"Prior to being at Bloomberg, I branded the consulting arm of The Atlantic. One of biggest trends that I saw [with my clients] is the undervaluing and an underinvestment—no matter the size of the organization—in thinking about content packaging and content delivery. If you only have 100 pennies to work with, putting 99 of them toward content creation and one toward thinking about how you package and deliver it is not a smart strategy, especially for organizations with smaller budgets."
That quote comes from an interview by Richard Papale with Jean Ellen Cowgill, global head of digital strategy and business development for Bloomberg Media and general manager of TicToc by Bloomberg. She will be delivering a keynote later this month for AM&P 360, an event hosted by one of our other divisions here.
"Think about how to take those biggest pieces of intellectual property and reuse them, recycle them, repackage them at the moment when they're most relevant," Cowgill continued. "It sounds obvious, perhaps, but so many organizations barely do it, and there's so much more they can get out of the work they already invested in."
In today's short-attention-span world, presentation can be huge. NiemanLab puts out a great feature every December called Predictions for Journalism 20XX (depending on the year). "Each year, we ask some of the smartest people in journalism and digital media what they think is coming in the next 12 months. Here's what they had to say."
It works so well because of the combination of forward-thinking content and exciting presentation. Each journalist is given perhaps 300-400 words to make their point. A well-done photo of that person accompanies the prediction. Quotes are used for takeouts in the stories.
Presentation was also a common theme last week at SIPA Annual 2019. "We've invested quite a bit in infographics," Danica Stanciu, vice president for Politico, told us. "The use cases for this are myriad. They can be used to help a sales team get up to speed [or] to [assist in] providing content and news to subscribers. Listen to your audience and understand what they need."
We also heard from Emily Laermer, data visualization editor for Money-Media, winner of 16 SIPAwards, about making a large amount of data digestible to readers. I've heard other editors there praise the work she's doing with presentation of data and content. She also spoke about suggesting changes to the way their webpage looks—another place where presentation of content matters.
Cowgill does warn that analysis and context may often be needed for your presentations, and can be important factors in what people are looking for in content—especially younger people.
"This generation is demanding a more narrative-driven, story-telling-driven approach that gives them the facts in a story. But they also say, 'Help me make sense of it. Give me a kind of explainer, and give it to me in a way that is engaging, that fits into my life, that is quick, that I can check on my phone, and if it's a video, I can watch in 30 seconds to a minute but I come away feeling smarter... with a narrative that helps me make sense and contextualize what's going on.'"
She suggested that part of the answer is to think about how to "repackage information or break that information apart into the kind of bite-size pieces that are lifted up into a broader ecosystem, are easier to digest, and can fit into someone's day." That's where she reminds us to make sure there's enough context, so that readers can "connect the dots as to how this information could be used at a given moment."
One of the best responses in that aforementioned NiemanLab Predictions for Journalism 2019 came from Libby Bawcombe, manager of design research and strategy at NPR, in the form of haiku (now that's a presentation!). It's headlined Haikus for the News. Here are three stanzas:
We call them "users,"
but they're individuals
doing their own thing.
Watch their behaviors.
Are they very similar?
Look how they differ!
Design, build, and test.
Prototype new solutions.
Meet them where they are.