Camayak Blog

Camayak is a content production tool for newsrooms.
Empower editors. Improve communication. Create better content.
  1. 5 of The Best Editorial Management Tools

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    If you’re reading this there’s a decent chance that you Googled ‘editorial management tools’ and are deciding which content management system to try with your team. Every day we speak to people who are also looking for ways to organize editorial calendars, plan their content strategy or make their editing process more efficient. Most of them want to save time, improve communication and produce more content, but last week someone asked us this: “do people who use your system say that it helps them produce better content?“.

    A qualification like ‘better’ assumes criteria that are going to be slightly different for everyone who produces original content. Then you have to pick who to listen to: the audience, who vote with their pageviews and engagement metrics, or perhaps the authors, by monitoring their sense of growth and satisfaction every time their byline appears?

    Let’s say that when a commercially-driven editor or publisher is looking for signs that their content quality is improving, they include these key indicators:

    • fewer mistakes (typos, quote accuracy, etc.)
    • content that gets shared more
    • better adoption of editorial style guides (e.g. using media, AP style, etc.)
    • characterful headlines and story angles that grow the brand

    The goal of the best editorial management systems should be to address all or most of these general needs. But beyond feature-based benefits like being able to track writers’ activity, prompt them with advice, incentivize good performance and keep everyone on schedule, there are habits that most ambitious newsrooms need to succeed. Streamlining your editorial process to save time and scale content production is a sensible objective, but what can you do to ensure that you’re not outsourcing your editorial management and abdicating responsibility for your core competencies and competitive advantage over other publishers?

    Here are some key criteria for successful newsrooms that we’ve observed over four years of working with editorial teams of all shapes and sizes.

    Consistent use of high quality photos that are thought-provoking and can operate in isolation or together with a headline, without requiring the rest of the story. We know that striking photographs and other media (e.g. videos) capture a wider audience than text on its own. Traditionally, these items would come together in the form of a ‘package’ that would be fed into a ‘package’ for print, web or app publishing. A key aspect of all these assets now being hosted on different platforms (e.g. Twitter, YouTube, Vine) and assembled instead of all natively living in one place is that each atomic piece of content can be shared on its own. This means two things: content assets you produce yourselves should be relevant to audiences in isolation (i.e. alienated from its original package) and whenever you upload your original work to a third party service, always make sure it includes your brand and/or indication of copyright.

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    A man sits with two female statues at a shopping district in Dongguan, China. Photo credit: Roman Heindorff

    Senior editorial staff cast a wide net for new recruits and carefully select their key editors. Freelancer networks like Scripted, Ebyline and Contently offer freelance writers and editors the chance to work for multiple publications with ease. We typically see publishers and agencies hire a core team (usually no more than 20% of their editorial staff) and supplement it with access to networks of contributors to make sure that they can cover niche interests quickly and scale up their volume of production at short notice. Looking at Camayak’s own network of freelancers, we see ‘power users’ make up around 5-10% of the total number, which isn’t an unreasonable ratio of managing editor-to-freelancers for running a newsroom, provided the one or more chief content strategists you hire are top notch.

    Contributors always speak to other people (e.g. interviews), to enrich their story or argument. This is a basic principle in journalism and one of several that brands and agencies depend upon when hiring contributors out of news media to work on corporate, sponsored or public relations content.

    Avoiding ‘filler’ content (aka: ‘less can be more’). Whether its page inches, daily post quotas or other volume targets, scaling an editorial operation can often introduce threats to the quality of the product itself. Audiences are open to forming very close bonds with content providers, so every time they’re faced with material that feels token, half-baked or simply not interesting enough, they can feel that their loyalty to your brand may be misguided. If you’re looking for tips on going digital first or are considering downsizing your print edition to give it more impact, don’t forget what your unique objective is in serving your audience and prioritize what they’re going to find interesting about the story you’re working on.

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    And finally. We asked a senior editor at a national UK newspaper what they felt the best editorial management tool they used was. “We have a collection of powerful tools and without them we frankly wouldn’t be able to put out the amount of work we’re doing” she answered, “but if you’re talking about ‘tools’ in the abstract sense, the most critical skill we’re having to emphasize is what a good story actually is. There’s a sense that plenty of writers don’t actually understand what makes a good story.”

    Update: for more tips on managing an editorial team, follow us on Twitter or schedule a free consultation with one of our product designers.

  2. How to Combine an Editorial Calendar With Managing Writers Efficiently

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    Have you ever wanted to see a nicely packaged summary of everything your newsroom did today? As an alternative to staring at activity feeds all day long, what if you could have a synopsis of the things that matter emailed to you at the end of each day?

    For managing editors looking to get caught-up on the birds-eye view of their staff’s efforts, Camayak is the #1 place to go because it automatically combines assignments with collaboration updates and editorial calendars. That’s great if you’re a full-time editor who can respond to real-time prompts, but what if you’re part-time and have a million and one other things to do?

    The staff at the Kansas State Collegian asked us to send a daily email to their contributors that contained all the available assignments they could claim, to keep them engaged without overwhelming their inboxes with updates. This is the beginning of a daily newsroom pulse that we’ll be adding to over the coming weeks, with other key signs of activity and engagement.

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  3. TownNews.com teams with Camayak

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    Publisher software company TownNews.com and Camayak now offer one another’s customers an integrated workflow and website combination. Serving more than 130 college media programs between them, the services will work together using Camayak’s content API, which allows newsrooms to publish content to multiple platforms directly.

    The collaboration with TownNews.com’s BLOX CMS product is one of several partnerships Camayak has launched with content management system providers. “Third-party integration is always tricky, but with Camayak’s impressive college media track record we felt this would be a beneficial asset to our company and customers,” said Paul Wilson, regional sales manager and head of TownNews.com’s college program.

  4. Training New Staff Just Got Easier

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    Anyone you invite to your newsroom will now be welcomed with their own Camayak tutorials when they log in. If you joined your newsroom after August 27th, you’ll also see these tutorials and can always access them again by going to your introduction link in Camayak.

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  5. Schedule & Publish to All Your Platforms in One Swoop

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    We’ve all been there. It’s almost midnight and you’re still only halfway through copy-and-pasting all your new content from one platform to another. If only you could schedule and publish everything for multiple places in one, easy go. With Camayak, now you can.

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    Since we launched our content API and allowed developers to build their own integrations with Camayak, we’ve had a great response. But newsrooms wanted to approve their assignments for more than one destination at a time. For instance: how about publishing a story instantly to your WordPress website and Tumblr blog, but also selecting it forMonday’s print edition, so your layout team can grab it from the print calendar?

    Now you can select more than one platform for each assignment and schedule precisely when it should be published on each one. We’re working on integrations with more platforms and would love to hear if you have specific ones you’d like us to consider. Are you using tools that publish to multiple social media accounts at the same time? If so, which ones?

  6. 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.

  7. Free Tool Helps Campus Newspapers Sell Better Advertising

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    We’re devoted to helping publishers streamline their workflow to save time and seize new opportunities. After speaking to business staff at campus publications this Summer, we started a small project we hope will streamline their work with advertisers, too.

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    With the variety of platforms and differences in pricing models on offer, how can publishers simplify the options so an advertiser understands what’s available and gets the best value for their specific needs? Today we’re excited to launch the college advertising budget calculator to help advertisers answer those questions for themselves.

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    By asking advertisers six simple questions, we hope to give publishers a head-start in offering them opportunities that meet their goals. If an advertiser is already working with a college ad rep, they can enter their rep’s email when they send us their answers, so we can forward them directly to the relevant person.

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    Anyone interested in advertising to students can use this link to specify exactly what they want. As long as people find it useful, we’ll keep the site up and running for anyone who wants to use it.

    P.S. If your business team would like a Camayak license to develop its own agency for 3rd party content production, now’s the time to let us know. We’re giving away 2-for-1 licenses until August 31st*.

    *Your second license may not be bigger than the one that you pay for.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.