Camayak Blog

Camayak is a content production tool for newsrooms.
Empower editors. Improve communication. Create better content.

College Newsrooms

  1. Where is Your Audience, Now?

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    Your news team is working on a story that’s already looking like next week’s top headline. Your social media lead is broadcasting football updates on Twitter. You have half a dozen reporters writing blog pieces on the upcoming union elections and your star designer is deciding whether to go for an infographic or cartoon to clarify the latest budget cuts. At every step you should be thinking ‘where is our audience and what do they want?’. For this to carry any consequence, you need scope to be creative.

    If this sounds familiar, you’ve most likely worked for a media organization (woohoo!). You’ve probably also invested a good deal of time discussing how best to engage your audiences: the subscribers to your monthly newsletter, the students on-campus, those weekly traffic numbers to your website. Thanks to ever-improving analytics tools or just a good dose of common sense, it doesn’t have to take long to find out what works for you and what doesn’t – but you should be prepared to be surprised. While you and your colleagues may feel you have a proven, effective product-line in place, there’s always more you can be doing to access your audience. Your advertising team will back this up.

    The vast majority of publishers typically have a ‘primary’ product that they promote: usually one of their print product or main website. Then there’s the secondary wave: Twitter, Facebook and perhaps Pinterest promotion, all of which is an essential (and growing) part of both driving traffic and cultivating an audience that expects to return to your content offerings at some point in the future.

    It’s important to remember that the platforms any publisher uses to display content often have audience communities of their own that can be defined by a predictable range of desires: from appreciating a good-looking theme (e.g. WordPress), to being able to re-post a story easily (Tumblr); from enjoying a socially-curated experience (Facebook) to identifying with their vicinity (print). For a publisher, the idea that the appeal of their content consistently or exclusively aligns with the demographics associated with any single publishing platform might be convenient, but it’s almost certainly costing them the opportunity to grow their audience. This is a dangerous limitation that’s ripe for removal, if we improve publishers’ ability to experiment with new publishing platforms on-the-fly. If audiences are able to move from one platform to another so quickly, why not publishers?

    We strongly believe that publishes should keep experimenting with the platforms they publish to and that this exploration should never come at the cost of the quality or sustainability of their content itself. We’re going to see continuous development of disruptive platforms and brand new iterations of existing ones, so the situation that most publishers are dealing with looks something like this:
    Audience_Engagement.jpg
    We’re going to be expanding our integrations with publishing platforms beyond our existing connection with WordPress (which happens via our plugin). If you’re interested in experimenting with a particular audience interface (e.g. Tumblr, Facebook, Drupal, etc.) please get in touch. We’d love to help you find out where your audience really is.

  2. “How Many People Use Your CMS?”

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    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.

  3. Camayak TIPA Presentations

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    Here’s a presentation Roman Heindorff (our CEO) just gave at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association conference in Fort Worth, Texas, covering:

  4. Camayak has “taught us how one might envision the organizational patterns of an online newspaper”

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    One of the things we notice when newsrooms start using Camayak is that they gravitate towards a more rapid (and daily) digitalfirst‘ production cycle. Whether you’re assessing your print runs with next year’s budget in mind, or simply working towards having a more active website: streamlining your content production will help you position your newsroom for the challenges ahead (and it doesn’t have to spell the demise of your CMYK product, either).

    Re-imagining your newsroom. According to Peter Crooke – faculty adviser at Harriton High School in Pennsylvania – “Camayak was the answer to our organizational prayers when we switched from a monthly paper edition to a daily online edition. It allows us to schedule, assign, write, edit and publish all in one place. It is the perfect tool that has actually taught us how one might envision the organizational patterns of an online newspaper“. Here’s a peek at the functionality that Peter and his students have enjoyed since they started using Camayak five months ago:

    Is your website a CMS? A website-generating framework is often referred to as a ‘Content Management System’. In reality, the vast majority of websites are focused on how to display your content; leaving the management component of your editorial process to a fragmented assortment of tools (e.g. Word, email, server folders, etc.). Earlier this month, WordPress announced that they were dropping plans to improve ‘editorial flow’ within their 3.6 release, despite strong interest in plugins such as Edit Flow suggesting that publishers are increasingly looking for more powerful staff and content management tools to help them maintain their online properties.

    Future features. We’re working with dozens of newsrooms that are helping us evolve our tools to better fit their needs. Over the coming months, we’ll be finalizing our development priorities for the Summer and looking forward to releasing more useful features for our existing clients. If you’d like to join our feedback discussions you can reach us on Twitter,Facebook or by emailing us for a free trial.

    Coming up next month: a review of our latest new features, including activity feeds.

  5. Reminder of Camayak & SNO (WordPress host) Partnership

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    We were excited last year to announce our partnership with School Newspapers Online: a WordPress hosting & support company with nearly one thousand educational institution clients in the US. After a phenomenal response from newsrooms all over the country who are looking to organize their workflow, we thought we’d re-post the details of the partnership.

    School Newspapers Online (SNO) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Camayak, a new way for publications to organize their contributors and control who approves the content that they publish on their SNO-powered site.

    Camayak is a user-friendly, cloud-based service that allows editors to create and edit assignments for their staff, track their changes, manage deadlines and set-up their own editorial workflows. Once editors are happy with their content, they can publish assignments directly to their SNO site thanks to a seamless integration between Camayak and the SNO platform.

    SNO and Camayak have worked together on dozens of college news sites and Roman Heindorff, Camayak’s CEO and co-founder, is excited about the prospect of helping younger journalists make the most of their staff resources, too. “We’re offering large discounts to high-schools, because that’s where the most talented editors start to emerge and we want to help support them,” he says. “Our priority is to enable our clients to focus on their content and contributor engagement first, before deciding on the platform that they want to publish to. We’re delighted to be partnering with SNO – anyone who works with them quickly finds out what a valuable service they provide”. It takes approximately 24 hours for a new Camayak account to be created and plugged into an existing SNO site.

    Camayak’s appeal already extends to journalism schools, study abroad programs, professional media organizations and editorial service companies. “Camayak has been instrumental in increasing student retention”, says Erin Hiro, a journalism professor at Palomar College in California. “With software like this, students don’t get overwhelmed learning the program and can instead focus on learning journalism”. Nicole Brydson, founder of Brooklyn The Borough – a non-profit media hub in New York – also relies on Camayak’s powerful user-management features: “Camayak have made room for tens of thousands of new contributors for us. It’s very easy to use and allows us to be so much more dynamic in producing new content”.

    According to SNO co-founder Tom Hutchinson, the partnership with Camayak is a natural fit. “From day one, our goal has been to remove all technology challenges so that advisers and student staff can focus on creating and publishing compelling content,” Hutchinson said. “By integrating the Camayak tools into the SNO platform, we’ve made it easier than ever to manage the entire editorial process.”

    About Camayak
    Camayak – whose name originates from CMYK, the four colors used to print newspapers – is widely used by state, community and private colleges, professional publications and media agencies. For all inquiries and to set up a free trial, please visit www.camayak.com and email roman@camayak.com or call 323.401.4658.

    About School Newspapers Online
    School Newspapers Online (SNO), was established in 2008 by a high-school newspaper advisor and teacher, and an expert in content management systems. Based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, SNO focuses specifically on the needs of college and high-school newspapers looking to create—or enhance—their presence online. With nearly 1000 educational institution customers nationwide, SNO continues to meet or exceed the needs of newspaper advisers and their staffs in an era of tight school funding and in the face of the ever-increasing costs associated with print. The company aims to keep its websites affordable while offering all the functionality and design flexibility found on major newspaper sites. For more information, please visit www.schoolnewspapersonline.com or call 888.649.7784.

  6. Post-Industrial Journalism & Open Newsrooms

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    It’s been another fantastic month for the Camayak team. After presenting to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism alongside Mark Luckie - Manager of Journalism & News at Twitter – last month, we’ve been spending most of our time planning features and working with new clients: from college newsrooms to non-traditional publishers like hospitals and editorial agencies. 

    One of the highlights from the last few weeks has been the Tow Center for Digital Journalism’s new report on Post-Industrial Journalism. One of its authors, Emily Bell, emphasized a burgeoning trait of modern news production at last night’s discussion panel in Los Angeles: that journalists are adapting to the demands of doing their work ‘in public’. Readily available real-time information is pushing story-evolution to become more transparent: something that we see increasingly benefiting publishers who look to engage their audiences earlier in their content production process. 

    For a reminder of what an open newsroom looks like, here’s that Guardian advertisement again: 

  7. Camayak + WordPress: Lowering Costs & Upgrading Technology

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    We – like millions of publishers – are big fans of WordPress. It’s flexible, widely used and extremely cost effective. Because publishing your content online has become so accessible through platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, we discovered that it was becoming more important than ever for editorial teams to be able to streamline their production process and grow their staff, in order to cope with their audiences’ demand for more content. That’s why we built Camayak.

    Since we like WordPress so much, we’ve built Camayak to integrate directly with every WordPress.org theme out there. If you’re already using WordPress, we can set you up with a trial account right away. If you’re not using WordPress, we’ve put together an info pack with everything you need to know about how Camayak + WordPress can save you money and put your most ambitious editors in the driving seat.

    Much of what we’ve been doing over the last twelve months has involved helping college newspapers find cheaper, more powerful ways of publishing online. For some, this has also meant shifting their newsroom production model to a ‘digital first’ approach: prioritizing more rapid publishing cycles and experimenting with ways to leverage their most popular stories in the following day’s print edition. If you’re interested in finding out more about how Camayak can take your newsroom up a gear, get in touch with roman@camayak.com.