Camayak Blog

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

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  1. What’s The Best Twitter App For Journalists & Editors?

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    It’s easy to create a Twitter widget that lets you embed feeds on your website. But what about picking specific Twitter accounts and filtering their tweets by a #hashtag, so you have more editorial control over the topics and contributors that you’re broadcasting?

    Lately, we’ve been using BeatStrap a lot to stream tweets from news sources on specific topics and share those beats with publishers that may want to embed them on their sites, too.

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    The basic BeatStrap account is free and lets anyone share your beats with their readers. We helped build BeatStrap and would love to you hear about how you’re using it.

  2. What Does a Digital Newsroom Schedule Look Like?

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    As more publishers transform their businesses, several of our customers have asked us to help them analyze the rhythm of their newsroom activity, so they can keep improving their digital strategy. They’ve even allowed us to share some of their data with you.

    For example, how does a college publication with a frequent print product compare to a digital content agency, in terms of the hours that each newsroom becomes more active throughout a typical week? To start with, here’s how editors at the Duke Chronicle assigned and approved things for publishing last year.

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    Unsurprisingly, editors approved far fewer assignments during the weekend than at any other time. A minority of new articles were approved before noon and there was a clear peak at the beginning of the week, both in assigning new work and approving final drafts.

    How does this stack-up next to a professional agency that focuses mainly on digital content, relative to the Duke Chronicle which also had a print edition four times a week? Here’s a glimpse of what NYC-based publisher PSFK.com‘s daily assignment activity looks like.

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    The conventional working hours of professional organizations help explain why most of PSFK’s content was approved between Monday and Friday. Interestingly, PSFK’s editors created almost the same number of new assignments every week day, whereas the Chronicle assigned more new work on Mondays than Thursdays and Fridays combined, although they appear to have balanced that with more assignments over the weekends.

    Finally, due to a combination of factors like the type of work being produced and the schedules of those involved, on average the Chronicle staff took seven hours to complete their assignments, compared to PSFK’s staff, who usually took under two hours.

    Want to know what else we discovered and see how your newsroom compares? Let us know.

  3. How Long do Your Assignments Need to be?

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    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    762 words. Out of assignments produced using Camayak that were shared at least 20 times on Facebook and Twitter in the last year, the average assignment was 762 words long.

    Whether you’re being paid per-word, fitting assignments into InDesign or simply looking to save time by specifying what the target is from the outset, word counts can be a big deal. That’s why today we’re launching word count control for editors and writers.

    The new word count control lets editors specify exactly how many words they want to receive as a first draft and prompts writers to pay attention to their word count as they compose their work. When submitting your first draft, Camayak will double-check for you to make sure you’re on target.

  4. Thinking Like a Content Marketing Agency: How to Engage The Right Audience

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    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    Almost two years ago we listed ten of the best editorial workflow tools that had emerged from traditional newsrooms looking to organize their contributors. Most of those companies are still growing and a few more such as DivvHQ and Skyword have joined them. It’s not just publishers they’re supplying, though: as the ‘content is king’ mantra keeps pushing businesses to invest in original content online, marketers are taking a more active role in generating content that shares the same goal of most news teams: engaging readership with content they perceive to be of genuine, tangible value.

     

    “Engagement is a state of mind…[it’s] really the alignment between what we want people to do and what they want to do…if those two things are aligned then people are going to be engaged with our site. So to do that we have to clearly enunciate what we want people to do and what they want to do.” – James G. Robinson, Director of News Analytics, The New York Times

     

    From managing writers to providing content marketing services for paying clients: agencies and traditional publishers share plenty of similar processes. In many cases both industries are recruiting from the same talent pool for journalism graduates and communications majors. Staff poaching has become a source of PR in its own right, as start-up publishers like Buzzfeed and Vox recruit top professionals from the Wall Street Journal, ESPN and other historic media companies. Some publishers like the New York Times and the University of Oregon’s Emerald Media Group have even hatched internal agencies of their own that have nothing to do with their newsrooms but have many of the hallmarks of traditional newsrooms: pitching, assigning, editorial sign-off, publishing to multiple platforms and a laser-focus on the quality and potential impact of their work. By behaving like publishers, marketing agencies have helped usher-in a more scientific approach to the impact of content, how it fosters engagement and whether it’s satisfying the profitable segments of a publisher’s audience the way it must, if the organization is to thrive.

    Two key priorities for advertising agencies are effective audience analytics and the ability to segment and serve niche audiences. While traditional news teams may be driven by how their journalism is impacting their communities, the ability to target and analyze direct access to specific interest groups within one’s audience has been a boon for the digital teams tasked with scavenging the internet for attention-poor consumers that see value in content that’s on offer.

    As part of this process, commentators from the professional media industry and college media alike have endorsed the value in identifying niche, passionate audiences and producing content that meets their needs.

    Audience analytics (whether generated digitally or in-person) is the first step to discovering what kinds of motivations define the engagement your audience really feel with your brand: something that this excellent Tow-Knight Center session on ‘quantifying journalism’ covers with three panelists from the New York Times, Upworthy and analytics company Chartbeat:

    Once a publisher or content marketing team has identified reliable trends in how their audiences are behaving, the next task is to manage writers than can generate ideas for content that will fit those behavioral patterns and produce excellent work that can test those assumptions. This is where easy editorial management and organizing freelance writers, artists and editors comes in. Here’s that list of editorial management tools, once more, plus a 7-minute demo of Camayak:

     

     

  5. Publish to More Platforms With Camayak

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    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    We’re delighted to announce that our beta content API is now available for testing. To get started, simply let us know that you want the content API option activated on your Camayak account. From there you can check out our documentation and get started! If you don’t already have a Camayak organization to test with, let us know and we’ll set you up right away.

    So what’s so good about this, anyway? For a start, if you’re not using WordPress you can now have your CMS respond to our webhooks, enabling you to publish directly from Camayak straight to your non-WordPress website(s) and other platforms.

    Many of our customers are already planning multi-destination strategies, from social media posting to producing sponsored content micro-sites for clients. The idea behind flexible multi-platform publishing is that you’ll have the flexibility to expand the number of ‘touch points’ with your audience at will.

    We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback and can’t wait to check out the first round of integrations our partners come up with. If you’d like us to promote your work, just let us know!

  6. Five Lessons for Publishers Thinking of Going Digital First

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    We’re often asked by publishers if we can share tips on going ‘digital first’ or even ‘digital only’. For most newsrooms, shifting from a print to web-centric content and business model requires a fundamental shift in the workflows and mindset of the staff who are responsible for maintaining their brand and its quality.

    Competing with editorial teams that are managing contributors specifically for web-based platforms demands discipline, honed techniques and a flexibility to meet your audience with what they need. Here are some simple techniques you can follow to produce content that stands a better chance of succeeding online.

    1. Make sure you include at least one photo in every assignment

    Homepages and print products are dominated by photos but only a minority of the articles hosted on a traditional media CMS are accompanied by multimedia (e.g. photos, embedded video). Thanks to Facebook and other social media promotion channels, we know that click-through rates on articles that have a leading piece of media are much better than those without.

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    2. Pay more attention to your headlines

    There’s a fine line between optimizing a headline to improve its impact and completely altering its message in search of more hits, with little regard for the content of the article itself (known commonly as ‘click-baiting’). Disingenuous headlines aside, there are two main concerns for web publishers looking to improve the effectiveness of their headlines: tone and search engine optimization (SEO).

    Buzzfeed and PolicyMic are two publishers that make sure their headlines are the front-line for their own content marketing. By making sure the tone of their headlines is colloquial to the audience that they’re targeting, it maximizes the reach potential of their articles, as readers share links to them with their own social media networks. Picking out salient themes in your articles and including reference to them in your headlines will also improve the ability of search engines to index your work against keyword searches performed by people who don’t even know you exist.

    3. Find out how much of your traffic is coming from mobile and increase it

    As mobile access to web-based content grows, it’s worth remembering that the timeframes for consuming content on-the-go are often shorter than for desktop-based browsing. 3,000-word articles are far less likely to be fully digested on mobile devices, which puts an emphasis on shorter, more succinct articles that link to one another. Apps like Circa and Summly specialize in this kind of digestible reading experience for mobile.

    4. Shorten your workflows

    Keeping pace with the demand for new content without being constricted by the permanence of print means you can afford to speed-up your production process by shortening your traditional multi-person workflows. Most publishers will still insist on at least one layer of editorial vetting, which still allows for a far more rapid idea-to-publishing cycle than you may be used to with your print products.

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    5. Include user generated content and 3rd party source curation in what you offer your audience

    Very few newsrooms, whether they’re traditional media, brand publishers or content marketing teams, have enough staff to produce every single bit of content they publish. Outsourcing to third party partners, native advertisers and inviting contributors from your audience community to submit work of their own, can help you keep up with your audience’s demand for fresh content.

    This post was inspired by a compelling presentation given by Clark Gilbert, CEO of Deseret News Publishing Company and Deseret Digital Media, to the Western Association of Press Managers at the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

  7. Can We Help Improve Your Newsroom Training?

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    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    Newsrooms spend a lot of time training their staff on things like style and best practices. We’re working on making this process easier for editors, as well as letting them track the performance of their contributors to quickly identify where they should be focusing their resources; saving them time and helping them maintain their production standards.

    If you’ve got ideas for improvements to the training and performance-tracking options you have in your newsroom, we’d love to hear from you.

  8. How to Improve Communication in Your Newsroom

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    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    Today we’re launching Facebook-style notifications for Camayak users to help them stay on top of their most pressing tasks. Particularly for new editors, the challenge of improving communication in your newsroom can take up hours a week in chasing people for updates on things they’re working on. Our notifications are designed to help editors that are figuring out how to manage a newsroom of freelancers who often aren’t working in the same place: saving them time and confusion.

    Managing freelance writers with Camayak makes it easier to track assignment deadlines, create an easy-to-use editorial calendar and let each contributors encourage one another through their own efforts (some of the educational programs we work with attribute part of their success with Camayak to the peer pressure that contributors feel when they see their colleagues outperforming them). With the new notifications, reacting to other people in the newsroom becomes an even more efficient process, replacing email clutter and manual admin tasks that eat into editors’ time.

    Pro tip: another useful thing about notifications is that you can leave comments that you want to return to marked as ‘unread’. That way you can keep an informal todo list of the assignments and requests that you need to return to.

  9. Newsrooms Focus on Using Free Tools, Cautious of Paid-for Services

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    Written by Roman Heindorff, Camayak CEO

    Journalists and editors, generally speaking, are resourceful people. Any industry that relies on the internet, particularly those where salaries are subsidized by passion, demands excellent, free tools. Journalism’s mandate of openness and sharing also fits snugly with the ethos of the open-source development community. If you can hack something, gain re-usable skills in the process and not have to pay for the privilege, it’s probably valuable.

    After all, who spends money on a proprietary CMS when WordPress and Google Docs are free? Many don’t: they build their own or employ in-house developers to maintain and support their publishing platforms.

    Showing newsrooms what they can gain from working with best-of-breed tools is a big part of what companies like Chartbeat, Dropbox and Camayak need to do well in order to grow and keep helping newsrooms remain competitive. Here is a talk that I gave recently at CUNY, as part of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism-hosted meetup.

    Researching the top 10 editorial management tools? Check out our list.

  10. New Partnerships With Parade Magazine and PolicyMic

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    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff


    Every week we welcome more excellent writers to Camayak. Starting this month, we’re partnering with major publishers including Parade Magazine and PolicyMic to find contributors who can pitch ideas and claim commissions to expand their portfolios.

    We’re looking for writers who can produce first-class work on specific topics for an audience of up to 50+ million monthly viewers. Parade (gaming, travel, home entertainment) and PolicyMic (entrepreneurship, A&E;, LGBT coverage) each have their own niches.

    Experience with a digital publication, a good grasp of AP style and some formal ethics training are all required. If you’re interested in writing for any of our partners, drop us a line at hello@camayak.com with a link to your Camayak portfolio and details of your expertise.