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May 05, 2016

Great Examples Of Distributed Content Management In Media And Entertainment

Thought by Hank VanZile, Director, Pre-Sales Consulting
Distributed Content Management - Media & Entertainment - FFW Drupal Agency

This is the fourth post in my series on Distributed Content Management.  Previously I’ve defined the concept and provided some great examples of Distributed Content Management use cases in Higher Education and the pharmaceutical industry.  Today I’ll focus on more use cases, this time in the Media and Entertainment industry.

Setting The Scene

The Media and Entertainment industry produces websites for a variety of different audiences and engagements: from industry news to live events, radio stations to films and network television.  Few of these sites have the luxury of being what we often call “brochureware”. Instead, they are most often dynamic, constantly-changing vehicles for up-to-the-minute content.  Add in the fact that most media and entertainment companies are operating a large portfolio of sites and it’s easy to see the need for a solid Distributed Content Management strategy.

Use Case 1: Sharing Content Across Multiple Markets

An interesting Distributed Content Management use case that presents itself with larger media and entertainment companies is the need to manage numerous similar websites differentiated by local media markets.  Consider, for example, radio station websites.  Many media companies own stations in multiple cities that follow the same general format (pop, country, adult contemporary, etc.)  Some aspects of these sites - branding, local events, on-air talent - obviously require localized content, but national or genre-wide content may not.  If a popular band releases a new album, or a well-known superstar passes away, it is not necessarily a good investment of time for content creators in New York and Philadelphia to independently write stories.  Instead, companies should consider how centralized content sharing can fit into their overall plan for Distributed Content Management across markets.  A common solution is for content creators at larger stations (or at the corporate offices) to have the tools necessary to distribute their content to stations in smaller markets; however, some companies choose instead to rely on news services for this type of content.

Use Case 2: Integrating Aggregated Content From External Sources

For many media companies, the volume and velocity of content required to stay on top of their areas of focus can be a huge challenge.  A common way companies supplement their own content creation is by aggregating content from external news services, a well-known example being the Associated Press.  Integrating distributed content from external sources presents a number of interesting considerations for media companies.  Should aggregated content be automatically posted to their website or placed in a publishing queue for review by content management staff?  Should it be visually differentiated from content produced specifically for the website?  By establishing these functional requirements early in their planning process, media and entertainment companies can ensure their Content Management System is developed or configured to their needs, making the entire process of dealing with aggregated, external content far more efficient.

Use Case 3: Digital Media As Content

The best websites make compelling use of photos and videos as content, and media and entertainment websites especially must establish strategies for how best to deal with digital media.  This may start with the challenges already discussed (how to ensure enough media is available, how to share it effectively across markets); however, incorporating digital media can quickly lead to needing policies for managing an overabundance of content.  As an example, AP Images offers over 7,000 images from the 88th Academy Awards, organized into a variety of categorized collections.  “Best of” collections are available, but does using the same 25 pictures as everyone else provide the best bet for attracting site visitors?  

And choosing digital media is just the beginning!  It is critical that companies using large amounts of digital media consider how that media is incorporated into their website.  Adding images individually may be fine for some organizations, while others may require the ability to bulk upload images and automatically render a photo galleries or slideshows.  Many media and entertainment companies choose to implement a digital media repository to ensure images added to their websites are easily found and reusable for future content, whether through tagging or automatic analysis of metadata.  In a future blog post I’ll discuss the power of metadata, and how it informs a Distributed Content Management strategy, but details such as location, subject, date, event, etc. may be particularly helpful for working with digital media.

Use Case 4: Live Events & Breaking News

Another use case more common to media and entertainment than any other industry is the need for real-time information.  Whether providing access to live events through streaming video or simply publishing breaking news as soon as it’s known, how an organization plans for immediacy on the web can have tremendous impact on their Distributed Content Management strategy.  Immediacy calls into question every element of the web content lifecycle.   Will the usual draft, review, publish workflow be too slow for breaking news?  Is content created during an event, such as a live blog, intended to persist as part of the website or simply drive visitors during the event?  

To circumvent these challenges many organizations turn to social media, using platforms optimized for immediacy (such as Twitter or Periscope) as their real-time communications channels and reserving their websites for longer-form, summary pieces.  This approach can further benefit a media and entertainment company by inviting user-created content (through custom hashtags or otherwise) to be part of the event’s coverage - as long as multichannel content is incorporated into a company’s Distributed Content Management plan.

What’s Next?

We will continue exploring Distributed Content Management with a post on use cases for product companies.  Thoughts or questions?  Reach out in the comments below or tweet them to me at @HankVanZile.

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