Thesis About Content Strategy

I have been planning  a thesis around content strategy and here is some thoughts of mine regarding the theory part of the work.

Definition

“Content strategy defines how a company is going to use content to meet the needs of business, guides decisions about content from creation to deletition, and sets benchmarks against which to measure success.” (Reid 2013, 22-27)

Carolina Reid (Reid 2013, 22-27) compares content strategy to a map which is a great idea. A map is never truly finished because it changes over time – neither is content strategy. There may be new exploration trips that cumulate the knowledge of humankind of the geography of our known world and these discoveries may clarify and give more details to our map. Also politics and wars change the borders of the countries on our map, so it has to be updated from time to time.

As I see it, the content strategy evolves with the times. Every published magazine issue increases the amount of information we have: what the magazine is truly a like and what our readers want. Every experience and new piece of information gained benefit the editorial team because they can gradually modify and enhance the content strategy to better meet the needs. It´s all about constant improvement and fine tuning. That is why action research is a perfect companion for a content strategy.

However, Reid reminds me that a strategy sets a vision for the future. “Although it can be revised, it is perennial, not seasonal.” So there has to be continuity and constant changes must be minimal, but larger changes in direction has to be done if needed as the world around us changes. You can´t stop the development.

 

What is in common with a sheep pig and a sub-editor?

Do you remember the movie Babe? Babe is a pig who behaves like a sheep dog and surprises his owner Mr. Hogget by herding sheep successfully. The pig gathers all the scattered sheep together and classifies them according to instructions within timeline. That´s pretty much what I have been doing almost for a decade as a sub-editor and producer.

The work

The work of a sub-editor and producer is mostly project management. Every customer magazine and every issue is a project of its own. I have been responsible for the production of 10 different titles a year at best. Each title had 1-4 issues a year and some had versions in different languages.

The work consisted of participating in the meetings of editorial board where we planned in advance the coming issue. I wrote down the wishes and ideas of the board and sometimes afterwards wrote a memo out of it. After the meeting if I were the producer of the magazine I developed the ideas further and if necessary asked more info about the theme if needed from the contact person mentioned in the meeting.

Producer´s role

Then I called the team together and discussed with them about the photos and layout. The photo editor took the task of planning further and ordered the photos from freelancers or the in house photographers. The AD had a clear view what kind of material was going to be and could make sure that the ordered photos and illustrations were according to magazine concept. My task as a producer was to brief and order the articles according to concept. I looked for the most suitable writers for each article. Also the price negotiations with the freelancer writers was part of my work but that was not really my forte.

Sub-editor´s tasks

My task as a sub-editor was to keep all the pieces of the puzzle together. I draw the time table for the each issue and let it to be known. I defined the deadlines for everybody and made it sure that they kept in line. Quite often I had to remind some subcontractor about the timeline and ask for their input for the magazine. So I was the barking sheep pig who took care of that all over scattered materials were coming in time to the newsroom: ads in right size, right language and just in time; articles to be edited by me, translations, photos, illustrations and customer´s comments on articles or translations.

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Photo: TheAngryTeddy/Pixabay

I also put the photos in named folders so that the AD would know which material belongs to which article and page according to magazine spread sheet that I had drawn. I checked the articles that the contents were what I ordered for and sometimes made some special extra request for the writers to alter or add something to their text. I kept the prepress, printing house etc. always aware of the timetable and let them know if there were any changes or delays in schedule.

Sometimes when our regular ad was busy with another magazine I had to keep sure that the helping hand did the layout of the magazine according to the concept. That meant a few times that I told what pictures should be chosen in a certain place. I proof read and checked the proof prints, shortened the text if needed, made headlines and captions, made sure that the hyphenation and the text run nicely in columns and the prints were presentable to customer. Then I ordered a messenger or sent a pdf to a customer for approval.

Co-operation with the customer

After approval I made together with the ad the needed corrections asked by a customer. After corrections I sent another set of prints/pdf to the customer and after the final approval the magazine was ready to be sent for the prepress. The ad sent the layout and picture files for the prepress and I sent the prints and regards.

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Photo: Pavloo/Pixabay

I told the customer when to update their postal register and when to send it to the printing house. I also let the contact person in customer end to know when the finished product will be delivered on their doorstep. I let them know when the readers would get the magazine by mail so that they could update their web pages and put the pdf of the magazine on the pages on the same day. Sometimes there was a special occasion like expo where some of the magazines had to be delivered at the exact strike of the clock. I took care of it with the help of printing house even though sometimes I had to find out where the missing shipment or misplaced magazines are before the expo begins.

All the organizing took so much of my time that I had less time to write articles as what I would have liked.  So I wrote mainly small news pieces and occasionally a larger article but no longer than a spread.  Keeping it short was natural to me because after all I was taught to write press releases.

In the role of the producer I collected the feedback from the magazine from the customers and readers if I could get any and used it to develop the magazine further. I tried to keep my ears open and follow the industry in question so that I could come up with original ideas to be presented in the next editorial board meeting. I tried to listen the needs of the customer and make small changings to the concept from time to time accordingly with the help of the team.

Learning outcome

I was given the chance to plan magazine concepts for a few times with the help of ad and the customer needs. It was rewarding and creative job that I liked even though it put all the things I´ve learned in test. It was also a showcase of trust from my superiors. My role and tasks varied according to what magazine was in question. In some magazines I was only a sub-editor and in some I was both the producer and sub-editor. My responsibilities grew with me along with the work experience. I learned to become more organized and careful which was not at all typical of me when I started the job.

Problem solving

In a creative job like magazine production there sometimes emergences a problem. The problem needs to be solved quickly and efficiently but in a creative way because no problem is a similar than before.

Once we had too little amount of pages in a magazine. The most cost effective way to print is to have the kind of page amount that can be devided by number 16. I told about the problem to a producer and she came up with the idea that we add some pages for notes. The ad added the headline notes and filled the pages with lines under empty rows. So we managed to pull through with the thick magazine.

I remember also another time when it was summer and almost all the people were on a holiday. There were only couple of sumer trainees and I working. I got the proofs from prepress and when I checked them I noticed that one of the advertising customers did not have sent their ad on time.

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Photo: Imagerymajestic/Freedigitalphotos

There was only two hours time before the printing should happen. I tried to reach the advertisement sales person but she was on vacation. Then I called directly to the ad customer and asked if the ad was coming. The answer was that they had forgotten all about it and could not produce a new ad at that short of a notice. I gathered the gang up: AD trainee, journalist trainee and I discussed how we could fill the empty space in the magazine. It was a quarter of a page in question.

We decided to prolong one of the articles. The easiest way to do that was to continue an article that was compiled from small pieces of texts and photos. Luckily we had left some extra photos for it and the article was written by this journalist trainee who was in newsroom with me. I asked the ad and journalist trainee to choose together a photo and the journalist trainee to write about it. I edited and proof read the material before sending it to prepress. All in all we managed to solve the problem so that the press did not have to postpone the pressing.

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Photo:Nenetus/Freedigitalphotos

I loved my years as “a sheep pig”.  Taking care of things was rewarding and I felt that my boss truely trusted me. This gradually over the years grown responsibility was a source of motivation. Now I am trying to find a new job that could give me as big satisfaction as the old one  gave. Hopefully I can call myself Communication Officer or Communication Consultant sometimes in the future.

Why Digitalize Your Annual Report?

“Digital annual reports give more to the reader than press releases and are more user-friendly.”

  1. Web is the first place where people start to find new information.
  2. The information is available 24/7 in the web.
  3. Journalists and other stakeholders may want to utilize the time they use to commute in a bus or a train.
  4. When you use “mobile first” principle, you ensure the usability of responsive sites.
  5. Digitalization enables rich content formats: videos, infographics, and dynamic graphics.
  • CEO´s review can be a video. It is more personal and it talks directly to you. Video as a part of digital annual report can create ambiance. It can also give a polished look to the digitalized annual report.
  1. Unlike printed annual report, the digitalized annual report can be changed and modified (correctified) after publishing.
  2. Statistics and analytics of the digital annual report reveal what information is of special interest to the stakeholders. This information can be used to develop contents of the annual reports for the coming years.
  3. Costs and waste is diminished. It is cost effective to make digital annual report first, make a pdf of it and digi print it. So you can print the amount of annual reports needed and avoid printing too many annual reports. You can also save some additional storage costs.
  4. If you use the same technical layout and structure (platform) for your digitalized annual report more than once, you can save 50 % of the costs. But you cannot avoid from feeding the information to the platform. That you have to redo every year.

    Source: Jussi Kuparinen/Koodiviidakko, Markkinointiviestinnän viikko 2015. http://www.viidakko.fi

Antique Fair Presented Lovely Items

Habitare is the biggest interior design expo in Finland. At the same time was held Antiikki (antique) fair in Messukeskus, Helsinki. Here are the best jugend items that I found from the expo.

Kahvikupit Maini ja Veli

Antiikki Maini ja Veli Oy has for sale a romantic set of coffee cups from the turn of the century. This beautiful china is decorated with lilacs. I can just imagine myself  starting a new day by drinking a nice cup of hot tea from these cups in a sunny verandah.

Öljylamppu 2 Amppelivalaisin

For a long time I have fancied to have at least a 100 years old wooden villa, which I could fill in with jugend/art nouveau style furniture and other decorative items. My dream house could be decorated with these  pink lamps or similar.

Lasipuikkovalaisin 2

Also this light fixture with hanging crystals is to my liking.  As a matter of fact I have a lamp that reminds me of this quite a lot.

Hajuvesipullot

I have a small collection of old perfume bottles, so I was interested to see what´s there for sale. These two did not end up at my home because they were of wrong color and they were pricy.

Look at more photos from my other blog.

Street Art in Myyrmäki

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7. Sitting man

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8. Bird figures

Read more about street art in Vantaa, Finland:

http://streetartvantaa.com/

http://blogit.tikkurila.fi/2014/07/16/myyrmaen-musiikkiteemainen-alikulkutunneli-valmistui/

http://www.vantaansanomat.fi/artikkeli/241089-myyrmaessa-ei-graffiteja-putsata-alueesta-tuli-katutaiteen-mekka

http://www.vantaansanomat.fi/artikkeli/239474-myyrmakeen-lisaa-varikkaita-alikulkutunneleita

Map: http://vantaakanava.fi/katutaiteellinen-myyrmaki/

Herb Labels for Mother´s Day

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Creating name tags for herbs or other plants is easy if you have the right necessity. All you need is labels, waterproof marker, acrylic paint and waterproof varnish. You can also have something extra for the decoration. For this purpose I bought some colorful wooden ladybugs.

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Before you decide to go and buy the necessity, be aware that this takes surprisingly lot of time and patience. There is over 10 stages before you finish. There is 2 layers of paint on the both sides,  one layer of paint on the edges, writing, 2 layers of lacquer on the both sides and also to the edges so that the paint won´t start to run in rain. Then you have to glue the ladybugs and warnish those too. Drying takes the most of the time.

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The supplies for herb labels can be found in craft shops. The wooden ladybug accessories are from Sinelli, labels from Tiger and all the rest is from Askarelli.

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Here is few tips that I learned from the hard way:

  1. Paint and varnish as thinly as you can. Otherwise the surface will be uneven and there will be difficulties in writing in it. When you paint two thin layers the paint will surface enough. The backsides of my labels became uneven.
  2. Use soft paintbrush. A soft paintbrush applies the paint evenly and makes much better end result than a bristle brush.
  3. Let the labels dry long enough outdoors for instance a balcony. This is how the poisonous vapours won´t come inside your house and the varnish won´t harm your hands.
  4. Don´t put labels to dry over a plastic bag. The colours of the plastic bag will stick to the wet lacquer to the back side of a label. Use baking paper as underlay instead.
  5. The ladybugs have a sticker behind them. Don´t use the sticker, it won´t last. Use superglue to attach the ladybug to the label.
  6. Remember to varnish the accessories (ladybugs) too because the paint won´t otherwise last in bad weather.
  7. Pick the labels into safety for the winter.

Spring arrives to the balcony

The spring is here. The sun has brought life to the balcony again after dark and cold winter. Golden daffodils reflect the color of the sun bringing sunshine otherwise pretty colorless world. As William Wordsworth writes:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Pansies are delicate survivors of cold spell in spring. Pansies are also my favorites because those bring joy for many months to come. I have a habit of buying first pansies of the spring from Helsinki garden expo. I did it this year too.

A year ago I bought two Geranium pratenses (Double Jewel) from Viherpeukalot. The flowers were not as spectacular in a pot as in the net. Now I hope that this year the plants will be stronger.

Blue Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) is a thankful plant that spreads soon with its bulbs and seeds. The odor is pleasant and it is one of the first blooming flowers after the snow has smelt with Armenian grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum).

Last year I planted the seeds of carnation (Dianthus barbatus) but it is biennial so it blooms no sooner than this year. I am excited to see the flowers because the seeds I bought were a color mix. The result will be a surprise.

Clematis Alpina grows in the same large pot. The seedling of it I got from my mum who grew it from a stick. It has not bloomed either in my balcony yet but perhaps all the nursing will be rewarded with a first flower this year. The color mix will be nice: carnations in the shades of red and white combined with the blueish lilac of the clematis.

The plants survived from the winter nicely and as incredible as it sounds all the photos in this posts are taken just a few weeks ago.

Fancy flowers and flower girls

Flower girls were full of girl power.

Flower girls were full of girl power.

Here is a video, which shows how to make a bouquet of flowers in a spiral form.


You can find more photos here.

Crosstiching poppies

Tyynynpäällinen

A couple of years ago I crosstiched a bouquet of poppies. I bought a cushion crosstiching packet including the preprinted fabric and yarns from online. Winter went by swiftly crosstiching the cushion. The handicraft was easy to start because I did not have to count threads of the fabric. It suited well for the beginner like me. Still I can´t crosstich orthodoxly but I don´t mind. However, the end result is satisfactory. There was not enough woolen yarn, because the unorthodox stiches demanded more yarn than the producer expected, but I used the yarn guarantee and ordered some more.

The end result was not perfect. In the middle of off-white background there is a row of white stiches. I messed up with the yarn colors. I stitched the row with a yarn meant for daisies before I noticed my mistake. Then it was too late to undo the row. Luckily the mistake is in relatively unnoticeable place and cannot be seen in the photo. It only shows that the cushion is done by hand.

ID-100164396Source: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net, papaija2008

This crosstiching cushion was half done fairly long in my closet, because I didn´t have a sewing machine to sew a fabric and a zipper behind the cushion. At last in the fall of 2013 I participated a sewing class and this cushion was the first handicraft that I finished with the help of a teacher. She told me the tricks how to saw the zipper. I also learned how to use overlocker which I used for the seams of the back side fabric.

I made the back side from recycled fabric. I had an apron that I did not use. It was stained for good during some ancient cooking experiment. The stains were ruthless in white fabric. It was also decorated with an ad. So it was not a big thing to cut the fabric of the apron which was given to me by me godmother. I cut the fabric so that the stains would go inside the seams. There is another useless apron waiting in the closet…

Photo frame and piece of art

Valokuvan kehykset

The cushion continued my interest in crosstiching poppies that had begun many years earlier. In the turn of the century, I saw a beautiful poppy pattern in a crosstiching book. So I became inspired to do a photo frame for my old matriculation examination photo. I bought the materials and started the task. Counting holes and threads of the fabric was not easy for the beginner – it was a challenge that I overcame. The photo frame turned out just nice even though I did not have embroidery frame. To finalize my work I framed the poppies and the photo in professional. The only sad part was that the photo frame and matching piece of crosstiching art became slightly different sizes when framed.

Unikko

My whimsy of crosstiched poppies did not end on the photo frames because I also stitched a piece of poppy art with the pattern of the same book. I have not hanged these pictures to my wall but perhaps I will own someday a house of my dreams where the pictures find their place in the walls. You can´t hang the pictures side by side because the slight difference in size but I could try to hang them above each other. Then the difference could go without noticing.