Enterprise Content Management Strategy for Publishers Clearing House

Enterprise Content Management Strategy- Publishers Clearing House

Publishers Clearing House (PCH) is a leading multi-channel direct marketer of value-based consumer products and magazines and a respected leader in the direct marketing industry. Founded in 1953 as a magazine circulation agency selling discounted subscriptions by direct mail, its business has broadened since 1985 to include a wide variety of merchandise that now accounts for well over half of the company’s sales. The company’s name is synonymous with the sweepstakes which PCH uses to draw attention to discounted magazine deals and product offers.

The Challenge

In the past, PCH’s Web and print publishing efforts were supported by separate processes, technology and staff. PCH management declared a corporate initiative to improve the way in which the company publishes content across media channels.

Print Publishing Issues

The Creative Group at PCH consists of copy writers and designers who collaborate to create product print ads. Designers create product print ads using QuarkXPress. In the past, both copy writers and designers manually typed in product information, including SKUs, product descriptions and pricing, directly into the QuarkXPress layout files. The final, approved content was stored in these documents, making reuse very difficult.

Additionally, too many people were involved in the ad creation workflow, and accountability was poorly defined. Each print product ad went through excessive review rounds, including review by PCH’s Legal department. Furthermore, marketing staff more often than not requested changes in each round. The creative group would make the requested edits in QuarkXPress and the ads would circulate to marketing staff for review again to ensure that edits were made correctly. This slowed the entire production process, put pressure on the production studio to speed up quality assurance, and caused a backlog on work for future ads.  

Once ads were approved by marketing, the Production Studio performed prepress checks then created final output files in PDF format.

Online/Web Publishing Issues

The Web Creative team at PCH supports the three main areas that comprise the company’s online presence: House Emails, Microsites & Acquisitions, and Lead Generation. Nearly every product that is promoted in print is also promoted online.

Once product ads were approved for print, the Web creative team would copy and paste content from the final PDF files to different fields within the company’s proprietary Web content management system. This manually copied content was not reviewed by the legal or marketing departments as it was assumed that the copy had already been approved during the print publishing workflow.

In addition, the photographs that were optimized for print ads were often inappropriate for Web use. Web creative staff needed to manually crop out backgrounds and other design elements that work in print yet detract from the actual product in a Web advertisement.

Management was looking to eliminate the duplicate efforts for print and Web ad creation and reduce the ad revision cycles. By streamlining workflow, management hoped that PCH could then create a larger volume of print and Web ads without adding staff.

PCH looked to DPCI to help define an enterprise content management strategy and make recommendations on the changes that PCH would need to make to support the company’s multi-channel publishing goals.

The Solution

DPCI led a series of discovery meetings with all departments involved in the creation and approval of product ads for both print and Web channels. This provided DPCI consultants with an in-depth understanding of the people, processes and systems in place and was used by DPCI to develop workflow and technology recommendations for PCH.

DPCI recommended a product information management system as the key component to PCH’s go-forward multi-channel publishing strategy. DPCI proposed that the development and management of all product copy for both print and Web in one central repository would help to reduce revision cycles caused by incorrect product copy and would eliminate the duplicate efforts for the creation of Web ads. This product information management system would be the single place for writing and approving creative product copy, enabling the Web creative team to begin production earlier in the process and mitigating the risk of publishing incorrect product information. Implementation of a product information management system would allow PCH staff to create content once for use in multiple media while providing the foundation needed for PCH to efficiently produce a higher quantity of ads in both Web and print format.

DPCI also proposed a reorganization of PCH’s design and copyedit staff into subject matter teams to streamline and improve the product ad creation process for both Web and print ads. The new structure would provide a defined reporting hierarchy with assigned accountability, build subject matter expertise and, and help keep staff members focused on their responsibilities.

The Results

PCH management agreed that getting product information into a central place in reuse-optimized form was the first step towards meeting their multi-channel publishing goals. After the assessment, DPCI continued working with PCH to elicit and document solution requirements for the product information management system, then used those requirements to help the company evaluate commercially available products. DPCI managed the vendor evaluation process to help PCH select the system that would best suit PCH’s multi-channel publishing needs.

Next, PCH hired DPCI to provide project management services for the pilot implementation of the EnterWorks Enable Product Information Management, the system PCH found that best supported the company’s requirements. DPCI's PMI-certified project manager helped PCH plan the pilot program, manage the timelines and deliverables of both PCH and the vendor, communicate and interpret stakeholder requirements for the vendor, elicit feedback from the stakeholders, and ensure that the implementation was meeting management's objectives.

The pilot of EnterWorks Enable allowed PCH management and staff to explore the feature set of the system and fine-tune their new multi-channel publishing workflow. DPCI’s project management services and subject matter expertise helped bridge the gap between PCH and the vendor so that PCH management could focus on change management practices to ease user adoption of the new technology and workflows. PCH management continues to evaluate the full potential of the system and further improve the supporting processes and organizational structure in an effort to better position the company to capitalize on new changes and developments in the marketplace.

"DPCI was an essential partner in the successful completion of our enterprise content management project which provides PCH with a much more efficient creative operating environment, one that enables efficient use of product related creative assets across all channels and optimizes the staff resources involved in the process,“ explained Craig Anderson, Senior VP, Operations and Marketing Services at Publishers Clearing House. “The benefits of the final implementation will be important to the successful growth of our online marketing efforts that promote merchandise sales."

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