It's a digital world out there, and keeping up with the latest trends and developments would be nearly impossible for most of us without the help of the professionals. Just like the rest of us, digital content executives need guidance when it comes to staying on top of industry news while weeding out the extraneous information. From relatively widely known sources to the more niche-focused, there is no shortage of information for content producers. In truth, every day new options enter the market representing the best thinking from myriad minds around the globe.
Steve Goldner is the senior director of social media marketing for MediaWhiz, an online marketing agency with offices in New York City and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; he is also an avid blogger in the social media and digital content space, including as an EContent columnist. "I have sources I continually go to, but each source, at some point, begins to kind of produce the same content over and over again," says Goldner, who admits that he is also probably guilty of that. He says he has a daily ritual to help him stay on top of what's happening. "I commute into the city, and the first thing I do when I'm on the train is, literally, Google-whether it's ‘digital media' or ‘social media'-and look through the first five or six pages. It gives me a chance to see new content from new producers coming up."
Goldner also relies on email updates from sources such as AdAge.com, MediaPost.com, and Digiday. He adds, "I'd say that the wild card for me is, literally, the people I follow on Twitter." Goldner says that he has "zeroed in" on about 100 people that he follows through TweetDeck. "I look at what they're posting; it really gives me a breadth of information by looking to the curation of others," he adds.
For publishers in this space, he says "the secret is to try and stay fresh." Exceptional content producers, he adds, "never want to get typecast in one area of content."
In the world of digital content, though, no two people have the same set of information requirements. What a social media marketing expert needs to know may be different from what the editor of a news site needs to know. According to Andy Weissberg, managing partner of Digital Publishing Partners in New York City, each source "provides a unique degree of value.
"Depending on the knowledge need or use case, I'll defer to one or more of them more often than not as part of research, gathering or validating assumptions, or keeping abreast of the latest technologies or trends," says Weissberg. "Assessing these sources, in my opinion, must consider the many different dimensions of the digital publishing business itself, which has become quite diverse when you assess it from the vantage point of market segmentation."
So we asked digital content professionals what sites they rely on. Here's a look at a variety of sources and the benefits they offer to professionals interested in the digital content business.
AllThingsD.com is more or less what the name suggests: a website devoted to news, analysis, and opinion on technology, the internet, and media. To set itself apart from other sites in this space, it created a fusion of different styles, topics, formats, and sources.
"This is one of the top sites for news, analysis, and commentary on the technology industry," says Keith Trivitt, director of marketing and communications with MediaWhiz. "Published by The Wall Street Journal, it is considered a daily read by many in the digital media and marketing industry."
Ryan Rotz is the manager of Kirkdale Press, a digital publishing imprint from Logos Bible Software, located in Bellingham, Wash. "Each time an industry gets turned upside down, big companies fall, startups pop up, and acquisitions ensue," says Rotz. That's exactly what's going on in the world of ebooks.
"In other words, it's a journalist's dream," he says. "There are so many sources for ebook news; you just have to pick a few. Otherwise, you're not going to get anything done." Rotz says he likes to go "straight to the source, The Association of American Publishers." Here, he says, "I can see the stats, see what markets are growing and dying, and make my own conclusions."
A frequently referenced source of information for all things social media, marketing, branding, and more, Business 2 Community augments its own content with commentary from an open community of bloggers, which keeps readers up-to-date on the news itself and how that news is interpreted by a variety of thought leaders.
"Business 2 Community is a solid resource with a ton of content to read each day," says Christina Zila, director of communications at Textbroker.com in Las Vegas. All that content, though, can be a bit overwhelming at times, she says. Like others, Zila actually relies on a variety of sources to stay up-to-date, including paidContent.org, Mashable, and the Content Marketing Institute.
Joe Chernov is vice president of content marketing for Eloqua, which is located in the Boston area. A "social media guy," Chernov is a frequent contributor to Mashable. "Sites that cover digital news and trends fall into two categories for me-sites that I actively visit and articles that I discover through osmosis," says Chernov.
Business Insider, he says, is one that he actively visits. "BusinessInsider isn't just bookmarked; it's actually my start page in Chrome. I read it for two reasons. I feel smarter every time I read an article, and, more importantly, my CEO reads it, so it's good to know what he knows."
Started in 1997, ClickZ is an online stalwart that continues to provide practical how-to information, stats, and news on emarketing and content creation.
ClickZ, says MediaWhiz's Trivitt is "a good read for marketers and digital content producers looking for insights from those in the industry about how to develop digital marketing campaigns." It tends, he says, to run more of the "How to Create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy" type posts, which can be useful when looking for insights to help improve marketing campaigns.
CMSWire.com is a rapidly growing web magazine dedicated to all things content management. The CMSWire.com title is published by Simpler Media Group, Inc., which was founded by Brice Dunwoodie, an entrepreneur who focuses on niche-media property development.
Digital Publishing Partners' Weissberg says that sites such as CMSWire.com provide a "unique degree of value to me as a digital publishing professional." He notes that he has "used sources like CMSWire specifically when helping clients to assess CMS options."
comScore is a "go-to resource for all things digital media, marketing, and advertising," says Trivitt. It is, he notes, "One of the top resources for information on the state of the online advertising and digital media industries, and it offers a comprehensive listing of website analytics."
Weissberg notes that he finds comScore to be particularly helpful "when I need statistics, charts to support market research about consumer adoption or spending in digital categories."
Digiday is a media company and community for professionals who work in the digital media, marketing, and advertising industries. "I'm finding @FastCompany and @Digiday much more relevant to me these days than the typical ad industry trades," says Richard Ting, SVP and executive creative director, mobile and social platforms, with R/GA, an agency that specializes in digital content creation.
Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, a digital marketing agency with offices in Montreal and Toronto says: "Digiday has really found both a groove and unique voice in the marketing industry by churning out some great content coupled with killer headlines."
Mashable was an early entrant to the digital media space and remains a powerhouse, with 20 million unique monthly visitors and 4 million social media followers. Mashable was founded by Pete Cashmore, who has himself achieved a great deal of social media fame and followers, and its coverage runs the gamut from entertainment to tech gadgets. Numerous studies and leading publications have declared Mashable the most influential online news outlet and a must-read site.
"I think Mashable and paidContent are very good resources that bring credibility and content that's a bit less self-serving," says Textbroker.com's Zila.
If you create or work with content, Mediabistro is made for you. That includes editors, writers, producers, graphic designers, book publishers, and others in industries including magazines, television, film, radio, newspapers, book publishing, online media, advertising, PR, and design.
Mediabistro, according to Kirkdale's Rotz, offers concise coverage and is one of his go-to sources for information about digital publishing. "Through their GalleyCat and AppNewser blogs, they cut out a lot of the jargon and tell you what you need to know. They give you the meat-hence the name MediaBistro-and nothing else. In ten minutes I can get a glimpse of what's happening in the industry, and then I'm back to work."
It doesn't matter what branch of publishing you're in, you probably turn to MinOnline for news about what your competitors are doing. Print, web, B2B, B2C, Min covers it all.
Scott Abel, aka The Content Wrangler--and an EContent columnist--says, "I read MinOnline because it gives me quick and easy-to-access news about the business of the magazine business in one browser window. As I curate content, I am able to leverage MinOnline to save me time and help me cut through the clutter. ... What I need is more sites like this for various topics."
GigaOm's paidContent.org has developed a reputation for delivering breaking news and in-depth analysis on the business of technology. It provides, says Trivitt, "terrific analysis of the digital media sector and is extremely well written." Trivitt says that unlike some online-only publications, "paidContent writes as though its readers are well versed in a subject and sophisticated in their understanding of the nuances of certain issues affecting the digital media industry."
It is "incredibly helpful when investigating digital adoption in higher education," says Weissberg.
Long before the internet became a fixture in every office, Publishers Weekly was required reading for publishers of all sorts. These days, staying relevant to its core audience means covering digital content.
Publishers Weekly's value, says Weissberg, is most focused on "what's happening in book publishing and [on staying] abreast of who's publishing titles in various segments-or for staying abreast of deals or controversies between the publishers and various retailers or vendors."
Started in 2003 by New Zealander Richard MacManus, ReadWriteWeb began as a blog about the rapidly changing internet. Today, it's a respected site staffed by a team of international journalists.
"If you're looking for insight on the ‘next big thing' or cutting-edge technologies and platforms, ReadWriteWeb is the site to follow," says Trivitt. "The reporters here know the sectors they cover, and they seem to always be just a few steps ahead of the competition when it comes to analyzing news that digital marketers need to know now, but likely won't find out from other sites/publications for a few days or weeks."
No list of sites focusing on the intersection of technology and media would be complete without TechCrunch. Founded in June 2005, it's been through many changes recently, and it is now owned by AOL.
TechCrunch, says Trivitt, has changed a lot since the Michael Arrington editorial days. That said, Trivitt adds: "I actually think it is now a better, more comprehensive, and objective read. Yes, it still obsesses over VC funding and new products a little more than I care to read, but it's getting more balanced in its coverage and starting to write in a way similar to paidContent-more analysis and insight with less opinion from the reporters themselves."
Digital Publishing Partners
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