Food for Thought from the Regional Awards Banquet

Last night the ASBPE Awards of Excellence Northeast Region awards banquet, was held in Newton, Mass.

David Barach, publisher of PennWell Corp.'s Solid State Technology, was the dinner speaker, and his topic was PennWell's internal Eddy Awards program. He had some interesting things to say — and not necessarily all about awards per se.

One thing that caught my attention was the fact that PennWell uses its awards program as an opportunity not just to celebrate editorial quality, but improve it, by combining the ceremony with a day of editorial training. This seems like a good approach to me, because it guarantees some regular training for all magazine staffers.

Yes, it's only once a year. But from what I've experienced, and heard from others, that would be an improvement for most B2B publishing companies. So many in-house training programs seem to fall by the wayside for whatever reason: No one to take ownership; lack of time among the person or people who do take ownership; difficulty in developing programs that meet all staffers' needs; or just apathy among the intended recipients, who may be way beyond the need for a "how to write a compelling story" seminar (or at least think they are).

On this last topic, PennWell has what seems to me like a good solution: It brings in outside trainers for junior editors on topics like headline writing and reporting, and in other sessions has in-house editors share lessons learned through the reporting process.

What do you think is the best approach to editorial training? In-house? Out-of-house? Do people at your company only get training if they ask to take a class? And what, if anything, can ASBPE do to better help you with your training needs? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

For more of Dave's comments from the banquet, see our chapter web page on the national ASBPE web site.
Comments:
One thing we've been doing is to have our in-house editors do a tutorial on whatever it is they excel at, from coming up with great headlines and decks to proofreading tips. It's been a pretty useful process, and one that we slide in once a month or so at the end of our regular editorial meetings. A while ago, another office in the New England region (much larger than ours) was holding a series of seminars led by in-house experts. But the four-hour drive time to get there was prohibitive for most of us in the Mass. office.

Would ASBPE be able to draw up a list of Boston-area members with expertise in various areas who might be willing to visit local offices and share their knowledge? It would be great PR for ASBPE, even if it probably would have to be offered either free of charge or very cheap.

Or even do a MeetUp kind of thing for the various microcosms of Boston-area members? Being out in the hinterland (outside 495), it's not easy for me to get to Boston, but if some other local members would want to meet in Lowell, Acton, or somewhere else closer by to talk about best practices, that would be terrific.
# posted by Blogger sue : June 10, 2005 12:48 PM
 
Sue, would you be willing to help spearhead a meetup for the outside-495 crowd?
# posted by Blogger Martha Spizziri : June 29, 2005 4:44 PM
 
Update: Our first event for the fall, on Sept. 22, will be in North Andover (at the Museum of Printing). That should be more accessible to many of those outside 495.
# posted by Blogger Martha Spizziri : June 30, 2005 9:35 AM
 
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