Camayak Blog

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

What is Camayak?

  1. Publish to More Platforms With Camayak

    ,
    Content API image.png

    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!

  2. Five Lessons for Publishers Thinking of Going Digital First

    ,

    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.

    Formula_One_Photographers.jpg

    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.

    Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 1.47.25 PM.png

    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.

  3. Can We Help Improve Your Newsroom Training?

    ,

    Training Day Email Final.jpg

    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.

  4. How to Improve Communication in Your Newsroom

    ,
    NBC newsroom final 600.jpg

    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.

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

    ,

    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.

  6. New Partnerships With Parade Magazine and PolicyMic

    ,

    Parade & PolicyMic.jpg

    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.

  7. Camayak Improves Artwork & Photography Credits For All Media Staff

    ,
    Photographs Are Important

    Photo credit: Roman Heindorff.

     

    Today we launched three new features for photographers using Camayak.

    Adding photographer credit to your images. From now on when you click edit on any photo you upload, you can add the photographer’s name by searching your staff and adding them as the photo credit.

    Getting photo credit on your website(s). If you’re publishing photos directly from Camayak to your website(s), the photographers credited in Camayak will automatically receive credit on your published assignments, without you needing to credit them in your photo captions.

    Displaying photos on your portfolio. Any photo you are credited with that is the featured image on a published assignment will be displayed on your public-facing portfolio, with you listed as the photographer for that assignment.

    Let us know if you have any questions by emailing roman@camayak.com.

  8. How Camayak Portfolios Will Help Newsrooms Maximize The Sum of Their Parts

    ,

    Roman's iPad Portfolio.jpg

    Editorial workflow has become a more popular focus area for publishers looking for opportunities to redefine themselves. At Camayak we started with the question: “what if we could make it easier for newsrooms to coordinate their daily tasks and use their own collaboration data to help them become more sophisticated?”. This week we’re taking a big step towards outlining our vision of how such digitally-conscious newsroom can thrive, by launching Camayak portfolios for all our users.

    Portfolios are automatically generated public archives of everything a person has contributed to assignments that their newsroom has published. They look like this. As thousands of staff members at dozens of newsrooms activate their (free) portfolios, here are some of the upsides they can anticipate.

    Staff benefits. Just because you’re not on the assignment byline doesn’t mean you didn’t play a pivotal role in its production. In fact as an editor, it’s likely that you’re one of the key members of staff forced (for practicality’s sake) to summarize your career in the newsroom with just one line: Editor-in-Chief, or News Editor for example titles which might do your efforts little justice and make it difficult for potential employers to evaluate you fairly.

    Whether you’ve edited, written or researched for an assignment using Camayak, you will now have all your credits automatically collected and displayed as links on your very own optional portfolio. Portfolios are fundamentally designed to help you promote your work. By making it easy to showcase the assignments you played a role in producing, your skills, application and passion are well advertised.

    Organization benefits. One of a newsroom’s primary goals is to share links to its content in as viral a manner as possible (therefore usually via social media). But automatically tweeting a new post doesn’t constitute a valuable sharing policy on its own. Furthermore, how many of the team who’ve worked on an assignment can be consistently be expected to tweet the link when they’ve just published their breaking news piece at 2 a.m.? This process is one we’re keen to help newsrooms automate.

    Camayak Ecosystem.jpg

    Imagine you’re a campus news organization with 50 new staff every year that produces around 25 assignments a week, for thirty weeks of the year. On average, four people are involved in every assignment (e.g. a writer, photographer, copy editor and desk editor), so when an assignment gets published, Camayak automatically generates links on those four people’s portfolio pages, documenting their input and leading visitors to your site(s).

    Every year, 50 new portfolios with links to your content will pop up: directing traffic to your publishing platforms and advertising the affiliation the person had/has with your newsroom. After three years, 150 individual portfolios with 9,000 links will be pushing traffic to the 2,250 assignments on your publishing platforms. Remember: this involves no extra work whatsoever.

    Attracting new contributors and user-generated content may also benefit from the promise that these one-time contributors can launch their own portfolio as a result of their participation with your newsroom.

    Camayak’s benefits. What we’re most excited to see is how portfolios will benefit people that are looking to leverage their media skills both in collaboration with their peers and professionally, in the form of resume-building.

    We also feel that people with active portfolios will be more accountable for the content they’re participating in. Those who perform admirably in their newsrooms will especially benefit from a transparency that links their personal profile with the content they’ve helped produce.

    This, we hope, will further contribute to helping newsrooms focus on what they do best and produce better content.

    Roman Heindorff (CEO & co-founder) can be reached at roman@camayak.com

  9. How Much do Newsrooms Spend on Technology and Why?

    ,
    Jeff Bezos Thinking.jpg

    Image credit: Rick Wartzman/TIME

     

    Last year, Buzzfeed’s CEO Jonah Peretti cited the company’s decision to build its own technology services as one of the key reasons behind its exciting trajectory:

    “We manage our own servers, we built our CMS from scratch, we created our own realtime stats system, we have our own data science team, we invented own ad products and our own post formats, and all these products are brought to life by our own editorial team and our own creative services team. We are what you call a “vertically integrated product” which is rare in web publishing. We take responsibility for the technology, the advertising, and the content and that allows us to make a much better product where everything works together.”

    In his note to employees and investors, Peretti also explained why prioritizing in-house technology was both challenging and attractive:

    “It is hard to build vertically integrated products because you have to get good at several things instead of just one. This is why for years Microsoft was seen as the smart company for focusing on just one layer and Apple was seen as dumb for trying to do everything. But now Apple is more than twice (!) as valuable as Microsoft and the industry is starting to accept that you need to control every layer to make a really excellent product. Even Microsoft and Google has started to make their own hardware after years of insisting that software is what matters.”

    Lofty comparisons for one of media’s stand-out success models that attracted 85 million unique visitors last month, and ones which frame a bottom-line concern for many publishers without access to venture capital investment: what do we spend our technology budget on and what are we hoping to get from it?

    We’ve seen publishers with a technology-centric approach contribute to some impressive headlines, before. In 2011, some commentators speculated that up to one-third of the $315 million that AOL paid to acquire Huffington Post was for the home-grown CMS that HuffPo had built themselves, primarily as part of a kind of technology arms race with others that might try to compete for HuffPo’s audience.

    More recently Forbes, under chief product officer Lewis Dvorkin have also been working on a content management system that now handles regular contributions from over 1,200 authors and is being mentioned in the same context as Gawker and Buzzfeed for its propensity to scavenge for increasing efficiency and benefits, one iteration after another, particularly with user-generated content.

    As open source frameworks and CMS like Drupal and WordPress have matured, smaller publishers like London’s Urban Times and Maine’s Bangor Daily News have also honed their own versions of their CMS, leveraging their comparatively lean technical staff to refine in-house processes that they can observe closely and try to optimize as cheaply as possible. For in-house solutions to compete with affordable off-the-shelf options, committing a healthy portion of your budget to staffing that objective in the first place is the most basic of requirements.

    Companies like Digital First Media and at the college level, news organizations such as the Daily Bruin at UCLA and Emerald Media Group at the University of Oregon are also looking to proprietary technology as a means of improving their product and bottom line. All continue to invest in building technology for their own use but are also keeping a close eye on their proofs-of-concept to identify where they may be stumbling on products or services that other businesses could use and even pay for.

    It sounds like a Silicon Valley – not a publishing – move, but one most brilliantly executed by Seattle-based Amazon – which did the same thing with their own Amazon Web Services infrastructure – and strategically by publishers like the New York Times. The Times, among others, has an impressive track record of sharing its own developments – like the ICE editor – with the open-source community, for business-orientated benefits ranging from goodwill to strategic reputation management.

    Buzzfeed meanwhile, says it won’t be turning its CMS into a separate revenue opportunity. This means the company doesn’t see an attractive enough business model in white-labeling the technology it considers such an integral part of its own value. Buzzfeed is rumored to have an impressively effective CMS, but without allowing other companies to put a version of the same technology to use, its self-drawn analogy to Apple doesn’t stretch far. Buzzfeed is investing this way to operate more efficiently and improve its own valuation, much like other successful web-publishers like Vice Media, who despite their prodigious web success are remarkably traditional publishers: producing desirable content at great volume and leveraging the attention it gains to sell corporate ‘creatives’ to advertisers.

    If you’re looking at your content-driven business horizon and want to see a glorious exit strategy (the kind that venture-backed media companies like Upworthy might be eyeing), then baking some solid technical architecture into your operation is probably wise. All the better if those decisions lead to lines of code or data points that can be generate value of their own, in the eyes of a prospective buyer. Enter Jeff Bezos, whose recent acquisition of the Washington Post is sure to produce some technology-powered pivots and revelations in how WaPo develops its audience to the profit of its business (and content, of course).

    Bezos might not have an exit strategy in mind, but will certainly use his experience at Amazon to have WaPo technology investments pay off in both the near and long-term: efficiency to minimize waste, plus insights that will only start paying off once there’s enough data to educate editorial and business decisions, the separation of which one would imagine under a fully sustainable model wouldn’t be so forced apart as they traditionally have been.

    But what if you don’t want to sell your publishing business, or try to find, develop and support services that you can sell to others? What if your goals as a publisher are already well met by cost-effective, first-class tools and your relationship with some of your third party suppliers is even good enough that you can influence their product development? Do you need to develop your own technology at all?

    Perhaps, as London’s Tech City News editor Alex Wood explains in an upcoming interview in our #WTOT magazine (available at all good college and professional media conventions next month), you don’t need proprietary technology to harvest valuable data for your business: just a clever application of what’s readily available for free or very little outlay. Simply put: the more resourceful you are as a publisher, the less bandwidth you may have for speculative technology investments that could appear high in excitement but low on tangible returns.

    The strongest business-driven reasons to own and operate your own technology as a publisher are:

     

    • to be using technology that you have a strong say in developing (i.e. you can influence its customization closely to suit your needs)
    • to be in control of seizing new opportunities that 3rd party suppliers might not be interested in pursuing for/with you
    • to build your technology assets into your appeal to investors and prospective buyers
    • to have ownership of benefit-generating technology that might be white-labelled or scaled to other businesses

    The main obstacles to publishers successfully building their own, re-usable technology on other hand, are tricky questions like: what do we want? What does our readership and staff want? Is anybody sticking around long enough to make that happen?

    Ultimately, the most rewarding technology investment is an appropriate use of the budget at your disposal yielding the maximum returns. Deciding how to qualify those returns too, is critical in avoiding the kind of arbitrary box-checking that also blights other areas of tool-selection in media and for that, you need clear goals. Once those are defined, most publishers can find plenty of tools that will help them identify where and why they want to invest in specific outsourced services and whether they stand to gain from investing in their own technology, too.

    Camayak is a newsroom collaboration system that allows editors to organize their staff and content production, particularly when people are working remotely. Most of the newsrooms we work with previously used some combination of Google Docs, Dropbox, whiteboards and email attachments, which fragmented the efforts their staff were putting in to produce their content. By contrast, Camayak backs-up all this collaboration in one place and streamlines the process of assigning work, creating editorial workflows, tracking revisions, building staff profiles, receiving new pitch ideas, organizing photography and publishing directly to any WordPress site(s). Here’s a video summarizing these features (and introducing some of our team).

    We started working with community colleges in California, who were looking for a better way to keep all their students in the loop when they were out of class. After we released a cartoon explaining the basic premise behind what we did, we got inundated with requests from high schools, professional agencies and college newsrooms looking for the same tools. We’re working on a number of exciting projects and have some significant feature releases planned between now and the end of the year.

    For comments and questions, email the author at roman@camayak.com. Roman Heindorff is a co-founder and CEO at Camayak.

  10. Introducing: In-line Comments

    ,

    In-line comments example.jpg

    One of the features that we’ve been really looking forward to adding to Camayak is a better way to give feedback on specificparts of assignments. After working closely with a number of editors and contributors, we’re excited to announce the release of our very own in-line comments.

    We made two key decisions in our implementation of in-line comments: that they should remain in the body of the assignment and that as a result, they should be collapse-able, to avoid them cluttering the reading/editing process. All in-line comments are saved as part of our revisions-tracking, so users can review in-line comments from previous versions. Best of all: when publishing directly to a CMS we automatically strip-out all in-line comments to prevent them from appearing in published copy.

    In-line comments, together with our recent API integration work with the Duke Chronicle, have also offered us the chance to move closer to our goal of allowing publishers to export their content from Camayak in whichever ways they require.

    Special thanks go to (among others) Danielle Muoio – Editor-in-Chief at the Duke Chronicle, Ashley Soley-Cerro – former EIC at Cal State Northridge’s Daily Sundial and Jillian Beck, EIC at UCLA’s Daily Bruin, all of whom were influential in guiding our implementation decisions.