Hudson Projects Rocks a New Sales Enablement App for Sound United

Sound United is on a mission to bring joy to the world through sound. To help deliver their message, they needed an interactive sales enablement app that their sales team could use to guide visitors through a diverse array of unique audio brands, including the likes of Denon, Polk, Marantz and Definitive Technology. They turned to Hudson Projects, a top-notch design and marketing firm, to produce the high-quality tablet app, which the sales team used last month at the Consumer Technology Association Conference in Las Vegas.

Hudson Projects relied on the app experts at MEI, along with the Twixl Publisher app platform,  to handle the technical execution, so that they could remain focused on designing an engaging brand experience for their client, Sound United.

“MEI and Twixl were key ingredients that enabled us to deliver the art and branding experience we wanted to achieve without having to sweat the technical. It was a great collaboration that allowed us to focus on doing what we do best – the design – and leave the technical challenge to our partners.”

— Michael Laddey, Hudson Projects

In the end, Sound United was able to turn to Hudson Projects to deliver a stellar app within a short timeline, while holding up to the high-quality standards of the brand. And during the process, Hudson Projects was able to remain focused on the creative work they do so well, by leaving the technical challenges to MEI and Twixl Publisher.

MEI Releases Page Director ALS and AdForce Version 5.9

Managing Editor® Inc. (MEI) has released the latest version of its award-winning Page Director® Series: ALS, AdForce® and ALS for Magazines. Version 5.9 supports macOS® High Sierra and is compatible with Adobe® Creative Cloud® 2018 version of InDesign® when paired with the newly released Ad Import, Fido, and Split & Folio Plug-ins for CC 2018.

ALS lets you manage issue planning and ad layout for any publication. In just moments, you can have a fully paginated, accurate ad dummy that can be opened in Adobe InDesign. ALS for Magazines is built specifically for magazine planning and production. AdForce is the cost-effective, easy-to-use solution for small to mid-size publications. For more information on the Page Director Series, please visit the MEI software  page.

About MEI

Managing Editor Inc. (MEI), developers of TruEdit, helps publishers and creative teams maximize production performance through digital technology. MEI specializes in integrated digital publishing solutions that improve collaboration, automate content creation for multi-channel workflows, and manage digital experiences. MEI’s offerings range from ad layout software to enterprise asset and workflow management.

Over 3,000 customers in 53 countries count on MEI for publishing and workflow, digital production, creative services, custom development, system integration, and training and support.

 

For Additional Information
Courtney Feild, MEI Marketing Manager
215-886-5662
cfeild@maned.com

 

Should Publishing Platform Impact Quality Expectations?

I admit it. I’m a slow reader. Maybe it’s because of all my years – many, many years ago – as a typesetter and proofreader. My job was to make sure every letter, every word, was correct and looked right. And indeed, everything I read on my own in print – books, magazines, newspapers – always looked perfect.

I would dare anyone to read just about any published work and find a typo or any other mistake. Or even find copy that didn’t look perfectly arranged, line after line. Unless a last-minute change in a newspaper story was made, and the paste-up person waxed a new line of copy down a little crooked. I actually felt a bit gleeful when I spotted it, knowing exactly what that process entailed.

Then, of course, came desktop publishing. Newspapers and magazines started realizing the huge cost  and time savings of producing fully laid out pages versus galley paste-ups. This also marked  the first significant drop in the overall quality of the look of the copy.

Remember when you read a newspaper and you started seeing weird things in the copy? There were dramatic differences in the way the text looked. Sometimes a line of text had just a few words spread apart with big spaces between the letters. Or you could see “rivers” that looked like snaking white space running down through the paragraph.

What we witnessed was the first compromise of quality in print, because desktop publishing software didn’t have the same typographic controls that the earlier typesetting systems offered. Publishing Industry expectations seemed to change a little, with a willingness to give up some quality standards in order to capitalize on the new technology.

Now I can’t say whether the consumers’ expectations changed, except maybe for all the other old typesetters and proofreaders out there like me. The technology certainly didn’t seem to compromise the quality of the written content itself. It just created a bit of a distraction that some people may have noticed.

Over time, of course, desktop publishing software got better and better. It offered sufficiently enhanced typographic controls, such that the printed newspaper story and magazine article started looking pretty good again.

Fast forward to today. Like millions of others, I do most of my reading online – particularly articles on news web sites as well as opinion pieces on other editorial web sites. I still like to read magazines in printed form.

It is evident that the proliferation of current events – in politics, world affairs, natural disasters – has resulted in an enormous volume of published digital content for voracious readers, with updates added constantly. The more I read online, the more I noticed an unusual trend.

I started to see all kinds of errors in the way the copy was written. Double words, wrong words, wrong tense, wrong possessive, missing words. Sometimes it subtly affected the meaning of the content itself. (Interestingly, however, I rarely saw a misspelling. Thank you, spell check?)

I realized that I was seeing these kinds of errors in one or more articles just about every day while reading stories online. I began to ask myself: Does the volume of content required to stay in front of consumers mean sacrificing quality? Quantity over quality?

As I thought about these questions, I was reminded of what I knew was happening in the publishing industry. We were aware of organizational changes taking place in publishing organizations – many of them our customers. Staffs were shrinking, editorial teams were consolidating around content groupings rather than individual brands, and with print becoming less profitable and less prevalent and digital content more prolific, some brands were even shutting down their print issues.

My thinking reached a tipping point when I read about the hundreds of employees who staged a walk-out at one of the largest newspapers to protest the elimination of the copy desk and the resulting layoffs of half the copy editors. Like many other news organizations, the goal was to streamline editorial operations, to support hiring more journalists, in order to support the growing need for digital content.

Why should the delivery platform impact quality expectations? Or eliminate quality checks altogether?

Considering the amount of digital content published, and the number of errors I saw every day, it seemed clear to me that the copy editor was needed more than ever.

“For those in the business of words, copy editors are considered the ‘safety nets,’ the meticulous proofreaders who catch everything from spelling mistakes to major factual errors,” wrote Samantha Schmidt, The Washington Post, June 30.

Camryn Bell, in a blog post for The Daily Californian on August 31, wrote, “Copy editing is a quiet business. It is behind the scenes, and much of the work is felt in the negative space – in grammar errors that aren’t there, or mistakes not made. But in this space, copy editors are also responsible not just for spelling mistakes, but tone, accuracy and the reliability of sources. These are the things that keep content reliable, and part of why it is so alarming to see a nationwide trend of publications laying off their copy editors.”

Other manufacturers figure out how to build quality into their process, instead of simply relying solely on inspection. During my years at a large prepress company, we focused on how we could change production processes to improve quality as well as reduce errors. Our answer was to reorganize from functional department structures to customer-focused teams, with each team made up of workers from all functional areas, handling a specific group of customers. The result was reduced errors, faster cycle times and increased quality.

I recall a similar organizational change made several years ago by a larger publisher. They brought high-resolution color management processes into each magazine’s editorial/design team, instead of funneling all the work into a separate prepress department. The result? Better quality, reduced cycle times.

There was a time when we readers were quite used to the “errors that aren’t there” and the “mistakes not made.” News organizations should be able to figure out how to produce higher volumes of digital content without sacrificing quality, without “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”

In the meantime, I may need to learn to speed-read.

Marcolina Design Discusses Immersive Storytelling Through Interactive Design

For over 25 years, Marcolina Designs has provided innovative design for print, digital, mobile and web. The agency works with regional and national companies to share their brand and story, by delivering unexpected, memorable design solutions that are cohesive across media. Owner, Dan Marcolina, sat down with Nervous Pixel, a division of MEI, Creative Director Will Steuber to discuss how Marcolina Design brings content to life.

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your design philosophy? As a firm, we have a more conceptual approach, striking a balance between look and feel. Whereas a more traditional design firm will just focus on the look.

For me, good design creates an a-ha moment. It’s something we always strive for in our work; some unexpected twist that visually or verbally brings home the client’s message. It makes the subject more memorable. I was a magician as a kid, and have carried that love of magic over to my design work. I want to provide an element of surprise. My goal is to surprise and engage viewers.

Dan Marcolina, Owner, Marcolina Designs

How do you leverage content to shape the user experience? When a project comes in- either digital video or print- we anticipate and promote to the client how we might translate the content to other channels. It’s more than replicating the look. It is translating the essence and utilizing the medium to its fullest potential to extend the relationship and dimension of the brand.

The experience is guided by the platform. In print, you can try to guide the viewer through layout and visual pacing, but they could easily start reading from the middle or end; completely missing all your “choreography” work.   With web, you are never sure how the viewer will access the content. The speed and size of the screen all vary so you have to design for the lowest common denominator. This can be very limiting and complicated from a code stand point. But with tablet, I can design with confidence and really shape the viewer’s experience. I can anticipate most of the variables, like speed and size of screen, and can add unlimited types of visual enhancements like video, sound, and interactive. That’s where you can build in those surprises. The little moments to create an experience through the look and feel. For me, designing for tablet is the most satisfying and where you can come closest to delivering the design vision.

So you are designing the story for the vehicle, right? Exactly. Replica apps are just delivering the same content across platforms. It falls flat. There isn’t a chance to offer those little magic moments, because you don’t know how the viewer will access the content. Content should coexist across platforms, not mirror each other.

Do you see what you are doing as immersive storytelling? Absolutely. It comes back to my early desire to bring print graphics to life. It is what I am most interested in: creating engaging and immersive experiences for audiences. It is bringing the content and message to life in surprising ways, and making the experience interactive.

What are working on now? Over the course of your career, what medium have you worked in most? Over the course of my career, I have probably done the most work for print, but right now, a lot of my work is focused on motion graphics and augmented work. I am hoping to do more for tablet.

One of the reasons I enjoy designing for tablet so much is that it combines everything I have learned over the course of my career. It is where motion graphics, print design, and video converge.

Adobe Senior Art Director, Russell Brown said you cross mediums from print to interactive to motion very well, and therefore represent a good example of the New Designer. Do you have any advice for young designers? What knowledge do you think designers today need to have? My advice would be: learn 3D and After Effects. Designers today have to speak the language of print, digital, mobile and web. So you need a lot of tools in your toolbox to be able to successfully deliver your message across those platforms. The more skills you can develop the more flexibility you have to be creative.

I’d also recommend Twixl Publisher for tablet and app design. It’s an affordable option and does not require coding knowledge, so it’s more accessible. You can convert DPS content and create the same type of overlays; it’s a great tool for designers. We actually create our promotional pieces using Twixl.

Marcolina Design Inc. founded and operating since in 1990 by Dan and Denise Marcolina. Marcolina Design is a digital experience agency, with a portfolio that includes print, interactive, video, and augmented work. Clients include: Adobe, Johnson & Johnson, Discovery, and Fox Sports. Marcolina Design is based in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

 

Network Media Partners Shares Insight into Digital and Print Magazine Production

Above photo by Matthew Rakola

Network Media Partners, LLC is a business services firm for associations, specializing in: customized media sales, design, event planning and management, and marketing services. For more than 30 years, Network Media Partners has provided award winning design services. We sat down with Vice President of Creative Strategy, Jen Smith, to discuss their process for efficiently producing digital and print magazines.

Jen Smith, Vice President, Creative Strategy
Jen Smith, Vice President, Creative Strategy

Can you provide an overview of Network Media Partners (Network), and your publication design work? Certainly. Network works exclusively with associations. Our services include: advertising and integrated media sales, publication design, and marketing and event management services. We work with local, regional, national, and global clients. Most recently, we partnered with global organization MCI to become part of MCI USA. This partnership increased our capacity to meet clients’ growing sales, event, and publishing needs. Our design services are almost exclusively publication design. We do a lot of re-designs and new publication launches.

Right now we regularly produce nine magazines, in addition to the clients we provide initial set-up support and design for. We work in partnership with our association clients, from the early stages of content planning. Network is part of the content strategy discussions for the magazine, and helps develop the right content strategy for the magazine, be it an app or print media. The challenge for associations is how to produce content for all platforms, within a restricted budget. Our work is focused on multi-channel delivery, so we are thinking about visual communications for print and digital simultaneously. We are looking for opportunities to maximize all assets across platforms.

Are your clients focused on print or digital? There has been a big evolution for digital over the last four years. As an industry the idea that everything could be digital seemed really enticing, especially to our client base of associations. Now you are seeing a boomerang. The reality is that you need to be able to provide print and digital components. The questions are: where does your audience expect to find you, and how often do you need to be in front of them? We have one client that launched a magazine as digital-only, then moved to print. They discovered the print magazine was more successful in readership and revenue (i.e. ad sales). For many, the right strategy now is a strong print component with a strong digital component.

What is your workflow strategy? Each client has a different workflow, but from the beginning we are thinking about print and digital, and are involved in early content planning meetings. By being involved early in the process, we are able to identify opportunities to expanded on content from print to digital. For example, if we learn a photographer is being sent out to cover a story, we may ask for video, which we can use in the digital version. This gives digital consumers a little something extra, which is the expectation.

Templates are very important to efficiently produce content. There are certain rules to build consistency for a magazine, but there is also room for creativity. We use style sheets, grids, and grid options based on the components of the articles, any standing content or page elements.

Our process is to work through all the milestones of the print schedule, then while the issue is at the printer, the digital version is produced. TruEdit’s TruAuthor HTML content authoring component has been very instrumental in quickly producing responsively designed HTML content that can be plugged into the app. This allows us to easily have print and digital go live at the same time.

Explain the major difference in managing content for print and digital? This is something we consider a lot. It’s really about using the same content asset, but applying a different approach to suit the medium. The designer will use the same art and give it the same feel, but the presentation will be different. We are designing content for the way it is consumed. With a mobile layout, it’s much more templated so the text is easy to read. The smaller the screen, the more focus is placed on text.

Network’s publication design in both print and digital formats have won numerous awards, including Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards, The Apex Awards, and Association Media & Publishing Excel Awards. They are based in Hunt Valley, Maryland. For more information on Network Media Partners, please visit their website. www.networkmediapartners.com

 

TruEdit and Twixl Power New NEA Today Magazine App

National Education Association and Network Media Partners Launch New NEA Today Magazine Mobile App—with Workflow Powered by MEI’s TruEdit and Twixl Publisher

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. The Association has affiliates in every state and in more than 14,000 communities nationwide.

This spring, NEA debuted a new version of the NEA Today magazine app, which is now available to the organization’s 3 million members. This launch represents a major accomplishment, made possible by the Network Media Partners design team, and the TruEdit HTML content creation and Twixl Publisher mobile app platforms.

“NEA wanted to increase advocacy and engagement among our members, and we also wanted to reach new pro-public education audiences by expanding our digital footprint into the Apple and Android marketplaces,” says Earline Spence, who led the project from concept to delivery.

The original application was produced using Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). That version lacked a number of components that NEA had envisioned, and with fewer than 1,000 downloads during the first 18 months of the apps existence, the project was minimally successful.

“Our annual survey readership results found that very few NEA members realized that an app version of the flagship magazine existed,” Spence says. “The need for a new approach was clear, so we launched an extensive RFP process, during which we selected Network Media Partners for development of the new application, and Weber Shandwick to build a cohesive marketing strategy.”

To boost results, Network created a new content strategy with NEA, and started work on a redesign of the NEA Today app using Twixl Publisher. Network also partnered with Managing Editor Inc. (MEI), provider of TruEdit and North American reseller and support partner for Twixl Publisher. MEI worked with Network to integrate TruEdit and Twixl Publisher to enable Network to develop and implement the new NEA Today app. The results have been exceptional, and more than 1,800 downloads occurred during the first 3 months alone.

“The new app is more intuitive, and we’ve been able to integrate content from many NEA Today vehicles—not just the print magazines. The redesigned app also includes a carousel on the home screen which allows us to continuously publish fresh content on a weekly schedule,” says Spence.

There have been additional benefits to working with Network and for using Twixl Publisher, Spence continues. “Network has been an incredible partner throughout the development process. They came to the table with fresh ideas and provided excellent support and expertise in a way that made things very easy on the client side,” she says.

“Plus, our costs are down 80 percent. The transition from Adobe DPS to Twixl Publisher with Network as partner has been a seamless, win-win situation.”

Jen Smith, vice president of creative strategy for Network Media Partners, cites her team’s intentional design process as key to the project’s success. “The technology allows us to publish continuously and integrate three NEA Today titles and audiences,” she says. “Also, we’ve built content that is specific to each device, so it’s pixel-perfect for iPads and responsive for smartphones.”

With the new digital app up and running, NEA has begun to use it for events, like the organization’s annual conference. Plans for an NEA podcast are underway, and the association will publish digital magazines more frequently, offering custom versions for various NEA audiences, including students studying to become educators, new K-12 teachers, and higher education professionals.

To ensure digital reader adoption rates continue to grow, NEA will continue to enhance the magazine app.

“Network’s creative design and app-building expertise, coupled with the power of the TruEdit and Twixl Publisher platforms, has drastically enhanced NEA members’ digital experience,” says Spence. “We are confident that Network will continue to help us deliver quality digital products to educators in the months and years ahead.”

Print vs. Digital: Finding the Right Balance for Associations

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the AM&P NYC breakfast education seminar on April 7th  to hear about the challenges association publishing execs must consider to strike the right media mix between digital and print for their audiences. Michel Winkelman of Leverage Media moderated the seminar which featured Paul Tarricone, Editor and Publisher of Lighting Design + Application (LD+A) and James G. Elliott, President of James G. Elliott Company. Here are some of the insights they shared.

James Elliott emphasized that every media tool has a different purpose and requires research to understand the right mix. Look at your own association’s audience preferences and review what your competitors are doing.

Magazines are not dead and digital is not a panacea: digital magazines are viewed differently by ad agencies than print because of the different analytics used, so they may not be the most productive revenue source for your particular association.

LD+A is the flagship publication for the 8,000-member Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, publishing 13 magazines per year with digital magazine access provided to members-only via a “flip-page” replica. Paul Terricone said their research shows that members are “very loyal” to the print publication particularly with its design focus and older demographics.

LD+A embarked on a major e-newsletter program to increase their readership to new audiences and provide a vehicle for advertisers who were interested in more than digital banner ads. They are now producing 16 themed e-newsletters, three of which are tied to major industry events as well as advertising sponsored, on-demand video newsletters. Because the audiences are different, they are able to reuse content produced for the magazines in the e-newsletter, which helps keep their costs low.  The e-newsletters are being sent to a list of 40,000. Results have been impressive with an average 25% open rate and steady demand by advertisers. These programs have added additional revenue streams while introducing their content to new audiences.

The question to move to digital needs to be weighed by considering the demographic mix and reading habits of your primary audience while also considering your associations goals such as expanding circulation or recruiting new members. Bottom line: conduct research and use the tools that best fit the job—whether it is to increase readership, capitalize on new revenue opportunities or both!

TruEdit President’s Day Webinar

In the spirit of the holiday, MEI’s Creative Director Will Steuber and Senior Director of Business Development Brett Kizner began our President’s Day webinar by acknowledging how White House communications and national media coverage have changed significantly in the age of technology. Harkening back to the days of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the audience of the American people could only receive messaging through one channel, at one time. Comparatively, in today’s world of mobile technology, presidential communications are as frequent and ubiquitous as any other content out there – and streamed through multiple channels, multiple times a day.

The frequent distribution and multi-channeled access to presidential communications today is not unique to the White House: there is a clear demand and expectation for content from all industries to instantaneously be multi-channel ready. To meet this demand, it is important for content to have adaptability built in during the initial production stage. This was conveyed to the audience by Creative Director, Will Steuber:

“To have an effective content creation plan, there are a few challenges that we must address: First, there’s distribution. You [need] to be able to distribute to multiple channels, different devices, different screens. Then there’s the production of content, that needs to transcend [a single] channel.”

Using a content production sample appropriately featuring the Gettysburg Address, Steuber and Kizner demonstrated how TruEdit enables your content team to manage all aspects of multi-channel content production in one centralized, cloud-based location. TruEdit allows your team to keep all elements, metadata, and various treatments of content pieces grouped together in one collaborative structure. All content produced with TruEdit is responsive, so your team can see how it will appear on each mobile device or output channel.

Can you imagine the even greater profound impact the Gettysburg Address would have had, with such multi-channel production capability? Watch the webinar and see the full TruEdit demo here.

DuPont Evalio FieldPartner US App: Powerful Digital Insights for 21st Century Farmers

TruEdit’s mobile publishing capabilities are on display in DuPont’s Evalio FieldPartner US app, available today from Apple iTunes, by providing timely information on proven, local crop protection products for weed, disease, and insect control. Product recommendations are sorted by use with application timing, guidelines and best practices, as well as crop rotation intervals. Crop phenology charts provide information on application timing by crop phase and timing in relation to other crop protection products. For those working in the farming industry, the real-time processing of critical crop protection information in the Evalio Fieldpartner US app is revolutionizing the way crop-protection methods can be effectively managed and employed. And, it works online and offline for when farmers are in the field.

DuPont partners with MEI to Create Crop Protection Sales Enablement Mobile Apps

Chemical leader DuPont’s Crop Protection division is on a mission to help the world’s farmers stave off crop loss and feed a rapidly growing population. The team has partnered with MEI to empower its global sales force and customers with mobile apps that deliver critical product information on demand.

Founded in 1802, DuPont is a science and engineering company dedicated to solving the world’s most challenging problems. DuPont Crop Protection produces insect, weed and disease control solutions designed to improve crop yield and quality. It has more than 10,000 internal and external sales professionals focused on working with millions of large- and small-scale farmers in more than 130 countries.

Challenges

The Crop Protection digital marketing team launched a complete redesign of the division’s websites and mobile applications using the Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) web content management system, along with the MEI TruEdit Content Platform. It was the start of a much-needed digital transformation, but it was not without challenges. The complex project involved creating websites for 37 countries. These sites needed to support content for a dizzying array of product lines. And they needed to house globally mandated brand content while also accommodating locally created content, since farmers in each country grow different crops and each country has different regulatory environments. Given that DuPont Crop Protection sales are literally out in the fields, the DuPont digital marketing team set out to create an efficient and productive mobile experience for the sales force and customers.

We’re glad we turned to MEI to help us navigate the challenges. It’s hard to find that combination of great creative and brilliant technical skills, but MEI has so much mobile publishing experience.
~ Joanne Hewitson,
Global Digital Marketing Lead, Crop Protection

The Solution

The DuPont digital marketing team decided to use AEM Mobile to build and distribute these mobile apps. But they also knew they’d need guidance to make the content creation and app distribution process smooth and efficient, so they engaged MEI to help.

MEI TruEdit enables Crop Protection marketers to easily create responsive HTML for publishing to all mobile platforms and screen sizes. “Our marketing people don’t have to be programmers to put together these apps,” says Hewitson. “It’s a really cost-effective, efficient way for our teams to manage their content, so any time they need to change a picture or headline or adjust copy slightly, they can do it wherever they are in seconds.”

TruEdit also helps Crop Protection teams create content once and publish it many times in multiple languages, saving time and money and ensuring brand consistency. “Our teams are stretched to do so many things,” says Hewitson. “TruEdit makes it easy for them to access high-performing content right when they need it, and that’s a huge win. Ultimately,” she says, “we want to make it so that our customers won’t want to do business with anyone else since it’s so easy to use DuPont.”

The Results

DuPont Crop Protection is already experiencing great results with the MEI TruEdit and AEM Mobile solutions. The company estimates more than $500K in efficiency gains from using a single, shared platform worldwide. Online delivery of information through the mobile apps could save $1M in printing costs. And the company calculates a 50% improvement in time-to-market for its content.

Hewitson says that MEI has helped DuPont Crop Protection fulfill their mobile strategy. “We’ve empowered customer conversations, particularly those between our field reps and farmers. We’ve enhanced the customer journey by making interactions more convenient and enjoyable. We’ve provided training and support for our partners so they can make the most of the apps for their needs. We’ve improved collaboration between marketing and sales. And we’ve been able to capture data and performance analytics in a disciplined way that helps us provide optimal content at all times.”