ASBPE Study: B2B Editors Lack New-Media Training

New media, Web publishing, social media, blogs, Webinars and the like didn’t suddenly emerge out of nowhere, but many business-to-business editors are still woefully unprepared for it, according to a recent survey of 273 of them — 88 percent of those at the executive or senior level — by the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the Medill School at Northwestern University.

Among the findings:

• 80 percent participated in one day or less of corporate-sponsored digital training during 2009, with the median amount at less than one-half day, and 36 percent had no corporate digital training at all.

• Two-thirds of respondents found their training to be very or somewhat inadequate.

• 38 percent of responding editors currently spend at least one-half of their time on digital content, and 62 percent believe spending at least one-half of their time on digital content would most benefit their organization.

• In terms of strategy, improving digital content and digital training were rated as “very necessary,” followed by researching readers/advertisers, resisting loosening of editorial ethics, leveraging content between brands, and redefining skills necessary for editorial and art staff.

• The editors were given a list of 16 digital activities and asked to choose the most important and least important for their success in 2010. The most important were writing and editing Web content; managing workflow/workload between Web and print; and writing and editing e-letters, while the least important were developing virtual trade shows/conferences; coding; creating online slideshows or photo galleries; recording, shooting, or editing audio and/or video; and mining online databases.

• When asked which B2B-publishing-related activities they had never taken part in, the results were: virtual trade shows (82 percent); online slide shows (58 percent); Webinars (55 percent); online audio and video (54 percent); coding (51 percent); database mining (50 percent); blogging (33 percent); and social media (20 percent).

ASBPE associate director Robin Sherman said:

The lack of company-sponsored training, let alone adequate training, is a major concern. Apparently, what skills most senior-level editors do have were learned and paid for on their own.

Why would organizations place editors and publications at risk as a result of so little training? Or put it another way: How much more revenue might a publisher generate with an editorial labor force better skilled in digital technologies and publishing strategies?

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