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A Vision becomes a Reality

Wednesday, November 30, 2005   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jim Henry
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Last fall, in Providence Rhode Island, three of the AITP leaders were sitting around sharing ideas - more or less thinking out loud as it were. "What if we could get the Information Executive & Nanosecond publications to the point where folks could post their own stories?" - "What if we could save a significant amount of money we spend on the publication?" - "What if we could move from a bi-monthly publication to a monthly publication?"

Rumor has it that these conversations might have taken place with a cocktail in hand - no one will confirm or deny this - but knowing the audience, it is imaginable.

Not unlike many other times, "what if's" get started as nothing more than brain storming. But what came out of this brain storming session became reality this year.

Traditionally, the production costs of IE/ns have been declining. Moving from a paper publication to electronic cut costs dramatically - but at what cost to the readership? It's hard to predict how many paper copies were read or simply tossed aside, but with an electronic newsletter, it becomes much easier to predict readership. Not only to predict and report on readership, but to actually see what articles are being read, so the committee can focus on what you, the member wants to read. There is no sense in publishing a bunch of articles if no one wants to read them!

One other change on IE/ns has been to open the publication to the general public. We've found that by allowing our prospective members to read about what AITP is doing works wonders in closing the deal - making them a member as opposed to being just a visitor. We still keep the same focus of providing the newsletter as a benefit of membership, but also use it as a sales tool. By utilizing this tool twice, we are actually saving money in other areas such as member promotion!

The two significant drivers behind the AITP website have been Mark Kleine and Mark Gilfand. Without these two people - the web site would never have got to where it is now. What does this have to do with the IE/ns publication? Everything!

The portal, which is how we are now referring to the http://www.aitp.org/ site now, as it is truly dynamic and living, became the foundation for the current rendition of what IE/ns is now.

How does it all work?

Any registered user of the portal can go to http://www.aitp.org/input From this point they can submit their own article for consideration for publication. But it's not done yet. What they "post" goes into a queue, where members of the Publications Committee review, edit and place in the appropriate category within IE/ns. There are some rules to follow for posting and they are clearly posted on the portal.

After the article is reviewed and accepted, it then becomes live - meaning anyone who visits the IS/ns portion of the portal can view it. But, again, we're not done yet. Around the 1st of each month, a consolidated "preview" is created and it is pushed out to each member - Professional, Student and Interim. Each member has the ability to select how they want to receive the "push" - HTML or plain text for those folks who's company Email policy might prohibit HTML via Email. If you're not familiar with how to change your preference, go to the "Members Tab" and click on Email preferences. Once the push is complete, the edition is considered "published" and the process starts all over again.

This has meant REAL hard line savings for AITP: Not only in dollars, but in the amount of effort required for the volunteers that make this all happen.


Just the facts
Looking back at the first version of the electronic IE/ns (staff prepared, members only) you can see the following:
Annual cost $20,000
Visitors in 90 days 1,100
Page views in 90 days 2,200
Articles per month 10
Published type HTML
Publishing frequency Bi-Monthly
Effort and frustration of committee HIGH
Effort and frustration of staff HIGH

With the current version of the electronic IE/ns (self provisioned, front page access by anyone) you see the following:
Annual cost $0
Visitors in 90 days 19,000
Articles per month 15
Published type HTML,Plain Text,Online only
Page views in 90 days 43,000
Publishing frequency Monthly
Effort and frustration of committee LOW
Effort and frustration of staff None

We joke about us - a technology organization - using technology! But here is solid proof that when planned, designed and incorporated, technology has saved your organization at minimum $20,000 this year alone, and has increased readership dramatically.

As your leadership moves forward into 2006, keep your eyes peeled to see where else a random thought or brain storming session creeps into the way we do business and how much more money we can save!

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