Damon Kiesow, a professor of journalism professions and lead author on the study. “For example, readers may believe an opinion column is a news story, or assume an old article shared on social media is actually new. This may contribute to reduced trust and engagement.”

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

TechTarget, Ziff-Davis Post Strong Quarterly Growth

This is a special report written for us by Tony Silber.

TechTarget (TTGT) on Wednesday reported quarterly earnings of 60 cents per share, beating an anticipated performance of 57 cents per share. The earnings performance came as part of the company’s third-quarter results, which were announced after the markets closed Wednesday.

The company, which offers marketing services and B2B media and serves the IT space, posted revenue of $69.7 million for the quarter ended September 30, surpassing the estimate by 4.39%, Nasdaq reported. The revenue performance compares to year-ago revenue of $36.2 million. TechTarget has topped consensus revenue estimates four times over the last four quarters.

The quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of 5.26%, the Nasdaq report continued.

TechTarget deploys sophisticated lead-generation and intent-data analysis technology to help clients identify and nurture likely prospects and detect when they’re likely to buy. For the third quarter, it was up 92% from the same period a year ago.

Founded in 1999 and based in Newton, Massachusetts, it had EBITDA of $28 million for the quarter, for a margin of 39%. The company’s stock was trading at $99.82 Thursday morning, close to its 12-month high of $101.12.

The period ending September 30 was the third consecutive quarter of 2021 where the company grew. It reported revenue of $52.9 million in Q1, $63.7 million in Q2. It’s projecting between $73 million and $75 million for Q4, for full-year revenue of somewhere around $261 million.

These healthy growth rates are being supported by multiple tailwinds,” the company said in a letter to shareholders. “A healthy IT spending environment, the modernization of the sales-and-marketing organization through automation and data, a focus on privacy and compliance, which drives demand for our first-party purchase intent data and the re-allocation of marketing budgets from face-to-face events to our data products and online marketing solutions.”

“We believe we are well positioned to take advantage of these large trends,” the letter continued. “All of the above trends support the continued growth of Priority Engine revenue, which was up 20% in the quarter.” Priority Engine is the company’s proprietary lead-gen technology.

“It’s worth noting that Priority Engine was originally designed and optimized for marketing use cases, and we’ve spent much of the last two years making steady progress on making the data more easily accessible to individual sellers,” the shareholder letter states. “With this release, we’ll roll out a revamped user interface that allows sellers to personalize their experience and view individual important buying-process milestones. Marketers will also benefit from the availability of individual prospects identified through our BrightTALK platform for the first time.”

Also contributing to the company’s performance, the letter stated, is progress on integrating recent acquisitions, with the associated benefits from cross-selling and upsell opportunities. TechTarget expects this will help drive growth in 2022.

Ziff Davis Posts Major Revenue Growth for Q3

Meanwhile, Ziff Davis, which operates in some of the same IT markets as Tech Target, reported quarterly revenue of $434.7 million, an increase of 24.5% over the same period in 2020. Adjusted

EBITDA for the quarter increased 13.6%, to $175.1 million, compared to $154.1 million for Q3 2020, the company said in a statement.

Ziff, (formerly known as J2 Global, Inc.), trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol ZD. Its broad media portfolio includes brands in technology, entertainment, shopping, health, cybersecurity, and martech.

“There’s great enthusiasm and excitement at Ziff Davis as we embark on our new chapter,” Vivek Shah, CEO of Ziff Davis, said in a statement. “Our portfolio of digital media and internet brands are very well-positioned to thrive in some of the highest-value verticals in the marketplace.”

For the year, Ziff reported revenue of $1.2 billion, a 24.6% increase from the $1.0 billion it reported for the first three quarters of 2020. Adjusted EBIT was up by a similar mount—24.7% for a 2021 total of $503.4 million.

ZD was trading at $129.24 mid-morning on Thursday, slightly off from its previous close, and $6.00 off from its 12-month high.

Ziff Davis announced early last month that it completed a spinout of its business cloud services division as a separate independent, publicly traded company.

Targeted Programs Can Recognize, Energize and Propel Your Audiences 

Be it recognition, awards or simply a mechanism to unearth and reach out to key segments of your audience, targeted programs can be hugely beneficial. It’s a classic win-win. Not only do they tell that audience that you’re listening to them, but they build a diverse roster of leaders, webinar/panel speakers, and event attendees—and can bring in sponsors.

Here are five successful, targeted programs across our Associations, Media & Publishing (AM&P) Network landscape that accomplish several objectives.

ASCD’s Emerging Leaders

ASCD, “a passionate community of life-changing educators,” has an Emerging Leaders program that features educators who have been in their field for 5-15 years and who have made an impact as leaders in their schools, districts and communities. Here’s the 2021 group.

Methodology: They are enrolled in the program for two years and invited to participate in multiple opportunities, including, when circumstances allow, attending the invitation-only Leader to Leader convening, writing for ASCD publications, and hosting the ASCD podcast. There are also avenues for leadership opportunities in the association. ASCD adds that “alumni from the program have become ASCD authors, faculty members and board members.”

“Elevating educational leadership is the heart of what we do at ASCD, and our emerging leaders exemplify leadership at its best,” ASCD CEO and Executive Director Ranjit Sidhu said. “These educators strengthen our community and our organization. We are excited to welcome our new class and look forward to working together in the years to come.”

Aging Media Network’s Future Leaders

Scroll down the Aging Media Network page of their Future Leaders Class of 2021 (sponsored by PointClickCare), and you’ll see an impressive array of names, faces and companies. The titles range from CEO and founder to VP of finance and accounting, chief design officer and real estate innovation manager to VP, people operations, senior consultant – outsourced agency management, and chief medical officer.

Strategy: “The Future Leaders program has provided us a way to connect with the next generation of leaders in the industry we cover,” George Yedinak, co-founder, executive vice president, Aging Media Network (an AM&P Network member), wrote to me. “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.

“[The plan is] to certainly develop an alumni network that can meet at our events as a start. Our editorial teams are looking to build these relationships for content and stories that align with their goals. There are a number of ideas around the program on continuing to extend involvement of the current and past classes of leaders. We’ll take a break and get some feedback from all stakeholders and look to make those iterative improvements.”

CUES Advancing Women

“Information and inspiration for current and aspiring female credit union executives and those who support them.” That’s the tagline for the Credit Union Executive Society’s (CUES) quarterly publication, Advancing Women, which won a 2021 EXCEL gold award for General Excellence in Newsletters. Appearing on the site are articles—10 Strategies for Overcoming Impostor Syndrome, NextGen Know-How: Beware of Compare; videos—Solid Salary Negotiation Strategies for Female Leaders at All Levels; Making Space for Women on Boards; and podcasts—The Evolution to Modern Leadership, CUES Compensation and Salary Data Facilitates Good Decision-Making.

Some backstory: “In 2021, we added a guest editor program. The Advancing Women panel is just four people (one guest editor per issue). The reason we added the guest editor panel was to make sure the content reflected what was needed,” Theresa Witham, managing editor/publisher, CUES, wrote me. “We also started a similar publication for DEI last year, and I strongly believed we needed guest editors for each issue of the DEI newsletter [to increase diversity]… So since we decided to go the guest editor route [there], we thought it would also be a good idea to do the same for Advancing Women (and that was an area where members had been reaching out asking if they could be involved). A secondary benefit of the guest editors is that they can help us increase exposure to their wider networks. But the primary benefit sought was improved representation.”

American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) Talented Twelve

Each year, C&EN introduces you to a dozen diverse young scientists with their Talented Twelve issue. “The researchers are always engaged in world-changing work,” they write. “This year’s group is removing pollutants from water, transforming the immune system to fight cancer, and creating the next generation of chemical catalysts.”

A key event around the program. “One of my favorite events is on the day we have our symposium—hearing the TED-style talks of the Talented Twelve,” Bibiana Campos-Seijo, VP of C&EN Media Group and editor in chief, C&EN, American Chemical Society, said, recounting their 2019 fall meeting. “I got to the room and was talking to Paula Hammond”—head of MIT’s Chemical Engineering Department, a member of the C&EN advisory board and was guest editor for C&EN’s special Trailblazers issue last month—“and in walks Frances Arnold, the 2018 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry and only the fifth female ever so honored.

“‘I know you didn’t invite me, but I’m here,’ she said,” Campos-Seijo continued, recalling her delight. “I think she stayed for two of the four hours. Someone asked her later, ‘Did you enjoy it?’ She said yes, and that she’s part of a foundation that gives awards and put forward one of the names of the Talented Twelve—and that person eventually won! So she was sourcing us.”

Putman’s Influential Women in Manufacturing

Despite being on hold this year after four great seasons, IWIM succeeded in many ways—celebrating key Putman Media customers, amplifying the voices of women in a field where they have been under-represented, creating a new speaker pool for podcasts and webinars, and offering advice to the next generation.

“I feel small when I look at all [these women have] been doing and all they do for their companies,” Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman Media and IWIM’s guiding force said. “You can see how excited their companies are. I just get excited that someone enjoys it.”

Support from the top. “I am proud that Putman could play a role in shining a light on the extraordinary work being done by so many women in the manufacturing field,” Putman Media CEO John Cappelletti has said about IWIM. “Our hope is that their achievements will inspire other young women to join this dynamic industry and be a part of creating manufacturing’s exciting future.”

The program changed lives. “Not only the honorees, but our own,” Hallstrom wrote in a blog. “We saw the profound effects of amplifying women’s voices and connecting an alliance of women who were impacting the world in their manufacturing careers… IWIM was born out of a need to amplify and connect.”