Sara Domville, President at F+W Media, Inc., describes what her company does successfully as creating “niche communities for passionate enthusiasts.” Their approach, she explains, is “all about communities and the consistent branding within the community. You won’t see F+W everywhere.” What’s prominent and promoted instead of the name of the corporate umbrella is the name of the specific channel (e.g. Writer’s Digest or Family Tree).
Branding is important, believes Domville, and is “something none of us take enough time to trouble over.” At F+W, the key to successful branding starts with content, or what Domville refers to as a “content explosion model,” and content starts with editors. Domville relies on F+W editors to be fully immersed in their subject matter and as people who “pour heart and soul into a project.”
F+W editors take the content they acquire, “make it the best it can be, and then put it in the buckets.” The buckets in this case, which are “predetermined per product in their P&L,” are the various forms in which the content goes out into the world, be it book or magazine, website, online learning, webinar, event, or any of the other myriad buckets employed by this versatile company. “We come up with the product first, think about the audience, then find the technology that enables you to create it,” says Domville.
As for how this affects the work life of editors, she explains: “Once editors get over the fact that they’re not just a book editor, they’re a content creator, they like it—it’s rewarding.” One assumes Domville means rewarding on both a spiritual and a financial level, as she goes on to explain the company measures on a monthly basis how much revenue is driven by a particular editorial group. “For an editorial team to become a profit center—I think it’s the coolest thing. If you create the right kind of content you’re going to be more successful.” “All the rules are off,” she exclaims, “Editors can be entrepreneurs.”
All this content creation ties back into the branding process when it comes to discovery, and to making sure the company’s content is differentiated from other content on the market. Domville draws a direct line from editors to brands. “You really want to make sure you’ve got that authoritative content. It’s where the brand of your editorial team comes in.” Some F+W editors have near-celebrity status in their niche communities. “People like to read what the editors pick. It makes it personal. People like to follow real things. The brand is emphasized by the people who work for the brand. It’s important for those brands to be human.”
At F+W, astute and selective content creation leads to consistent and successful branding within the company’s seventeen vertical communities. It’s a strategy that’s paying off, creating a clear case of Identity Publishing.