At the first CSME event of the year, members gathered at Nespresso Café in Yorkville, Toronto, to hear from two experts on multiplatform assigning: Sasha Emmons, editor-in-chief of Today’s Parent magazine, and Lisa Murphy, a digital strategy consultant. They brought their combined decades of experience in print and digital publishing to the topic of how to assign for both.
Here, our top takeaways from the discussion:
1. Move away from assigning stories at a rate based on the platform. Rather than paying one rate for print and another (lower) rate for web stories, assign stories based on the amount of research and reporting they’ll require. For instance, at Today’s Parent, Emmons’ team assigned a web-only package on miscarriage that needed a lot of time and care put into the reporting, so they paid that writer a higher rate traditionally reserved for print stories. Likewise, simple lists and roundups, whether for print or web, take less time to produce and can be assigned at a lower rate.
2. Audit before you assign. Well before the story is assigned to the writer, editors (and, in fact, the entire team) should have a clear idea of what stories are performing well online based on web traffic data. Avoid repeating mistakes by knowing the stories and formats that aren’t gaining traction with your audience.
3. Ask yourself: if you couldn’t use words, how would you tell the story? Answering this question will help you decide which extra elements you’ll need to assign for the story to enhance your web version and social media promotions. Murphy offers a helpful checklist of options to get you started, with some helpful hints for low-cost options.
4. Mine interviews for extras. Part of the assignment letter should include instructions for gathering materials that will help create bonus material for telling and promoting your story. For example, even if the story is on parenting, have your writer interview your star subjects on extra topics: meal planning, fitness, their daily routine. The extra materials will come in handy for sidebars, web stories, and social media. Also, use your best quotes to create visual memes for sharing on social media, like Buzzfeed did with their interview with Margaret Atwood:
Want more tips? Download the slides from our speakers’ presentation for more on multiplatform assigning.
Click here for Sasha Emmons’ presentation.
Click here for Lisa Murphy’s presentation.
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By Braden Alexander, CSME board member