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.

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

 

Brobel Design Relies on TruEdit to Create 88 Issues of Kids Discover Magazine in Less Than 10 Months

For over 25 years, the Kids Discover team of talented writers, designers, artists, and industry experts has been publishing award-winning educational reading materials for kids, including the print version of Kids Discover Magazine.

In 2016, Kids Discover decided to modernize their magazine archive to create relevant experiences that would increase engagement. Between 1991 and 2014, they had published 175 issues with production time averaging almost four months per 20-page issue. By partnering with Brobel, they hoped to create 88 issues in less than 10 months. It was a huge challenge, as it meant that over 1,000 pages would be in production at all times, with additions and corrections coming from many contributors at once.

Brobel’s Lead Designer and co-owner Ian Brown knew that, in order to deliver high-quality, error-free publications, his team would need an exceptionally smooth workflow that allowed for real-time content updates. They would also need a way to monitor progress and manage content and collaboration within a single system that worked with existing creative production tools like Adobe InDesign and InCopy.

He found the solution he was looking for in MEI’s TruEdit. The cloud-based solution could support concurrent web, mobile, and print content production from any web browser. It could integrate with InDesign, InCopy, and Microsoft Word, and it supported real-time updates, version control, and project management tools.

“We were excited to help Kids Discover take advantage of existing content, re-envision it, and make it accessible in print, mobile, web, and different languages to help kids learn,” says Brown. “But the aggressive 10-month timeline required us to work with a large geographically dispersed team that would have to track multiple issues and versions at once. And it would be prone to error when transferring so many large files. That’s when we knew we needed TruEdit to help centrally manage each project and keep content flowing.”

 

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.”

Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Content We Love

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about fancy dinner reservations, flowers and chocolates. This year, we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day by loving what we do – providing customized solutions that enable our clients to create quality content their audiences love. No matter the industry, MEI takes pride in offering cloud-based content solutions to help our clients achieve their publishing goals. Read on for an overview of the recent success stories that make our hearts swell:

DuPont
The agricultural industry faces some unique challenges when it comes to content management, because the nature of the business means that sales reps are rarely in office – they’re out in the actual field. DuPont’s Crop Protection division has a salesforce and digital marketing team that spans 37 countries, creating the need for a content platform that is flexible, responsive, and customizable to each region in real time. With the TruEdit platform, DuPont’s reps have been empowered with an efficient and effective mobile experience. This resource allows them to cultivate strong relationships and build trust with their clientele, by meeting them in their own environment. Creating more meaningful partnerships and providing mobile app deployment while streamlining DuPont’s international workflow — what’s not to love about that?

Lab-Aids
In the education industry, content rules all. The level of collaboration and content volume that goes into a single textbook’s production is staggering. We teamed up with Lab-Aides, a K-12 educational publisher of science materials, to help them automate and streamline their production process. By employing MEI’s TruEdit, Lab-Aids can now produce their own content workflows, integrate existing editing & layout tools with the platform, and have 24/7 access to in-progress textbooks. The result? Using TruEdit’s cloud-based platform optimizes their collaborative efforts to reduce downtime and shorten the development window per textbook. That’s a solution all educators can love!

Human Rights Campaign
People are unique in their preferences, and how they prefer to consume content. HRC’s Equality Magazine publishers know this as well as we do, and needed a digital publishing platform that allowed them to produce ultra-responsive content, for a predominantly mobile readership base. We worked with them to implement the TruEdit and Twixl platforms, which in turn gave them the ability to create a purely responsive design for their publication, using HTML content authoring capability. Using this platform helped HRC achieve their digital publishing goals of giving Equality Magazine readers access to their content at any time, on any device. It’s the gift that keeps giving.

 

LAB-AIDS has Educational Publishing Down to a Science

K–12 science publisher dramatically reduces time-to-market with cloud-based collaboration and workflow solution

Founded in 1963 by a science teacher from Long Island, N.Y., LAB-AIDS is a K–12 educational publisher dedicated to hands-on learning in science classrooms. The company enriches the science classroom experience by providing educators with the materials and equipment they need to execute science experiments with their students.

By partnering with the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science and other scientists and teachers, LAB-AIDS produces course materials in agriculture, biology, chemistry, earth science/geology, environmental science, and physics. As its business has grown to encompass the complete science curricula it offers today, LAB-AIDS has become a leader in inquiry-based learning for middle and high schools across America.

Lab Aids Books

Project teams comprised of subject experts from around the country collaborate to create innovative LAB-AIDS course curricula, such as the popular Science and Sustainability series.

Challenges

Like many K–12 publishers, LAB-AIDS produces graphically rich textbooks that undergo a long and complex editing process. Each textbook project is comprised of team members working in various locations—including science professors and teachers who author the content, an overseer, a content manager, project managers, and designers— who work together on a single textbook.

The textbooks undergo extensive changes, both in Microsoft Word and after content is flowed into the Adobe InDesign layout. With up to four books in various stages of production at any given time and a manual, paper-based workflow for job trafficking and coordinating revisions, the LAB-AIDS publishing staff had a challenging job.

Denis Baker

“We would develop the content, send the document to the next reviewer, and that person would work on it and print it and send it back,” says Denis Baker, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing for LAB-AIDS. This print-mail-edit cycle would repeat for each unit of the book until all revisions were approved. “We burned up a lot of time having the printed documents in transit,” says Baker, “and we were always wondering where things were. It was a bit of a mess.”

The entire process took up to nine months for a single textbook. Any delay could be costly, particularly if it meant missing the opportunity to be considered for new course curriculum materials in a large school district. “It wasn’t a sustainable model, for our business or for our customers,” says Baker.

The Solution

LAB-AIDS began looking for an automated solution to help streamline its content development and production processes and get its books to market faster. The company preferred a cloud-based solution, both to make fewer demands on its small IT staff and to give its distributed content teams 24/7 access to the in-progress textbooks. The system had to be easy to use, with a short learning curve to enhance productivity, and it had to provide the publishing staff with the flexibility to design their own workflows. It also had to integrate with the desktop tools the staff and contributors were already using to author and produce their books and course materials.

“We had about 12-15 technology solutions on our big list, and then we got it down to three finalists,” says Baker. Price mattered to LAB-AIDS, but they also needed a system that would allow staff to become proficient without taking up a lot of time.

The company ultimately chose MEI’s TruEdit. “Sixteen months in,” Baker admits, “and I can’t even remember our second and third place finalists.” Now, instead of routing paper documents and proofs via FedEx, editors and authors can collaborate online, and they can track their assignments, and see a document’s status from anywhere they are. Authors can still work in their preferred program, Word, and then changes from Word are fed into InDesign.

MEI also customized TruEdit to enable LAB-AIDS authors and editors to apply curriculum standards throughout a manuscript and carry those through to final pages. “The customizations were handled well,” says Baker. “Our staff is detail-oriented, and they’re very satisfied with how standards-tracking was implemented.”

Baker says the rollout of the TruEdit system went smoothly. “MEI trained our staff using real content and created a workflow that fit our requirements,” he says. “Between that training and their tutorial video library, we have everything we need.”

The Results

The LAB-AIDS team has had great success with TruEdit. “The system has allowed us to decrease downtime and increase our focus on content-related tasks,” says Baker. “We can now have more balls in the air, create with better quality, and work faster.” He reports 30 to 40% productivity gains so far, with an expected increase to 50% over the next two years.

Baker also reports that, in just over a year, TruEdit has enabled LAB-AIDS to triple the number of custom curricula it can produce to bid on specific state adoptions. And where the team used to refresh the copyright on each title every six to seven years, with TruEdit they can now ramp up their timelines and refresh about every four years.

TruEdit has helped strengthen the company’s financial position. “It has saved us time, which is always money, and it has shortened our development window, which is also money,” he says. “From a productivity perspective, we’re making more money by limiting expenses. And the better we get at it, the more nimble we’ll become, and we’ll be able to compete even more effectively.”

Summary

LAB-AIDS exemplifies MEI’s approach to customer success: Utilize a flexible and affordable content workflow platform that integrates with existing desktop editing and layout tools, tailor it to the customer’s unique requirements, and then train the customer to be self-sufficient in growing and adapting their use of the system over time. LAB-AIDS began achieving ROI on their TruEdit investment within six months during the first textbook cycle, and benefits continue to accrue every day for the entire content development team.

 

How MEI Took the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Magazine Mobile

We sat down with Will Steuber, Creative Marketing Director at MEI, to hear about how he and the Nervous Pixel team helped Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Equality Magazine go mobile with Twixl Publisher and TruEdit.

Will Steuber
Will Steuber, Creative Marketing Director, MEI

How did Human Rights Campaign (HRC) first start working with MEI? Three years ago, the HRC was looking to get a digital version and app for their Equality Magazine which is published quarterly for their members. They reached out to MEI because they were referred to us by the Humane Society and they knew our reputation for innovative publishing technology. We had just done some Adobe DPS training and template creation for the Humane Society creative team. HRC print production for the Equality Magazine was well established using an InDesign PDF workflow, but they needed a digital version. When the HRC first started using Nervous Pixel, the MEI in-house agency, to create the digital Equality Magazine, we used the InDesign print files as the basis for content and output for a tablet. The first digital issue went out for Winter 2013. With this latest Fall 2016 issue available on iOS, Nervous Pixel and the HRC have done 14 Equality Magazines for devices to date.

Do many of Equality Magazine’s subscribers access the website from a mobile device? It turns out the majority of their website visits are from mobile devices and especially phones, so we built phone-ready HTML templates and published their first version for the phone. Meanwhile, we were still producing the tablet version with InDesign, so, all together there were three different versions – print from InDesign, tablet from InDesign and phone from HTML.

How did you simplify the process? In the most recent issue of Equality Magazine, we just went for purely responsive design so we could have one version that would look great on any device.

Why did the HRC decide to go with Twixl and TruEdit? By switching to Twixl Publisher for their mobile application platform and using TruEdit with TruAuthor for content creation and management, the HRC was able to save a substantial amount of money on their digital publishing cost and add HTML content authoring for a fully integrated mobile content platform. I have used both on many projects for our clients and Twixl and TruEdit are so easy-to-use, we can turn around apps sooner, for less.

What’s it like working with the HRC Equality Magazine team? They are very professional and detail oriented. At first they were very hands-on, wanting to be sure every headline, image, pixel, gets the right positioning and style treatment. We were able to get everything looking very consistent quite quickly once we put everything into the same creation process using TruAuthor. In the past, the print, tablet, phone and web versions were all edited and updated separately. With responsive design, all the creative is in a single file, so we can literally just review the lay-out once and see how it adjusts for different sizes of devices. Since the copy is the same everywhere, any correction we make works for all output types. Quality is way higher, making updates and edits much faster and more efficient, and we are able to turn everything around very quickly. For their members and readers, the digital experience is much more robust across print, web, and mobile.

How did you educate the HRC team on how to use TruEdit and Twixl? Our usual model at MEI is that we train up the client’s team and get them ready to go, passing on our best practices. Other times, our in-house agency, Nervous Pixel, are hired as their interactive creative team and they use us to get their digital apps published. For the HRC, we explained that by adopting Twixl and TruEdit and moving to responsive design with a single file for all creative, we won’t have the control over pixel-by-pixel minutiae and lay-outs as we did in the past on the tablet version, but now the benefit is one review and approval cycle that is light years faster. They were really open to that and wanted to move forward. Now, we send them the first draft and are usually done after one revision.

Do you plan any updates for the Equality Magazine app? There are two settings the publisher can select when they publish a collection or issue: readers can download the whole issue upfront or can do it per article. The HRC wanted to make sure that no matter how old the phone, that people could download article by article and not get hung waiting for the full magazine to download. Once the article or issue is in your cache, it is there forever and doesn’t need to be downloaded again. In the future, we may decide to have the reader download the entire issue at once but, for now, the quick gratification of downloading only the article you want to read seems to be working.

What’s the next step for Equality Magazine now that they have a phone app? Their content is very current affairs based. Equality Magazine now has the TruEdit and Twixl platform that enables them to evolve the frequency, timing, and number of output channels into weekly, daily, hourly, anywhere they want it. They can easily keep up with a static quarterly magazine, and have the option of evolving their process into writing, editing, producing and pushing out one article at a time, as quickly as they like.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-5-32-35-pm

Human Rights Campaign Blazes Digital Trail for Equality Magazine with MEI

hrc-everyone-counts

We recently had the opportunity to interview Anastasia Khoo, CMO of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and learn how they are using TruEdit with Twixl Publisher to publish the Equality Magazine mobile app and her digital marketing plans for the future.

How have things changed since you first got involved with HRC? I’ve always worked on progressive issues. When I made the move from Greenpeace to the Human Rights Campaign 11 years ago to help fight for full LGBTQ equality, I knew I was standing on the right side of history. We have seen sweeping change – it’s been a very exciting opportunity for me to help make history with HRC.

Anastasia Khoo, CMO, Human Rights Campaign
Anastasia Khoo, CMO, Human Rights Campaign

How has your perspective changed on the use of digital media and technology? My tenure here coincided with the rise of digital and social media. One of the ways we have been the most successful is by putting digital communications at the forefront of our communications strategy. We’ve seen that we are able to connect with people and meet them where they are and, increasingly that is on digital. How you get your news, connect with friends, support your social cause and finding information is all digital. Over the last ten years, so much has changed to make that possible. What we strive to do here at HRC and part of my work is to change hearts and minds, and you can’t do that without connecting with people where they are. We have been incredibly successful using digital channels to help advance our mission.

Remember your Facebook campaign in March 2013 when everyone adopted the red-tinted HRC logo as their personal profile to show support for marriage equality? That resulted in exponential shares and likes. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is a fundamental right. That is probably our best viral campaign example that captured people’s imaginations. It demonstrates the widespread support for marriage equality and it was one of my proudest moments both professionally and as an American.

What are the main goals of Equality Magazine and how does your use of digital publishing and workflow automation impact that? Our editorial is very strong and I wanted to take the next step to bring that online. Although the magazine is a benefit to members, so much time and work goes into creating it, we wanted it to be an an extension of our social media experience and to increase our footprint. With the rise of digital, everything changed from the way we write a report to the way we publish. We started with an iPad app, then we extended into the Apple Newsstand. Now we have an iPhone app, and we are continuing to look for opportunities and ways to use our great content, have additional presence across channels, and get our message out there. Historically, since it has been a print piece, the magazine has been a little slower to transition to an online property. We are excited about the possibilities to continue to push this forward.

Your members and readers read the quarterly Equality Magazine cover-to-cover. Do you have plans to change the way the print and digital interact? I am not really a print mail person myself, so I am always surprised to review our surveys and see how much our members love and look forward to receiving Equality Magazine. With our focus on digital first and saving resources, we have a lot of support to offer a paperless, environmentally-friendly approach to publishing the magazine that is more cost-effective and accessible. Our community is highly digitally savvy and embraces change.

How did you first hear about MEI and Twixl Publisher? We looked at other organizations that are similar size but different missions. The Humane Society spent some time with us discussing how they approached publishing their magazine, and they were really generous and forthcoming. One of the outcomes of that conversation was and introduction to MEI. I think MEI has done a great job helping us to refine our process, become more efficient, and expand our reach by introducing a phone app, while continuing to be mindful of cost. That is why we moved to TruEdit for content creation and Twixl Publisher for the mobile app.

What are the benefits you see in terms of automation and efficiency and how your creatives and editors spend their time on Equality Magazine? I think one of the most exciting things is that because the printing and mailing process can take such a long time between when we put the magazine to bed and when it gets into the hands of our members, readers get a sneak peak and see our work. That we are so much faster and more efficient for the online piece is really important from an ROI perspective because of all the time, energy, staff, and internal resources that go into producing the magazine. I love getting two bites from the same apple and our members get the benefit of their tablet and their phone, providing two more opportunities to connect and interact.

How many people that come to your website are mobile? We have over 1.5 million members and Equality Magazine is the largest LGBTQ publication in the country. More than half our website visits are mobile these days and that number is increasing. This was a big factor when we redid our website and developed a responsive design.

Is the content in the magazine exclusive? There are times when we cross-publish like a celebrity interview but mostly the content is expressly created and written for the magazine.

Do you see there being a role at HRC for interactive mobile apps beyond digital publishing? That is definitely possible. Mobile has forced us to think about things differently. We have taken a mobile first approach to how we design and communicate. It is really reframing communications for us. I think video and mobile are the focus to help us push our mission forward. We do have other apps including a Buyer’s Guide to LGBTQ equality. As a not for profit, it always comes down to budget and the best way to package content that is accessible to people.

What do you think about the digital first idea many brands are embracing of having a central content hub where you create content one time for output to any channel? We are very nimble and have managed the acceleration of communications brought on by digital. The nature of our work is that we operate in real time due to the need and urgency to be part of real time conversations. Our work impacts live of our community so we often don’t have the luxury of an extensive review process. We are always thinking about how do we make it better, tweak it and test. I think we are best in class when it comes to content and brand marketing. We do things in a way that is both efficient and effective.

Do other organizations come to you to get advice on how to reach more people? Yes. HRC is very open and transparent about how we do things and we like to share our success with other organizations to help them with their own communications and marketing endeavors. I am very proud of the way we are great partners with the progressive community.

If someone comes to me and says ‘how do I make it go viral?’, I know they have already failed. They’re missing that it’s more than just going viral, it’s about creating an emotional connection with members and supporters. Marketers need to be thinking about how to build its brand and audience, day-in and day-out. HRC’s success with the magazine, social media, mobile, and apps is endemic to how we approach communications which is a constant process of refining.

How do you hope this app changes your relationship with your readers? We want to expand our audience with this additional point of contact by making it freely available. For the LGBTQ kid may not have a supportive community, we want to show them via digital that  there is a big world out there, that they can be loved and accepted exactly the way they are. Digital allows us to reach the people most in need, right where they are.

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