Digital Publishing
5 mins read

Making an impact with 360-degree content

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Creating a high-value proposition means revolutionising content. Mary Hogarth explains why her 360-degree approach will add value and engagement.

While editors and publishers understand the importance of creating great content, putting it into practice – when there are so many other demands such as budget, time and staff – can be a challenge.

In reality, editorial often achieves an 80/20 ratio where the majority of content is high quality, but sometimes the odd page filler (in print and online) slips through the net. But as readers become more demanding in their expectations, standards must be raised to keep pace.

Enter the 360-degree approach to content because it is no longer acceptable to produce content in one medium.

However, for this editorial strategy to succeed publishers must first ensure that their magazine’s profile has a consistent identity that is recognisable across their platform. A strong brand identity together with clear values lies at the core. It is achievable by focussing on these four components.

  1. Strong editorial pillars which have real value to the audience while also benefiting stakeholders
  2. Consistency in terms of style and content across all aspects of the brand
  3. Maintaining excellent standards in all aspects of the brand
  4. Fostering a trusted reputation across all aspects of the brand.

Effective feature packages

Today’s audiences need a 360-degree content-rich experience – from the print and digital editions to newsletters, and online posts. Thus, the focus must now shift from articles to feature packages, whereby the writer creates a mix of written material together with a short audio or video clip plus some visuals and possibly an infographic.

Any temptation to produce articles for the print edition, then repurpose these for the website must be resisted. It was this such repetition that led me to create the 360-degree feature package model whereby different angles are developed specifically for each medium.

My 360-degree feature package consists of three stages. First, the writer should decide on a theme, then develop a different angle for each platform to achieve an 80/20 ratio of fresh content. Using this model ensures that the majority of content is new with only a small amount of repetition to link each aspect and facilitate signposting.

For example, let’s use Living with dementia to illustrate how the model works:

  • Stage 1 focuses on the print/digital angle: this angle could be Getting the right care, with the article using a mix of research, quotes and anecdotes to develop a robust and informative piece. However, it should also include sufficient images and some form of an infographic to enrich the readers’ experience.
  • Stage 2 the online approach: could take the angle of A daughter’s experience, which should be a mix of written, audio and visual content, therefore maximising the user’s experience by using a wealth of mediums.
  • Stage 3 signposting: a promotional opportunity to drive readers and users to each of the theme’s angles, thus increasing engagement through sharing opportunities. All these aspects can impact positively on circulation while increasing traffic and perhaps even raising the title’s profile.

Editors will have their view on the feature package and how it should be structured. However, once the 360-degree feature package becomes part of the editorial provision, the concept can be adapted to explore both data and content opportunities further.

Lessons from The Lawyer

One such brand that has diversified to maximise content opportunities is The Lawyer. Steve Newbold, Centaur Media’s, divisional managing director of media and events, has played a vital part.

He saw the digital revolution as an opportunity to maximise the title’s existing resources and strengths. “We were brilliant at reaching high-value audiences in significant volume via controlled circulating print whereby we collected print registration details and sent out high-quality, weekly magazines for free.”

Steve admits the brand’s biggest challenge was the “in demand” and finding a route to market demands. Another consideration was The Lawyer’s readers who wanted to consume things in a multimedia way – not just waiting once a week for a weekly magazine to drop on the mat.

“Today’s readers want daily news updates and regular content. It has changed the dynamic but from a business perspective we recognised quite early on that advertising was likely to decline in print and therefore had to find other ways of diversifying revenues,” explains Steve adding that the challenge resulted in the team creating new forms of content such as information and analysis.

“For example, we did a series of reports for The Lawyer and started selling them. What we quickly realised was that the value of such is quite high because they are information products as opposed to news artefacts.

“We produced a series of reports such as The Lawyer Top UK 100, which became the 200 Report, then the Euro 250 and the China Report. These were analytical reports full of data and analysis. Therefore, they were high-value products.”

Primarily, The Lawyer has utilised its brand, using the route to market as a way to promote its additional products and services. “Bringing in certain skillsets around content such as research, data and analytical skills was essential,” explains Steve, adding that they realised in the legal market there is a need this type of analysis.

“People trust The Lawyer to deliver that type of information – and on that journey, we have started to become less newsy and more feature/analytically driven.”

So what’s next? Steve says that the focus is now on recognising and delivering on what their audience want and expect – expertise. “In the long term, we will be developing even more analytical, data-driven research on the website and putting it behind a paywall.”

From a consultancy perspective

There are many lessons to take from The Lawyer, primarily that change began by evaluating their readers’ needs and working outwards. This brand is – in my opinion – an excellent example in terms of developing revenue and content strategies.

For publishers to fully enhance their brand’s editorial strategy, they must adopt the 360-content model. Because in the long-term such an investment will help strengthen their content strategy as well as improving sustainability and growth.

More importantly by implementing this model, brands are likely to become more audience-centric, thus widening their engagement opportunities and encouraging a higher level of brand loyalty, which in my experience results in a higher level of ROI.

This article is based on the seventh chapter of my latest book, Business Strategies for Magazine Publishing, published by Routledge and available from Amazon.

Image by Guido Radig via Wikimedia