When we first got started building Camayak, we had identified a need for more legitimate content production solutions for digitally-conscious publishers. The traditional application of a ‘CMS’ (Content Management System), we felt, had gradually distracted business managers and publishers from investing in software that could assist their staff with content production, as well as content display.
Another way to approach this, is to ask what your CMS actually does. For the vast majority of publishers who use a combination of email, shared documents and spreadsheets to manage their content production, their first answer to this would be that their CMS ‘displays our content online’. What, then, does a CMS offer that is different to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, or any of the other vast number of content-display platforms out there? Usually, it’s a question of taste or habit. What are you comfortable using? What have you been trained to use? What have you already paid for?
Here’s where it gets tricky. If you have a newsroom of, say, 30 people, each with their own preferences and experience for how to publish their content (both professionally or personally), you also have a bottleneck: getting their content from wherever they’re creating and editing it to your web platform(s) will require understanding and accountability that can be unreliable. It’s also a reminder that the costs associated with your content display platforms (e.g. CMS) very rarely qualify as investments in your staff as a whole. When choosing a CMS, how much thought do you give to growing your staff or having everyone in your newsroom being able to log-in to it? Most often, those concerns are far-outweighed by things like ‘will it crash?’, ‘can we tweak the design?’ and ‘is there a support hotline?’. These are of course valid questions, but they serve as a reminder – much like the Adobe suites that are required for print publishing – that investing a lot of money in a particular display medium a) usually pays for tools that benefit a minority of staff (hardly ever everyone), and b) will consistently be challenged by new mediums that offer cheaper, effective access to a different audience and/or range of devices.
Not a day goes by without us speaking to a newspaper editor who is wrestling with their newsroom to move to a digital-first strategy. The obstacles to doing so? “We used to have one or two people who worked on the website: updating it with the content that we gave them to put online” an editor at her community college newspaper told us last week in Sacramento, CA. “When you only have a minority of your newsroom engaging with your website, stories get stuck in the queue and it’s impossible to build momentum around your web version”.
Training people how to use your CMS is a sure-fire way to waste valuable time and distract your editorial team from what they should be focusing on: producing more content of better quality. This is why so few people in a newsroom engage with their CMS at all. Our recommendation? Remove the CMS-use bottleneck by allowing select people in your newsroom to publish to the website (and other platforms) directly from where they are already working with their colleagues.
Note: Camayak integrates with WordPress, allowing newsrooms to never have to log-in to their website: they can approve content directly within Camayak (where they’ve produced the content) for publishing to any WordPress site they connect to.