‘It’s on Us’; Day Two of AMPLIFY 2023 Offers DEI, Podcast, Talent and Image Solutions

If there was a theme for Day Two of AMPLIFY 2023, it was the importance of cross-departmental cooperation. It came up in the morning Main Stage session on Measuring Meaningful Progress in DEI and again in Leveraging a Podcast Program. By the time AI and neurodiversity took center stage, it was clear that no publishing department can be an island if it’s going to succeed in today’s landscape.

“We’ve worked some with the marketing department on this,” said Racquel Jemison (pictured at podium), senior portfolio manager in the American Chemical Society’s office of DEIR (R is for respect), at AMPLIFY 2023 Wednesday.

“This” is finding diverse images for our publications. “Hire a photographer and get your own images,” Jemison suggested. “We’ve gone to universities to take photos of real chemists—things that are actually true to the industry. We’ve tried to be realistic about the chemistry that’s being photographed,” compared to misleading stock photos she sees. “Get it done, and you’ll have a bank of stuff you can use.”

“Look at different photo banks,” advised Marlene Hendrickson of the American Staffing Association. “Use the exact search terms that will help get you what you’re looking for.”

In the same Main Stage talk highlighting SIIA 2022 IMPACT Award winners, Hannah Glover, editor in chief of Money-Media, spoke about going out in the field to diversify their ranks, visiting NABJ and NAHJ conferences. For the valuable fellowship they started, they spoke to professors who told them that their students weren’t revved up to cover institutional asset management and other complicated terms. So Money-Media spoke more clearly, saying they cover people’s retirement and how they pay for medical care.

They also focused on state schools with journalism programs where the student body is at least 30% non-white and has at least one business journalism course. “Think about the experience” you’re offering, Glover said. “It’s on us. You want talent. Go find it.”

Here are more highlights from Day Two of AMPLIFY 2023:

Do an audit of your materials. “We did a brief audit of ACS materials to see where the needs were,” said Sabrina Ashwell, senior copy editor of Chemical & Engineering News, speaking about their IMPACT Award-winning Inclusivity Style Guide. “We had to decide how to meet those needs. We thought the guide should be clear and authoritative, and wanted to convey that there is no universally right answer.” Assembling a diverse team was important, she said, better to see how people use and perceive language. “Identify what your organizational needs are and what will be usable for your audience. Also commit to making updates. This is not a one and done process. You want to have a plan in place for making updates.”

When you find a topic that resonates, take full advantage. “At the base of our strategy is finding impactful and engaging content,” said Jen Hajigeorgiou, who oversees content development and management for the National Association of Realtors publications, during a morning podcast session. It was certainly a sign of the times that a majority of hands went up when asked who has a podcast. “What was missing was we didn’t have a podcast. So we identified the need, fast tracked it forward, connected with a vendor to help us make that happen quickly—and in 2022 we created Drive with NAR. It’s been very successful with 3,000 listeners on average and expanding. One episode drew 12,000 listeners—it concerned the safety of Realtors, focusing on two women being stalked. This year they’ll do a 12-part series on safety.

Get sponsors involved in your podcasts. “We started out slow growing our content channel,” said Matt Ausloos, manager of publishing at the American Health Law Association and another 2022 IMPACT Award winner. “Health care is a very regulated industry—members work hard to keep the association and membership abreast. We had a big uptick in audience in 2020. Our podcast channel is unique; there’s no one host. We collaborate heavily with our sponsors. They know we’re a non-advocacy, non-partisan, education-only organization. We work with them on content development and speakers. In its fifth year, Speaking of Health Law generated in the six figures in sponsorship revenue with more than 100 episodes.

Have a regular and consistent podcast publishing schedule, urged moderator Meredith Landry of GLC. Other tips she had included: create at least three episodes before launching; find the right balance between production values and frequency; transcribe your podcasts and post them on your website—it helps SEO; determine a length and stick to it; invite guests onto your show. Added Hajigeorgiou: “Think about strategy—what problem are you trying to solve? I try to address every new product we’re launching with a clear understanding” of its role and expectations.

Develop the voice of your publication, said Eric Randall, editor in chief of the New York State School Boards Association. “Your organization has a brand, and your publication has a brand, and they should align and complement each other.” He said that your publication’s editors column is often a good way to do that. He also asked how quieter voices can be empowered within an organization? “Tune into voices that have been overlooked and take advantage of trends,” he added, referring to a news publisher who put out his important snow news one day in the form of a Wordle.

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