3 Lessons From an Editor of the Largest U.S. Publications (B2C CMY Finalist)


Editor’s word: We’re sharing insights from Content Marketer of the Year finalists on the weblog earlier than we announce the winner at Content Marketing World in September. This is the first 12 months we are going to identify a Content Marketer of the Year in two classes – B2B and B2C. 

Neil Wertheimer tells it like it’s. Driven by a ardour to create constructive change for individuals by the journalism he oversees, he makes certain the content material his workforce at AARP creates evokes, educates, and empowers the group’s monumental, various, and savvy viewers of over 38 million members.

Neil considers it his mission to make use of the energy of phrases to learn the world round him. That’s evident all through his physique of work as deputy editor of AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin, which collectively ship a one-two punch towards stereotypes about getting older. His work overseeing the day-to-day improvement of these two publications – the two largest-circulation magazines in the United States – earned him a spot on our brief checklist of finalists for B2C Content Marketer of the Year.

Mission of @AARP’s @neilwert is to make use of the energy of phrases to learn the world. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Why he caught our eye: Neil’s dedication to journalistic requirements in service of each viewers and model ensures that the content material his workforce produces actually connects. With a workforce of in-house workers and freelancers, the publications tackle matters that matter to the over-50 set, amongst them: employment, retirement, well being, wealth, fraud, and dementia. Recognizing that this age group is something however homogeneous, articles deal with the readership like the disparate group it’s, providing data to handle the wants and issues of individuals of their 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. The journal is available in three separate editions, every focusing on a unique age vary. AARP Bulletin takes this customization additional, producing greater than 20 regional variations of each concern, every with distinctive content material based mostly on the member’s metropolis or state.

Neil’s work at AARP and all through his profession in each advertising and marketing and client publications gives a number of useful classes and reminders for all content material professionals.

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1. Know your viewers, however belief your intestine too

Adults over 50 aren’t the best viewers to impress. They’re not a single group, their wants and preferences range, and, properly, they’re liable to seen-it-all-before ennui.

Adding to the complexity are the totally different missions of every publication. Those are the challenges dealing with Neil’s workforce, led by Editor-in-Chief Bob Love, 16 occasions a 12 months. The journal’s six points steadiness service content material, investigative options, and leisure utilizing celebrity-focused cowl tales and engaging design to drag readers in.

AARP Bulletin, which publishes 10 occasions a 12 months, focuses extra on nationwide and native points more likely to have an effect on readers’ lives – from how private data offered on the darkish net contributes to fraud towards older Americans to misconceptions about Social Security, and different quality-of-life points.

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The AARP editorial workforce is doing one thing proper. Both publications have earned recognition in the Content Marketing Awards. This 12 months, each earned finalist nods for Best Overall Editorial – Print, and several other articles, columns, and infographics had been acknowledged in different classes. You can learn the digital model of A Legal Hostage, a finalist for Best Feature Article – Print, on AARP’s web site.

Within the group, the publications are prized. AARP carefully tracks the position of the magazines in the general member expertise. The numbers inform a constructive story: The magazines had been recognized as the high communication gadget for the group and amongst the high causes AARP members say they renew. That’s highly effective content material.

.@AARP’s magazines are a high motive members say they renew, says @carlajohnson. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

How do they generate such impression?

It begins with a dedication to understanding the reader. A devoted staffer on Neil’s workforce organizes and compiles reader letters, emails, and social posts to trace which tales resonate the most.

The workforce additionally sends reader surveys a couple of weeks after every concern of the Bulletin and the journal to measure satisfaction general and at the particular person story degree. The surveys additionally ask about usefulness, uniqueness, and leisure worth. The outcomes are obligatory studying for AARP editors.

All this knowledge flows right into a proprietary algorithm to create an engagement rating. Neil and his workforce use this database to research, measure, and examine previous content material and headline approaches and to establish alternatives to create extra significant content material.

Yet viewers analysis doesn’t drive the whole lot. Neil usually makes use of the phrase that analysis is a 60% answer. He and his workforce use the suggestions to weed out dangerous concepts, reveal alternatives, and spotlight shocking wins. But the different 40%, Neil says, comes from much less tangible components, like curiosity, creativity, instinct, expertise, and fixed statement of the world round them. He and his workforce are voracious readers, and the emails fly every day inside the AARP publications workforce sharing hyperlinks and concepts.

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2. Learn from each job

Nearly each place Neil has held displays and informs his instinct and intangible abilities. For the first 13 years of his profession, Neil was a newspaper reporter and editor, working in the Los Angeles space. From there he went to Rodale Inc, the place he oversaw guide packages for Men’s Health, Runner’s World, Bicycling, Prevention, and Yankee magazines, and several other customized titles. That work put him in contact with the day-to-day issues of a giant subset of client pursuits.

With this grounding in service journalism, Neil went on to supervise an worldwide book-publishing program for Reader’s Digest that targeted largely on well being, cooking, cash, and residential, but in addition included puzzles, historical past and humor. He’s collaborated with manufacturers like Humana and Nokia to create an participating content material circulation of newsletters and toolkits to allow individuals to handle their well being.

A stint as head of Studio Fun International, a youngsters’s publishing enterprise, helped develop his artistic abilities whereas working with giant client manufacturers together with Disney, DreamWorks, Fisher-Price, Star Wars, Hasbro, Barbie, Sesame Street, and DC Comics.

Later, as senior director of content material technique for Wunderman Health, Neil utilized his viewers improvement, journalism, and storytelling expertise to create content material advertising and marketing methods and highway maps for 10 worldwide client well being manufacturers.

Having labored in each media and content material advertising and marketing, Neil understands the significance and challenges of producing reputable journalistic content material whereas supporting model and advertising and marketing objectives.

Another factor he’s discovered: Good writing that ensures genuine, correct, and trustworthy content material is crucial to each side of the brand-journalism steadiness.

Authentic, correct, and trustworthy #content material is crucial to brand-journalism steadiness. @neilwert #CMWorld Click To Tweet

But that doesn’t imply Neil’s solely a creature of print. The AARP workforce creates content material that may be loved throughout platforms. For instance, the August-September version of AARP the Magazine now arriving in mailboxes throughout America incorporates a 50-year anniversary tribute to Woodstock and a bit on how the Property Brothers would replace a house for his or her mother and father. Online variations of these items embody movies created in partnership with AARP Studios, plus a variety of extra content material, and assist print with digital supplies.

Neil additionally works on different digital content material initiatives for AARP, equivalent to creating a collection of audio broadcasts and mini-book downloads for members, and serving as the editorial advisor of a weekly podcast referred to as The Perfect Scam, that includes con-artist-turned-fraud-expert Frank Abagnale (you would possibly know his story from the guide and film Catch Me If You Can) and host Will Johnson, a former Discovery Channel producer. The collection tells private tales of rip-off victims and their households. It options interviews with skilled con artists and fraud-prevention specialists who assist make clear methods individuals can keep away from falling prey to the tips of the swindler’s darkish commerce.

3. Build (and reward) an amazing workforce

Hard-hitting, related content material (custom-made to native areas) requires the work of multiple particular person. Neil works with a workforce of 12 editors to supply the mixed 16 points and their many variations based mostly on member age or geography.

Neil and the enhancing workforce then work together every day with a centralized design and inventive workforce, and a small writing workers on the digital workforce who contribute to each the Bulletin and journal. Most of the content material for every publication comes from freelance writers. Communications with video, social media, and net groups is nonstop, as is interplay with departments all through AARP.

The secret to attracting and retaining proficient writers (together with top-tier journalists)? Fair pay, dedication to high quality content material, and a protracted lead time. Investigative items can take as much as a number of months to supply. The publications’ behemoth viewers doesn’t harm, both.

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With nice energy …

Punk icon Henry Rollins supplied this directive and rallying cry to all content material producers at ContentTECH Summit earlier this 12 months:

You’re the future. I hope that retains you up at night time. There are hundreds of thousands of individuals you’re by no means going to satisfy who’re going to depend upon you to get it proper. This is just not one thing to be dreaded. It’s simply to be revered, and you must concern getting it incorrect.

That similar sentiment guides Neil’s work at AARP. Sure, his model has unimaginable attain and a finances to safe A-level expertise. But the beliefs he’s relied on in all his roles will make any content material marketer’s work higher.

Research issues. Skills matter. Teams matter. Words matter. People matter.

#Research issues. Skills matter. Teams matter. Words matter. People matter. @carlajohnson #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Be there in particular person to study who will win B2B and B2C Content Marketer of the Year. And whilst you’re at Content Marketing World Sept. 3-6, study abilities and instruments to develop your individual content material advertising and marketing success. Register at the moment utilizing code CMIBLOG100 to save lots of $100. 

Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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