Monday, January 5, 2009

Soooper Geeenyussss

Wile E. Coyote, managing a publication.
Blogger's note: Yes, it's class time again. More obscure postings here, reflecting the musings I make in class -- this time, it's on publications management. Expect many pontifications.
My first reaction to this question was this: I have no publications management experience.

Then I realized, sitting here at my desk, surrounded by the fruits of my publications management labors, that I am grossly in error. The error of my thinking: Limiting what a “publication” is. Publications are more than books, magazines, artsy-fartsy catalogs, coffee table things and other folderol that get magically produced, printed and sold. The procedures I write and edit at work are publications – they’re published when the final product is posted to our internal document server, when they’re printed in the field, when they’re read by their intended audiences. The web sites I work on –, my own personal blog – are publications in their own right, and must be managed in a publications management sort of way. I want them, after all, to look good, to be useful, entertaining, inspiring, adequate, whatever adjective you may choose. My error in thinking about what a publication is hinged suddenly on the temporary, short-term nature of the publications I work with. A long-term thing like a book, with many pages, colors, photographs, and the like, felt more like a publication than the stuff I do every day. Wrong. Each thing I work on is a publication, I said to myself, thwacking my forehead in exasperation (figuratively; we try to avoid forehead-slapping where I work). So what if some of the things I work on have a shelf-life of a week, a month, or, in a few cases, hours, before the next iteration has to come out? Each one has to be managed with care to make sure it does what the client wants it to do. Even when the client is me.

But, there are aspects of publications management I know I can learn: Wrangling with those long-term projects. Budgeting.

So, publications management, to me, is this: Working with clients to find out what they want their publication to do, to say, to mean, and then delivering on that. Working with the people who will use the publication to find meaning the clients may not consider. Plus all that numbers stuff. Yeek.

No comments: